When you’re traveling and sleeping in a small footprint like a Sprinter campervan, space for stowing your vanlife gear is at a premium and so it pays to think carefully and plan what is going to be important with you on the road. There are so many pieces of great gear and gadgets designed for traveling, and living in small spaces – not just van life but also RVs, boats and tiny homes – that it can be hard to narrow down what gadgets are important and will actually be useful for your time living the van life during those campervan road trips.
The essential gear and van life gadgets for a Sprinter camper van road trip will vary depending on your personal needs and preferences, the size of your van, and whether you’re going to be spending extended periods of time playing, living in and working out of your van vs traveling and using the van mainly for leisure and vacations of say less than three weeks at a time… it’s fair to assume or expect that most people will need more gadgets and have more ‘essentials’ when living and working in your van compared to using it mainly for vacations!
Also, if you’re used to the comforts of home and don’t want to feel light you’re ‘roughing it’ on your camper van road trip, then you’ll probably feel the need for more van life gadgets than someone who likes a more minimalist van camping setup.
We’ve put together this particular list of the essential van life gadgets and accessories we like when focused specifically on maximizing enjoyment in a Sprinter camper van when spending time in your van on road trips, and camping during vacations and weekends. It is updated regularly to include additional recommended gear, including new gadgets we learn of and feel deserve a place on this list. Essential vanlife gear and gadgets for full-time van life will be the subject of a much longer post in the future – to ensure you don’t miss that one, subscribe to our mailing list to be notified of future posts and deals 🙂
Vanlife Gear for fun and chillaxing in and around your Sprinter camper van
1. Warm puffy blanket
There’s something about these Rumpl puffy blankets… they’re super lightweight, look and feel good, are made from durable fabric, and are super-warm. Oh, and they don’t cling on to pet hair and dirt like wool or fleece fabrics do, so it’s easy to keep them clean and shake hair off, especially if you have pets on the road with you.
2. The Biolite Smokeless FirePit
Is a campsite complete without a grill? If you’re allowed fires in your campground, then a compact grill levels-up your campsite cooking game and is an awesome camper van life gadget to have with you.
This Biolite firepit grill is not just any old grill! It burns wood and charcoal, is smokeless, has variable fan speeds, and can be used as a firepit, grill or BBQ. If that wasn’t enough, it also features a rechargeable battery powerpack with USB charging ports for your devices.
3. A campsite lantern and/or string lights
Because nothing says #vanlife than some good lighting! Also, it helps to be able to see what you’re doing once it gets dark 🙂 The BioLite BaseLantern is compact, lightweight, provides light on both sides, AND powers chains of the compatible LED string lights (BioLite SiteLights and SiteLights Mini).
4. A high-quality camera
To document all your camper van adventures / misadventures you can’t beat the original action-ready GoPro camera. The latest GoPro model is capable of capturing amazing quality footage, with built-in stabilization – it’s really incredible.
5. A way to iron out your achy back
Everyone’s talking about the Chirp Wheel – probably because it featured on Shark Tank, and it really works! The Chirp Wheel comes in three sizes – or you can buy the set of three for working on different parts of your back – and it is far superior to a standard foam roller – so much so that it has been FDA-registered as a medical device.
The smallest Chirp Wheel is portable enough to tuck away somewhere in your van, to be whipped out at a moment’s notice to help you iron out those back aches. It features a patented design and is simple, yet truly effective!
6. A porta-potty
Is this the ultimate van life ‘gadget’?!
If you’re going out into the wilderness and camping somewhere without toilet facilities, Leave No Trace principles should apply.
One way to help ensure you’re leaving no trace is to have bathroom facilities on-board, so you’re not faced with the problem of where to go when you have to go, or having to bury your waste.
While we love composting toilets, if space is at a premium then this porta-potty may be a more suitable piece of vanlife gear for you, as it is small and can stow more easily in your van’s garage area or a good-sized cabinet.
Essential vanlife gear for eating and drinking
7. An Advanced Multitool
A multitool is, by definition, a super-versatile gadget to have in your van – for everything from making repairs to opening a beer, it’s definitely a van life essential in our opinion.
If you’re only going to have one multitool, the new FREE P4 from Leatherman is hard to beat. It features 21 tools, including a saw and serrated knife – but is lightweight at less than 9 ounces, so not only is it handy to have in your van, but if you want to use it when out adventuring then it won’t weigh you down.
8. A hard cooler
Even if you have a fridge in your camper van, a cooler is a must-have for keeping drinks cool, as well as storing any food or snacks that don’t fit in the fridge.
The YETI Tundra range of coolers are pretty much unbreakable and should last a lifetime.
Vanlife gear: Campervan safety and security
9. A portable power station
These portable power stations from Jackery are seriously impressive – capable of powering your lights, chargers and other devices for hours, and can be charged via your car’s 12v sockets while you drive, or with their own compact solar panel setup.
A portable power station is also a very useful item to have at home in case of a blackout, or if you don’t want to run long cords or extension leads to work or play in your yard.
The Jackery Explorer 1000 is the largest in their range and features 3x 110v outlets, as well as 12v USB outlets for powering and charging all your devices.
10. A powerful headlamp that lasts for hours
Perhaps you need to find a bathroom spot outside in the middle of the night, or just need some extra light to help rummage around in a cabinet or your camper van’s storage areas.
Either way, a headlamp is the perfect hands-free companion when you need light, and a good headlamp will offer you varying levels of brightness, as well as a red light setting, which is great if you need a bit of light, but don’t want to ruin your night-vision or blind/wake up your camping companions when you have it on.
This headlamp is compact, lightweight and no-bounce, so you can use it for sports as well as general camping stuff.
11. Recovery Boards
If you’re taking your van off-road, even if it’s just to find a nice boondocking spot to camp in the forest, then there’s a chance you can get stuck in mud, sand or snow – and given you’re out somewhere without many other people around, you may be stuck out there for a while if you’re waiting for help – especially if there’s no cell service to call for help!
Having a good quality pair of recovery boards with you is not just something 4×4/off-road lovers should consider – anyone planning to take their camper van off the tarmac could do with being prepared. These boards can make all the difference between being stuck in the mud for hours, awaiting help vs. getting stuck, freeing yourself, and continuing along your trail like a happy campervan camper 😉
12. Jump Starting Booster Battery
Argh, there’s nothing worse than getting a flat battery when you’re in your Sprinter camper van in the middle of nowhere, with nobody around to help you get it going again!
This NOCO Boost Car Battery Jumpstarter is not only a useful portable lithium power bank, but it is specifically designed to enable you to jumpstart your vehicle without needing a loaner car to help. This is a pretty damn handy van life gadget.
The NOCO Boost comes in several different sizes, including the ‘Plus’, ‘Sport’, ‘HD’ or ‘XL’, so it’s best to compare your chosen NOCO’s specifications against your van’s engine type and size to ensure that it is the right size.