RV Tips

Essential items to pack on your RV trip south

Everything you’ll need for a successful snowbird trip in one handy checklist.

Shown are some of the author's essential items packed in his RV: a bucket, brush, bellows, an axe and a propane cylinder.
Here's a selection of the belly contents of the author's RV. — Timothy Fowler photo

What is in your belly? I mean what do you keep in the storage compartment of your RV? I am sure this says a lot about what kind of RVer you are. It might even say something about who you are.

Before I put anything in the storage cubby, the first thing I did was cut a walk-off mat to fit the storage area as floor protection.

Here is a list of what I keep in the storage compartment of my trailer:

Chocks made of 4x4 blocks of wood: I had some of those plastic triangle chocks. When I pulled ahead, they ended up in small pieces. Now I use chocks of wood exclusively. I have some shorter ones about 30 centimetres (12 inches) long and some longer ones about a metre (40 inches) long. Both are cut at 45-degree angles and work well for adjusting the level of the trailer. I keep a couple of metre-long (40-inch) 2x4s also for less dramatic adjustments.

Dietz and Coleman lanterns: My all-time favourite lantern is the Dietz No. 80 Hurricane Lantern purchased from Lee Valley for $30. It is advertised to burn 26 hours on one tank of lamp oil. I like the gentle ample light to play cards by if you’re at the table past dark. When we need to light our campsite like a football stadium, we use the Coleman lantern.

Water hoses: Now that we have an RV with a back wash system for cleaning our wastewater tank, I pack two 17-metre (55-foot) hoses. One is reserved for freshwater; one is reserved for rinsing the wastewater tank. I drain each hose carefully after using them, connect the ends of each hose to itself, roll them up and tie them with the pigtail elastic.

Extension cords: In addition to the 30-amp cord that came with the trailer, I have an extra 15-metre (50-foot) matching cord. I keep a regular 110-V 30-metre (100-foot) cord for when we stay at the farm in Saskatchewan.

Bin for fuel: One large plastic bin is reserved for lamp fuel, naphtha for the Coleman and disposable propane cylinders.

Window wash bucket: This is a commercial-style rectangular bucket on wheels designed specifically for window washers. I bought it from a commercial janitor supplier, the same place I bought the squeegee and synthetic lamb’s wool cover to wash windows. There is an extension pole in there too to help reach the high windows.

Cleaning chemicals and supplies: While you are at the janitor’s supply store, pick up a litre (one quart) each of concentrated neutral cleaner, window wash and degreaser, and three spray bottles. While you are there, treat yourself to a decent broom, dustpan and a small-version industrial microfibre mop. Buy two mop heads. As soon as you get home, print and place specific labels and clear mixing instructions on each spray bottle. Every time I park, I wash the windows. Before we pull out, we sweep the floor, give it a quick spray with the pine-scented neutral cleaner and wipe the floor with the microfibre mop. The degreaser is perfect for cleaning up the Camp Chef Denali after a weekend of grilled meats and pancake breakfasts.

Coleman stove: My kids bought me a brand-new old-style Coleman two-burner stove that runs on naphtha. It is one of the few that still works well at -20 C (-4 F).

Axe, poker and bellows: I keep dad’s old axe head on a fresh hickory handle in my storage compartment, along with a wrought-iron poker. I have his bellows from the wood stove that he heated his house with for 20 years. For me, camping without fire really is not camping.

Pigtail closures are wrapped around hoses and cords for easy storage.
These pigtail closures are great for easy storage of hoses and cords. — Timothy Fowler photo

Folding stools: Two folding red stools function as steps, portable coffee tables and footstools.

Chairs: Our dog loves his folding chair. We have a selection of chairs: our personal favourites and some for small children and guests.

Propane torch: I keep a self-lighting propane torch because sometimes you just want fire with no fuss.

Charcoal chimney lighter: A chimney-style briquette lighter requires one sheet of newspaper to light a load of charcoal or briquettes.

Lodge camp grill (Hibachi): There are times when I want a charcoal-grilled steak. Nothing finishes the crust on a T-bone like red-hot charcoal. This is a small, but heavy, cast-iron grill perfect for grilling steaks for four.

Screw-type dog tether: Maybe you have seen my Gordon setter run? This tether ensures any runs he goes on are approved. The tether allows me to tie the dog up without using a tree.

Grease: A small tub of grease rests in the belly storage. I lubricate the hitch ball and bars every two or three trips.

Disposable examination (vinyl) gloves: I use these for applying and removing grease and for sewer dump duty.

Sewer drain elbow: I keep the elbow on the same side as the dump pull handle for easy access.

Carpenter's level: A small carpenter's level is within reach to help me set up my trailer to sit evenly.

Tongue lock: As soon as the trailer is set, the lock goes on the tongue.

Wheel wrench: I have never needed to use this on the road and hope I never need to.

Storage was one of the key things we looked for in an RV. Now you know why. You can tell from this list that we take a pile of stuff along. We use all of it (except the last item on the list). Things in the belly that we do not use two seasons in a row get the heave-ho. The right tools and equipment will enhance your camping enjoyment and provide for safe operation of the RV.

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