26 RV Camping Essentials: A Full-Timer Shares the Must-Haves

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If you’ve found yourself on this page, you’re probably new to RV camping. RVing is an amazing way to travel—and I would know. I’ve lived in an RV since 2016.

When purchasing your first RV, the amount of camping supplies recommended to you can be overwhelming. In this article, I’ve left out the fancy RV gadgets and fun RV accessories, narrowing it down to the essentials.

Below are the 26 RV camping essentials all campers should purchase before their first trip.

RV Must-Haves Checklist

Here is a complete list of all the necessities for RV newbies. Bookmark this page before your RV supplies shopping trip. If you prefer to shop online, all of these RV essentials are also available on Amazon.

Interactive Checklist

RV Must-Haves for Black Tanks

Dumping black tanks is one of the less pleasant aspects of RV travel. Ensure you have these essential holding tank supplies before your first camping trip to avoid any unpleasant incidents. For more information on gray and black tank maintenance, check out our beginner’s guide to RV holding tanks.

Sturdy Sewer Hose

For obvious reasons this isn’t an accessory to skimp on.  I recommend purchasing two hoses so you can reach any dump station. You will also need a sanitary RV sewer hose storage solution.

Make sure the kit you purchase includes an elbow fitting and storage caps.

Sewer Hose Supports

You also need sewer hose supports to keep the hose flowing downward. If you just let the hose sit on the ground, it will inevitably clog.

RV Waste Valve

These valves screw on to your RV sewer connection to provide an extra layer of protection against spills. The valve can be closed before removing your sewer hose to prevent any excess black or grey water from leaking onto you or the ground.

Reverse Flush Valve

This valve attaches between the water valve and the hose and it is the easiest way to clear clogs. Using this valve, you can shoot water up into the tank to break up any clogs that are preventing you from dumping.

We’ve lent our reverse flush valve to many newbies who had clogged their tanks. Make sure you have one of these tools on hand before you have an issue.

Holding Tank Treatment

RVers need to put chemicals into the black tank each time they dump.  After trying a few options, we like Porta Paks because they are pre-measured and don’t have a nasty smell.

RV Toilet Paper

If you are new to RV camping, you might have heard other campers tell you not to use the bathroom in your RV. This is terrible advice! Of course it is okay to use the RV bathroom, that’s why it is there. However, it is essential that you have the right RV toilet paper.

We use Scott 1000 in our RV. See our complete guide to RV toilet paper to learn how to test any brand for use in an RV.

Essential RV Fresh Water Gear

Fresh water systems in your travel trailer or motorhome also require some specialized must have RV supplies.

Garden Hoses

You need two garden hoses for your RV, one for the fresh water connection and one for flushing the black tank.  We really like the Camco EVOflex hose for fresh water as it has an extra flexible design for easy storage.

For the flushing hose, I recommend buying a different colored hose so you will not get it mixed up with the drinking water hose. If you are traveling in cold weather, you will also need a heated water hose.

Y Splitter

A Y splitter or Wye Valve allows you to connect both hoses to campsite water connection. That water, you don’t have to disconnect and reconnect hoses every time you dump the holding tanks.

Water Pressure Regulator

A pressure regulator is necessary to avoid plumbing issues. Buy an adjustable regulator to make sure you stay between a safe range of 40 to 60 PSI.

Water Filter

Unfortunately, there are many places in the U.S. where the water isn’t suitable for drinking.  Having a water filter will prevent you from spending money on wasteful plastic water bottles. 

In addition to an exterior RV water filter, we recommend a Travel Berkey to further clean water for drinking. See our review of the best RV water filters for more options.

RV Safety Essentials

The following must have RV supplies are absolutely essential to protect your RV and your family while traveling.

Surge Protector

This will protect your RV electric cord and plug-ins.  They are pricey, but they are much cheaper than electric repairs you will need without one. 

