56 Best Van Life Essentials That Make Van Living Easier

Downsizing from an apartment or a house into a camper van doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice all of your comforts and conveniences. We learned this firsthand while living in our van full-time (his name is Benji!). Over the last few months, we’ve taken the time to find the best van life accessories! Thanks to these essentials, we have turned Benji from a regular camper van to a comfortable and cozy tiny home on wheels.

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We knew we wanted our van conversion to be as functional and homey as possible, so we were very thoughtful about each and every item that earned its place in our cupboards. 

To help you in figuring out what you need in your van, we’ve put together this list of the 56 best van life essentials that make van living easier.

Enjoying a day at Almonta Beach
Enjoying the full-time van life
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Van Life Kitchen Essentials

Here are all of the van life kitchen essentials that make our camper van, Benji, into a mobile kitchen that even a travelling chef would enjoy.

1. Induction Cooktop

Instead of fussing with propane, we skipped the camp stove and went for a super speedy induction cooktop. It heats up quickly and is easy to tuck away when we’re not using it because it’s so compact, a great way to save money and space. 

This is perfect camper van equipment because it’s energy-efficient and is much safer to run in a small space than gas.

van life essentials
Induction Cooktop

2. Fridge

This 2.2 cubic feet RV fridge is surprisingly spacious and runs on DC power directly from our batteries. It only draws 40W, which is amazing considering it has a small freezer compartment too. The black exterior looks sleek and modern, and we never have to worry about propane or ammonia as you do with traditional RV fridges.

Campervan fridge
Campervan fridge

3. Natural Convection Toaster Oven

A toaster oven is a super versatile van life essential that’ll have you covered for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We use it every morning to make toast, and it’s the perfect van-sized oven to roast veggies, bake pizza, and even bake dessert! 

We pack ours away into the cupboard when we’re not using it. It’s also electric and runs off the same circuit as the rest of our appliances.

Fresh toast for breakfast
Fresh toast for breakfast

4. De’Longhi Nespresso Essenza Plus Machine

This isn’t just an espresso machine, but a coffee machine and a kettle all in one. The best thing about it is that it boils water in 30 seconds, so it’s perfect for tea and for boiling water for cooking without the need for a kettle. Tea lovers and lazy chef’s dreams! And it’s pretty good at making fancy coffee, too. 😉

Coffee to start your day
Coffee to start your day

5. Insulated Water Bottles

Our Hydro Flasks are our go-to when we want to keep our tea hot on a cold day or bring ice-cold water on a hike. We never have to worry about leakage, and the bottles are easy to carry around wherever we go. They come in lots of different sizes and cute colours, too!

6. Wall Mount Paper Towel Holder

When you’re living in a van, counter space is prime real estate. Vanlife products that give items a spot to live without taking up counter space, like this wall-mounted paper towel holder, are super helpful. 

The best part about this one is that it has a ratchet system so you can tear off paper towels easily with one hand. 

van life essentials
Space-saving and convenient towel holder

7. Wall Hanging Fruit Basket

Another great way to free up counter space is with these wall-mounted kitchen baskets. They’re perfect for storing fruit to prevent bouncing and bruising while we’re driving. They also look nice and modern, so you can put them anywhere. We use 2 of these on our kitchen wall and another one under our sink for storage. 

8. Silicone Placemats

These non-slip silicone placemats are great for protecting our table and countertops from hot pots and pans. They’re washable and roll up nicely to pack away into the cupboard.

READ NEXT: 12 Best Van Conversion Companies That Will Build Your Van for You

9. Wheat Straw Bowl

These wheat straw bowls are a triple threat: they look nice, they’re good for the environment, and they’re unbreakable. The wheat straw material is an amazing alternative to plastic but is just as durable and lightweight. These are perfect for bumpy rides and can withstand all the bumps that come with backroad driving and life in a van. 

10. Wheat Straw Plates

Just like the bowls, these wheat straw plates are an eco-friendly alternative to plastic dishware. They’re versatile, durable, and look nice too. Definitely add these to your car living essentials packing list!

11. Collapsible Silicone Food Storage Container

With limited space, having van life gear that can collapse down to lay flat and tuck away when you’re not using it is really helpful. These collapsible food storage containers are made of silicone, so they’re durable and non-toxic. The four different sizes are great for storing our leftovers! They’re easy to clean and easy to store. We have 8 of them!

