From Sensible to Plush: My Favourite Van Life Gear

Admittedly, the “gearing up” half was tough for me. As a real gear junkie who’s collected and examined gear for a decade, it was laborious to go away gear behind. Cumbersome and area of interest gadgets with a single-use must keep dwelling.

Now that we’ve been on the highway for 8 months, there are a number of gadgets that I’m glad we packed or bought alongside the way in which for the van. I needed to spotlight a number of gadgets to assist others who is perhaps in the identical predicament. To be clear, this isn’t an inventory of all the things we packed, just a few standouts. So, let’s dive in.

Van Life Journey Targets

We’ve two objectives for our van life journey. The primary is to reset, decelerate, and ponder what we wish to do with our lives. The second is to discover some wonderful locations.

For us, exploring means mountaineering, biking, fly fishing, and pack rafting in wild areas. To do all these actions, and to reside day-to-day, we would have liked gear.

Van Life Gear: Contained in the Van

Dometic CFX DZ75 Electric Fridge Portable Cooler in a Campervan Favorite Van Life Gear
(Photograph/Jake Ferguson)

Powered Cooler

We opted for a bigger powered cooler since there have been three of us, and we had the area for it. Dometic’s CFX3 DZ75 Transportable Cooler has two compartments with wire baskets to remain organized. One aspect is a fridge; the opposite can get chilly sufficient to be a freezer if wanted. It’s simple to regulate utilizing the CFX3 app and it’s vitality environment friendly.

If this Dometic mannequin isn’t the right match to your wants, try our finest electrical coolers of 2023 patrons information.

Electrical Kettle

This electrical kettle from Bodum made morning espresso and tea a lot simpler. We additionally use it to hurry up boiling water for dinner and heat water to present our toddler a van tub. No, it’s not vitality environment friendly, however the time financial savings was price it.

Entrance Window Screens

Along with our MaxxFan, we would have liked further airflow for warm climate, so we nabbed some window screens/mosquito nets from Vanmade Gear. They stored us cool and the bugs out.

Bike Mounts

We needed to retailer our bikes within the van to maintain them clear and keep away from theft. Our van builder put in some Unaka bike fork mounts on a slide-out tray that stored the bikes safe whereas we drove.

Refilling Water

Woman Holding a Sea to Summit Collapsible 5-Gallon Bucket in a Campervan Favorite Van Life Gear
(Photograph/Jake Ferguson)

We most well-liked to make use of our hose to fill our water tank, however that wasn’t all the time an possibility. We used Sea to Summit’s 20L collapsible bucket about half the time, and it was nice. It folded down so small (4.5 x 4.5 x 1.75 inches) we might stash it anyplace. As a bonus, we additionally used it to douse our campfires.

Discreet Water Refills

The 3L collapsible water bottle from HydraPak was extra discreet than our bucket if we have been filling water on the library, a gymnasium, or a customer heart.

Typically, we additionally screwed on a Katadyn water filter to the highest if we thought the water wanted it. We additionally apply it to our hikes.

Useful Van Life Gadgets: Inside & Exterior


We stored a Leatherman FREE P4 in our “junk drawer” as an alternative of within the “storage” storage space behind the van with the opposite instruments, and we ended up utilizing it on a regular basis.

Gear Ties

The makes use of are limitless! We used them to safe gadgets within the van so that they don’t rattle whereas driving and used them to lock issues collectively. We stored a pack in all of our autos in case we would have liked them.

Tenting Lantern

BioLite AlpenGlow 250 Camping Lantern in a Campervan Favorite Van Life Gear
Lantern in half-light mode; (picture/Jake Ferguson)

We’ve lights constructed into the van and headlamps, but we used just a little lantern a ton. BioLite’s AlpenGlow 250 has many colour settings, and you may dim it. We used the nice and cozy gentle, half-light, and candle flicker settings essentially the most.

If the BioLite AlpenGlow isn’t fairly best for you, try our finest tenting lanterns of 2023 patrons information.

Journey & Tenting Gear: Exterior of the Van

Journey Blanket

We had a devoted “outdoors” blanket that we utilized in our hammocks, across the fireplace, for picnic lunches, stargazing, and so forth. We used the Nomadix Puffer Blanket, and cherished it.


Peak Design’s On a regular basis Backpack may be very effectively thought out, and the design allowed me to make use of it for espresso store workdays, mountaineering, and picture periods. The dividers have been significantly useful, making issues like a lens or a diaper simpler to search out within the pack. Plus, it’s the right dimension to be your under-the-seat “private merchandise” on airplanes.

Camp Chairs

The Zero Highback camp chairs from Helinox have the next again than most making them rather a lot comfier since you may lean your head again and chill out. These have been excellent seaside chairs since they have been simple to arrange and so they don’t take up a lot area within the van.

