5 Things To Buy (And 5 Things To Avoid) At The RV Supply Store
For most RVers, visiting the RV supply store is like being a kid in a candy store. So many useful products are on the shelves and all of them can make your camping experience a little easier and more comfortable.
Unfortunately, most of us just don’t have enough money (or space in the RV) to buy them all. So, we rounded up some of the best products to pick up at the RV supply store, as well as a few items you could probably go without.
Best products at the RV supply store
The best items you can buy at the RV supply store are the products that will cover basic essentials, such as a safe and smooth ride, clean drinking water, and an easy way to get power or dump your tanks.
Some of these items are so fundamentally important, they come as standard features on the newer top-of-the-line RVs. If your rig has not already come equipped with these features, we highly recommend picking them up the next time you’re at the store.
1. Portable water softener & water filters
You can’t always trust what is in the water in the areas you’re visiting. There are often many chemical hazards that have made their way into the drinking water, making it taste worse and can be generally unsafe to ingest.
Water filters like the Clear2O® will provide you with safe, potable water no matter where you’re camping. They will also save you from having to buy bottled water at the store, which creates more plastic waste that can be difficult to recycle in some areas.
2. Tire pressure monitors
Tire pressure monitors can save you from a major tire blowout by constantly monitoring your RV tires for high/low pressure, leaks, and high temperatures. They are easy to install and can be connected to your phone or tablet to send you notifications.
3. Weight distribution hitch with sway control
If you’re towing a trailer, a weight distribution hitch is a must for safety. An equalizer hitch will evenly distribute the weight between your trailer and your tow vehicle, keeping it from swaying from side to side, especially in windy conditions. They will improve tow vehicle sag and prevent a dangerous accident like this from happening.
4. Trailer brake controllers
Another item you’ll want for towing safety is a trailer brake controller. These will allow you to stop more quickly and safely and potentially prevent an accident. The Tekonsha P3 Brake Control automatically adjusts your trailer’s braking based on the deceleration of your tow vehicle. They can be used with electric or hydraulic brakes.
Trailer brake controllers are easy for any DIY RVer to install. The Youtube channel Endless RVing shares how to install one in this video:
5. Power cord adapters
If you have a newer RV, chances are you have a 50-amp plug for power. Unfortunately, there are many campgrounds that still have older 30-amp power and have not upgraded to offer 50-amp power as well.
Keep a power cord adapter on hand so you can plug in no matter you’re camping. You may also want these useful power accessories such as a surge protector and USB outlets.
Avoid these RV accessories
Almost everything in the RV supply store is useful in some way. However, some items have alternatives that take up less space, and just aren’t worth your hard-earned money. You may want to avoid these items:
1. RV GPS
While you will want an RV-friendly GPS for directions, there is no need to buy one at the RV supply store. You can easily get RV-safe directions and more right on your phone with the RV LIFE App.
As Patrick Buchanan explains in this RV LIFE article,
“For years, one of the knocks on stand-alone GPS devices is the update process. Updating a GPS through cables, Wi-Fi, or SD cards can be difficult. It can also be costly. Less expensive GPS devices can ding you for a map update fee, as high as $80 per year.
Some of the more expensive stand-alone RV navigation products include lifetime maps, but you pay heavily upfront for that feature. Lifetime can be a subjective term as well. You have no real idea how long you will have the device before it becomes obsolete, gets lost or stolen, or breaks down after the warranty period. “
2. Outdoor RV decorations
Outdoor RV decorations can be a fun addition for stationary campers, but they’re generally unnecessary for traveling RVers. They are just one more thing you will have to set up and take down every time you travel to a new campground. Outdoor lights can also be distracting and a bit of a nuisance to your neighboring campers. In bad weather, the last thing you want to worry about is bringing inside your light-up LED pink flamingo.
3. Portable propane heaters
To be fair, portable gas heaters can be a total lifesaver if you are winter camping somewhere cold. However, it should be noted they are a bit of a fire hazard, they can cause carbon monoxide poisoning if you are not careful to have the space ventilated, and they can easily be knocked over, especially if you’re traveling with pets.
There are many other ways to keep your RV warm on cold fall and winter nights. Try insulating your RV with these vent covers to keep the heat inside. You may also want to try this DIY heat pump hack with your RV A/C.
4. RV covers
RV covers are typically cheaper than carports and covered RV storage, but they will not protect your RV as well during the off-season. As we detailed in this previous article, RV covers can be difficult to set up and remove, they can cause mold to grow, and can even scratch your paint from wind rustling the cover.
5. Campfire cookware
Campfire cookware, such as pie irons and metal hot dog sticks, can be fun for quick weekend trips, but they are not usually used enough to warrant space in the RV if you travel full-time. And unless you plan on making hot dogs and roasting s’mores every single time you go camping, this cookware may not even be packed on every weekend trip. There are many other ways to cook a great meal while camping whether it’s in your RV kitchen, on the provided grill at the campsite, or over your portable camping stove.
While you’re at the RV supply store, make sure you have these 15 RV Supplies We Can’t Live Without During The Summer