Prior to launch, knowing what things we really needed and what things we could do without was a definite stressor. To help anyone that may find themselves in the same boat, here is a list of a few things that have definitely added value to our fulltime RVing experience. Although not an all-encompassing list, it is a good start…
Ed. We aren’t getting any kickbacks from any of these companies. These are simply things that work for us. The links do go to our Amazon Associates account, which will give us a small payment for each item you buy—it doesn’t cost you anything.
- Portable Generator – We have a Yamaha EF2400iSHC Portable Generator that we purchased to use with our previous trailer, a 2006 Keystone Outback 21RS. We chose this model generator because we wanted the ability to run the air conditioner in our old trailer and, at $1,400 and 75-lbs, it was a cheaper and lighter alternative to purchasing two Honda EU2000i generators or one Honda EU3000i From the Yamaha Website: “This model boasts High Current output which is designed specifically to increase motor starting capability and to improve air conditioner starting. This High Current model starts most high efficiency 13,500 btu AC in temperatures up to 110° F.” Since we already had the generator and our front A/C is 13,500 btu (our rear A/C is 15,000 btu), we decided to keep this Yamaha. With our solar set-up, we have not used the generator that many times, only really needing it seven times in the last year-and-a-half. Every time I’ve considered getting rid of the generator, we end up needing it due to a long stretch of clouds (e.g., Chicago) or because we’re sitting in a heavily wooded campsite (e.g., Acadia National Park). At this point, I wouldn’t do this without a generator. However, because we haven’t used it to run our A/C, if we did decide to unload it, we would get a smaller, lighter one that takes up a little less real estate in the back of the truck.
- Grill – We have an older Weber Q2200 Gas Grill that I modified to run off the Airstream’s Auxiliary LP connection. Much like our generator, we purchased this grill for our old camper. At times it’s a little cumbersome and I’ve considered something smaller and more portable, but it continues to serve our needs just fine.
- Camp Stove – We use our Camp Chef Everest High Output 2 Burner Camp Stove quite frequently when the weather is nice and we’re dry camping or we are without water or sewer hook-ups. The majority of our usage has been to boil a pot of water for outside dish washing (we wash and rinse our dishes in dishpans so we don’t prematurely fill our grey tank). We don’t cook outside on it that often, but we use it enough that we wouldn’t want to be without it. We cook on it when we’re dry camping and we don’t want to heat-up the inside of the trailer or if we’re making something that has the potential to create a huge mess in the kitchen (e.g., boiling lobsters in New England, frying shrimp in New Orleans, or frying brussel sprouts in Virginia).
- Lamp – We have had the Fatboy Edison the Petit Lamp for almost two years and love it. This small, rechargeable LED lamp sports a warm glow that is great for either hanging out inside the trailer or outside at the campsite. You can get different shades for it to jazz up your rig or campsite. The lamp was a little pricey, but it’s been a great addition.
- Anderson Levelers – These are our “go-to” levelers. They are so much easier than the Lynx Leveling blocks (as well as 4-pack of the Lynx Caps) that we used with our old trailer and early-on with the Airstream. I’ve considered ditching the Lynx blocks, but I still regularly use them with the stabilizers (and from time-to-time to level the trailer when the Andersons won’t do it (e.g., raising a side up more than 4-inches or parking on really wet grass or super smooth asphalt—the Andersons to slip on really slick surfaces—so stacking up the Lynx blocks are the way to go.)) I haven’t kept an accurate count, but I’ve probably had to resort to employing the Lynx blocks for leveling twice in 18-months of fulltiming. We carry three 10-packs of Lynx blocks with us, but we could easily make do with just one or perhaps two 10-packs.
- Anderson Rapid Jack – When we launched, I considered getting one of these because I loved our Anderson Levelers so much. However, I figured that I could utilize the truck’s jack to lift the trailer if required. After jacking the trailer up a couple of times, I realized that I wanted something safer and easier than relying on the kindness of strangers with a hydraulic floor jack or precariously stacking up Lynx leveling blocks so that my truck jack could reach the frame. I picked up the Anderson Rapid Jack in July 2017 and used it a month later when I inadvertently broke the stem off one of the wheels in a DIY car wash in western Washington; I’m sold. It’s a little clunky to carry around, but I easily managed to find a spot to store it that wasn’t in the way, while still being easy to reach when needed.
- Instant Pot – We have 5-quart Instant Pot DUO 7-in-1 Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker and absolutely love it. When we have electric hook-ups (or even when we’re running the generator while dry camping), we use the Instant Pot at least 2-3 times per week. We can run the Instant Pot on our Inverter, but haven’t yet because it’s 900W and would quickly drain our batteries—we would need ample sunshine to replenish the amp-hours consumed by the Instant Pot.
- Coffee – I L-O-V-E coffee. I need some every day and if I don’t get it in the morning, things don’t go well for anyone… And, after almost 27-years in the Navy, I know without a doubt that I H-A-T-E bad coffee—especially bad Navy coffee! I’m totally secure in my manhood and have no qualms admitting that I enjoy good coffee. During my last two shipboard tours, even though the Mess Attendants delivered a carafe of coffee to my stateroom twice per day, I still took time out after lunch to hand-grind and brew up a cup of good coffee via my Aeropress and secret coffee bean stash. While I don’t drink as much coffee now that I’m retired from the Navy, I still enjoy a couple of cups in the morning and sometimes one in the afternoon. Besides having a fresh supply of good beans on-hand at all times, I have a couple of systems that I employ to make my Cups ‘o Joe.
