Outfitting and upgrades

RV Outfitting Purchases

We want our RV to feel like home. We want it to work right.  We also need things we buy to be versatile, efficient and not take up a lot of space. This page will breakdown all RV related item we have upgraded and purchased for our 2021 Thor Tiburon 24RW. We have also provded links to Amazon and other dealers for quick access if you would like to pick up these items yourself.  

The items here are pretty comprehensive and the page is actually quite long. Make use of the icons below to jump to a section. We cover the range of all RV specific items we use. From phone apps and webcams to electrical monitoring systems and batteries to toilet cleaner and soap dishes.  We will update regularly on our hits and misses. If we get it  wrong, we’ll let you know by explaining  the update.

Electronics

The Circle 2 is very easy to install. It records 60-second videos when motion is detected. Videos are stored to the cloud and can be downloaded from your webpage interface. We used it at our home for years and have now incorporated it into our RV.  Rechargeable battery, magnetic or hard mount options.  Read about the installation and why we chose this over WYZE here.

This is a simple but strong magnet to secure the Circle2, so you don’t need to drill holes in the roof (if you can find a steel section to mount it on to). It can also be used to stick a camera on a street light or other metal surface for a quick security camera placement.

When you combine this tiny, but powerful router with a tethered cell phone hotspot from Visible, you get cell data in your RV, and a wireless router for all your devices for as low as $25 a month.  That is not a typo.  Read about the router and why we chose it over others here

 

We already had a Blu-Ray player in the RV, but wanted to add Chromecast features as well.  This simple switch allows us to send either item to the TV’s with a simple switch.  Everything stays in the tech cupboard, nice and clean.  Very simple and efficient. 

 

This model has all of the current top-of-the-line features: 

  • 2K (2560×1440) resolution
  • 140° recording angle.
  • Parking and G-force mode
  • WiFi GPS
  • Low-noise Night Vision
  • Cloud and SD card recording

Add $100 and add a rear camera to the package.

550 MBps transfer rate, 2 terabytes of storage capacity. Solid State Drive for ultra fast speeds.  Rugged construction with a carabiner clip.  We use this as our hard drive backup for all of our data, and store it in a watertight container. It then stays in our bug-out bag so we will never loose our data in case we have to dash out in a quick emergency.

 

Our everyday external drive for work files, as well as our audio library and movie server. 120MBps transfer rate and 5 terabytes of space is plenty for us to put a lot of stuff on this!  We have it connected to our GL.iNet750S Travel Router, and it appears as an optional drive on our folders.

 

This 4 port hub comes with a 5th port for fast charging. USB 3.0 transmits up to 5Gbps. Great to connect our hotspot phone, our large HDD and thumbdrives to our router.

 

We connect the 5TB hard drive into our router hard wired. This adapter allows us to convert from USB to Ethernet.  Works like a charm.  makes for a stable connection, and it allows us to add a static IP address for the drive.

 

A rechargeable battery system is a must for full-timer RV’ers.  There are larger and more elaborate systems on the market, but this one is a great fit for our needs.  The AAA/AA bank can charge 8 batteries at a time, plus one 9V.  The LED display indicates the charge level of each battery.  It also has a discharge feature. Hint:  Make sure you are the display shows “CHG” instead of “DISCHG”, or you’ll find all your batteries drained out when you come back!

 

Add rechargeable batteries on to the list of things you shouldn’t buy on the cheap.  mAh, the number of recharges, and percentage of full charge are all important numbers to know with batteries.  Panasonic’s Eneloop Pro series is rated at 2550 MaH, with 500 recharges and will hold 85% of its capacity for a year.  Take a look at my battery test post for a deeper dive.

 

This is a great solution so you don’t have to carry heavy D cell batteries.  You just pop a AA battery inside this enclosure and it will work as a D Cell.  We use it for our lanterns that require D batteries.

We need cell phone data reaching us all the time.  Our two phones and our entire internet access rely on a strong signal reaching us from the nearby cellular towers.  When the tower is far away, this system receives the existing signal from the external antenna, amplifies it and sends it from the internal antenna to our phones.  On a day when we’re only getting one bar, this increases it up to two bars.

This antenna is an upgrade of the one that comes in the DriveX package. The truckers spring-mount is able to gather signal from much farther.

Everyone’s favorite hobby just got better.  This is a real cool setup.  Set the all-in-one sensor array on a pole on the rear of the RV, connect it to your Wifi and upload to the web, share your data on Weather Underground, view on your smartphone app or on the multi-color display monitor. 

As an added bonus, you can incorporate addtional temperature/humidity sensors around your RV and this system will report those as well. For example: place one near the fresh water tank if you’re concerned about it freezing. It will send a warning when it hits a temperature target. You can even set one in your refrigerator.

