People with their dogs next to their Class C

Expert Advice

RV Packing Checklist: Stocking A New RV

If you’ve just purchased your first RV, it’s time to stock your rig—while it’s tempting to head straight to a camping store, you should pause and prioritize before you drop hundreds (or thousands) on gear you might not want or need.

The ultimate goal with stocking your RV is to have everything you need and nothing you don’t. When we first started RVing, we hauled many of our regular household items out to the RV for each and every trip, and then we hauled those same items back into the house.

Of course, this process got tiresome after a bit. However, it helped us figure out which items we used the most, and those went to the top of our packing list. Over time, we bought dedicated gear that stayed in the RV and continued to use a checklist to repack items as needed.

RELATED: Organizing Your RV

You, too, will learn which items you can’t live without and which ones you never touch. Then, you can develop and refine your own personalized RV packing list. 

Here’s an overview of some of our essential recommendations:

  • RV Tools and Safety Gear
  • Camp Furniture and Outdoor Gear
  • RV Kitchen
  • RV Bathroom
  • RV Bedroom and Closets 
  • Pet Camping Gear

RV Tools And Safety Gear

Tools and safety gear are less fun to purchase than camping décor; however, these items ensure your safety and security while on the road or in a campground. Be sure to put these necessities at the top of your list.

RELATED: First-Timer's RV Tool Kit

To set up camp, you’ll need the following items:

  • Chocks
  • Leveling boards
  • Sewer hose
  • Potable water hose
  • Water pressure regulator
  • Surge protector
  • Electricity converters (to move between 20, 30, and 50 amps)

The following basic tools and gear can help you safely travel and repair small problems with your rig:

  • Basic toolbox
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Fuse replacement kit
  • Replacement bulbs
  • Air compressor
  • Jumper cables

Other overlooked RV safety gear: 

  • Rechargeable flashlight
  • Fly swatter
  • Water filter
  • Latex gloves

Camp Furniture And Outdoor Gear

Once you’ve safely set up your rig, now comes the fun part: turning your campsite into a pleasant outside living space. You can always start with relatively cheap versions of these items and then upgrade over time. After years of traveling, we’ve become camp chair connoisseurs, with each family member having a favorite style, but trust me, we didn’t start that way.

RELATED: 6 Packing (and Unpacking) Tips for RV Vacations

Here are some items you might want that will make your campsite even cozier:

  • Camping chairs (one per person)
  • Outdoor rug
  • Table cloth
  • Lanterns

Now, comes the fun part. You can truly personalize your campsite with the following gear:

  • Awning lights
  • Pop-up shelter
  • Rope lights
  • Hammock
  • Outdoor games

What’s a campsite without a campfire? If you forget to stock these items, you’ll miss out on this revered camping ritual:

  • Firewood (Note: some states do not allow the transport of firewood from area to area)
  • Fire starters
  • Lighter and matches

Stocking Your RV Kitchen (Indoor And Outdoor)

Some people use camping as a chance to take a break from their culinary duties, while others take pride in becoming the consummate camp chef. No matter which one of these is your goal, you’ll likely need some RV kitchen essentials.

RELATED: How to Stock Your RV Fridge for a Week: 7 Tips for Road Trip Success

You’ll need basic utensils, so consider purchasing unbreakable items, whenever possible. Rule of thumb: pack one of each per person, plus a couple of extras.

  • Plates and bowls
  • Silverware
  • Cups and mugs

Think about the wares and utensils you’ll need to prepare the meals you cook most often. Consider stocking the following:

  • Nesting bowls
  • Cutting board and quality knife set
  • Cooking utensils (spoons, ladle, tongs, peeler, whisk, etc.)
  • Collapsible colander
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Pots, skillets, and baking wares

Don’t store food in you RV when not in use, but these pantry staples can be kept in airtight containers, ready to load:

  • Salt, pepper, and other seasonings
  • Nonstick spray
  • Oil and vinegar
  • Coffee (don’t forget the filters and coffee maker)

You’ll want these miscellaneous kitchen items to help keep your RV kitchen clean and functional:

  • Dish towels and washcloths
  • Sponges
  • Can opener and bottle opener
  • Cleaning supplies

If you’ll be using an outdoor grill, be sure to include the specialty supplies to accompany your grill.

  • Tongs and spatula 
  • Grill brush and cleaner
  • Griddle accessories

Stocking Your RV Bathroom

The bathroom is one of the places you’ll want to have well-stocked in your RV. 

  • Shampoo, conditioner, and body wash
  • Toothpaste and toothbrush
  • Deodorant
  • Hairbrush
  • Shaving cream and razors
  • Hand soap and sanitizer
  • First-aid kit
  • Towels, hand towels, and washcloths

Stocking Your RV Bedroom And Closets

Have dedicated bedding for all of the beds in your rig. Bonus points if you have pillows and blankets you can leave in your RV because they’re the biggest pain to haul in and out. Whether you buy new or choose to use spares you already have, here are just a few of the main items you’ll need for your beds (and bodies):

  • Pillows
  • Sheets
  • Blankets
  • Laundry hamper
  • Jackets and rain gear
  • If you have old shoes and spare clothes that can “live” in the RV, it’s nice to leave them packed in case you forget to pack something.

Gear For Camping With Your Pet

And if you travel with a pet, don’t forget supplies for your furry friend on the road: 

  • Food and water bowls
  • Leash and collar
  • Food and food storage containers
  • Medicine
  • Crate and/or bed
  • Seatbelt or car seat
  • Tie-ups 
  • Waste bags
  • Monitoring system

RELATED: Tips for Pet Owners at Campgrounds

Remember, you don’t have to pack everything on this list. Start small, and add only the gear you think you’ll use. Once you have a handful of trips under your belt, you’ll have a good idea of your own perfect RV stock-up list.

Jeremy Puglisi

The RV Atlas

Jeremy and Stephanie Puglisi are the co-hosts of the weekly RV Atlas and Campground of the Week podcasts and the RV Atlas blog. They are also the authors of See You at the Campground: A Guide to Discovering Community, Connection, and a Happier Family in the Great Outdoors, and Where Should We Camp Next: A 50 State Guide to Amazing Campgrounds and other Unique Outdoor Accommodations, and the Acadia National Park Adventure Guide. After buying their very first pop-up camper more than 10 years ago, Jeremy and Stephanie caught the RV bug in a big way, and now spend over 70 nights a year in their travel trailer with their three sons, Theo, Max, and Wes, and sweet Maggie the pup. You can follow along on their adventures (and misadventures) over at RV Atlas.