When we ordered/bought our Heartland Cyclone 4100 in early 2014, we’ve just wiped the sweat from our brow after signing over our lives away to the bank (well, not really but it sure felt like it with all the papers we signed!) we knew there was much more to it than buying our home on wheels. Like buying a S&B (sticks and bricks aka house), we needed to furnish it with necessities and niceties….
They say when you buy a boat that ‘its a hole in the water in which you pour money into’. The same is said for getting into the RVing lifestyle. Trust us, if it wasn’t for the tons of reading and advice from seasoned RVers, we’d have been up the creek without a paddle. By many who went into RVing of our current magnitude, we were advised to set aside approximately five to ten grand to outfit our 5th wheel. Its far more than buying coolers, cool outdoor carpets and new cookware for your RV; its buying things that you NEED to get your jacks up, hooking up and getting on down the road, so we’ve compiled a list of things ‘we’ were encouraged to purchase before throwing off our stern line (electrical cord – which incidentally should always be included in the purchase of your RV). This list isn’t by any mean in any order of importance or preference. As well, know that our list will differ slightly with those needing essentials for motorhomes, 5th wheels, travel trailers, truck campers, etc. Please keep in mind, our current Heartland Landmark is just shy of 42′ 5th wheel.
This just gives you an idea of things to look for or research to match to your own camper or RV. What we we do is research the item online and then shop where it was the least expensive, with warranty (if needed) and availability. Most times, we buy from Amazon since we have Amazon Prime with the free shipping and ease of returns if necessary.
We have two lists here; one of MUST HAVES and one of NICE TO HAVES. We’ve included approximate costs of each so you can get an idea of how much you need to get your own RV on the road.
- Small Generator – $500 on up – We purchased two Wen gas generators to supply electricity to our coach; enough to power lights, refrigerator and one of the three air conditioners in our current coach; our ’16 Heartland Landmark. Get what you need for the essentials in your coach if you plan to boondock.
- Fuel Can – $20 – to supply/store fuel for your generator
- Surge Protector $300-400 – We purchased the Progressive Industries based on our 5th wheel size and electrical requirements. This is one of those ‘you get what you pay for’. Spend a little and you will get ‘little coverage’. Spend a bit more like we did with our EMS surge protector and you get a lifetime warranty on not only the device itself but also the components in your rig that were damaged while the surge protector was plugged in.
- Electrical Adapters for 30/50amp – $30 – These are called ‘dog bones’ in the RV world. They are for hooking up your 30 amp to a 50 amp or vice versa.
- Ball X Chocks – $50 – You want two. These go between each of your two tires on each side of your coach. Not only do they chock your tires to eliminate rolling down the hill to the next county but also it helps eliminate ‘shake’ in your coach.
- Sewage Hose – $30 – Yeah, you want this…NO, you will NEED this. So when your shitter’s full, you can dump either at your site’s sewage hookup or at a designated dump station.
- Sewage Hose Bridge – $30 – This is what your sewage hose sits on instead of laying on the ground. It helps with elevate the hose to allow gravitational dumping. It also makes it that critters can’t get under your hose and surprise you when you pick it up and your RV park owners will appreciate it not laying on the grass leaving it’s signature when you leave.
- Clear Sewage Elbow – $15 – This is what you attach to your coach’s sewage output to the sewage hose. Its clear so you can monitor the clarity of your sewage; indicating when its clear, you’re finished pumping your tanks.
- Black Tank Treatment – $15 – Small Bottle
- Box of Disposable Sterile Gloves – $10 – you will need these every time you empty your sewer tanks, cleaning cat litter boxes, cleaning dog doody from your site, etc.
- Antibacterial Sanitary Wipes – $3 – Get a canister of the ones made by Clorox. For cleaning up after sewer duty or other bacterial laden chores, you’ll want to disinfect your hands. No, really! You need to do this!
- Small Spray Bottle of Bleach – $3 – You will need this EVERY TIME you hook up your water to outside water hookups. You do not want contamination of any kind in your water. You will spray the water connection at parks or campgrounds before connecting your water hose.
- Wood or Plastic Leveling Blocks – $50 – We have both. When newbies on our quest to look cool with a very full shopping cart at the RV Supply store, we bought the stacking grid-looking hard plastic ones. Then as time passed, we made our own more substantial blocks out of pressure treated wood to allow stabilization and leveling so our jacks aren’t fully extended.
