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My Top 10 RV Gear Essentials for Living in a Van or RV

Top 10 RV Gear Essentials for Full-Time Van Life

When you first start RVing, you might not know exactly what RV gear you need to stock in your RV and van with some of those essential items. I'd like to share with you my top 10 RV essentials, or what I think are RV essentials to have that make my life a little bit easier when I'm traveling in my van full time.

Today I'm writing to you from the desert in Arizona.

It's that time of the year where we all (digital nomads) start traveling down to the Southwest to get out of the cold from up North or wherever we've been traveling for the summer season.

It was definitely cold in the last couple of places we went to from Washington state all through Oregon, then California, and now Arizona.

With all the new regulations and advisories with Covid-19 – we might just be in Arizona for the winter. These are interesting times and we're all adapting to the change as we go.

Also, I'm going to share with you an amazing discount that Jackery is giving to all of you. Hint, hint – one of my top RV essentials is a Jackery.

They are giving you a discount during the holidays on a couple of their different solar battery packages for their power stations and also their solar panel.

You can watch the full YouTube video here:



The first item I'm going to share with you today is my Jackery solar panel power station system. This particular system is the Jackery 1000 Powerstation with 1000 watts of battery storage and a pure sine inverter which is a must when charging expensive electronics. It also comes with two 100 watt solar panels for a total of 200 watts.

There are three different AC outlets, one USB-C – which I use to power my GoPro when I'm recording night lapses outside. You have two quick charge USBs plus the 12-volt outlet, and a connection for your solar panels. There is a display button so you can see how much energy you're bringing in and how much energy you're consuming if you have a device plugged into it.

It's super simple to plugin using the cables attached to the solar panel and then using the adapter to connect two solar panels together, you then plug in into the designated spot. It's dummy proof for people like me.

Super simple!

Depending on the direction of the sun, you can pull in a much as 200 watts (2 solar panels at 100 watts each), but typically with the winter sun, I'm getting 120-130 watts with the two panels.

I started out with the 500-watt battery and inverter power station which worked really well. I love the 1000 watt too since I can double my capacity of energy to store and consume. I have quite a few electronics and camera equipment so it's really nice to be able to charge this battery during the day and use it at night to power devices and charge.

It also has such a small footprint that it's easy to keep in the van. I slide the folding solar panels between the passenger door and the passenger seat since I rarely open that door. That's Lily's little nest of toys and blankets.

Plus I can also charge my Rad electric bike battery off of the power station as well. It has a lot of different multiple functions and is great for anyone who doesn't want to install an expensive solar charging system permanently to their RV.

Jackery has a wonderful discount for you during the holidays. It's a pretty long list of discounts that I've added to the description box of my YouTube video. Click here to get the discount codes found under that video in the description and pinned comment for Black Friday specials and afterward for the holiday season.

Click here to buy on Amazon:



The second item that I really like and consider part of my RV essential gear is my Weber Go. It's a grill. I don't actually have an oven inside of my van. I miss having an oven! So, this Weber Go grill takes the place of an oven – kinda.

I like to grill meats and vegetables and various things like that and it's just super simple to light up the grill and cook a good meal. It's just another way to cook instead of using the stovetop. In a van, you need very minimalist products, something small that can fit into the back of the van. So, I decided on the Weber Go.

I also decided on the gas grill rather than the charcoal. It's a lot easier and I can connect the grill to the propane tank on board the van with a quick connect hose. What's nice about it is, it's very compact.

You've got your grill surface. There's nothing fancy about it. It's got the lid cover to make sure all the meats and vegetables are cooked inside properly. Then there are metal legs that have a dual purpose to use as a stand for the grill and then fold up easily over the top of the grill cover when not in use and ready to store.

It's taken my cooking to a whole new level in the van!

Click here to buy on Amazon:


All right, let's move on to the next one, which is my sand-free mat. I absolutely love this mat. It's quite interesting. If you look at the material on it, somehow the sand goes through this meshy area and stays on the ground rather than the top of your mat so it saves on cleaning and dirt build-up.

The other thing that I love about this sand-free mat is that even with a little bit of wind it seems to stay on the ground and not fly away. I'm not exactly sure how, but it does and it works.

This is one of my favorite items. I've gone through so many different mats since I've started RVing three and a half years ago and this is by far my top mat. It just holds up. It's made very well, no sand, easy to clean, easy to store. It rolls up really nice and compact and slides into back of the van.

Buy here on Amazon:



The next essential RV gear is my tripod chair. It's very minimalist. It's easy to carry, and it folds up easily and it's compact. You can fold it up with one hand (which you can see in my video). There's also a little strap so you can carry it on your shoulder if you wanted to, then you just sit your bum right down in seat. Easy peasy!

It's really great when you have those campfires that you want to go to if you're hanging around in a crowd, during non-COVID times, of course, and walk with that rather than a big bulky chair. I use it as a secondary chair too, for guests who come over so we can sit outside.

Buy on Amazon:



The next item is, well, not as fun, but it's a surge protector, this is from Progressive Industries and a MUST. What I love about it, is that it keeps all my electronics safe in my van.

What this is used for is when you go to a campground or any place that you're going to plug into shore power to your van or RV. Mine happens to be a 30 amp, but Progressive Industries also has a 50 amp one as well. You plug this surge protector into the AC outlet on the wall, or at your campground, and then you plug your electrical plug from your van, or your RV into the Progressive Industries surge protector. It gives you all kinds of warning and error codes in the display to let you know that the power that's coming in is safe and to make sure there's no power surge. It also tells you if there's an under or over voltage, which is really nice.

You definitely don't want that to happen, because you don't want all of your electronics to be fried if there's a surge of power from the campground electricity. Unfortunately, campgrounds aren't always so reliable when it comes to the power coming into the electrical posts at each campsite. So, this is an absolute must to protect your RV electrical system from bad electricity surges, and under/over-voltage issues.

