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Campervan Essentials: The Ultimate Van Life Packing List

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Make life in your tiny home on wheels easier with our campervan essentials packing list. We’ll show you our favorite travel products for van life, from camping gear to kitchen supplies to creative storage. You’ll ready to hit the road with these van life essentials!

Moon Shade Campervan awning camping-9

If RV or van life is on your mind, you may already be wondering what necessities you should bring on the road, or how you’ll possibly pack everything into your new tiny home.

So what exactly is inside our campervan, you ask?

We’ve built three separate campervans on our own, and spent countless months living out of our vans. Pulling from our personal experience, we laid out all the gear that we use during our campervan road trips and created an ultimate campervan essentials packing list, just for you! 

These products are all the van life essentials that made our life so much easier while living in a campervan on the road.

Campervan Essentials Guide


DIY campervan conversion guide

Van Conversion Academy | Two Wandering Soles

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Want to save yourself the headaches and hours of research we went through and get straight to the building process? 

We created Van Conversion Academy, a DIY campervan conversion guide, because it’s exactly what we wished we’d had when we were building our campervans.

Save yourself the time and money and get straight to the building process with step-by-step instructions, video tutorials, blueprints you can actually copy and tons of insider tips and recommended products to get you on the road faster! 


Campervan kitchen essentials

Food is life. (At least it is for us!) Making a kitchen that was both practical and useful was super important to us so that we could easily cook meals on the road. We even wrote a step-by-step tutorial so you can make your own DIY budget campervan kitchen too!

Once we had the kitchen counter and storage constructed, we had to fill it with all the essentials we would need to prep and cook meals on the road, without bringing things we wouldn’t use. We really narrowed it down and are sharing exactly what we had in our campervan kitchen.

Campervan Gear Packing List Kitchen
The kitchen set up in our first ultra-budget campervan build

In our second and third campervans, we had much more outfitted kitchens with running water and permanent gas burners. However, in our first build, we had to get creative with our budget and that required us to have a few more essentials on hand.

Psst! Check out our article for more creative solutions and ideas for your campervan kitchen build.

Kitchen staples in our budget campervan build

  • Campervan kitchen sink – We did a lot of hunting, and this is literally the PERFECT sink for your campervan conversion. Check out our kitchen tutorial to find out exactly how we turned this into a working sink.
  • Water container – This acted as our water spout to wash our hands, clean dishes and rinse toothbrushes. 
  • Coleman 2-Burner Stove – When it comes to camping stoves, you can’t get better than a Coleman 2-burner stove. This stove makes it easy to cook inside (with the windows open!) or outside on a campground picnic table.
  • Insulated Cooler – Trust me when I say this, you want a good, insulated cooler. Our cooler was decent enough to keep ice solid for about 3 days (but maybe only one day in Utah). But it would have saved us some time and money in the long run if we had purchased a better cooler to begin with. 

Kitchen staples in our more recent campervans

Campervan Kitchen | Two Wandering Soles
The kitchen set up in our second campervan build
  • Big Berkey – This water filter allows you to drink from the tap with confidence, no matter where you’re parked. It eliminates 99.9% of toxins and bacteria, plus it improves the taste too. Just be sure to have a way to secure your tank when you’re driving. (We use a bungee cord and an eyehole hook).
  • Dish drying mat -This super affordable mat is awesome because it protects our butcher block countertop from excess moisture and doesn’t slip and slide around.
  • Aeropress – This is our favorite way to make good coffee on the road. Don’t forget to bring a coffee thermos to keep it hot!
    • Check out this article to explains all the different ways to make camping coffee based on your personal preferences!
  • Slim trash bin – This trashcan is awesome! Not only does it fit in the super narrow space between our kitchen wall and the driver’s seat, but it fits much more trash than we thought it would. We typically only need to empty every 3-4 days (or sometimes even longer!).
  • Fire extinguisher – This small rechargeable fire extinguisher is perfect for a tiny campervan kitchen.

