Wow, did #RVLife and #VanLife get popular in 2021. It seems limited international travel, remote work policies, plus self-containing in hopes to avoid COVID-19 made for a perfect recipe to drive RV sales. There’s a good chance you have an Recreational Vehicle or have a good friend or family member who does.
Since RVs allow for limited space, items brought into an RV are intentional and often must serve a purpose (or two or three purposes). We’ve compiled a list of our favorite fifteen items that we think make for awesome gifts for any one in your life who lives in an RV, travels in an RV, or just loves RV Life.
Need more suggestions? Check out last year’s 2020 gift guide for even more inspiration.
While most people with an RV already have a good camp chair (we LOVE our club chairs) it’s not always practical or easy to lug big chairs around — especially when going on a hike, to a park, or to watch the sunset at The Grand Canyon. We love the Cliq Camping Chair. It’s the size of a water bottle, weighs less than three pounds, quickly opens, folds easily, and it’s quite comfortable. The chair is so small and compact that it also makes for a great option when you have extra guests at the campsite and need more seating. It’s a little pricy (around $100 at time of this post), but you can grab a similar style for about 1/3 of the cost.
Our hand-woven falsa blanket (sometimes called a Mexican blanket, Baja blanket, or yoga blanket) is our go blanket to for everything. We line the car seats for our pup with one, we use them to cover our vinyl RV dinette seats. We warm up by the fire with a blanket, we use them as beach mats, dog beds, as a bed cover when we don’t want to have items touch our bedding, a table cloth on the campground picnic table, etc. Best of all, the blankets are pretty light and easy to carry on a hike or camping excursion. The blankets come in many different colors and each one of them is Instagram ready.
Whether you’re walking to the bathhouse or just need a bit more light to cook, a hanging lantern is key while camping or RVing. We love the Supernova Halo 180. When fully charged, it can run about 5 hours and doesn’t take long to recharge. The hook and clip allows you to hang the lantern in your tent, a tree, attach it to your backpack — or it can prop up on a table to direct the light to where you need it. It also has a magnet base, which is great for attaching under the car hood. Multiple light settings (along with a flash/blink setting) make it the perfect go-to light while camping (and actually, we use it to take our dog out, too!). And it comes in orange, green, or black.
Even though I hail from Michigan, somehow I am a wimp when it comes to cold weather. Even now living in the South, it can be warm during the day but really cold once the sun goes down. Hand warmers are so helpful to keep you nice a toasty. Whether you’re on a hike, taking the dog for an evening walk, or just hanging by the fire, these small rechargeable hand warmers can keep you nice and toasty. The 5000mAh will do just fine, but if you’re looking for longer heat times and adjustable heat, I suggest upgrading to a 10000mAh heater. The device quickly charges via USB, and bonus, you can use the hand warmer as a portable phone charging battery. While the warmers come in many colors, I prefer bright orange so I can easily find it.
There’s nothing like the fresh smells of the great outdoors, especially in some of our more remote National Parks. But not every night is spent in the middle of nowhere, and many nights are spent in truck stops, crowded campgrounds, or even Wal-Mart parking lots. That’s why I love a small, personal air purifier. It’s portable, rechargeable, easy to clean, and has a HEPA filter to provide a dose of fresh air inside the RV (or really anywhere you need it). The LG Puricare Mini is the gold standard, as it’s quiet, works really well — but is a little pricey. For a more affordable (and colorful – as it comes in shades of blue, white, grey, and black) is the PureZone Mini.
We cook 90% of our meals while at camp. Something about cooking over a fire, or at your grill while camping… the food just tastes better. And my husband and I love to spice up our meals. (I’m the type of person that has not one, but two hot sauces in her purse if that tells you anything…) We have a Spice Bricks spice stacker and grinder, so we can take our essential spices wherever we need to go. It’s perfect to throw in our bag if we grill at the beach, we keep one in our Blackstone case, and since it’s so compact, it’s easy to take on a hike, too. The stacker/grinder a bit intense? The four-in-one shakers are awesome as well, and perfect for salt, pepper, garlic, and oregano, etc.
The immersion stick blender came in handy more times than I could have imagined. From gazpacho to soup to smoothies to frothing milk, it was used quite a bit. This Cuisinart model is cordless and rechargeable — it takes about 2 hours to charge and runs for about 20 minutes. It also comes with a whisk, which is great for whipping egg whites! If the cordless aspect doesn’t matter to you, look at the Vitamix model for stronger power.