- Adjustable H2O Pressure Regulator – $50 – Please do your interior water connections and hoses a huge favor and immediately install this before even connecting your water hose to the water spigot at your campsite. Every place you go, water pressure will differ. The last thing you want is to hook up to a site where the water pressure is so high that will burst your hoses and/or connectors inside your coach or camper. You can buy nonadjustable for about $10.
- Tire Covers – $50-$150 – depending on how many tires you have on your camper or coach. You can buy them to cover two or three tires together or singly. Direct sunlight are tires worst enemy as they speed up dry rot; especially if you’re coach or camper is sitting for extended times. We use ours when we are parked somewhere for more than 3 days. They come in black or white. We chose white as it deflects the sun a bit better than black.
- 8′ Ladder – $75 – Fiberglass or Aluminum – If you’re a full-timer, this is a must. You can tell ‘full-timers’ driving down the road as we’re the ones with the beautiful paint jobs and graphics on our rigs but bungied and secured to our coach ladders are our ugly portable ladders. Its nature of the beast. We need them for reaching exteriors of our coaches (ie. awnings, windows, etc.) for cleaning, maintenance, repairs and inspections. You can’t always rely on parks/resorts or your fellow neighbor RVers to lend you one.
- Drinking Water Hose – $25 – ALWAYS WHITE! Never use a ‘regular’ green, gray or other color for your drinking water hose. You need to make certain of distinction so you don’t hook up the hose you used to clean out your sewage hose, other yucky things, etc.
- Regular Water Hose – $25 – Any color other than white so you know this one is for reasons other than drinking water. You may need this to bucket wash your rig (when allowed), car/truck, fill dog bowls, clean cat litter boxes, wash hands, outdoor showers, etc. Always think ‘white water’.
- Hitch Lock – $30 – Get one applicable to whether you have a 5th wheel or travel trailer. The last thing you need is to go out for the day only to find your camper or coach has mysteriously disappeared from where you parked it. Campers are hot commodities to thieves. Protect your investment with a lock. Get in the habit of locking it every time you park; even if its in your own yard or driveway. You’d be surprised how many campers disappear from owners yards and driveways.
- Water Filter – $25 – These are those little blue cylinders you see attached between the white drinking water hose and your hose connection on your coach or camper. Water quality differs everywhere you go. Better be safe than sorry.
- Flashlights and Lanterns – $10 on up – You want one in your pulling vehicle, one inside your coach or camper, one in your storage compartment in the belly of your coach or camper, and one in your tow vehicle (applicable to motorhomes). Truly, you can never have too many flashlights. Always keep batteries fresh; test often.
- Weather Radio – $25 on up – Face it, it never fails that you will camp or park where you will experience the worst and the best of weather. Keep this where its easily accessible and batteries always fresh. We needed this when we were in the midwest states at the time of year of tornadoes.
- Orange Traffic Cones – $25 – for breakdowns on the road. Use them to alert motorists that you’re broke down. Two or three should be sufficient.
- Neon Reflective Vest – $10 – also for breakdowns on the road. WEAR IT so you’re visible to motorists when you are walking or tending outside of your RV on the road.
- Extra Rope and Bungy Cords – $10-20 – Never can have too many. When you need one or two, it seems you never have them. Better safe than sorry.
- Motorcarriers Atlas – $30-50 – it shows roads with vehicle height and weight restrictions…aka ‘trucker’s atlas’.
- Air Compressor – $200 – you will need this to monitor your tire air pressure because of temperature, altitude and weight changes.
- Basic Tool Kit – $75 – Screw Drivers, Mallet, Wrenches, Socket Set, etc.
- Outdoor Extension Cord – $25 – 50′ at least.
- EternaBond Tape – $50 – for roof and awning repairs. Never leave home without it.
NICE TO HAVES:
- Water Softener – $250 – We noticed a huge difference in our water quality coming into our coach. Limited calcification and minerals that corrode fixtures and water connections.