Cookware & utensils

Best+Vans+for+Campervan+Conversion
Our first campervan build had a standard low roof, so that meant we had to sit down while cooking in our kitchen. It wasn’t as bad as it sounds! But an alternative would be to build an outdoor kitchen so you can stand fully. The downside to that would be trying to cook if it’s rainy, windy or very buggy!
  • Enamelware pot – Big pots are great for making stews or stir fry on the road.
  • Dining set – The classic blue set is our favorite!
  • Cast iron skillet – Say goodbye to Teflon chips in your meal. Cast iron is durable and great to cook with!
  • Mixing bowl – Essential for making a big salad with loads of fresh veggies. And it’ll stack well with your pots and bowls.
  • Silicone tongs, spatula, and spoon – Every good chef has to have all the right tools. Silicone style are inexpensive, easy to clean, and can withstand high temperatures.
  • Oxo Pop Containers – These containers have an airtight seal and are PERFECT for storing stuff in a van. We use one to store coffee, and we have two others that we use for storing leftovers, veggie sticks, etc. in our refrigerator.
    • This is the only reasonably-sized container we’ve found that fits well in our fridge. It says they should only be used for dry storage, but we’ve used them for leftovers and it works just fine. (FYI the link above is the exact size we use, short 1.7-quart rectangle).
  • Collapsible Tupperware – If you want to go on a hike and don’t want to take up too much space in your bag, bring one of these. Plus, they store nicely in your van because they don’t take up too much space.
  • Mason Jars – These are great for storing bulk items like rice, quinoa, lentils, and cous cous. Instead of buying new ones, you can always use an old mayonnaise or pickle jar and upcycle it!
  • Knives – If you already have knives you like, there’s no need to get new ones. However, we didn’t have any, so we bought this set of three. They’re beautiful and they work really well!
  • Magnetic knife holder – We chose this affordable magnetic knife holder and love it. It has a powerful hold and our knives stay right in place. Plus, it was a fraction of the price of many others ones we saw.
  • Cutting boards – Stores easily and can be used as an additional plate if needed.
  • Bamboo organizers: We have this cutlery organizer in our drawer, as well as a few other shallow plastic trays we thrifted. They keep all our miscellaneous items organized (which is clutch)!
  • Fruit hammock: This is one of the most popular “vanlife” items, and we can understand why — it’s pretty cute! Plus, it keeps your produce in place.
  • Mesh produce bags: Instead of a fruit hammock, we opted for this 4-pack of mesh produce bags because we use a lot of fruit and veg, and that little hammock just wouldn’t cut it for us!
  • Wine opener – A very useful tool when traveling. WINE Not!
  • Hydroflask cooler cups – This cup transforms seamlessly from water cup to wine glass to coffee mug to beer koozie (it holds both bottles and cans!).
Campervan Gear Packing List Kitchenware

The little things: Don’t forget these things!

  • Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Soap – Famous for having endless uses, this bio-degradable liquid soap is great for doing the dishes. Plus, you can use it for your laundry or even wash your vehicle with it!
  • Dish sponge with handle – Self containing soap sponge wand.
    • Tip: We Velcro-ed one half of a plastic soap container to our kitchen counter. This is where we kept the sponge so it didn’t go flying as we went around turns.
  • Propane – The best propane for the Coleman stove is the one liter Coleman propane tanks, duh! We were thinking about hooking up a hose to a 20 lb. tank to the stove, but that just got too cumbersome. We typically went through one small tank every seven to ten days. You can buy these at any big box store, like Walmart or Target, and a 2 pack should cost between $6 and $7. 
    • Budget Warning: For some reason, there are not many cheap deals on Amazon, so buy this product in stores, NOT online. We simply linked to it so you know what we’re talking about. 
  • Long lighter – Keep your distance from the flame when you start your propane stove. 
  • Trashcan – You will definitely want a trashcan with a lid. Trust us. Choose a small trashcan so it doesn’t take up much space, and you can use reuse plastic bags from the grocery store as garbage bags. Also, you’ll want to empty it frequently to prevent your van from smelling, so the small size helps you keep on top of this.
  • Tiny Stool – Make it easier on your knees with a small foldable stool that you can sit on while cooking or doing the dishes.
  • Tip: #1: We secured ours to the kitchen counter using a bungee cord so it didn’t move around while we were on the road.
  • Tip #2: If you are concerned about your trashcan smelling up your tiny home, sprinkle some baking soda in the bottom of the trash can. You can also keep a dryer sheet in the bottom before lining it with a plastic bag.

