Full-Time RV Essentials
Now that social distancing may have become the new norm, I am sure more people will be going out and buying an RV to hang out in the great outdoors away from others. If you do decide to join the ranks of full or part-time RV'ers, you are going to need to know what items to have on hand to make your RV life so much easier. Below, we have listed the items we found we wouldn't want to live without in no specific order.
This one really depends on where you like to camp. We enjoy state and national parks, and many on the West Coast don’t have electrical hook-ups where we spent a lot of our time. We also liked to boondock out on BLM land, Harvest Hosts, and Boondockers Welcome and most of those didn’t have electricity either. I wasn’t ready to get a solar set up, so we settled on the Honda EU2200i generator. It is very quiet and has an “eco” mode that uses an inverter to allow it to slow down and reduce noise while the load is small, like charging just the RV batteries. If you don’t mind used, you can usually find these for around $500-$800. There are other brands of generators, but I prefer the Honda for reliability and the name behind it. Maintenance is pretty low and easy to do yourself.
Trojan T-105 6V Batteries
We purchased these batteries within the first couple of months of owning the trailer, and we are so glad we did. The amount of energy storage on them compared to regular 12-volt batteries that come standard with trailers is so much larger. I would recommend buying these locally at a battery shop near you. We picked these up at Battery X-Change for $125 per battery. I put the Amazon link for reference. You need two of these wired in series to get 12 volts. If we were to continue RV'ing more in the future, I would look into buying some lithium ($$$) batteries, put a solar panel system on top of the trailer, and maybe even get a converter so we could run 120V off of them. Maybe when we retire officially way down the road ;)
We didn't know for sure if we would use this membership much in the beginning, but once we tried it we were hooked. Basically, you can park your RV at a host's property, usually around their house. The great thing is a lot of the properties are large and in very scenic locations around North America. Even better, oftentimes you get to meet your host and get to know them, as well as have a local give you tips on where to go and what to see. All this for $50 for an entire year, or you become a host and get 3 months free for every guest you have stay with you. You can then activate your free 3 months whenever you are ready to travel.
Andersen Leveling Blocks
We got the deluxe package of the Andersen Leveling Blocks, which was a lot more than the one linked, but I personally think you just need the ramps. You can use 2x6 blocks as pads under your stabilizers. These are definitely nice and very easy to use when it comes to leveling the trailer. You don’t have to pile up blocks or anything. You just set both crescent shape pieces behind the wheels that need to be lifted, back up onto them, and block it. Jen has become a pro at leveling using these blocks and the stick-on leveling bubbles attached to the frame. Also, the kit we got came with leveling pads for the stabilizers or front jack. It does come with a larger crescent that is supposed to allow you to change a tire, but I tried it on ours, and it didn’t lift the trailer high enough to get the tire off. .
It is important to make sure your lugs are tight, especially when you do your own maintenance like wheel bearings or fixing a flat. I check mine about once a month, and any time I have taken off a wheel. This tool has come in very handy.
A friend of mine recommended these little devices to us before leaving, and it paid off just the other day. This device works by using individual sensors on each trailer wheel, and a monitor in the truck cab. The sensors read pressure, and temperature and if either is off, it will alert us and tell us which tire is having a problem. It alerted us the other day that one of our tires was low on pressure. I was able to fill the tire up with our 12V air compressor (see below) and make it to our next stop. Thankfully, I had bought a flat tire repair kit before we left. When we got to our next campsite, I jacked the trailer up, and with Jen’s help, we patched the tire up.
This may seem like a desired purchase, but when you are doing a lot of boondocking and/or camping far away from town, it has definitely saved us so many times. It is a great product, and it is doesn’t take long to fill a tire up to 65psi from 0psi. It comes with a nice carrying case and accessories. We just hook it up to the RV or truck batteries, and it easily fills all of our tires. It comes with a long, coiled hose and spare filters as well. Along with the tire minder, I check my tire pressures before every trip and adjust if needed. .
There are definitely a lot of days I wish I didn’t bring these bikes since we don’t ride them that often. But when we do, these racks are pretty easy to load and unload. So in conjunction with this Peragon Tonneau top and a custom-built frame (thanks Rob!), these bike racks do a great job holding onto the bike with all the bumpy roads we have hit. The Tonneau top is great too because it folds inwards so we can have the bikes over the top, and it is lockable to secure everything within the truck bed.
Radio with CarPlay
When I bought this truck used, it had the base radio in it, which was fine, except I knew we would be using navigation a lot, and I like to listen to audiobooks from the library or Audible. So we got this radio installed locally, and given we both have iPhones, it worked out really well because it had Apple CarPlay, which syncs right up with the phones, navigation, music, and audio player. It is way easier to follow the navigation instructions on the screen than to have Jen try to tell me (Sorry, honey!) 😉.
This may seem like a want, but when you have a propane stove and oven you spend a lot of time lighting these things. Those disposable lighters are decent at best but most suck. This little device is awesome and it is rechargeable! It is so easy to use and lights every time.
These came in pretty handy especially when we weren’t on flat ground. They also seemed to help reduce the rocking of the trailer from our movement inside. The soft rubber material did a great job of locking in against the ground surface too.
Now for some of the dirtier stuff :)
We tried to use the traditional cat litter box, but these little buggers made a mess with it, and it didn’t fit well in the space we had. This one fits well in our bathroom, and it seems to keep a lot more of the litter in the box instead of around the trailer. I personally…would leave the pets at home.
This addition to our bathroom door also helped in being able to keep the door closed.
For those of you that don’t know, you have to put something in the black tank to keep it from smelling up your trailer and to help break down all the waste. Most of the products you find in the store, in my opinion, just cover up the smell temporarily and don’t do a good job long term or in hot weather. This product does an amazing job, plus it is biodegradable and environmentally and septic friendly. We haven’t had any issues with smell since. It takes one scoop in a bowl or two of water and we are good for a full tank. This is a necessity, and I can't imagine RV'ing without it ever again.
A few maintenance items that I like too.
If you ever have to do roof maintenance on a rubber roof, this is the stuff to fix all problems. When applied properly, it seems to cure all problems. I have read many RV blogs, and they all swear by it as well. I've had quite a few problems with roof leaks over the life of this trailer, and once I used EternaBond on those areas, I have never had to go back, plus it looks a lot better than the regular sealant.
Sticky Lube Spray
I should have put this at the top of this list. I bought WD-40 Spray and Stay Gel Lubricant the other day because my stabilizer jacks were starting to get rusty, and squeaky again. I had been constantly applying other lubricant brands to stop the rust and squeak, but they all seem to wear off quickly. Finally, I found this stuff, and after cleaning the rust off, I sprayed it on. The Wd-40 comes out almost in foam form, but, dang, this stuff is sticky. All the other lubricants I have tried wear off quickly, but this stuff has really stayed in place. I applied it about 2 months ago, and the jacks are still glazed over with it and no squeaking or rust since. Amazing!
Update: We have been out in the dusty desert areas recently and it still has held up really well and I still haven't had to reapply it.
I am sure there a a few items I am missing, but these are definitely the ones that made this trip even more enjoyable. We wouldn't leave home without any of these.
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