Cindy Scott is a Michigan native who has worked in the media industry, in many roles across America, for more than 15 years. These days, she produces the Locals Know Best travel podcast and runs Cinders Media and the Cinders Travels website out of her 2019 Keystone Cougar Fifth Wheel with her husband and two furry cat friends. Sharing her experiences with her readers at Cinders Travels aims to inspire readers to get out on their next great outdoor adventure.
The Best RV Gadgets and Gifts
I've been RVing full time with my husband Barrett, and our two cats, Squirt and Vodka, for two years now. Before taking off on this journey, I lived in many big cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Austin, Pittsburgh, Metro Detroit, and more. Eventually, though, I began to wonder why we couldn't live out of an RV and explore more of our beautiful nation––while also supporting ourselves and going back to school. After all, with so much of daily life handled over the internet now, what would stop us?
In 2018, we took off in search of our perfect spot, and we’re still going. After two years on the road, Barrett and I have an unequivocal understanding of what gadgets have been the most useful for RVing.
There is a core theme with these products. Either they’re crucial to making our RV lifestyle possible, or invaluable in making it more comfortable. Some are things we use every day, some are things that save us time, and some save us space––but they're all things we wouldn’t want to live without.
So whether you’re a beginner RVer shopping for yourself, or just looking to support the RVer in your life, this list is full of top-notch gift ideas that any camper would be lucky to own.
One of the pluses of traveling in an RV is that you can make your own meals in your own home every day. Not one day passes that we don’t use these pots and pans.
There's not much room in an RV for traditional pots and pans. Because of this, Magma's nesting cookware was actually recommended to us before we even hit the road, as a way to save space. This Magma cookware set comes with a stockpot, saucepan, skillet, two lids, and a handle that easily pops on to whichever pot or pan you’re using, all while nesting into each other and storing in less than a 1/2 cubic foot. After purchasing the pots and pans, we added the nesting colander so we could steam more veggies. It fits into the middle of the set perfectly.
Who doesn't love having the ability to make lattes? While I understand the need for coffee shop ambiance and WiFi, sometimes you just want to grab your coffee and head out onto your next adventure.
Most coffee makers run into two problems in an RV: they take up way too much real estate on your counter and some of them need a lot of electricity to work. Since we don't have the space for a large option and don't always have full power, this stovetop moka pot is a small, straightforward and affordable option. You simply add water and espresso, heat it up on the stove, and when it stops gurgling, voila! Espresso. Add in a hand-pump milk frother, and you have everything you need for a variety of coffeehouse drinks.
RVs get dirty, fast. It's just the nature of being out in the wild. And if you have pets, it happens even quicker. We travel with two very furry cat friends, so having a good vacuum is a must. When we first hit the road, we had a generic Bissell vacuum that tried its best, but just couldn't cut it. Last Black Friday, we found this Dyson half off and went for it. It works just as well as any household vacuum but is about ⅓ of the size and disassembles into many small, storable pieces. We've never looked back.
Every once in a while, you come across a game-changer. The Latch It Keypad Door Lock is one of those items. It gives you the ability to leave your RV without having to carry around a set of keys, perfect for a morning run or a leisurely stroll around the campground after dinner. One of my favorite features on this item is the light-up keypad. The buttons glow at night so you don’t have to turn on a light, which was always a pain when using our old key lock entry handle.
It also comes with two little remotes, so you can simply lock it with the click of a button, handy if you’re walking away and not sure if you locked it. (Although we often find ourselves using it from under the covers at night when neither of us wants to double check the door…)
I'm a big proponent of headphones for living in tight quarters with other people. Recently, a salesperson told me AirPods will be a big-ticket item this holiday season. I 100% believe her––in 2020, the world has shown every family and every roommate just how important headphones can be. In small spaces, headphones that are both wireless and noise-canceling are ideal. I've heard AirPods are great, although I don’t yet have a pair. (Hint hint, Barrett.)
If you’re looking for something that fits over your ears, the Plantronics headphone set is the best option in the mid-range price. They have Plantronics signature audio, which is known for its crisp high notes, rich, deep bass, and natural mid-tones. The headphone cups have sensors, so if you even lift a cup, the headphones automatically pause and then resume as soon as the cup is back in place. They also last 24 hours before needing to be recharged, and you can be up to 330 feet away from your Bluetooth device without the signal breaking up. My husband has a pair and loves them. They also have the option of open-listening and active noise-canceling modes, so you can toggle back and forth between being able to hear your surroundings.
