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The Ultimate Guide to Must Have Camping Gear for 2024

Updated: Dec 9, 2023

Camping and van life essential items. Camping gear. Camping equipment. Van life gear. Van life equipment
Camping and vanlife must have items

In this blog post I will highlight items I feel are either crucial to have in your campervan or motorhome or are best-in-breed products for camping and outdoor life.

These are all products that I personally have purchased and used and assist me in my van life experience.

Please note that some of the links to the products are affiliate links so should you choose to purchase an item from the link supplied, I will get a few pennies and will be greatly appreciative to you.

I have been camping since my teens. When my kids were born we got a caravan and would regularly go away for weekends and holidays in it. The kids used to love it when they were younger but have apparently outgrown it in their later teens and early adulthood.

I've tried and used a LOT of camping get over the decades so rest assured the items I recommend below are from personal experience over these decades.

Let's get on with the list of must-have van life and camping products and items!

List of items:

Camping toaster/grill

You can't possibly exist without toast right? Something so easy as toast really is far more complicated than it should be when it comes to finding the right toaster or grill to make the stuff! I tried those devices where you stand the bread up at an angle to the flame but was really disappointed with how long it took and the unevenness of the toast.

I then found this grill on Amazon and am as happy as Larry! Not only can you use it for making that all important toast, but you can use it to grill pretty much anything! Sausages, meat and vegetables! Suitable for use on a gas hob or BBQ.

I have been really happy with this grill and have 2 in my Hymer.

Click the image below to purchase and support my road trip 🙏

Pet cooling mat

If, like me, you travel with a pet, then keeping them cool in a tent, campervan or motorhome in the warmer months is crucial.

During the Summer of 2022 in England, we had consecutive hot days (by UK standards) and my pooch was feeling it. So I popped online and looked for solutions to help him keep cool. A colleague of mine used a cooling mate and highly recommended it so I found one with good reviews at a fair price. My pooch did take a day or two to understand the benefits of laying on the mat but once his logic got around it, he loved lying on it and it really did help in keeping him cool during the hotter days.

Definitely, a must-have for those vanlifers travelling with pets.

Click the image below to purchase and support my road trip 🙏

USB Rechargeable 720-degree fan

Now that we've ensured our pets are kept cool, what about us? Whilst most motorhomes and campervans have several windows and roof lights that can be opened, on some days there isn't even as much as a breeze to keep things cool.

The answer?

These simply awesome USB rechargeable fans.

I purchased one and was so impressed that I ordered a second.

The fan comes with a large clamp allowing you to fix it to almost anything, in addition, it also has a hanging loop. It has 3 fan speed settings and even has built-in LED lights allowing it to act as a lamp! It also comes with a remote control!

The battery life is simply outstanding lasting easily 60+ hours off a single charge.

And of course, it is USB rechargeable!

This fan really is the business.

Click the image below to purchase and support my road trip 🙏

Portable camping BBQ

I cannot even imagine how many portable camping BBQs I've owned over the decades. When it comes to camping, and especially so van life, space is of a premium. Vanlifers typically have EVERYTHING you would usually have in a far larger house in their van!

So everything a vanlifer owns has to be as portable as possible.

I am very happy with this one I found on Amazon, it has a very small footprint of just 27 x 35 x 6.5cm when folded up. It stands 20cm high when the legs are unfolded.

It's small enough not to take up too much space but big enough to cook for a couple or small family.

Click the image below to purchase and support my road trip 🙏

Camping kettle

Another major consideration when purchasing electrical items for camping or van life is the wattage.

Most campsites provide 10A or 16A electric hookups. I personally assume worst case scenario of 10A so when I purchase items I always opt for as low wattage as possible.

This camping kettle is only 900W!

If you have a decent solar setup and inverter you could happily use this kettle without completely draining your leisure batteries.

It has a 1l capacity and due to the fact it's only 900W does take a little longer to boil but if you're in a rush when camping, you're doing it wrong!

I've owned mine for well over a year now and use it a LOT!

It's a great little kettle.

Click the image below to purchase and support my road trip 🙏

Awning clips

I'll admit, these are a product I didn't even know existed until I undertook my van life adventure. Having suffered many weeks of winds in excess of 30mph and my roll-out awning having to be wound in as a consequence, I did some research to see how I could secure the awning a little better to withstand stronger winds.

That research led me to these tarp/awning clips.

Basically, you attach the slips to the sides of the awning and then secure them to a peg in the ground providing additional anchor points and significantly improving the wind tolerance of an awning.

These would also be useful on gazebos etc.

Definitely worth having in your camping kit bag if you use a roll-out awning or any other camping equipment that could suffer from mid to high-speed winds.

Click the image below to purchase and support my road trip 🙏

Camping levelling ramps

When I set off on my van life adventure back in 2021 I bought a set of ramps from a well-known brand which had good reviews on Amazon. But I was simply not impressed. They didn't provide sufficient vehicle lift for many of the campsites I visited. I then bought another set of ramps, from the same brand but once again, I was disappointed as found that the surface of the ramps didn't provide sufficient traction for my motorhome wheels to get up easily.

