The Essential RV Summer Packing List

Renee Tilby's RV parked by mountain dessert at sunset

Are you thinking about taking your RV on a summer camping trip? Are you overwhelmed by the idea of packing said trip? Don’t stress! Here you’ll find a comprehensive packing list that will ensure you don’t forget anything for your next warm-weather adventure. We’ve broken out the list into different sections, including helpful gear for your RV’s interior and exterior, what clothes to pack, and what to bring for various outdoor activities. Regardless if you choose to stay inside the coolness of your RV or venture out into the sun for some summer fun, this list has you covered.

RV Interior

The more comfortable you can make your RV interior, the more you will enjoy your summer camping experience. Here are a few ways to turn your rig into a cool and relaxing retreat, all while staying efficient and eco-friendly.

An ice maker may not seem like an RV essential but you’ll see why once you get one. Being able to fill your water bottle with ice-cold water before a strenuous hike or dropping a few ice cubes into a cocktail at the end of the day will be a welcomed trade-off for the small amount of counter space this device takes up.

There’s a good chance you’ll be running your RV’s air conditioner during a summer camping trip. So, if you’re looking to make your AC more efficient, we recommend getting an airflow system. These easy-to-install devices will help maximize your air conditioner’s flow, cool down your RV faster and reduce any noise.

Inside of an RV, every little bit of heat makes a difference. This is especially true if your RV came equipped with halogen lights, which can give off excess heat. Before your summer trip, swap out any existing lights with LED lights. LED lights not only use less energy but they also create less heat and give off more light.

It’s important to stay hydrated on your summer camping trip! To ensure that you’re getting the cleanest drinking water, we recommend buying a water filtration system. This will eliminate the need for plastic water bottles and you can feel safe knowing you’re drinking safe, filtered water.

If you’re planning to stay in an extra sunny location, installing some window insulation can really help keep your RV’s interior cool. Available online or at any home improvement store, you can cut the insulation sheets to fit your RV’s windows and keep the heat out.

 Board games and cards are a great way to enjoy an afternoon inside your air-conditioned RV. Some of our favorite games that don’t take up much space are Cover Your Assets, Phase 10 and Uno Flip.

RV Exterior

There is nothing better than sitting outside your RV on a warm, summer night watching the sun go down. This is an ideal time for campfires and s’mores, but it can also be prime time for bugs. Here are a few of our favorite products to help you fully enjoy your campsite and stay bug-free.

A quality outdoor rug anchors your outdoor space, helps keep dirt and debris from getting inside your rig, and creates the perfect lounging and hangout area.

Comfortable camping chairs are a must-have! There are countless designs and styles, but we prefer ones with extra padding and cushioning to maximize comfort. Most camping chairs fold up tightly and can be easily stored in your RV’s outdoor storage bays.

Nothing sets the tone for a campsite like a good campfire. Having a portable propane fire pit helps reduce smoke and eliminates the need for firewood. Plus, you can still use propane fire pits during most fire bans.

 Pesky, persistent bugs can ruin an enjoyable evening around the campfire. Keep them at bay with a portable bug repeller. These small devices are flame-free, scent-free and take up very little space.

If having a bug repeller isn’t cutting it and you need a bit more protection, try getting an outdoor shade tent. These tents are a fantastic solution for a bug-free evening or afternoons when you need a little extra shade.

Your RV’s awning is great for providing shade but you can take it one step further with an awning shade. These attach directly to your RV’s awning and provide both vertical shade and extra privacy.

Clothing & Toiletries

In addition to your toothpaste, swimsuit and a weeks-worth of shorts, here are some other clothing and toiletry items you might want to consider packing for your summer RV trip.

This small bug bite contraption is great for removing insect venom and other irritants directly from your skin. It doesn’t require any refills or ointments, and provides immediate relief.

When you’re camping, you’re likely spending a lot more time outside than usual. The best way to prevent sunburn or skin damage is by using a high-quality sunscreen. We prefer eco-friendly sunscreens that won’t harm the environment, including plant and ocean wildlife.

Wide-brimmed and breathable, adventure hats are great for any RV adventure. They are lightweight, compact and protect your face and eyes from the sun.

