When your living space is tiny, you don’t have room for subpar van life gadgets that just take up space. Everything needs to earn its keep! But which van life accessories are legit and which are gimicky wastes of money?
I put together this ultimate list of the best camper van accessories based on my own experience building out my van and living on the road full-time.
I don’t deem any of these “campervan essentials”. To me, an essential means something you can’t live without. And while the following campervan accessories are great to have on-hand, they won’t make or break your van life experience. But dang, will they sure be nice to have…let’s dive in!
Outdoor Living Van Life Accessories
CLIQ Camping Chairs
The CLIQ camping chair is one of the best camper van accessories. It packs up as small as a water bottle and weighs just 3.5 lbs, but provides optimal support. I think of it as a backpacking-camp lounge hybrid chair. It outperforms the $5 grocery store camping chairs I’d been using because it’s a lot easier to transport, fits in my backpack, and is lightweight while still being sturdy and comfortable. Read my full CLIQ chair review here.
Foldable Camping Table
I use my camping table for everything from meal prepping, washing dishes, eating meals at, using as my work desk, letting laundry air-dry, random arts and crafts…the list goes on. A must have feature is the height-adjustable aluminum legs; these sturdy and lightweight telescoping legs allow me to use the table for whatever activity I need. I usually make the table taller when using it as my desk and then lower it when using as my meal table.
Luno Life Campervan Window Screens
These mesh van window screens are a must for campervan life. They add an extra layer of privacy, keep bugs out of my van, prevent the van’s interior from baking in the sun, and allow me to keep a nice breeze circulating through. They are slightly stretchy, somewhat see-through, super durable, and stay very secure thanks to the strong sewn-in magnets. I love my Luno Life van window screens.
Luci Inflatable Solar Lanterns
The Luci inflatable solar lanterns are a stylish and fun way to light up your outdoor space. Use the clip-loop to hang them from trees, your van, awning tent, etc. and choose from three different brightness settings. These lanterns put out impressive light and recharge via the small solar panel on the top. But this 2.0 version has a USB port, allowing you to recharge with a USB cable as well. The lanterns are lightweight, water-resistant and collapsible.
Jackery 240 Portable Power Station
While you can choose from all different sized batteries, the modest Jackery 240 works great for me. It allows me to keep my laptop constantly charged-up. It comes with a car outlet and wall outlet charger, but I highly recommend getting the portable solar panels so you can charge it off the grid. With 2 USB ports, one DC and one AC port, the Jackery 240 covers my lean power needs. Check out my in-depth review here.
ToGo Portable Solar Panels
The ToGo 100W solar panels can be part of your regular power supply or used as a backup power supply. Another one of my favorite campervan accessories that I use nearly daily in conjunction with the Jackery 240 portable battery. This solar panel set features 2 USB outputs as well as an Anderson connector and 3 different sizes of DC connectors, making it compatible with nearly every popular solar generator or solar panel on the market. It folds up small, is lightweight and ultra portable.
CGEAR Sand-Free Outdoor Mat
The patented sand-free technology of CGEAR camping mats makes these mats a must have camper van accessory. Every campervan owner knows the struggle of tracking dirt and dust into their van, or having to take off their shoes EVERY time they get in the van. Lay a CGEAR mat outside your van as a “deck” and you significantly reduce tracking in dirt and who knows what else. Originally designed for military use, the mat’s high density weave allows sand, dirt and dust to fall through without coming back up.
Moonshade Camper Van Awning
If you live in your van full time, you know the importance of finding shade at the drop of a hat. The Moonshade portable van awning is a simple, super lightweight and compact lean-to awning that fits nearly any size campervan or overlanding vehicle. It’s more budget-friendly than most other awnings on the market without compromising quality. The Moonshade comes with suction-cup anchors, but you can also buy magnetic, adhesive, rail (for roof rack) or Sprinter-specific anchors separately. Read my full Moonshade awning review here.
Moon Unit RV Van Edition Tent
The Moon Unit RV Van Edition tent basically doubles the space of your campervan living area. This breathable but rugged tent allows you to mix van camping with tent camping because it can also be used as a free-standing tent. The tent is specifically designed for high-roof vans, such as Sprinters, Ford Transits and Promasters. Most van tents can only accommodate lower-roof vans, but the RV Van Edition uses a special connector to adjust the height of the tent, allowing it to connect to nearly any van on the market.