Nesting bowls take up little space, but are super useful. We use our big bowl for salads, our small for marinating. We’ve used them to put out snacks, save leftovers, and even catch water from the A/C run off to flush while boondocking (with a generator). I like this nesting bowl set because it has handles, pour spouts, lids, and comes with a large grater, smaller grater, and slicer. Plus, the bowls are super easy to clean. Other sets come with more bowls but I don’t think we’d ever need more than three (considering the sink isn’t large enough to leave dirty dishes for long).
When you’re boondocking in the middle of nowhere, sometimes it can get really dark. We like the ambience and feel of cafe lights — and solar is a must so we don’t drain power or need to use the generator. This solar light set is bright enough to help you see around the campsite in the evening, but not too bright where it’s blinding. It easily recharges during the day and the bulbs are made from high-grade plastic, so no worries about broken glass at your site. We found 27 feet was just enough for us, but the set comes in other lengths, too.
Sometimes it gets a little too cold to sit outside, but you really want that additional outdoor space — or if you’re boondocking in your van or RV you may just need a little extra heat. We LOVE our Mr. Buddy Flex Heater. It’s super efficient and has a low-high dial so you can maintain the perfect temp. It even has a low-oxygen sensor and accidental tip-over switch with auto shut-off for safety, allowing it to be used indoors and outdoors. The radiant heater uses 1lb propane tanks, or pick up the accessory hose use your larger propane tank. If you want a smaller model, look at the Little Buddy for backpacking/tent camping.
Now you may be thinking… fire poker? Isn’t there a ton of dead branches around the campsite you can use instead? Well, a lot of campgrounds are actually more like parking than camping. This is especially true when your staying the night at parks near the freeway on the way to the next destination. Many parks have a firepit, but no good way to move the logs or coals. We love this collapsible fire poker. It’s 46 inches long but collapses into about half the size. It’s rust-proof, made from steal, and is 16mm (most are 10mm). This poker a great gift for someone who loves to sit by the fire while RVing.
This smaller Fiskars hatchet is perfect for chopping firewood, branches, and even small logs. We use it every time we cook over the fire so we can get a more even burn from our wood. It’s sharp, doesn’t get stuck, and comes with a cover to protect you from the blade. We put our hatchet through some tough times, a lot of work, and left it outside in the rain countless times. Despite all the abuse, it’s still going strong. I have been advised to get in touch with companies similar to Cutting Edge Firewood who can provide me with the best quality firewood for my cooking, but I am still deliberating on that decision as of now!
When you’re without internet and have to conserve power, games come to the rescue — especially on a cold or rainy day. Since it’s just the two of us, we like a lot of two person games. Some favorites are: Monopoly Deal (takes just 15 minutes, plays like Monopoly), Couch Skeletons, 3UP 3 DOWN, and Yahtzee. We also like to play poker and blackjack with a set of traditional cards. For 3+ player games, we have Catch Phrase, Azul, and of course, Cards Against Humanity. And I have to add Dutch Blitz, which I could play for hours and apparently I’m too good because my husband refuses to play it with me anymore.
When you travel from campsite to boondocking site to Harvest Hosts Site to Cracker Barrel parking log, they can all start to meld into one. That’s why I love this camping log book to document our travels. The book prompts you with questions like how’s the cell service, what kind of site, the price of laundry, etc. I really enjoy looking back and it helps prompt memories of that particular site and time on our journey. Plus, it serves as a great guide for when people ask me to recommend campgrounds on their journey.
It took us a bit to join Harvest Hosts and I wish we would have done it sooner. We’ve stayed in funky breweries, beautiful vineyards, a quirky kombucha farm, a few distilleries even a retired horse fam. We’ve had so much fun getting to know the hosts, exploring new local goods, and having a safe place to crash for the evening. Harvest Host allows hosts to give you a space to park for the evening, in exchange for a purchase of their local goods (suggested $20 purchase). You do need to be self-contained and ready to boon dock, though some of our hosts had power, water, or dump stations available for a small fee.
Many of the links above are affiliate links, for which I get paid pennies and it helps offset the costs of blog hosting. Also, while the links above are for Amazon, I encourage you to shop at your locally owned hardware store, camping store, or other local businesses.
Looking for other RV and camping recommendations? Check out other gift lists, RV essentials lists, and even RV dog recommendations in my storefront.