Must Have RV Gadgets

When you travel full time in an RV, you realize you need a lot of nifty gadgets to keep your trip rolling.  We’ve laid out some of our favorite must have items for your new RV.  These gadgets have made our travels a little easier, we’re confident they’ll do the same for you.

Solar Panels
Cost: $100 – $2,000+
Why we like it: Solar panels allow you to harness the power of the sun’s rays to charge your batteries.  From a tiny solar panel to keep your chassis battery charged, to a 4 panel 1000 watt system to power all your electronics, a solar panel system is our favorite RV gadget.  We have a basic 2 panel system that keeps our batteries charged when living off the cord.  With 2-80 watt panels we can stay charged while using lights, laptop computers, and general low wattage devices.

Smart RV
Cost: around $400 + installation and membership
Why we like it: A cell phone sized electronic device that tracks you RV movement, battery levels, and allows you to share trips with friends.  The Smart RV will alert you via text or email if your RV moves without your permission (i.e. being stolen), or if you battery is running low.  With the Trip Journal feature you can share your favorite trips and destinations with your Facebook friends, and other Smart RV users.  Best part is the device provides an extra sense of security for RV owners.

LED Lights
Cost: $20-$40 per bulb
Why we like it: LED light bulbs replace the halogen bulbs most commonly found inside an RV.  LED bulbs use approximately 90% less energy than halogens.  Other great reasons to switch to LED: cool to the touch, reduced heat inside the RV, longer lasting and more resistant to vibration.  Since LED’s consume less energy you can boondock longer without running the generator.  FYI – make sure you understand the Kelvin Rating (color temperature) of the bulbs before you purchase.

Stainless Insulated French Press
Cost: $50-$200 depending on brand/style
Why we like it: Coffee and Tea lovers far and wide will tell you it tastes better.  Eco-conscious people will tell you it’s the green way to brew!  We’ll simply tell you a French press is perfect for an RV.  Simple design means less moving parts to break while traveling and no electricity needed to get that morning buzz.  Purchase a double walled insulated French press for 2 reasons: 1. Stainless steel won’t break like glass 2. The contents inside the press will stay warm for hours.

TripMaker RVND 7710 GPS
Cost: around $400
Why we like it:  When traveling in an RV a standard car GPS doesn’t cut it.  The RVND 7710 has a HUGE easy-to-read 7” screen, perfect for a more setback RV windshield or dash.  Type in the details of your RV and this GPS unit will help keep you out of “trouble”.  No more worrying about low bridge clearance, weight restrictions, or locating a campground.  With millions of POI’s (Points of Interest) it’s easy to plan while on the road.  Our favorite option is the speed limit warnings: when approaching a reduced speed limit a voice warns you “speed limit reduced ahead” giving you ample time to slow down.  If this GPS saves you from one ticket it’s paid for itself!

AC/DC Universal Laptop Charger
Cost: around $150 depending on brand/model
Why we like it: A universal charger allows you to plug into 120 volt AC power or 12 volt DC power.  DC power is great for two main reasons: 1.When you’re driving you can power a laptop without draining the house batteries through your inverter  2.When you’re boondocking a 12 volt DC charger pulls much less power than an inverted 120 volt allowing you to live off the cord a little longer without running the generator.

Solio Bolt
Cost: around $70
Why we like it: The bolt is a wallet sized solar panel with a built in battery. Simply stick it on the dash of your RV and it charges the internal battery with the sun’s rays. If your cell phone, e-reader, camera, etc. runs out of juice, just plug directly into the USB port on the Bolt and you have instant charging power ANYWHERE!

Nook or Kindle Tablet
Cost: around $249
Why I like it: With the tablet I can store all of my books, magazines, movies and more all in one device!  It satisfies all of my multimedia desires and then some.  CNET and other resources all agree they are the two best tablets on the market.  Light weight and no more magazines taking up our very valuable space!  Yeah for more space and less paper!