- Wheeled Sewage Tote – $100-200 – AKA ‘Honey Pot or Honey Wagon’. Not a requirement if you intend to camp or park at sites with sewer hookups or packing up to visit the dump stations. However, you may want to have one if you are at a ‘sewer-less’ site and plan to be parked for awhile. They come in different gallon sizes applicable to your needs. Just be advised, when full, they are heavy. Bigger is not always better.
- Exterior Outdoor Carpet – $50-100 – for those dirt based campgrounds so you don’t track into your coach or camper. Please note, not all parks will allow you to put these on grass as it kills the grass. We have a couple different ones; one of which is a ‘folding’ plastic type that is attractive. The other is made from pvc screenlike material (that is used in outdoor furniture) that acts like a sieve when it rains; washing the dirt through it. We use either for different circumstances and when permitted.
- Portable Grill – $50 on up – We bought a Weber Q which ran about $200. It runs on propane so we buy those small propane canisters that cost about $5 each.
- Fire Pit – $100-200 – We bought an Outland Propane Firepit because we are full-timers and go where most times, we’re not permitted wood fires. As well, firewood is expensive and may not even be available. Propane is cheaper and burns cleaner. Be aware, not every RV park may allow firepits period; regardless of if its propane or wood burning.
- Extra Propane Tank – $50 – for not only your grill but also your propane firepit.
- Camp Chairs – $25 on up – We have two camp directors chairs with extending tables, one lounger type chair for outdoor naps and two of those cheap collapsible chairs for when we go to the beach, visiting other campers or coaches, etc.
- Plastic Bucket – $10 – For bucket washing your vehicle, coach or camper, washing muddy everything, adding water to your toilets after pumping sewage, etc.
- Rain Coats or Jackets – $25 on up – Whether you’re weekend campers or full-time RV’ers, its no doubt you will hitch up or settle in the rain some time or another. Don’t get soaked if you don’t have to.
- Canopy Gazebo – $100-150 – There may be times where there’s not a tree to be seen for miles for shade. Its nice to put over the picnic table; especially if you get the screen attachments to make it an outdoor screen room. However, do know that some campgrounds or parks may not permit them. Always read the rules. As well, never leave them out in case of inclement weather. They fly better than the monkeys in the Wizard of Oz which could damage your neighbors or even your coach or rig. Be extremely mindful of the wind.
- Folding Portable Wagon – $60-100 – These are great if you need to walk your clothes to the laundry facilities as well as your chairs, cooler, children, dogs, etc. when visiting other RVers.
- Small Table – $25 on up – for portable grill if park or campground doesn’t provide picnic tables or location to set your grill.
- S’more Sticks and Camp Pie Maker – $10-20 – for your campfire snacks and meals
- Broom – $10 for inside and your outdoor mat
- Small Dehumidifier – $50-100 – for high humidity locations
- NuWave Induction Cooktop – $100 (will need induction safe cookware…click link FMI) (for cooking messy things outside). We bought two back when we had our Heartland Cyclone and carried them over to our Heartland Landmark.
- Good Mattress – Personal preference
- Bed Linens – RV mattresses are not the same size as regular residential mattresses.
- Bath, hand and face towels – for your bath needs
- Baskets appropriate to fit into cabinets
- Toilet Paper – we Scott 1000 sheet septic safe
- Space Bags
- Damp Rid
- Coffee Maker
- Crock Pot or Instant Pot
- NutriBullet or Smoothie Maker (small lightweight one)
- Pots & Pans
- Bakeware (muffin pan, 8×8 and 9×11 pans)
- Kitchen Prep Knives
- Dishes (microwaveable)
- Plastic Glasses
- Cooking Utensils
- Can/Bottle Opener
- Wine Corkscrew
- Spice Containers
- Coffee Mugs
- trash can & bags
- Measuring cups (collapsible)
- Measuring spoons
- kitchen towels, pot holders and trivet(s)
- Cutting Board (plastic sheet type are awesome for space and weight)
- Paper plates, cups and plastic cutlery
- Dish soap (biodegradable)
- Collapsible Kitchen Prep and Storage Containers
The most important thing to remember and keep in mind when buying anything for your RV or camper is WATCH YOUR WEIGHT! As well, think about your storage space. After we purchased our Heartland Cyclone and later, trading it in for our Heartland Landmark 365, we took dimensions of storage areas including cabinets and compartments; inside and out. We kept the measurements in our phones on a notepad app. That way, we always had them when we were out shopping or saw something that piqued our interest. “If it doesn’t fit, we don’t git!” Don’t buy it because you may ‘think’ it will work. We can’t tell you how many things we bought and then a month later, we chucked it out to the door to go to donation centers.
