What do you need in a van?
This page was inspired by the blog post, "Vanlife Essentials" I wrote a few weeks ago. I realized that the blog post (which can be found here) was constantly being updated and changed and wasn't the easiest to find. So I've decided to put all the things I find super useful into one place for easy access! I hope this helps!
This page will also be updated as I discover new and exciting things about living in a van.
I love my truck fridge. We got the TF130 version. It is big enough to hold food for two people, has an amazing little freezer, and comes with a blue party light instead of the regular incandescent bulb.
Pros: Works really well (keeps the beer cold), cool party light, small so I don't buy too much food.
Cons: Freezer is a bit small (only room for ice cream sandwiches), ice builds up if you keep it on high for too long, annoying to clean becuase of it's size.
I love these little things so much I actually bought two of them.
They are tiny little rechargeable dehumidifiers. Which I am discovering are super useful in the winter when rain and snow make existing in the van a more humid affair. I keep one under the sink to dry up extra water that condenses down there, and the other I move around to different drawers depending on how I'm feeling.
Pros: Rechargeable, small, adorable, reminds me of Eve from the movie Wall-E.
Cons: Takes about 10 hours to recharge, which is not very long considering the power of these little badasses, heats up when charging so I'm afraid to leave them unattended in case I start a fire.
There is really nothing too exciting to say about this little powerhouse other than it is a perfect portable stove. Some van owners have a stove built into their countertop, but Michael and I like to have the ability to cook outside. Less likely to die of carbon monoxide poisoning that way.
Pros: Green (the best color), fairly light (not ultra light), cooks food.
Cons: Propane bottles annoy me because I have to keep buying more and recycling them is a pain.
Coffee Hand Grinder
Don't buy pre-ground coffee anymore! Grind it by hand and add a lovely arm workout to your morning routine. Michael and I are french press people. An electric grinder would be too loud and take up valuable battery power, so this is the perfect solution.
Pros: Adorable, gets you swol first thing in the morning, doesn't take up any battery power, quiet, gives you something to do while the water boils.
Cons: A bit small, you'll need to grind at least twice this little things capacity to get a full pot of coffee.
No fancy link for this one, as they don't sell them on Amazon! However, the swivel adaptors for the Sprinter van is a MUST. We often have 2 or 3 people over at a time, which makes the van really cramped! When we finally got the swivel seats installed it added an extra seat and freed up a whole lot of space. 10/10 would recommend.
Pros: Swivels, frees up space, feels very cool, SO easy to install.
Cons: Ads a bit of height (make sure you can still reach the gas pedals), doesn't lock into place except in the forward direction.
So much love for the tiny broom. In fact, most things we have in the van are extra tiny. Which means everything has +1 adorable and +5 storage. Tiny broom does exactly what you think it would do.
Pros: Tiny, sweeps floor, makes me happy when I use it.
Cons: Does not sweep on its own
I bought this a few months ago so we could project movies/photos onto our blackout curtain at night and it works really well! It is also super tiny, so bonus points for storage. The sound quality and the picture quality are perfect for what we need.
Pros: Good quality image, decent sound, can run it off the van's batteries without draining them too much.
Cons: Awkward to balance in the van, the sound is not perfect (want to get a sound hookup).
Quick-Dry Pack Towel
I'm not usually a quick dry towel kind of person, but I think in the van it makes the most sense. I am also really afraid of mold developing in the van, so anything that prevents that is A-OK with me. These little babies store well, dry pretty fast, but they STINK if you don't keep them clean. So do wash them often.
Pros: It's in the name (dries quick), smaller than a regular towel, fun colors available.
Cons: STINKS if you don't wash it regularly, isn't as cozy as a regular towel.
Ceramic French Press
I spent way too much money on this press at a local boutique one day because I had just got my paycheck and I wanted to TREAT MYSELF. So I bought it for like $60. They are much cheaper online. Anyway, this little baby is great because it's sturdier than the typical glass french press you see all the time. So it's way less likely to break, plus the ceramic is slightly insulating so your coffee is hotter for longer. It is also exceptionally cute and brings me joy when I use it in the mornings.
Pros: It's beautiful, it's sturdy, it's slightly insulating, it creates coffee from beans and hot water.
Cons: Kinda pricey (but whatever).
National Parks Pass
This is kind of an expensive item to purchase initially, but it's totally worth it. National parks often have free potable water, wifi, bathrooms and even showers, not to mention the beautiful scenery and climbing opportunities. Getting a National Parks pass means you can pop in to use the wifi at the visitors center at Canyon Lands National Park, with out paying $20 to get in. It has really helped me out while living in a van and I HIGHLY recommend you get one.
Pros: Gets you in and out of all the National Parks, helps support the NPS, makes you look very cool as you flash your pass to the park rangers and drive by all the tourists with your shades on.
Cons: $80 so you have to be actually going to national parks for it to be worth it, have to renew it each year.
Toilet treatment for the gray water tanks!
I actually have a small 8 pack of this brand which is more portable, but I think next time I'll purchase the full sized product, it's less plastic that way. This stuff is great for your gray water tanks. My water tanks get pretty gross after a while, so I like to be able to add some toilet treatment to keep things from clumping.
Pros: Biodegradable! Helps keep your gray water tanks from getting too gross, smells not so bad.
Cons: One extra thing to buy/store, if you are really trying to save money you could skip this product.
All Stays Camp & RV App!
When someone recommended this to me I definitely thought it was stupid, but then I downloaded it and it's great! It shows you were all of the rest stops are on a highway (crucial) and also shows you where the Walmarts are that are ok to park at. It basically shows you all the places in the United States where you could potentially park your van, as well as things like Costco, REI, Dump stations, and even gas stations. Very useful little app for vanliving.
Pros: Easy to use, super helpful when you are lost in the desert and can't find the campground you are supposed to meet your friends at, descriptive.
Cons: $10 one time purchase