What We Purchased For Our New RV
Last fall we purchased our first RV. As complete RV newbies, we had no idea what items we needed before we hit the road for the first time. We’ve compiled a list of some items that you’ll want to have on hand before your first camping trip. Keep in mind not all of these things are necessary for your first trip, but there might be things that you hadn’t thought of that you might want to add to your wish list for future trips.
While shopping, keep in mind that you have very limited space and organization is key. Make sure to also check out our post on What We Learned On Our First RV Camping Trip. Let’s get you ready to go camping!
Fresh Water Hose
Your RV probably came with one of these, but I would double check just in case. You use this hose to add fresh water to your fresh water tank. We suggest finding a small container to store this hose in to keep it clean when not in use.
We use this water filter on our fresh water hose. We connect the filter directly to the city water hookup so the water that flows through our hose is also filtered.
Water Pressure Regulator
Check to see if your RV has one of these built in. If not, you’ll need to add this onto your fresh water hose before you connect it to your RV.
Gray/Black Water Clean out Hose
This hose is used to rinse out your gray and black water tanks. Most RVs have a separate connection for the rinse hose. You never want to use your fresh water hose for rinsing out your tanks just incase there is some water that washes back into the hose. We suggest having a small separate container to store this hose in as well.
We suggest purchasing two sets of these. These are used to help level the trailer if your camping site isn’t level. We use them about 85% of the time. You build a small pyramid with them to hold up the side that needs to be raised. We have a dual axel and need enough tiles to make a long enough pyramid to fit both tires. We have used more than 10 tiles multiple times.
These are placed under your stabilizers and hitch jack. We had some extra 2’x6′ boards that we cut into blocks to use instead but they do take up more room. They keep your stabilizers and hitch jack stable and from sinking into the gravel or mud.
Tire Locking Chock
If you have a dual axle trailer we suggest getting two of these to keep keep the trailer in place when you’re set up. Think of them as parking breaks for your RV.
We keep a small level that’s easily accessible. This is one of the first things you’ll need access to when pulling into your camping site in order to check the level of your trailer. If it’s not level you’ll want to set up your leveling blocks on the side that needs to be raised up. You will also need to check the level of the trailer from front to back to see how high to raise up the hitch after you’ve disconnected the trailer.
If you have a towable RV you’ll need this hitch grease. We call it ball lube because that is a lot more fun. It reduces friction on your hitch. Just be warned once you detach your RV and leave your hitch exposed the grease stays on and has ruined at least three pairs of my husbands shorts so don’t brush up against it. We’ve gotten in the habit of throwing something over the hitch while unloading the truck after we’ve detached, mostly because I’m done buying him new pants 😉
RV Power Surge Guard
A power surge guard plugs directly into the power supply at the camping site. Your RV’s electrical plug will then plug directly into the power surge guard.
RV Toilet Tissue
All toiler paper is not created equally. You’ll need toilet paper specifically for RVs that dissolves more quickly. I’ve heard that regular one-ply toilet paper can also be used but I have not tested that theory 🙂
You need to add something to your black water tank to help that toilet paper and other contents HA break down. These Porta-paks are great. You just drop one down the toilet after emptying your tank. We’ve found that during the summer months as the tank fills up we usually need to drop another one down after a couple days, especially if you’re dry camping.
When it comes to emptying your tanks, you’ll want a stash of disposable gloves.
Sewer Hose Elbow Extension
A sewer hose elbow helps to make the process of emptying your tanks a little more seamless. It provides a better angle for the hose to drain into the sewer connection from your RV. The last thing you want it for that hose to pop out of the sewer connection because it’s at a tight, awkward angle. The gaskets fit into the camping site’s or dump station’s sewer connection and the clear elbow allows you to see when your sewer hose has finished draining. It also helps you get a better idea of when your black tank has been rinsed enough when using the rinse hose. It most importantly provides entertainment for small children when at a dump station or while emptying tanks at a campsite.
Sewer Hose Extension
This is another one of those things that we learned the hard way you should tote with you. On one of our first trips we pulled into the campsite and went to hookup the sewer hose. The sewer connection was located in the back corner of the site out of reach of our sewer hose. Luckily the camp store carried the extension hoses. We now carry the extension with us so we won’t end up in the same situation again.
Sewer Hose Support
This is good to have when you’re at a site with sewer hookups. It’s not necessary to have one, but helpful. It acts like a downward ramp for your sewer hose toward the sewer connection. You won’t need it when you are emptying your tanks at a dump station.
We have a small tool bag with a few things in it that we use to set up or might need for an emergency repair. We suggest a trusty roll of duct tape, vice-grip adjustable wrench to help tighten gas lines if they loosen, gas line thread seal tape to help fix an emergency repair with your gas lines and pipe sealant tape for sealing water pipe threads.
Tire Pressure Monitor
A tire pressure monitor is definitely not a necessity to get you on your first camping trip, but if you have the budget it’s a great item to have. The sensors monitor the tire pressure in your trailer tires. The base station sits in your tow vehicle to alert you if the tire pressure is too low, too high or running too hot. We added this after a couple trips and love it. One less thing to worry about on the road.
We tend to do most of our cooking outside while camping. Some campers have built in outdoor kitchens, ours doesn’t. We have loved this gas grill that we can run off of our RV’s propane tank. If you’re purchasing the grill you might want to also consider a grill stand and a grill cover. We also just purchased these griddle plates for the grill. They are perfect for cooking everything from bacon and eggs for breakfast to fresh fish for dinner. To connect the grill to your RV’s propane tanks you’ll need this connection hose.
