The Top 10 RV Tools That Are Must-Haves For Every RVer

All experienced RV travelers know that having the right RV tools on hand is essential. That’s because RVs constantly need minor repairs.

It’s not hard to understand why when you realize that an RV is a home that is driven down the road. And that means that it’s being shaken and jostled as it goes.

So RVs are subjected to stresses that stationary homes never experience.

That means that screws and bolts often get loose. And sometimes things break. But if you have the right basic tools on hand, you can handle most of these repairs yourself.

So this article is about the kind of tools every RVer should have readily at hand for minor repairs. Let’s get started on the top ten list of RV tools that will be needed.

The Top 10 Tools For Your RV Tool Kit
Watch my video on the Top 10 RV tools by clicking the image above

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#1 – Cordless Drill/Driver

There are lots of screws that are used in the construction of an RV. In fact, that is the one fastener that you will most likely encounter in any repair project.

Of course, you can choose the more labor intensive way and just use a set of screwdrivers if you wish. But having a good cordless drill/driver will make your life so much easier.

And you could just choose a corded one instead. But my experience has been that although it works just fine, it’s more of a hassle to use.

That cord is always getting in the way it seems. And usually it happens at the worst times. So not having to think about managing an electrical cord as you work is great.

It may seem obvious, but don’t forget that you will also need a good assortment of drill and driver bits. The drill/driver is no real help unless it has the bits that go with it.

And finally, there is no need to overbuy this kind of tool. Expensive drill/driver sets are mainly for heavy duty use by professionals. So getting a lower cost quality unit will be just fine for your needs on minor RV repairs.

Cordless drill/driver I recommend

RV tools #2 – Drill/Driver hand tool

You may be wondering why I also recommend having a manual drill/driver after singing the praises of a powered one in the section above.

The main reason it’s a good idea to have one of these tools is to avoid over-tightening screws and fasteners. One of the last things you want to do is strip out a hole where the fastener goes.

And powered drill/drivers can do this very quickly if you aren’t careful.

So I often use the cordless drill/driver to screw in the fastener most of the way. Then I use the hand tool to finish it off.

That’s because you can feel when the fastener is getting tight by hand and then stop. But the powered tool can easily go too far before you know it.

Multi-use hand drill/driver I recommend

#3 – Claw Hammer

Almost any construction or repair project can benefit from having a hammer handy.

And one of the most versatile hammers available is the good old-fashioned claw hammer.

The hammer part of the head is useful for nailing things as well as taking things apart in demolition. It also can be useful for driving stakes in the ground.

The claw part of the hammer is great for removing things that are fastened down.

All in all, it’s a really useful and versatile tool that any RVer should have on hand.

Claw hammer I recommend

#4 – Utility Knife

There are all sorts of minor repairs and projects around an RV that can benefit from using a utility knife.

And there are several kinds of utility knives to be had. But I personally recommend using one that has snap-off blades.

I find that it works well for almost any project around the RV and allows you to have a sharp blade all the time.

Utility knife with snap-off blades I recommend

RV tools #5 – Multi-Tester

If you have any kind of electrical problem or issue on your RV, you will be glad to have an electrical multi-tester to use on it.

A multi-tester is one of the RV tools that proves it’s value over and over again.

It’s not uncommon to have electrical circuit issues on RVs. And diagnosing that kind of problem to find the source can be problematic.

But it’s almost impossible to diagnose these kind of issues without the help of a good electrical multi-tester.

Again, there is no need for a really expensive model if you aren’t a repair expert. And a good, useful multi-tester can often be had for under $75.

Electrical multi-tester I recommend

#6 – Gorilla Tape

Of all the RV tools that you really should have on hand, gorilla tape or duct tape whould be high on the list.

This stuff is so useful for so many kinds of projects around the RV, it’s hard to list them all. In fact, you may find yourself using it more than almost anything else to solve some RV issues.

