Campervan Essentials: The Ultimate Packing List

If campervan or RV life is on your mind, you may already be wondering how you'll possibly pack everything into your new tiny home!

So what exactly is inside our campervan, you ask. 

We laid out all the gear that we used during our 3-month road trip and created a campervan packing list, just for you! These products are all the essentials that made our life so much easier while living in a campervan.

Releated: Top 101 Gift Ideas for Every Traveler

Read this first!

If you're still in the conversion process, we put together a guide that will walk you through EVERYTHING you need to know about making your own DIY campervan conversion fast and on a tiny budget!

Now that your home-on-wheels is all set up, let's talk about what gear to fill it with!


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Campervan Kitchen

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 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 cook meals with 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.

Kitchen Staples: The big things that are essential to your kitchen

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.

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. 

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.

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. 

Tiny Stool - Make it easier on your knees with a small foldable stool that you can sit on while cooking or doing the dishes.

Cookware & Utensils

  • Enamelware pot - Big pots are great for making stews or stir fry on the road.
  • Enamelware 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!
  • French press - This is the simplest way to make coffee on the road. Don't forget to bring a coffee thermos to keep it hot. 
  • 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. 
  • Snapware Tupperware - We love to cook big dinners and then store the leftovers for the next day's lunch or dinner. We found that the Snap-on type is the best because it doesn't leak. 
  • 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. 
  • Wine opener - A very useful tool when traveling. WINE Not!
  • Paring knifes - Great for cutting up fruits and veggies for a mid-day snack. 
  • Ceramic knife with cover - Always good to have a sharp knife on hand to do the major chopping for dinner. Make sure it has a cover because you don't want a open knife flying around your campervan.  
  • Cutting boards - Stores easily and can be used as an additional plate if needed. 

Automotive

There are a few supplies you'll need for a 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!


Traveling Toiletries

Personal hygiene shouldn't be neglected on the road! Here are some of our 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 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!


Backpacking Gear

While we slept on a comfy mattress in our campervan most nights, we went on quite a few backcountry excursions as well so we could spend the night where vehicles were not allowed! 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 3-month road trip. These experiences wouldn't have been possible if we hadn't packed the right gear for getting into the wilderness.

3- to 4-person Tent - We are in dire need of an upgrade in this category. If we were to buy a new one, we would get a 3-person Kelty Backcountry Tent. 

Deuter Backpacks - We recently got new Deuter backpacks love how they are fully adjustable and have so many smart pockets. They are perfect for traveling around the world as well as treks to the backcountry! These are what we used to carry our cooking supplies, tent and sleeping bags into the wilderness.

Chaco's Hiking Sandals - We both are in love with these sandals! They are the best for hiking because it doesn't matter if your feet get wet, they are super grippy and they come in awesome colors. Katie has had hers for over 10 years now and they are still kickin'.

Mini Backpacking Camp Stove - Easy to store, this collapsible camping item attaches itself to your propane tank so you can make hot meals even in the backcountry. 

Sleeping bag - Make sure to get one that packs up small so you can easily take it with you on backcountry trips.

Sleeping pads - These babies allow you to get a good night's sleep, even when your campervan is not in sight!


Must-have Travel Gear

Whether we are backpacking around the globe or on a campervan trip across the US, this is the list of our go-to travel gear. 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. 


Electronics

We make a living online so wherever we go, so do our electronics. These electonics 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. 

Mifa Bluetooth Speaker - Water resistant and dust proof, our portable Mifa Bluetooth speaker came with us everywhere to provide hiking jams and podcasts. 

Electronics Travel Organizer from Zero Grid - 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

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 store jackets, blankets and other puffy gear. 


Comforts of a tiny home

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

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.

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. 

Camp chairs - An essential item for #vanlife.

Fanny pack - Join the craze - fannys are coming back! Serengetee is an awesome company that gets fabric from all over the world, and they have some pretty good lookin' fannies.

Bamboo Sunglasses - Not only will you look cool in wooden sunglasses, but with every purchase Tree Tribe plants 10 trees.

Yoga mats - 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. 

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. 

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. 

Laundry bag - This is a necessity for storing clothes that are ready to be washed. 

Tip: Throw a couple dryer sheets into the laundry bag to keep the dirty clothes from smelling.

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. 

Water container - This acted as our water spout to wash our hands, clean dishes and rinse toothbrushes. 

Mattress - We were able to fit a full size mattress in our Chevy Van. We've heard of others fitting a queen size but the full size was perfectly fine for the two of us. 

Wine Opener - Well...because...DUH! If you know us, you'll know we love our wine! That’s why it’s on here twice!


What do you think about our packing list? Are there any products you love? What's your favorite travel gear that we should add? Let us know in the comments below.