The 10 Essentials Every RV Owner Should Buy Before Their First Road Trip

Things you should never set off in your RV without

Buying your first recreational vehicle can be overwhelming. Then there’s the towing, learning to park and back up, and setting up once you arrive at your campground or RV park. That first outing can feel pretty stressful but with the right gear, it doesn’t have to be. We’re not talking about frilly gadgets like fairy lights and portable pizza ovens (though those are important too). This list is an honest roundup of the essentials you really need to keep your RV safe and comfortable. These are the essentials every new RV owner should buy before their first camping trip.

Water pressure regulator © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Water Pressure Regulator

A water pressure regulator keeps the plumbing system of your recreational vehicle fully protected from high water pressures. The problem is that high water pressure can cause damage to the RV plumbing system. A water pressure regulator is a small device useful in maintaining a safe level of psi as far as the water that enters your vehicle is concerned. While some newer vehicles are capable of handling higher pressure it is recommended all RVs stick to around 60 psi. The proper use of the device involves attaching it to the water supply of the campground first.

Do not attach it to your vehicle as doing so might only result in the bursting of the connection hose in case of really high pressure. High flow water regulators come in two basic types: adjustable and fixed. Unless you plan to use varying pressures of water for a range of applications, a fixed water regulator will suffice for your needs and provide an excellent water flow while saving you money. The two major manufacturers of water pressure regulators are Camco and Valterra.

City utility connections including water hose © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV Water Hose

Especially in a new RV when the fresh water tanks are sanitary and prime for drinking water, it is important that your RV water hose is rated for human consumption. But aren’t all hoses safe? No! Despite the fact that most people have drunk from the garden hose at some point, all hoses are not created equal. Your run-of-the-mill garden hose is actually not safe to drink from; it is not regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act and can contain toxic materials that are harmful to the human body such as lead, antimony, bromine, organotin, phthalates, and BPA (bisphenol A).

RV water hoses are NSF certified so you can be confident you will have quality drinking water available. Plus, there won’t be any chemical or plastic taste. 

Heated water hose © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Keep in mind that you will want a heated water hose if you’re camping during the winter.

Disposable Vinyl Gloves

RVing can be surprisingly dirty business. One of the best ways to keep clean and sterile on the road is with vinyl or latex gloves. Disposable gloves keep your hands clean when emptying your holding tanks. Gloves fit right or left hand. One size fits all; also available in small, medium, and large. Available at RV dealers, stores that sell RV supplies, pharmacies, and Walmart.

Progressive Emergency Management System © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Electrical Protection System

When looking at an electrical protection system for your RV, you want to make sure it is more than a surge protector and monitors high and low voltage. This is what the Progressive Emergency Management System does and what models like Surge Guard and other brands do as well. When looking at an electrical protection system, be certain to consider the protection levels. Here is what you need out of a great electrical protection system:

  • Surge Protection
  • High and Low Voltage
  • Pedestal Analysis
  • Load side protection

While there are different electrical protection brands on the market and the Progressive EMS is the unit that we trust with our RV. Others prefer Surge Guard brand. If you do not already have an electrical protection system for your RV, take it from me and other seasoned RVers—get an electrical protection system for your RV. You can’t go wrong with a model from Progressive or Surge Guard.

Sewer hose © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

High-quality sewer hose

Some things you definitely don’t want to skimp on and your sewer hose is one of them. No one wants to be dealing with a ruptured sewer hose while on vacation. Invest in a high-end hose—your peace of mind and nasal passages will thank you.

First Aid Kit

first aid kit readily available in an emergency isn’t just a good idea—it’s a necessity for every RVer. A well-stocked first-aid kit and manual can help you respond effectively to common injuries and emergencies. You can purchase first aid kits and refills at the Red Cross store, most pharmacies, or assemble your own. Contents of a first-aid kit should include adhesive tape, antibiotic ointment, antiseptic solution or towelettes, bandages, calamine lotion, cotton balls and cotton-tipped swabs, gauze pads and roller gauze in assorted sizes, first aid manual, petroleum jelly or other lubricant, safety pins in assorted sizes, scissors and tweezers, and sterile eyewash. Familiarize yourself with the items in the first aid kit and know how to properly use them. Check your first-aid kits regularly, at least every three months, to replace supplies that have expired.

The Mayo Clinic is an excellent source for first aid information to help you during a medical emergency.

Traveling with a pet © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

If you travel with pets, pet first aid manuals are also available.

RV Toolbox

Just about anything in your RV that can snap, crack, rip loose, tear, bend, leak, spark, or fall off will do exactly that at the most inconvenient time. Something will need to be tightened, loosened, pounded flat, pried, or cut.

To help you deal with everyday problems and annoyances, maintain a well-equipped toolbox in the RV (always store on curbside).

Oops! Almost disaster. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Contents should include Phillips and Robertson head and flat-bladed screwdrivers (large, medium, small), standard and needle-nose pliers, channel-lock pliers (medium and large), 10-inch Crescent wrench, claw hammer, hobby knife with blade protector, wire cutters, tape measure, silicone sealant, Gorilla tape and glue, electrical tape, battery jumper cables, open and box-end wrenches, silicone spray, WD-40 lubricant, bungee cords, road flares/warning reflectors, fold-down shovel, stepladder, spare fuses, and heavy-duty tire pressure gauge.

