9 Awesome Things for Living in a Van Down by the River (or really anywhere outside)
Last week we shared our favorite outdoor gear. This week we’re focusing more specifically on vanlife gear. You don’t need to live in a van down by the river to appreciate these items though. Many of them are perfect for any outdoor adventure.
This isn’t an exhaustive list of vanlife gear essentials. Instead, it’s a list of our most used and valued items. We’ve found that outdoor products aren’t always designed for daily use. Perhaps the manufacturers only expect people to use them a handful of times each year. Or perhaps we’re just clumsy (check), and impatient (check), and tend to routinely break things (check). Either way, the few things we own need to withstand daily use, different environments, frequent set-up/tear-down, and miles of transportation over ever so bumpy roads.
This is the vanlife gear we use the most. These items have not only withstood the test of time, but have withstood our blundering selves.
Our water container is our faucet, so we use it a lot every single day. The open/close valve on our first container was hard to turn. That resulted in the entire cap popping off and water gushing out all over us. As much as we take every opportunity that we get to shower, this just wasn’t an efficient use of water or pleasant experience. After our first leg of travel, we replaced our original water container with this one. It’s been completely awesome and we’ve noticed that just about everyone else out there on the road owns the same one.
This was a big purchase for us during Stan the Tan Van’s build. We knew that we didn’t want the hassle of ice and a cooler so a refrigerator was a must. After researching options, we landed on this Dometic model and have noticed that a lot of other vanlifers use it as well. We opted for the 27-quart one and it perfectly fits a six-pack of b…soda. Just kidding, it fits a week’s worth of cold food and condiments (plus a bottle or two of beer😉). I can’t promise that’s the last Chris Farley quote though.
This is by far one of our best purchases. Using this instead of those 1 lb green disposable tanks saves space, is less wasteful (tank recycling bins are few and far between), and saves a ton of money. Each 1 lb tank is about $3 to $4, while filling this 11 lb tank costs only around $6. We’ve found that a tank lasts us well over a month.
If you’re having déjà vu it’s because this is the one cross-over product from our outdoor gear list. Why include it twice? Well, because we love, love, love this stove and it’s essential outdoor and vanlife gear. Ours is still going strong after 20 years of use.
These towels are lightweight, compact, and fast drying. This set comes with a towel, washcloth, and carrying bag for all your public showering needs. Well, almost…soap helps too.
I’ve lost count of how many headlights we’ve had over the years. See “breaks things easily” comment above. These are the best headlights we’ve used! They have enough lumens to satisfy Tom’s brightness requirements and are really durable.
Even if you don’t drive a big rig, these add-on mirrors are great for backing into snug forested campsites. We’ve only backed off the road once with them 😳
If you’ve ever camped in the sultry south, you’ll know why these fans are necessary to get a decent night’s sleep. We didn’t know, so we learned the hard way. It had never occurred to us that we’d have to sleep with the windows closed due to a mob of twitterpated raccoons that alternated between gettin’ busy in the trees, trying to pee on us, and attempting to climb into the van. We had many stagnant, sweaty nights until we bought these fans.
We often camp on BLM land. Usually there aren’t picnic tables or fire pits. If there happens to be an outhouse, then we thank our lucky stars for the luxury, but that’s a story for another time. My point here is we need to have our own cooking outfit and surface. This table is fast and easy to set-up (critical when you’re racing a storm to make dinner). It’s large enough for our Coleman Stove and food prep but compacts down small to store. Our version is older than this one. The only differences we see are that the top’s been upgraded to aluminum instead of plastic and now snaps into the base instead of connecting with hooks.
Did you find anything awesome on our gear lists? Would you like to see more of them? We’re thinking of writing backpacking and plane travel gear lists in the future. Would you like to read those?
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