To seek out the right camp chair for you and your use, try our finest tenting chairs of 2023 patrons information.

Children’ Van Life Gear

Baby Service

Mom Carrying Kid in Osprey Poco LT Child Carrier Backpack on a Hike in a Pacific Northwest Forest
(Photograph/Jake Ferguson)

The Osprey Poco LT was our favourite child service for longer hikes. It was extra comfy and extra packable than the others we’ve used. For more information, learn my full evaluate.

For extra of the very best baby service backpacks, try our finest child carriers for mountaineering in 2023 patrons information.

Odor-Proof Sacks

We have been touring with our 2-year-old daughter, who was in diapers. We used these sacks to carry smelly diapers on hikes and within the van till we discovered a garbage can.

Van Life Apps & Expertise

My spouse and I used a number of apps to search out locations to camp/park, replenish water, discover mountaineering trails, get monetary savings on gasoline, and work remotely from the highway. Listed below are those we used each day or weekly.

Fuel Apps & Cash Financial savings on the Street

Fuel App #1

Gas Buddy Gas App Screenshots Collage
A have a look at the three alternative ways we use Fuel Buddy to economize (Photograph/Jake Ferguson)

Fuel Buddy reveals gasoline costs in a sure space which gasoline station workers and different customers replace. We used Fuel Buddy to see if it was finest to replenish at a specific station in a city and even look ahead to the subsequent city. You can even enter your vacation spot to see gasoline costs on the way in which.

There may be a number of variability for stations in the identical city. One time in California we have been in a position to save $1.30 per gallon by driving 5 minutes down the highway!

Equally, we’ve saved a bunch of cash by trying on the costs within the cities we’re headed to. A current instance had us saving $1.20 per gallon by fueling up in Arizona versus filling up 20 miles later in California. Fuel Buddy does supply a “card” to spice up financial savings, although we haven’t used it. We’ve saved at the very least $400 in gasoline utilizing Fuel Buddy to this point.

Fuel App #2

Upside Gas App Screenshots Collage
Left: A have a look at some reductions in an space; proper: Fuel and restaurant reductions; (picture/Jake Ferguson)

Upside is an app that provides money again on gasoline purchases. It companions with choose stations (in addition to eating places and grocery shops) to supply reductions to entice customers to buy there. We all the time checked Fuel Buddy first then we checked if there have been any higher offers in Upside. The 2 corporations are partnered, however I discovered Fuel Buddy extra useful.

If we discovered a deal, we “claimed” the supply and had 4 hours to make the acquisition, which was tracked by way of bank card or importing a receipt. For an excellent deal, I went just a little out of the way in which to economize. Sadly, typically it was solely 1-3 cents, which was much less attractive. In whole, we’ve earned about $100 in money again to this point.

Fuel Credit score Card(s)

I’m a kind of loopy “bank card factors” folks. In consequence, I’m all the time getting between 4-10% again on gasoline on prime of the financial savings from Fuel Buddy and Upside. We acquired the U.S. Financial institution Altitude Join Visa card earlier than our journey as our gasoline card. It gives 4% again on a regular basis.

We’ve additionally taken benefit of promos on our different playing cards, e.g. in This fall of 2022, the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa provided 10% off gasoline purchases as much as $1,500. That meant $150 again only for utilizing a special card to purchase the gasoline we have been already planning to purchase.

There are a ton of bank card choices that provide rewards for gasoline purchases. For those who actually wish to soar in, do a little analysis to see what is sensible to your journey, your life, and your credit score rating.

Tenting, Parking, Journey, and Van Life Apps

Van Life Apps

iOverlander Campsites Map
See free and paid campsites, water fill-ups, and extra on the iOverlander app; (picture/Jake Ferguson)

We used iOverlander, FreeRoam, and Harvest Hosts to search out free and low-cost locations to park/camp. iOverlander was our favourite since we might see different customers’ feedback a couple of explicit place. This helped us know if tenting was nonetheless allowed there, how the cell reception was, if it was flat, if we would have liked a 4WD to get there, highway noise, security considerations, and so forth. It additionally lists water fill-up spots, showers, and paid campgrounds. Plus, it’s free.

Create Your Personal Maps in Google Maps

With some further effort, you may create a map of your individual to visualise all the things you wish to do in an space. We favored to make these forward of time and listing all of the hikes we needed to do, tenting spots, locations to eat, and so forth. It made planning the route simpler for me after we might see all of the factors collectively on the map.

AllTrails Professional App

We used AllTrails to search out trails to hike whereas we traveled. Even higher, different customers touch upon their hikes to share path situations, wildlife sightings, and parking ideas. Understanding the path was muddy yesterday and a bear was noticed the day earlier than was very useful.