We hope this helps. Believe me when I say that, in the ‘nice to haves’, its not so important to get everything ‘now’. Keep your list in your phone and if you see it and measures for your space to be stored, then by all means, entertain the thought of buying it.
Well, come on now, it’s not that hard. While we don’t need weed whackers, lawn mowers, cold winter parkas, mittens or boots, pieces of furniture, etc. we still endeavor to see fancy decorated presents under the tree or open packages with our names on it.
FOR THE RV or CAMPER
Shark or Dyson Vacuum – Even RVs and Campers need to be vacuumed. Get one that picks up pet hair, sand, gravel, etc. They will thank you for it and love you for it.
Handcrafted Personalized Banner, Flag or Sign – These are cool! We see them all over the parks and makes great conversation starters since we see their names. Include their RV name too!
Unique Outdoor Lights – party lights rock! You could get a string of lights, rope lights, solar spot lights, etc. We all like to decorate our coaches and rigs; inside and out. You can go ‘class’ or ‘sass’.
These are specially designed RV Camper lights.
Portable Countertop Ice Maker – if we don’t already have a residential refrigerator, these are awesome for us who love ice in their cocktails or beverages.
Instant Pot or Crock Pot – because RVers love one-pot meals. They are easier to clean up after and can be left cooking while we are out hiking, shopping and sightseeing. Dinner can be ready when we get back.
Collapsible Kitchen Bowls, Colander, and Measuring Cups – they store beautifully and won’t break while in transit.
SD Memory Cards (mini and macro) – many of us have cameras. Those of us who have Android phones, love the macro SD cards to hold many photos we take on the road. We love to show off our photos at table conversations and nothing is better than whipping out our phones that have a card inserted loaded with photos out the ying yang.
Portable USB battery banks – you don’t know how many times we’ve been out somewhere and the battery life on our phones just juiced out. We’ve had that happen in the middle of Death Valley and the Badlands. Then we couldn’t take any more photos…because our phone(s) died. Now we have them everywhere; in our truck, our backpacks, our RV, etc. You can never have enough of them!
Electronic Picture Frame – Since we are minimalists, we can’t have a thousand picture frames in our RV’s however, we love to show off our families and friends. Make sure you include an SD card…with a few of your own photos loaded on it! Good quality is a plus!
Dash Cam – we don’t mean to scare you but you can’t begin to understand how many times distracted or inconsiderate drivers do some awful driving moves right in front of us. We pray we won’t ever get into an accident (because pulling an 18,000 pound RV it isn’t going to be pretty!) but if or when we do, we need proof for court and our insurance. We bought one at Walmart for about $50. Call it a ‘reassurance for insurance’ gift.
OUTDOOR GEAR & CAMPING EQUIPMENT
Hiking Gear – some of us hike or trek. Ideas are a good easy compass, small handheld GPS, trekking poles, backpack(s), multi-use tool, waterproof topography maps, Nalgene or stainless water bottles, flashlight(s), small first aid kit, water filter kit, good granola bars, etc. We already have these but we know these are essential for every hike.
Binoculars – HA! You can’t believe the many uses these offer. Not only for spotting cool looking birds out our back window but also, in the passenger side of our truck. While transiting, the passenger can look through them to see traffic up ahead, exit signs, fuel stations, wildlife, etc.
LED Lantern and/or Flashlights – we love to walk everywhere and sometimes it’s really dark outside! Get one…two…or five…all different sizes too! Seriously, we can never have too many. We have about five; one in the truck, two in the RV, underneath storage compartment, and backpack.
Propane Fire Pit – we bought our Outland on Amazon. These are amazing because most RV parks and Resorts no longer allow wood burning fires. As well, firewood is expensive and not easy to acquire. Add in a couple of those small green propane canisters you can find in the camping section of stores.
Portable Grill – we LOVE our Webber Q200! It heats via propane. Pair it with a green propane canister (or 5!) you can find in the camping section of stores. Ours cost about $200. Every RVer needs a grill!