Because we use a surge protector, we have made it through several power outages and one blown electric hook-up box without any damage. Read our guide to the best RV surge protector to learn why the Power Watchdog is the best option to protect your RV.

Tire Gauge

A handheld digital gauge allows you to check tire pressure before you travel so you can ensure you are travel safely. 

You may also want to consider a portable air compressor so you can adjust the tire pressure before hitting the road instead of having to drive directly to a service station.

Fire Extinguishers

Most RVs come equipped with one small fire extinguisher. I learned the hard way that these tiny extinguishers won’t last long enough to put a fire out (our neighbors had a fire that we were fortunately able to put out with water).

I recommend having at least three extinguishers in your RV: one in the bedroom, one in the main living area and one in an unlocked outside storage compartment. Make sure you purchase A/B/C fire extinguishers that can be used on multiple types of fires.

Wheel Chocks

Wheel chocks are placed behind tires to prevent your RV from rolling or shifting while parked. Make sure to double-check the product details before buying chocks. It is important to choose chocks that are suitable for your RV’s weight and tire size.

Roadside Emergency Kit

In addition to the bigger essentials listed above, there are several small safety items that should be carried in every RV or tow vehicle. A prepackaged roadside emergency kit is the perfect way to gift all of these must have items in one compact package.

Other Essential RV Camping Supplies

Additionally, every camper should have the following RV necessities for their first trip.

Small Baking Dishes

9×13 pans are just a bit too large to fit in most RV ovens. You’ll need to buy some new tiny bakeware for RV camping. Click here for more essential RV kitchen tools.

Leveling Blocks

The easy to stack blocks allow you to level your RV on uneven ground. They can also be placed under jacks for added stability.

Power Adapters

If you have a 50-amp RV, you will need 30-amp and 15-amp power adapters. These adapters will allow you to plug into lower amp connections at campgrounds where 50 amp power is not available.

If you have a 30-amp RV, you will need 50-amp and 15-amp power adapters.

Insect Screens

Insect screens are a necessary RV upgrade that can prevent expensive damage to your RV appliances. Several RV appliances, including the fridge, water heater and furnace, have exterior vents.

These vents are large enough for insects to fly in and build nests in the appliances. Covering the vents with wire mesh covers keeps insects out while still allowing for the necessary airflow.


Even if you are staying at an RV park with full hook-ups, its always a good idea to pack a quality flashlight in your RV. The light will come in handy if you have to walk your dog or dump your tanks after dark.

Extra Batteries

The other night our RV smoke alarm started beeping in the middle of the night. Fortunately, we had extra 9V batteries, so we were able to replace it quickly. Keep an assortment of extra batteries in your RV to prevent similar annoyances at the campsite.

RV Log Book

Every new RVer should also buy a log book to track their mileage and maintenance and to record details about campsites. After several years of camping, it can be difficult to remember everywhere you have stayed. Start recording your journey on your first trip!

Road Atlas

All RV campers should also bring a road carrier’s atlas on their first trip. Use the atlas to identify routes appropriate for larger vehicles.

Do not rely solely on navigation apps, like Google Maps, which may take you down narrow or winding roads or suggest you take multiple U-turns with your RV. Even if you have an RV GPS, it is smart to carry an atlas as a back-up for areas without cell service.

Essential RV Tools

Basic Tool Kit

Every RV owner, should start with a basic household tool set that includes a hammer, measuring tape, pliers, Phillips-head and flathead screwdrivers, wrenches, Allen wrenches and ratchets.

These basic tools will come in handy for both minor repairs, like tightening loose screws, and bigger projects, such as appliance repairs.

More RV Tools for DIY Maintenance

For RVers who perform their own maintenance and repairs, there are also several must have tools. Check out our list of 28 essential tools for DIY RV owners.

Thanks for reading our guide to RV must-haves. Once your RV is stocked with all the RV camping essentials, have some fun selecting campsite decorations.

Is there anything else you need to survive an RV camping trip? Comment below to share your RV must-haves.

Happy Camping!

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