14 Van Life Items We Can’t Live Without

                  Putting an air conditioner in a mobile tiny home is a very difficult thing to do.  Some people have figured it out with huge solar and battery set ups but most rely on a noisy generator to get that sweet, cool air flowing.  If breaking the bank with a large energy system or listening to a noisy engine chug away all day are deal breakers for you, there’s a cheap and easy way to find relief. We’ve been able to keep ourselves cool by slurping down smoothies and cold drinks for the better part of the day. As we write this from Mexico, it is part of our daily routine to see what natural fruits are growing around (I can see coconuts and mangoes out my window right now!) and gather up what we can for our daily supply of smoothies to help with the 100 degree temperatures.  If you’re looking for a tool to help with smoothies, soups, sauces or anything blended we can’t recommend enough the BlendTec.  It’s a high end blender but will never leave any of your concoctions anything but silky smooth.  Check out the BlendTec Here: BlendTec Classic Blender

#13 - NiLight Light Bar

                  We spend a lot of time driving on dirt roads with no light source other than our headlights.  This can make seeing potholes, wildlife or low hanging trees very difficult.  Last year we installed a 22” NiLight Light Bar on our front bumper and it was a game changer for us.  This light is so bright you definitely don’t want to use it on a main road or highway as it will blind everyone you pass.  If you’re looking to do some off-roading in your camper van we highly recommend it.  You can check it out here: 22” NiLight Light Bar

                  You probably don’t know this but Google has its own phone service called GoogleFi.  If you are traveling in the USA, it’s honestly probably not worth it so you can skip on to number 11.  But if you are going to travel to Canada, Mexico or really anywhere outside of the USA, I can’t recommend it enough. For $80 a month you get 15 gigs of unthrottled data and unlimited talk and text.  So far, we have used our GoogleFi in Mexico to stream Game of Thrones, upload videos and stay connected with friends and family and honestly have no complaints. You can check out GoogleFi here: GoogleFi

#11 - Backup Camera

                  We didn’t realize how important a backup camera is until we moved into our van.  Trying to navigate a large vehicle through city streets and tight parking spots can be stressful especially when trying to back up.  Installing a back up camera has saved us so many times from hitting trees, other vehicles and even people.  For larger vehicles, it’s really a necessity so if you are planning on living in a commercial sized vehicle we recommend picking up a backup camera here: Touguard Backup Camera

                  For us living van life isn’t just about surviving, it’s about thriving.  And that means having as many amenities as a regular brick and mortar house as possible. For us that meant having a gas stove and oven combo that can fit in our van, operate effectively and take up as little space as possible.  We love the Suburban Stove Oven Combo and recommend it to anyone looking to include an oven in their camper van.  You can check it out here: Surburban Stove Oven Combo

#9 - Mirrorless DSLR Camera

                  Living a life on the road means putting yourself in some of the most beautiful places you can imagine.  For us, it is very important to document our travels and share our experiences with family and friends and also have something to look back on and remember this incredible time in our lives.  We focus more on video than photo so we purchased the Lumix GH5, a mirrorless DSLR camera.  We would recommend a mirrorless camera to any traveler because of the significant decrease in weight and size compared to a traditional DSLR camera.

If your focus is photos, we would recommend the Sony A7III: Sony A7III

If your focus is vidoes/vlogs, we would recommend the GH5: Lumix GH5

                  Having clean drinking water is very very important to us.  If you’ve ever been sick in a van with a stomach bug you will know why :)  We installed the NEO PUR 3 Stage Water System in our van to make sure all the water we drink is clean and pure.  If you want the ease of mind that the water you drink won’t put your stomach in knots we recommend you install the NEO PUR 3 Stage Water System.  You can check it out here: NEO PUR 3 Stage Water System