Optional kitchen “luxury” items

  • Omnia Stovetop Oven – This handy device allows us to bake on our stovetop (no oven required!). It looks somewhat similar to a bundt pan and comes with a secondary bottom piece that creates a hot air chamber so food bakes instead of burning.
  • Wacaco Nespresso – We recently discovered this device that allows us to make espresso from inside our van. No coffee shop needed!
  • Portable blender – If you want a way to have smoothies on the road, but don’t want to commit to a large kitchen appliance, this handy little device is a great option! No cords or electricity needed. It has a USB port so you can recharge it, and we are surprised by how powerful it is!
  • Instapot – We personally don’t have one of these, but we know some vanlifers who swear by it. It takes a bit of energy to cook, so make sure your electric system can handle it.

I’m interested in vanlife, where do I get started?

We understand just how overwhelming it can be to start this process so we poured all of our personal experience and advice into a mega resource just for you.

Enter your email below to immediately receive our Vanlife Jumpstart Toolkit, your FREE mega guide to jump-starting your #vanlife dreams!

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Automotive

There are a few supplies you’ll need for a campervan road trip, no matter what vehicle you’re driving!

  • Car Emergency Kit – It’s always good to be prepared for any situation, especially if you’re LIVING in your vehicle. 
  • Spare Key Magnet – We only had to use this once, but if you lock your keys in the RV or campervan, it’s nice to have a spare hidden somewhere underneath. 
  • Reflective windshield cover – We always tried to park in the shade, but when there was none, we used this to keep the heat out. And it worked wonderfully!
  • Campervan window covers – To cover the windows in the rest of your van, you’ll want to make sure you have some sort of black out shades. We just so happen to have a tutorial for DIY campervan window covers that work perfect and saved us a ton of money!
VCA Insulated Window Coverings Tutorial | Two Wandering Soles

Must-have travel gear

Campervan Gear Packing List Toiletries

Whether we are backpacking around the globe or on a campervan road trip across the US, this is the packing list of our go-to travel essentials. If you want more info on what we have in our backpacks, read how we pack for long term travel

  • Packing cubes – We have brought these babies all around the world and never leave home without them! In your van, you’ll have to keep things organized and packing cubes keep your clothes compact and in one place.
  • Collapsible backpack – This backpack stuffs down to fit inside one small pocket, yet when it’s open, it carries a surprising amount of gear. It’s great for day hikes and strolling through towns. 
  • Collapsible cup – It’s not only a cup. It’s a cereal bowl, guacamole server, beer basin, wine glass, or an ice cream dish. You are only limited by your imagination. 
  • First Aid Kit – It’s always a good idea to have a first aid kit when the unexpected happens. We carry a kit that is meant for a 4-day backpacking trip. 
  • Microfiber towels – These towels store up small and dry quickly. 

Related: Check out our favorite gear in our online storefront!

Campervan Shop | Two Wandering Soles

Travel toiletry essentials

Personal hygiene shouldn’t be neglected on the road! Here are some of our packing list favorites that are specific for road tripping…

  • Lush Solid Shampoo Bar – I usually wash my hair every 3 days and this bar lasts me about 3 months. Lush always uses natural ingredients and the bar smells great! (This is also available at Lush stores for a cheaper price, but when you don’t live near a store, it’s good to know you can also order online!)
  • Toiletry case – Keep all your bottles, soaps and creams in an organized, easy-to-store case. 
  • Body wipes – For those nights that you can’t find a shower, it’s body wipes to the rescue! Honestly, we would probably shower every 3 to 4 days and body wipes would help keep us feeling fresh and clean for the days in between.
  • Tiger Balm – This stuff is best used on a hot day. Rub on your temples and back of your neck to really accelerate your cool down. This balm can also be used to relieve headaches and tension.
  • Natural Bug Balm – Forget about using Deet! This all-natural balm made with essential oils will keep you bug-free for hours. And it smells awesome!
  • Dry shampoo – This is great for those days when you need a quick freshen up, but don’t have a shower in your van.

Electronics for vanlife

Campervan Gear Packing List Bestek 300W Power Inverter

We make a living online so wherever we go, so do our electronics. These electronics and accessories made our campervan life much easier and they kept our gear safe. 

