So you just bought an RV and are now wondering what you need to stock for your first camping trip. Well, that’s why we compiled this list of RV essentials for beginners to help you get what you need, avoid feeling overwhelmed, and get out to enjoy your new RV.
Our list includes a few nice-to-haves, and some categories are specific to certain types of RVs. Use a critical eye and remember that you’re just as free to overpack as you are to create a minimalist experience for your first RV adventure.
RV Essentials for Towing
For beginners getting ready to tow a camper to their first campground, check with an RV expert at your local Camping World to ensure you have the following equipment rated for your RV’s weight:
- Hitch ball (for towable campers)
- Weight distribution hitch/sway control (for towable campers)
- Trailer brake controller (if your tow vehicle doesn’t have one built-in)
RV Essentials for Setting Up Your Motorhome or Travel Trailer
When you reach your destination and back into a campsite, here’s everything you’ll need to set up before you can start exploring:
- Wheel chocks
- Leveling blocks
- Jack crank handle (for RVs with manual stabilizing jacks)
- Shore power cord (if your RV didn’t come with one)
- Surge protector
- Potable water hose
- Water pressure regulator
- Sewer hose
- Clear 90° sewer hose elbow
- Disposable gloves for handling your sewer hose
A nice-to-have: a scissor jack socket adapter to use with a power drill for quickly and easily raising and lowering manual stabilizing jacks. Don’t use an impact driver, and never use stabilizing jacks to lift your trailer!
Download our complete RV setup and teardown checklist to track how you’ll use these RV essentials.
RV Essentials for Interior Living
With your RV properly leveled and stabilized — and water, sewer, and electric hooked up — you’ll need these RV essentials for comfortable living and strategic RV maintenance on each trip:
- RV toilet paper
- Sewer chemicals
- Dishwashing supplies
- Shower essentials
- Laundry supplies
A nice-to-have: Adhesive hooks and hangers are great for creating hanging storage space, especially in smaller campers with limited drawers and cabinet storage.
RV Essentials for Outdoor Living
Some campers keep their outdoor living setup minimal. Others can be quite extravagant. These RV essentials for outdoor living will help you set up a comfortable yet reasonable outdoor living area at your campsite:
- Patio mat
- Camp chairs
- Outdoor grill/griddle
- Folding camp table (not all sites have a picnic table)
- Portable firepit (not all sites have fire rings or allow wood fires year-round)
A nice-to-have: Insect repellants can make camping much more comfortable, especially in the spring in particularly mosquito-friendly environments.
RV Essentials for Boondocking
While most new RVers should begin by staying close to home in a campground with full hookups, you can use our guide to boondocking for beginners – and this list of essentials – to prepare for an off-grid adventure.
- Portable generator
- Solar kit (panels, charge controller, inverter)
- Portable power station
- Water container
- Portable waste tank
A nice-to-have: A rolling wagon will help transport your recreation items to the beach, riverfront, or a friend’s camp spot.
RV Essentials That Experienced RVers Can’t Live Without
In addition to the essentials listed above, experienced RVers told us they can’t live without the following:
- Slip-on camp shoes with good traction
- A socket that fits your hot water drain plug
- A pad and pen to write down what you need or forgot
- Toolbox just for the camper
- Electric, plumbers, and duct tape
- Zip ties
- Flashlight with batteries
- Canopy lights
- Small crockpot
- 800 thread count (or higher) Egyptian cotton sheets
- A good down comforter
- Cast iron skillet
- Fire starters
- Microwave-safe dishes
- Laundry basket
- Tabletop smoker
- Veggie peeler
- Potato masher
RV Essentials for Newbies: Advice From The Community
Our community also spoke up with their top tips for new RVers:
Advice on Getting Started
“Learn your vehicle/trailer before you go out on a trip.”– AJ Riffice
“Make your first trip close to home. This will allow you to get things you forgot. Observe other campers when they set up and when they leave. This will help you improve your process. Talk with other campers. Ask them for things they do and things they have that are helpful. Make a list of things you need to get. Read and reread your owner’s manual. Make a list of things to do and things you need to learn.”– Steve Brown
“Do a test camp and see if you can figure out your water heater, your dump station routine, and what you need to be comfy when you sleep.”– CM McCullough
“Until you’re comfortable backing up, opt for pull-thru sites!! Even then, be aware of turning radius, etc…lest you knock down your site’s power pole or water fixture!!”– Steve Rogers
“Get an RV or camper with heated tanks for winter and a heat pump.”– Rhonda Hunt
“Replace the original mattress. Those factory ones are terrible.”– Matt Hawks
Advice on Pre-Trip Checks
“Check air pressure before you leave. Make sure all storage compartments are shut and locked. Do a walk around twice to make sure everything is hooked up correctly. Take paper plates to eat on. And a good coffee mug. The camping world will throw in decent chairs. Take only the clothes you will wear. short trips until you’re comfortable. Take what you think you will need for a short trip and look around at other campers. They will have things and set up things that you will get ideas from for the next time. Eventually, you will find your own groove. Take it slow and easy. Enjoy!”– Wyatt Kingrey
“Make sure propane tanks are full! Especially if it’s cold out!”– Joan Norkus
Advice on Packing
“The thing I learned for sure is that I need far less than I think I do.”– Aileen Lauer
“Boil your breakfast in a freezer bag. It’s a great omelette.”– Troy Davis
“Carry a notepad every time you camp. If you think about window coverings, write it down and get measurements. If you think of something that would be nice to have, write it down. Makes it so much easier if you keep a list.”– Mark Bowen
Advice on Campground Etiquette
“Talk to other campers who may know more than you! A handshake is a strong currency! And be courteous to your neighbors.”– Rick Krenz
“Don’t leave your dump valves open on your stay. (You’re camping neighbor also won’t like you) They are called dump valves for a reason!”– Karen Page
“Be nice!”– Rick Nixon
What Are the Best RV Blogs for Newbies?
We encourage you to view our full collection of RV resources here on the Camping World blog!
But there are many other online platforms with loads of beginner-friendly advice. Here are a few of our favorites:
- RV.com – A comprehensive resource for the latest RV industry news and RV reviews
- The Good Sam Blog – An excellent resource for trip planning and campground reviews
- Wildsam Magazine – Great for tips and advice to inspire your next road trip
Do you have any advice on RV essentials for beginners?
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