“RV Must Haves” You May Not Actually Need

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I see a lot of lists of “must-have” RV accessories published by other RV bloggers, and I always find it interesting to note how many items on those lists are items I've never owned in my years of RVing.

In this article, I've listed the items I frequently see on lists with titles like “100 RV Gadgets You Can't Camp Without” that you probably don't need.

Maybe you will end up deciding to purchase some of the items on this list (or maybe you already have)! But if you're new to RVing, hopefully, this article will help you not feel like you have to rush out and buy so many RV accessories before you figure out your camping style and determine what you actually need.

A Dehumidifier

Sale
Pro Breeze Dehumidifier - 225 sq ft Dehumidifiers for Home, Compact & Efficient with 17oz Capacity for High Humidity in Home, RV, Bedroom, Kitchen & Basement, Dehumidifier for Bathroom and Laundry
45,996 Reviews
Pro Breeze Dehumidifier - 225 sq ft Dehumidifiers for Home, Compact & Efficient with 17oz Capacity for High Humidity in Home, RV, Bedroom, Kitchen & Basement, Dehumidifier for Bathroom and Laundry
  • SMALL & COMPACT: Lightweight, Compact and Portable Dehumidifiers for Home, Capable of removing up to 9 ounces of water per day with a 17-ounce water tank capacity. Ideal size dehumidifier for rooms of 1200-2200 cubic feet (225 sq ft).

Many RV owners, especially those who live in their RVs full time, find a dehumidifier to be an absolute necessity. 

Not only can having one make hot, humid weather more bearable, but more importantly, in cold winter weather a dehumidifier can combat the problem of condensation inside the RV which can lead to mold and mildew.

However, before buying one and having to find space for it in your RV, I would recommend waiting to see if you need it. 

We spent three winters living in below-freezing temperatures in our four season fifth wheel, and condensation was never a problem for us. I even kept a hygrometer/thermometer on our refrigerator, and it consistently read below 20% humidity. 

Sale
ThermoPro TP50 Digital Hygrometer Indoor Thermometer Room Thermometer and Humidity Gauge with Temperature Monitor
  • Air Comfort Indicator: This humidity meter with humidity level icon indicates air conditions - DRY/COMFORT/WET, allowing this humidity sensor to ensure you’re always aware of changes to your home/household with just a quick glance

An Outdoor Rug

Sale
FH Home Outdoor Camping Rug - Waterproof, Fade Resistant, Reversible - Premium Recycled Plastic - Striped - Large Patio, Deck, Sunroom, RV - Havana - Turquoise - 9 x 12 ft Foldable
5,266 Reviews
FH Home Outdoor Camping Rug - Waterproof, Fade Resistant, Reversible - Premium Recycled Plastic - Striped - Large Patio, Deck, Sunroom, RV - Havana - Turquoise - 9 x 12 ft Foldable
  • Foldable camping rug - 100% recycled plastic tubes are tightly woven to create this 9' x 12' rug that is portable and is compact for easy storage in your RV and campers. Features loops at each corner for anchoring with pegs (not included) to resist strong winds

Many RVers say they enjoy having an outdoor rug to create an area for sitting outside, especially when it's muddy. 

The previous owners of our RV gave us two outdoor rugs when we bought our fifth wheel, and we used them for about a year and a half. But after being outside in all kinds of weather, the plastic started to deteriorate and I felt like I was constantly sweeping it up. Eventually, I threw the rugs away and have been happier without them!

I can see a rug being nice for camping on a beach, or for if you're in a campsite that's muddy or doesn't have a gravel path to your vehicle. But for the most part, I consider it more as a luxury than a necessity. They take up a lot of storage space under the RV, so for keeping floors clean I prefer a coir doormat.

