A Comprehensive RV Packing List for the First Time Camper

Jun 25, 2021 |

A Comprehensive RV Packing List for the First Time Camper

By Ian Standard

Camping for the first time in an RV can be an overwhelming experience. One of the most common questions we hear from campers is figuring out what to pack. We’ve combined years of experience and research to help you find the answer.

Most RVs have a large amount of storage space that lets you bring along almost everything you want, but you don’t want to pack so much that you’re lugging around unnecessary weight. On the other hand, it’s the forgotten items that end up creating the most trouble while on your first camping trip in your new RV.

For the first time out, a packing list can help you to remember all of the essentials.

Camping in an RV is different from tent camping or even car camping. There are certain things that you need to remember to have the best trip possible. While this list is well-thought-out and thorough, it’s merely a stepping stone to help you discover and create a personalized packing list.

Kitchen and Cooking

Like gourmet meals? You’re going to love RV camping. Bringing a full kitchen wherever you go is one of the best parts of having a camper.

Here’s what to pack if you want to treat yourself to a home-cooked meal in your RV:

  • Food and drink (be aware of high prices near campgrounds)
  • Spices
  • Oil or butter
  • Frying pan or skillet
  • Saucepan
  • Collander
  • Measuring cups/spoons
  • Grill or griddle
  • Plates and bowls
  • Cups and mugs
  • Forks, knives, spoons
  • Spatula
  • Tongs
  • Serving spoons
  • Wisk
  • Can opener
  • Bottle/wine opener
  • Cutting board and knife
  • Paper towels
  • Trash bags
  • Ziploc bags
  • Tinfoil
  • Dish tub
  • Dish soap
  • Sponge
  • Potholders
  • Dishtowels
  • Coffee maker
  • Cooler (if you don’t have a fridge)

Bedroom and Sleeping

With an RV, there’s a lower risk of tossing and turning than a night in a tent, where you might set up the tent over a lump of dirt or rocks. RVs are built for a comfortable night’s rest after a long day of exploring your surroundings.

The bedroom is a sacred space where you recharge and get ready for the next day. So don’t hesitate to bring along extra pillows and comforts that help you sleep and feel more at home.

  • Sheets
  • Blankets or sleeping bag
  • Pillows and pillowcases
  • Pajamas
  • Ear plugs
  • Sleep mask
  • Towels


You’re packing for an adventure. That means that you need to dress appropriately and have the right clothing along with you in case of the unexpected. The RV can serve as the world’s best closet for an adventurer. You don’t have to worry about buying only lightweight and packable down jackets because you have space for additional layers and bulkier items.

It’s never a bad idea to have your RV stocked with every layer imaginable, but you can easily cut down your closet if you know the weather that’s coming.

Here’s a great list to pick and choose from depending on the type of trip you’re taking.

  • Rain jacket and pants
  • Hats
    • Sun hat
    • Baseball cap
    • Beanie
  • Shoes
    • Hiking shoes
    • Water shoes
    • Sandals
    • Slippers
    • Casual shoes
  • Sweaters or hoodies
  • Socks
  • Underwear
  • Heavy jacket
  • Light jacket
  • Short and long-sleeve shirts
  • Shorts and pants
  • Swimsuit

Personal items and Toiletries

With personal items and toiletries are several little things that are easy to overlook and leave behind. It’s crazy how easy it is to leave your phone charger plugged in by your bed at home and forget to take it with you.

That’s where a checklist is most helpful. I have always found it best to have two of each item on this list—one that stays at home and one that stays in the camper. That way, I don’t go through the hassle of moving everything into the RV every time I want to go out for a weekend.

On top of random personal items, you need to remember all of your toiletries. A full bathroom is another great luxury of an RV setup. You don’t have to be conscious of what small travel-sized bottles you can fit in your backpack or car camping kit as you’ll have a whole bathroom cabinet along for the ride.

  • Phone charger
  • Wallet
  • First aid kit
  • Sun protection
  • Bug spray
  • Bear spray (if you’re in bear country)
  • Sewing kit
  • Headlamp or flashlight
  • Extra batteries
  • Watch
  • Sunglasses
  • Reservation paperwork
  • Prescription medications
  • Contacts and lens solution
  • Deodorant
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Floss
  • Lip balm
  • Body soap
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Hairbrush
  • Nail clippers
  • Lotion

All of the Fun Stuff

While the wild has plenty to offer when it comes to entertainment, an RV provides more creature comforts. It allows you to bring a lot that you usually wouldn’t have with you on a backpacking or car camping trip.

This is the area in which you get to personalize your trip and tailor it to your group. Here are some ideas of what to take with you to bring the fun.

  • Camping chairs
  • Hammock
  • Deck of cards
  • Board games
  • Fishing gear (and fishing license)
  • Drawing tools
  • Hiking maps
  • Mountain bikes
  • Kayaks, canoes, or paddleboards
  • Camera
  • Yard games
  • Headphones or a speaker
  • Books
  • Axe for splitting wood

RV Essentials

If you are a first-time camper in your RV, you’ll quickly learn that there’s a decent amount of maintenance and care required to get you safely where you want to go. You’ll get the hang of RV maintenance with time and experience.

Plenty of things go smoothly on the road, but some bumps can just as easily come up. Learning to take care of the RV, and keeping a few emergency items on-hand, is your best bet and will allow you to avoid expensive mechanics and other costly fixes.

  • Road atlas
  • Water tank filled – at least halfway
  • Drain hose
  • Levels and leveling kit
  • Gas tank filled
  • Spare oil
  • Tools necessary for on-the-road fixes
  • Emergency light kit
  • Jumper cables

Did we forget something that every first-time camper should have? Leave it for us in the comments!