Even if the RV repair is a temporary one, it usually buys you enough time to arrange for a more permanent repair later on.

So be sure to have a couple of rolls of this kind of tape in your RV tool bag.

Gorilla tape I recommend

Duct tape I recommend

RV Tools #7 – Tape Measure

It seems that I am constantly using a tape measure to find out how much room I have in the RV for something I need.

In fact, a tape measure is useful in almost any project or repair you encounter on an RV.

And it’s a good idea to have them in different sizes. I often keep a smaller 10 foot tape measure inside the RV.

Then for larger projects I have a 25 foot and a 50 foot tape measure in my RV tool bag as well.

25 foot tape measure I recommend

#8 – LED Flashlight

RVs are filled with small, dark places that are hard to see into easily.

So having a good LED flashlight that is small and yet powerful is one of your most valuable RV tools.

I also have different kinds of flashlights too, and I keep them in various places throughout the RV.

That’s because it’s important to have one handy for all sorts of things you do in the RV.

Some of my flashlights have a normal shape, but some are also flat or can be hung up as you use it. Just make sure that one is readily available when you need it.

LED flashlight I recommend

#9 – Ladder

Getting up to the top of an RV is going to be vital. So a good ladder is one of your most valuable RV tools.

Here again, I have more than one kind of ladder for my own use.

I have a very small single step ladder that comes in handy when getting to something just outside my reach.

Then I have a 6 foot step ladder that allows me to access almost any area on the sides of my motorhome.

And then I have a foldable ladder that can be converted from a step ladder into a straight ladder. And it is long enough that I can even use it to get on the roof of my RV if needed.

The key to buying a ladder for use around an RV is to get one that is as light as possible. Usually this means either a fiberglass or aluminum ladder.

Aluminum ladder I recommend

RV Tools #10 – Socket and Wrench Set

Just as there are all kinds of screws used as fasteners around an RV, you will also encounter lots of bolts and nuts too.

This means that you must have a good socket and wrench set to handle these kind of fasteners.

These days it is a good idea to have both SAE and metric sockets and wrenches to be sure that you have the right tool on hand.

Of course, then you need to choose the size of the socket set too. The main choices are 1/4, 3/8, and 1/2 inch drive sets.

1/4 inch drive sockets can work for many small RV projects. But if you want a good overall size, 3/8 inch sets are probably the most useful for RV projects.

And 1/2 inch drive is usually too bulky for most standard repairs on an RV.

I know that a lot of RVers just grab an adjustable wrench when they encounter a nut or bolt. But an adjustable wrench can easily round off the heads of the nuts if you aren’t very careful.

So it’s better to take the time to find the correct size socket or wrench and do the job right.

Socket and combination wrench set I recommend

(These are affiliate links for the product on Amazon. It does not cost you any extra to buy the product using my affiliate link if you choose to do so)

Conclusion

The list of RV tools that I just provided in this article is by no means an exhaustive list.

But it is the list of tools that I find myself using more often than most other tools.

So if you feel that you want to try to handle most small and minor RV repair projects on your rig, this list is a good place to start.

The Top 5 Ways For Successful RV Boondocking

RV boondocking means camping without any hookups. No electric, water or sewer hookups whatsoever. You are totally self-contained.

Of course, this kind of RV camping is a lot more involved than campground camping. It means that you have to plan in advance how to handle your power and water needs.

And it can be intimidating to newer RVers or those who haven’t boondocked before. But there are ways to ease into RV boondocking that can take the stress level way down.

One way is to practice your boondocking skills in your own driveway or the driveway of a friend or relative. By doing that, you have water and power close by in case something doesn’t go right.

After that, you might try an overnight at a nearby Walmart, Cracker Barrel or Cabelas parking lot. These businesses often allow overnight RV boondocking, so you can use them as a practice spot for the real thing.

Once you have become fairly comfortable with the process of boondocking, or dry camping, you can go further. The next step is to find good boondocking campsites.

