If you’re an avid outdoors enthusiast and an owner of a RV, then you know that there’s nothing better than exploring the great outdoors in your RV. However, one thing that might not be prepared for is all of the mishaps that can happen while out in nature. That’s why it’s essential to have a well-equipped RV toolbox on hand.
Just consider that you are regularly bouncing your “home” down the road at excessive speeds. It only goes to reason that sometimes things are going to break, and it will always happen when you are far from resources to make repairs.
After 5 years of full time travel and more home “fix it’s” than I can count, I have put together what we consider to be the ultimate list of tools that you need in your RV. This list of tools will keep you prepared for almost any eventuality and provide you with peace pf mind as you travel the roads.
You will save money and time for more enjoyable camping activities.
Considerations For Building A Tool Box
1) How Much Space Do You Have?
When deciding what tools to pack, storage space is always an important factor to consider. Different RV’s are outfitted with different sizes of storage compartments under their beds or in their cabinets. Figuring out how much space you have will help determine what tools you might want to include in your tool box.
2) How Much Weight Can Your RV Carry?
Next, consider the maximum weight that your vehicle can handle. You will have to factor in the weight of all the tools you plan to pack and still keep your vehicle at its optimal capacity. You certainly do not want your tool kit to CAUSE a breakdown!
3) What Type Of Vehicle Are You Driving?
Your RV might be a third-hand pickup truck camper, a brick sized Class C motor home, or a small Class A with a toad. Each will have different storage space and carrying weight capacity, so size and weight of larger tools needs to be considered. Towing a trailer behind a pickup truck for instance, gives you a much larger storage opportunity (in the back of the truck) than driving a Class C towing a Smart Car.
4) How Far/ Long Are Your Camping Trips?
Length and distance of your trip will determine how bulky and heavy your tool box will need to be. If you’re not going too far from home, then a smaller compact collection of essential tools might suffice. However if you’re planning on extended length or distant trips, you’ll want to make sure your tool kit is packed with the essential tools for every possible situation.
5) What Is Your Skill Level?
Your own ability to effect repairs will also factor into how essential your tools will be. This is not always an easy thing to assess, especially if you are new to camping or don’t have much experience tinkering with things on your own. If that’s the case, it doesn’t make much sense to carry a bunch of tools you will not attempt to use.
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Essential Tools For Your RV Tool Kit
In The Toolbox:
Being able to manage most repairs with the essential tools that are packed in your RV tool box means you won’t have to rely on anyone else’s expertise or urgency to fix issues.
This basic list of essential hand tools and supplies will give you the confidence and capability to handle almost any problem, no matter what kind of campground you’re spending your time.
A good pair of pliers are important in any tool kit. So many uses! There are several essential types and sizes to consider: needlenose, slip-joint (for gripping tightly and bending wire), adjustable (be able to cut, strip and bend different size wires), channel lock (for nail pulling, prying , closing bags)
Needle Nose Pliers
RV’s have endless small spaces and small parts. Needle Nosed pliers help getting into these tight spots.
A pair of clippers is necessary for to use as wire cutters, and for cutting the TON of zip ties you will inevitably use.
Channel Lock Pliers
Adjustable pliers give you a strong grip on many different sized items.
Any tool set would be incomplete without a good socket wrench and set of sockets. Get both standard and metric if you have the space.
Also, get a long breaker bar for your set. It is not big, but will help a ton if you are doing brakes, or adding equipment onto your rig. l
You will always use wrenches working on your RV, vehicle or rec equipment.
Get a wrench set that includes both standard and metric sizes.
A nice adjustable wrench gives you the ability to tighten or loosen any size nuts and bolts as well as turning pipe fittings. Having an adjustable wrench in your kit will also ensure that the tool fits what you need to fix.
Keeping on top of your batteries is also very important especially if you boondock. A multimeter is a great tool to have not just for this application, but for many other electrical uses around your rig.
Also, a hydrometer is the best way to keep track of how well your batteries are charging and when to equalize them.
I also always have some distilled water on hand to fill those cells up.
A good razor knife is essential for everything from flooring, to electrical, to opening boxes.
It is always handy to carry a pocket knife as well. You will find yourself pulling it out for any number of reasons.
You will do a LOT of repairs in very dimly lit places- under the RV, or in the compartments. Having a good flashlight or headlamp makes all the different.
Along with your tools, there are essential supplies you should always carry with you on your trips. These items are used quite often so you want to make sure to have them on hand at all times.
Hoses get used a lot in an RV, and the wear and tear of putting the hose on and off will lead to leaks. Campsite owners do not appreciate people letting their water spray onto the ground. Replace your hose washers regularly.
Lap Sealant- Self-Leveling
Water intrusion is one of the most common destroyers of RV’s. Plain and simple. Cracks around the exterior seams appear without making a sound and it can be weeks or months before you know it if you are not diligent.
I tour my rig exterior as often as once per month checking for failing caulking seams. I keep my caulking gun and some DiCor on hand at all times. I have both the sagging and non-sagging tubes so that I have what I need for any situation.
This self-leveling sealant is perfect for roof top repairs, split seams etc. It flows into the repair and seals it off completely.
Lap Sealant- Non-Leveling
If you are diligent about nothing else- KEEP YOUR RIG WATERTIGHT!
A few key power tools are an essential part of your RV toolkit. Luckily, todays battery operated power tools are powerful and compact so space is not a big issue. Here are a few power tools that you should have with you.
Battery Operated Drill and Bits
You will use this a lot, just as you do in your house. I use the Ryobi One+ system. I have the 18v cordless drill, the impact driver for changing tires, and the handheld leaf blower for blowing off the rugs, etc around the campsite.
