When you’re RVing, being prepared is what it’s all about. Whether for survival in unexpected situations, or simply to make life at your campsite more convenient and comfortable, the right equipment can make or break your experience. That’s why, in this guide, we’re focusing more on the useful than the whimsical, and sticking to products with a reasonable price point (most are 100 bucks or less). Many of the products listed here are also especially useful for those who like boondocking.
Our guide covers a wide range of products, but there are hundreds more useful ones out there on the Internet. Happy shopping!
Bungee Picnic Table and Bench Cover Set
How many times have you arrived at what seems to be the perfect RV site, only to find that the previous users have adorned the table and/or benches with food stains? No need for cleanup – just strap on the Bungee Picnic Table and Bench Cover Set from Camping World. An adjustable tablecloth and matching bench covers unfold quickly from the matching carrying bag, and the bungee-cord system easily adjusts to fit any standard 6-foot table. The 100-percent polyester fabric is lightweight and easy to clean. Retails for $27.77. www.campingworld.com.
The Folding Table and Bench Set
No picnic table at your site? No worries! The Folding Table and Bench Set from Camping World can be deployed in just minutes, and it’s lighter and more durable than wood. When the festivities are over, the benches fold up and stow inside the folded table, so it’s easy to store in your RV or tow vehicle. And unlike some folding tables you may have seen, this one features benches that are independent of the table, so you won’t have any trouble squeezing in. Made from high-impact polyethylene with an all-weather steel frame, this set won’t chip, crack or peel, according to the manufacturer. Retails for $99.99. www.campingworld.com.
Deluxe Grill Table
Table-top grills are great – but what if there’s no table? Just break out the Deluxe Grill Table from Camco. It not only holds your grill, but also has side shelves, a bottom rack, built-in hooks for utensils and a paper-towel holder. The heavy-duty steel frame ensures durability, and folds into a handy carrying bag, included. Retails for $99.99. www.camcorv.com (also available at Camping World).
Multi-Function Camp Scissors
Why have ordinary scissors at your campsite when you can have the Multi-Function Camp Scissors from Coleman? Sure, they’ll cut paper – but they also boast a knife, wrench, screwdriver, bottle opener, wire stripper, wire cutter, jar wrench, nutcracker, scaler, can opener and magnet. Retails for $5.55. www.coleman.com (also available at Camping World).
Power surges can wreak havoc on electronic appliances – and being at the mercy of an RV park’s power source, which may or may not be protected, isn’t exactly reassuring. Thankfully, there’s the portable Surge Guard from TRC. Providing 1,050 Joules of power-surge protection (Model 34730, shown), this handy device just plugs into the 30-amp power pedestal at your site, and automatically shuts off power when there is low/high voltage or open neutral. A caution light indicates a miswired pedestal, reverse polarity and elevated ground voltage. The Surge Guard is weather resistant and features an automatic reset on power restoration. Also available in 50-amp models. Retails for $305. www.surgeguard.com (available at Camping World).
XPower Digital Micro Inverter
The 400-watt XPower Digital Micro Inverter from Xantrex plugs into your vehicle’s 12-volt DC outlet (or connects directly to the battery) to run small appliances like work lights, a TV, a stereo, a laptop computer, etc. The inverter features two AC receptacles, and a digital LED readout instantly provides information on the amount of wattage being drawn, voltage remaining in battery and fault codes that make troubleshooting easier. Worry-free operation comes courtesy of overload and temperature shutdown, over-voltage protection,
low-voltage alarm and low-voltage shutdown. Retails for $62.99. www.xantrex.com (available at Camping World).
XPower Powerpack 600HD
Being stuck without any power is one of the most hopeless feelings any of us can experience. But if you’re packin’ an XPower Powerpack 600HD from Xantrex, you can be prepared for almost any eventuality – at the campsite or at home. Powered by a rechargeable 28-amp-hour AGM battery, the 600HD provides up to 600 watts of AC power and is equipped with three AC outlets and one DC socket. It also features a built-in emergency light, integrated AM/FM radio and digital alarm clock, and comes with jumper cables. A three-digit
display allows for easy battery-status monitoring, while an audible alarm signals overheat and under-voltage conditions. Overload and over-temperature protection ensure longer inverter life, and the battery can be recharged at home or from a vehicle. Retails for $299. www.xantrex.com.
For those that love campfires but despise scouring the depths of their gear for a tiny matchbook, the BlastMatch by Ultimate Survival Technologies (UST) is for you. Easily operated with just one hand, the BlastMatch is a patented, flint-based fire-starting system that generates a stream of super-heated sparks that are three times hotter than a standard match. The BlastMatch will light anything that a match will light, but it’s good for a thousand strikes and works in all weather conditions. If you’d rather have a more traditional two-piece flint system, choose UST’s StrikeForce product instead. Retails for $24.99. www.ultimatesurvival.com (available at Cabela’s and REI).
