RV: Bare Essentials

So, you just bought your camper. Now you are in the isle at the camping store staring at all these strange products, wondering what on earth you ACTUALLY need. If this is you, our Bare Necessities Checklist is the list you are looking for! We will cover the items you NEED for a successful camping trip, and leave out all the rest. If you're looking to dive a bit deeper into outfitting your camper, check out our Must Haves Checklist for those luxury items that can take your RVing experience to the next level.

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When you are outfitting a new RV the overwhelming amount of RV accessories and the task of making sure you have everything you need can leave you feeling a bit lost. This list covers only the essentials--those items you cannot RV without. Obviously a few of these items depend on the type of RV you have and how you plan to use your camper. Be sure to check your owners manual for specific items your camper might need.

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RV Accessories | Outdoor | Kitchen | Bathroom | Tool Box | Other

RV Accessories

This might be one of the harder areas to navigate as a new RVer. What do you NEED to have for your camper to be operational? Often times even RV dealers try to upsell you on what you actually need. If you're new to camping and don't want to invest in a lot of extra junk before you even know if you like camping, you're not interested in a million different accessories. Here are the items that you cannot RV without.

  • Drinking Water Hose: Yes, this is different than your garden hose at the house! Drinking water hoses for your RV are specifically made for potable water. Those sold at the hardware store down the street aren't rated for drinking water. You can get drinking water hoses in a variety of lengths and materials. If you want to fill your rig at home and know how much length you need, stick with that. If you are hoping to hook up to city water connections at RV parks, you may want to consider a hose that is at least 50 feet in length so you know you can reach the spigot. There are TONS of hoses out there, but for starters definitely stick with something like this basic hose. Or, if you know you'll be RVing a lot (such as full-time or for an entire season), consider something like this Zero-G Hose.

  • Sewer Hose: Some RVs don't have holding tanks, if this is the case for your camper, you can skip right over this item on the Bare Necessities checklist. But, if your rig has holding tanks you will need a good quality sewer hose. This is an area where quality definitely matters. You don't want to end up with a "poopsie", as the beloved RVers, Keep Your Day Dream call it. Your sewer hose should be durable and well maintained. We recommend replacing your sewer hose every year, or at the very least, every other year to prevent cracking and broken connections from causing a problem. We recommend a set with a clear elbow and a few connections so you are never without what you need at a dump station. This Camco Set is a good set with needed connections. You may be wondering about the clear elbow--we believe it is essential so you can see when your tanks are actually empty or if they are clogged and there maybe an issue. If you can't see what's coming out, you can't really know if your tanks are being emptied or not!

  • Leveling Blocks: Some people use boards for leveling, but these leveling blocks are handy for many different reasons when it comes to your RV. The most obvious reason is using them to level your camper from side to side on an uneven surface. The less know reasons are to place under the tongue jack and stabilize feet to prevent sinking into the ground and damage to your rig. They can also be used to raise the tongue jack higher if you are on uneven surface and need to raise the coupler higher off the ground than your jack will allow you to get off the hitch. We have also used them to get out of a soft camping spot, to level out the picnic table, among other reasons! Get a good set with a carrying case, like this set, so they're not flying all over your rig.

Now, you may hear about rocking levelers such as Anderson Levelers. So, why don't we recommend those on our Bare Necessities list? Because they're not multi-purpose. The rocking levelers do one job, level the camper. Leveling blocks can help you in a variety of ways, so if you can only have one or you are just starting out, choose the blocks!
  • Rubber Chocks: There are a lot of things you CAN use for chocks, but it doesn't mean you should. Heavy duty rubber chocks are the way to go. Plastic chocks can be rolled right over, crack under the weight of your camper, and slide on concrete. Rubber chocks stay in place, are super durable, and are much more sturdy under the tire of your rig.

  • Tank Treatment: Again, if your rig doesn't have holding tanks, no need to worry. But, if you have black and grey tanks, tank treatment is REALLY important. There are hundreds of kinds of tank treatment out there, some scented, some packets, and some liquids. Hands down, the best treatment out there is Happy Camper. It's easy to use, kills any smells in a few minutes, and does a good job at preventing clogs! You can use Happy Camper your black or grey tank. We suggest throwing some in as soon as you hit camp!

  • Power Adapter: Sometimes it is hard to know what kind of power hook ups you will have at a campground until you get there. Other times things may not be working the way they are supposed to and you may be forced to plug into a power outlet you weren't expecting. For a 50 amp rig, we suggest a 50 amp to 30 amp and a 50 amp to 15 amp. For a 30 amp rig we suggest a 30 amp to 50 amp and a 30 am to 15 amp. While you might not always need them, you will be mad you don't have them when you do!

Other Items

The items in this category fall under important for their own reason. While not directly RV related, we think they are just as important to have on board as your RV accessories. These are some of the little details that you may not think about, but will be glad you have.

  • Weather Radio: We did not realize a weather radio was essential when we first started RVing. We thought we had our phones, there wasn't a need for one. Then, we were stuck in a Tornado Watch with a nasty storm coming our way in an area with no cell phone service and spotty radio stations. It was nerve-wrecking! We headed out the next morning to get ourselves a weather radio and now we don't leave home without it. If you know you will always be camping in a location with cell service, it may not be as essential to you. If you plan to do some exploring and may get outside cell coverage, we highly recommend them!

  • Sanitation Gloves: When you are dealing with your holding tanks, especially your black tank having gloves to protect you from the bacteria and dirt is a top priority. Some people do prefer reusable sanitation gloves, but we prefer disposable. Disposable gloves can go right in the