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Are you the proud owner of a camper, but you are not sure what’s next? Don’t worry, we have all been new campers before! Campers and Campfires would like to share a few helpful hints to ensure that you have the best time camping without the stress.
There is a popular camping meme that says something to the effect that I spend thousands of dollars to live like I’m homeless. There is a lot of truth in this statement. Purchasing a camper is only the beginning; there are still several items that are essential for a successful first run.
When purchasing a travel trailer or a fifth wheel, you must also purchase an appropriate hitch. If you have any questions about hitches, please click here to read our article on hitches for travel trailers and click here for our article on 5th wheel hitches.
Chances are your camper came with an electric cord to hook up to shore power at the campground. If a cord was not included with your camper, read your owners-manual to see if you have a 30-amp or 50-amp connection. Purchase the appropriate electric cord, either in 30-amps (Check it out on Amazon) or 50-amps (Check it out on Amazon).
It is also a good idea to purchase an adapter that will allow you to hook up to both 30 and 50-amp electrical outlets. Some campgrounds do not offer 50-amp outlets, and if you own a 50-amp camper, you will be unable to use electricity without an adapter (Check it out on Amazon) that allows you to connect your 50 amp cord to a 30-amp outlet. Also, if you own a 30-amp camper and you stay at a park with only a 50-amp connection, you will not be able to use electricity without an adapter. You can purchase an adapter (Check it on Amazon) that allows you to hook up a 30-amp cord to a 50-amp outlet. In this scenario, you do not receive additional power, but it will be safe to hook up your camper.
Most of the time a standard electrical cord is long enough to hook-up at most campsites. However, if you run into problems, you may want to purchase a 30 (Check it out on Amazon) or 50-amp extension cord (Check it out on Amazon) to ensure that you never have difficulty.
You will need a water hose to connect to the water supply at the campground. Typical RV hoses (Check it out on Amazon) are made of hard plastic and they are difficult to roll up and store. For that reason, we recommend the Zero-G RV Hose (Check it out on Amazon). This hose collapses and is easy to store and transport.
In addition to a hose, you must purchase a water pressure regulator (Check it out on Amazon). The water pressure at most campgrounds is too high for the plumbing in a camper and will damage the plumbing if not regulated. A water regulator is inexpensive and is a must to protect your camper.
Another must-have for that first trip is a sewer hose. We recommend a 20-foot sewer hose to ensure that you have enough hose to reach your sewer connection. Sewer hoses (Check them out on Amazon) will usually come in a kit with two 10-foot hoses. The kit is ideal because if you are close enough, you can use one of the 10-foot connections. You only want to use as much hose as necessary because the excess hose will cause your sewer to not drain properly. You will also need an elbow and an adapter to connect to the sewer hookup. Most sewer hose kits will come with an elbow. A clear elbow is handy because you can see when the sewer water begins to run clear.
We at Campers and Campfires recommend purchasing disposable blue nitrile gloves (Check them out on Amazon) to remain sanitary. While not an absolute necessity, a Sidewinder Sewer Support System (Check it out on Amazon) is nice and will help your sewer drain more efficiently when camping at a full hook up site.
If you are new to camping, watch this video about emptying your sewer.
If your campground has cable, you will need coaxial cable (Check it out on Amazon) to connect the cable tv.
Campers and Campfires recommends using RV specific toilet paper. There is a debate about the use of toilet paper in the camper. Many people abide by the rule that if it is septic safe, it is safe for the camper, and this is probably true. However, a backed-up toilet due to toilet paper is not fun, so we don’t take a chance and only use toilet paper specifically manufactured for the camper. We recommend Scott Rapid Dissolving Toilet Paper (Check it out on Amazon), but any camper specific toilet paper should be fine.
You will find out in a hurry that a holding tank treatment for your black tank is necessary. The treatment will keep your black tank odor free, and it will aid in breaking down wastes and toilet paper. Campers and Campfires prefers Happy Campers Holding Tank Treatment (Check it out on Amazon). Happy Campers is organic and does not contain harsh chemicals that are bad for your septic system.
