Van Life Essentials: 21 Items We Can't Live Without

Reviews
12 min

After living in our fair share of vans, we've compiled a list of van life essentials that make living on the road seamless. 

If you're planning on living the van life full-time, being prepared is the best thing you can do to make your time seamless. Whether you're traveling solo, with your partner, friends, or family, having the right equipment can be a complete game changer.

There are a lot of stereotypes that come with living in a van, but know that many of these are half-truths. Living the van life can be complicated, but this typically comes with being unprepared. 

The best way to make van life seamlessly easy? Going prepared. 

Just as you make sure you have essentials in your house or apartment, you must do the same with your van. These items will look a little different due to the different living conditions, but they are all basic items.

With that said, here are the 21 van life essentials that we suggest bringing on your next adventure. Each one will help push you towards successful and comfortable van living!

21 Van Life Essentials To Bring On Your Adventures

1. Bungee Chords

Having your home at motion can lead to chaotic mess if you're not careful. Bringing Bungee chords on your trips will help keep your supplies and other objects in your van stationary! These are particularly helpful if you have a lot of items to fill If storage space. 

You can purchase a great set here

2. ARB portable refrigerator

If your vehicle does not come with a refrigerator, then bringing a portable one with you can be a great option. 

A nice portable refrigerator will help you store food, refrigerate water and other drinks, and even keep vitamins chilled. We recommend the ARB fridge because it only uses 12 volts which is energy efficient.

3. Hydro Flasks

Water is essential for hydration. It can be hard to drink enough water when you're at home, but even harder when you're on the road. 

Hydro flasks are great at safekeeping your water, and keeping it cool. 

Although they can be bulky and heavy to use, there are plenty of other ways to store water. Storage bags to be used for storing large amounts of water too. Dromedary bags are also a great option if you need more storage space than just the flask. 

You can browse Hydro Flasks here

4. Water Filter

If you are living life on the road, you are bound to be in situations when water is scarce. This is more common if you're camping in the wilderness or in any kind of remote area. Finding clean water for drinking can be difficult, so having a purifier on hand can be a lifesaver.

With that said having a water filter in your van is incredibly important. Water filters are a must, and they are affordable to purchase! 

This Britta Filter is a great water filter to bring with you when camping. 

5. Camp Cookware

Cooking is especially important in your van life! It's easy to eat too much fast food or even not eating enough food when you live on the road. By packing the right kind of cookware, you will be able to cook nourishing meals, no matter where you are. 

This might come as a surprise but you can get high-quality cookware from affordable stores like Walmart, or order through Amazon. Although make sure it's of good quality so you don't have to replace it during your trip.

Quality comes first! This set is a great option to bring with you. 

6. LUCI Inflatable Solar Light

Things can get creepily dark while living on the road. This is especially a problem if you are living in a less-populated area like the desert of Arizona or the woods of Colorado. 

That's why it's always important to have a good source of light outside. We recommend the LUCi solar light, which is a great way to keep your campground lit and safe at nighttime.

You can browse the solar lights here.

7. Insulated French Press

Is there anything better than a cup of coffee early in the morning? 

To me, no morning is complete without one, which is why having a great French Press is essential to living on the road! Whether you love a cup of black coffee, or prefer to add creamer to it, having a great coffee maker allows you to do either.

This is our favorite French Press set for traveling. 

8. Hand Broom

Just like your house, the inside of your van should be clean too! This is especially true when your house is always at motion. When moving from one place to another food crumbs, dirt and dust only have one place to land - your floor. 

That's why a hand broom is a must, it is simple and practical yet it keeps your van clean and healthy. We forgot this one on one of our trips and it was a pain to try to keep the floor clean. 

9. Unscented Baby Wipes

You may have heard of a stereotype that some people living in vans don't shower at all and just use baby wipes for cleaning. I mean it can be true to some degree, especially if the van itself doesn't come with a kitchen sink or a bathroom. But take this with a grain of salt, you can still maintain hygiene. 