Finally, I purchased these Milenco ramps and honestly wish I had bought them from the start!

The 3 level tiers make it really easy to level your campervan or motorhome in most situations. Obviously, if you're parking on a severe incline, no ramp is going to help you!

Since purchasing these I've not personally found a campsite where I'm unable to get my van nicely level which is of course important if you have a fridge and/or use gas appliances in your campervan or motorhome.

Don't be like me and be tempted by lower prices, one of the previous sets I purchased actually broke as they clearly could not cope with the weight of my vehicle (1.8t on the front axle)

Click the image below to purchase and support my road trip 🙏

Camping spirit level

Another must-have item if you camp in a campervan or motorhome is a spirit level.

How else are you going to know how level or unlevel your van is?

I used a standard spirit level initially but then came across this beauty!

I've attached it on a flat surface in my Hymer motorhome that is easily viewable from my driving position.

As you can see in the image, it is a dual-direction spirit level and has really helped to speed up the process of getting my motorhome level when setting up at a campsite.

Definitely, something you want to get to make your life easier!

Click the image below to purchase and support my road trip 🙏

USB rechargeable headlamp/torch for camping or van life

This for me is an absolute must-have in your camping gear!

I originally had just a hand torch (see item below) which is great, however, what I soon learned was that when I was walking my dog at night, and needing to clean up after him, it could get a little tricky holding the lead, trying to get a back out and then picking up the stinky.

Enter the headlamp. An absolute gamechanger freeing up both my arms to allow me to focus on the task at hand whilst illuminating the area very well. It is of course USB rechargeable because if you are a vanlifer that is pretty much a necessity where possible and the battery lasts a good many hours from a single charge.

Click the image below to purchase and support my road trip 🙏

High-powered camping torch

A torch is of course a no-brainer whether you're camping in a tent, campervan or motorhome.

One that can be charged by USB on a 12v system is also important, especially for those who are full-time vanlifers.

After a few disappointments with other torches, I've found one that I am really pleased with.

It is VERY bright, has various modes including SOS and is of course USB rechargeable. The battery lasts between 4 - 6 hours depending on the mode used. It also comes with a charger for the battery and a mount for your bicycle should you wish to ride after dark!

Click the image below to purchase and support my road trip 🙏

Hardstanding / Rock pegs

During the summer of 2022, I worked on a campsite and one of the common issues I saw campers experiencing is the pegs they were using simply not being up to the task of being knocked into hardstanding pitches.

Those small tent pegs are made for grass and soft soil, not for hardstanding pitches which consist of a much more solid surface.

Rock/hardstanding/power pegs are the answer. They are a much more durable, thicker peg designed specifically for harder surfaces.

Don't be caught out with your piddly tent pegs!

Click the image below to purchase and support my road trip 🙏

Temperature and moisture level meter

Damp is a campervan or motorhome's worst enemy!

Damp can be a costly repair job if it gets into the wood panels or insulation of your van often resulting in complete panels needing to be ripped out and replaced.

To keep an eye on the moisture levels in my motorhome I purchased this little meter which also doubles up as a thermometer.

High moisture levels over prolonged periods can also have an impact on your health.

Rather be safe than sorry!

Click the image below to purchase and support my road trip 🙏

Unibond moisture absorber

I have tried several non-electric dehumidifiers in my motorhome since undertaking my van life experience in August 2021.

This particular one is by far the more effective in controlling unwanted moisture in the van ensuring that dampness does not get a chance to set in.

I actually have 2 in my motorhome now. One in the habitat area and one on the dashboard under my dropdown bed.

Most humidity (water vapour) condenses on the glass as these are typically the coldest surfaces in your vehicle. Putting one of these absorbers on the middle of my dashboard has stopped all moisture issues relieving me from the daily morning routine of having to dry my windows!

Click the image below to purchase and support my road trip 🙏

Tap and hose-pipe connectors

If you're a little all over the place like I am, you simply cannot have enough spare tap/hose connectors in your camping gear bag!

During my season working on a campsite, it was a regular occurrence to find these adapters left on taps around the site, or campers coming into the office to see if we sold them.

They are cheap but can be a complete nightmare if you find yourself needing to fill your water tank only to discover you've left your adapter at your previous location.

Click the image below to purchase and support my road trip 🙏

Solar-powered motion sensor lights

I simply love these lights. I have one mounted on each side of my motorhome at the moment (I'm considering getting another for the rear of the vehicle too).

They are solar powered and come with various lighting settings, motion sensor activated or static amongst others.

They produce a great amount of light which helps in Winter months when it's pitch black with darkness by 4 pm! I've located one near to my side door so that when I open the door, it comes on and illuminates the surrounding area.

It could possibly act as a deterrent for people with less than pure thoughts if the light comes on when they approach the vehicle.

A really cool, no-maintenance light and has been a great addition to my van.

Click the image below to purchase and support my road trip 🙏


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