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The 2020 RV Miles RV and Camping Gear Guide is here!
We didn’t think this one was going to get off the ground, but here we are. Though delayed, the camping season is full speed ahead and a record-breaking number of people are getting on the road in an attempt to safely spend time outdoors.
If you’re ready to head to the campground, our 2020 guide is the perfect addition to your camp life. Filled with some of our favorite things, and a few honorable mentions from RV Miles Facebook Group members, this year’s list is sure to make your next adventure a spectacular one.
Want to hear Jason and Abby break down all the reasons why these items are on the list? Listen to Episode 148 of the RV Miles Podcast for the full discussion:
Have you checked out full episodes of the show on YouTube? Now is a perfect time to get a good look at some of the items mentioned on this year’s gear guide:
Blind Spot Detection for RVs
Blindspot detection has become one of the most effective safety systems invented for cars in decades. Now, it’s available aftermarket for any motorhome or trailer owner. The Cub RV Blind Spot Detection System can be installed on most RVs in an afternoon. For trailer owners, there’s a disconnect at the hitch, just like your lights. The installation takes moderate automotive wiring skills (and the instructions aren’t very detailed), but if you don’t feel comfortable taking it on, it can be installed by a dealer or probably even a car stereo shop. Our only gripe is that the dashboard display in the towable version is quite a bit larger than it needs to be, but you can remove it when you’re not pulling a trailer.
Cook Like the Pros
If you love cast iron cookware but don’t want to haul the weight, consider Made In’s Blue Carbon Steel Frying Pan. The list of famous chefs using this exact pan is impressive, and that’s because it offers cast iron’s heat retention, seasoning, and non-stick properties with the heat control, lightness, and cooking speed of stainless steel. The seasoning process is very forgiving, and you can throw it right on the campfire, grill, or propane griddle if you want to cook with it outdoors. It’s the only stovetop pan we carry in our RV.
A Better Bandage
We’ve never liked opening up our fancy first aid kit just to pull out a small bandage, especially when our kids go through several a week. Instead, we stock up on the absolutely phenomenal Welly bandages. These flex fabric wound-warriors stay on for a very long time, and are so stylish. Light years better than your drug-store variety. Check out Welly’s “Human Repair Kit,” which comes with 30 bandages, 3 antibiotic packets, 3 anti-itch ointments, and 6 hand sanitizer packets. What more do you usually need at a campground?
Campground electricity can be untrustworthy at best, making surge protectors with voltage protection a no-brainer. But what do you do when the campground voltage is low? Just camp without electricity? A Voltage Booster from Hughes Autoformers is the tried-and-true solution. They’re pricey and heavy (due to the large copper coils inside), but you can’t beat the ability to turn a dangerous 104 volts to a safe 118 volts. It also offers the basic protection any good surge protector should, from reversed polarity wiring, surges, and so-on. RV Miles listeners can save 10% off their purchase with code RVMILES at HughesAutoformers.com
If you’re nervous about driving with the propane on due to the chance for leaks in a crash, worry no more with the GasStop. This device is a 100% fail-safe that shuts your propane off instantly when it detects a leak. It also has a built-in gauge to let you know when you’re running low. You’ll need one for each propane tank on your rig.
Documenting your RV journey is a big part of the adventure, and a drone is a great way to see a new perspective. The new DJI Mavic Air 2 is probably the most advanced consumer drone out there, offering buttery-smooth 60 frames-per-second slow motion in 4K clarity. It’s incredibly easy to fly, and DJI’s technology shows you on a map where it’s legal to fly.
Denim Made for the Mountains
LLBean has been a supporter of RV Miles for a long time, so we’ve been lucky enough to try a wide array of their first-class clothing. Two of the best, hands down, are the Men’s Mountain Town Cordura Jeans and the Women’s Performance Stretch Jeans. These rugged jeans are made for adventure and we’ve put them to good use in National Parks and urban streets. Durable, and comfortable they’ll help keep you going all day long, plus there’s even a hidden reflective patch when you roll up the ankles for those night-time rides or walks.
The Classiest Camp Chair
If you’re sick of camp chairs that don’t hold up, check out the stylish and well-built Blue Ridge Chair from it’s namesake company, Blue Ridge Chair Works. We’ve been singing the praises of their Landing Pad for years, and now, we’re really enjoying the Blue Ridge Chair at the campground, the beach, or wherever. It’s very portable and will have you standing out in the crown as someone who knows how to camp.
