Top Vanlife Gear Gift List

Top Vanlife Gear Gift List

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.

Top Vanlife Gear Gift Guide. Find the best gear for van dwellers and outdoor enthusiasts.
All of our gear must fit into Stan the Tan Van—our home on wheels.

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.

1. 7 Gallon Water Container

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.

2. Dometic Electric Refrigerator

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.

3. Refillable Propane Tank

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.

4. Coleman Classic Propane Stove

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.

5. Microfiber Towels

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.

6. Pelican LED Headlights

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.

7. Extender Mirrors

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 😳

8. Small USB Fans

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.

9. Coleman Folding Table

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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9 Top Vanlife Gear Gift List. The best gear for van dwellers and outdoor enthusiasts.

8 thoughts on “Top Vanlife Gear Gift List

  1. This is a great list if I ever want to join you in the Vanlife. Seriously, we have used our Coleman propane stove also for years with never a problem. And the LED headlights are great. No more holding a flashlight under your chin to read at night.

  2. Great list! Wish we had seen this before we traveled North America in our Rav4 for two years. Especially the Fridge. With just a Coleman cooler, which was great for the price, many times we had to decide either to throw away left over perishables or buy another bag of ice. The fan, definitely! It’s a lot easier to deal with cold in a car than heat. Also there’s that problem with critters and bugs. So I appreciate the list and wish you guys many happy adventures and safe travels!

    1. So glad you enjoyed the list! Totally feel your cooler pain – we’ve had many soggy perishable camping trips in the past. The fridge is an investment, but we’ve found it’s so worth the $ because our produce lasts wayyy longer. The fans were a huge improvement! Totally agree about taking a cold night over a hot one any day. You can always add layers. Thank you so much for following along on the blog and wishing you happy trails and travels as well!

  3. This is a great list, thank you! We’re super close to setting off on our journey, and we didn’t know that about the propane tanks. That just saved us a bunch of money. Good luck on all your future travels and adventures! 🚐 🌎 🍃

    1. Oh that’s awesome! So happy to hear that you found something to save $ on the road. Tom figured out the whole propane tank thing and it’s one of our best purchases. Huge congrats on taking the travel plunge!!!! That’s so exciting! Wishing you the very best journey and explorations!

  4. OMG “twitterpated”–I watched the whole thing… great link!

    I really like your lists. Even though I may never drop everything and travel, I like having your review at the ready for an item I may need at some point.

    1. I definitely watched that video a few times😂 Such a classic! So happy to hear that the list are helpful. We’re thinking of expanding this and the outdoor gear list over time to be more all-encompassing.

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