It can be a daunting task to weed through what RV items you must have. For us, we bought our 5th wheel ‘Bailey’ used from a well-known chain dealership. This was our first RV purchase and we knew little about what items we must have to get on the road.
At the dealership, the ‘helpful’ salesman let us walk around the store while our new (to us) rig was getting its final touches. We were handed a list of a dozen items to pick up. He insisted that we NEED all of these RV items. Looking over the list we really did not think so. Plus, we prefer to price shop. Especially when the items are not needed, right this moment, to take the rig home.
Are those really new RV items?
Some new RVs may come with a few items on our list. You may even see some used RVs with items that the owner leaves behind. If yours comes with some RV items, be sure to look at the condition of them. Even with a new rig. Never assume that the spare tire is inflated properly or has never been used. It is amazing to watch items get swapped around on RV lots.
Top 5 RV items you need before you go
These will be the most basic RV items, but critical. The items on this list are to prepare you properly before you leave the dealership. This list also holds true to anytime you take your rig out.
Be sure to check out our other ‘Top 5 RV Items’ as this will be a series to help you during any stage of your RV adventure.
Buying new or used, you should find a spare tire for the RV. This applies to all recreational vehicles from travel trailers to Class A’s. If it does not have one, now is the time to get one before you leave the town.
If you do have a spare tire, be sure to look it over. Does it show any sign of being used? Is it inflated properly? Are the necessary tools present to change the tire? How does the rubber look? What is the stamped date on the tire?
You may be inclined to skip the step of looking at the tire. Thinking that ‘yep, the tire is there’ and assuming it is fine. Or maybe you feel that you have roadside assistance, so it does not matter. Obviously, the choice is yours.
What would you do if...
…you are 100 miles away from the next town when a tire blows? Calling for help is no option because there is no cell service where you are. The next rest stop is too far away to walk to. There has been little to no traffic to flag down for help.
This leaves you with a couple of options: 1) change the tire yourself, if you have a spare, and the equipment 2) unhook your vehicle to drive for help. The second option will force you to leave your new RV on the side of the road. Of course, this only applies to those of you with a travel trailer, 5th wheel, and those with a TOAD (tow behind).
I am leaving you with this thought, in the hopes to prepare you for your adventure. I myself, have been stranded on the side of a freeway, alone, on a Sunday night with a blown tire. My father had taught me as a kid how to change a tire, so I was equipped and ready. I’m sure the few onlookers zooming past had a great view of me, in a dress, changing a tire.
Tire Ramp or Jack
Since we are on the topic of a tire blow-out, you may need a way to jack up your RV. What tire ramp or jack you need will greatly depend on the type of RV you have. There are several different RV items to choose from. Ranging from ramps to drive up on to an actual jack.
For our 5th wheel, we went with the Trailer Aid. A few reasons pushed us in this direction. First, it is cheaper than the other RV lifting options. Secondly, we were in the category that we may not have a tire issue. Making us want to save up for a bottle jack later. Lastly, the Trailer Aid can be used as a wheel chock if needed. But we will warn you that this item is very bulky, taking up precious space.
One caution to the Trailer Aid is how it works. For us, it would fit between our tandem axles. Some RV’s have the wheel spacing closer together than on our Bayhill 320RS. For this reason, you will want to make sure this is the right RV item for your rig. Also, keep in mind the weigh ratings of these RV items.
All about Jack...
Another option would be to get a Bottle Jack. This would be most helpful for those that the weight rating of the trailer ramp is not adequate. The only word of caution with the bottle jack is to be 100% sure to place it in the proper spot to lift the RV. Otherwise, you could do way more damage than the blown tire may have already done.
The other downfall that came to mind is in a situation where the RV is at an angle. Most roads have a slight drop-off, which will tilt the trailer to one side. Depending on the blown tire, you may not be able to jack up the RV in a safe manner. This is another reason we decided to have the Trailer-Aid with us.
Why all the tire talk?
Having a tire blow out is among the top common occurrences with RVs. I do not mean to scare you, but for this fact, that is why the above RV items are on this list. When we bought our 5th wheel (story here) we needed to drive it 600 miles ‘home’ and through some snow.
Going through the desolate areas of Idaho and into the mountain pass in Washington can hinder cell service. We wanted to be 100% prepared, so we also had our toolbox and other supplies with us. I did not add tools to this list, but we will have a future blog to help you get started.
