A Shopping Guide for New RVers

Holly Miner's husband holding her in the rain with their Jayco Pinnacle behind them.

The first time I stepped foot inside an RV also happened to be the first time I bought one. It was 2019 and my husband and I had decided that we wanted to try long-term traveling. After looking at a few different RVs and floorplans, we ended up buying a 2016 Jayco Greyhawk. But after a year of traveling in a 32-foot Class C, we realized that our little family (dog included) needed something a bit bigger. So, in 2020, we bought a brand new 2021 Jayco Pinnacle fifth wheel and have been traveling in it ever since.

It has been a wild and wonderful few years on the road. I learned so much, especially moving from a smaller, motorized unit to a much larger, towable unit. To say that I started my RV journey with almost no experience is an understatement, but we jumped in head first anyways. So, to all my fellow RV newbies out there, I know exactly what you’re going through and I’m here to help. Here are some products and services that helped me find my footing and get started as a totally new RVer.

  1. Hitching & Towing Equipment

    When looking to buy a new RV, the first thing you must ask is how are you going to move it? You’ll want to choose hitching and towing equipment that are both reliable and durable. This means equipment that can handle different weather conditions, road types, and terrains. 

    With our Jayco Greyhawk, we knew we wanted to bring our Jeep Wrangler with us, so we decided to get a Roadmaster tow bar and tow the Jeep behind us. We used this system for over a year and it worked flawlessly. We towed our Jeep on dirt roads, up mountain passes, even through tornado warnings and it never failed us. 

    For our Jayco Pinnacle, we went with an Anderson Hitch. Our main reason for choosing this particular hitch was how lightweight it is—about 35 pounds. This means that nearly anyone can lift it out of the truck bed and move it around. We also liked the ball and hitch setup, which allows the fifth wheel to move around more and puts less stress on the RV itself.

  1. Black Tank Sewer Hose

    As an RV owner, it’s inevitable—you’re going to have to empty your tanks at some point. We’ve had a Camco sewer hose for two years and we love it. In addition to the hose itself being sturdy and reliable, Camco offers a bunch of attachments that help make cleaning your hose and sewer exit point much easier. A good rule of thumb is to always triple check that your hose is connected properly. Check the connection three times before dumping and you shouldn’t have any problems.

  2. Black Tank Treatment

    Do you know what a pyramid plug is? Consider yourself lucky if you don’t… An RV pyramid plug is, quite literally, a pyramid-shaped collection of excrement and toilet paper that builds up inside your black water holding tank. Fortunately, there are products to help avoid this. We love the brand Thetford, which has both liquids and pods that you can easily put into your black water tanks. These solutions help break down any solids and build-up that may have formed inside the tanks. They also help keep your tank sensors clean so you can accurately monitor the liquid levels. We’ve tried a few other brands but found that Thetford is the strongest and acts the quickest. Plus, their pods come in two awesome scents—spring shower and summer cypress.

  1. Heated Water Hose

    One of the joys of having an RV is the ability to get out and be as close to nature as possible, but sometimes nature will throw you a curveball in the form of extreme weather and freezing temperatures. For those instances, you’ll want to have a heated hose for your water. Since your water hose runs outside the RV, it’s exposed to all of the elements and can freeze solid if the temperatures drop low enough. And a frozen hose means frozen water. We purchased a Camco heated hose and it has gotten us through snow, hail and subzero temperatures. Additionally, the Camco hose also has a sensor to monitor the outside temperature. This way, the heating element only turns on when absolutely needed. That being said, we recommend only using a heated hose in the winter months or when you know you’ll be staying in places with cold weather. This will help make the hose last longer and conserve its power.


  2. Clean & Dirty Water Hoses

    Even though it may take up more space, we recommend having separate hoses for all of your different tanks, or at least separate hoses for your black and fresh water tanks. We have a special Camco hose for our drinking water and a separate hose for flushing our black tank. Using the same hose for both can increase your chances of getting sick, especially if you don’t properly clean it out in between uses. Our Camco fresh water hose is also made without any harmful chemicals or BPAs, so it’s totally safe to drink from.

  3. Water Filter

    In addition to having a special hose just for drinking water, we also recommend getting a water filter. Camco has a great filter that you can easily connect directly to the end of your hose. This helps collect any impurities and filter harmful bacteria. Depending on where you are, the water quality can vary from place to place, so it’s comforting to know that our fresh water is consistently being filtered the same way no matter where we are.

  1. Surge Protector

    Having a surge projector might not be top of mind for an RV newbie but it’s extremely important to have. The last thing you want is to damage your RV’s electrical system. We use a Surge Guard and have seen it protect our system multiple times. Be it bad weather, random power surges or a campground with old wiring, power surges can occur in a variety of different ways and places, so it pays to be protected.

  2. RV Memberships and Insurance

    As a new RVer, you’ll probably want to immediately take your rig out and start enjoying it! Plus, the more trips you can go on, the more you’ll quickly learn about your RV. Joining an RV club is a great way to find excellent deals at campgrounds and RV parks, making it easier to plan your first few trips. We became Good Sam members early on and absolutely love it. When you join Good Sam, not only do you have access to their network of campgrounds, but you also get discounts at other major campgrounds, retail stores and gas stations.

    You will also want to consider RV insurance. We got insurance for our fifth wheel through Good Sam because we found their services to be extremely helpful and very specific to the needs of RVers. For example, if you need a tow truck for your extra-large Class A motorhome, they have the resources to help. Some other benefits include RV tire replacement, 24/7 roadside assistance, RV storage options, and coverage across both Canada and Mexico.

  1. Back-Up Camera System

    One of the biggest learning curves for a new RVer is parking. Fitting into tight spaces can be challenging, especially if you have a larger towable unit. Our Jayco Pinnacle has a Furrion back-up camera and side cameras, and it has made a world of difference for us. Having these cameras is great for both back-in and pull-through sites. The cameras give you extra visibility to see exactly where to stop and line up with any hookups. Your RV may already come equipped with a back-up camera, but if not, then you can always purchase and install an aftermarket one. We always recommend having a spotter or someone help you park, especially for the first few times, but these cameras are an additional, helpful resource.

  1. Dehumidifier

    Like the surge protector, this might not be something that first comes to mind but we’ve found that having a dehumidifier is an RV necessity. If you plan to stay anywhere tropical or humid, having a dehumidifier will help alleviate dampness and mold buildup. Mold can be extremely hard to get rid of once it’s there. I knew we would be spending a lot of time at the beach and in warmer, more humid places, so I purchased a Haier dehumidifier. It’s small and compact, so it doesn’t take up too much space in our RV, and it works wonders in keeping dampness and moisture at bay.

Getting your first RV can be both nerve wracking and exciting. But rest assured, in addition to this short list, there is a ton of great information and resources out there to help you feel more prepared and ready to hit the road. These 10 products and services have made our RV experience so much easier and more enjoyable, and I hope they do the same for you.

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