  • Bestek 300W Power Inverter – We could not have traveled without this! This baby plugs into your 12V outlet and has 4 charging ports. We would always have this charging our electronic devices while the van was running. It even allowed us to work on our laptops while on the road.
    • Tip: We tried to only plug it in while the van was running to avoid draining the battery, but sometimes in a pinch, we’d plug it in for 10 to 20 minutes without the van running and the battery was fine.
  • Anker Portable Charger PowerCore 20100 – We did a lot of research on external battery packs before landing on this one. We use this portable charger every day, whether we’re traveling or not. It can charge an iPhone up to 7 times without a recharge and has two USB ports so you can plug-in multiple devices at once. 
  • USB chargers – Perhaps one of the most practical items on this list, this handy little number turns that 12V cigarette lighter in every van into a USB charging station.
  • Bluetooth Speaker – Waterproof and dust proof, our mini bluetooth speaker came with us everywhere to provide hiking jams and podcasts. 
  • Electronics Travel Organizer – Do you feel like you are always untangling cords? This tech organizer helps keep everything in place and is easy to store. 
  • Pack Safe portable safe – Whenever we’d go on a multiple day hiking trip, we would store our computers and other expensive electronics in our packable safe and lock it inside our campervan. Luckily, no one ever broke into our little home but it gave us piece of mind when we were days away from “Vinny the Van”. 
  • Thule laptop case – This sleek design keeps our MacBook Pro safe from drops and spills. We love the fun new colors!

Storage and Organization

Campervan Gear Packing List Spice Rack

When living in a campervan, you have to make use of every possible space. Which means you’ll get creative on ways to store and organize all your gear. Here are most of the products we used to keep our van nice and tidy. 

  • Behind the door organizer – Hanging this behind the driver’s seat right next to the “kitchen” makes a convenient place to store spices and oils. It’s a great way to stay organized and make use of vertical space. 
  • Storage bins – We stored our food, clothing and camping gear beneath our bed. Ben built the frame to accommodate storage containers. We used sturdy bins in varying sizes to fit all our storage needs.
  • Hanging shoe storage – Get some use out of your vertical space in your campervan and hang one of these bad boys from the ceiling so you can easily store shoes or other supplies. 
  • Ottoman with storage – Doubling as a coffee table, this ottoman comes in handy to add more storage space for things like jackets, blankets and other puffy gear. 
  • Storage bin between driver and passenger seat – Turn that empty area between your seats into a functional and organized storage space.
  • Laundry bag – This is a necessity for storing clothes that are ready to be washed. 
    • Tip: Throw a couple of used dryer sheets into the laundry bag to keep the dirty clothes from smelling.

Psst! Check out our article on creative campervan storage solutions for more ideas!

Camping and backpacking gear

Campervan Gear Packing List Camping

While we sleep on a comfy mattress in our campervan most nights on the road, we also go on quite a few backcountry excursions as well.

Sleeping beneath the stars at Shi Shi Beach and at a remote hot spring in Idaho were just a couple of our favorite memories from our first 3-month road trip in our campervan. These experiences wouldn’t have been possible if we hadn’t packed the right gear for getting into the wilderness.

If you’re planning on doing any wild camping when traveling in your campervan, you’ll want to be sure and pack these essentials.

  • Decent backpacking pack that is well-fitted to suit your body type and size. These are what we used to carry our cooking supplies, tent and sleeping bags into the wilderness.
  • Lightweight tent – check out the best 2-person tents 
  • Sleeping bag – Make sure to get one that packs up small so you can easily take it with you on backcountry trips. We were traveling during the summer, so we chose lightweight bags, but if you will be traveling in the fall, winter or early spring, you’ll want to get a heavier sleeping bag to stay warm.
  • Sleeping pad – These babies allow you to get a good night’s sleep, even when your campervan is not in sight! They pack up super small and are really light weight.
  • Dry bag (we always carry one with us for our valuables in case of rain)
  • Camp stove/fuel – we love our Jetboil!
  • Water purification – we love our Steripen, but find our Grayl filtered water bottles work really well on backpacking trips!
  • Headlamp
  • Bear spray and bear-proof food storageA must if camping anywhere near bear country!
  • Rope – if you plan to hang your food bag, or for hanging sweaty/wet clothes
  • Multi-tool
  • Toilet kit – toilet paper, small shovel, bag for packing out TP, hand sanitizer

Psst! Find out how we find free camping in the USA when we’re on the road!

Optional gear for added comfort in your campervan

If your campervan or motorhome is going to be your new home for awhile, why not make it cozy. Add these to your van and make it more comfortable and fun!

