Outfitting Your New RV – Inside Gear
Before you start, be sure to check out our other article on outfitting your RV – outside gear. It covers everything you need to set up your new camper on the outside.
Now, it’s time to work on the inside of the camper. A lot of this gear is personal preference, just like furnishing a home. That said, I am going to cover the basics of what we have purchased for our camper to make long road trips with it work.
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Updated March 2017
The fridge is one of the most important components of making RV travel work. Not only does it keep your leftovers for the next night, it keeps those tasty adult beverages frosty, which is very important after a stressful setup in a tough back-in site.
A fridge thermometer takes the guess work out of whether your fridge is working properly or not. We originally bought an electronic one with a large display, but ended up with an old school thermometer. Sometimes, old school stuff just works better.
Fridge Cold Packs
One of the best purchases we made was two sets of Cooler Shock packs, one large and one medium. These packs go in your freezer for 48 hours to charge and then will provide very cold ice packs for your fridge.
Here’s how we use them: We freeze them going into a trip. We toss all but one pack in the fridge to keep everything cold as we drive. The other pack goes in the freezer to cool it down. Once we get to our location, we fire up the fridge and move some of the packs into the freezer to refreeze. As the fridge starts to keep cold on its own, we transfer the remaining packs to the freezer to recharge.
The Cooler Shock packs work so well we do not use propane at all to run the fridge while driving.
Refrigerator Magnetic Bottle Opener
You are gonna want to get a bottle opener for those aforementioned refreshing adult beverages. We ended up getting one from a souvenir shop in Bar Harbor, but this one is what we have at home and it works like a champ!
One of the first things you are going to want to do is outfit your kitchen with a permanent set of gear. The reason for this is simple: your time is worth more than the cost of an extra set of pots, pans, kitchen tools, etc. You don’t want to have to pack and unpack your kitchen every time you take the camper out on a trip.
I’m not going to go into specific recommendations on pots and plates, etc. Using older stuff you have hanging around is just fine. We ended up using our tent camping cooking gear for the camper. That said, here are some pieces of gear you may not have thought of.
This waste basket hangs over the edge of one of the cabinet doors, which keeps it off the floor (floorspace is valuable). The other advantage is supermarket plastic shopping bags fit it perfectly. We found in New England there were several campgrounds with mandatory recycling programs, so consider purchasing a second waste basket to use for recycling.
Paper Towel Holder
Like the wastebasket, this hangs on the top of cabinet door and holds a roll of paper towels, freeing up cabinet space for cooking. Very handy, indeed!
I think the one thing Bonnie hates more than doing laundry is drying dishes, so she bought this dish drainer. It collapses for easy storage and works fairly well.
The best part about these measuring cups is they fold flat so they take up less room. That is not as much an issue in larger fifth-wheels or motor homes, but space is always an issue.
To keep things from sliding around, line the shelves with your plates, etc. with this liner.
Bonnie uses bins like these in various sizes to hold spices and dry foods in the cabinets. It keeps them from sliding all over the place and makes the food easy to get out.
Small cutting board
Our current cutting board is a bit small, so we will probably eventually upgrade to this one. Get a cutting board that you like, in whatever size you think you will need and can store easily.
Basic knife set
This set is similar to a set that we have had for several years. Our camper doesn’t really have space for a knife block and I hate having knifes in a drawer unless they are covered. There are bigger and maybe better sets out there, but a set of three has worked well for us so far.
Make sure whatever you get is RV safe. The materials used in RV construction are not the same as normal house construction. We use Method cleaners and they work pretty well. You can get them at Target if you don’t shop Amazon Prime Pantry.
Some other items you will need
Basic kitchen utensil set
Flatware and drawer organizer
Cups (not glass)
Plates, both large and small
Bowls for salads and cereal
A sponge and sponge caddy
There is a couple things you need to understand about RV bathrooms: 1) By nature, they are almost alway cramped and 2) you need special stuff to make the toilet/black water tank work well.
RV Toilet Paper
You CANNOT use normal toilet paper in your camper. It will not break down and will become a problem in your black water tank. This is the stuff we use. You can often find this at Wal-Mart (most of the time near the automotive section, but sometimes near the camping section), so if you run out on the road, you should be able to find it. Also, a lot of campgrounds carry it in their camp stores, but sometimes those are pretty pricey.
