11 essential caravanning accessories: Part 1

By: Malcolm Street, Photography by: Malcolm Street

When it comes to setting up your RV, we all know there’s a bit more required than just your home on wheels!

11 essential caravanning accessories: Part 1
Here’s my shortlist of the most useful RV accessories on the market

Modern RVs come with a host of inclusions and accessories – all designed to make your life on the road as comfortable and convenient  as possible.

And while a lot of accessories come as standard, when you’re setting up your rig for the next big trip, there are plenty of additional items you might want to consider. From awnings to batteries, washing machines to wheel chocks, there are numerous accessories on the market that can enhance your touring lifestyle.

Here’s my shortlist of the most useful RV accessories on the market.


I consider this a pretty essential campsite accessory. Awnings provide shelter from sun and rain, allowing you to make the most of the great outdoors. These days, most RVs come with an awning as standard and there are a number of makes, including Dometic, Fiamma, Aussie Traveller and Carefree, and several different styles available to suit different rigs.


A nice addition to your setup, annexe walls can close in the entire under-awning area and offer protection from the weather, as well as providing a bit of privacy. Designed with either full walls or flyscreens, or sometimes both, they are great for travellers, especially families, who like to extend their weatherproof camping space. They also can be a great way of creating an insect-free environment to relax in.


Most RVs come with a deep-cycle house battery – usually a 12V battery that supplies the lighting, water pump, fans, fridge and anything else that runs off 12V. The average capacity is 100Ah, which is usually adequate for running these essentials.

However, for anyone planning extended remote camping, without access to mains power, a second battery is worth putting on your list. Another option is to fit a higher capacity lithium battery, although they are currently a more expensive option.


Taking your toys with you? There are several varieties of racks available for surfboards, kayaks and bikes so, regardless of your rig, there is probably something for you. There are some pretty imaginative designs out there, too – such as the surfboard holder that has been developed for fit to the side of a motorhome.


If your RV is stored outside for long periods in between trips, it won’t suffer much road damage but it will be vulnerable to the effects of the sun and rain. UV rays, in particular, can degrade the paintwork, windows, seals and tyres. So if your rig is stationary long-term, a caravan cover would be a good investment


Getting that sinking feeling? When camping on soft ground, your van’s corner stabilisers and jockey wheel can sink into the surface. Blocks of wood placed underneath are a good way of preventing this from happening. Hardwood is probably best and is readily available from your local hardware store.


Electric brake controllers are an essential item, needed to operate the 12V brakes on the trailer. There are two common types – one based on a motion sensing or pendulum system and the other activated on time delay. While the time delay variety is often a small unit to fit, it’s predictive in its operation and brakes at a predetermined rate. The motion sensing types tend to be larger, but they react better under adverse conditions, resulting in smoother braking.


After a long day at the beach, one of the easiest ways to prevent sand being tracked all through your van is to wash off properly before you head inside. Quite a few RVs have external showers fitted as a standard item these days but, if not, they are not a bad idea – there’s nothing quite like having a good old rinse under a big blue sky.


Whether you have annexe walls or not, floor matting for the under-awning area is a great idea. Apart from anything else, it reduces the dirt and sand being tramped into your RV.


Just about all RVs come with a fridge, either a three-way (240V/12V/LP gas) or a 12V compressor. These are normally adequate for general use but if extra capacity is required, or if you simply like to have a back-up option (you never know what might go wrong and it doesn’t take long for food to spoil), it can be good idea to have a second fridge in your van or tow vehicle. There are various options available, including wine bottle coolers, drawer-style and the portable chest variety.


Air-conditioners are a fairly standard feature in RVs today, but heaters are somewhat less common. There’s a little trans-Tasman joke that while air-conditioners are standard and heaters optional in Australia, it’s the other way around in New Zealand! That said, there are plenty of places in Australia where a space heater would be beneficial.

There are two main types – diesel-fired or LP gas-fired – and, in my experience, both work quite well. In some cases, the space heater is combined with the water heater, which is a convenient setup although, for example, in a diesel-engine motorhome there’s just as good an argument for having a diesel-fired heater.

Stay tuned for Part 2 next week!

Click here to read more Caravan World features

The full feature appeared in Caravan World #549 March 2016. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!