Can’t get enough of these food storage containers!
Can’t get enough of these food storage containers!

12. Compost Bin 

Finding a compost bin that’s compact and blocks odours well was really important in completing our van life kitchen. This slim 4-litre compost bin is the perfect solution. It has an air vent and comes with a mounting bracket so it can be secured while driving and not take up counter space. 

We’ve never had a problem with compost smells of leaks, so it’s been a perfect solution for our kitchen.

Canada van life garbage compost 09266
Compost bin on the right and trash bin on the left

13. Collapsible Trash Can

We love this collapsible trash can that can hook onto any cupboard door and be completely flattened and out of the way when we’re not using it. 

It’s small enough not to be bulky but big enough to handle whatever garbage we create on a daily basis (we try to live low waste, but we are not zero waste yet!). This should be included on any list of campervan essentials. 

14. Self-Adhesive Natural Cork Shelf Liner

We lined our drawers and cabinets with this self-adhesive cork liner that looks great and helps keep things in place when we’re on the road. We love the look of cork and the fact that it’s an environmentally friendly renewable material. 

15. Adjustable Cabinet Shelf

Anything that creates more space in your tiny cupboards is on the van life essentials list for us. These adjustable cabinet shelves are an easy solution for adding shelf space to our cabinets. We use these for our toiletry cabinet, but they can be used for any kitchen/bathroom storage. 

It’s easy to store personal items!
It’s easy to store personal items!

16. Expandable Drawer Organizer

An expandable drawer organizer is the best way to store your cutlery. It keeps ours neat and organized. We love this eco-friendly bamboo tray because it’s versatile and looks great too.

Camper Van Build, van life essentials
More storage for dining essentials

17. Magnetic Spice Containers

Magnetic spice containers are perfect van life accessories for storing spices and other small bulk items. They offer an easy way to free up storage space and reduce your waste from unnecessary packaging. 

We buy our spices and dry goods in bulk. This set also comes with pre-made labels so you can keep everything nice and organized.

18. Black Quartz Sink

This durable and easy-to-clean quartz sink makes our kitchen look sleek and modern and can hold up to the wear and tear of van living. It’s the perfect size for washing our hands and dishes without taking up too much counter space.

Camper Van Build, van life essentials
A functional sink is a must-have van life essential item.

19. Pull Out Sink Faucet

This black faucet matches our quartz sink and works just like a regular home faucet. It has a sprayer that you can pull out and a button for a convenient switch between spray or stream mode, perfect for a quick sink shower to rinse off shoes or sandy feet. The faucet swivels so you can make the most of all the space in your sink, which van lifers know is a huge perk.

20. Damascus Steel Knife

Everyone knows that cooking is made a lot easier when you have the right tools. This Damascus steel knife is a great versatile tool that makes meal prepping a breeze. It’s hand-forged, super sharp, and feels secure and comfortable in your hand.

It just cuts anything easier!
It just cuts anything easier!

21. Ceramic Knife Set

Having a functional van kitchen means that we can’t have knives that dull easily since it’s not practical to carry a knife sharpener. We opted for more expensive ceramic knives to ensure that we always have sharp blades that are durable and rustproof.

22. Silicone Spatula Set

Silicone utensils are a great alternative to metal or plastic because they’re durable, they won’t scratch your pots and pans, and they’re easy to clean. The handles won’t heat up while you’re cooking, and cleaning is as simple as wiping them down with soap and water.

It doesn’t scratch your non-stick pans!
It doesn’t scratch your non-stick pans!

Essentials For Van Life: Water System

Having a functional water system and good plumbing is a big part of feeling like you’re living in a home and not just a vehicle. These water system components are excellent for van camping equipment.

23. Electric Water Heater

High on our van life essentials list is an on-demand electric water heater. Having hot water whenever we need it has been fantastic for cold days and for washing up properly. This mini 4-gallon water heater is easy to install and heats up in just 20 minutes. 

It is a bit of a power hog; it uses, on average, 50-100A of power with every use, but since we have plenty of juice in our batteries, it’s one of the best van life accessories we have!

