Best RV Essentials For Beginners: The Guide Every RVer Needs

Fifth wheel RV and Ram 3500 dually in a sunset glow while boondocking in South Dakota

When it comes to RV travel and camping, there are certain basic essentials all RVers need to have on hand. Whether you are a weekend warrior, a full-time traveling RVer, or an occasional vacationer, we are breaking down all the RV camping essentials you need for any successful RV adventure. Spend less time worrying about what you need for your RV and more time adventuring outdoors with this helpful guide from two full-time RVers who have traveled to over 25 states and 4 Canadian Provinces while living and working in their RV!

Must-Have RV Camping Essentials

A Trusty Water Hose

One of the perks of traveling in an RV is having access to amenities like showers and running water. To be set up for success, an RV essential is a quality water hose. This will be used to hook up to city water if you have a water hook-up at your site or fill your fresh tank if you are boondocking without hookups.

We have had problems with stiff hoses being cumbersome and cracking, so we recommend flexible hoses like this one:

Our Pick

Camco EvoFlex 35-Foot Drinking Water Hose

BPA-free flexible water hose for bringing water from a water source into your RV freshwater tank

Heated Water Hose

While we tend to be fair-weather RVers, it is hard to follow the weather perfectly. If you will ever find yourself RVing in winter conditions, an insulated and heated water hose will help you avoid running into frozen hoses and losing access to water.

This is an RV camping essential if you live in a colder climate or plan to camp in freezing temperatures. A nice warm shower would be nice during those skiing or snowboarding trips!

Our Pick

Camco 25-Foot Heated Drinking Water Hose 

Uses a self-regulating heating cable to provide freeze protection down to -20 degrees Fahrenheit

A Quality Water Filter

Water quality plays a big role in your health and well-being and is not something to take a chance on. Our RV has a whole house filter, and we also have a Berkey Water Filter to ensure we can count on high-quality water, no matter where we go.

Depending on your RV, how often you camp, and what kind of RVing you do, an RV camping essential will be some form of in-line water filter for your water hose:

Our Pick

Camco TastePURE Camper/RV Water Filter

A 20-micron internal sediment filter protects against silt, sediment, etc. that may have entered your fresh drinking water supply. The wide body design provides increased flow, so your water runs smoothly & efficiently.

If you are looking for a more comprehensive filtration system, you might consider a countertop solution like the Berkey

Berkey water filter sitting on the kitchen island of an RV with beautiful sunset views of Lone Rock Beach in Utah
We love our Berkey!

Our Pick

Travel Berkey Gravity-Fed Water Filter

Black Berkey Elements remove or dramatically reduce over 200+ typical contaminants that could be present in lakes, rivers, ponds, streams, and other freshwater sources—no electricity, tools, or plumbing are required.

Or you might consider a system that filters the water as it enters your RV like the Clearsource Water Filtration System:

RVer’s Pick

Clearsource Ultra RV Water Filter System with VirusGuard

Top of the line filters that use NASA-developed technology to remove or reduce, bacteria, cysts, and viruses

A Surge Protector for safety

An RV camping essential if you ever plan to plug your RV into an electric pedestal is a high-quality surge protector. Surge protectors protect all electrical components in your RV from damage or fire should there be a spike in voltage coming from your AC power source.

Some RVs may come with surge protectors or an EMS permanently installed. If that is not the case for your RV or camper, a separate surge protector will be one of your RV essentials.

Below are two basic surge protectors. Read about RV surge protectors vs EMS to learn more about which is best for you.

Our Pick

RV Surge Protector (30 amp) with Waterproof Cover

Protects your RV from dangerous high and low voltage levels as well as power surges. Built for RVs with 30 amp systems

Our Pick

RV Surge Protector (50 amp) with Waterproof Cover

Protects your RV from dangerous high and low voltage levels as well as power surges. Built for RVs with 50 amp systems

Tank Treatment to keep things fresh and clean

Happy Campers and RV Digest-It tank treatments sitting on RV stairs above a collection of stickers collected through travels to various National and State Parks in the U.S.

A big pro of traveling in an RV is typically having access to your own restroom! With this comes great responsibility to take care of your tanks and avoid any waste backups that can lead to a gross and smelly disaster.

For this reason, having a high-quality tank treatment is an RV camping essential. Not only for superficial reasons to keep things smelling fresh but also to keep your tanks from getting clogged or backing up.

Our favorite tank treatment is Happy Campers Holding Tank Treatment. Through the use we have found that our tank sensors perform better, we have had no clogging, and no smells in our RV – even in extreme heat.

Our Pick

Happy Campers RV Holding Tank Treatment

Eliminates odors in the RV holding tank without any chemical smell. This is the best product for RV tank treatment we have found and we use it regularly!