Chances are if you are only going 20-miles from home to your campground, you may never need the above RV items. Being so close to town, you may have family or friends to call for help. For us as full-time RVer’s, on the road, we do not have that luxury.
Wheel Chocks & Levelers
Regardless of a tire mishap or not, you will need wheel chocks. This is that highly important RV item to keep your travel trailer (or 5th wheel) from rolling away. There are so many different wheel chocks in the marketplace.
Some have cords that make it easier to pull the chock out. And there are some that have better surface grip than others. All that matters is having a set that works properly for your application. We personally went with Valterra wheel chocks and have not had a problem while on a concrete surface.
For a bonus item, I am adding our Valterra Stackers which are also called jack pads and levelers, to the list. These can be used in the tire changing situation as well as to level your RV when you get it home. If you are parking on the street, it may not be very level, so a few blocks under your jacks or tires will help.
A few hoses
Leaving the dealership to get you home, you may want a water hose. This RV item will depend on how far you need to go. In the event you need to pull over for your own ‘rest stop’ it would have been nice to have water in the tank so you can flush the toilet and wash your hands.
Water hoses will be a must-have for your first day/night of camping. You will need TWO different hoses.
One will be for the FRESH water to fill your tank. We used the Camco Tastepure hose and after a year, upgraded to the Zero-G hose. Hindsight, we should have spent the money on the nicer Zero-G. The Camco white water hose is difficult to coil up and kinks, not to mention it smells of plastic.
The second hose you will need is a regular garden style hose. Its primary purpose will be to flush the black tank and do any outside cleanup. Maybe even wash the dog. As I am sure you can guess, you do NOT want to confuse the two hoses. So make sure you get them in different colors and store them in different areas.
TIP: As your freshwater hose ages, you can later use it as your flush hose. Then, obviously, buy a new freshwater hose.
Now that the tank is full of water you can use your RV. That means you can cook, take a shower, use the restroom, and more! However, that now dirty water gets collected in what is referred to as the gray and black tanks. Those tanks will need to be dumped.
To do so, there are several RV items for this job such as hoses, connectors, and gate valves. So, for your first outing, we recommend the Premium Sewer Kit by Thetford. This provides you with all that you need NOW and you can easily pick up more parts when/if you need to.
More parts? Yes, some campgrounds will have the RV dump area far away from where you need it. Forcing you to need a longer hose. Other RV parks may have a different style dump drain where your connector does not fit properly.
We have been full time for a couple of years now, with weekly dumping required. You can say we have gone through a few hoses and connectors of different brands during that time. Don prefers RV items from Thetford and Valterra so far for quality and durability. We will continue to update you with future blogs.
Do you like power? I know that is why I love the RV life. We have the ability to run A/C units, a microwave, run hot water, turn on a furnace or fireplace. So it is amazing to think that one large power plug is enabling this to happen. Okay, there is more to electrical than that, but still.
First off, you will need to know what power cord your RV needs. Our 5th wheel requires 50-amps and most will. You will find smaller travel trailers that need 30-amps. Be sure to pick up the power cable specifically for your rig. If your RV comes with one, again, make sure to look it over. Inspect the prongs of the plug-in to look for any sign of damage (black marks, corrosion, or melted plastic).
In a nutshell, power can get tricky in campgrounds. The older RV parks may only have 30-amp service. This can be an issue if your rig is 50-amp. Your plug will not fit into the pedestal at the campground. This is where more RV items will be needed.
The dog needs a bone
There are adapters, typically called ‘dog bones’ to go from your 50-amp to 30-amp. This will allow you (as the 50-amp) to plug into the 30-amp service. To plug in your 50-amp rig into a 30-amp power post, you will need to look for 30-amp male to 50-amp female.
However, you may not be able to run both of your ACs as you normally do. Breakers will trip in your RV, so be sure to know where that area is. Until, you get a hang of what combo of electric hogs (AC, microwave, hairdryer) you can use at once.
The dogbones mentioned above come in all sorts of combinations. When you are at home, there is an adapter to go from your RV power (50 or 30 amp) down to the 15-amp household power.
Another RV item to consider is a good pair of Lineman Work Gloves. Some of the campground power pedestals can be a little sketchy, so having some gloves on while plugging in, would be recommended.
Above were a few more than five items for our Top 5 RV Items, we hope you found them. Everything in this blog contains actual RV items we own. A few items are on our wish list, after a lot of research.
We have been full-time RVers for over 2-years. So, if you have any questions or comments, we would love to hear from you.
Thanks for reading our blog and we will see you on our next Adventure!