Great RV Accessories, Gadgets and Toys We Use
by Jim Langley
One of the most fun things about RVing is finding great accessories that make camping and caring for your home away from home easier and more enjoyable.
Since we're often asked what we recommend - or at campsites, "hey, where did you get that?!" we're sharing here some of our favorite RV accessories.
Here's a little background on our RVing experience and our 2016 Lazy Daze RV we currently live in while on the road.
Click on the photos to open larger versions in separate browser windows.
Thanks for reading!
Camco Little Red Campfire portable propane campfire
This little portable fire pit has been one of the nicest additions to our camping. No more carrying or buying wood. No more smoke. No more difficulty lighting fires. And, almost everywhere, propane fires are allowed whereas wood fires are prohibited more and more.
We have the 11.25-inch model, which just fits inside our Lazy Daze RV's storage compartments. It also fit inside our Class B 2013 Roadtrek SS Agile RV, beneath the rear seat - just barely.
While there are lots of larger propane fire pits available, for limited-space RVs, this is perfect. You can cook marshmallows over it. There's even an accessory Camco Little Red Campfire Cook Top. The only thing you probably don't want to do with it that you can with a wood fire pit, is burn trash because it might damage the ceramic logs.
One of the Little Red Campfire's best features is the all metal construction and securely sealing lid that encloses the entire unit including the hose that wraps around the pedestal. There's a sturdy carrying handle built in, too. You use a 16 ounce propane cannister or can go with larger propane tanks, too.
The heat output is pretty good. We've had up to 6 people sitting around our fire. It's also surprising how you can use it. For example, you can put in the middle of a picnic table to get the heat/fire right in front of you. The base doesn't get hot enough to burn. We've used this little gem for 3 years and it's still working great. Highly recommended.
Valterra Flush King Reverse RV Flush Valve black/grey tank rinser
Please watch the video from super RV expert, Mark Polk of RV Education who expertly explains this awesome RV accessory. What it does is greatly simplify the task of refilling the black and grey tanks to flush them out after dumping them. Most RV makers recommend this in order to keep debris from clogging the tanks and sticking to the sensors causing false readings when you monitor your tank fullness.
Both our RV manuals told us to drag a hose inside the RV and fill and flush the toilet over and over to fill the black tanks to flush them out after dumping. This took too long, dripped water all over the inside of our RVs and required opening and closing the toilet valve many times.
With the Flush King, you simply twist it onto the exterior sewage pipe and connect the sewer hose to it. The Flush King has a gate valve and threaded water hose connector built in. So it creates a second gate valve and a way to fill the sewage tanks from outside your RV.
To fill the black or grey tank to flush, simply screw a hose to the Flush King, close the Flush King's gate valve, open the already-emptied RV tank's gate valve, and turn on the water. This causes the water to fill the Flush King and then go backwards up through the RV plumbing to fill the black tank (or the grey tank if you choose).
TIP: To fill our 28 gallon black tank took just three minutes - so be sure to have someone inside checking the control panel monitor and hollering to turn off the water when the monitor shows that the tank is full.
Now, to flush the full tank, just open the gate valve. It's that simple. And maybe the best part is it's more effective at rinsing out the black tank than the method requiring dragging a hose into the RV's bathroom and filling the tank through the toilet. We compared both and the Flush King consistently rinsed out more. Our theory is that by back filling the tanks, the Flush King rinses and clears out debris that remains stuck in the plumbing when you only rinse/dump from the top down.
Campgrounds usually have a single water spigot for attaching the RV main water hose at sites with hook-ups. Once the water hose is connected, if you need water when outside the RV, you have to find and walk to a shared campground water spigot/faucet. Homes usually only have one tap, too.
With a Tap Splitter, you have a way to connect two hoses or only attach one and leave the other spigot available for water access without having to remove the hose - handy for filling water bottles, dog bowls, washing dishes (when allowed).
Both of the Leaf's taps have easy-to-turn and leak-free on/off ball valves. Also included are three hose washers.
This is a small splitter that takes up hardly any storage space. It's ruggedly constructed and has a collar that makes it easy to screw on. The on/off levers turn smooth and easy. We liked ours so much, we got one for home use, too.
A reader asked what size hose thread this splitter takes. It's a 3/4-inch thread fitting, which is the standard hose thread size found on most fresh water and garden hoses.
Portable Pet WaterBoy Water Bowl - non-spill water bowl for pets
Our three dogs go through a lot of water on camping trips - and not only by drinking it - by tipping over the various water bowls we've tried, too. Which always creates a minor flood with the water traveling along the RV floor and finding its way under and into everything; especially when it happens as we're driving.