Selk'bag Sleeping Bag Suit
The Selk’bag sleeping bag suit has become my unofficial van lifer uniform. It’s so easy to throw on while getting out of bed on chilly mornings, wearing around campfires on cool evenings, or even wearing to bed on super cold nights in my camper van. The Original Selk’bag suit can handle temps between 35-44 Degrees F / 2-6 Degrees C and comes with zip-off removable foot booties, a hood, and fold-over hand covers. Check out my full Selk’bag review here.
Kitchen Van Life Accessories
Coleman Camping Stove
The Coleman 2-burner propane camping stove is ‘ol reliable. A simple, durable camping stove that puts out serious heat. With just two knobs that set the flame size, it’s very straightforward to use. I have mine attached to the kitchen “tower” inside my van, but I can also slide it off its tracks and use it outside. I use this camping stove every single day, to boil water for coffee and usually breakfast and dinner. Lightweight and easy to use, big fan.
Propane Adapter Hose
It may not be glamorous but this propane hose can make the use of your camping stove much more seamless (and less expensive). I use it on my stove to attach it to a 20 lb. propane tank that lasts me a year. No changing out expensive small 16 oz. propane tanks every other week. The propane tank is extremely secured to the interior of my van, underneath a solid oak bench.
BougeRV 12V Fridge
The 30-Quart BougeRV 12V fridge is designed for the ups and downs of van life. It can handle up to 30-degree tilts, keeps a consistent internal temp despite whatever the ambient temperature is, and even has a “freezer” mode. It can be powered via a 12V or 120V outlet and comes with both types of power cables. Say goodbye to waterlogged cooler food–read my full BougeRV fridge review here.
GSI Microlite Javapress
This Microlite Javapress is a game changer for making coffee (or loose leaf tea) every morning. It’s made of three pieces: the insulated mug, mesh filter, and lid. Simply pour your coffee grounds into the mug, add hot water, slowly insert the mesh filter, and let sit for a few minutes and BOOM: a great cup of hot coffee (or tea) that only dirty’d one dish and will stay hot for (literally) hours. Oh, and the screw-on lid has saved me from numerous spills as I move around my small camper van.
Collapsible Pour Over Coffee Dripper
If the Microlite Javapress isn’t your jam because you like the feeling of holding a hot, steaming mug of joe in the AM, check out this silicone collapsible pour over coffee dripper. Simply place the dripper over your mug, add a filter and your coffee grounds, then slowly pour hot water over the grounds. This coffee dripper is the ultimate space-saving, indestructible, stealth way to make coffee.
Cast Iron Griddle
A nice cast iron griddle is a great alternative to cooking on a skillet or pan. It soaks up flavors, cooks more evenly, and (the best part) you only have to rinse with hot water and wipe it down–no deep soap-cleaning required. Because all van lifers know the dread of more dishes to clean…
Powdered Butter (or Other Food)
This huge container of powdered butter has 204 servings, which covers my butter needs for a LONG time without needing refrigeration (and saves me lots of money). You can have any staple food item in powder form on-hand– it’s a must have for longterm off grid living. Milk, honey, cheese and eggs are other popular powdered foods. Check out my mega list of powdered foods.
Enamelware Camping Dishes
These steel, enamelware camping dishes may look like a blast from the past, but they’re durable, functional, and have stood the test of time. I used plastic camping dishes for over a year living in my camper van and I don’t recommend it. The plastic developed dirty, almost grease-like spots from where they would rub against each other while driving. The plastic scratches easily and doesn’t clean as thoroughly as these enamel dishes.
Reusable Bamboo Paper Towels
These heavy-duty bamboo paper towels are void of the harsh chemicals that other cotton-based paper towels contain and can be washed and reused up to 120 times. Bamboo is one of the fastest-growing trees on the planet and doesn’t require pesticides or fertilizers to grow, making it more eco-friendly. They’re a great alternative to both traditional paper towels and dish clothes.