Keeping your RV tanks in peak working order is an important part of setting yourself up for success with camping and boondocking.

Read More: How to Clean RV Tank Sensors (for more information on keeping your sensors working accurately and your tanks clear of sludge)

RV Friendly Toilet Paper

Hand in hand with a good tank treatment option, another RV essential is RV-friendly toilet paper. Using toilet paper that is not RV-friendly is the quickest way to find yourself with build-up and clogs that make it really hard to appropriately empty your black tank.

RV toilet paper is one of those RV camping essentials you always want to have on hand, and it is worth the bit of added price compared to normal toilet paper in the long run.

Our Pick

Scott Rapid-Dissolving Toilet Paper

RV safe toilet paper that dissolves easily and quickly to prevent build-up and clogs in your RV black tank

We like the Scott brand rapid dissolving toilet paper. We have often sometimes found great deals at big box stores like Walmart!

Blocks & Chocks

While campgrounds are many things, unless you are at an RV resort, most times one thing they are not is flat. If you plan to visit state parks, family-run campgrounds, harvest hosts, or boondock on public lands, you can almost guarantee you will require some help from blocks for leveling and chocks to help keep your rig sturdy.

Getting a set of stackable blocks is an RV essential as they can help you when leveling out on a site that is very uneven, as well as help with stability by preventing your jacks from having to extend too far.

In addition, chocks are an RV camping essential as they help to keep your RV more stable by limiting the movement of the tires, and can also help with security when unhooking from a tow vehicle. X Chocks are a quality choice among RVers and we also have a large chock that was actually once used by fire engines!

Our Pick

Tri-Lynx 00015 Lynx Levelers – 10 Pack

Buildable blocks to help with the leveling of your RV

RVer’s Pick

X-Chock Wheel Stabilizer

Provides added stabilization and prevents tire shifts by applying opposing force to tandem tire applications. These are popular among RVers and works with natural tire movement instead of against it.

If you own a fifth wheel like us, you will also need something to prop up your front jacks, as this helps limit the strain on the jacks and helps make the RV more stable You can create DIY blocks using wood or consider a popular option like the Andersen Jackstands:

RVer’s Pick

Anderson Jackstands

Designed to eliminate nearly all movement and sway in parked RVs and trailers while also being highly durable and resistant to dirt, oil, and grime.  

Many RVers also choose to install RV snap pads to their jacks to further protect them from damage, the elements, and rust:

RVer’s Pick

RV SnapPad

Permanently attached leveling jack pads for the metal feet of your RV jacks that provide additional stability and vibration-dampening

Sewer Hose Kit & Holder

The bottom of a large fifth wheel with hoses connected to a sewer dump and portable water softener

If you plan to use your RV’s bathroom or kitchen sink, you will be collecting both gray and black water in your RV’s holding tanks. When you fill them up, you also have to dump them and you need a way to do so in an orderly fashion.

A sewer hose kit is without a doubt a must-have RV camping essential. The features of our sewer hose kit that we love are the interlocking head to avoid any spraying disasters, a clear elbow to check for clogs, and our sewer hose support which is an RV essential for getting your sewer hose at the proper angle to keep things flowing downhill to the sewer connection or dump site.

Our Pick

Camco RhinoFLEX 20’ Camper/RV Sewer Hose Kit

A high-quality sewer hose is worth the investment. This is a complete kit with everything you need for dumping your RV tanks. And while it may seem gross, the clear elbow is important for catching any signs of potential blockages

Our Pick

Camco 20-Foot Sidewinder RV Sewer Hose Support

Protects and supports your RV sewer hose. This can also help lift and guide your sewer hose to help waste move downhill for stable and simple drainage

Water Pressure Regulator

Different RVs can handle different amounts of water pressure coming into the rig. When water pressure is not regulated, this can occasionally lead to water pipes bursting in your RV. This can make for a costly fix when you account for repairs and potential water damage, not to mention time missed exploring in your RV.

A water pressure regulator is an RV camping essential that will give you peace of mind.

Our Pick

Renator RV Water Pressure Regulator 

Regulates the water pressure coming into your RV to protect your plumbing system

A Power Cord Adapter for if you’re in a pinch

As an RVer who plans to spend time on the grid at campgrounds, having a way to get power to your rig will be an RV camping essential. You never want to find yourself in a position where you show up at a campground and are unable to plug in your RV. This can happen if the electric service you have at your site does not match what you have from your rig.

For example, our RV is a 50-amp rig. We need an adapter when plugging into sites with 30 amp or 20 amp service.

Especially if you have a 50amp RV, having a power cord adaptor is an RV essential as it ensures you will never be without power no matter what service your campsite has.