A video on 5 ways for successful RV boondocking
Watch my video on RV boondocking the successful way

Disclosure: Please note this post may contain affiliate links. This means – at no additional cost to you – I earn a commission if you make a purchase using our affiliate links. I only link to products and companies I use and feel comfortable recommending. The income goes toward supporting the free content on this website

1 – Find RV Boondocking Campsites

There are lots of places where you can go RV boondocking, but you have to find them first.

Some of the most popular places are on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. Also, many National Parks and National Forests have good dry camping areas too. And another great place to boondock is on Army Corps Of Engineers (ACOE) land.

But how do you find these great spots? There are two websites that offer lots of information about RV boondocking campsites.

One is Campendium.com and the other is FreeCampsites.net. On both sites you can find great boondocking campsites and read reviews of those who have stayed there before.

You will also learn plenty about the size of the campsites and the access roads to get in and out of there as well.

One other great source of information about dry camping is found on the US Public Lands app. It’s a free app that provides a lot of information about exactly where Public Lands are located.

Finally, one more great resource that can be very useful is Facebook boondocking groups. Oftentimes, you can find out about campsites in these online groups that you won’t hear about anywhere else. So give it a try and join a couple of RV boondocking groups!

2 – Conserve Water While RV Boondocking

One of the most important skills you need for RV boondocking is to know how to conserve water. That’s because most boondocking spots are not going to have clean water nearby.

And that means that you need to make the water in your fresh water tank last as long as you possibly can. So when you buy an RV try to get the largest water tanks that you can to make water conservation easier.

One of the best water conservation techniques for RV boondocking is taking “navy showers”. This means that you don’t allow the water to keep running all the time while you are in the shower.

Instead, just run the water long enough to get wet. Then shut the water off while you lather up with soap. Then turn the water on again to rinse off quickly.

It’s amazing how much water savings can be had by taking “navy showers”. And if you can, try stretching out your showers to every other day to make it even more effective.

One other way to conserve water is wipe your dishes with paper towels before washing them. This dislodges and removes most of the food left on the dish. And that makes much quicker work of the washing process.

Another way to reduce dishwashing water is to wash the dishes in containers instead of under running water. Just fill two containers to a level that can cover most dishes and then dip them in the water to wash and then to rinse.

Some boondockers even eliminate dishwashing almost altogether by using paper plates and disposable utensils instead. You might try it and see if it works for you too.

Privacy Tent For Showering

(These are affiliate links for the product on Amazon. It does not cost you any extra to buy the product using my affiliate link if you choose to do so)

3 – Conserve Power When RV Boondocking

Of course, when you are not hooked up to AC electrical current, power has to be managed carefully. And you have to have a portable source of power too.

For many boondockers, choosing either solar power or inverter generators for RV power needs has been successful. And some use a combination of these two power sources.

With either method you can recharge your RV batteries each day and have enough power for most off-grid needs.

But this means that you need to be very careful about not running too many high wattage devices. They will consume a lot of your battery power.

Some high wattage items include hair dryers and microwave ovens. So keep their use to a minimum.

You might even consider installing LED lights in your RV to further lessen the power draw on your batteries. If you don’t use LEDs, make sure you use your RV lights as sparingly as you can.

Also, charging your electronic devices like cell phones can be done in the car instead of the RV. While you are traveling in the car just plug in the devices and let them get their charge from your car’s energy source. This saves using RV battery power instead.

And finally, switch your water heater and refrigerator to propane power instead of electric. This will help conserve a lot of battery power while RV boondocking.

1000 Watt Inverter Generator

2000 Watt Inverter Generator

3400 Watt Inverter Generator

200 Watt Portable Solar Panels

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4 – Conserving Waste Water Is Necessary

One thing that keeps building up all the time while you are boondocking is waste water. Gray water is the water that goes down the bathroom and kitchen sinks. Black water is the toilet water.

