This past month we had some RVing friends of ours purchase a new travel trailer, and on their way back home from picking it up, they decided to make a trip to the TechnoRV office and go shopping for items they needed. This brought up some interesting perspectives on what new RVers need to pick up to get their travels started. We remember when we purchased our first RV and drove off without even a sewer hose! It was great to talk through these considerations again, and we wanted to share with you some of our favorite brands from sewer hoses to electrical protection systems.
Our opinions may be different from other RVers, but all of our recommendations come from using a lot of different brands for a lot of different products and from that determining the brand that we think is best. This is not only how we determine what to use on our own RV, but also what drives our direction on what we sell at TechnoRV.
So let's get started with the list of the must haves and general wants for every RVer!
Of all the ones we have tried, we really like the Valterra Dominator. I like it because it is very rigid and stands up very well to harsh conditions. This sewer hose holds its path very well which is nice if you use one of the sewer slinkies to place the hose in. If you use a less rigid hose in the slinky, they have a tendency to jump out of the slinky and onto the ground.
We use the Bigfoot Jack Outrigger pads that were originally designed for large cranes. It is a US product that is made with a composite that is extremely durable, plus it has a convenient rope handle.This is most likely overkill for a travel trailer since it is designed for weights in the 40,000 lb.range, but they are great for a big Class A RV. These are very well made, and we have had no issues with these at all. We have been in some situations where the ground was a bit mushy, and the Bigfoot pads were the perfect solution. I have also heard great things about a product called Snap Pads. These have become very popular as they are permanently affixed to the jacks and eliminate the need to pick up and put down jack pads every time you park.
I think the biggest thing going as it relates to leveling a travel trailer is the LevelMate levelers combined with the LevelMatePRO app. We have this for our Forest River Rockwood travel trailer, and it works great. We have spoken with lots of RVers that use these, and the consensus is that they are the easiest thing on the market to get a travel trailer or small RV leveled up. There are other brands besides LevelMate that have the same rounded shape and do the same thing, and I suspect they are all good as the concept is the same.
Fresh Water Hose
I have used two different fresh water hoses over the past 7 years, and they both worked fine and have lasted the test of time. First, the Camco Taste Pure water hose is my main supply. This is more of a rigid hose and has worked great. The other hose that has become popular over the years is the Zero G hose, which is more of a shrinking hose that makes it really great for storage. The key here is to buy a hose that is designed to be a fresh water hose for an RV; garden hoses are not designed for drinking (although we have all for sure done it a time or two) and can introduce contaminants in your drinking water that could be unsafe.
Now let’s get to some of the must have and want products that we have at TechnoRV.
Electrical Protection System
Anytime we talk to a new RVer and they ask what is the first item they need to get for their RV, it is without a doubt an electrical protection system. We have written a lot about electrical protection, and if you want to read a detailed guide on this topic then check that out here.
The short version of this is that we use the Surge Guard Total Electrical Protection System. We are confident it is the best unit on the market and is backed by the best company in the market. The Surge Guard offers more protection than any other unit on the market, and it has the best warranty. No RVer should plug in without an electrical protection system and again, we are confident in the Surge Guard brand.
Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)
The next item we consider as a must have is a quality TPMS. For us, we use the TST brand of TPMS on our RV, and we also trust the TireMinder brand. The TST brand has gotten us through 49 states and a whole lot of miles with no issues. Outside of a good tire inspection before each trip, having real time information on your tire pressure and temperature is the number one thing you can do to decrease your odds of having a blow out. This one is really a no-brainer for RVers; a TPMS is a necessary piece of gear if you are getting into this lifestyle.
Propane Safety Device
If you have propane on board, then having an automatic shut off device is essential. I always thought that my propane tanks had a built-in device that would shut things down if I had a line rupture or cut, but in fact, they do not. There is a built-in function with your system called an excess flow valve, but it only cuts off about 80% of the propane flow should you have a major leak, and for me, that is not enough. To get 100% shut off of your propane in the event you have a major leak, you will need to get a device called GasStop, and it does indeed automatically shut 100% of the propane flow should you have a leak. It is the only device on the market that does that and a must-have for anyone traveling with propane on board.
RV Specific GPS
When we first started traveling in a big RV, my biggest concern was being routed on roads that are not safe (or more specifically, not tall enough) for our RV. The best way to do this is by using a RV specific GPS and the brand we trust is Garmin. In addition to the GPS routing you according to the size and weight of your RV, these units have all sorts of other RV specific features like points of interests including campgrounds, rest areas, truck stops and more. We personally use the Garmin 890, but any of the Garmin units are great and you can see them at at TechnoRV.com.
The next 3 items are not necessarily must haves, but more “wants” that a lot of RVers get excited about.
Rear Observation Camera
Another item that new RVers will often want to get is a rear observation camera. This was a tough one for us for years because we tested so many wireless systems that simply did not have the quality that we felt comfortable with; that is until we found VisionWorks. VisionWorks is in Eugene, Oregon, and they have been building observation cameras in the agriculture industry for decades. The quality of the VisionWorks Rear Observation Camera was far above the competition and the wireless range is great. Here is a comparison chart of the VisionWorks compared to the top competitors and you will quickly see it is not even close.
Another plus of the VisionWorks is that it works with any new RV that comes with the Furrion and Voyager Pre-wire placeholder. In addition, it has side-view cameras that replace your existing marker lights to increase visibility around your RV while driving.
Most RVers want to have a way to air up their tires on the road, and I have never personally driven a single mile in my RV without a way to air up my tires. In the beginning, I hauled around one of those large pancake style air tanks. They took up a lot of room, were heavy, awkward to use, and needed a full power AC power supply to operate. I changed to the VIAIR Tire Inflators years ago and it is a world of difference. They are compact, light weight, powerful, and best of all, they run off of 12 volt power. This is the perfect combination for any RVer. The VIAR is the industry standard and I get excited every time I get to use my VIAIR.
Okay, let's face it, RVers want access to the internet on the road. This is certainly not a must have, but sometimes it feels like it is. We have tried a lot of solutions over the years and with technology changing all the time we have had to stay on our toes to keep up. Our quest to have the best solution changed dramatically when we started using the Pepwave cellular router. It was a night and day difference from the JetPack/MiFi mobile hotspot devices we were using. The Pepwave provides faster speeds and increased reliability than any device we have used. If you are looking for the best solution for staying connected on the road, then the Pepwave is absolutely the best. Of course, a great cell plan is critical here as well, and our friends over at Mobile Internet Resource Center always have the best information out there as it relates to current cell plans available for RVers.
This is in no way the total list of things you need or want as an RVer, and we have more to offer at TechnoRV, but this is a great starting point when making your wishlist. Being a new RVer is exciting and can be a little stressful at times, for sure. There is so much to learn! Remember, we are here to help answer questions for you if you have them. Feel free to contact us if you need more help with anything.