Diving into the complex waters of RVing for the first time can feel intimidating and overwhelming. What items are needed? What are essentials that might go overlooked? What might get forgotten and have to be learned the hard way? While many resources (and opinions) exist this is a simplified list of items I have and use. My experience has shown them to be reliable and absolutely essential. They are items no one should leave the driveway without. Start with the quick list and continue on for more in-depth explanations on why these are my top choices.
The Quick List
- Designated Drinking Water Hose
- Water Pressure Regulator
- Sewer Hose Kit
- Surge Protector 30A or a 50A Surge Protector
- Electrical Adapters
- Fire Extinguisher
- Tire Pressure Gauge
- Emergency Road Kit
- Wheel Chocks
- Duct Tape
- Water Filter
- Holding Tank Treatment
- Disposable Gloves
- Leveling Blocks
Why These Options
Zero-G hoses will never kink, they pack away flat, and have high quality metal fittings that rotate in place. These 3 things eliminate common frustrations saving a ton of time and space. Plus they are lightweight and durable with a 5 year warranty. You honestly won’t find a better hose for your RV.
A water pressure regulator is a valve that reduces the water pressure coming from a water source. If the water at a campsite has too much pressure it will damage your RV. This could lead to leaks and water damage. The water pressure regulator stops that from happening by lowering the water pressure before it reaches your hose. Attaching a water pressure regulator to the spigot ensures that the high water pressure stops right at the source and doesn’t enter your water hose or your RV’s delicate plumbing.
This unit has a small flat blade screwdriver insert to adjust the water source’s PSI to your RV’s recommended pressure. With this unit you will no longer have to wonder what the pressure is or if it is safe for your plumbing.
This ready to use sewer kit is one of the toughest you can buy. The 15-foot hose protects against pinholes, offers superior abrasion resistance and crush protection. The included transparent elbow is a vital piece that allows you to see when your tanks are empty and when they have been thoroughly flushed and cleaned.
The kit also includes a storage cap for each end. The hose and fittings compress for storage and once the 4-in-1 adapter is removed you can store the hose in standard 4-inch square bumpers. It is everything you need to empty your tanks in one box.
The importance of a surge protector cannot be overstated. There are a host of electrical issues like low voltage and power surges that can damage your RVs electrical systems. Campground hookups are notoriously unreliable. Purchasing a surge protector for your RV is one of the smartest investments that you can make immediately after buying it.
These Surge Guards will analyze an electrical source in 10 seconds and determine if it is safe to use. If not it cuts power to the RV protecting very expensive components from damage. There is a built in locking ring compatible with cable or padlocks to lock the unit directly to a power podium preventing theft. The LED display is user friendly and easy to understand. It is extremely weather resistant. Plus it offers an impressive 4,200 joules of surge protection making it the highest level of protection currently on the market.
However, it is the lifetime warranty and the connected equipment coverage that make these the absolute best option hands down. Meaning if it fails and something in your rig is damaged as a result, they will cover the cost of repairs! Look to see if your RV has the 3-pronged 30A or the 4-pronged 50A connection and just get one.
Dog bone adapters exist to adapt a 50A RV down to 30A (when it is the only connection available) or to convert either a 50A or 30A down to a 15 amp connection like a standard outdoor extension cord.
Sometimes the only available campsite isn’t compatible with your connection. Sometimes you park at a friend’s house and want to power the RV with a regular extension cord. Having adapters on hand will allow that flexibility. You won’t be able to run the AC or use a toaster and a hairdryer at the same time when using a 15 amp connection so be aware of your power usage. But you will be able to power the fridge and top off the batteries while you are mooch docking if you have the correct adapter.
Fire extinguishers are a must for obvious reasons. The important part is to be sure yours will work on every possible fire type including electrical. Additionally it is wise to have one mounted on each end of the RV so there is never a fire between you and the extinguisher. Have an emergency plan in case of fire and practice it with your loved ones often.