Finally we discovered the Portable Pet Water Bowl, that sits low on its broad side refusing to tip even if the dogs kick it or step in it. While they can still slurp some water onto the floor, so far this handy water dispenser has done a great job of flood prevention and is well worth the low cost in our opinion.
It holds up to three quarts of water. The bowl (blue part in the photo) refills itself as the dogs drink. When not in use, the WaterBoy's narrow profile makes storage easy, plus the built-in carrying handle is a nice touch.
Coleman 10 x 10-foot Screenhouse/tent protection from bugs
This screen tent packs small and is ridiculously simple, fast and easy to set up and take down, making it ideal for camping wherever there are mosquitos or other annoying insects. It's 10 feet square and 84 inches tall in the center. It will fit over a standard picnic table you find at most campsites or you can put four folding chairs inside easily.
What's most impressive is how easy it is to set it up - important when the bugs are eating you alive. Simply remove it from the bag, lay it on the ground or on the picnic table, fold out the legs until they lock straight and then lift the tent into shape. The legs and tent screen fabric are all attached so it essentially goes up on its own. Directions are sewn into the bag if you need them, too.
The tent folds and fits into the included zip bag as fast as it sets up. The packed bag is 48-inches long by about 8 inches around. It easily tucks into one of the storage compartments on our Lazy Daze RV. It also fit under the rear seat in our Roadtrek SS Agile Class B RV. We wouldn't travel without it.
Having a pen like this for your dogs is a great way to keep them safe and happy. It folds flat for easy storage in an RV and sets up in minutes. Get a mat for the floor and a water dish and your dog(s) have a nice place to relax and enjoy until it's playtime. Choose the height that's appropriate for your dog(s) and keep in mind that if you have several dogs, you can purchase two Exercise Pens ("X-pens" for short) and easily join them together to provide more area.
The X-pens have an entry/exit door with sliding latches to keep it shut. It can also be anchored to the ground with the included ground anchors. If you train your dogs with treats and praise to feel like the X-pen is their special area, they won't try to escape and you shouldn't need the ground anchors. We have three Australian Shepherds and have never had one want to get out enough to try to jump over the side or knock over the X-pen.
Overall, it's much easier to put your dogs inside this than to tie them to something by their leash. And, they're able to see everything going on outside rather than being stuck inside the RV. When it's hot, you can cover it for shade or sometimes it's easier to move it into the shade.
It took a lot of searching to find these quality wheel covers. Hopefully this short review will help save you some time. Tire covers are important because RV tires are costly and last longest when protected from the sun, wind and rain when the rig's parked for long periods.
This is one pair of covers (two covers). They're made of a tough waterproof and opaque vinyl material that's fleece-lined inside. The covers are a snug fit thanks to elastic hems on the back that hug the tires and hold the covers in place. The tight fit shown in the photo is exactly how they fit on our RV.
In order to get the right size, measure both the width of your tire (across the tread) and the diameter (across the tire from side to side). We've been very happy with how easy these covers go on/off and how well they protect the tires.
American Specialty 25-foot Handi-Hose and Reel roll-up flat hose
Regular (round) fresh water hoses are affordable and available everywhere. But, they're somewhat hard to handle, bulky and take up more space than you might want if you have a small RV and/or limited storage compartments.
My brother's RV is a Volkswagen Eurovan, which is a lot smaller than our Lazy Daze. When he bought it, it came with a neat hose that's sort of a miniature fire hose - in that it's flat and only rounds out when filled. Being flat allows it to be easily rolled up and stored in its included reel, which also protects the hose when stored - and possibly sliding around and bumping into other things in the storage compartment.
As soon as we saw that hose we wanted to try one and we've been very pleased with ours. All rolled up in its reel it stores flat (or stands to fit in a narrow spot) and it's a quick job getting the hose out for use and putting it away.
Click the photo above for a full image of the hose and reel. Other campers who haven't seen one always want to know where we got ours, so here's the link: Handi-Hose
The reason to always use a regulator when hooking up at the campsite is to protect your hose and RV plumbing from the excessively high water pressure found at some campgrounds. The water regulator reduces the pressure coming out to a safe 40-50 pounds of pressure - safe for your hose and plumbing.
Here's the Camco Water Pressure Regulator (right).
TIP: If you're getting into RVing, we think you'll enjoy receiving and reading Chuck Woodbury's RV Travel newsletter - full of helpful tips and advice every week (it arrives in your inbox on Saturdays).