Hi, I’m Kiaya and I’m new writer/editor at TIA. Prior to joining the team, my family and I were traveling the country full-time in an RV. Today, I’m sharing my Essentials for Full-Time RV Living with you. These are tools, gadgets, tips and tricks I learned on the road that make living full-time in a camper or RV easier. However, you will still appreciate these items even if you’re a casual or weekend traveler.
Essentials for Full-Time RV Living Guide
Our Rig For Full-Time RV Living
First, I’d like to share a little bit about my family and our RV setup. I’m doing this because each RV situation is unique. Therefore, each RV’er has different priorities and this list will reflect some of ours.
So, our camper is a 27 ft. KZ Connect travel trailer that we hook up to our 2008 Ford Expedition. My husband and I chose a travel trailer because we have two small kids and a large dog that we travel with. The most important factor was safety, and passengers traveling in the tow vehicle is dramatically safer than as a passenger in a Class A Motorhome. Our setup is long, but the space in Expedition provides plenty of room for all the road snacks and toys we need, and our 90 lb. Alaskan Malamute enjoys his space. Plus, we can detach and travel freely.
Our setup was more geared towards stays at campsites with full hookups. We actually love staying in more remote and off-grid locations. However, we needed stable internet and electric for work reasons. In the future I’ll make sure to share with you “My RV Essentials for Boondocking“.
Last, we did not splurge on a “deluxe” RV, which are practically traditional homes on wheels. Nothing against those RV’s, but we knew our full-time RV plans were limited to a max of one year. Our RV was great for the traveling we did and plan to do. However, the higher grade RV’s have better kitchen equipment, more storage, and even laundry options – which did impact this list!
Again, a lot of these items are recommended for any part-time or full-time RV living situation. However, a few items are more specific to those in similar RV situations.
Alright, on to the list!
RV Equipment for Full-Time RV Living
These are my family’s essential RV and Camper equipment that is designed for RV’s and campers. Most of these items can be found in camping stores and even campsites, but are more affordable online.
50 ft. 30 or 50 AMP Power Cord. Because admit it, we like our modern conveniences. Essential for using power hookups.
Some notes: Extra length is always better than not enough. Our camper and ones smaller than ours only need a 30 AMP power cord. However, larger fifth wheel travel trailers and motorhomes will need a 50 AMP power cord.
Voltage Regulator & Surge Protector to avoid blown circuits or damage to your electrical system.
Similar to power cords, you’ll need a voltage regulator that matches your RV’s power supply. Voltage Regulators & Surge Protectors prevents an oversupply of energy transferring to your RV and the damage that can come with that.
RV Hook-up Hoses, and lots of them
RV Hoses are not exciting, but the quality of your full-time RV living experience depends on them. Here are a few hoses you’ll need and why. Also, my general recommendation is to go with longer hoses. It’s always better to have more length than not enough!
- Fresh Water Hose: You need this if you want water for your sinks, bathing, etc. You don’t need to be picky and any Fresh Water Hose on Amazon to do the job.
- Clean-Out Hose: Whatever goes in must come out. This hose carries out all your grey water (sink water, shower water, etc.). Again, you don’t need to be picky with this product, but this 25 ft. Camco Clean-Out Hose on Amazon will do the job.
- Sewer Hose: This hose is self-explanatory. It’s for emptying out your black water tank. DO NOT skimp on length, and this 20 ft. Camco RhinoFLEX Sewer Hose should suffice. Also, DO NOT FORGET your sewer hose supports!
- Heated Water Hose: Optional, but a lifesaver. Temps can drop below freezing even in the desert (particularly at night). I learned the hard way that if your fresh water hose freezes it can break your hose and your water filter, and heated water hoses are expensive and have a BIG markup in brick-and-mortar camping store. Save money, buy one online. If only using as needed, you can go with a shorter hose, like this 25 ft. Camco Heated Water Hose.
RV/Camper Water Filter & Hose Protector to go with your fresh water hose and remove that sulfur, well-water scent.
Honestly, I can’t believe how great these things work. They have a pretty good life too. Casually RV’ers probably need one a season, full-time RV’ers need to change it out every three months.
Available at most campsites, but for a nice markup. Save money and stock up on Amazon.
RV Leveling Blocks so you’re not living on a slope every time you park.
Use these to create a level base for your camper. Check out a RV Leveling Block Tutorial on YouTube.
You can find our same RV Leveling Blocks on Amazon, except this one has a nifty carrying case (jealous).
X Camper Wheel Chocks for another level of stability when you’re parked.
These fit between your RV wheels. They expand to get a good grip on the tires to prevent them from moving while docked.
Browse a variety of brands and styles on Amazon.
Small RV Back-Up Battery to get you through power outages.