I’ve discovered that Trailforks is the most suitable choice for locating the very best mountain biking trails in a brand new space.

Van Life Expertise & Different Gadgets We Liked

Automotive Telephone Mount

Arms-free driving is the way in which to go (and in addition the regulation) so we selected a mount that’s additionally a wi-fi charger. Wi-fi charging is a sport changer within the van.

iPhone Charging on a Peak Design Phone Mount Favorite Van Life Gear
Peak Design’s cell merchandise are prime notch; (picture/Jake Ferguson)

Peak Design’s wi-fi automobile cellphone charger with the On a regular basis cellphone case was the right pairing. The charger is magnetic, so when it was time to go, I simply grabbed my cellphone and pulled it to launch. It’s a easy factor that made an enormous distinction.

Cell Sign Booster

My spouse and I have been each working from the highway and used our telephones as hotspots. Our WeBoost cell-signal booster added just a little further pace after we have been in areas with one to 2 bars of cell service.

GPS & Off-Grid Communication

We used a Garmin inReach Mini for texting household after we have been within the backcountry or off the grid. It was easy to make use of and the peace of thoughts went a great distance. We might additionally use it to contact search and rescue in an emergency.

Rechargeable Batteries

The Pale Blue Earth batteries recharge with a micro-USB cable as an alternative of a cumbersome charger, making them simpler to make use of and permitting us to pack much less when touring.

Charging Cables

3 in 1 Charging Cable Next to an iPhone and Camping Lantern in a Campervan
(Photograph/Jake Ferguson)

We would have liked to cost our iPhones and USB-A/USB-C gadgets. We ordered these three-in-one charging cords, and so they preserve our wire state of affairs easy. The cords are retractable, so that they by no means get tangled. At $12 for a pair, it’s a no brainer.

“How did you resolve what garments to convey for van life?” I acquired this major query once I instructed folks about our van life journey. As a gear junkie, I had a number of choices, however I narrowed it right down to sturdy gadgets that may very well be worn greater than as soon as and utilized in varied conditions. Under are a number of standout gadgets. 

Versatile Tops

High quality Base Layers

New this 12 months, the Arc’teryx Rho Hybrid Base Layer prime and backside have merino wool in “high-funk” areas just like the armpits and groin to assist preserve them smelling recent. The remaining is product of a fast-wicking polyester referred to as Phasic AR II. Each layers have stored me heat and dry on hikes, rides, and whereas sleeping in colder climates. In my current stink check, the highest didn’t scent but after three hikes and 5 nights of consecutive sleep.

Breathable Midlayer

After a number of months of testing GOREWEAR’s TrailKPR hybrid jacket, it nonetheless carried out effectively and appeared nice. It’s made for mountain biking in colder climate, nevertheless it was excellent for hikes and different actions. GORE added further panels to strengthen the shoulders, chest, decrease again, and higher arms and defend in opposition to wind, mud, gentle rain, and abrasion from backpacks or hip packs.

Solar Hoodie

I don’t like placing on sunscreen, so I usually reached for a breathable solar hoodie as an alternative. Free Fly has a number of material weights, and I’ve been sporting the light-weight hoodie for a number of years now. It’s the softest and most comfortable solar hoodie I’ve discovered but.

For extra solar shirt choices, try our finest solar safety shirts patrons information.

Energetic Insulation Jackets

Guy wearing a Patagonia Nano Air Jacket Favorite Van Life Gear
Patagonia Nano Air; (picture/Jake Ferguson)

I’ve fallen in love with any such jacket over the previous decade. It’s made to breathe effectively throughout exercise however stored me heat once I stopped. I personal a number of, and I introduced Patagonia’s Nano-Air for increased exertion actions and the Proton LT from Arc’teryx once I want extra heat and sturdiness.

Do-All Bottoms

Journey Pants

For those who convey good pants you don’t have to pack as a lot of them. I’ve two favorites right here: Western Rise Evolution pants and prAna’s Brion Slim pants. Each are nice for journey, mountaineering, climbing, and so forth. I packed two of every, plus some denims, and I didn’t want the rest.

Versatile Denims

Denims are comfortable and don’t give off the “yeah, I hike rather a lot” vibes like another pants. I’ve owned a number of pairs from DUER and introduced its newest Keep Dry Denim Denims on the journey as a result of they’re versatile. A gusseted crotch helped with mobility, the LYCRA spandex helped stretch, and a DWR coating stored gentle precipitation off.