If you have manual stabilizing jacks, you will want to purchase a 3/4 inch socket adapter (Check it out on Amazon) for an electric drill (Check it out on Amazon). With this adapter, you can quickly raise and lower your stabilizer jacks using a drill While not a necessity, we recommend Valterra RV Stabilizers (Check them out on Amazon) and X-Chocks (Check them out on Amazon) as well. You can read more about them here.
You will need to chock (Check it out on Amazon) the tires once you park your camper. We also recommend leveling blocks (Check them out on Amazon) or Andersen Levelers (Check them out on Amazon) to level your camper. Click here to read more about the importance of leveling your camper.
Before that first trip, we recommend watching two of our favorite movies or maybe bring them with you and enjoy them on the trip. RV (Check it out on Amazon) starring Robin Williams is always a lot of fun. Also, The Long Long Trailer (Check it out on Amazon) starring Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz is a blast.
While not a necessity, this next list of equipment makes traveling and camping more enjoyable. We have built a collection over time and we recommend that you do the same.
Zero Gravity Chairs (Check them out on Amazon) are excellent for sitting around the campfire and enjoying your evening. Zero gravity chairs are a little tougher to store, but they are so comfortable, and worth the effort.
Campers and Campfires cannot recommend the Oxygenics Showerhead (Check it out on Amazon) enough. Water pressure in campers is low, but these shower heads increase the water pressure. They use oxygen to supplement the existing water and improve the pressure. There is an on/off switch so that the water can be shut off while you soap-up because you do not want to waste hot water or fill up your grey tank unnecessarily. Some people complain because the water does not completely shut off when the switch is applied, but this is by design. The water will continue to trickle so that the correct water temperature is regulated without getting too cold or too hot.
Various types of kitchen equipment are needed from bowls to measuring cups depending upon how much cooking you intend to do while camping. We at Campers and Campfires suggest designating cooking utensils that you keep in your camper permanently. Over time, we have found that it is much easier to have a kitchen collection dedicated to the camper. This saves a lot of time loading and unloading the camper, and it makes it more likely that you will have what you need when you are on the road.
If you do not have an outdoor kitchen, then you may want to invest in a portable grill. Several different grills can be used when camping, depending upon your needs. The Blackstone Tailgater (Check it out on Amazon) is a favorite of Campers and Campfires. It has two cooktops, so you can grill and cook on the griddle at the same time. If you remove the grill and griddle tops, there are two stovetops for cooking with pots and pans. The legs on the tailgater fold, making the tailgater easily transportable. A carrying case (Check it out on Amazon) can be purchased to make transporting the Blackstone even easier.
In addition to the Blackstone Griddle, we recommend a more traditional grill as well. Our favorite is the Weber Q1000 (Check it out on Amazon). It is portable, well-made, and built to be moved from location to location. The Weber cooks more evenly than any other portable grill that we have tried. You can also purchase a conversion kit (Check it out on Amazon) that allows you to connect your Weber Q1000 directly to the propane quick connect on your camper.
Depending upon where you camp, Reflectix (Check it out on Amazon) may possibly be a must-have. Place the Reflectix in your windows, and it will help keep the camper much warmer or cooler. We at Campers and Campfires purchased this while in Las Vegas when the temperature was reaching 115 degrees each day. Camper air conditioners are only designed to maintain a temperature that is 20 degrees less than the outside temperature. Our air conditioner ran continuously, and even though it is a larger unit, the air conditioner still could not keep the camper cool. Reflectix made a huge difference. It can be cut and it will slide between the blinds and the windows in the camper.
In addition to keeping the camper cool, Reflectix also provides additional privacy as no one can see into your camper when the Reflectix sheets are in place. We have found that leaving the Reflectix in the windows during the wintertime creates extra insulation and keeps our camper warmer.
It is essential to monitor tire pressure when traveling. A good tire gauge (Check it out on Amazon) and portable air compressor (Check it out on Amazon) are handy to ensure that your tires remain properly inflated. Taking care of your tires is one of the most important preventative maintenance tasks that you can do to help ensure safe travels. You can read more about proper tire maintenance here.
Although this list is not comprehensive, we hope that you will find value in the items that Campers and Campers finds essential! Happy Travels.
Do you have travel essentials that you will not camp without? We would love to hear from you. Please drop us a line in the comment section below.