Living on the road in a small campervan means there is no room for extra items. Everything that comes into our van either needs to be functional, exceptionally beautiful, or, ideally, both. Here are ten of our favorite camping items that make the cut.
Our van doesn’t have room for a dedicated workstation, but spending all day hunched over a computer on my lap wasn’t working. A padded lap desk doesn’t solve the problem, but it certainly makes it better.
The roof of our van is crowded with vents, an air conditioning unit, and an unused antenna, so mounting solar panels and installing a power bank wasn’t an option without some serious reconfiguring. Then again, going without power to charge our laptops, phones, and tablets wasn’t an option either. Enter the EcoFlow River, a portable power station that helps to keep us fully powered up.
We charge our EcoFlow River with a Renogy 100 Watt Solar Suitcase. The solar suitcase packs up relatively small, is easy to set up, and re-charges our battery efficiently.
Before hitting the road I searched far and wide for a pair of adventure pants that would be durable yet comfortable. Finally, after at least a half-dozen attempts, I found the Halle pants by Prana. They come in short, regular, and long lengths, and have experienced near daily wear for 18 months. They are the best of the best.
Less than 36 hours into living on the road and we learned the hard way that our vintage campervan was less than rodent proof. With a mouse gorging on trail mix in our pantry we stopped to pick up a Hefty bin to hold our groceries. The bin is rugged, spacious enough for a week’s worth of dry goods, and easy to clean.
Our camper has a tiny amount of floor space, and for months a bulky bed for our dog, Lemhi, hogged it all. While I didn’t want to deny Lemhi a comfortable place to rest, that bed was a major pain in the butt. Eventually we discovered a large memory foam floor mat, which lets him relax in comfort without being a tripping hazard for us. Win/win.
I travel with a good amount of camera gear, and wanted a bag that would protect it from the bangs and bumps of being on the road, while also being comfortable enough to carry with me. I finally found perfection in the Tenba DNA 10 Messenger Bag. It carries all my camera gear, is comfortable to wear, and also makes a great computer bag when the need arises.
Similar to keeping my camera gear protected, I also don’t want to lose all my photos. External hard drives are notoriously delicate, but I’ve had great luck with my LaCie Rugged. Granted, I try my best to not drop it, but accidents happen. It has survived 18 months of wash-boarded roads, rough handling, and banging around in my computer bag. So far so good — although I definitely keep a second backup just in case!
Binoculars are one of the handiest things to have around when camping. Sure, they are great for looking at birds, but they are just as good at spotting whales, trying to identify that mammal running toward your campsite, and determining if the smoke in the distance is from a campfire or a wildfire.
Every RV or campervan needs at least one set of these levelers inside. For our campervan, they are essential to get the van level (otherwise, our Dometic propane fridge refuses to run). They are also great for protecting the ground underneath built-in stabilizers.
Regardless of how much storage room you have in your camper, every item should pull its weight in either usefulness or beauty. These ten favorites have helped get us through 18 months on the road — and hopefully many more years to come.
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We hope to make *Favorite Camping Gear* a regular feature on the Campendium blog. It’s a great way to help the site earn affiliate revenue while helping your fellow campers learn about great gear. If you’d like to contribute, please email photos with links to the product details on Amazon, along with a couple sentences about each item to email@example.com. Please include any blog or social media accounts that we can link to. Thanks in advance!