You will need to conserve waste water in remote areas so you don’t have to break camp and dump the tanks often.

One way to conserve toilet water is to use the bathrooms in town when you visit there. This eliminates that water being used in your RV instead.

Another suggestion is to shower outside your RV instead of inside. Most RVs these days come with an outside shower, so why not use it in good weather?

Some take outside showers by setting up a privacy tent next to the RV and running the shower hose inside the tent. Doing this can really extend your gray water tank a long time.

You may also consider getting a portable holding tank to transport the waste water. You just empty the waste tanks into the portable tank and take it to be dumped. This eliminates having to break camp and take the whole RV to the dump station.

Also, some very experienced RV boondocking campers use a composting toilet to cut out water usage for a toilet altogether. It’s not for everybody, but a composting toilet can often go 2 – 3 weeks without having to be emptied.

Composting Toilet

Portable Waste Tank

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5 – Manage And Conserve Your Trash

One of the most clear and important rules of RV boondocking is – whatever you bring in, bring out when you leave. Some have not followed this rule and they have cost the ability of everyone else to use some of the best boondocking spots available.

So be a responsible and considerate camper. Don’t leave food and other kinds of garbage behind when you vacate a site.

And while you are still on the site, keep food garbage out of the reach and smell of animals. Otherwise, you may have some very unwelcome animal visitors who want that food too.

A good way to avoid this is to put any unused food in containers where it can’t be seen or smelled by wildlife.

And when you make a trip into town from your beautiful boondocking location, take a bag of trash with you. If you ask to leave it in a dumpster, almost always you will get a thumbs up to do so.

If all else fails, just offer to pay to put your trash in their bin and that usually works every time.

Conclusion

RV boondocking can be a challenge. But if you use the guidelines in this article, it can done very successfully.

Dry camping often means being able to camp in places where some of the most amazing scenery is just outside your door. So it really is worth making the effort to learn how to boondock right.

And a great side benefit is that RV boondocking is often FREE or very low cost!

So why not give it a try? Before you know it, you will be an RV boondocking pro!

Have safe and happy travels my friends!

How To Defrost An RV Refrigerator The Easy Way

If it’s time to defrost an RV refrigerator in your rig, don’t feel bad. Frost often builds up inside RV freezers and refrigerators. And when it does you will have to get rid of it eventually when it starts affecting the performance of the refrigerator.

Residential refrigerators have advanced to the point where almost all of them are frost-free. So why do so many RV refrigerators have to be defrosted manually?

Well, the problem is much worse in the summer months, when the air is hot and humid. Opening the fridge doors a lot will allow the hot and humid air inside. Then the moisture can stick to the sidewalls of the freezer and the fins in the refrigerator.

Another common cause of frost building up inside RV refrigerators is the size of the units themselves. Most RV refrigerators are much smaller than we may be used to using at home.

And because they are smaller we all like to pack as much food inside as we can to have our normal foods available whenever we want them.

But packing food into an RV fridge decreases the air flow inside of it. And this in turn makes the chances of frost buildup much greater.

So the frost keeps building up inside. When it reaches the point where the freezer and refrigerator is not cooling as well as it should, it’s time for action. It’s time to defrost an RV refrigerator!

Watch my Youtube video on how to defrost an RV refrigerator by clicking here
Watch my Youtube video on this subject by clicking the image above

The Safest Way To Defrost And RV Refrigerator

The absolute safest way to defrost an RV refrigerator is to turn it off and remove all of the food inside. This means both the freezer and the refrigerator.

The safest way to defrost an RV refrigerator
The safest way to defrost a fridge is to open all doors completely

Then you simply open all of the doors to the fridge and leave them open until the frost is gone. Of course, this can take a long time.

So it calls for a lot of insulated bags to store your food items in while the refrigerator defrosts.

But there is one big advantage to this long way of defrosting refrigerators. And that is that you cannot possibly harm anything by doing it this way.

