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Camper Van Must-Haves For New Van Lifers

The Gear You Need For The Perfect Van Build

It takes courage and careful planning to move everything you own into a van! You’ll have to make some major life changes to adjust to this new setup, but new van lifers can put their best foot forward by picking up a few essential items. There are a few products and appliances that can make a huge difference as you shift to a life on the road.

Although you’re transitioning to a smaller space, that doesn’t mean you have to give up the comforts and conveniences of modern life! Whether it’s gear for the bedroom, bathroom, or kitchen, there’s bound to be a van-style product that will get the job done.

Below, we list 13 camper van must-haves for new van lifers. These will keep you happy and comfortable, and most of them are available for a good price. So check out the ideas and see if they will be a good fit for your setup.

Portable Battery/Charging Station

If you plan to live out of a van full-time, you’ll need plenty of power for your electronics and appliances. Relying on your van battery can work for some things, but you don’t want to drain it or use up too much at a time. This is why a portable battery/charging station will be an excellent addition to your setup.

The Jackery Portable Power Station is a fantastic option because it can be recharged with its built-in solar panels. It also has several outlets and ports so you can charge multiple things at once.

Composting/Portable Toilet

Many vans don’t have space for a full bathroom, but it’s a good idea to have a portable toilet you can bring along. After all, you can’t always guarantee that you can find a restroom or a place with enough privacy when you’re traveling. Composting toilets are a great option because they can convert waste into something useful!

If you’d like a compact model for your van, the Camco Portable Travel Toilet is a good option. It has a 5.3-gallon capacity and was specifically designed for RVs, boats, and other mobile vehicles.

Wi-Fi hotspot

A lot of new van lifers are switching to remote work. This means you need to have a great Wi-Fi connection to stay on top of your various projects and messages. If you travel around a lot, you know that phone service and Wi-Fi can be pretty spotty, especially if you stick to rural areas.

A Wi-Fi Range Extender is a modern-day necessity! If you want something small but powerful, we recommend the TP-Link Wireless Portable Travel Router. It comes with a 2-year warranty and plenty of technical support if you need help setting it up.

You may also be interested in these tips on How To Find Internet While Off The Grid.

Folding Table

As everyone knows, space is pretty limited within a van. Sometimes you need a bigger area to work. A simple folding table can increase workspace for your job, food prep, games, or anything else! These are easy to fold up and pack away, but the extra real estate is very useful.

The VILLEY Portable Camping Side Table is a good small option. If you need something a little bigger, maybe the Bi-Fold Plastic Folding Table would be better. Both of these can collapse into flat packages, so they’re easy to transport when not in use.

Water Filter

Water quality varies wildly depending on where you are in the world. Some water is totally safe to drink from the tap, while other places might require you to filter it first. A water filter will help you stay safe as you travel around. Plus, using the same filter will help give the water a consistent taste, which always helps!

If you want to equip your van with an in-line water filter, the 3M Aqua-Pure is popular. You can also use a pitcher with a filter if you’d like to keep a jug of water on hand. If you prefer this format, check out this 10-cup pitcher from Amazon Basics.


Multipurpose appliances are fantastic investments if you’re a new van lifer. You need to be smart about your food choices when you’re on the road, but there’s a good chance that you’ll gather some perishable foods that need to be stored in a refrigerator or freezer.

The Dometic CFX Electric Portable Cooler is a great all-purpose appliance. When charged and operational, it can chill or freeze the contents as needed. If you need to turn things off for a while, it also acts as an insulated cooler. You get the best of all worlds here!

Collapsible Trash Can

Trash can build up quickly when you’re living in a small space. However, large garbage cans aren’t a wise investment because they take up too much space and are hard to work into your floor plan. Smaller trash cans and bags can be useful, but sometimes they aren’t big enough. This is where collapsible trash cans come to the rescue!

Coghlan’s Pop-Up Recycle Bin is a collapsible can made from sturdy fabric. It has a spring-loaded design to pop up when you need a trash can instantly. These are perfect for campsites or outdoor cooking. Once you’re done, fold it up and put it away.

Handheld Vacuum

Hair, dust, dirt, and other debris will get into your van. This is just a simple fact of life! New van lifers can take care of the mess in a variety of ways, but a handheld vacuum will make things much easier for you.

The THISWORX Car Vacuum Cleaner is a powerful mini vacuum that is perfect for travelers. It comes with three handy attachments, and it only weighs 2.4 lbs. This is also a handy item if you travel with a pet because it works wonders on animal fur.

Camper Van Emergency Kit

Accidents happen when you’re traveling a lot. Sometimes having the right supplies can make a major difference and will save your budget. Constantly calling for help from AAA could add up, so it’s a good idea to keep a camper van emergency kit with you at all times.

The LIANXIN Roadside Assistance Emergency Kit is a good all-purpose kit. It comes with a set of basic tools, jumper cables, a snow shovel, flashing lights, towing rope, and much more. You’ll be glad to have these supplies when you need them!

Compact Safe

Finally, you need to keep your money and important documents safe when you travel. If you’re switching to full-time van life, you need to bring your whole life on the road with you. A good safe will keep your essential items secure if there’s a break-in.

The SentrySafe 1160 Fireproof Lock Box is a good option for van lifers to consider. It’s designed to keep your important documents safe in case of a fire, but it also comes with a unique lock and key. For extra protection, you can install a GPS tracker in the vault in case someone takes the whole thing. If you would prefer a safe with a keypad lock, the KAPUCI Digital Safe Box could be a nice option for you.

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1 thought on “Camper Van Must-Haves For New Van Lifers”

  1. Just to clarify—I am positive that you did not mean to leave the wrong impression, but the Camco Portable Travel Toilet is definitely not a composting toilet!

    The Camco toilet is what some people call a cassette toilet. I live in my camper van and used a cassette toilet for a while. Never again!

    Since then, I purchased a relatively inexpensive composting toilet from a seller on Etsy. I did not have the money for a $1000 plus commercial unit like a Natures Head.

    There has been a learning curve with the handcrafted one that I purchased, but now that I have learned some tips and tricks, I am very satisfied with this solution as a full time Van dweller.

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