New RVer Gear Buys: Least and Most-Used Items

What purchases did this RVing family find really worthwhile?

Nic & Jess Farish Nic & Jess Farish  |  03.01.2019

Everyone has to start somewhere. And when we began as RVers, we had NO CLUE. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

In fact, Nic and I (to this day!) have never been in a tent together … ever. Not in our 10 years as a couple. City people all the way! So, when we had this stirring in us to move to a new style of living and make the jump into RV Life, we had some heavy Googling and YouTubing to do.

We found all kinds of items that everyone said we NEEDED and didn’t need. So much of what you already own before RVing is completely perfect for the adventure ahead. And others (ahem … special toilet paper) are verrrrrry specifically necessary for RV living. For the most part, we fared well in our choices, but we found that there were a few purchases we wish we would have spent a little more time on before we laid down our cash!

So, save yourself some money, honey. And take these suggestions into account before handing over your card.

Least-Used Items

Toaster oven

Hands down, the number one thing we bought that we didn’t need was a toaster oven. I know many people love theirs, but for the amount that we used it, it just took up too much precious counter space.

Amid mixed reviews of RV ovens in general, we weren’t sure how ours would be. But we have found ours to work really well! Our stove is great, and I really haven’t found a limitation with the exception of size … I mean no one is going to cook a full-size turkey in an RV oven. Well, probably not successfully. But, if you do, I want to see that. We use a toaster for toast, waffles, and bagels, and the oven for everything else.

no bake holiday rving

Cell phone holder for the dash

We bought little things that we thought would be useful that just proved to get in the way, like a cell phone holder with a sticky bottom that guaranteed no slipping and traveling on the dash, that, immediately slipped and bumped, and fell off the dash.

Cute string lights

We have these cute little string lights that we bought on sale (at guess where?!? – Target, of course), that we never put up while we were traveling around. The idea was there, the cuteness was there, but the time wasn’t. And honestly, when we are traveling, our time is spent out exploring until the sun is gone. When we make it home, we crash and prepare for the next days’ adventures!

Now, we will probably get more use out of them as we transition to a more stationary lifestyle, so technically, this item is more of a “wait-until-you-need-it” than “don’t buy.” I will also say, there are nomadic families that do all of this at every campground they visit and are magicians of some sort. So, just see what suits you best.

Tow dolly for the car

There was one thing, a BIG thing, that we purchased and then actually returned – our tow dolly. We originally had a vehicle that could not be flat-towed, and we were BENT on having a car separate from our Class A motorhome. However, when we couldn’t have the tow ordered and installed in time for us to leave on our first leg, we went without our tow vehicle.

Surprisingly, we had a great time and only ran into a transportation snag once or twice, in which case we rented a vehicle for that time … easily cheaper. When you add up the car payment, insurance, extra gas used to tow and use the vehicle, as well as extra expenses for parking the car at campgrounds, AAA or another roadside program, maintenance, tow equipment and wiring, you really have to decide if towing a vehicle is even worth it. However, we did trade in our car for a flat-towable vehicle, which should be easier to bring along. But we are yet to purchase a tow for it. So, we’ll have to report back on how that goes!

Most-Used Items

These are the items that we use OFTEN (read: daily … minutely?) Anyhow, here are the things we bought, we love, and would buy over again!

Ice maker

Oh, ice maker, how I love thee! You give me cold drinks, relief from pain, and … well, that’s about it, but I love you! Ours makes a good bit of noise, but I’m a girl who just needs ice, and our freezer is busy with all the chicken nuggets, spinach-hiding smoothie ingredients, and waffles. Don’t judge me – we have veggie intervention on the reg, but the children need to eat! We need them to eat!

rver gear buys

Portable grill

Another thing that we LOVE is our portable grill. It’s cute, the trays fold in to save space and fit in the cargo space, you can use a large or small can of propane, and it works on any solid (outdoor) surface. We use it to grill all the time and we have delicious meals!

Foldable table

We found that some campgrounds have a picnic table in your space, some don’t, and some have one that you will not use for fear of impalement or “other.” We carry a foldable table with us for our grill, for eating on, for playdough and kinetic sand play (strict “NOT INSIDE THE RV” rule, here), and it also comes in handy for drying swimsuits, towels, and puddle jumpers!

Grown-up Gadgets

Our coffee maker (just a generic Mr. Coffee model) and our wine opener (probably bought at Target, because I have spent half my life’s earnings there), are next on the list. I don’t really feel like I need to embellish here, but they are small, affordable, fit well in the RV, and are essential life items for the grown-ups in our RV.

Sewer hose support

When you don’t want to provide the gravity for the ‘clean out’ of your tanks, a sewer hose support is your go-to item (we use the Camco Sidewinder). I am not about that hose-walking life. I don’t want to see the waste, I don’t want to lift the hose to walk it down. I. Don’t. Want. It. This wasn’t an item we heard about before RVing, but we saw it EVERYWHERE. And really, I can’t believe we didn’t focus on this area more, because we had some major sewage gross-outs before actually taking it on the first time. Get this and thank me later, also, treat yourself and buy a longer sewage hose, trust me.

rver gear buys

Wish-List Items

These are products on our to-purchase list … things we want and don’t have. But we will … oh, yes, we will.

Tank rinser

That little nozzle and hose thingy that attaches to your sink and cleans out your tank through your toilet (clearly, I have spent hours researching this item, and you can tell by my very technical descriptions of “little nozzle” and “thingy.”) But, upon further research, this item seems to be called a tank rinser.

