Buying a new or used truck camper for the first time can be pretty exciting. The comfort that your new “home on wheels” provides makes long-distance travel and camping in the wilderness a pleasure. If you bought your camper new, it probably came with a starter kit that included things like a sewer drain hose (aka stinky slinky), toilet paper, a 30 amp power cord, and a fresh water fill hose. While all of these items are important, they are just the basics. There are other items that you’ll need to camp comfortably, especially if your plans include a lot of overlanding and boondocking. Note, this list does not include modifications and assumes you have the everyday basics for your camper like dishes, utensils, linens, blankets, a fire extinguisher, paper towels, etc. So without any further adieu, and in no particular order, here are 18 must-have items for your new truck camper:
1. Water Bandit: If you like to boondock or camp off-the-grid, then filling your fresh water holding tank is something that you’ll probably need to do often. Not all public water sources have threaded spigots, however. The best way to get around this is to use a Water Bandit. This nifty little device has threads on one side and a stretchable, rubber end on the other that can be placed over any non-threaded water spigot.
2. Valterra Gray Water Drain Adapter:
If your truck camper is equipped with a cassette toilet, you’ll especially want one of these. The Valterra Gray Water Drain Adapter allows you to connect a standard water hose to it rather than the standard 3 inch sewer hose. Going this route can save valuable storage space by not having to store a large sewer hose, and when it comes to storage, you can never have enough in a truck camper. A boondocking must-have item.
3. RV Gray Water Drain Hose: If you have item two above, you’ll need a standard hose to drain gray water away from your camper. It’s true you can drain gray water below your camper, but this can get messy, not to mention smelly. Best to have a 15 to 25 foot RV water hose to drain your camper’s gray water away from your camper. You can buy either a new fresh water hose, like this one, or use an old fresh water hose or garden hose. If your gray water hose is the same color as your fresh water hose make sure you mark or identify your gray hose with a permanent marker.
4. Portable Magnetic Mirror: Most truck campers have a mirror in the bathroom. However, a magnetic, portable mirror is great to have, especially in truck campers with only a kitchen sink. We keep our magnetic mirror on our refrigerator door and it really comes in handy for things like shaving. What’s great about these portable mirrors, is that they can be used inside or outside the camper. You can pick one of these up real cheap on Amazon.com or at Walmart for less than $10.
5. RV Leveling Blocks:
Having a level rig can make your camp outs much more enjoyable, especially for those equipped with gas absorption refrigerators. Having a level camper is also important for cooking, water drains, and, of course, walking. The best way to level things out is with a set of stackable RV leveling blocks. Sure, these lightweight blocks will take up valuable storage space in your camper, but they’re worth it. An absolute must-have item for any truck camper rig.
6. Water Pressure Regulator: Getting potable water from public sources is a must not only for those who enjoy boondocking and off-road expeditions, but also for those who regularly get fresh water at campgrounds and RV parks. The problem is that these public sources usually offer water spigots with water pressures that are far too high for RV plumbing systems. A quality RV water pressure regulator will solve this problem by lowering pressures to levels that will neither damage your camper’s water tank nor plumbing.
7. Solar Power Lantern/Flashlight: Being prepared for all kinds of contingencies is wise. When it comes to lighting, you can never have enough. Yes, your camper has all the light that you need, but what if you get a blown fuse or suffer a battery failure? Best to have a portable flashlight or camping lantern on hand to handle issues like these or to simply provide light away from your camper. Make sure you buy a model that can be charged through various sources like 12 volt and solar.
8. ALPS Mountaineering Camping Table:
If you camp exclusively at campgrounds, then having a portable camping table like this one might not meet a specific need. But if you prefer dispersed camping or boondocking instead, then having a quality camping table is a must. These lightweight, aluminum tables collapse into sizes smaller than folding camping chairs and are great for cooking, eating, and game playing. If you’re in need of an even larger, aluminum camping table, then the ALPS dining table is definitely worth checking out.
9. O-Grill Camping Grill: Who wants to heat up the camper and cook inside on a warm, beautiful summer day? The O-Grill makes a terrific cooking companion on your camp outs and expeditions. The grill comes with a storage bag and an easy to clean drip pan. I hook my grill directly to one of my camper’s propane tanks by using a standard, 5-foot-long propane grill hose.
10. Electrical Adapter (30 amp Female to 15 amp Male): Most truck camper starter kits are equipped with a 30 amp female adapter, but if your camper didn’t come with one, then you’ll want to get one of these. This handy device allows you to connect your camper’s 30 amp cord to a standard 15 amp electrical outlet at a family or friends house. Don’t leave home without it.
11. First Aid Kit: Accidents can happen anywhere and at anytime during your camp outs and expeditions. It’s best to be prepared. You can make your own first aid kit or buy an already made kit like those made by Adventure. The Adventure 9 is one of their most popular kits and is highly recommended. If you decide to make your own, make sure your first aid kit has a ready supply of pain killers, antihistamines, and anti-diarrhea medicines.
12. Extra 12 volt Fuses: A blown fuse can happen at any time. You’ll always want to have a mixed assortment of 12 volt fuses on-hand for not only your truck camper, but also for your truck. Make sure you get the right sizes and ratings for both your truck and truck camper. And for those hard-to-grab mini fuses make sure you have a mini fuse puller handy.
13. Refrigerator Thermometer:
Many RV owners don’t have a thermometer in their refrigerator and I simply don’t understand it. If you don’t have a thermometer in your fridge then you’re guessing on the temperature. Buy one of these so you can set your refrigerator to the right temperature, which is betwen 38 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Some prefer a digital model, though I’ve been perfectly happy with an analog one.
14. Camping Chairs: A good set of folding camping chairs are an absolute must whether you enjoy campgrounds or boondocking in the middle of nowhere. Don’t go cheap and buy the $7 chairs at Walmart or K-Mart, get a quality pair that will last you several years of use. Fortunately, you don’t have to break the bank to buy a quality set of chairs. You can buy a quality camping chair for around $40, like the high back model made by Ozark Trail.
15. RhinoFlex Sewer Hose: If your truck camper has a black water tank you’ll want to get the RhinoFlex sewer hose system. I gave the RhinoFlex my highest rating in a review I wrote a few years ago. It’s easy to use and the coupling won’t come apart when you use it. The best RV sewer hose on the market, period!
16. Two-Way Radios: For those who like to get far off the beaten path, cell phone coverage isn’t always available. A pair of rechargeable two-way radios are a must for those who like to hike, coordinate parking in tight spots, and for those who like to travel with friends and want to stay in communication. Great for truck camper expeditions. You can pick up a decent pair of rechargeable multi-channel radios for around $75.
17. Door Mat: A large patio mat would be ideal, but with the limited storage space found in most truck campers, a good door mat is more practical. Helps keeps dirt, rocks, and annoying “goathead” thorns out of your camper.
18. VIAIR 450P Portable Air Compressor: Another item recently reviewed on this website. The VIAIR 450P is simply the best portable air compressor on the market. Hooks up to your truck’s battery in seconds. This lightweight, powerful compressor is great for not only filling flats, but also for airing up your tires after a day on the trail. Don’t leave home without it.