PLUS Haven Coco Coir Door Mat with Heavy Duty Backing, Natural Welcome Doormat, 17.5”x30”, Doormat Outdoor Entrance, Front Porch Door Mat, Easy to Clean Entry Mat, Outdoor and Indoor Uses, Home Décor
3,794 Reviews
PLUS Haven Coco Coir Door Mat with Heavy Duty Backing, Natural Welcome Doormat, 17.5”x30”, Doormat Outdoor Entrance, Front Porch Door Mat, Easy to Clean Entry Mat, Outdoor and Indoor Uses, Home Décor
  • Coconut Coir: This light brown door mat is made of 100% pure coconut coir, which is one of the strongest natural fibers in the world. The material easily captures moisture, dirt, and other particles. Due to the way our coir mats are cut, sizing may show slight variations. Light shedding may naturally occur when unrolling coir mats out of the package the first time.

Bottom Line: Wait to see if you need it before purchasing one unless you just want one to decorate your patio.

RV GPS System

Sale
Garmin RV 780 GPS Navigator with Traffic
1,133 Reviews
Garmin RV 780 GPS Navigator with Traffic
  • Advanced GPS navigator for the RV and camping enthusiast.Control Method:Remote.Special Feature:Bluetooth,Touchscreen.

Having an RV GPS system as opposed to just using Google Maps on your phone is important because it will make sure your route is RV-friendly.  And while there are some excellent RV GPS systems available that will customize your route according to your RV's size and weight, it is possible to just use your phone with the help of the CoPilot RV navigation app

It's not cheap for an app, but it offers a more affordable alternative to a complete RV GPS system.  If you do decide to go this route (no pun intended!), I would recommend getting a dashboard mount for your phone.

Bottom Line: An RV-specific GPS system can save you some navigation headaches, but for occasional use or to help you stick to a budget, your phone will work.

Oxygenics Shower Head

Sale
Oxygenics 88446 Power Massage Hand Held Kit Brushed Nickel
256 Reviews
Oxygenics 88446 Power Massage Hand Held Kit Brushed Nickel
  • 5 spray settings adjust coverage from wide coverage to soothing massage to focused spray

RV shower heads are often low quality, and if you're struggling with low water pressure, a replacement RV shower head can make a big difference. However, our fifth wheel came with a shower head that was actually pretty nice, with a flow rate of 2 gallons per minute and decent pressure.

I had a different problem, though. My hot water ran out faster than I would have liked.  I thought maybe replacing the shower head would help, so I bought this handheld Oxygenics shower head because it has a flow rate of 1.5 gallons per minute yet still maintains a good amount of pressure. 

But since I wasn't using my other shower head at full strength anyway, I didn't notice much of a difference in the length of my shower, and a few months later, I discovered the real culprit was my aging hot water heater.  Since replacing the water heater, I have had plenty of hot water for a shower.

Bottom Line: If you want a higher-pressure shower, an Oxygenics shower head might help.  Otherwise, it's probably not necessary.

Read next: 8 Awesome RV Shower Makeover DIY Ideas

Instant Pot

I am not sure why this kitchen appliance appears on every list of “must-have RV accessories”.

I have one, and while I tried using it more when I first bought it, now I only use it a couple of times per year. Usually I prefer to cook my food on the stove or in the oven and don't find that an Instant Pot actually saves me much time. Since my motorhome doesn't have an oven, I purchased an air fryer toaster oven to use instead

However, it all comes down to personal preference. If you already own an Instant Pot and use it all the time, then you'll probably appreciate bringing it with you or buying a small one to keep in your RV.

Bottom Line: If you don't already use an Instant Pot, it's just one more thing to find space to store in your RV.

Ice Maker

Sale
AGLUCKY Countertop Ice Maker Machine, Portable Ice Makers Countertop, Make 26 lbs ice in 24 hrs,Ice Cube Ready in 6-8 Mins with Ice Scoop and Basket (Black)
20,639 Reviews
AGLUCKY Countertop Ice Maker Machine, Portable Ice Makers Countertop, Make 26 lbs ice in 24 hrs,Ice Cube Ready in 6-8 Mins with Ice Scoop and Basket (Black)
  • Ice makers countertop and Wide Applications : AGLUCKY countertop ice maker has wide applications with compact size 12.3(D)*8.7(W)*12.6(H) inch.With portable and compact design,our countertop ice maker is easy to carry and operate. It have wide applications,whenever and wherever you are, ice is there.You can use it for bar, tea shop, KTV, kitchen and office.