Bathroom & Hygiene Van Life Accessories
BOXIO Portable Toilet
The BOXIO portable van toilet can either be your full-time van toilet or just a backup emergency toilet. It can function as an eco-friendly composting toilet, but for half the price of other full-fledged composting toilets. It separates liquids and solids so you can dump the pee canister as needed and then use hemp pellets over solids to dry them out, or alternatively, you can use a biodegradable waste bag to empty solids per use. It’s also a handy makeshift camp chair when not in use!
Summer Solar Shower Bag
The Summer solar shower bag trumps other outdoor shower bag designs. Its handle is adjustable so you can tighten it to hang off your campervan’s back door–and it also has a clip. Maybe there’s a thick tree branch you want to hang it off of–simply unlatch the clip and loop it around. Also the shower spout uses a pull in/pull out stop method so I can stop or start the flow of water with one hand. Which is great, since I’m usually holding a wash cloth or razor with my other hand.
Outdoor Shower Mat
This raised shower mat is a perfect companion to the solar shower bag. Set it up outside your camper van, maybe at the back doors or side door, and hang the shower bag from one of the doors. The shower mat features no-slip grips on its bottom, 3 protective coats to make it waterproof, and weighs about 3 pounds. The raised shower mat saves your feet and lower legs from kick-up mud, grass and weeds that would otherwise stick to you (trust me, wearing sandals isn’t enough).
Dr. Bronner's Pure-Castile Soap
Dr. Bronner’s is one of my favorite van camping accessories because it can be used for so many things: washing dishes, washing my hair or body, washing dust or dirt from my camper van..and the best part? Dr. Bronner’s is made of organic oils and doesn’t contain synthetic detergents, preservatives, or foaming agents, so it’s eco-friendly. This is really important when washing dishes or showering outside and soapy water runs on the ground.
Microfiber Beach Towels
A microfiber towel is an awesome camper van accessory because it takes up way less space than a full-sized cotton bath towel, is more absorbent, and dries much faster. Even though it’s technically a “beach” towel, I use my microfiber towel for showers at my local gym because it packs up so small in my gym bag. Say goodbye to mildew-smelling towels that never feel quite fully dry. And if you do use it at the beach, it’s sand-repellent so you don’t carry sand back into the van.
Biodegradable Body Wipes
Another favorite of my van camping accessories is biodegradable body wipes. Sometimes you want to refresh without having to find a gym or body of water to shower in, or set up your portable shower. These wipes are great at wiping down the most “critical” areas, for a temporary refresh. Or sometimes, you have a thin layer of dust all over you from simply the wind picking it up in desert or forest areas. Wipes are great for getting off that layer of grime!
Foldable Camping Shovel
I’m just gonna say it: this foldable camping shovel is the ultimate poop shovel. Sure you can use a portable toilet but nothing beats breathing in the fresh air when nature calls. Simply dig a cat hole at least 6 inches deep and carry out your toilet paper. This shovel is relatively lightweight, super durable, and packs up nice and small. It can also help you dig out your camper van if it gets stuck in mud, snow or sand…really, anytime you may need a good ‘ol shovel.
Van Life Safety Accessories
First Aid Kit
This all-purpose first aid kit can save you from (best case) a trip into town to buy medical supplies, and (worst case) from a life-threatening injury if you’re stranded out in the boonies. Since many vanlifers travel solo to off-the-grid locations, it’s critical to carry some kind of medical emergency kit. I recommend this hard-shell case over soft pouch-style first aid kits so that it keeps the integrity of all the medical items despite being jostled around in your camper van.
Portable Air Compressor (12V DC / 120V AC)
From flat tires, inflating air mattresses or sports balls, even blowing dust out of your van–a portable air compressor is one of the best campervan accessories. Especially if you plan on traveling to the beaches of Baja, Mexico, where it’s very common to get stuck in the sand. This portable air compressor can run off your van’s 12V DC outlet or an AC outlet if you have a more robust power system. It won’t fill tires FAST, but it WILL fill them. I bought this hard shell case to protect it from the elements.
Off-Road Traction Boards
These off-road traction boards can help you get unstuck from mud, sand, snow–even a really deep pothole. They’re an essential for your roadside emergency kit since you never know when surprise intermittent weather may show up or a public lands road you came in on gets washed out. The boards are impressively flexible for how durable they are, so don’t be afraid to really put them to the test.