Water filtration

We really want some sort of water filtering source. The RV community is all a-buzz about the Big Berkey system. I want clean water, but I also want to eat and this thing is expensive. We learned in our previous buys, if you don’t NEED it, wait for it and save for it. This is a saver. But I’m also torn by the thought of clean, fresh, yummy water, and the loss of counter space. These are the things that matter, people! HA!

Tire monitoring

Tire Minder or a tire monitoring system similar to that is also on our list. It monitors all kinds of things like pressure levels/fluctuation, tire temperature, and other conditions important to your safety during travels. I’m honestly proud of myself for even knowing about this one … though less proud for not already owning it…

More data

Data plan or jetpack for internet while roaming. First of all, most of our work is online, and income is important. Also, we love adventure, our boys, and intentional living, but we Netflix (and HULU) a little frequently. Plus, a lot of educational programs and resources require internet access – hello fellow road-and-home-schoolers!

rver gear buys

There it is! A quick, but deliberate, rundown of our favorite and not-so-favorite purchases, in no particular order. Tell us, what are your must-haves and purchase regrets?

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  1. terry snyder Posted on 06.01.2019

    small air compressor and air gauge,extension cord,box of tools,rope for drying clothes,clothes pins,box of rubber gloves,broom and dust pan,large bottle for carrying water.long handled brush for washing rv.blocks for leveling rv,duck tape,blocks for tires,brash fitting for water hose to reduce
    water pressure and water filter.Just a few items you may need.

  2. Tev Brannan Posted on 03.12.2019

    I think there is a smaller Berkey available but we use a pitcher called Clearly Filtered that doesn’t take up so much space. That Berkey is huge.
    I agree about cooking a turkey in an RV. HA I wouldn’t even try it.

  3. Paul B Posted on 03.09.2019

    TPMS provides peace of mind for me when going down the road. I hope it is at the top of your wish list.
    Regarding the sewer hose support I recommend including a section of pvc rain gutter. It can be purchased for under $10 for ten feet. Cut it at 4’ so that the two sections are different lengths. You might want to purchase and carry 20’ total. This greatly reduces the hose walk effort.

  4. Todd Pontius Posted on 03.09.2019

    We do not have an oven in our 32 for Minnie Winnie, so the toaster oven is awesome and we use it fir everything. We bought an RV with a lot of counter space fir when we cook, however we put a cover over the stove that bolted in and the toaster oven fits right on top of it and the rubber stoppers it has fir feet keep it from moving at all.
    Can stop and get ice as it’s only a few dollars a bags and those ice makers are as much as a tow dolly and as big as a toaster oven.
    Foldable tables are a plus as is the grill if you are dry camping away from places that have grills. We bought one, but generally use our toaster oven for almost everything because it’s way easier to clean than the collapsible grill. You also have to have a big outside compartment for the grill. We do, but many do not.
    Data plans for phones is not our forte as we go camping to get away from the internet and to talk and enjoy time with one another. We have a tv and DVD player and I installed a sound bar to watch movies and eat some popcorn with the kids from time to time.
    Agree with the cell phone holder and the string lights. Wire in a LED strip on the side of the RV as it’s easier and stays in place. Not having the cell holder is good because it only makes you want to grab your phone and that’s a no-no in the RV. Too dangerous.
    The tank wand is good for some as it really helps. I just use an old green yard hose and stick down the toilet and just wipe it with a few baby wipes as I pull it up.
    The sewer hose support is a total winner as like you said, gravity works and it’s keeps it all off the ground.
    The tow dolly works if you need it. Only you will know if you need or want a car. We can’t tow 4-down with our 2002 Lexus, so it was rather affordable for us to spend a $1000 instead of having a car payment fir a newer car, which have been a waste all around. We do use our car in a lot of the bigger Parks like Zion, Bryce, Grand Canyon and The Sequoia Nat Forrest.
    Water filtration add-on are nice. The inside ones get expensive. The outside are only about $30 and usually last the summer. Almost all Parks have potable water. I usually can’t taste the difference, so we have never used one yet. No one has died so far. A lot of our friends use them. After 23 years with the Marines/Navy if I’m told it’s potable, it’s usually potable.
    The grown-up gadgets are a plus and pack what the have space for. You make not use them every time, but if you have space, why not!
    The tire monitoring system is a plus to save you from a blowout and tearing up the RV from the loose tire shredding the metal to pieces.
    A few other things are:
    Some board games
    Rubber hospital gloves (box)
    Colman camping chairs (300lb)
    Use you shower as a storage closet as you won’t use it very often.
    Plastic tubs to help keep things outside in the under carriage better organized.
    A spare set of keys with you at all times.
    All of your old DVDs from the house.
    And most important: Costco baby wipes!

  5. Gary Posted on 03.09.2019

    Interesting how some things work for some people and not others.
    I purchased a sewer hose support, but have used it exactly one time only. It’s just another thing to pull out, install, and put away. If I were full timing and staying out for more than a few days at a time, perhaps, but for us, it’s a waste of time and space.
    I MUST have my dash mount for my cell phone, but I use my cell phone for navigation (Google maps) and engine monitoring (Torque app), so…
    Finally, expensive “special RV toilet paper” is a total waste of money. Any “septic safe” toilet paper works fine in an RV. We’ve been RVing for 34 years now, and we have never bought “special” TP.

  6. Erica Hammer Posted on 03.03.2019

    I agree on the ice maker! We travel (not full timers) in our Class B, Era 170 campervan. TINY freezer, and I must have ice! My other “must have” item is my 3 quart Instant Pot. It sits behind the driver’s seat since we don’t have much storage space. It sounds crazy to haul it around with us, but it is so convenient to use. I have a 6 quart that I use in my house and love it, too, but the 3 quart is perfect for our small campervan.