A countertop ice maker shows up on a lot of “accessories every RV needs” type lists, and I've seen a lot of people on Facebook recommend it to new RV owners as well. 

I guess whether or not you need it just depends on your lifestyle. If you typically add ice cubes to a drink multiple times per day, maybe it would come in handy.  Just having a couple of normal ice cube trays in the freezer gives us all the ice we need, since we can keep our cold beverages in the refrigerator.

A better solution might be to buy an RV with an ice maker in the fridge, which is possible.

Bottom Line: Do you go through 2+ trays of ice cubes every day?  Then maybe an ice maker would be a time saver for you.  Otherwise, it's just another way to take up counter space.

Zero Gravity Camping Chairs

Sale
Best Choice Products Set of 2 Adjustable Steel Mesh Zero Gravity Lounge Chair Recliners w/Pillows and Cup Holder Trays, Forest Green
50,344 Reviews
Best Choice Products Set of 2 Adjustable Steel Mesh Zero Gravity Lounge Chair Recliners w/Pillows and Cup Holder Trays, Forest Green
  • LOCKABLE RECLINING SYSTEM: Smoothly glides into an ergonomic zero-gravity position, with removable elastic cords that immediately adjust to your body's weight

“Zero gravity” chairs are another popular item for “RV Must Have” lists. Once again, this comes down to personal preference, but I don't often enjoy reclining when I'm sitting, and trying out other people's “zero gravity” chairs hasn't made me feel like I'm missing out.

Below is the style of chair I have, and I really like them. They're bigger and sturdier than your average umbrella-style chair, and I like that I can sit cross-legged in them. Plus they take up less room in storage!

Kijaro Dual Lock Portable Camping and Sports Chair,Diamond Ripstop Polyester, Cayman Blue Iguana
15,918 Reviews
Kijaro Dual Lock Portable Camping and Sports Chair,Diamond Ripstop Polyester, Cayman Blue Iguana
  • -This portable Dual Lock chair gives you a premium seating experience with no-sag seating, durable diamond ripstop polyester, and breathable mesh on seat back

Command Strips

Sale
Command Large Picture Hanging Strips, Damage Free Hanging Picture Hangers, No Tools Wall Hanging Strips for Living Spaces, 14 White Adhesive Strip Pairs(28 Command Strips)
120,595 Reviews
Command Large Picture Hanging Strips, Damage Free Hanging Picture Hangers, No Tools Wall Hanging Strips for Living Spaces, 14 White Adhesive Strip Pairs(28 Command Strips)
  • MAXIMUM FRAME SIZE 24 X 36 INCHES: One package includes 14 pairs (28 strips total) of the Command Large Picture Hanging Strips; four wall adhesive strip pairs hold 16 pounds; maximum frame of 24 x 36 inches

Lots of people use Command Strips for hanging things on the walls of their campers, but I have an alternative that's cheaper by the foot, stronger, and easier to remove. It's called acrylic mounting tape, it works in all weather, and I use it for all kinds of projects around my RV. You can read about some of the uses I've found for it in this article.

Sale
XFasten Double Sided Acrylic Mounting Tape Removable, Clear, 1-Inch x 450-Inch, Weatherproof Adhesive for Brick, Walls- Indoor and Outdoor Applications
  • XFasten Extreme Heavy Duty Mounting Tape is waterproof and can hold up to 5 lbs of mass per square inch of tape.