A back-up battery is not for boondocking/off-grid RV-ing. This battery simply allows you to pull in your slides, awning, and operate your hitch in case your battery fails.
This small, lightweight 12V 18Ah ExpertPower Replacement Battery is only $46.99 is perfect for saving you in a pinch.
Wheel Lift/Ramp for Trailers. Did I mention we had a tire blowout on our first trip? Wish we had this.
We liked this Trailer Wheel Ramp because it has a ramp on each side and a rest in the center.
Here is another Trailer Wheel Lift option available on Amazon.
Disposable Latex Gloves for the dirty parts of RV living (ex. anything “sewage” related).
Any brand of latex gloves on Amazon will work. I looked for fancy ones. They don’t exist.
RV Slide-Out & Window Lubricant to avoid mishaps and frustrations.
You can buy these products individually, but Amazon sells this RV Slide-Out & Window Lubricant combo for only $20.49.
Trailer Ball Grease for travel trailers and fifth wheels.
Keeping your trailer hitch greased protects your ball hitch from damage, makes towing easier, prevents towing accidents, and overall extends the life of your hitch.
Tools for Full-Time RV Living
These are the everyday tools I recommend you keep in your camper. They will help you out with day-to-day maintenance and common mishaps. You can also find these tools in your local hardware store or possibly in your garage.
Tire Pressure Gauge, the single most important tool every RV’er needs!
Good RV maintenance is obsessing over your tire pressure, at least before every drive. Driving with properly inflated tires is an essential safety measure, and just makes your driving smoother and more fuel-efficient.
SKIL PWR CORE 12 Compact Tire Inflator to address tire pressure concerns on the spot.
Eric actually gifted me this when I mentioned one of our RV tires went flat in storage. This SKIL Tire Inflator fixed the problem and we used it on our most recent trip. It’s now one of my husband’s favorite tools.
Get this SKIL Tire Inflator on Amazon.
CRAFTSMAN Tool Set makes a great RV Tool Box. It has all your essential tools for the odd fix here and there.
The vibration from traveling will shake some fixtures loose. We’ve also used hand tools to repair hinges and secure items to walls and surfaces. This CRAFTSMAN 102-Piece Tool Set has a great variety of hand tools that will address most issues. Plus, it comes with its own carrying case.
102-piece CRAFTSMAN hand tools for only $109 on Amazon.
A Caulk Gun and Caulk to fix inevitable leaks and cracks.
Cracks and leaks, particularly in the roof of your RV, are inevitable due to the vibration from travel. In fact, you should be inspecting the top of your RV every 30 days during high-use seasons. A Caulk Gun is enough for minor cracks, or can hold you over until repairs can be made.
A Level to ensure your RV is, well…level!
You’ll need to level your RV every time it is parked. Obviously a level essential to full-time RV living from a comfort perspective. It’s easier to walk around and prevents items from falling and rolling away (or worse, under a slide). A level RV also allows items like your refrigerator to operate optimally.
RYOBI Drill/Impact Driver Combo will be your Go-To RV power tool.
You don’t need a ton of power tools, but a drill/impact combo is a great power tool to have in your RV tool kit. It will help with random repairs, tire changes, and quickly adjust your stabilizers.
You obviously can use your own tools or preferred brand. However, I recommend keeping an affordable brand in your RV supplies. RYOBI provides quality at a fair price.
Shop RYOBI Drill & Impact Combo Kits on Amazon.
Wire Strippers/Crimpers for all your electrical repairs and additions.
You’ll need these for repairing or adding outlets, and adding additional batteries to your battery bank.
This MulWark 8 in. Wire Stripper/Crimper Combo is only $20 on Amazon.
Tire Iron for tire repairs and changes.
You absolutely need a tire iron if you hope to have a good time living in an RV full-time or part-time. In fact, a lot of weekend RV’ers like to getaway in more remote locations that can be harder to reach repair services and roadside assistance. A tire iron enables you to tackle these problems on your own.
Voltmeter to check out electrical issues in your RV.
Watch the Basic Uses of a Multimeter for RV’ers on YouTube.
Voltmeters range from $8 to $50 on Amazon.
Ratchet Straps for the unexpected.
Use ratchet straps to secure items to your tow vehicle, your RV, pull/hold your slide in during motor issues, and more.
I’ll admit it, our ratchet straps are an assortment of ones my husband has collected over the years. Frankly, we should replace them.
Rechargeable LED Headlamps come in handy day or night.
Our rechargeable LED headlamps are one of our most used items. We use them a lot when taking supplies out of the RV storage areas (AKA “the basement”), for walks at night, and even while grilling.
Our favorite Rechargeable LED Headlamps are available as a 2-Pack ($20) or 4-Pack ($40) on Amazon.
