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Gear Up for Summer: RV Camping Essentials

Originally Published in Trailer Life Magazine

With many RV parks and campgrounds opening their gates, it’s time to stock up on the supplies you’ll need to make the most of this season’s camping adventures

See Related Story: 30 Must-Have Accessories for New RVers

As travel restrictions lift and more RV parks and campgrounds reopen, RVers are gearing up to hit the road and go camping, safely and responsibly. To help you get going, we’ve put together a shopping list of supplies for your home on wheels — the basic necessities to set up camp plus some nice-to-have items to keep the good times rolling.

Even with this summer’s safety limitations and social distancing, there are still plenty of ways to enjoy outdoor activities and leisure pursuits while camping, perhaps chief among them firing up the grill and kicking back in a camp chair under the awning. Just make sure to stock up on all the RV essentials before hitting the road — and don’t forget to pack an ample supply of this year’s most-coveted item (hint: the initials are TP).

Hookup and Setup Essentials

Most of us think our camping adventure begins once we arrive at the RV site, but before relaxing with a cold drink and a hot meal, there are a few things that need to be attended to.

You should always check the pressure in your RV’s tires before you depart, and whenever possible, while en route to your destination. Make that task easy with a TireMinder tire-pressure monitoring system. The TM-77 includes 10 transmitters, a large display and easily replaceable batteries. It’s a good idea to also carry along a reliable RV tire gauge for quick checks while in camp.

Once tire pressure is optimum, make sure your RV is situated on an even surface at the campsite. Many RV sites may appear level but are actually off-kilter, which can affect slideout and refrigerator function, not to mention overall comfort. A simple leveling pad can even things out. Don’t forget that chocking your RV’s wheels increases safety and makes for an even more stable home base.

Campground power can be unreliable and dangerous to sensitive electronics in the event of a power surge. The Progressive Industries Surge Guard Portable 50-Amp surge protector ensures those components are protected from energy spikes and improper pedestal wiring. A built-in scrolling digital display makes it easy to diagnose voltage issues. The portable system is designed for outdoor use with an All Weather Shield Assembly and a locking bracket for security.

And the campground water source? Well, let’s just say we recommend some type of filter to ensure a certain level of safety for your RV’s plumbing — and you. Durable TastePure water filters install in-line with your water system to help improve taste and remove sediment with a 100-micron fiber filter. Pair it with a hose, such as this Apex NeverKink, to help deliver cleaner water to your RV and your family.

That leaves the sewer system. A good-quality hose is a must here. The RhinoFlex Swivel RV sewer hose kit is ready to use with preattached swivel fittings. The kit also includes a durable 15- or 20-foot hose, plus a four-in-one adapter on the business end to ensure a tight seal.

Complete your sewer-setup duties with a toilet treatment like Walex Porta-Pak holding-tank drop-ins. Each fresh-scented water-soluble packet is biodegradable and formaldehyde-free, and is designed to break down waste and toilet paper in addition to lubricating valves and seals and combating foul odors. One packet can treat a 40-gallon tank.

Patio Essentials

Your RV is your oasis, but it never hurts to increase the space by utilizing the area right outside your door. The best way to do this is to create the ultimate patio area, which extends the good times by acting as a makeshift living area.

Gray patio mat next to fifth-wheel trailer with awning extended.

A patio mat is the obvious place to begin. It serves as the foundation of any campsite patio and cuts down on the mess tracked inside the RV by covering up the dirt or gravel. The Reversible Magnolia Design RV Patio Mat is available in three sizes and two colors to help you customize your patio area. Easy to clean and lightweight, the patio mat is constructed of polypropylene material and highly breathable, which means it won’t hurt the grass below. Make sure your mats stay in place and avoid tripping hazards with zinc-plated steel patio mat stakes. Available in a pack of six, these rust-resistant stakes measure 7 inches long (retainer washers included).

Proper lighting is also a key component of any ultimate patio. Plug in some weatherproof LED rope lights, which come in 16-foot lengths, for safe lighting that is not only bright but looks good as well.

Or if you prefer, the Axess Bluetooth Media Speaker with LED Lantern Function allows you to pair a smart device to listen to your favorite tunes, with 12 watts of LED bulbs lighting the way.

Keep the bugs from enjoying your patio using the Dometic Veranda Room. The screened veranda attaches to your awning for an enclosure up to 120 inches tall. The starter kit includes two side panels, a door panel, skirting,  wheel-well-cover hardware and a storage bag. Choose from front panels measuring 2, 4 or 8 feet in length (sold separately).

Screened in side room for RV

Once it’s time to head back inside, add further dirt and grime protection (not to mention help avoid nasty slips and falls) by covering your steps with Outrigger RV Step Rugs. The universal rugs are available in five colors and are made with a micro-ribbed texture to improve traction, while built-in 3mm grommet holes and attaching springs make for easy installation.