Heat Pants

You realize that feeling while you acquired, and fell in love with, your first down jacket? It’s the identical with pants! I just lately acquired some Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer puffy pants, and let me let you know, this luxurious merchandise was well worth the splurge. I’ve been utilizing them whereas hanging within the van at night time and stargazing in Sedona, Ariz., recently — that further heat was great.

Woman Wearing Glerups Slippers Sitting on Her Bed While Reading a Book in Her Campervan in Joshua Tree National Park Favorite Van Life Gear
(Photograph/Jake Ferguson)

Van Slippers

I’m not often a slipper man, so I made the identical mistake with slippers as rain boots. My spouse had them, and I didn’t. Effectively, now, I put on Glerups day-after-day. It was good to have a chosen van shoe that was comfortable and simple to slip on. 

Quick Rain Boots

I initially didn’t convey these, however my spouse did, and I instantly turned envious. They slipped on rapidly, labored in nearly any climate, and have been simple to wash. Whether or not it’s a wet or snowy day, within the desert or operating into the gasoline station, I’ll put on these.

Distinctive Van Life Gadgets We Love

These things have been surprises. We didn’t anticipate to love them or use them as usually as we did. Discovering a number of gems is all the time enjoyable, particularly once they aren’t too costly.

Van Organizers & Storage

Obie Organizer Bungee Cord Storage in a Van Life Campervan
The bungee web holding our first assist equipment, trash luggage, and an emergency wag bag in lifeless area beneath our sink; (picture/Jake Ferguson)

Organized Obie Mesh Organizers

We used these to maximise space for storing in in any other case unusable locations within the van. They arrive in varied styles and sizes, and we put in 5 of them to maintain us organized.

Luno Shoe Storage

This nifty bag is supposed to stash smelly footwear outdoors your car when automobile tenting. It has magnets to connect to the aspect of your automobile. We really used it contained in the van since we’ve got some uncovered metallic, and it held some further garments in an area that might in any other case go unused.

Luno Seatback Organizer in a Campervan Favorite Van Life Gear
(Photograph/Jake Ferguson)

Luno Seatback Organizer

We used it to stash our wallets, keys, park passes, quarters, and different gadgets we needed to maintain helpful. It’s a easy merchandise however I’m stoked we had it, and we used it day-after-day.  

Versatile Garments Organizers

There are a bunch of choices on-line for these organizers. We used them for all of our garments, and those with dividers have been significantly nice for socks, underwear, T-shirts, and children’ garments.

Magnets & Velcro

We acquired artistic with each of those, so preserve them in thoughts to your travels. We used Velcro to safe our cleaning soap holder on the counter and to maintain our fan distant from disappearing. We used these magnetic pencil holders to carry glasses and hair clips.

Wellness on the Street

Mini Again Massager

My neck holds a number of rigidity, and we didn’t have room within the van for our chiropractor. I used this whereas I drove/rode once I had aches in my neck and shoulders. It’s compact and acquired the job finished.

CBD Curler

I want a roll-on possibility from cbdMD within the van so I don’t get my palms soiled. It saves just a little little bit of water and it’s simpler. If I had a nagging ache, I put it on earlier than mattress to go to sleep sooner.

Important Oils

There are many makes use of for important oils, from making the van scent higher to emphasize aid and extra. My major standout was DiGize from Younger Residing. If I had an upset abdomen, I rolled this on my abdomen, and I felt rather a lot higher in minutes.

Dietary supplements

Gnarly Nutrition Supplements in a Campervan
(Photograph/Jake Ferguson)

We had time for extra actions within the van, which additionally led to sore muscle tissue. Taking protein after any exercise helped cut back soreness and sped up restoration. I’ve a spot behind the van devoted to Gnarly dietary supplements. I used to be significantly stoked concerning the whey protein, BCAAs, and the pre-workout.

Extra Nice Journey Gadgets

Pee Fabric

That is an odd merchandise, however hear me out. We don’t have a rest room within the van so we every had a Nalgene water bottle for after we wanted to pee at night time. Pee cloths are particularly nice for van life girls (although guys can use them as effectively). Use it in place of bathroom paper, fold it in half, and snap it closed. That folding and snapping stored all the things sanitary. The material is infused with silver to assist lower down on odor, and we haven’t seen any funk in any respect. Sure, we wash it repeatedly.  

Journey Books

There’s one thing nice about holding a guide and studying a couple of new place. It was nice for doing analysis after we have been out of cell vary. Yeah, we used blogs to search out locations to go and issues to do, however we additionally used Lonely Planet books a ton.

Wrapping It Up

There you may have it! A listing of a few of the gear we used every week to maintain us organized, comfortable, and protected as we traveled in our van. For those who’re contemplating van life and even an prolonged highway journey, a few of these will come in useful for you. And, when you hit the highway, I’m certain you’ll discover another gadgets to fall in love with.