Pocket Knife for endless uses.
Cut things, open things, use it to look cool and feel tough. Pocket and utility knives have infinite uses that aren’t specific to RV’s, but you should still have one.
Propane Tank Gauges to detects fuel level, leaks, and so you’re not running out of gas in the middle of the night or while cooking dinner.
Most RV’s have two propane tanks to power at least your heat, your oven, and even your fridge while boondocking. This Propane Gauge & Leak Detector 2-Pack for $25.99 will keep you up-to-date on your propane levels.
Household Essentials for Full-Time RV Living
Alright, now it’s time to talk about the full-time RV living essentials that impact your daily life. These are common household products. However, they are either small enough, adaptable, or used in a way that simplifies some common RV living problems.
Shark Cordless Handheld Vacuum. It’s powerful, small, and has multiple attachments for cleaning your RV.
We brought two vacuums with us. This handheld vacuum was supposed to just be for cleaning our car, but I actually liked this small Shark Cordless Handheld Vacuum better than our larger vacuum. It was easier to store and honestly easier to clean weird places like under the dinette and under the slide. PLUS, it’s rechargeable and cordless, which is absolutely essential in my opinion.
$99.99 on Amazon, currently on sale for $89.99.
Libman Wet/Dry Microfiber Mop to clean debris and easy, electricity-free wet or dry cleanup.
It’s great to have a cord-free, electricity-free sweeping option. This Libman Wet/Dry Microfiber Mop also fits underneath slides well.
Mop plus two extra microfibers pads for $42.99 on Amazon.
SEYVUM 20V Leaf Blower for easy outdoor cleanup.
I don’t care how nice your RV is. The outdoors are your living room when you’re staying in an RV. Use a cordless leaf blower to remove leaves and debris. Also great for easy cleanup on drive days.
You don’t need a super powerful leaf blower. I like this SEYVUM 20V Leaf Blower for only $79.99 on Amazon.
KEEPJOY Hanging Laundry Hamper, because clothes pile up fast in a small RV.
Laundry piles up fast, especially in a small RV. We hung this hamper inside our bathroom door and it keeps laundry out of the way. The zipper on the bottom makes it easy to move clothes into a laundry basket.
I love it so much I’m getting two more for each of my kids rooms.
Storage Bins & Boxes…and lots of them!
We use decorative storage bins throughout our RV for a sense of order. The most important one in my opinion is the shoe bin we keep outside. This helps keep dirt and debris outside.
Shop Storage Bins & Boxes on Amazon.
Outdoor Camping Rug to Complete Your Outdoor Space
Camping rugs make it nicer to step outside barefoot, define your space, and just get into “vacation mode” easier. They’re also easy to clean and fold-up and store.
We recommend buying two (or more) 6 ft. x 9 ft. outdoor rug instead of one larger one. This way you can customize the orientation to your RV site.
Shop Outdoor/Camping Rugs on Amazon.
OUTDOOR LIVING SUNTIME Padded Folding Chair for ultimate comfort.
Feel free to use whatever chairs you want or already own. However, if you’re living in an RV full-time then I encourage you to splurge on these ultra comfortable folding chairs.
Batteries, all kinds.
You’ll find yourself using a lot more battery-powered products when you live full-time in an RV. Honestly, it’s just easier. Outlets are limited, or you need to conserve power when boondocking. It just makes sense.
“Drive Day” Essentials for Full-Time RV Living
This list is small, but these are a few of my favorite items for RV “drive days”.
Milwaukee 40 qt. Packout Cooler to keep drinks and food cold on drive day.
This may seem like overkill, but I love this thing. First, it has tons of space for cold storage, a generous dry storage bin, a cutting board that doubles as a divider, and the cold retention is incredible.
On sale for $399.99 on Amazon. Save $109!
I also keep a Sheathed Pairing Knife in my cooler.
10 oz. YETI Rambler to keep your hot drinks hot and your cold drink cold.
Personal Review: my husband ran over this with the camper. It got pushed into the ground but didn’t even crack. It’s the perfect rough and tough travel companion.
napfun Travel Neck Pillow to encourage naps and prevent achy necks.
Final Word on Full-Time RV Living
Well, that rounds out my list on all the things you really need for comfortable full-time RV living. If the idea of full-time RV-ing has been on your mind then I hope this list gives you some courage towards taking that step. Some of my family’s best memories were made on the road. Even if you just want to be a weekend RV’er, I promise the memories on the short trips are just a sweet. Plus, now you have an awesome list to keep the good times rolling! Pun intended.
Alright, how’d I do? Any RV’ers out there? Did I miss something?
Comment and let me know what your camper and RV essentials are.