RV Essentials Checklist for First Time RVers

Published on 8/13/2022

Setting off in an RV brings with it a special kind of exhilaration — the thrill of the open road, the visions of adventure lying just over the horizon, and the freedom to bring your home on wheels into parts unknown.

But no RV journey can go off without a hitch unless you’ve packed the RV essentials. By having an RV camping checklist, you’ll be equipped to enjoy your adventure without the stress. That’s why we put together this RV essentials checklist — to help you out no matter if you’re a first-time RVer, an RV renter, or an RV owner.

We’ve divided this list into categories so you know what RV essentials to pack in each place of your camper:

The RV camping checklist is made, you just have to check it twice!

General RV Essentials

RVs demand a particular set of tools to keep water flowing, toilets un-stinky, and more. Here is that checklist:

  • RV drinking water hose — This isn’t your average water hose. Rather, RV drinking hoses are specially formulated to NOT contain harmful materials — like lead and BPA — that are sometimes found in regular ‘ol garden hoses.
  • Sewer kit — One of the more unflattering parts of RVing is dumping your own poo. By having the right RV sewer hose, gloves, and cleaning materials on your RV camping checklist, you’ll be ready for easy adventuring.
  • Power management system/surge protector — This will plug right into your RV’s power cord to protect sensitive RV electronics.
  • Tire pressure gauge — No RV essentials checklist should be without this tool for ensuring safety over the road.
  • Fire extinguishers — know where they are and how to use them
  • Extra fluids — Washer fluid, coolant, motor oil, and even an extra gas canister are musts for any RV camping list.
  • Jumper cables + battery jump pack — When you need them you REALLY need them, so it pays to have them on board.

BONUS: Battery jump packs double as a strong source of backup power for charging phones, computers, and other small electronics.

Sleeping/bath necessities

Your RV camping checklist should also include items to help you sleep soundly, warmly, and comfortably.  

This section of your RV list will vary depending on what sort of rig we’re talking about. For example, campervans often require more blankets on cooler nights because they don’t tend to have strong heating systems. 

Motorhomes and travel trailers — on the other hand — are usually equipped with central heating systems that’ll help keep you toasty even in light attire. 

Here are the items that should be on your RV essentials list when it comes to catching some Zzzs: 

  • Blankets or sleeping bags — If you RV in a rig that doesn’t have strong internal heat, sleeping bags are terrific space savers that also provide a great deal of warmth.
  • Pillows — When it’s essential to save space on your RV trip, add a stuffable camping pillow to your RV camping list.
  • Towels — If you find yourself in an RV or campervan without a shower, you’ll especially want to have towels for the campground shower houses you’ll encounter along your journey.
  • Bedding and sheets — These won’t always be included when you rent an RV, so they’re an important addition to your RV essentials checklist.
  • Bath soaps/shampoos — Many campground shower houses don’t include this, so it’s wise to bring some of your own.
  • Warm PJs — One of the most underrated ways to stay warm while RVing is to have comfy PJs or thermal underwear to help keep you toasty. 

RV Kitchen Tools

The best checklists for RV camping include tools to cook up epic meals along the road:

  • Coffee making supplies
  • Can opener
  • Wine opener
  • Portable camping stove — Because outdoor cooking is a must for any RV camping list.
  • Grill
  • Plates, utensils, and sharp knives
  • Cutting board
  • Pots and pans — Nesting cookware, for example, is one of the best things to hit RV camping lists since sliced bread.
  • Cooler
  • Matches/lighter
  • Food storage containers
  • Hotpads
  • Dish towels and rags
  • Compostable trash bags


The key to a great RV clothing list is to mainly include clothing that compacts easily and can be used in a variety of settings. For example: 

  • Base layers — Thermal underwear is a great example because it packs easily, is comfy, and can double as both PJ and base layer.
  • Multipurpose shoes
  • Swimsuit — because it barely takes up space and you never know when you’ll need it
  • Compactable jacket — Down jackets are super warm AND compressible. 
  • Socks and underwear
  • Raincoat
  • Comfortable/free-flowing clothing — RV camping usually involves a great deal of outdoor time and that’s why outdoor-friendly attire is a must for your RV camping checklist.

Personal essentials

  • Bug spray
  • Bear spray — in areas where bears roam
  • Medication
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunblock
  • Deodorant
  • Lotion/moisturizer
  • Eye drops — All the best RV checklists include eye drops because campers frequent dry climates and high altitudes.

Camping Gear

Fun is essential to any camping trip. That’s why this stuff should be part of any RV essentials checklist:

  • S’more supplies and tools
  • Firewood
  • Portable fire pit — in case you ever find yourself without one
  • Board games and card games
  • Yard games
  • Guitar (or other portable musical instrument)
  • Camping chairs
  • Camping table   

RVing brings with it a tremendous amount of freedom to choose your own adventure. While this is exhilarating, it can also come to a screeching halt — or at least an inconvenient stumble — if you don’t consider the essentials that should be on your RV camping list. 

by Joshua Schukman - Outdoorsy.com