Last Updated on 01/25/2024 by Glynn Willard




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What Should Beginners Pack Into Their RV?

 
Packing your RV is more than just the items you bring on your RV adventure.

It’s also about how you pack the RV and where you place items in the camper.

It’s a good idea to plan accordingly based on the small space of an RV to avoid issues affecting your first RV trip.

If this is your first time packing an RV, let’s review some tips, considerations, and specific items to pack.
 

 
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RV Beginner RV Packing Checklist

 
Our solar set up
 
There are a few items for your RV packing list that you may not have thought of for your first trip.

Especially if you’re a first-time RV owner!

Before I get into things you may have already thought of, the following important things on the list are less common:
 

Less Obvious Items To Pack In Your Camper

 

  • A first aid kit: Okay, maybe you already thought of this, but it will likely get some use, especially if you have kids.
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  • Dish soap: Oddly, this one is easy to forget.
     

  • Dish sponge
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  • Head lamp
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  • Trash bags: We like to use grocery bags making for easier disposal in small trash cans.
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  • Fire extinguisher: Most RV’s come equipped with a fire extinguisher, so make sure yours is up to date and good to go.
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  • Laundry bag
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  • Toilet paper: Realizing you forgot this after you do the deed…
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  • Kitchen items such as tongs, a spatula, a cutting board, and a sharp knife. Also, kitchen supplies also include dishes. If you’re staying at an RV campground, paper plates make great kindling!
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  • Duct tape: Need I explain?
     

  • Small shovel. Sometimes, it’s easier to dig a depression for your wheels to level your RV.
     

  • Bungee cords: We used our bungee cords a lot more than I expected!
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  • Tire changing tools: Make room for the essential tools. When dealing with an RV, it’s not it, it’s when they’ll be needed.
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  • A bottle jack is in any RV is a necessity, especially if you’re full-time.
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  • A small level will make manually leveling a camper a lot faster.
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  • Lighter for your campfires.
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  • Sewer hose extender in case you don’t get close enough to the clean-out at the dump station.
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  • A rechargeable fan for warmer spaces in the camper in hot weather.
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  • Additional water storage: We always carried 3, 5-gallon Scepter cans and had to use them frequently.
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  • A collapsible picnic table if you have the space. We found 101 uses for our aluminum picnic table at every location.
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  • Small portable heater to save your propane when attached to the utilities in an RV park.
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  • Cleaning supplies such as Clorox Wipes, a small broom and dustpan.

 

The Obvious Essential Items To Pack In Your Camper

 

  • Coffee maker: What do you mean, I shouldn’t list this first? We like to make cold brew in warm weather and use a coffee press in cooler weather.
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  • Easy off comfortable slip on shoes. You’ll be going in and out of the camper a lot, so easy on shoes expedite the process.
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  • Additional shoes to accommodate different terrain or activities.
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  • Personal items: This includes all the items you would pack for a vacation such as clothing, toiletries, and shoes.
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  • Appropriate plug adapters for different electric hookups. Make sure you select the appropriate adapter for your RV.
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  • RV leveling equipment. Even if your RV has an auto leveler system, a manual backup is inexpensive and will minimize headaches. Don’t forget the wheel chocks.
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  • Freshwater hose to either fill your water tanks or connect to city water.
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  • Water filter just in case you find the water’s flavor at the RV campsite “less than desirable.”
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    Our water filter gets a lot of use!


     

  • Water bottles for everyone.
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  • All bedding, to include a spare set if you’re out for a longer RV camping trip.
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  • A heavy blanket for anyone who gets cold easily.
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  • Bar soap or whatever concoction you use for hygiene.
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  • Baby wipes: You may not always need to shower, so these are good for the “hot spots.”
     

  • Towels for showering, dishes and clean up.
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  • A laundry bag for both laundry storage and transport to the laundromat.
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  • Board games such as chess or cards. We play a lot of chess when we’re on the road.
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    Chess is a great use of downtime!