- Hand Grinder – Good coffee beans that are freshly ground are key to a good cup of coffee. I enjoy grinding my beans by hand and find it to be a comforting, Zen-like morning ritual. I have two grinders. My primary grinder is the 100g Haro Skerton Ceramic Coffee Mill and it stays in the trailer and gets 99.9-percent of the usage. My other grinder is the Porlex Mini Stainless Steel Grinder that is stored in my portable coffee making kit for riverside breaks while fly-fishing. My riverside kit also includes a Jet Boil and an Aeropress.
- Chemex – We used to mess around with a Stainless Steel French Press, but discarded that method for the superior taste and clean-up that comes with Chemex. The Chemex is a pour-over system that results in clean, bright coffee with easy clean-up via the throw-away paper filter. With French Press methods, you have to deal with all the leftover coffee grounds that inevitably end-up in the grey tank. I use the Chemex for 99.9-percent of my coffee making.
- Stovetop Kettle – To boil water in the trailer, we use the 1-liter Bonavita Stovetop Kettle. This little kettle looks delicate, but we’ve been using it for 18-months straight and it’s a player. The gooseneck is one of the keys to a good pour-over on the Chemex. We had a Bonavita Electric Kettle that we used in our sticks & bricks house and brought with us on the Big Big Trip, but it broke about 8-months into our journey. The electric kettle was great because you could easily program the temperature to 200-degrees (boiling water isn’t the best for coffee, you want it about 200-degrees), but it was dropped too many times and the electric base couldn’t stand the rigors of the full-time RV life. The Stovetop Kettle is simple and durable. Once the water’s boiling, I just wait a few minutes to let it cool a bit before pouring it on my coffee.
- Kitchen Scale – Finally, all the previous coffee appurtenances would be useless without a quality kitchen scale. I use the Jennings CJ4000 4000g x 0.5g Digital Scale to ensure I maintain the Golden Ratio (17.42 : 1) when measuring out my water to coffee beans—it makes a world of difference. If you’re not sure what the Golden Ratio is, you can read about it in this Atlantic article from 2013. The authors—two former Marine Corps Infantry Officers—also wrote a very informative book, Perfect Coffee at Home that I highly recommend if you want to up your coffee game!
- Front Bike Rack – We rocked an old hand-me-down rooftop Yakima Bike Rack for Owen’s bike during the first 16-months of our journey. Our Airstream-mounted Fiamma Bike Rack can only hold two bikes, so we kept my bike and Anna’s bike back there. However, when we wanted to take our bikes somewhere with the truck, it always involved unloading the back of the truck to fit the adult bikes in the back. In the fall of 2017, we upgraded Owen’s old 16-inch Electra bicycle to a 20-inch Trek. This new (used) bike no longer fit on our rooftop rack, so I installed a front-mounted hitch and got a Yakima Ridgeback 4-Bike Hitch Rack. When towing, we store Owen’s bike on the front of the truck and if we want to take all three bikes somewhere, we relocate the hitch to the rear of the truck and away-we-go. We lock Owen’s bike onto the rack using the Yakima HandCuff Bike Lock.
- Yakima Box – For the first year of our travels, we kept our trusted Yakima Sky Box on the top of the truck. As we paired down our stuff, we were able to go without it for the next six months. I’m not sure if we’ll need the box for our Alaska summer, but if we don’t, I may unload it on Craigslist.
- Wheel Step – Back when we had the Yakima Box and/or Owen’s bike on top of the truck, we utilized the Performance Tool Wheel Step to easily reach the truck’s roof (this thing was great—it is light-weight, durable, and easily folded up for quick storage in the back of the truck).
- Reflectix Foil Insulation – If you’re going to be camping in cold weather, something I consider a “must-have” is Reflectix Foil Insulation. Using three rolls of Reflectix, I’ve created insulated inserts for all our windows that I install between the windows and screens. I usually install on all but two or three windows (when they’re installed on all the windows, being inside the Airstream is similar to being inside a dark cave). I’ve also made insulated inserts for the skylight, the panoramic oval porthole windows, and the ceiling air vents. When we’re not using them, I store them flat under the bunk bed. I’ve used Reflectix to insulate portions of the outside-accessible storage compartments too.
- Hypervent Condensation Prevention Matting – When camping in humid or cold environments, condensation build-up under the mattresses becomes an issue. If not dealt with, mold will result.
- Turkish Towels – Regular bath and hand towels are great, but never really dry when you’re living in your Airstream fulltime. Someone recommended these Turkish towels and they’ve been great. We use these for both bath towels and have smaller ones that we use for hand towels.
- Dehumidifier – Speaking of condensation, we find that we’re almost constantly battling the Laws of Thermodynamics. One thing that helps is this Eva-Dry Dehumidifier. We keep it in the bathroom since this is the wettest place in the rig and it helps control the moisture.
- Small Portable Heaters – For camping in cold weather when we have electric hook-ups, we have two heaters that we like to use to augment our Heat Pumps and Furnace. This is much quieter than the heat pumps (unlike the 2015 and later model Airstreams, we don’t have ducted A/C in our trailer so our Rooftop units are loud and can be annoying if you’re trying to watch a movie, have a conversation, etc.)
- Our primary and favorite electric heater is the Puraflame Clara 9″ Mini Portable Electric Stove Heater. We like to place this heater up by the dinette and not only does it add warmth, but it also adds a very nice ambiance to our living space. The faux flames can be turned on/off with or without the heater element energized. It’s super cheesy, but it’s the right kind of cheesy!
- When it’s really cold, we also break out our 1,500Watt Delonghi Ceramic Heater.