Electric Coffee Maker

Sale
Keurig K-Classic Coffee Maker K-Cup Pod, Single Serve, Programmable, 6 to 10 oz. Brew Sizes, Black
92,651 Reviews
Keurig K-Classic Coffee Maker K-Cup Pod, Single Serve, Programmable, 6 to 10 oz. Brew Sizes, Black
  • Note: 1)Too coarse a grind, too little coffee, or insufficiently tamping the grounds before brewing can all lead to inadequate pressure for a proper brew. 2)It is important to note that the amount of espresso extracted will vary depending on the grind size and amount and reprogramming may be needed when the size and amount are adjusted.Please refer to user guide or user manual or user guide (provided below in PDF) before first use

Don't get me wrong–coffee is important to me! I just realized that there were a lot more space-efficient and energy-efficient ways of making coffee than a traditional coffee maker appliance.

My favorite way to make coffee is in a French press. I used to have a French press made of glass, but it broke, so I replaced it with a stainless steel one, which is better for an RV.

Sale
Secura French Press Coffee Maker, 304 Grade Stainless Steel Insulated Coffee Press with 2 Extra Screens, 34oz (1 Litre), Silver
30,870 Reviews
Secura French Press Coffee Maker, 304 Grade Stainless Steel Insulated Coffee Press with 2 Extra Screens, 34oz (1 Litre), Silver
  • Secura stainless steel French Press coffee maker is made from top quality 18/10 stainless steel, both the interior and exterior. It is made to outlast other coffee makers.

RV Toilet Paper

RV Toilet Paper, Septic Tank Safe-MADE IN THE USA- 8 Rolls,2-Ply 500 Sheets - Fast Dissolve Bath Tissue for Camping, Marine, RV Holding Tanks, Biodegradable - Firebelly Outfitters
5,483 Reviews
RV Toilet Paper, Septic Tank Safe-MADE IN THE USA- 8 Rolls,2-Ply 500 Sheets - Fast Dissolve Bath Tissue for Camping, Marine, RV Holding Tanks, Biodegradable - Firebelly Outfitters
  • BEST RV TOILET PAPER - 8 super soft rolls per pack, 500 sheets/roll, 2-ply, biodegradable. Our rv toilet tissue is made specifically to ease the flow of waste water through rv sewer hose kits and reduce clogs in black tanks, marine holding tanks, rv holding tanks, septic systems, camper holding tanks, porta potty, travel trailer, motorhome, camping toilet, portable toilet, 5th wheel

There are two ways to avoid toilet paper clogs in your RV sewage system:

  1. Flush with plenty of water.
  2. Make sure any toilet paper you put down your toilet dissolves very quickly.

You can buy special RV toilet paper that's designed to break down quickly, but it's really not necessary to do so if you do these things instead:

It's also helpful to use single-ply toilet paper, but any brand will work. It doesn't have to say “RV” on the package. I usually buy the Scott brand. Scott also makes rapid-dissolving toilet paper, but any single-ply brand will work.

There are tests on YouTube you can watch where people put various brands of toilet paper in containers of water and shake them to see which one dissolves the fastest if you want to be really certain of your toilet paper brand. Still, as long as there's water in your tank, any brand of toilet paper will eventually break down.

The Tank Techs Rx treatment I mentioned recommends leaving a small amount of liquid in your tank at all times so that any toilet paper left in the tank will never completely dry out, and so that your colony of good bacteria will continue to multiply and break down the solids in your tank.

TankTechsRx Probiotic Boat Tank Treatment 16oz
29 Reviews
TankTechsRx Probiotic Boat Tank Treatment 16oz
  • Compatible with salt or fresh water systems

Nesting Cookware

MiHerom Nesting Bowls Set with Colander,Sifter,Whisk,Measuring Cups and Spoon,Stackable for Easy Storage,Ideal for Baking,Mixing and Cooking,RV Campers Accessories,Apartment Essentials
726 Reviews
MiHerom Nesting Bowls Set with Colander,Sifter,Whisk,Measuring Cups and Spoon,Stackable for Easy Storage,Ideal for Baking,Mixing and Cooking,RV Campers Accessories,Apartment Essentials
  • ALL in ONE home essentials-11 Pieces Bowls set meets most of kitchen tasks:Mixing batter/Salad;draining pasta with the colander and washing or preparing vegetable/fruit with the strainer;Measuring dry goods with the different Cups

I'm a sucker for RV kitchen gadgets! 

