You’ve just purchased your first RV, so now it is time to stock your rig with everything you’ll need to get rolling. It’s tempting to head straight to a camping store or to hop online and order EVERYTHING. New grill? Cute pillows from Etsy? All of the camping chairs? Those items are fun, terrific purchases; however, you might want to pause and prioritize before you find yourself dropping $1000 on gear you might not want or need.
The ultimate goal with stocking up is to have everything you will need and nothing you won’t. When we first started RVing, we hauled many of our regular household items out to the RV for each and every trip, and then we hauled those same items back into the house.
Of course, this process got tiresome after a bit. However, it helped us figure out which items we used the most. Those went to the top of our packing list. Over time, we bought dedicated gear that stayed in the RV and continued to use a checklist to repack items as needed.
You can use our complete stock up checklist as a starting guide for your first rig. Over time, you’ll learn which items you can’t live without and which ones you never touch. Then, you can develop and refine your own personalized packing list. Here’s an overview of some of our essential recommendations:
RV Tools and Safety Gear
Tools and safety gear are less fun to purchase than the cute or kitschy camping décor many of us covet; however, these items ensure your safety and security while on the road or in a campground. Put these necessities at the top of your list—or else!
To set up camp, you’ll need the following items:
- Leveling boards
- Sewer hose (the stinky slinky)
- Potable water hose
- Water pressure regulator
- Surge protector
- Electricity converters (to move between 20, 30, and 50 amp)
The following basic tools and gear can help you roll safely down the road and repair small problems:
- Basic tool box
- Tire pressure gauge
- Fuse replacement kit
- Replacement bulbs
- Air compressor
- Jumper cables
Other overlooked safety gear might include a rechargeable flashlight, a fly swatter, a water filter, and latex gloves. These will come in handy!
Camp Furniture and Outdoor Gear
Once you’ve safely set up your rig, now comes the fun part of turning your campsite into a pleasant outside living space. You can always start with relatively cheap versions of these items and then upgrade over time. After five years of traveling, we’ve become camp chair connoisseurs, with each family member having a favorite style, but trust me, we didn’t start off that way.
Here are some items you might want that will make your campsite even cozier:
- One camp chair per person
- An outdoor rug
- Table cloth
Now, comes the fun part. You can truly personalize your campsite with the following gear:
- Awning lights
- Pop up shelter
- Rope lights
- Outdoor games
What’s a campsite without a campfire? If you forget to stock these items, you’ll miss out on this revered camping ritual:
- Firewood (note: some states do not allow the transport of firewood from area to area)
- Fire starters
- Lighter & matches
Kitchen (Indoor & Outdoor)
Ah, the kitchen. Some people use camping as a chance to take a break from their culinary duties, while others take pride in becoming the consummate camp chef. No matter which one of these is your goal, you’ll likely need some kitchen essentials.
Of course, you’ll need the basic eating utensils. Consider purchasing unbreakable items, whenever possible. Our rule of thumb is to pack one for each per person, plus a couple of extras.
- Plates & bowls
- Cups and mugs
Next comes the cookery. Think about the wares and utensils you will need to prepare the types of meals you cook most often. Consider stocking the following:
- Nesting bowls
- Cutting board & quality knife set
- Cooking utensils (spoons, ladle, tongs, peeler, whisk, etc.)
- Collapsible colander
- Measuring cups & spoons
- Pots, skillets & baking wares
We don’t store food in the RV when not in use, but these pantry staples can be kept in airtight containers, ready to load:
- Salt, pepper, & other seasonings
- Nonstick spray
- Oil & vinegar
- Coffee (don’t forget the filters and coffee maker)
Finally, you’ll want these miscellaneous kitchen items to help keep your kitchen clean and functional:
- Dish towels & washcloths
- Can opener & bottle opener
If you’ll be using an outdoor grill, be sure to include the specialty supplies to accompany your grill.
The bathroom is one of the places you’ll want to have well stocked. Health and hygiene are pretty essential! Take care of those with these items:
- Shampoo, conditioner & body wash
- Toothpaste & toothbrush
- Shaving cream & razors
- Hand soap & sanitizer
- Towels, hand towels & washcloths
Bedroom & Closets
We highly recommend having dedicated bedding for all of the beds in your rig. Bonus points if you have pillows and blankets you can leave in it—those are the biggest pain to haul in and out! Whether you buy new or choose to use spares you already have, here are just a few of the main items you’ll need for your beds and bodies:
- Laundry hamper
- Jackets and rain gear
- If you have old shoes and spare clothes that can “live” in the RV, it’s nice to leave them packed, just in case you ever take off without these essentials (not that we’ve ever done that!)
Wow! That seems like a lot of stuff. Just remember, you don’t have to pack EVERYTHING on this list. Start small, and add only the gear you think you will use. Once you have a handful of trips under your belt, you’ll develop a rhythm and routine all your own. Soon, you’ll have a good idea of your perfect stock up list. Until then, feel free to consult our Complete RV Stock Up List as a starting point. Then, get out there and make that new rig the cozy home on wheels you’ve always dreamed of!