We have been RV-ing for over five years now but only full-time since April. There have been many accessories and gadgets we did without when weekends were all that we had to worry about\ but would greatly miss now. Some we even had on hand but seldom used until we hit the road permanently. There are dozens of these items, but here are the top 9.
Note, I didn't include items that come with or are usual for a 5th wheel, like TV's, new hitch, awning, battery-powered fans, etc.
9. WorkMate (by Black & Decker)- With all of the work I've done on the rig, including organizing and installing shelving in the basement, making a rear bumper rack, and several interior projects, life has been much simpler with my WorkMate adjustable workbench. It provides a unique vise and other support for cutting, sanding, drilling, filing and all sorts of other treatments of wood, plastic, tile, etc. With the floor project coming in the near future, this will continue to be an extremely important accessory.
8. Air Fryer (by Dash)- We have only had our air fryer for a few weeks and it has already become one of our go-to kitchen appliances. We experienced its use when we visited family and found one that was sized better for our use in the RV. It fries wings, hot dogs, pierogis, tater tots, french fries, and just about anything else that we could have oil fried, and then some. It's also very fast in cooking time and easy to keep clean.
7. Amazon Fire Stick- Satellite TV is rather expensive and has the unfortunate requirement of a mostly unobstructed southern sky. Instead, we opted for the Amazon Fire Stick (two of them, actually) and have subscriptions to Sling TV, Netflix and CBS Online. We were already members of Amazon Prime, so all of that content is also available to us. We do need Internet but our AT&T Mobley device has been mostly successful for us in that regard.
6. Exterior RV Steps (by MORryde)- We did have steps that worked before, but the new MORryde apparatus is a dozen times more steady, since its legs are firmly on the ground. Nadyne actually fell to the ground from the original RV steps and we have always been worried about the possibility of injury with the rickety set. As a side benefit, we installed a locking toolbox in the original steps' storage frame. Here's my product review for these steps.
5. Countertop Ice Maker (by RCA)- Our RV refrigerator does not have an ice maker built in and I am a huge fan of ice in my drinks. Before purchasing the ice maker, we were buying a bag of ice about every other day, when we could find it, and that has been all but eliminated. When we know we're going to be boondocking, we store some ice in freezer bags to get us by. The ice maker we bought makes a few cubes every 12 minutes and it recycles melted cubes so we can leave it on indefinitely, adding more water as needed.
4. Portable Air Conditioner (by newair)- Our single A/C rooftop unit takes a ton of power, so much in fact that anything lower than a 50 amp supply renders it unusable. Unfortunately, we were heading to the hot, humid northern midwest and then New England, moochdocking in a driveway and finding only 30-amp service available in more than a few campgrounds. Nadyne is not pleasant to be around when she's overheated and we decided we needed an alternative. After exhaustive research we chose a newair brand portable free-standing A/C unit that runs on a 110v circuit. While in the driveway, we ran a 2nd extension cord from the house to accommodate the A/C and otherwise it runs great whether we're hooked up to 30 amps, 20 amps or to the generator. Much unpleasantness has been averted.
3. Washing Machine (by Giantex)- Laundry facilities are a great unknown on the road, often difficult to find, and even more often in disrepair or ill-kept. That's not even counting the number of times the machines took quarters but didn't provide change machines. We don't have washer/dryer hookups, so that wasn't an option, and we didn't like the hand-crank style of machines that were available on the market. We came across the Giantex unit, which is a real 110v +washer that is slightly smaller for RV use. It has water intake, a spin cycle and a drain. We wanted to place the unit in the shower (see this article for my water solution) but found out that the weight of the machine would eventually crack the shower floor if we left it in there, so I re-purposed some bedroom wall cabinet space and made a support base there.
2. Cell Signal Booster (by weBoost)- A Godsend, the weBoost enhances cellular reception, both voice and data, by up to 40 times. In other words, a 1-bar signal can be boosted to 4 or 5 bars. We use an AT&T Mobley with an unlimited plan and a Verizon Mifi with a couple of dozen gigabytes of data. Between the two, and our WifiRanger wifi booster, we have only been in one spot with no Internet or cell service at all in over 4 months on the road, and that was on a cliff overlooking the Badlands in South Dakota. The weBoost won't boost 0 signal, but we've nearly always had some signal on which to perform its magic.
1. 2000W Inverter Generator (by Wen)- Evidently we're power hogs. During the night on almost every boondocking session, we woke up in the morning to zero battery power. We usually found out by needing to flush the toilet and had no water pump. Even after upgrading my lead-acid batteries to Lithium-Ion, our comfort level requires all the power we have. I purchased a very quiet 2000W inverter generator (the 56200i) and all our problems were solved. Last week we boondocked at Walmarts in back-to-back nights and were able to use the induction burners, air fryer, portable A/C, large-screen TV, cell booster and toaster oven (not all at the same time), as well as keep our batteries charged until we were ready for bed. I think we left it on for 4.5 hours at one stretch without it overheating or being distressed.
That's the Top 9 list. We probably could have a Top 30 list, but most people probably wouldn't read it. Additional Top and Bottom 9 lists will be coming out in the next few weeks as our full-time RV life becomes more and more normal for us. Please use the social media links to share this with all your camping and RV buds, or to anyone thinking about the RV lifestyle.
Jack Huber is a novelist with 7 mysteries published, along with several books of poetry and photography. Now retired, he and his wife, Nadyne, are free to travel the country in their 32' 5th wheel and 1-ton Ford pickup.