Something about browsing through Bed, Bath, & Beyond brings back childhood memories of playing house. I also really love seeing clever ways to save space in an RV. So nested mixing bowls with measuring cups and spoons, collapsible silicone storage containers, nesting stainless steel induction cookware, and other collapsible kitchen gadgets are really tempting to me just because they're so darn clever. 

But do I really need them? 

No.

I don't even think I'd actually like having to pull a bowl out from under all my measuring cups and spoons or put them away all neatly every time I dried the dishes.  And I've been able to organize my RV kitchen in a way that everything fits in the space I have.  So would these RV kitchen accessories be nice to have?  Maybe some of them would be. 

But “must haves”? Probably not.

Bottom Line: If you really like these clever kitchen gadgets, then get them! But you probably don't actually need them.

Plastic dishes

Corelle Vitrelle 18-Piece Service for 6 Dinnerware Set, Triple Layer Glass and Chip Resistant, Lightweight Round Plates and Bowls Set, Winter Frost White
12,156 Reviews
Corelle Vitrelle 18-Piece Service for 6 Dinnerware Set, Triple Layer Glass and Chip Resistant, Lightweight Round Plates and Bowls Set, Winter Frost White
  • 18-PIECE SET: Includes (6) 10-1/4-inch dinner plates, (6) 6-3/4-inch appetizer plates and (6) 18-oz soup/cereal bowls. This set has everything you need for a full table service of 6, and it comes with the classic Corelle style.

A lot of “RV essentials” lists recommend using plastic, Melamine, or Corelle dishes because they are lightweight and don't break easily.

If you're buying new dishes for your RV anyway, those are great choices, but if you are moving into an RV full-time and have glass dishes you like and want to keep, replacing them is not a requirement.

I actually have glass plates and drinking glasses myself.  I figured that rather than getting rid of perfectly good dishes and buying new ones, I might as well keep them and replace them if they broke.  So far, they have stayed safe during travel with sheets of rubber shelf liner between each plate and bowl, liquor bottle sleeves around the glasses, and tension rods in front of shelves.  If you don't mind replacing your dishes but just prefer to drink out of glass instead of plastic (that's how I am), a set of tumblers or stemless wine glasses with silicone sleeves is what I would choose.

Another thing to keep in mind is that Melamine can't be microwaved, so if you use your microwave a lot, you may want to avoid buying dishes made of Melamine. Instead, dishes made of wheat straw are a nice-looking, microwaveable, BPA-free alternative.

Teivio Kitchen Wheat Straw Dinnerware Set, Dinner Plates, Dessert Plate, Cereal Bowls, Cups, Unbreakable Plastic Outdoor Camping Dishes (Service for 6 (24 piece with flatware), Grey)
159 Reviews
Teivio Kitchen Wheat Straw Dinnerware Set, Dinner Plates, Dessert Plate, Cereal Bowls, Cups, Unbreakable Plastic Outdoor Camping Dishes (Service for 6 (24 piece with flatware), Grey)
  • PACKAGE INCLUDE: This wheat straw dinnerware sets include 24 pieces in total. Bright color bring you a fresh look and make it easy to match your existing flatware.

Solar panels

Sale
Renogy 200 Watts 12 Volts Monocrystalline RV Solar Panel Kit with Adventurer 30A LCD PWM Charge Controller and Mounting Brackets for RV, Boats, Trailer, Camper, Marine, Off-Grid Solar Power System
860 Reviews
Renogy 200 Watts 12 Volts Monocrystalline RV Solar Panel Kit with Adventurer 30A LCD PWM Charge Controller and Mounting Brackets for RV, Boats, Trailer, Camper, Marine, Off-Grid Solar Power System
  • [Wide Application] 800Wh daily output depends on the 4 hours sunlight availability; suited for applications that require a smaller footprint, making it a favorite for those with RVs, campers, caravan, boat, Green house and more

When we were first talking about living in an RV, I loved the idea of being able to go completely off the grid, so I really wanted to deck out our fifth wheel with solar panels

But it turns out we actually prefer staying at campgrounds where we have access to full electrical hookups. 