Campsite Essentials

Apart from the patio, there’s still plenty of outdoor space at your RV site to enjoy while keeping the appropriate distance from the neighbors. And though these essentials may in fact be used on your patio (hello, seating!), we recommend spreading out a bit to avoid campsite congestion.

Four people cooking on grills in front of travel trailerOur RVs are outfitted with exceptional cooking facilities, but one of the highlights of the RV experience is grilling and eating outdoors. The first (and perhaps the most important) thing you’ll need is a good grill. The Blackstone Gas Tailgater Combo Grill/Griddle offers 35,000 Btu of propane-fired grilling power on a 477-square-inch surface area. The grill comes complete with a stand and a griddle, perfect for any mealtime. The dual burners are powered by two adjustable heat controls with a built-in electric igniter.Red Coleman RoadTrip grill in folded upright position.

In Trailer Life’s Grillapalooza campground cookoff, we pitted the Blackstone Tailgater Combo against another popular grill, the Coleman RoadTrip 285, with interchangeable grill, griddle and stove-top accessories, three burners with a combined 20,000 Btu and an indirect-heat option. Folding legs with wheels make the compact grill easy to transport.

If you already own a portable gas grill, we strongly advise against utilizing the wooden picnic table at your site for grilling — it might be contaminated and is a potential fire hazard as well. The portable GCI Outdoor Slim-Fold Outdoor Cook Station is made from durable powder-coated steel and features a heat-resistant aluminum countertop for the grill. Foldout side tables and a lower storage rack ensure there’s plenty of room for storage, condiments and even plates and flatware.

Once the grilling is finished, you’ll need a comfortable place to sit — assuming, of course, the picnic benches have already been claimed. Or perhaps you’d like to lounge by the campground fire ring? The Venture Forward Folding Chair with adjustable lumbar support features a weight capacity of 300 pounds and is built on a powder-coated-steel frame. It looks great with the Venture Forward Ottoman, which can be used as intended or as a place to temporarily set your heaping plate of burgers and hot dogs. Both Venture Forward products conveniently fold for storage and come with a carrying bag.

Now it’s time to bring on the condiments! Using a handy wire picnic caddy helps avoid multiple trips to the RV and holds utensils, napkins, paper plates and all the extras your cookout needs to be flavor-forward.

Clean Living Essentials

An RV is a large investment, and pride of ownership dictates that we keep it looking its best, inside and out. Doing so not only garners praise from fellow campers but can prolong the life of your prized RV and help it retain its resale value.

Four people washing a white travel trailer

Premium Gel-Gloss RV Wash & Wax is formulated for fiberglass, metals, poly finishes, rubber and wood — you know, all the surfaces on your RV’s exterior. Simply add 2 to 3 ounces to a bucket of water, apply with a soft cloth and rinse. (We always recommend testing cleaning products on an inconspicuous area before full application.) Inside your RV, mold and mildew are perhaps even more prevalent than in a residential home. 303’s Mold & Mildew Cleaner is bleach-free, formulated to work on most water-safe surfaces and can even prevent stains from recurring on the treated surface.

One often-overlooked area (until it leads to system failure, that is) is the air filter on the air conditioner. The RV Air AC 101G air filter fits popular Coleman A/C units and helps remove dust, pollen and pet dander using 40 layers of unwoven polyester to capture air particles as small as 3 microns. While we’re clearing the air, let’s also make sure it’s free from harmful gases, like carbon monoxide and propane. The Safe-T-Alert alarm will sound if either gas is detected. Should you hear the alarm, vacate the RV immediately. It’s a good idea to replace your RV’s smoke alarms as well.

Pet-Friendly Essentials

Before going camping, let’s not forget about our four-legged friends. Our pets are family, too, and deserve the best of what RVing has to offer.Three people walking two dogs at RV campground

Since your pets are traveling with you, it’s important to do it safely. Absolutely no lap sitting on the driver while the vehicle is in motion, and the copilot’s lap offers its own set of dangers as well. The Pink Canine Travel Safe Harness allows your pooch (or kitty) the same seat-belted protection as their humans, with a loop that will accommodate a lap or shoulder belt for additional safety. And when it’s time to relax, inside or out, a foldable pet bed is the way to go, offering comfort and personal space for your furry family members.Black harness on golden lab and white small dog on blue pet bed

Shopping Essentials

Ordering RV supplies online is a safe and easy way to stock up. In response to the coronavirus outbreak, Camping World RV & Outdoors is offering another safe, contact-free option with complimentary Virtual Visits. A Camping World employee at the nearest store can help you purchase the items you need over the phone and make arrangements for curbside pickup at a convenient time.

Now that your rig is stocked up and ready to roll, all that’s left is to steer it in the direction of your summer happy place. Have fun and take care out there!

See Related Story
Summer Games: Up Your Campsite’s Fun Factor

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