That’s right, just letting air inside your RV refrigerator to warm the ice to the point that it defrosts is totally safe.

But it is also time-consuming and takes up a lot of space for the food being kept cool while the fridge defrosts.

So is there a better and faster way to defrost an RV refrigerator? The answer is yes!

Before You Defrost – A Warning

When you open up the freezer door and see ice that has caked to the walls, it will be tempting to chip it off. But that is the worst thing you can do. You can do a lot of damage easily by using anything metal inside the refrigerator.

Some RV owners have punched a hole through the walls of their refrigerator. This can easily happen by using things like an ice pick, a fork, or a screwdriver on the ice.

Don't use sharp metal objects when you defrost an RV refrigerator
Don’t use sharp metal objects inside the refrigerator

These RV refrigerators are very versatile but they are not built to withstand the use of metal objects on their walls to clear ice. So don’t even think about it.

And truthfully, there are other methods that are faster, more complete and much safer for your fridge.

In fact, I will show you the process that we use to defrost an RV refrigerator now, and it’s much safer. It is also very easy to do and doesn’t take much time.

Most of the time we can defrost our RV freezer and refrigerator in about 30 minutes from start to finish. We have a full size refrigerator, so if you have a smaller one it may go even faster.

So here is how we do it –

How We Defrost An RV Refrigerator

The first step is to turn off the refrigerator. Then we begin heating two pots of water on the stove.

We start heating pots of water on the stove

Then we remove all of the food items from the freezer. We don’t leave anything in there while we are defrosting it.

We also remove food items from the refrigerator in front of the cooling fins. And any food that could be temperature sensitive like yogurt, mayonnaise, etc. too.

We leave the rest of the food where it is in the refrigerator though. There is no need to completely unload the refrigerator compartment.

We then put all of the frozen food and the refrigerated food in insulated bags to keep them cold. And we usually add some blue ice to the bags to help keep the food cold while defrosting the fridge.

Use insulated bags with blue ice added for the food from the refrigerator and freezer
We put all the food in insulated bags with blue ice

Then we place some towels on the floor and shelf of the freezer compartment. These towels accomplish a couple of important things.

First, they keep the hot pots from damaging the freezer floor or shelf. And second, they also absorb water from the freezer walls as they thaw out.

When the water is hot, we put the pots in the freezer on the towels and close the door. The water does not have to be boiling, just hot enough to melt the ice.

Put the pots of hot water on the towels in the freezer
We put the pots of hot water on the towels in the freezer

It usually takes about 15 – 20 minutes for the hot water to thaw the freezer compartment completely. It also usually thaws the fins in the fridge compartment by then as well.

When everything is thawed, we remove the pots and towels. And then is when we wipe down the walls of the freezer with towels until it is dry.

Then we turn on the refrigerator. As soon as it’s starting to cool again, we reload the freezer and refrigerator. And we are done!

What If Additional Defrosting Is Needed?

Occasionally, the refrigerator fins do not thaw as quickly as the freezer. So we have another procedure to solve that issue.

In this case, we use a hair dryer on the low setting and aim the warm air toward the refrigerator fins. We always keep the nozzle a safe distance away from any of the fridge walls or fins.

It’s also very important to keep the nozzle of the hair dryer moving at all times. We never let it stop in one place very long. That makes sure that nothing in the refrigerator gets overheated.

It usually only takes a few minutes to finish thawing out the fins with this method. Then we go ahead with our reloading procedure.

The refrigerator fins may require more work to help them fully defrost
Sometimes the fins require more work to help them defrost

Conclusion

The whole process is not hard to do. It just takes a little time, as I said about a half hour for us.

Once again, the absolute safe way is to just open the refrigerator and freezer, and take everything out. Then leave the doors open until thawing is completed.

But we have followed the procedure I mentioned above several times and have never had any problems.

We always use common sense and are careful with hot water. If you choose to try this method, go slow the first time and keep safety first.