24. RV Water Tank Filler With Shutoff Valve

Having a tank filler allows us to fill up our fresh water tank super fast and without worrying about any backflow in the line. This Camco filler has a shut-off valve so we can control the flow of water and be able to turn it off once the tank is full without having to run over to quickly turn the hose off.

READ NEXT: How to Choose the Best Van for Camper Conversion

25. RV Recoil Hose

This spring hose saves space by retracting into a small coil but extends to be very long when we need the extra reach. It’s super handy for getting water wherever we are without having to worry about storing a bulky hose.

26. Under Sink Water Filter System

Having a water filter system was a must for us since we fill up freshwater from lots of different sources that all have different chemical and mineral content. With a filter, we know that our water is clean and free of any traces of chemicals like chlorine and lead.

Camper Van Bedroom & Living Area Essentials

Having a comfortable bed and sitting area are van life essentials that make sleeping, hanging out, and going on a road trip much more enjoyable.

27. Scopema Swivel Seat

Installing a Scopema Swivel Seat in our Sprinter was a GAME CHANGER, as it allowed us to create additional seating space inside the van when our elevator bed was down. The Swivel Seat allows you to rotate your driver or passenger side (or both) seats to face the back of the van when the van is not in motion. 

We got a passenger-side Scopema swivel seat designed specifically for our 2008 Sprinter from The Swivel Shop. Getting the right swivel for our van made for super easy installation and ease of use. 

28. Zinus 4 Inch Gel Memory Foam Mattress Topper

To make our mattress, we used this 4-inch gel memory foam topper that is much denser and more body-conforming than regular foam. The gel memory foam is an amazing temperature regulator and it supports your body nicely. Our bed is now so comfortable that we would choose it over most hotel beds – how many van lifers can say that? 

READ NEXT: How to Build a CHEAP DIY Elevator Bed

29. Latex Mattress Topper

Topping our mattress with this additional 2” topper makes our bed super comfy. We bought a king-size, cut it to fit our queen-size bed, and used the leftover pieces to make cushions for our front seats. Long drives are now super comfortable too! 

A mattress topper is recommended for a good night’s sleep!
A mattress topper is recommended for a good night’s sleep!

30. Bamboo Drawer Dividers

We love these bamboo drawer dividers for keeping our clothing drawers tidy and organized. These ones are awesome because they’re made of eco-friendly bamboo and they’re adjustable so they can fit in any drawer. 

Safety & Automotive Essentials

In addition to all of your living and cooking needs, some of the most important things on your van life packing list are your safety and automotive gear. 

31. Roadside Emergency Kit

Being prepared for whatever comes your way is a big part of living on the road. There won’t always be a gas station or roadside assistance nearby. This roadside emergency kit comes with a portable air compressor, tow ropes, and a first aid kit, among many other useful things and gives us peace of mind. 

32. Fire Extinguisher

This portable fire extinguisher is a lightweight aerosol can that’s easy to use and takes up very little space in our van. It’s the perfect option to keep in a car or van to protect yourself and your vehicle in the event of a fire.

33. Carbon Monoxide Detector & Fire Alarm

A carbon monoxide and smoke detector are campervan essentials that no van is complete without. We have a battery-powered alarm, so we don’t need to worry about wiring and can feel safe with this 2-in-1 detector. A carbon monoxide detector is especially important if you have any camping van equipment that uses propane.

Safety first!
Safety first!

34. Snow Tire Chains

A pair of snow tire chains are great to have on your camper essentials list if you’re ever in high-elevation or snowy areas. We’re travelling in Canada, so having tire chains is a given and is actually required for winter driving in British Columbia. 

35. Booster Cable

A set of reliable booster cables are van life necessities that you’ll probably need at some point—even if it’s to help someone else out. These are must-haves for any road trip or van life adventure. 

36. Folding Shovel

When it comes to van accessories for camping or any other outdoor adventure, a folding shovel is a handy tool to have. You can use it to shovel dirt or snow or take it with you when duty calls in the woods. This shovel is foldable so it’s portable and easy to carry.

READ NEXT: 20 Best Accessories For Campervans & VanLife

Essentials For Electronics & Van Life Gadgets

Although living in a van is all about living simply, having some nifty van life technology makes extended trips on the road that much more enjoyable.