You’ll want at least one pot to cook on your indoor stove. We found a set of nesting pots and pans with a detachable handle that store pretty easily in the RV. They double as mixing bowls, serving bowls etc.
It’s up to you if you want to snag some of these kitchen supplies from your kitchen each time or stock your RV kitchen with it’s own set of cooking supplies. We have a set of things like shorter spatula, cheese grater, corkscrew, can opener, knives, cutting boards, collapsable measuring cups, lighter and spoons that live in the trailer. It’s just so much easier than trying to pack all of these things each time. Think about the meals you’ll most likely prepare and make sure you have all the supplies you’ll need to make that happen. We are still using paper plates as of right now, but travel with reusable water bottles that we clean each day.
A Good Cooler
We learned this the hard way. We thought, what do we need a cooler for, we have a big fridge in the RV? When you try to cram enough food and cold beverages for a few days into a small fridge, the temperature can start to suffer. We purchased a cooler to hold beverages and some overflow fridge contents that we didn’t need to worry as much about or we didn’t need right away. We also just had our fridge completely stop working on our last trip. Luckily we had our cooler and could store most of the fridge contents in there. We purchased the YETI 75 cooler and it’s pretty big. We are thinking about getting another smaller cooler to use one just for beverages that can be opened a bunch and one for overflow fridge items. It’s totally all a learning curve ya’ll!!
Our first camping trip we just packed flashlights. After trying to set up the RV in the dark (which we don’t suggest, but things happen ya’ll), start a fire in the dark, cook dinner in the dark that trip, we quickly added headlamps to our list. It is way easier to have handsfree light when doing anything after the sun goes down.
Marshmallow Roasting sticks
I’m pretty sure it’s against the law to go camping and not roast marshmallows. These retractable roasting sticks store really easily.
These packing cubes have seriously been amazing. Each person in our family has a different color. The smaller one holds underwear and socks, the medium one holds pajamas and swimsuits and the larger ones holds pants and shirts. My husband and I have a couple extra large ones to hold as well. These make packing clothes in the RV so simple. They can all be put in cabinets, under the bed, drawers wherever you have space BUT they stay organized. It helps us use all available space more efficiently.
Dirty Laundry Bag
With five people living in the RV, laundry piles up fast. We have a washable nylon dirty laundry bag to keep all of the dirty laundry in one place.
Outdoor camping rug/mat
We place one of these camping mats outside of the door to the RV. It saved us during our last rainy and muddy camping trip. We had a clean space to kick off shoes and not track the mud inside of the trailer. You can easily clean off these and roll up and store easily inside the trailer or in trunk or truck bed when you’re under tow.
I’ll be honest with you, we are still searching for our favorite camping chairs. These are the ones we currently have. They are super lightweight and pack really small which are both bonuses when you’re packing an RV. They are difficult to put together for the first few times until the fabric stretches a little. Now the kids are able to put them together, but the first few trips it was a workout to get the fabric stretched onto the frame. But the price point was decent and we can store five of them extremely easily.
If you plan on going primarily to established campgrounds, you might want to skip this for now. Most campsites have picnic tables you can use. It is helpful to have an extra table when preparing and serving food for larger groups. This table has a roll top that packs down fairly thin, but the table legs on either side just close and the frame itself folds in half keeping the packing size still a little long. If you’re trying to conserve space you might want to try something a little smaller than the one we chose 😉
Ok maybe you don’t need excessive amounts of caffeine to keep you going, but for us coffee is a staple. Especially when camping in close quarters with three adorable small children. We use the AeroPress to easily make a cup of coffee in the morning. It makes more of an americano. We use this tea kettle to heat up the water on our RV stove. Keep in mind that when making a cup of coffee with the aeropress you need a mug that you can press down against. If you want to bring disposable coffee cups, you’ll still need some type of mug to make the coffee in then transfer. We love these travel coffee mugs from Yeti. We have the 14oz size and the only downside to them is that they don’t also fit into the cupholders of our car.
Again this obviously is not an essential to get you on the road, but it’s something you might not have thought of. A set of unbreakable wine glasses were one of our first purchases for the RV. Don’t judge ya’ll. HA. We have a travel trailer and you would not believe how much stuff bumps around back there while you are under tow. We love being able to enjoy a glass a wine from a real-ish glass.
This really depends on what kind of camping you’re interested in. If you are heading to camping sites with electric hookups you will not need to worry about generators for the most part. You always run the risk of the power in the campsite going out, then you will be stuck with no power, but that’s pretty much the same as at home 🙂 We started boondocking (camping without hookups) a few months ago and purchased these generators.
Do your research on the generators and what your particular RV would need. Pay close attention to how noisy they are, how heavy they are and what type of fuel they use. For us, our air conditioning will not turn on without both of them. You can go with a larger single unit, but man are these things heavy. There was no way we were easily getting the larger generator easily in and out of the truck bed without a visit to the chiropractor after. We decided to go with these Hondas. They run on gas, but we have a truck so we can store the extra gas in the bed of the truck. My sister’s family had an SUV as a tow vehicle and decided to go with a different brand that runs on either gas or propane so they didn’t have to store the gas inside of the SUV.
Like I mentioned previously, while some of these things are pretty necessary to get on the road, others we’ve listed are to get you thinking about what you might like to add to your own RV set up.
Most established campgrounds have fire rings to build campfires, but we absolutely love our Solo Stove. The design of this portable fire pit allows for a smokeless campfire. No smoke in your eyes, no one leaves smelling like a campfire, it’s amazing.