One of your single biggest worries when setting off on your own is “How will anyone know where to find me if something bad happens?” The SPOT locator is the answer. SPOT is a satellite GPS messenger that provides a vital line of communication with friends and family
when you want it, and emergency assistance when you need it. The latest generation of SPOT has five functions, including S.O.S. (to alert emergency services in the event of a life-threatening situation), Help (for non-life-threatening situations), Check-in/OK (to let friends and family know all is going according to plan with a pre-programmed message), Custom Message (sends friends/family a custom message along with your GPS location) and Track Progress (which allows you to send and save your location, and allows contacts to track your progress in real time using Google Maps). Retails for $149.99; requires annual subscription. www.findmespot.com (available at Cabela’s, www.cabelas.com).
Garmin GPSMAP 60CSx
Hiking is one of the more popular activities with RVers, though it’s often easy to lose one’s bearings under a thick forest canopy. Enter the Garmin GPSMAP 60CSx handheld GPS. This top-of-the-line model features a sunlight-readable color display; a SiRFstar III chipset that can acquire signals in urban canyons and under dense foliage; expandable memory; USB connectivity; electronic compass; barometric sensor; trip computer, proximity alerts and more. Plus, you can follow your route, marking as many as 50 reversible routes and find your way back with Garmin’s exclusive TracBack feature. This waterproof unit comes with MapSource Trip and Waypoint Manager software, PC USB interface cable, lanyard, manual and quickstart guide. It’s not cheap, but how much would you pay to find your waysafely back to the RV? Retails for $350. www.garmin.com (available at REI, www.rei.com).
Eton Solarlink FR600
When there’s no power and no light, you’ll be happy you have the Eton Solarlink FR600 multipurpose radio. This radio offers full-time power via a built-in solar panel on top or a hand crank on the face, and an internal rechargeable NiMH battery pack stores the power.
The internal and telescoping antennas pick up AM, FM, shortwave and NOAA reception, with additional useful features. For example, there are five LED lights for emergency lighting, an emergency siren, 12-hour digital clock, and jacks for 3.5 mm headphone input and cell phone/MP3 charger. Retails for $80. www.etoncorp.com (available at REI).
Coleman Signature Series All-In-One Cooking System
Are your outdoor cooking options limited by your camp stove? Well, then you should consider the new Coleman Signature Series All-In-One Cooking System. Featuring a collection of specifically designed cooking surfaces that nest within each other for easy storage, the All-In-One can be converted into a stove, griddle or grill, with a stockpot/slowcooker available as a $39.99 option. The 5,000-BTU unit features electronic ignition and is powered by a standard propane cannister. Includes carrying bag. Retails for $99.99. www.coleman.com.
Coleman Camp Oven
Although the majority of trailers have a range and/or oven, cooking outdoors is still the preferred method of many RVers. The Coleman Camp Oven takes its heat from the top of your two- or three-burner stove, and it comes with a 10-inch square wire rack that’s large
enough for mini pizzas or small batches of cookies. It comes with an easy-open door latch, a carry handle and an easy-to-read front thermometer. The corrosion-resistant aluminized-steel finish cleans up easily, and the oven even folds flat to save space. Retails for $39.95; www.coleman.com (available at REI).
Katadyne Hiker PRO Microfiltration System
It’s always a good idea to bring plenty of freshwater when you go for a hike – but what if you run out? Not to worry if you’ve got a Katadyne Hiker PRO microfiltration system. Lightweight and easy to use, the Hiker PRO features a filter that physically removes
particles, protozoa and bacteria down to 0.3 microns in size, including Giardia, salmonella, cryptosporidium and others. A pre-filter at the hose inlet filters to 150 microns to remove large contaminants that would quickly clog the filter, and an activated carbon core absorbs chemicals and pesticides to improve water taste. The system includes a carry sack and bottle adapter that fits most water bottles. Retails for $79.95. (available at REI).
Packing light usually means there’s no room for a lot of tools – but if you’ve got a Leatherman SURGE in your pocket, you’ve probably got everything you’re going to need. Made from 100-percent stainless steel, the SURGE features a clip-point knife, serrated knife, cross-cut file, two bit drivers, a 5?16-inch screwdriver, crimper, scissors, can/bottle opener, lanyard ring awl with thread loop, Phillips/flat tip eyeglasses screwdriver and wire strippers. The tools rotate individually, allowing you to grab one at a time, and the new jaw design creates the strongest needle nose and regular pliers in the Leatherman line. Retails for $99.99. www.leatherman.com (available at REI).
Dual Square Cooking Iron
Ever had a hankerin’ for a nice, hot Panini cooked to perfection right over the campfire? How about a hot sandwich? The Dual Square Cooking Iron from Camp Chef is the answer. Just make your sandwich, load it into the cast-iron sandwich oven, close and place over your campfire or hot coals. Melted deliciousness in just a few minutes. Retails for $16.95. www.campchef.com (available at REI).