A Camping Checklist for RV Beginners

Alright, so you’ve finally bought that RV you’ve been eyeing for months and are eager to pack up and hit the road. Far off horizons call your name, beckoning to you with a sweet siren song. You’ve done your best to suppress a mounting wanderlust, but your strength is beginning to fail, and in your soul, you know it’s time to go.

But, when you unlatch the door and walk into your new home away from home, your footsteps echo against barren walls. The cabinets are empty of gear and your wardrobe is void of clothing and blankets.

Simply put, before you drive off for that long-awaited camping trip, you’ve got to gear up.

RV camping checklist

Table of Contents

Having a well-stocked RV can be the difference between a “meh” camping adventure, and a camping trip that you and your crew will never forget.

I’ve compiled the following checklist of everything you need to have an epic journey in your new RV. To create this list, I’m drawing from years of experience RVing around the great American West, anecdotes from close friends of mine, and advice given to me by grizzled old RV veterans.

Before you head to the store to purchase gear and supplies for your trip, give this list a thorough reading, you’ll probably see some items on here that you wouldn’t expect.

The Ultimate RV Camping Checklist

To keep this list clean and organized, I’ve split it up into a number of different categories. These categories are based on specific areas of your RV, tasks you might find yourself doing while camping, or situations you may encounter on the road or in the field.


Sometimes things break, it’s just the way of life. So, when a part of your camper breaks, or a critical piece of gear fails, it’s nice to have a well-stocked toolbox ready to go.

  • Wrench set (Metric and US Standard)
  • Philips and straight-slot screwdrivers
  • Utility knife
  • Large and small pry bars
  • Hammer
  • Linesman and needle nose pliers
  • Wheel chocks
  • Leveling blocks
  • Ratchet straps
  • Bungee cords
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Jumper cables
  • Small or collapsible shovel
  • Heavy-duty scissors
  • Putty knife
  • Hack saw
  • Jack

Utility Items

Not quite tools, not quite materials, these items are hard to categorize but incredibly useful to have around.

  • Duct tape (every camper’s best friend)
  • Zip ties of varying sizes and strengths
  • Electrical tape (the stretchy 3M type)
  • WD-40 (or some other brand of spray-lubricant)
  • Multiple 500 ft. bundles of paracord
  • Extra screws of varying sizes, small nails, tacks
  • Heavy-duty rope
  • Scotch tape

Spare Electrical and Mechanical

  • Fuses of varying voltages
  • Motor oil
  • Nuts and bolts of varying lengths and sizes
  • Lightbulbs
  • AAA, AA, and 9-volt batteries
  • Wiper fluid
  • Engine coolant
electrical and mechanical spare

Trailer Specific Gear

Travel trailers require some gear that motorhomes and campervans do not. Some of these items will help during the hitching process, others aid for a smooth, accident-free trip, and some are designed to protect your RV from theft.

  • Walkie-talkies
  • Sway-bar
  • Weight-distribution hitch
  • Tongue lock
  • Adjustable towing hitch
  • Chock lock

Power and Water Hookups

RV parks provide hookups for a price, but they do not provide much of the gear necessary to actually connect to those resources. To hookup to an RV park’s power and water supply, you’ll need the following equipment.

  • Shore power plug adapter
  • RV surge protector
  • Freshwater hose
  • Black water hose
  • Water pressure regulator
  • Water filter
  • Rubber gloves (for dumping waste)
  • Amperage power adapter

First Aid Kit

Accidents happen, and when they do, you need to make sure you have the right supplies to provide first aid. Some of these items will be for tending to minor cuts and boo-boos, while others are critical to life-preservation should an extreme accident occur.

first aid kit

First aid equipment should never be skimped on. When exploring and adventuring in nature you need to be sure you are ready for disaster. No one likes to talk about it, but terrible things can happen outdoors if you are not prepared. So, be prepared and have a solid first aid kit.

  • Bandages
  • Alcohol wipes
  • ACE bandages
  • Gauze
  • Medical tape
  • Antihistamine tablets
  • Aspirin
  • Painkillers
  • Eyewash kit
  • Burn cream
  • Outdoor survival blanket
  • Tweezers
  • Cold compresses

Survival Gear

Having an emergency survival kit is important in the unlikely event that you need to spend a lot more time in the backwoods than you anticipated. This kit is just as useful in a commuter car as it is in an RV.

These items should be hidden away in a separate bin and considered absolutely off-limits until a true emergency survival situation occurs.