Our Pick

CircleCord 50 Amp to 30 Amp RV Adapter Cord

A heavy-duty adapter making it easy to convert the power at a 50 Amp site to fit your 30 Amp RV. The pop of color makes it easier to see and harder to accidentally leave behind!

Our Pick

CircleCord 30 Amp to 50 Amp RV Adapter Cord

A heavy-duty adapter making it easy to convert the power at 30 Amp campground to fit your 50 Amp RV. The pop of color makes it easier to see and harder to accidentally leave behind!

Sanitation Gloves

Something easily overlooked, but an RV camping essential nonetheless. Disposable gloves protect you when handling the RV sewer hoses and anything you might need to touch at the dump station.

We also have a separate set of work gloves on hand for filling diesel, which can be a messy venture, especially at truck stops.

Portable Air Compressor

One of the biggest concerns for RVers on travel days is the dreaded tire blowout. That is why the first two products on our must-have RV accessories list are dedicated to helping you avoid the hassle and damages of a blowout or having to wait around for a tow truck or AAA.

The Viair portable air compressor has helped us to keep all of our 6 truck tires appropriately inflated, as well as the 4 tires on our fifth wheel. With frequent changes in pressures associated with fluctuations in temperature or altitude, we find ourselves using this reliable compressor almost every time we move the RV.

RVer inflating his truck tires using the Viair portable air compressor a must-have RV accessory

Our Pick

Viair 400P Portable Air Compressor

The Viair is compact enough to travel in the toolbox of our truck bed and at 150 Max PSI pressure, it’s powerful enough for all of our tire inflating needs within minutes. It is 12V operated, comes with a carrying case and anti-vibration tray, and is easy to move around at only 18 pounds.

TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System)

The small screen of a tire pressure monitoring system sitting on the brown dashboard of a truck with an RV in the background
Our Eez Tire TPMS is our trusty co-pilot everywhere we go!

Did you know that one of the leading causes of the dreaded tire blowout is low tire pressure? Having a tire pressure monitoring system allows you to monitor your RV tires at all times while towing (and your tow vehicle tires as well if not built-in). A TPMS system is one of the must-have RV accessories because it provides real-time updates and alerts so you can constantly know each of your tire pressures and temperatures and make proactive decisions before it’s too late.

We chose the EEZ Tire TPMS system due to recommendations from fellow full-time RVers. It was easy to install and connects remotely through a display we take with us in the truck. With its alerts and feedback, we have been able to pull over and use our Viair portable air compressor to keep our tire pressures within the recommended ranges while towing. Thankfully using our TPMS and Viair, we have avoided a blowout or any major tire issues on the truck or the RV.

Our Pick

EEZ Tire Tire Pressure Monitoring System

Visible and audible alerts based on the pressure units you set for your specific RV tires. A trusty co-pilot for peace of mind while towing

In addition to using a TPMS system, it is also important to choose the proper truck tires for towing your RV.

READ MORE: Best Truck Tires For Towing

Little Giant Ladder

RVer doing maintenance on his RV using the Little Giant ladder
An expandable Little Giant ladder is helpful for any maintenance projects in those hard-to-reach areas

Having an expandable ladder can really come in handy for times when you need to fix things on the outside of your RV that are just out of reach. For example, we had an emergency exit window get stuck open in the upstairs portion of our fifth wheel that was out of reach.

It also comes in handy for places that are hard to reach to clean or caulk. It can also help you with cleaning off slide roofs if you prefer to do so with a leaf blower rather than climbing onto the roof.

We think an extendable ladder is one of the must-have RV accessories because you always want to be able to access all parts of your RV for maintenance, repairs, or emergencies. We love our Little Giant Ladder because it is small enough to fit nicely in our fifth wheel’s basement and is able to extend into a 13ft ladder when fully extended.

Our Pick

Little Giant Ladder System

A versatile ladder that can be used in various forms (a-frame, extension, staircase, and 90-degree ladder) and be stored compactly


There is no worse feeling than hitting the open road with your RV and suddenly thinking…this doesn’t look right. Whether it’s a bridge that’s a bit too low, a road that says no trailers, or a few sharp turns that make your hair stand on end, there are plenty of ways to end up in a sticky situation when traveling with an RV or camper.

Using an RV-specific GPS helps relieve some of the stress of driving an RV or towing a trailer or fifth wheel by helping you feel more confident that you are navigating along a route that is RV-friendly.

RV Life

We love RV Life as it works as an app directly on our phones and can provide tailored routes based on our RV specifications for height and length. As rookie RVers, we got ourselves into our fair share of wrong turns and sticky situations which required a bit of stressful maneuvering. While no technology is perfect (always use your best judgment as well), having the right tools at your disposal can make a big difference.

