Want to know a secret? Way back in 2016 when we bought our first real RV a Winnebago Travato we were woefully unprepared by almost any RVer’s standards. The thing was back then our van wasn’t our forever home, sure we spent long weekends, and summer vacations in it but we always knew we had another place to lay our heads, so in some ways, we didn’t take the idea of essential items seriously.

Now that we’re living and working in our Keystone Cougar 311RES, life is a little different. Our RV is our home, and our office, and well pretty much our whole world. So just like our lifestyle has taken a dramatic change so has our approach to what’s important and what’s not.

The title of this list should really be, “Learn from our mistakes, $h!t we should have had back in the day”… Oh how much easier life would have been! Since moving into the fifth wheel these 10 items have saved us in more ways than one time and time again. We couldn’t imagine purchasing a new RV and not having them! Don’t be like us, shop the list and start your RV adventure off on the right foot!

If you’re curious about all the gear we use to keep our RV life up and running you can check it out on our Gear + Gadgets Page.

1. Stinky Slinky  

There’s a reason this is the first thing on our list- because it’s the absolute first thing you should buy. DO NOT buy an RV without already owning a hose with which to dump your doo. Yes, it’s one of the most unpleasant parts of RV life, but a necessary topic! A good black tank hose is so important. In this case, you get what you pay for so buy the best.

We’ve had great success with our Camco Rhino Extreme Hose. We purchased ours from Amazon: Camco RhinoFLEX 20ft RV Sewer Hose

Bonus Tip: Test your hose before actually using it! That means running fresh CLEAN water through it to be completely certain it is leak free. A test now will save you a disaster later!

2. Sewer Supports

The supports may seem like a silly spend at first, but remember boys and girls without gravity “things” do not slide down if you get our drift. Buy those supports, you won’t be sorry! These will save the person having to do the dumping a lot of grief and discomfort guaranteed!

You can pick yourself up the same set we use here: Camco 20ft Sidewinder RV Sewer Hose Support

3. Black Tank Deodorizer

Living in an RV is awesome, but its also not entirely normal, and comes with some not so normal smells from time to time. The good news is that these funky odors are entirely avoidable, all you need is a reliable deodorizer.  We have been using Camco TSTs  since day one, and have yet to have an issue with unwanted smells, and odors. Reliable odor control is what it’s all about!

We purchase ours from Amazon in bulk, cause ya, know running out would be bad! Get some for yourself here: Camco Black Tank Deodorizer 

4. Surge Protector

Other than the black tank hose, this might just be one of the single most important things you can buy for your RV, if you’re wondering why, take a moment to imagine having to replace every bit of wiring in your home, and perhaps all the expensive electronics you keep plugged in and well there’s your reason.

Electric pedastools at many campgrounds and RV parks can be unpredictable in terms of voltage and can have surges from time to time! Protect yourself and your belongings and spend a little money to save a lot.

We have been using our Camco Surge Protector since day one, and it’s saved us quite a few times! You can pick one up for yourself here: Camco Surge Protector

Some newer RV units come with built in surge protectors so check on your specs before dropping the extra cash!

5. Water Hoses 

Did you notice the “s” on the end of hoses? Yes, as in plural because you’re going to need more than one. Why, you ask? excellent question! One hose should be dedicated entirely to your drinking water also known as potable water. There are consumption grade hoses made for just this purpose.

You can purchase the same drinking hose we use here: Camco 25′ Heated Water Hose

The second hose we affectionately call our “flush hose”.  This is the hose we hook up when it’s time to flush out our tanks. We use a different hose for this task because while the potential for backflush is slim, if bacteria coming from our tanks did somehow end up in the same hose that carries our drinking water the results could be deadly. Cholera anyone? We use an inflatable style hose for easy storage for this job.

You can check out our flush hose and snag one for yourself here:50 ft Expandable Garden Hose

6. Water Filter

Fact, water tastes different everywhere you go. Weird, but true.  Water is just not created equal, but you can guarantee to keep it clean and drinkable by filtering it through a trusty water filter. This carbon filter removes lots of potential ickies from your drinking water, making even the weirdest tasting of waters a little bit better for your body!

Our Camco water filter is the best! Grab one for yourself here: Camco Carbon Water Filter

7. Water Pressure Regulator


This little $5-$10 part will save you an awful lot of headache. Trust us! Ever notice how everyone’s homes seem to have different amounts of water pressure? Same goes for campgrounds, RV parks, and water fill stations- that bad news is some of these can have pressure so high it can blow your lines ( we exploded a hose once back in the day). By attaching the water pressure regulator to the hose spigot you can make sure you’re receiving a safe amount of pressure and avoiding leaks and explosions!

You can pick up these little regulators at Walmart, hardware stores and practically any RV supply store.

We purchased ours on Amazon and you can take a peek at it here: RV Hi-Flow Water Regulator for Camper

8. A Good Tool Kit

The cold hard truth about owning an RV is that things break, a lot. Having a well organized and well-stocked tool kit will save you heartache, and potentially prevent you from using words you’re not proud of.  We swear by Craftsman products they’re not just reliable but are warrantied for life, simply put it breaks, they send you a new one.

This is our all in one kit we use and love: Craftsman Tool Kit

9. Jack Pads + Leveling Blocks

Our Cougar Fifth Wheel has a fancy built in self-leveling system, so naturally, we thought that buying jack pads and leveling blocks would be a big waste of cash, but we have used them time and time again on uneven surfaces. They really do make a difference, and some locations even require that you use them in order to protect their paved surfaces.

Like all things, there are expensive options and there are some not so expensive options we opted for the not so expensive options and have had great luck with them so far.

Grab some for yourself here: Camco RV Stabilizing Jack Pads

10. Mattress

Go ahead and laugh, but the minute you lay your sweet little head on the rock that comes standard in most new RV’s you’ll thank us for this bit of advice. Literally, anything would be a better option than the standard mattress. Do yourself a favor, save up and buy something comfy or move your home mattress in ASAP. We, unfortunately, didn’t have that option and needed to do some shopping, we purchased our memory foam mattress from the At Home Store but Amazon sells an almost identical option.

Our At Home Store Memory Foam Mattress: Rome King Mattress

Amazon Option: Modway 10″ Gel Infused Memory Foam 

And there they are! Our 10 can’t live without, must have RV items! Having this list of 10 basics is the perfect way to be sure you start your RV adventures out on the right foot. Having the right gear means less time stressing and more time exploring and having fun! 

Did you find this list helpful? We really hope you did! Let us know in the comments, and if we missed something let us know that too! 

Disclaimer – The links in this post are all items we own, have used, and love. Absolutely no one has paid us to create this post or to be included in it. All photos are our own creation or are directly from product listings on Amazon.com where the items can be purchased. All items can be purchased through the blue highlighted links and some are associated with our Amazon affiliate listings of which we receive a small benefit from at no cost to you. Thanks for browsing, and reading.  As always, thanks for your time and presence. 

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