21 Van Life Essentials You Can't Travel Without

Jordan Tarver
January 25, 2021

One of the many joys of van life is the simplicity of leaving everything behind and living under a steel roof. While simplicity may be key, this doesn’t mean you’ll lack the necessary things you need to live. In fact, having key van life essentials makes the whole experience more thrilling, enjoyable, and fulfilling.

Tried and tested, the items in this list are the ultimate van life gadgets. This is everything you need (and maybe a little bit more) to make the most of living out of a van. Some are van life necessities, such as a reliable and effective heater and camping stove, and others are gadgets that you might not think of until you really need them. These van life essentials will help make your van dwelling the adventure it has the potential to be.

Here are 21 van life essentials that can elevate your van life adventures.

Cooking Essentials

Coleman Triton Series Stove

The Coleman Triton Series stove is a staple van camping accessory. Compact, powerful, and reliable, it is everything a van life gadget should be.

At around $80 to $100, it's affordable without scrimping on power. The Coleman Triton stove pumps out 11,000 BTUs of power per ring—more than enough to quickly boil a kettle of water, or put on a pot of coffee (another van life essential that shouldn’t be forgotten). It also packs away neatly—something important to think about when looking at camper van accessories.

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RTIC 45 Cooler

Whether you’re spending three nights away or three months, keeping perishables and vital supplies cold is an essential aspect of van life. Enter your new favorite camping cooler: the RTIC 45 Cooler.

What makes the RTIC 45 Cooler such a needed van life essential? It is multipurpose. Big enough to be used as a bench or stool and light enough to be carried by one person, the RTIC Hard Cooler is as adaptable as it is durable, and boasts a very long frozen retention time.

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Utopia Kitchen 12.5 Inch Pan

Depending on the size of your van, having enough space for cooking utensils can be difficult. A small, high-quality campervan accessory is an easy and affordable way to enjoy every meal without compromising on space. The Utopia Kitchen pan is the perfect size for cooking for multiple people, comes with a silicone hot handle for safety, and perfectly distributes heat.

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Stanley Trigger Action Travel Mug

Stanley flasks are internationally renowned for their identifiable and undeniably cool style, indestructibility, and long temperature control time. The Stanley Trigger Action Travel Mug is no different.

Whether you’re driving to a new destination, out on a hike, or exploring nearby beauty spots , a Stanley mug is a van life gadget that will keep your drinks hot on any adventure.

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Stansport 24-Piece Enamel Tableware

A full, family-sized cutlery and eating set is a van living necessity. The Stansport Deluxe tableware set is made with durable steel, so it’s super easy to clean and can be packed away small without worrying about breakages.

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French Press

A french press is one of the items on this list that is essential to living well but might be something you forget if you’ve not experienced van life before. A french press and coffee is a van camping accessory that will be appreciated every morning. Having the right van life gadgets to make every moment of every day enjoyable is vital to living under a steel roof, and in a small space.

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Heating Essentials

Mr. Buddy Heater

A small but powerful propane heater, Mr. Buddy is a van life gadget that should be at the top of everyone’s van living essentials list. They come in a range of sizes, so whether you’re cozying up in a microvan or living life to the full in a high-roof, long-wheelbase dream, Mr. Buddy will keep you toasty and warm in even the coldest winter months.

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iTeknic Heated Blanket

Nothing beats the joy of crawling into a warm bed after a long day out in the mountains, getting cold and frosty. Staying warm when living out of a van is critical, and the iTeknic Heated Blanket makes it all the more easier to relax in comfort.

Made with a soft fleece, the iTeknic Heated Blanket can be used as a normal blanket when unplugged, or heated from anywhere between 66 and 122 degrees Fahrenheit in a matter of seconds. Whether you’re relaxing aching muscles after day-long hikes or wrapping up warm against winter storms, this is one of those van life necessities that makes living under a steel roof that bit easier.

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Power Essentials

Goal Zero Boulder 100 Solar Panel

If you need power on the move, start with a solar panel. The Boulder 100 is the most powerful of the Goal Zero Boulder series, and it’s capable of delivering up to 100 watts of power. One of the best things about this solar panel, and what makes it essential to van life living, is that it can be installed on the roof of a camper. If you invest in more than one panel, they can be linked in parallel to generate even more power.

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Goal Zero Yeti Power Station

Alongside the Boulder 90 Solar Panel, the Goal Zero Yeti Power Station is the van life gadget you need to keep yourself running on power through bad weather or dark nights. The Yeti will charge anything from a phone to a refrigerator and can be turned on at the push of a button.

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Anker Portable Power Bank

Making the choice to live in a van should never limit your adventures. That’s why having a portable power bank to take with you is such a van dwelling essential. Anker portable chargers come in a huge range of sizes, so it is very easy to find a power bank that will meet all your van life needs.

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Storage Essentials

RinseKit Portable Outdoor Shower

The Rinsekit Portable Outdoor Shower is a pressurized outdoor shower that you can use on the go. When you’re living in your van full time, you may not always have access to a shower, so having something in your rig is a smart idea. A handy van life gadget like this will keep both you and your space clean.

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Coleman 5-gallon Solar Shower

The Coleman 5-gallon Solar Shower dominates the van dwelling necessities in its ability to heat enough water for multiple showers. With almost double the capacity of the RinseKit, it’s ideal for bigger vans or for longer van living. However, it’s not pressurized.

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Lighting Essentials

MPOWERD Luci Inflatable Solar Lantern

Having a long-lasting, high-powered, easily rechargeable, and lightweight light source is necessary for any van. What makes the MPOWERD Luci Inflatable Solar Lantern such an important campervan essential is that it has so many applications. It can be taken on long night hikes, has the capacity to charge phones in the case of emergencies, and boasts a battery life of 50 hours, all for under $40.

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LED String Lights

If your van is becoming your home, it should always feel home. One of the easiest and most affordable ways to do this is by using string fairy lights. They can be hung along walls or bedsides, and take the place of a reading light in this list of van life essentials.

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Safety Essentials

First Aid Kit

Despite being lower down in the list, a first aid kit is one of the key van life necessities that you absolutely need. A travel first aid kit will fit under a passenger seat or in a glove box. For the space they take up, the relief and reassurance of having one with you is crucial to being able to safely enjoy van dwelling.

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Car Jumper Cables

Keeping a pair of car jump cables in your boot is a van life essential that it is very easy to forget, but one that you will regret very quickly if you need them. A jump start kit is relatively cheap, and can be bought from auto stores, gas stations, or online.

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Bottom Line

Above all, the ultimate van life essential you’ll need to live your dream traveling life is stoke and passion. Van life is achievable and exciting, as long as you equip yourself with the right equipment and the van life necessities I’ve listed.


Jordan Tarver is a lead editor at Forbes, a keynote speaker, and the bestselling author of You Deserve This Sh!t.
He’s transformed over 30,000 lives through his book, amassed more than 200,000 devoted followers, and garnered over 60 million views online. Jordan is on a mission to empower people and organizations to unlock exponential growth and expansive possibilities.

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