We set a couple of these around the RV:  In the cab, bedroom, refrigerator and underneath next to the fresh water tank. Not only will they show you the temperature and humidity at the site, it will relay it to the main system.  If it’s cold and you’re concerned about your fresh tank freezing, this will show you the current reading in the bay.

 

We added this housing around the sensor that we set in the bay to check the tanks temperature.  Protects it against rock damage while traveling.

 

Security is always a concern when your out on the road.  These alarms are designed to be placed on the door handle.  If someone tries to jiggle th door the (very loud) alarm activates.  It can turn off after 30 seconds, or run continuously. You can set a delay (15 seconds) to assist with false alarms. Four sensitivity levels to choose from.

 

Water

This hose beats out all other fresh water hoses for a number of reasons:  The outside housing is his a heavy-duty braided commercial-grade jacket. It will not kink like standard vinyl hoses. It maintains flexibility down to 35°F. It’s 40% lighter. And it compacts down to a much smaller size for packing.

A first defense for your entire fresh water system.  Place the filter in-line on your hose from the city tap, and it will pre-filter the water before it enters your tanks and rig water system.  With KDF (microbe) and granular-activated carbon, this filter reduces bad tastes, sediments and chlorine.  Additional filtration is found inside your RV, but this is a necessary first step.
Our RV comes with a whole system filtration system. We plan to investigate and update after more research.

Hard water tastes bad, will destroy your plumbing, and it leaves calcium and scale buildup stains on sinks. This system is also sold by RV Water Filter Store, an industry expert, so it has passed the test of the guys who know. Here’s an overview video from their website on the systems. Recharging is done with two boxes of standard table salt which will handle 11,600 gallons (or about 40 days).

Purogene is used to control harmful bacteria growth in drinking water systems. Using the oxidizing power of chlorine dioxide (ClO2), Purogene eliminates bacteria and odors without coloring the taste of the water like other disinfection products such as chlorine. By using lemon juice as a citric acid activator, it provides a lightly pleasant flavor to the water.

The standard method is to pour chlorine bleach into the tank.  They predictable result is your water tastes like bleach.

Water flowing in an RV is noisy. The pump pumps.  Water coming out of the faucets jitters, stutters and when you close the faucet, it “SLAMS”.  The solution is a tank that has pressure equal to the pressure set at the outside regulator.  This tanks mounts and connect in line very quickly.  Best location is next to the pump.  It’s not a sexy add-on, but it will quiet things down, and remove one more source of aggravation when you’re out on the road.

Placing one of these hose protectors on either side of the above filter will help alleviate the strain and potential for kinking the hose from the weight of the filter.  From the city tap, we first place the regulator, then one of these strain relief protectors, then the blue filter, then a second one of these. RIght before entering the rig, we place the 90 degree elbow. 

This is the last item in the outside hose assembly before entering the inlet receptacle on the RV.  Since the inlet is usually horizontal, and the hose is coming up off the ground, it will kink right at the connection.  This elbow keeps it from doing that.

A good consistent flow is key.  Too much or too little is a bad thing.  On top of that, you never know what you’ll get when you pull up to your site at the RV park.  Too much or too little.  Fortunately, this regulator allows you to set the incoming pressure.  Once set you won’t need to worry about over-sensitive showerheads and trickles and drips coming out of the sink.

Let’s assume your tank is 45 gallons.  Let’s also assume it’s empty, you want to fill it to the top, you can’t see it because it’s underneath the RV adn you don’t want to overfill it and have water pouring out.  This water flow meter is the solution. Take the guess work out of filling your tank.

Sometimes it’s difficult to twist on the screw connection from the hose to the city faucet.  By adding these on you can quickly pop on or pop off the hose. Just don’t forget to take the one off the faucet before leaving.  It’s a good idea to have a couple sets on hand.

There is a air vent on the fresh water tank. This allows air to come in, but keeps water from spilling out. You don’t want water spilling out of your tank, ever.

Keep the bugs, dirt and rocks out of the fresh water hoses and any water outlets that may be exposed.  Simple, but effective!

Place this right before your shower head and you can turn on and off  (or control the volume of water) with ease. This is a great feature especially when you need to conserve water while boondocking, and to limit water running off into the grey tank, while lathering.

The biggest issue I have with all RV sewer systems is the flex-coil construction.  It’s bumpy.  That means even after you’ve fully drained the tank and flushed the hose, there is still a ton of stuff trapped in all those inside ridges.  While the Lippert Waste Master hose isn’t completely smooth, it is does move the helical coiling to the outside, making the inside very smooth in comparison.  Another plus is the permanently attached, 90 degree nozzle with shut-off valve. Also, the outer skin is UV protected to ensure longevity.  This video from Lippert provides much more information and features that make this the one to buy.

With the expandable troughs, the Lippert system is far more efficient than the accordion style “stinky slinky”. No sagging, and can be stepped down to a smaller length, if needed.