Small Hand-Carry Soft Cooler – Fill this sucker up with a couple of can and bottle koozies, bottle/can opener, wine bottle opener, ice packs, vinyl tablecloth, wet wipes, etc. A ’12-pack’ size is great for a day trip out. Also, a nice thing to have when we go grocery shopping to put our raw meats in to keep them from spoiling on the way home on hot days. We have one and its worth a
million dollars to us!
Books of Post Card and First Class Stamps – Some of us still like to ‘write home’. Add in a nice pen and pencil set and some all-occasion box of greeting cards too! We still send birthday, get well, sympathy, and congrats cards.
Small Computer Printer – those small portable ones…that fit in a small case. We still need to print things like insurance cards, shipping labels, documents to sign, etc. Pair it with an extra print cartridge and small ream of paper. Don’t forget to buy a printer cable too. Again, we’re minimalists and big honkin’
printers just aren’t going to work as we don’t have the space to store or set
Plane Ticket(s) – most times, we are going to be far from family. Help us to come visit you. It also gives us ‘a vacation from our vacation’. (again, humor us!) Pack them inside a small carry-on bag with some destination maps to make it fun!
Hotel/Spa Gift Cards – Don’t laugh! What some ladies wouldn’t give to get a comfy high class hotel room for a night because…they have bathtubs and spas! Sometimes, we enjoy a getaway and pampering even though we RV travel. If you know where your RV family member or friend is going to be, check out that area and find a reputable one. Then TELL them to GO. Pair it with a nice restaurant and they will love you forever…and more!
Motor Carriers Trucker’s Atlas – these are a must, even if we have a GPS. We check these for bridge clearance info. Generally speaking, the bigger we are (RV’s that is…), we are more apt to travel roads and highways that truckers use.
MEMBERSHIPS & PASSES
RV & Travel Club Memberships – always check with your RVing family member or friend to see which ones they have. Even if you don’t buy one, perhaps put cash in an envelope and say ‘this is for your Escapees renewal’. It’s a thoughtful and practical gesture. Check out CoachNet, Escapees,Harvest Hosts, Good Sam, Passport America, AAA, etc.
Restaurant Gift Cards – like we mentioned, national chain restaurants are awesome, but please not McDonald’s or Burger King. Try for something healthier because we admit, we get caught up in eating local foods and most times, they are not exactly the healthiest.
Gas Gift Cards – we ALWAYS need fuel! But please, make certain the fuel stations you pick have diesel in most places. That’s what most full-time
RVers use for diesel trucks and motorhomes.
Home Depot/Lowes/BedBath & Beyond Gift Cards – we always are fixing something. We may need a certain tool or supplies. They also sell holiday decorations, grills and grill parts, outdoor furniture, patio rugs, plants,
cabinet knobs, cleaning supplies, etc.SO much better than Walmart (humor us!) We also like to change out our towels and bedding. Great for cooking tools too!
- ASK what they would like. You might get them something they already have or tried and it didn’t work for them or their RV lifestyle.
- Always include the receipt. Ask the retailer if your gift can be returned at a different location as we travel around.
- Ask if gift cards have expiration dates. Perhaps your RVer won’t be at that RV resort, or city until a year from now.
- If you get anything personalized, make certain you get the names and hometowns/state correct spelling (for signs, banners, flags…).
So, if you’re reading this, whether you’re an RVer or a family/friend of an RV’er, we hope this helps. Sometimes asking what they/we would like gets you the standard “I don’t care” or “whatever you’d like” but really, it’s about what the RVer in your life would like. Holiday gift giving should be FUN…for both of you!
In late 2016, we purchased two WEN 56200i 2000 watt generators for our
Landmark 365 fifth wheel. We planned to use them for limited dry camping
(boondocking) and for emergency backup power for our coach. These portable generators are 2000 watt inverter generators that can be run in parallel to provide up to 4000 watts and approximately 30 amps.
One of our favorite homemade soups not only warms our bellies but also our hearts and souls. It’s a perfect dish for any day of the year. Soups don’t have to be complex. Though this is a soup, don’t be fooled into thinking this can’t be a meal. This scrumptious soup includes ingredients from every food group.