Use these tabs, along with a lot of water, to prevent odor from coming up from your black water tank.
Toilet Paper Holder
Our camper did not have a toilet paper holder by the toilet, so we bought this one and it works just fine.
Another easy way to save on counter space is a toothbrush holder. This one works well for us.
My wife uses tissues like there is not tomorrow and this holder saves on serious counter space in the bathroom. Even she initially thought this was a somewhat frivolous purchase, but has come to really appreciate this little space-saving device.
We presently use cotton towels from Ikea, which have hanging loops and dry ok, but if it is a driving day or a rainy day outside and they are cooped up in the bathroom all day, they can get a bit musty.
We are thinking about using microfiber towels, like these, going forward so they dry quicker without having to be hung outside. That said, the ones we have from REI are not nearly as comfortable to use as cotton towels. We will have to try these out and report back.
I suggest keeping a second set of toiletries in the camper, as practical. The less you have to pack, the more time you can spend enjoying your camper.
You will need bedding appropriate to your bed. Some RV beds are custom sizes, so make sure you know your bed size before you get anything.
Having a set of sheets, pillows and a comforter ready to go for your camper definitely cuts down on the prep time for each trip. Again, your time camping is worth more than the additional expense of bedding.
If you live in an area near Ikea, you can get quality sheets and bedding for a cheap price. Remember, you want your bed in your camper to be as comfortable as possible. Otherwise, what’s the point?
If you can afford to replace your stock mattress with something better, it is probably one of the best investments you can make. If not, try this mattress topper. This took our rock hard mattress and turned it into something my wife could sleep comfortably on.
Other Interior Gear
Propane is expensive. One of the first pieces of advice we received for our camper was to buy a small, electric space heater in lieu of using the furnace on cool nights. This one is relatively small and works like a charm.
While the AC system has a fan that can be set to always on and blowing air, it is pretty loud, so we bought a small fan to use at night or outside. It is quiet and the lowest setting makes for a nice cool breeze.
For the fan, heater and toaster, we ended up needing an extension cord to reach the nearest outlet.
If you are anything like Bonnie and I, you have a plethora of things that need recharging or power. I bought this power strip as an electrical hub for the camper. Behind the TV mount in our camper is a decent sized cabinet area with an outlet.
This power strip sits back there with chargers or cables for our iPads, iPhones, Apple Watches, drill battery, Apple TV, Fire Stick and will be home to our cell phone booster and WiFi booster once we get those installed.
The reason I like this particular power strip for all of those applications is the four USB ports, with two of them being able to charge tablets.
Amazon Fire Stick
I am an Apple guy and am typing this on an iMac. We use Apple products almost exclusively in our home. But for RVing (or travel in general), I recommend the Amazon Fire Stick as a streaming device and here is why: It allows for logging in to a WiFi systems with a Web-based password. That is something my beloved Apple TV, Roku and Chromecast simply cannot do.
Your ability to actually use the stick very much depends on the WiFi at your campground (or if you are lucky enough to have an awesome unlimited data plan), but if you are thinking about streaming Netflix, etc., this is your device.
If you are an Apple person, like me, you might want to consider taking an Apple TV as well. The main reason is being able to stream content from your other Apple devices. You can also, on the fourth generation devices, load it up with games to play.
All of those electric cables, plus a dozen other things, will need tying down. Get some zip ties in various sizes and make your life less cluttered, cable-wise.
The other thing you will need (trust me on this!) is velcro straps. These get a ton of use in our camper.
Eventually, a fuse will blow on your camper and you will need to replace it. Check your electrical system to see if you need more or less of any particular fuse type, but this is a pretty good variety of fuses for your camper.
Get a bunch of these. Trust me, you will want to hang things like your keys, towels, coats, hats, etc. in different parts of your camper.
Every camper is different and you are sure to find several things unique to your camper that you need on your first, second or even third time out. Heck, I have a list of stuff we need to get after 38 days on the road. I suggest staying somewhat near a Wal-Mart for the first couple of trips while you work out all the kinks. Don’t worry! It gets better.
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