Our must-have items for van life

We have now lived in our self-converted Sprinter van for almost three years (give or take some months in Austin during COVID or for the holidays), and over time we’ve learned a lot about what items are truly helpful to have while on the road and in our smaller space.

And in this post we are sharing our must-have items for van life, ranging from daily used items in the kitchen to emergency kits for the road. We’re sharing all of these in the kit below, with some explanations for some of the larger items, broken out by category, as well. 

To see the items we used in our build, check out our post all about our van conversion!

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Note: this guide contains affiliate links, which means that if you use the links provided and make a purchase, we get a small commission at no extra cost to you. We will only ever recommend products we truly love, actually use during our adventures, and think you can benefit from too!

Our must-have items for van life

Van + Driving Items

Portable Air Compressor

We recently bought the Viair 88P portable air compressor to air up the tires after deflating them to go down bumpy gravel roads. It took less than 10 minutes to air up all 4 tires. 

Tire Deflator

Along with the air compressor we bought a Boulder Tools tire deflator. After a few minutes of getting the hang of how it works, Adam really liked how easy it was to use. 

Emergency Roadside Kit

This is another one of those items you hope to never have to use, but sooner or later you just might. It’s always a good idea to carry an emergency roadside kit

Toolkit

When living on the road something is bound to break every now and then and you’ll need a variety of tools to fix a variety of jobs and we recommend this CRAFTSMAN toolkit.

Tire Chains

We have tire chains on hand in case we are legally required to carry them or ever need them (we have yet to use them). Be sure to order the right size chains for your tire size, which can be found on the sidewall of your tires. Our tires are the stock size 245/75/R16 and these Peerless Autotrac chains fit. We bought ours from Walmart, but the tire chains linked here are the same thing (with a different model number) and sold on Amazon.

Window Covers

These window covers from VanEssential are a little pricey, but they are worth every penny! They fit perfectly and fold up so they can be stored easily. 

Pop Socket Mount

We have pop sockets on our phones and absolutely love them. They make it easy to hold onto your phone and can prop up your phone for easy YouTube and movie watching. We also love it because it fits into the pop socket mount to make navigation in the van super easy. We highly recommend it!

Shovel

We bought this shovel before we went to Utah in 2021 in case we got stuck anywhere and needed to dig our way out. We haven’t had to use it yet, but it feels sturdy and like it would get the job done.

Rotopax

We bought these Rotopax fuel canisters (we bought yellow for diesel, but red is for gasoline) for our drive to Alaska. They are pretty small at 2 gallons, but very modular so they can be attached to the van in a variety of ways.

To attach it to the van we bought a backplate that was made by Overland Equipped so that we can attach them to the ladder. We also bought the locking mount for each can so they would be more difficult to steal.

Kitchen

Coffee Grinder

Our Capresso Coffee Grinder is a workhorse. We’ve had it for several years now and it is still grinding away! It may take up some space and use power, but it’s worth it for how much we love to drink coffee.

Pour Over Coffee Cone

We used to have a Chemex, but got rid of it (silly Adam) to save room and we got nervous it would break in the van. So we bought this plastic Pour Over Coffee Cone and it works just fine!

Induction Cooktop

To be honest, we don’t use Duxtop Induction Cooktop as much as we thought we would. It takes a lot of power to cook a meal so we can really only use it when we know we will be driving a lot. So if you’re still building your van make sure your battery setup can handle the power draw it can take to cook a meal with this cooktop. But it does work great when we do use it!

Trashcan

Maybe one of the best purchases we made for the van was this trash can and recycling bin combo from simplehuman. It works like a charm, can store a good amount of trash (which means we can stay off the grid longer if needed), and tucks away under our sink like magic!

Kettle

Funny enough, this kettle from Barista Warrior makes Adam feel like a barista warrior and is a classy addition to any kitchen. It even has a thermometer on top to know how hot your liquid is!

Blender

We make so many smoothies and acai bowls with this Ninja Personal Blender that we just might open up a tropical acai truck out of the back of the van! It’s also good for making any sauces for meals.

Instant Pot

The Instant Pot Duo is a game changer for van life. We were worried we wouldn’t have the power to handle it, but we have yet to have any issues. We use it all the time and it stows away easily!

Technology

WeBoost

For the longest time (over 2 years) Adam thought the WeBoost was a piece of junk that didn’t work. Then he realized the cable that connects the outside antenna to the indoor device wasn’t connected. He then noticed our hotspots immediately jump a couple bars. **face palm** funny how that works

Bluetooth Speaker

When we bought our van, Mercedes shipped out a bunch without radios and we happened to get one. Thankfully they took off the price of the radio from the sticker price, but we still didn’t have any way to listen to music and podcasts. This Anker Bluetooth Speaker holds a very long charge and gets pretty loud for its size and it has been a great replacement. 

Cab power inverter

We use this power inverter to charge our phones, camera batteries, computers, and any other electronics while we drive and it works great!

Miscellaneous

Fan

We use this small fan in addition to our larger MaxxAir fan on those really warm days!

Handheld Vacuum

This dustbuster is powerful enough to vacuum what little floor we have and compact enough for easy storage!

Bug Zapper

This bug zapper is another must have item for van life! Not only is it so much fun to zap the bugs, but it is quick and easy. It gives us more practice for our tennis strokes!

Safety

Our Simplisafe setup is a thermometer, glass break sensor, motion detector, and camera. Luckily it’s really only been used as a Kona cam!

about us

Hi y’all! We’re Adam, Kathryn, and Kona, an adventurous married couple (+ pup!) living on the road in our self-converted sprinter van! You can often find us driving all around the US and Canada, scoping out the best coffee shops, eating tacos and ice cream (we’re a 5+ taco and 2+ scoop household), and enjoying nature.

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affilliate disclosure

This website contains affiliate links from websites such as Amazon.com, Booking.com, and Rentalcars.com. If you use the links provided and make a purchase, we get a small commission at no extra cost to you. We only recommend products we truly love, actually use during our adventures, and think you can benefit from too!

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4 Comments

  1. Troy Desbiens

    Love your YouTube channel!!

    Reply
  2. Kim | Bend, OR

    Just discovered you guys! Wow what a gift you are to exploring!
    Thanks for creating such educational and inspiring content.

    Reply
    • Kathryn Frazer

      Thank you so much for following along! We may be sharing your city in our next video 😉

      Reply

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