If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly chair option with some room to move around in, we’re thrilled with Walmart’s Ozark Trail Oversized Director’s Chair. After a hundred rips, broken rivets, and bent legs, we’ll never buy one of those canvas quad chairs again. Directors chairs are just better built. But don’t get the smaller version. Get the 600lb capacity big one. Trust us, even if you’re petite, you’ll love how durable and roomy it is. And the built-in side table is incredibly handy.
Tried and true, the good old Swiss Army Knife from Victorinox is still the best pocket knife around. RV Miles editor Jason carved 4 hiking sticks with one during shelter-in-place, without any noticeable difference in sharpness. It’s hard to understand how perfect these little machines are until you have one in your hands. It’s also a great gift.
While we’re talking knives, if you want something a little heartier, but don’t want to look like Crocodile Dundee, check out the excellent Grohmann’s outdoor knives, made in Nova Scotia. We love the #3 Yachtsman, which comes with a marlin spike which is really helpful for opening up knots. It’s a favorite of the Canadian Coast Guard, but we think it’s just as much at home on the trail or in the campground.
Classic Camp Bottle
If you’ve never used the timeless Stanley Vaccum Bottle to bring hot coffee or soup along with you on a day’s adventure, you’re missing out. They’ll keep liquids hot or cold all day long and then some. We have the L.L.Bean 20oz, hammered green version, but for modern style, take a look at the matte black edition. Either way, the feeling of opening that hot coffee at the base of a snowy mountain early in the morning is what camping dreams are made of.
Ozark trail to the rescue again for the budget-conscious: The Ozark Trail 24-Ounce Double-wall Vacuum Sealed Stainless Steel Water Bottle isn’t exactly for hot coffee, but it will keep your water cold much longer than a plastic water bottle. We’ve tried every water bottle design under the sun, and for around $8, this one’s hard to beat. Comes in 5 colors.
Tongue-Mount Bike Rack
If you have a traditional travel trailer, hopefully you’re avoiding attaching a bike rack to the rear bumper. We’ve seen that end in disaster too many times. Thankfully, Stromberg-Carlson has a solution. The Bike Bunk lets travel trailer owners carry bikes over the front of the trailer, above the propane tanks. It’s an ingenious use of space. It can take some work to get the bikes up and down, but after destroying three bikes by laying them in our truck bed, we’re thrilled to have an elegant solution.
TV from Anywhere
Dish Outdoors offers by far the best solution for television on the road. The Dish Playmaker antenna and the Wally receiver make getting satellite TV a breeze. It only takes a few minutes to get a signal when you arrive at a new campsite, and you can pay for it only the months you are using it. Dish is giving RV Miles readers $50 off a satellite antenna bundle with the code RVMILES.
While we’re talking about mobile entertainment, we love our Roku TV. Not the Roku device to plug into the TV, but an actual TV with Roku as the operating system. We’ve had several “smart” TVs over the years, and invariably they get abandoned by the manufacturer. The Roku interface is sleek, user-friendly, and updated regularly due to their growing market share. We particularly like the ability to control and listen to the TV through our phones. With headphones on, the kids can be in bed, but the adults can still be up watching the news or a movie without disturbing them.
Lots of RVers carry around a Big Buddy indoor-safe propane heater, and for good reason. These RV furnaces are finicky. What do you do when you don’t have heat? Break out the back-up. Plus, they don’t use a fan, so if you’re dry camping, you don’t need to use your battery power to get some warmth. It’s saved our tails at least a dozen times.
RV Miles readers and podcast listeners chimed in with their own picks over in the RV Miles Facebook Group. Here are their favorites:
The Lodge ATP2 Adjustable Camp Tripod helps you cook over your campfire – even a propane one. Don’t expect the cheap versions to hold a dutch oven. Get this all-steel version for real camp cooking.
LevelMatePRO’s Wireless Vehicle Leveling System lets you know if your RV is level via an app connection. Never guess again.
Green Mountain’s Davy Crockett WiFi Control Portable Wood Pellet Grill will have you slow-cooking with precision. Bring the ribs to the campground.
Milenco Towing Mirrors. Our friend Rick used the cheap ones that strap on for years until he came across Milenco Towing Mirrors. They have a bigger mirror surface and they don’t lose their position while driving. https://www.milenco.com/products/mirrors