Many RVers also carry a socket wrench set (standard and metric), small drill bit set and cordless drill with spare battery, and digital voltmeter.

Gorilla Tape is a brand of adhesive tape sold by the makers of Gorilla Glue, and available in several sizes and colors, including camouflage, white, and clear. Gorilla Tape can solve many problems while on the road—and you can do most anything with this stuff. RVers have used it to temporarily repair a sewer hose, keep a driver’s side window from continually falling, and even affix the coffee maker to the counter so that it doesn’t move during travel.

A camera to record a West Texas sunset © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Camera

In reality, if you have a smartphone you probably have a camera capable of capturing amazing memories wherever you go. In fact, I agree with professional photographer Chase Jarvis, who says that “the best camera is the one you have with you.” 

Other Considerations

Other considerations, supplies, and equipment include fire extinguishers (one in the galley, one in the bedroom, and one outside of the RV in a basement compartment, plus one in the toad/tow vehicle), NOAA weather radio, LED flashlights, heavy-duty whistles, emergency waterproof matches, jumper cables, ice/snow window scrapers, work gloves, and blue tarp.

Camping in Arches National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

But Not Least, Know where you’re going

Okay, okay. You likely have a destination in mind. But if you’re heading out for months on end, you might want to bring along a few suggestions.

Now hit the road already!

Worth Pondering…

I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.

—Stephen Covey

Maintain Your RV: What You Absolutely Need To Know To Avoid Disasters on the Road

The better you maintain your recreational vehicle the fewer problems you are likely to have which in turn means more money in your pocket

If you travel in a motorhome, get regular oil changes and tune-ups. If you have a trailer or fifth wheel, keep the hitch in good operating condition.

For all RVs, check the tires, the roof, the window seals, and the appliances on a regular basis or before you take any trip.

Monitor board for fresh water, grey and black water, and propane tanks © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV toilet paper 101

Keep your RV’s pipes clean.

Of all the toilet tissue varieties available, which type is best for use in RVs? Your safest bet is to forgo quilted, scented, double-ply or dyed versions in favor of white, unscented, single-ply toilet paper.

Monitor board for black water © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Single-ply paper disintegrates faster than two-ply, three-ply, or quilted tissue in your holding tank, thereby helping to avoid clogged dump valves and fouled sensors that produce faulty tank-level readings. As for dyed, bleached, or scented tissue, the chemicals used in these products can destroy the bacteria that break down solids in septic tanks.

Electric, water, sewer, and cable TV hookups © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

You can purchase toilet paper that is labeled “green” or made specifically for RVs, though other readily available options are equally suitable.

To test your toilet paper for RV use, place a couple of sheets in a covered jar of water and shake. If the paper disintegrates quickly, it’s OK to use in your RV.

Water and sewer tanks and outlets © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV Electrical Safety – Safely Plugging Your RV into Power

Voltage can be set into motion by pushing current through a path of least voltage “Pressure”. In some cases this can be your body. In short, if you touch something charged with 100 volts with one wet hand and then touch something else charged with zero volts with the other wet hand, then the 100 volts will be set into motion through the conduit—in this case, you.

Secure sewer connection © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

So, not to get all scary here, there are some basic safety measures to take when plugging your RV into the campground pedestal. If the pedestal is operating correctly, then there should be no problem, but just in case, think about how you could avoid potential voltage pressure from being released.

Dump station © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

First step is to make sure the circuit breaker on the pedestal is turned off. With only one hand, and standing on dry ground, flip the breaker off. Now, with one hand, and never standing or kneeling on wet surfaces, plug your power into the pedestal. (Example: you wouldn’t want to be plugging the power in with one hand and bracing your other hand on the pedestal. Remember, that could potentially complete a circuit if the pedestal was charged for some reason).

Once you plug power in then test a few items in your RV. If you find yourself getting shocked by touching things in the RV, then shut the power off and let the campground attendant know what is going on.

Electric Management System © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV Electrical Safety – Protecting Your RV Electrical System

Running power to a recreational vehicle without some kind of electrical management system is simply asking for trouble. If you do not have one of these devices in place then you are playing a risky game with your RV. We have too much invested in our RVs not to protect it from the perils that can come along with electricity.

Dump Station © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There are numerous choices in the marketplace but we believe the Progressive Electric Management Systems are the best on the market. These units continuously monitor the power supply coming into your RV and if it detects a variance outside of the tolerances then it will shut the power down. Without the device, a power spike or even low voltage from old worn out park pedestals can do damage to your electrical system.

Electric Management System © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

All energy management systems and surge protectors manufactured by Progressive Industries are covered by a lifetime warranty.

When you plug your RV into power, the Progressive unit runs a series of tests on the pedestal power to ensure that it is safe. Once it finishes evaluating the power, then, and only then, will it release the power to the RV. If the Progressive unit detects a power problem, then it will display an error code explaining what the issue is.

Electric Management System © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Once power is released to the RV, then the unit continues to monitor the power for spikes or low voltage situations that could damage the sensitive components in your RV.

Worth Pondering…

I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.

—Stephen Covey