Additionally, I found out that while solar panels do make it possible to camp off the grid for a longer period of time, they don't produce enough power on their own to run an RV air conditioner. That would require a generator. So my dreams of RV homesteading powered only by renewable energy sources were not as simple as I'd originally thought.

Bottom Line: Are you planning to camp frequently at locations where you won't have full electrical hookups?  Then solar power might be worth considering.  Just don't count on them as your sole source of power, especially if you plan to run an air conditioner.

Generator

Westinghouse 12500 Peak Watt Dual Fuel Home Backup Portable Generator, Remote Electric Start, Transfer Switch Ready, Gas and Propane Powered, CARB Compliant
11,697 Reviews
Westinghouse 12500 Peak Watt Dual Fuel Home Backup Portable Generator, Remote Electric Start, Transfer Switch Ready, Gas and Propane Powered, CARB Compliant
  • 9500 Running Watts and 12500 Peak Watts (Gasoline); 8500 Running Watts, 11200 Peak Watts (Propane); Remote Start With Included Key Fob, Electric and Recoil Start; Up to 12 Hours of Run Time on a 6. 6 Gallon Fuel Tank With Fuel Gauge

A quiet RV generator allows you to power electrical appliances and electronics off the grid as well as provide emergency electrical backup. 

If you plan to camp at locations where you don't have full hookups, or if you or others in your household rely on electricity for safety reasons (such as in extreme heat or cold, or to power medical devices), a generator is definitely a good idea. But if you'll mainly be using your RV at places where you have full hookups, you can probably make do without one.

If you're new to RVing, you want might try a few trips to places where you don't need a generator before you invest in expensive boondocking gear.

Bottom Line: Whether or not you need a generator depends on your lifestyle and how often you anticipate that you'll be camping without full electrical hookups.

LED light bulbs

Sale
Qoope 1156 1141 LED Bulb Warm White 1003 BA15S 7506 1073 LED Light Bulbs 5050 18SMD Replacement for 12V RV Camper Trailer Boat Motorhome Interior Lights, Pack of 10
1,366 Reviews
Qoope 1156 1141 LED Bulb Warm White 1003 BA15S 7506 1073 LED Light Bulbs 5050 18SMD Replacement for 12V RV Camper Trailer Boat Motorhome Interior Lights, Pack of 10
  • 【Specification】Operating Voltage:12V DC. Output Power: 1.7W. 18SMD 5050 chips. Color: 3000K Warm White. 230Lums and 360° beam angle. Size: 43mm(1.69")x19mm(0.75"). Brighter and more comfortable atmosphere to provide you with a warm interior space.

Replacing all of the lights in the RV with LED bulbs is a “camping hack” that I have tried, but I have had the hardest time finding LED bulbs that don't give off light that's too white cold for me. Even the ones that are supposed to be “warm wight” are usually too white for me. 

The nice thing about LED bulbs is they don't burn out and need to be replaced as frequently, and they also stay cool (regular RV light bulbs give off a good amount of heat) and conserve electricity. 

Since I'm nearly always hooked up to shore power though, regular light bulbs work just fine for me and are much cheaper. I am still gradually replacing some of my RV light bulbs with LED light bulbs as they burn out just because I hate having to change them, but for me, it's not worth it to throw away a bunch of perfectly good bulbs and replace them all at once.

If you do buy LED bulbs, they are much cheaper online than they are at most RV stores. Just be sure to read the reviews first because the quality of the ones sold online can really vary. Also, pay close attention to the type of bulb. Some look very similar to one another, but if you get the wrong kind it won't work.

Bottom Line: If you do a lot of boondocking, LED bulbs are probably a good investment for you. Otherwise, wait to buy them until the ones you have burned out. 

What do you think? Is there anything you would add to or leave off this list? Leave a comment to let me know!

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