The one that I have is an older model, but the one shown here and linked is the new model with a great cover to keep it dry when it's raining outside.

Buy on Amazon:



One of the other top RV essentials that I think is a must-have is my tire pressure monitoring system from TireMinder. I also have a coupon code for you that will give you 20% off if you use the code StoryChasing. It does exactly what it says it's going to do. It tells me what the temperature is of the tires. It tells me what the PSI of the tires are and alerts me if any of those numbers are not the normal range for safety.

I can monitor my PSI and tire temperature while I'm driving and make sure that my tires aren't ready to have a blowout or they're getting overheated. Those are things that you have to be aware of when you're driving as much as we do in van life and RV life.

I actually published a video on this when I talked about tire safety. You can click here to watch that video where I go into more detail about how to actually set it up for your van or RV:

It's a great little system – very small and compact. I just put it right on my dash and monitor my tires as I go. It's very, very simple. Also, I haven't had any issues with air leaking out from the sensors screwed on to the tire valve stems. It's worked really well for me. I love it. It's definitely a must-have.

Buy with coupon code for 20% off: StoryChasing at



My travel Berkey is a must-have for me because I drink a ton of water. It does what the name implies – filters water – better than any other filter I've ever seen or used. This way I have good clean water in my van and I don't have to buy a bunch of bottled water. It also states that it can filter river water.

I don't typically go places where I have to filter river water, but supposedly it can do that. What I love is that it has two carbon filters up here in the top chamber and then two more filters in the bottom chamber to filter out fluoride and other contaminants.

I love that because I can actually take water from my fresh water tank, put it inside the top chamber with my kitchen faucet hose, and then it filters the water directly from my van's freshwater tank. I would never drink from the freshwater tank directly. The filters last a long time at 6,000 gallons for the two top filters.

Buy on Amazon:



My next must-have in RV life and van life is a gimbal. You're going to be taking a lot of pictures whether you have a YouTube channel or not, so you'll want to get some of those good pictures and selfies, right?

I love this gimbal by DJI. It's an Osmo Mobile 3 and it's just amazing and simple. I use my phone a lot more these days for filming footage so this gimbal helps make my video shows a little bit more buttery smooth. If you watch the video, I demonstrate how to use the gimbal with the iPhone.

So, if you want something that's nice and compact, this is a great tool and it has a tripod function for it too. It also has some follow-me features on it and a bunch of different functions that really help you get that shot that you're looking for with still photos and videography. Again, it's not super complex. It's really easy to use, and this tripod screws off of the handle so you can use the gimbal with or without the tripod.

You can put it in your purse or fold it up and slide into your back pocket pretty easily.

Buy on Amazon:



One of my other favorite things on my top RV essential in the van is a magnetic mount for my dash so that I can put my phone on it very easily, every time I get into the driver's seat and I can look at my Google Maps.

I can pull up anything that I want on there, but it's nice and easy. The back of the phone has these little plates on it that you just stick on to your phone or case and you just literally stick your phone up to the magnetic dash mount and it grabs your phone and stays in place. It can move around and swivel any which way you want on the ball head mount.

You can reposition the phone on the mount if you want it higher or lower just by pulling the phone off and putting it back onto the magnet.

It's just amazing. It's a must.

It's just super easy. It's not complicated. I've been on BLM land, washboard roads, rocky roads, back and forth to Alaska, to Baja Mexico, and no issues whatsoever. It has not fallen down.

Buy on Amazon:



The last item – and one of my very, very favorites – is my Instant Pot. I absolutely love this thing. This is kind of a two for one must-have RV gear. I have these pot-in-pots, which are absolutely amazing to cook in for simple one-pot meals.

This is a 3 quart instant pot. It's nice and compact for van life. Just simple.

It has settings for rice, porridge, steam, yogurt, you can actually make yogurt in here – saute function, slow cook, beans, chile, meats, stew, and soups. I typically just use the pressure cook function or saute most of the time, or sometimes I even use the steam function. If I'm doing poached eggs, yes, you can do poached eggs in the Instant Pot. Isn't that amazing?

I cook oatmeal in the Instant Pot, steel-cut oats, regular oats. I steam broccoli, poached eggs, and cook rice, chili, soups, meats, and fish. It's pretty versatile.

The great thing is that it doesn't use a ton of power and that's important in an RV and a van, because you're always constantly concerned about your power, especially if you're boondocking. With the instant pot, it gets up to pressure – that's when it uses most of its power – and then once it gets up to pressure, it's hardly using any energy whatsoever and it's just cooking inside that pressure time. So, if I'm cooking steel-cut oats, which take about five minutes, I put the Instant Pot on high pressure cook for five minutes, it gets up to pressure and then it counts down that timer of five minutes.

During that time when it's counting down the time, that's when it uses very little energy. The pot-in-pots are really great because you can cook several meals in one. So, a lot of times I'll put rice down in the bottom chamber and I'll put fish and vegetables up in the top chamber. It cooks all of the food at the same time inside of the Instant Pot. You've got a meal all in one pot.

Buy the Instant Pot on Amazon:

Buy the Pot-in-Pot on Amazon:

You can see all of my top 10 RV Gear essentials here in my Amazon store



Monday 23rd of November 2020

I love all of these ideas. I'm thinking of buying an RV next year when my lease is up. Have thought of it off and on, but this time is the most likely I am going to be doing it. I have pets, so I am up in the air over a Class B or a small Class C, under 24 feet. Working as much as I can right now to try and save up in advance. I do have a job that will let me work remotely. :-)

Amber Baldwin

Friday 22nd of January 2021

Good luck to you Terri!