     

  • Paper towels and a paper towel holder.
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  • Laptop or tablet if you’re working from the road during longer trips.
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  • Charging cables for all of your devices.
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  • Jackets if you’re in a “shoulder season” and there’s potential for a cool evening.
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  • Camp chairs: No matter where you go, you’ll find use for a collapsible camping chair.
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Seriously, if you forget anything, you can always swing by a Walmart or grocery store on your travel day.

We did grocery shopping on our travel days to build in a break and it always helped.
 

RV Packing Tips

 
To state the obvious, pack less-used items deeper in the storage areas.

What’s not as obvious, is to pack your heavy items as close to “over the axles” as you can.

The weight distribution of your items is important for both safety and ride quality (or tow quality).

Speaking of towing a travel trailer, make good use of your truck bed for storage if you’re not dragging a fifth wheel.

Yes, a secure tonneau cover is necessary, but it adds much more storage.
 

We made full use of our secure truck bed.


 
Just be conscience of your truck’s payload capacity and the tongue weight of your trailer.

Any items that are used exclusively outside should be stored in your external storage space.

We like to contain a lot of loose items in tote bins to keep things orderly.

Lastly, it’s a great idea to pack your RV the day before your first trip. Especially if it’s a new RV.

We all have this vision of what it’s going to be like camping in an RV.

The less stress you have before your first trip, the more likely your vision will be a reality.

Packing the day before is the best way to keep stress low for your first trip. Also, an RV packing checklist helps!
 

Additional Important Weight Concerns When Packing An RV

 
Weight matters! It’s important that your priority is to pack light.

It helps if you know your RV’s cargo-carrying capacity (CCC) so that you don’t overpack.

Bear in mind that most RV manufacturers don’t count a full fresh water tank as unloaded RV weight.

In other words, the freshwater counts against your CCC.
 

Your RV Camping Style Plays A Role In Packing

 
The things you pack in your RV for a state park or RV park will be different than if you plan on boondocking on public land.

Dispersed camping requires an ample water supply, a way to regenerate power for your systems, and a way to contain your trash.

When you spend a lot of time boondocking, there’s a good chance you will need a way to get “un-stuck.”

We found our Campco leveling blocks to make for a cheap alternative to some more expensive versions.
 

 
You’ll also need to place additional emphasis on the tools you bring. It may require more than just a screwdriver and a pair of pliers.

Let’s drill down the tools in more detail. Did I just write that out loud??
 

Essential Basic Tools To Pack

 
Essential RV Tools
 
I mentioned essential tools earlier in the article, but feel like I should elaborate.

This checklist of tools we carry may help you decide what’s best for your RV.
 

  • Bottle jack appropriate for the weight of your RV.
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  • Breaker bar for lug nuts.
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  • Torque wrench for maintaining proper torque on all bolts.
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  • Ratchet set
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  • Voltage meter
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  • Assortment of screwdrivers
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  • Short bubble level
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  • Small shovel
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  • Tire pressure gauge
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  • Needle nose pliers
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  • Vice Grips because Vice Grips, like duct tape, have many uses!
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  • Duct tape
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  • Tape measure
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  • Hatchet, which I thought I would never use, but I did on occasion.
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  • Small camp saw
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  • Zip ties
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  • Hammer drill for manual stabilizers or fast repairs.
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  • Flashlight for working in tight, dark spaces.
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  • Leather work gloves
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If you plan on staying out longer in your RV, you may find our Essential Tools list on our gear page helpful.
 

Wrapping Up RV Packing Tips For Beginners

 

 
Whether you are packing a travel trailer or a campervan, space and cargo-carrying capacity are the most influential aspects of what you can bring.

Where you place items in the RV is also important.

Heavy items over the axles and nothing heavy stored high in the camper will make for a safer and more enjoyable ride.

Packing the day before you hit the open road will relieve a lot of stress and help prevent forgotten items.

Lastly, it’s good to be prepared, but if you forget something, there’s almost always a Walmart, Lowes, Tractor Supply or grocery store along the way.

Have you found any particular items that are “must haves” for an RV?
 
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