Tire Minder
Cost: around $300 + additional transmitters
Why we like it: This small wireless device monitors the tire pressure & temperature saving you from a blow-out! To be honest the initial setup may seem a little overwhelming (trying to get your psi to an exact number) but once you use it a few times its quite simple. Just screw on the transmitters to the tire valve, turn on the receiver, and bam! You can monitor ALL of your tires. We have transmitters on wheels of our RV and our tow car. I’ve been using the system for a year and can honestly say it’s saved my butt a few times.

Soda Stream
Cost:  $79 – $199
Why we like it:  We love sparkling water and sparkling lemonade, but we don’t like carrying a bunch of extra bottles around.  You can enjoy fresh, convenient, homemade sodas, and protect the environment at the same time. No heavy bottles to carry, store or throw away.  We like to make our own syrups for an all natural treat, it beats the pants off a typical soda.

MaxxAir Vent Covers
Cost: $
Why we like it:  A no brainer!  These should be installed on every RV.  Allows for your vents to be open while traveling down the road for added ventilation.  Also allows for you to leave the vents open during a rainstorm letting in that fresh from nature smell and sound!

Electric Griddle
Cost: $50-$200
Why we like it:  When you’re plugged into shore power why waste your propane?  A griddle is a great way to make a majority of your food in a small space.  Purchase the griddle with removable plates and you can have a waffle maker and Panini press too!  Hello toasty, yummy, goodness!

Comfortable Camp Chair
Cost: $50-$150 each
Why we like it:  Picture this – you just rolled up to the quietest campground in the mountains you’ve ever seen.  The sun is falling slowly behind the mountains in the background, the sound of Champagne popping as your partner prepares a beautiful cheese plate…..aaaahhhhhhh the perfect end to a long drive as you bend down to sit on a pile of rocks?  No way, good camp chairs are worth every penny.  Make sure you purchase the kind that breathe, spend the extra money on the most comfortable ones you can find, and thank us later!

Silicone Bake Ware
Cost: $5-30
Why we like it:  Lightweight, nothing sticks, doesn’t rattle while driving down the road.  It comes in every shape and size as any other traditional baking pans.

Solar Outdoor Lights
Cost: $25
Why we like it:  Exterior lighting at campgrounds is extremely important, especially when staying off the cord.  Solar lights can be purchased year round in the gardening section of your local store.  Solar string lights are available online and in store around the holidays.

Famous for my "how-not-to" videos, and typically the man behind the camera, sometimes I’m forced to be here in the “spotlight”. When you see my face you’re probably reading something more technical than adventurous, but either way I do my best to tell it like it is and infuse my opinions into the commentary…after all this is a blog and not MSN.

Comments (23)

  • Ruth

    beware of silicone bake ware – talked to the customer service dept. of our C
    arosol Sharpe convection/microwave oven this morning and was told NOT to use in the microwave

  • Lisa B

    Found an induction interface disk made by Denman, at Bed Bath and Beyond. It supposedly transforms any cookware into an induction compatible piece!
    I wonder if it really work…

    • I have not tried it personally but have heard very mixed reviews.

    • Brad

      Warning! Science alert!

      Induction cooking works with magnets. Rapidly alternating magnetic fields create “eddy currents” in conductive materials. It’s part of the reason that the transformer box down the street from your house, or under the breaker panel at the office, is warm when you touch it. Induction cooktops do the same thing, but cranked up to eleven. Normally, eddy currents are a bad thing, and electrical equipment takes steps to avoid them, because the heat generated reduces the efficiency of said equipment. Induction cooktops simply capitalize on what is generally considered wasted energy.

      “Interface disks” are just steel plates with handles. They do technically work, at least in the strictest sense of the word. They absorb the inductive heat, and because steel conducts heat, and heat always moves away from the source to colder surfaces, they radiate it out into the world(think about when you burn your hand grabbing a hot piece of metal). Essentially, they become a heating element, comparable to what you’d find on a regular old electric cooktop. The induction burner heats them, they heat your pot, and you cook on it. They won’t be nearly as efficient, because the metals used for electric heating elements transfer heat better, and they’ll entirely defeat the concept of an induction burner, but they will work. If you want one of those, you have two better options. Firstly, skip the fancy “interface disk” and get yourself a piece of quarter-inch plate steel. It’ll be way cheaper. Or secondly, skip the induction burner. It’ll never work the way an induction burner is intended to work anyway. Just buy a regular old electric hot plate with a heating element; you’ll save a few bucks.