Nevertheless, wipes are essential especially if you keep on moving from one place to another at a rapid pace. They can help you stay clean for a few days if you don't have access to a shower or a body of water. It might seem like a silly purchase, but you'll thank us later.

10. Cargo Nets

Cargo nets are one simple yet effective way to maximize the storage potential of your van. They are easy to install and can be hung in open space. This gives you more room for storage, whether it be for food, clothing, or blankets. 

11. Coleman Triton 2-burner camp stove

Depending on the type of camping you're doing, bringing a stove with you could be a great idea. 

This specialized stove is a highly functional, fast, efficient, and hassle-free cooking assistant. Aside from boasting a sleek and cool silver exterior, it is also easy to move. 

Check out the Coleman Triton 2-burner camp stove here

12. Bug Screen

Regardless of where you are or where you're traveling, bugs are usually a constant problem. Not only are they pesky bugs that bite and irritate the skin, but they can also bring diseases with their bites.

You can also prevent bugs by installing screens to your doors and to your windows to help in preventing bugs from entering your home. 

13. Cellular signal booster

If you're working from home or a long-time freelancer you know the pros and cons of working on the road. While it might seem like a dream, in reality, there are a lot of things to consider before taking your work on the road. The main issue being Wi-Fi or cellular service. 

A cellular signal booster is a great item to invest in because it can track signal even to the most remote locations. It is a sure boost to your internet connection and helps you get work done, no matter your location.

14. A Bluetooth portable speaker

It's no argument, music makes the world more colorful and vivid. It's the same thing while traveling the roads. Whether you love listening to podcasts, books on Audible, or to music, having a good portable speaker is key.

Sure enough, a Bluetooth portable speaker can make your long road trips more enjoyable and exciting! 

Browse Bluetooth speakers here

15. Propane heater

If you are going to an area that is cold, having a heat source is crucial. A propane heater for cold nights and chilly early mornings can help you stay warm, and help you avoid colds. 

You can get a propane heater at your local hardware store or even order it online. 

16. Solar charger

Off-grid adventures in the wild are great but always be prepared because surely you'll need a charger for your electronic gadgets.

That's what makes solar chargers great, it can help keep all of your electronic gadgets charged, even when your vehicle is off. 

There are tons of solar chargers to choose from, but this one is our favorite.

17. Cutting Board 

It might sound random, but having a nice clean cutting board can come in handy especially if you're cooking on your kitchen van. A cutting board keeps your area clean and manageable without having the food crumbs go all the way to the floor. 

You can use it inside, or even outside if you have a picnic table to use. It makes prepping food easier and more efficient. It's also easy to store. 

18. Wool Blanket 

Wool blankets are great if you are staying in colder climates, but double as blankets for warm picnic days outside or on the beach. These blankets are the perfect oil in keeping you warm without having to use a heater, which is not something everyone has. 

Check out our favorite wool blanket from L.L. Bean here

19. Camp Chairs

Outdoor night camping or living off the grid seems nice especially if you have foldable camp chairs to relax in. Whether you're bathing in the sun or watching the stars twinkle at night during a campfire, camp chairs are always a good thing to bring along.

20. Awning

An awning is a great way to extend your living room to the outdoors, this is also great for those unpredictable days when it rains and shines. We love cooking under our awning, which is part of the reason we recommend it to everyone. 

An awning is convenient to use and easy to install, making it a great portable option if you are on the move. 

Browse awnings here

21. Portable Toilet and Shower

For hygiene reasons especially if your trailer doesn't include a toilet or a shower, a portable toilet is essential in bringing. This can make life on the road more comfortable and give you a peace of mind as well. 


Before going out on the road, always remember that your needs and preferences are of utmost importance whether you're a beginner or a rookie. 

Always think practical and have an insight into the things you need and want because they will come in handy later.

The items listed here are essential for your basic comfort and amnesties, nonetheless, we know that living a van life is different for every person! That's why we understand, and we know you can do more!


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