37. Portable Speaker 

Whether we’re sitting by the fire, hanging out at the beach or just relaxing inside our van, this waterproof outdoor Bluetooth speaker is an awesome device to make sure we can listen to music or podcasts wherever we go. It’s durable for outdoor use, and the battery lasts a long time between charges.

Listen to your favourite songs anywhere!
Listen to your favourite songs anywhere!

38. Cell Phone Car Mount

Having your cell phone mounted in a sturdy location that allows you to use GPS while you’re on the road is super handy. This mount slides onto your air vents and holds your phone securely without having to fuss with suction cups or other mounts.

Navigating roads is easier with this phone holder!
Navigating roads is easier with this phone holder!

39. WiFi Range Extender 

Being able to work from our van wherever we are is an important part of our lifestyle. One of our top van life essentials is this WiFi range extender that boosts wifi signal reliability. It’s easy to set up work whether we’re at a campground with a weak signal or in a Walmart parking lot. 

40. 12V Outlet & Socket Charger 

Between our laptops, camera equipment, phones and iPads, we have a ton of electronics that need to stay charged. It’s definitely not enough to rely on a portable power bank. Our van is outfitted with not one, not two, but 5 (!!!) of these outlets and socket charges. There is one in every corner of the van and a few in our electronic drawers. 

Never run out of battery!
Never run out of battery!

41. Dimmable LED Puck Lights

These dimmable LED lights serve as the main lighting source inside our van. They offer cool or warm lighting and are ideal for a work setting or relaxing evening. There are 10 brightness levels controlled by a remote, so we can match the light to our mood and control them from anywhere.

42. LED Strip Lights

We love how versatile these LED strip lights are, with a million different colours for every mood. They’re programmable to turn on and off when we want and can be controlled with the click of a button from the remote or on our phones. 

LED lights make van living feel premium!
LED lights make van living feel premium!

43. Magnetic Cabinet Lights

We use these magnetic lights inside of our cabinets to give more light. They’re motion-activated and can be recharged via USB, so no need for batteries. Plus, we can stick them on the side of our van like a camping lantern and give ourselves light outside while camping!

It’s easier to grab things at night!
It’s easier to grab things at night!

Van Life Power Essentials

Our solar system is the key to renewable energy while living in a van. Here is what we’ve got.

44. 200W Solar Kit

A solar kit has everything you need to get started and take the guesswork out of putting together your electrical system. We bought all the pieces separately at a local solar distributor in Canada, but 3 of these would be the equivalent of our solar setup. 

The kit comes with solar panels, a charge controller, and the wiring and mounting brackets you’ll need to connect to your batteries.

Canada Vanlife Sprinter van build 06239
Our Mercedes Sprinter with 2 solar panels on top

45. 100Ah 12v Lithium Deep Cycle Battery

Along with the solar panels, your batteries are some of the most important components of an off-grid solar setup. We purchased our four lithium-ion batteries from a local supplier, but these are very similar to the ones we have. 

46. 12-Volt Power Inverter

An inverter is essential for turning the DC power from your batteries into AC power for your appliances. This inverter is pretty quiet and gives us clean, pure sine wave power for all of our electrical needs. 

47. Portable Power Station

A must-have for van life, the Portable Power Station is a versatile all-in-one solution, you can even charge it on the go via a 12v power cord connected to your car battery while driving. With multiple outlets and USB ports, it charges devices and powers small 12V DC or 120V appliances, making it perfect for life on the road.

Camper Van Comfort Essentials

Adjusting to different temperatures and climates is all part of a travelling lifestyle. These van life essentials will help you stay comfortable along the way. 

48. Diesel Air Heater 

Travelling in Canada means we need a powerful heater to keep us warm in the winter. This diesel heater is a Webasto alternative for a fraction of the price that definitely delivers. It keeps us warm and cosy even at -20°C and creates dry heat, unlike propane furnaces like a Mr. Heater.

49. MaxxAir Dome Exhaust Fan

Having an exhaust fan is important for van lifers to prevent excess moisture and condensation. Trust us: keeping van windows open is not enough! This dome exhaust fan works great in the bathroom to draw out moisture from the shower and keep our van mould-free.