  • I think that the recommendation given towards the end is a great recommendation for anyone going camping. Why not take a camping chair even if you are camping in a trailer or RV so that you can sit and enjoy the sunset, the warm fire, or a nice little break? When my family and I go camping we always like to take a few camping chairs with us for these exact reasons. Mostly we enjoy sitting and talking to each other as we enjoy nature.

  • Wolfgang Henkel

    We own an 2015 Excursion 33d. We love the power, the diesel mpg. We had many smal problem with the RV which we are working on. But overall a great buy, with a lot of room.
    Last year we went out West (4,800 miles) at 65mph the best we got was around 13.8mpg.
    Could you use the factory converter using solar panels?

  • Wolfgang Henkel

    I would like to install a AirForceOne brake system in our Jeep, do you have any info on this type of brake system?

  • Eric

    In your YouTube video “a day in the life of boondocking” There was a water purification machine that you used to clean the water that Nicki got out of the pond. I was inquiring where I could purchase one of those?

    • It is a water distiller and ours is made by H2O but there are several other brands out there. Amazon doesn’t really have a good selection of them which is why we don’t have links to it. I would do a little search to check them out and see which set up you like. If you are planning on doing a lot of extended dry camping, it does come in handy for extreme cases. If you are not doing any extreme camping, I would look into our new water purifier as it is more practical and less of an energy hog, you can see it here:

  • Mike

    Thanks for the great list! We’re getting an RV soon and can’t wait to join you guys on the road! We’re also younger (34 & 27) so it’s nice to see people doing this before retirement. I’ve been doing a lot of searching for RV must haves so this list is a big help, along with and DoItYourselfRV. It’s cool how many helpful sites there are online.

  • Rhonda

    I was wondering what your thoughts are on solar generator?

  • Yogi and Boo


    Love your site.We have gained tremendous knowledge
    from your experience.Was wondering your recommendation
    for an induction plate.Size, brand etc.Do they use alot of
    power when boondocking in cooler weather?

  • Hey Guys!
    Love the insight! My husband and I are getting ready to go FULLTIME on the road. I am making an amazon wish list and was wondering what you guys use as far as dishes go. Funny question I know. Thanks so much!

  • Hey Guys!
    Love the insight! My husband and I are getting ready to embark FULLTIME on the road. I’m making an amazon wish list and was wondering what you guys use as far as dishes go? Funny question I know.

  • Great post! Thanks for the wonderful ideas!!

  • Clive

    Hi Wynns. I caught a couple of your seminars at the Snowbird RV Show in Abbotsford last weekend . You talk on gadgets and wifi got me thinking about building a wifi net work in the my trailer. There are two specific purposes I would want the network for. The first is to connect a wifi outdoor camera on the back of the trailer and my iphone in the truck and use the wifi network to connect the two as a rearview camera system. The second would be to use apple tv to airplay from iphone or ipad to the tv. Actually being connected to the internet is not a requirement. In fact the network would need to work even without being connected. The other requirement for me would be for everything to run on 12 volt. Do you know if this is possible? Do you think it can be built for less than $400.00? That seems to be the entry cost for a wireless rearview camera setup.

    • There are tons of options but not all for under $400. We are actually sitting here with the guys from RV Geeks and they suggest looking for a good asus router and get yourself a small inverter. The backup camera would need to be waterproof….maybe a go pro because it could be multipurpose? Anywho interesting project and if you have not already seen their you tube channel you should check out the RV Geeks

  • Teeka

    Hey guys love your blog. Any chance you could link to your favorite items from each of the above suggestions?


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