#7 - Running Water

                  When we built out our skoolie for our expected 6 month van life adventure, we saved money and time by NOT installing running water (large water tank, water pump and faucet).  Instead we installed a hand pump faucet and carried 2 5-gallon jerry cans.  Honestly, the hand pump sink is a pain in the butt but was manageable for the first few months of travel.  Once we decided we were going to extend our travels by a few years, installing running water was the first upgrade we made.  If you are thinking of doing van life for a few months, I think you can get by with a hand pump.  But if you are looking to travel for an extended period and having the comforts of home is important to you, running water is imperative.  Here’s some van life plumbing products to get you started:

Water Pump: ShurFlo Water Pump

Water Tank: 33 Gallon Water Tank

Faucet: iSpring Water Faucet

                  When building out your van life vehicle there are a lot of ways you can find savings by purchasing cheaper materials and appliances.  You’re extractor fan SHOULD NOT BE ONE!  Believe us, we’ve done it.  And we learned quickly how important it is to always have good air flow in the cabin of your van life vehicle.  Whether it’s to reduce moisture and prevent mold or extract grease and steam from your stove or improve comfortability, you need to have a good extractor fan to move air in and out of your vehicle.  We recommend the Maxx Fan Deluxe.  We purchased this fan about a year ago and have been very happy with the upgrade from our aftermarket extractor fan we originally installed.  The Maxx Fan can both blow air in and out, can operate while raining and is remote controlled.  You can check it out Here: Maxx Fan Deluxe

#5 - Mr. Buddy Heater

                  We picked this thing up on the way up to Alaska and dang… we’re very happy with it.  It runs off the small 12 pound propane tanks but you can purchase an adapter and run the gas from a larger tank as well.  If you’re planning on spending limited time in cold areas we recommend going with a portable heater like this.  You can check it out here: Mr. Buddy Heater

                  There are so many options when it comes to picking out the fridge for your camper van conversion and the hard part is, this will probably be the most expensive appliance you buy.  We could write an entire article on this topic but will summarize by saying we HIGHLY recommend the fridge is DC powered and sized appropriately for your cooking needs.  The most common refrigerator brands in the community are easily ARB and Dometic BUT the cost of these refrigerators are CRAZY high.  So, we went with the Whynter 45 quart fridge which was nearly 1/2 the price of the Dometic and ARB counter products.  It will use 2x-3x the power consumption (about 3 amps when running) BUT for us we decided to put that savings towards a larger battery bank and solar set up.  So, if money is a little tight we recommend the Whynter brand fridge to give you ample space to keep your food storage at the proper temp.  You can check out the Whynter fridge here: Whynter 45 Quart DC Fridge

#3 - Natures Head Toilet

                  We lived van life before without a toilet and it is definitely possible.  You learn to live with the uncomfortability of “holding it” for an hour or 2 until you reach the next gas station.  But I’ll tell you, once we installed our Nature’s Head Composting Toilet, living van life improved DRASTICALLY for us.  Being able to relieve ourselves in a Walmart parking lot or the middle of a national park or even driving down the highway made the world of a difference.  Check out Nature’s Head here: Nature’s Head Composting Toilet

                  This is going to sound a little ridiculous, but our Espresso Machine is the most important thing we own.  Let’s face it, we’re coffee fanatics and having a latte in the morning is something that brings us a lot of enjoyment.  The Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine is the best economical, high quality espresso machine I’ve found.  If you’re also a coffee snob, I highly recommend you check it out here: Breville Barista Express Espresso Machine

#1 - Instant Hot Water Shower

                  When living van life, the number of days since your last shower is a direct reflection of your happiness level.  If you have the water capacity for it and don’t want to lose the space of installing a shower in your van we highly recommend you try an outdoor shower with the Camplux Instant Hot Water Heater.  We mounted our water heater to our bumper and it has improved the quality of our van life exponentially.  The water heater runs off propane and water flow can be controlled to save water consumption.  You can check out the Camplux Shower here: Camplux Instant Hot Water Heater