Maintaining tire pressure is key and typical car tire gauges do not measure high enough for RV tires. This tire gauge reads up to 230 PSI and the long stalk with multiple attachment points make it easy to reach and put pressure on the valve especially on dualies. Once on, the unit can read and re-read without having to do anything other than pulling off the valve and pressing back onto it. This gauge is accurate and easy to use. Just be sure to let it fire up and calibrate before taking a reading.
While flashlights used to be the staple, headlamps are far more practical. If you need light chances are you’ll also need both hands free. Why try to change a tire with a dirty flashlight in your mouth when this ridiculously comfortable headlamp exists? The 330 Headlamp from BioLite wears like a sweatband, is feature rich, reliable, and it’s rechargeable. It is indispensable in an emergency and fantastic on night hikes as well. I love mine so much I did a full in-depth review on it.
Let’s face it things will go wrong. Even with all of our modern technology travelers will eventually find themselves signal-less. It is important to be prepared for a host of contingencies. This roadside emergency kit is full of incredibly useful items without duplicating a bunch of tools you probably already own. The only downside is that the included air compressor has a max PSI of 30 so it won’t be helpful for most RV tire issues. I threw mine into my car and added a set of these LED Road Flares to the kit in it’s place for more visibility on dark highway emergencies.
Travel trailers and wheel chocks are like PB + J but even if you have a drive-able motorhome chocks are imperative. Regardless if you only ever plan to stay in campgrounds there will come a time when you have to park somewhere that isn’t level. Don’t wait until then to realize that trusting a fully loaded rig at it’s heaviest to the parking brake alone is sketchy. These Chocks are very heavy duty and won’t crumble under the weight of their responsibility like the cheap plastic alternatives. Toss them into an outside storage compartment where the rubber odor won’t bother you and use them every time the ground in not level.
MacGyver taught me any problem can be solved with duct tape and a pocket knife. Few things in life have turned out to be so universally true. Gorilla Duct Tape is especially high bond and I like the visibility of the white roll. It makes it harder to forget to return and permanently fix the temporary solution.
Safe drinking water matters and I would never trust the sources at any campground. Camco’s TastePURE Water Filter reduces bad taste, odor, chlorine and sediment in drinking water. Connect one between the source and your drinking water safe hose to remove aluminum, bad taste, cadmium, heavy metals, hydrogen sulfide, iron, lead, mercury, odor, and turbidity. It also keeps sediment out of your RV water tank. This particular choice provides a 20 Micron Fiber Barrier while maintaining a high flow rate. Save money with the 2 pack.
Back tank odors are one of the most common issues new RVers encounter first. Nothing like sloshing your own waste around while driving in the summer heat to make you question your dietary choices. Strategies to combat the dreaded holding tank stink range broadly and divide the community deeper than political alliances. Yet the most simple solution is to go with this Tank Treatment that is far superior to all the rest. A scoop of this in your black and gray tanks with a couple gallons of water has the power to change your camping experience. Should unpleasant odors arise after extended use flush the tanks thoroughly with one of these wands and continue using this treatment for happy camping.
While we are on the subject of holding tanks, emptying them is a dirty job and not the time for flimsy disposable gloves. These Astro-Grip gloves are not only textured for grip which aids in getting/removing tight seals, they are much thicker and more durable than medical type gloves found in the 1st aid section. They will not tear mid use.
Leveling blocks do more than just keeping the blood from rushing to your head while lying down. A level RV is critical in keeping the fridge running well. These Lego like blocks are stack-able and pack-able with a very handy storage case. The attachable chocks are a fantastic touch and combined with the rubber chocks recommended above make for a fantastically level and worry free night’s sleep.
Together these 15 items will get you road ready and well prepared for wherever your adventures take you. As mentioned these are products I have and use regularly. They have stood the test of time and are worth every single penny. I hope these simplified descriptions help you feel less overwhelmed and more empowered to start RVing with confidence. Come back soon for my next post with all my favorite storage solutions and must haves.