  • 5 days’ worth of water (separate from your main freshwater tank)
  • 5 days’ worth of non-perishable food
  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Compass
  • First-aid kit
  • Duct tape
  • Survival blanket

Outdoor Camping Gear

Hopefully you don’t spend your whole trip hanging out in the comfort of your RV. The beauty of campers is that they allow you to access the outdoors in a safe, reliable rig that provides a comfortable secure place to sleep at night.

But beyond that, most of your waking minutes should be spent hiking, exploring, roasting marshmallows around the campfire, and playing outside.

outdoor camping
  • Headlamps with spare batteries
  • Tarps
  • Collapsible canopy
  • Camp chairs
  • Hatchet
  • Marshmallow roasting sticks
  • Outdoor games like croquet, Spikeball, badminton, and cornhole
  • Large ground mat
  • Lantern
  • Bug spray
  • Sunscreen
  • Fishing gear
  • Towels for swimming
  • Bikes and scooters
  • Rain jackets

Winter RV Camping

RV camping in the winter months is considerably different than camping in the summer. This winter RV checklist will make sure you are geared up for when the temperatures drop and snow falls.

  • Several large duvets
  • Puffy thermal coats
  • Snow pants and jacket
  • Waterproof snow boots
  • Gloves
  • Wool hat
  • Hand warmers
  • Metal snow shovel
  • Tire snow chains
  • Space heater
  • Extra propane tanks
  • Micro-spikes for boots


  • Sheets
  • Comforter or duvet
  • Pillows
  • Coat hangers for wardrobe
  • Reading light


Having a well-stocked kitchen will let you make some incredible dishes out in nature. Trust me when I say that are few moments in this life that are more satisfying than sitting down to a truly bomb meal that you cooked yourself after a long day of playing outside.

iron pan

Camp food hits different, so make sure your RV kitchen is stocked and ready to go.

  • Cast iron pan
  • Non-stick pan
  • Large pot for boiling water
  • Kettle
  • Silverware
  • Cooking utensils (Stirring spoon, spatulas, whisk)
  • Plates (regular and paper)
  • Bowls (regular and paper)
  • Mugs and cups
  • Knives
  • Cutting board
  • Spices (Must haves: salt, pepper, garlic powder, Italian blend, chili powder, cumin, curry powder)
  • Dish soap
  • Sponge
  • Dish towels
  • Paper towels
  • Coffee maker or French press
  • Coffee filters
  • Can opener
  • Foil
  • Ziplock bags
  • Wine key
  • Bottle opener
  • Trash bags
  • Trash can
  • Serving bowl and platter


  • Toilet paper
  • Toothpaste
  • Floss
  • Mouthwash
  • Toothbrush
  • Hand soap
  • Body soap
  • Shampoo
  • Shower towel
  • Feminine hygiene products

Living Room

An RV’s living room is best utilized on rainy days in the field. You can’t win ’em all, and sometimes you have to spend a cozy rain-day inside. Keep these things in your camper’s living room so you can stay entertained in the slow moments.

  • Board games
  • Cards
  • Books
  • Art and craft supplies
board games

Main Vehicle Cab

With an RV, you can’t just be geared up for camping, you also have to be ready for moments on the road.

  • GPS
  • Road flares
  • Flashlight
  • Map of local highways
  • Snacks


  • Umbrella
  • Phone chargers
  • Storage bins
  • Broom
  • Cleaning supplies

Frequently Asked Questions

Newbie RV owners have questions, I have answers!

What will come with my RV when I buy from a dealership?

It’s safe to assume that your RV will have none of the items that I included in this list. It might come with jumper cables and some mechanical tools, but other than that, they are pretty barren off the lot.

Do I need to bring a lot of gear on an RV trip?

Not necessarily! You can bring as much or as little as you’d like, as long as you are safe, comfortable and happy.


I hope this list helps you figure out what you do and don’t need on your big RV adventure!

I know it seems like a hefty list, and… it is. But don’t worry, most of these items will be a one-time investment that you make, and you won’t have to buy them again. Remember that being geared up, knowledgeable, and prepared is the best way to stay safe in the outdoors.

Happy camping!

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About Author

Schuyler has been working and playing outdoors his entire adult life. As a ski-bum in his early 20’s, he began building campers in the beds of pickup trucks to pursue a life of freedom and adventure. After a decade of experience as an artist and carpenter in Washington State, he moved to Colorado to work as an RV technician, converting vans into luxury campers. Now he is traveling the world, using writing as a way to continue his passion for creativity and artistry.

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