Of course, a good set of drill bits, as well as driver bits, is important. Check to see what hellish manner of screwheads your fifth wheel or travel trailer manufacturer decided to use and make sure you have those bits along.
I swear those things are like cattle brands these days. Every manufacturer has to have their own unique screw head shape to baffle us into paying servicemen to work on our rigs.
Tire Changing Equipment
DO NOT WAIT until after your first blowout to upgrade your tire changing gear. I know this. I DID this.
Our first blowout, I used the laughable jack that came with my pickup truck. When I used the RV lug wrench to try to loosen a lug nut, it promptly broke off in my hand!
Luckily the nuts were the same size as the truck so I was able to use the laughable lug wrench that came with the truck to finish the job. It took over an hour to change that tire. Not exactly going to get me a pit crew pass into Talladega next year!
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Anyway, the next day I picked up a 3 Ton Floor Jack, 4-way lug wrench, and 3 Ton Jack Stands.
All of this cost about $150 and I keep them all in the back of the pickup so they are with me all of the time. These also make brake jobs etc. on the truck a breeze!
Soon after that, I picked up the previously mentioned Ryobi Impact Wrench. Not an absolute necessity, but then again my back isn’t getting any younger.
80+ PSI Compressor
Tire leaks NEVER happen near a gas station. Having your own compact air compressor allows you to keep your tires at pressure when it is convenient for you- instead of while you are traveling.
Tire Pressure Gauge
Battery Operated Impact Wrench
It will happen- you will have a blow out while traveling. Changing a tire on the side of a busy highway is NOT a fun time. An impact wrench will cut down your time spent on this task immensely.
Trust me- you will be thanking me next time you are on the side of the road.
Some prefer a canister jack, but I much prefer a floor jack, even if it is larger. Again- when you are on the side of the highway with a flat tire- you do not want to spend time dinking around with a small scissor jack. Get a heavy duty unit and get your tire changed quickly.
Tire Puncture Kit
There are a lot of occasions when small punctures can derail your travel. Many times, you can put a plug into a small puncture and keep yourself on the road until it is convenient to have your tire looked at.
Other than your hand tools and repair supplies there are a few items that you should also have along.
There is always something to tie down when you are traveling. Bikes, recreational equipment, etc. Ratchet straps are much easier to use than rope, and much more secure. Plus they can be wrapped up and store in a very small space.
Sometime along the way, you will either need a pull, or come across a fellow RV’er that will need a tow. A tow strap is efficient to carry and will be a life saver when needed.
I have never needed to be towed, but I have used my strap 3 different occasions to help get a fellow traveler out of a jam.
Gloves are essential for projects around the RV or campsite.
A collapsible rake is a great tool for cleaning up around your site. It will fold down into a very small package for transport.
There is always a use for a good ladder. If you are washing and waxing your rig, or doing repairs along the roof line, you will need one.
This is so important to have with you. I found this OxGord Telescoping Ladder on Amazon and have really loved it. It telescopes down into a nice small package to fit easily inside my “basement” and then opens up to 12 feet.
That is plenty of height for any kind of RV washing/waxing, seal caulking, etc. Also handy for releasing kites from trees. (that is “kites” not “cat’s”- sorry, I’m a dog guy- the cat can stay in the tree!)
Bungee cords have a thousand and one uses. I use mine for holding the bikes on the bike rack, transporting propane tanks to the refill station, and tying my children to trees. Oop’s, forget that last one.
This set from Cartman is a nice assortment and good value. The plastic jar is handy to keep them in when not in use. Remember to replace your bungees about once a year depending on use. They do wear out over time, especially if they are exposed to the elements.
A generator is essential if you plan to do any amount of boondocking. It is also a good idea as a general rule. We had a residential refrigerator in our unit and so we did not have the propane option if there is a power outage.
Our Craftsman Hybrid Generator has come to the rescue on several occasions AND saved us a TON of money by allowing us to boondock for quite a few weeks.
Don’t forget to have some spare towels or rags for utility use. I use them to clean up outside the rig and to wipe down my hoses and electrical hookup cable EVERY time I put them away.
After being hooked up for a month, they can get pretty grubby so a towel in your hand while you coil them up is a great idea to keep them clean and in good shape.
Also, gotta keep that rig washed and waxed. These microfiber towels at Amazon are good all-purpose rags for jobs that require a softer touch.
It is always a good idea to have some good strong rope around. Again there are a thousand uses- especially if you run out of bungees to tie the kids to trees with.
There is always a load of something in the truck to tie down, or a bow and arrow being crafted.
Paracord is very popular as part of a hiking or camping safety kit as well. It is lightweight and super strong so you can use it to tie a shelter together, make a hammock, etc.
There are tons of colors to choose from as well so if you are creative you can make bracelets, etc. You can get clasps, compasses, flint fire starters etc to connect with the paracord to create a safety bracelet.
Not only are wheel chocks important when your rig is set up, but they are also important as safety equipment should you have a blow out on the road. (And you WILL have a blow out on the road!)
The chocks can hold your truck/ trailer/ RV in place while you are on the jack to avoid roll-aways. Nobody likes to see their rig roll off into the distance with no driver…
Here are some other RV Accessories that we can’t live without that might interest you:
These are my essential tools- the ones I use the most. Of course, there are a good few “rainy day” tools I keep in a big storage bin as well. But these are the ones that I find have the most use for me. Hopefully, this list will help you to use your own space in the most efficient manner.
What tools do you use on a regular basis, share your favorites in the comments below?