When it comes to RVing, multi-purpose items are ideal. And hiking sandals are no exception. You can eliminate the need to bring multiple pairs of shoes, and they’re perfect for hiking trails, playing in the water or just hanging around the campsite.

Food & Grilling

When taking a summer RV trip, we highly recommend cooking outside as much as possible. Not only will this help save money but cooking outside will keep your RV’s interior much cooler. Even frying a simple egg inside can add unwanted hot air! Here are a few of our favorite outdoor cooking and grilling products.

Many RVs come with an outdoor kitchen space. However, if your RV doesn’t have one or only has a small fridge, we suggest buying a table-top grill. Most of these small grills run on propane and work just like a standard kitchen stovetop.

While a Ducth Oven might seem bulky and heavy, this is another multi-purpose item that makes camp cooking super easy. Dutch Ovens hold up extremely well, can be placed directly over an open fire and cook a wide variety of delicious meals (think peach cobbler, cheesy potatoes and loaded beef stew).

We aren’t opposed to new kitchen gadgets, and having an Air Fryer can be game-changing for your RV cooking experience. Not only are they fairly compact and efficient but they can be plugged in outside, further reducing the heat brought into your RV.

While most established campsites have picnic tables, you never know how clean they are or what was placed on them before you arrive. To help prevent the spread of germs and create a more appealing camp set-up, add a picnic table cover to your table. You can even purchase a fitted cover that will stay put and won’t blow away in the wind.

No camping experience is complete without some s’mores. Having a set of classic, telescoping roasting sticks is always a good idea. These are lightweight, easy to use and can handle high temperatures.

To ensure you keep your campsite clean (and to avoid tying trash bags to your camp chairs), bring a collapsible outdoor trash can with you. These cans hold a ton of garbage, are easy to clean and can collapse down to a small, compact size.

Outdoor Activities

One of the best things about having an RV with you on a summer camping trip is the ability to bring all of your favorite outdoor activities and gear with you. Here is some of our favorite gear for fun, outdoor activities.

No matter what your outdoor activity of choice is, a cooling towel is a must-have. Cooling towels turn icy cold when they get wet, and you can wear them around your neck whenever you’re outside in the sun. You can keep one in a bag and it’ll remain as cold as possible until you need it. 

If any of your summer RV plans involve water, you should consider adding Turkish towels to your packing list. They take up a quarter of the space as a traditional towel, dry quickly and absorb a surprising amount of water. They also make for great cover ups and picnic blankets.

We always pack a handful of parachute hammocks on our RV adventures. We’ll hang them from trees (when allowed), from the posts of a pavilion, even from our RV to our vehicle.

If you’ll be camping near a lake, river or bay, an inflatable paddle board should be on your packing list. There is a good reason this sport has taken off in the last few years—it can be done by nearly all ages, is extremely versatile and is allowed in almost any slow-moving water. Plus, you get a gentle workout while quietly enjoying the beauty of nature. 

Whether you prefer mountain bikes, e-bikes, road bikes, or BMX bikes, most RV campsites are very bike-friendly. And having a bike rack can make packing and transporting your two-wheeled vehicles even easier. 

 Prefer to stay at your campsite? A Bocce Ball set can be used on any flat area, and its simple rules makes it ideal for an RV park get-to-gether and players of all ages. 

One of our favorite items to bring for summer camping trips is a parachute kite. They are made out of nylon fabric, don’t have any poles and can easily be stored in a small bag. Anytime we are camping in a place with wide open spaces and a breeze, we will pull out our kites and let the fun begin.

Regardless if you’re a full-time RVer or about to take your very first trip, knowing what to pack in your RV is essential. We try to remember two things when packing for a summer trip: minimize costs and maximize space. We hope this list will help you do both, and allows you to feel fully prepared to enjoy your summer camping experience!

Travel Trailers

Travel trailers are the most popular type of non-motorized RV. No doubt you’ve seen one pulled down the highway hitched to a car or pickup. Travel trailers come in all sizes including tiny jellybean-shaped models with a chuckwagon kitchen in the rear to the massive house-on-wheels with picture windows and a sliding glass patio door.

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