Once we hit the road full-time, it didn't take long for us to discover that we needed another set of speakers beyond the ones installed in our RV. The small yet mighty JBL Charge 4 Bluetooth speaker has come in handy daily. It's wireless, waterproof, and sounds terrific. Also, it boasts 20 hours of playtime, but I swear it goes longer than that. We only charge ours a couple of times a month. The Bluetooth capability and its size lets us effortlessly move rooms or jump devices with no problems.
JBL has a variety of these small Bluetooth speakers in different sizes and price ranges. If you're looking for an option in the $70-$120 price range instead, there are cheaper options out there, but I believe you get what you pay for. We listened to the entire row at the store and picked the Charge 4 because we felt it has the best audio quality for the price.
This is the only item we bought out of the Camping World showroom when we initially purchased our rig. Having a camera at the rear of our fifth wheel seemed like a no-brainer. Neither of us had ever driven a truck towing a 35-foot trailer before. It brought us both a great deal of comfort, knowing we could see the road behind it.
Later on, we realized we could use the camera to help us park in tight spots and give us eyes on our bike rack while we were driving. Most newer RVs (including ours) come pre-rigged for a backup camera to be added, so the installation is relatively straightforward.
We have eight tires to keep an eye on. Driving through different climates quickly affects the tire pressure in those tires, and it can be tricky to pull a rig up to a gas station air compressor. You might get lucky and find a truck stop when you need it, but why go through all that hassle when you can fill your tires at your campsite?
The VIAIR 300P-RVS is ridiculously easy to use. You simply clamp it to a 12-volt battery, connect the chuck to the valve stem on your tire and let it rip! It also has a tire pressure gauge right near the chuck, so you can be sure you're getting proper air pressure in your tires without over-inflating them.
One extra note here: checking tire pressure is super important. It's a simple way to prolong the life of your tires. Recently we took our trailer in for new tires, and everyone at the shop was shocked our original tires lasted as long as they did.
To figure out which one is right for your friend or family member's rig, VIAIR provides a handy chart to help you choose correctly.
The weBoost Signal Booster amplifies our cell signal (up to 32 times) received from the nearest cell towers with an antenna on top of our RV. Instead of feeling like we need to stay close to civilization to have a cell signal, we’re comfortable going further off grid because we know we’ll still be connected.
This week, I recorded two podcast episodes, wrote this article, and worked on my website and all of my client projects from the Little Missouri National Grassland in North Dakota. Between our AT&T phones, our Verizon hotspot, and the use of the weBoost Signal Booster, we are rarely disconnected from the world. The weBoost works with all cell phone providers and carriers.
This is a fantastic item that provides peace of mind for pet owners who RV. Pets can't always go everywhere with us. Our cats are old and they don’t enjoy hiking. They lounge, from sunup to sundown. But Barrett and I do enjoy hiking, and this temperature monitor helps make sure that we’re leaving our babies in a temperate environment.
But this little gadget is useful for more than keeping pets comfortable. It's handy to be able to monitor the temperature of your RV from afar, in case your air conditioner or heater breaks when you’re out and about. It's always better to know sooner rather than later.
With this device, we set a high and low-temperature range for the monitor. If the RV ever gets too hot or too cold, we are alerted via email and text immediately. We can then head home and fix whatever the issue is.
Many new RVs come prewired for solar kits. These kits are an entry-level, cheaper option for RVers who aren’t ready to dive into a full-scale solar renovation but still want to go off-grid. The Go Power 200 Watt Portable Solar Kit has proven helpful when we go boondocking and just need the basics that run off of our 12-volt battery. That includes our lights, water pump, and propane heater. And since the solar panel charges up our 12-volt battery, if it’s sunny out, we can operate almost entirely without being plugged in. It really comes in handy when we need to see, wash our hands, or heat up our home without a typical electric hook-up.
When we combine this with the portable power station below, it makes it so that we can operate almost entirely off the grid.
A portable lithium power station is an item that should be at the top of any boondocker’s wishlist.
Working on the road comes with the obligation to regularly charge essential appliances, including smartphones, cameras, laptops, and our WiFi hotspot. With the power station, you can charge devices via AC, USB, and DC. Then, when the station is all out of juice, you can boot it back up a few different ways, one option is with its own separate solar panels (sold separately). But you can also recharge from a car or AC wall outlet with the included cables.
I hope you find our suggestions helpful. Our RVing is so much better off with the gadgets we’ve picked up along the way, and with any luck, they’ll be helpful to you or the RVer on your gift list, too.