50. MaxxAir Fan Deluxe

We have two of these 2-way fans that create great air circulation and help to regulate temperatures when it’s hot out. Airflow is key in preventing excess moisture, especially when you’re cooking or boiling water. We have one over our bed and one in the kitchen. 

51. Zero Breeze Mark II Air Conditioner

An air conditioner wasn’t originally on our list of camping van accessories, but after spending two hot summers adventuring around Canada, we learned that it was a must-add! We did a whole lot of research to find the best AC for vanlife and found ZeroBreeze Mark II – a portable AC perfect for our set-up. 

Zero Breeze Mark II barely uses any power and can cool our entire sleeping area in a matter of minutes. It’s great for those sticky, hot days when the fan just doesn’t cut it. Plus, it’s completely portable, so you can use it anywhere.

ZeroBreeze Mark II is a real air-conditioner with a built-in 24V adaptive frequency micro compressor. It doesn’t require ice or water and runs on AC power when plugged into our power supply in the van, but it can also run off battery for 3-5 hours of portable usage.

Canada vanlife portable AC max 01361
ZeroBreeze Mark II in action in our van

52. Camping Chairs

Camping chairs offer on-the-go comfort with a foldable design and lightweight build, making them easy to store in tight spaces for a cozy seat wherever your van life adventures lead. Opt for camping chairs with built-in drink holders for easy access to your cold drinks or morning coffee during shortstops.

53. Camping Table

We recommend bringing along a camping table to make sure you don’t have to compromise on comfort. If you’re looking for a multi-purpose table, a camp roll table is a great choice that rolls up to chair size with adjustable legs for cooking, dining, or games. 

READ MORE: Best Portable Camping ACs For Van Life

Bathroom & Cleaning Van Life Essentials

54. Separett Tiny Waterless Toilet

Having a toilet on board is essential for any van lifer. We started our van life journey with a portable toilet on board but hated how smelly it got after just a few uses. We looked at a number of composting toilet solutions but eventually decided on the Separett Waterless Toilet. And honestly, we LOVE IT! The separate is a unique toilet solution for the van, as it uses no water, no chemicals, and no composting, yet keeps our bathroom smelling fresh even after a whole week of use.

The Separett Waterless Toilet is designed with 2 compartments, one for liquids and one for solids. Both compartments are kept shut when not in use, so there is no odour and no messy clean-up either. 

There is a light that indicates when the liquids need to be emptied. The liquid container is easy to pull out and dump into any sani station or regular toilet (no harmful chemicals inside, so it’s completely safe to dump into any sewer). The solids, along with toilet paper, can be dumped into a composting bin, similar to a doggy doo-doo bag. Easy and mess-free!

It’s one of our must-have items for vanlife, and if you’re in Canada, you can purchase one through a Canadian distributor, Canadian Eco Products. Trust us, it’s a worthy addition to your packing list! Van life products like these make living on the road comfortable and convenient.

55. Hanging Drying Rack 

Laundry days mean limited drying space, so we use this portable hanging drying rack that can hook on anywhere. It’s great for smaller items like socks and can tuck away easily when we’re not using it.

56. Shark WandVac Vacuum

A handheld vacuum is one of the van living essentials that we use way more than we’d ever think! It’s lightweight and portable while still being powerful enough to keep our beds and floors clean after a muddy hike or a messy day in the kitchen.

van life essentials
Keep your van clean at all times!

57. Pure Castile Soap

If you haven’t heard of Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap, you’re totally missing out. This is an all-in-one solution for washing dishes, body wash, shampoo, detergent, etc. It cuts grease and dirt even in cold water, and it’s biodegradable, making it one of our top van camping essentials.

These items have all helped to make van living easier and more comfortable for us as we travel the country in our campervan. We hope this list of the 52 best van life essentials helps you start planning your packing list once you’ve gone through the exciting process of choosing your van (Here was our build) so you can hit the road and start your adventure! 

What Are Your Must-Have Items For Van Life?

READ NEXT: 10 Beautiful Sprinter Van Conversion Inspirations

2 thoughts on “56 Best Van Life Essentials That Make Van Living Easier”

  1. Really inspiring, just brought an old off-road trailer and your concepts are awesome. Looking forward to my sustainable adventures with a trailer concept similar to yours. Love the elevated bed and toilet ideas.

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