Campervan decor items

Campervan Gear Packing List Rear Nook
  • Luci solar powered inflatable LED light – During the day, we’d place this solar light on our dashboard to charge by sunlight, and by nighttime it would be ready to light up our home. And it lasted for hours! No batteries, no hassle. 
  • Tap lights – Instead of using the car’s interior lights that would eventually drain the battery, we hung tap lights to the walls to give us light at night. 
  • Fairy lights – These fun, decorative wire lights worked great in the back of our van and gave it a homey touch. 
  • Colorful Carpet – Give your new home a face lift with a colorful rug or carpet. Make sure it is the right size for the area you want. In our dream campervan, we would install laminate “wood” floors, but it was too time intensive and expensive for this quick and cheap conversion. The colorful carpet really made such a difference and made our campervan feel like home.
    • Tip: You might want to consider getting a smaller darker “door” mat where you can put your shoes once you hop inside you campervan.
  • Cushions for nook – We picked up some soft all-season cushions at the thrift store that fit perfectly in the back of our van where we made a nook. 
Vanlife Facebook Group | Two Wandering Soles

Campervan essentials for outdoor living

Dispersed camping campervan

Use these van life essentials to expand your living space beyond your van into the outdoors!

  • Moon shade campervan awning – Having an awning and a blanket or mat to lay on the ground will open up your space a ton and give you a comfortable spot to hang out, even if the sun is shining bright or rain is sprinkling down. We really like our portable Moonshade that packs up to the size of a camping tent. This is one of those van accessories that we were so happy about once we finally decided to purchase.
  • Rumpl Puffy Blanket – Add a little color to your home on wheels with a Rumpl blanket. It’s super warm and packs up small. We used this on top of our comforter for extra warmth on cold nights.
  • Compact camp chairs – An essential item for #vanlife. Having a camp chair (or two!) is a super handy way to “expand” your livable space and be able to spend more time in nature.
  • ENO Hammock – We were gifted a 2-person hammock for our wedding, and it was one of the best presents we received! It has brought us so many memories and has traveled all around the world with us.
  • Yoga mat – Get your downward dog on and have a good stretch. Tiny home living can get a little tight, so it’s good to loosen those muscles at local parks. 

Campervan essentials for heating and cooling

  • USB fan – We needed this fan when we were in Utah during the summer. Wow, was it hot! This fan was a life-saver, giving us a nice breeze at night. All we had to do is plug it into our Anker battery pack, and it would start working. 
  • Chargeable fan – Smaller and more portable fan that we could bring camping in our tent. 
  • Magnetic bug screen – If you plan on camping in wild areas, you might want to consider getting magnetic mosquito curtains for your sliding door. This will allow you to keep the door open and catch the sweet, sweet breeze, while also keeping those pesky bugs out.
  • Mr. Buddy Portable Heater – These do an amazing job of heating a small space. We personally don’t have a built-in heater in our van, so we bought a Mr. Buddy portable heaters and really like it.
    • Word of warning: Turn on a fan or crack a window when running this and don’t let it run overnight. This device has safety features (it turns off if tipped over), but we still recommend just running it intermittently when needed to be safe. And it’s pretty powerful, so we haven’t felt the need to run it
  • Heated blanket – Keep them cozy with a heated blanket that’s meant to be used in vehicles (aka with a 12V hookup).

Are you (or someone you know) thinking about making the move to campervan life?

Lucky for you, we have TONS of resources on converting your own campervan and living the #vanlife. Check out our Ultimate Guide to Van Life for all the answers to your most burning questions, or read some of our favorite articles below.

Be sure to check out our Van Conversion Academy to save time & money and get you on the road faster!

Van Conversion Academy | Two Wandering Soles

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Campervan Gear Essentials
Campervan Gear Essentials

We want to hear from you!

What do you think about our campervan essentials packing list? Are there any products you love? What’s your favorite van life gear you think we should add? Let us know in the comments below!

Comments (11) on “Campervan Essentials: The Ultimate Van Life Packing List

    • bwzweber@gmail.com says:

      Hey Katherine, Thanks for letting us know. I’ve updated the link so it should work now. The product is called Badger Anti-Bug Balm. Let us know how you like it!

  1. Selinatalbot@rocketmail.com says:

    Hello! Please could you point me in the right direction to find the tutorial on how you converted that sink into a working one? Thanks! Selina

    • bwzweber@gmail.com says:

      No need for one if you’re staying at camp sites and traveling during the day. Just like any other road trip, you can stop off at gas stations or fast food restaurants to use their bathrooms. We looked into getting a porta pot but it would have been too big and messy.

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