Baton Stun Gun
This long baton stun gun is a smart piece of van life gear to keep by your bedside every night. The stun gun is at the tip of the baton, so you can keep a bit of distance between you and the potential threat while still using the stun gun. I’ve envisioned scenarios where a perpetrator may try to open a van door or smash a window while I’m in the van, and I think this style of stun gun would protect me the best. It also has a super bright flashlight, which is always handy to have in the middle of night.
Pocket-Size Stun Gun
This pocket-size stun gun is a stealthy way to protect yourself while walking around say, a campground, or going on a hike, or really anywhere that you want an extra layer of protection. I recommend wearing a jacket or some kind of sweater with a big front pocket so you can quickly and easily grab it if needed. The stun gun is super lightweight, rechargeable, and also includes a really loud panic alarm and flashlight.
This fire extinguisher doesn’t need much explanation–fire safety should always be taken seriously, whether in a house or camper van. Be sure to tightly secure the fire extinguisher to the interior of your van in some kind of holding case so it doesn’t compromise its integrity.
Magnetic Spare Key Hider
Keep a spare key hidden deep on the exterior of your camper van with this extremely strong magnetic key holder. I recommend hiding it farther underneath your van than just a wheel well; that may be too obvious. You never know when you may accidentally lock yourself out of your rig.
Bouncie Vehicle GPS Tracker
The Bouncie GPS Car Tracker plugs into your vehicle’s OBD port and provides loads of detail about the vehicle’s exact location, its battery power, how many “hard stops” it has taken, and so much more…in the event your van was stolen, this would be mighty handy to have. I actually keep one in my van while renting it out to keep tabs in case renters need help, and so I can get mileage estimates. The Bouncie device is $90 and there’s a $9/month fee for the data collected by 4G LTE.
Health & Wellbeing Van Life Accessories
Portable White Noise Maker
No question you’ll hear all sorts of bumps and thumps in the night when you live in a camper van. Use this portable, USB-rechargeable white noise maker to help drown out sounds that could otherwise keep you awake. Sleep is sacred and should be protected at all costs.
Travel Yoga Mat
This ultra-thin yoga mat with a carrying case is great for outdoor or gym use. It packs up super small and can be used for yoga, aerobics, pilates, meditation, stretching, or even as some extra seat cushion padding. Its ultra-suede material also helps prevent the mat from getting slippery from sweat.
Resistance bands are a must have on your van journey because they are such a low-maintenance way to get a workout in. They’re super lightweight and compact, inexpensive, come in different resistance levels, and can be used for anything from lower/upper body strength training, stretching, stress relief exercises, aerobics, and anything else you decide to use them for! Check out my other top-rated travel workout equipment.
A hydro flask will keep liquids as cool (or as hot) as when you first poured it in, for hours. This is especially nice on hot summer days when your camper van feels like an oven but your water will still be cold and refreshing. Or on cold winter days when you need that coffee as hot as possible!
You spend a lot of time moving around, being in the sun or at high elevation when you live van life. All of those factors can seriously dehydrate you throughout the day. An electrolyte powder supplement like Liquid IV is a great way to make sure you stay hydrated and headache-free.
SPF Sun Protection Shirt
Save your skin (and the environment) from harsh sunscreen chemicals by opting for an SPF long-sleeve shirt. Not only is a sun shirt a more eco-friendly option, but it also prevents you from having to wash off all of that lotion at the end of the day. This is important when showers aren’t always available in van life!
Memory Foam Mattress Topper
A cool-gel memory foam mattress topper can make a night and day difference in your quality of sleep. Especially on hot summer nights in a camper van when the extra cooling feature of the topper can prevent overheating. Sometimes camper van mattresses aren’t the best, so a nice mattress topper can really help.
Need More Nomad Gift Ideas? Check Out These Gift Cards...
Buying gifts for nomads is HARD. They have limited space and usually already have a system down with all of their necessities. That’s where gift cards come in clutch–they don’t take up valuable space and nomads can use them at their own pace or need. Check out my roundup of top gift cards for nomads and vanlifers.