Check out our in-depth guide to RV LIFE, what we consider to be the best RV travel app for planning, GPS, and finding campgrounds in one place, as well a complete list of best RVing apps to help you set yourself up for many fulfilling adventures!

If you would prefer an RV Safe GPS that is not an app, Garmin is a popular choice among RVers

RVer’s Pick

Garmin RV 795 GPS Navigator

Find the best roads for your RV with custom routing for the size and weight of your RV or trailer. You can also access a preloaded directory of RV parks and services, Tripadvisor traveler ratings and content from places like Ultimate Public Campgrounds, KOA, and the U.S. National Parks directory,

Tools for RV Maintenance

Red Milwaukee M-12 tools in an RV basement
We love our Milwaukee M12 line of tools!

If one thing is for sure, RVing means RV maintenance. Whether it is your home on your wheels or your vacation vehicle, it is well-known that RVs are rolling earthquakes when they are traveling down the road. Long story short, things break. RVs require consistent maintenance to help avoid costly repairs.

That is why we invested in compact, lightweight tools to have on hand for any job we might need to do while traveling.

We opted for the Milwaukee M12 line as it offers high-quality, powerful 12V tools that are perfect for those with limited space. They are also a great option for RVing as they are lighter weight than standard 18V tools. These are the tools we have found to be must-have RV accessories throughout our travels:

In our RV “basement”:

  • Drill – to tighten loose screws, drill holes for installations (such as solar)
  • Impact Driver – drive larger screws and bolts
  • Impact Wrench – key for pulling lug nuts off (for checking hubs, bearings, brakes, seals)
  • Torque Wrench – for tightening lugs between travels (tires or fifth wheel)
  • Tape measure – dimensions for furniture, projects, and installations
  • Gloves – For filling diesel at truck stops, electrical work, running power tools, etc.
Milwaukee m12 stubby with deep impact socket set sitting next to dually truck tires
M12 Stubby with our deep impact socket set

In our truck’s toolbox:

Ratcheting wrench set sitting on fresh green grass
Our ratcheting wrench set comes in handy for tightening up any nuts or bolts that shift and loosen during travel

READ MORE: Ultimate RV Maintenance Checklist

Extra/Spare RV Parts

Truck tool box with must-have RV accessories for RV maintenance

Did we mention things break? To avoid some large RV headaches or finding yourself in a bind while waiting for a specific RV part, we believe must-have RV accessories are some form of spare RV parts. You will pay much more for repairs at an RV shop, which also potentially means not having your RV for a little while.

Many RV repairs or simple part replacements can be done on your own. Zach has become quite the RV handyman throughout our time RVing. Data science didn’t prepare him for this, but he learned as we traveled and you can too. Don’t sell yourself short.

Here are some of the spare parts we think are must-have RV accessories to have on hand:

  • Slide Cable Repair Kit
  • Brake pads and bearings
  • Remco water pump (or other brand depending on your RV)
  • Assortment of Solvents, Sealants, and Lubricants – water intrusion is a real risk when RVing. Be sure to keep up with your RV caulking! We recommend Lexel
  • Electrical connectors, butt connectors, heat shrink, zip ties, spare screws, and hardware
  • Large bottle jack
  • Pex crimper for RV plumbing

RV Camping Essentials Overall

The most important RV camping essentials are an RV that suits your needs, a tow vehicle, and a love for travel and adventure.
Some of the most important RV camping essentials of all are an RV that suits your needs, a tow vehicle, and a love for travel and adventure!

RVing is an investment in experiences. You can travel with the comforts of home, bring along your beloved pets, and create the adventure you dream of. Whether that is luxury RV resorts with all the amenities or getting into remote areas and living off-grid, the choice is yours. These RV essentials for beginners will help you to spend more time having fun and experience fewer headaches.

RVing has allowed us to camp and enjoy outdoor adventures all over the U.S. and soon Canada as well! It allows us to travel, spend more time in nature, and have our home with us wherever we go. While you could set up your RV with lots of different RV accessories and luxury gadgets, this list is a breakdown of some of the basic RV essentials we have found most important in our day to day travels. Happy adventuring!

RV Camping Essentials Shopping List

RV Tools

Additional RV Resources

  • Harvest Host: For finding unique and convenient overnight stays at breweries, vineyards, farms, and more! Perfect for a fun weekend getaway or stopover during a long travel stretch.
  • Campspot: For finding and booking great campgrounds and RV parks conveniently and easily all in one place!
  • RV Life: RV safe GPS, RV Trip Wizard route planning, maintenance tracker, campground reviews and more. Everything any RVer needs, all in one place!

Ready to dive headfirst into the world of RV travel? We think you’ll love these articles:

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