This hose is great for black tank and sewage hose cleaning.  Just like the fresh water hose, the Zero-G garden hose has a heavy-duty braided jacket, is very flexible, doesn’t kink and is almost 1/2 the weight of a garden hose.  The weight savings alone is well worth the few extra dollars.

This multi-tool should get you through most every sewage dump station.  It will loosen tightened caps of various design.

After you drain your black tank at the dump station, run this spray stick down through the toilet. It will blast the sidewalls and sensors inside the tank for an extra cleaning. Run till the outflow is mostly clear so you know you got most of it.  When you’re finished, it’s good practice to add a few gallons of water back into the tank, to slosh around while driving for additonal cleaning.

This little device does a couple of real good things.  You stick it in the toilet, then set the above swivel stick through the middle when you clean out your black tank.  The prop protects the ceramic toilet from getting scratched.  It keeps the stick from falling into the black tank, it helps keep the valve opening from getting damaged and it keeps back-splash from getting on you.

If your RV is like most others, the sludge and buildup in your black and grey tanks will eventually cause your sensor levels to always read that it’s full.  This upgrade adds Teflon and Delrin protection around the sensor to repel this buildup, giving you a more accurate reading.

A must-have item for the four-season RV’er and full timers.  This self heating electrical cord is designed to be taped on the length of the water hose coming from the spigot to the RV.  Designed to get warm once the temperature reaches 37°, this cord keeps the water in the hose from freezing.  For added insurance, seal the entire contraption in insulated foam tubes and the water coming in won’t turn to ice.

9′ and 12′ versions are also available.

Even though this is an electrical item, I’ve included it with the water items. 

TOOLS

I am trying to be as efficient with tools as possible.  The Black+Decker 20v Matrix system is my solution for a whole tool system approach around one battery pack.  This drill is the center-piece. I have owned it before outfitting the rig, so it was a great starting point.  My original package came with an impact driver and sander.  Below are the additional items we’ve purchased to flesh out the package.  Additionally, in the maintenance section, we also added the B+D Vacuum. All of the B+D items will run on the same 20v battery packs, thus minimizing the need for multiple battery systems on the coach.  

This blower is a useful addtion of the B+D Matrix family especially for RV’ers.  A blower is a needed accessory to keep the outdoor rug clean, and it works great to blow needles and leaves off of the roof,awnings and gutters.

Another useful Matrix accessory. This 70 lumen worklight has a run-time of 70 hours on the 20v Max battery. Note that the battery is not included on this item, but then again, at $20, it costs less than the battery.

This is the replacement battery for the entire Matrix system.  Since each main component comes with its own battery, you should have enough, and be able to swap them around as needed.  Just in case, here’s a couple of spares. It also comes in 3 amp hour and 4 amp hour versions.

This is the impact driver attachment for the B+D Matrix drill. If won’t have enough torque to remove lugs, we may need a specific upgrade, but for now this works just fine for me.  It came as  part of the kit/package with the drill.

Just to show you how varied the Black+Decker Max/Matrix system is – They even have a chain saw!  Perfect for clearing small limbs and breaking down for firewood.  And, again… it’s battery powered.  No gas engine to maintain. Just slap on the battery you already have around the RV.

Completing the Black + Decker line in our rig is this well laid out bit and screwdriver set.  Star, hex, Allen, Phillips, standard and metric options are all included.

Dewalt quality and a lifetime warranty.  Just what you need and not a lot of useless add-ons.

https://amzn.to/35BanE3

Budget Option:  E-Tork’s $70 wrench receives high user marks on Amazon

A must-have tool for any RV trip.  Proper torque is needed to secure lug nuts, and tightend critical chassis mounts including drivetrain and suspension connectors.  Dewalt’s 1/2″ torque wrench sets up to 250 ft lbs.

https://amzn.to/35A9Y4A

Budget Option: AstroAI Multimeter + clamp package: https://amzn.to/2RpYIPU

AC and DC voltage, continuity, (AC) current, ohms, capacitance, true RMS  and frequency.  Fluke is the industry standard for multimeters and clamp meters. You don’t want to ever scrimp on something as important as your safety.

As an added bonus, both come with temperature sensors that will measure between -40°C~1370°C; (-40°F~2000°F).  Perfect to find out how much heat is on the walls, engine, windows, etc… Though, I guess I’d want a longer lead on the wires if I’m measuring a 2000 degree item!

When the budget can afford it, I’m saving up for this big boy Fluke system.

Buy good tools.You will want this one.  I use strippers in my industry, and Klein sets the standard.

Rather than give an all in one, Klein has three different crimpers for the various gauges. Wires larger than 8 gauge will need a bigger tool

Sometimes you need a softer hammer.  This will get the job done without damaging your vehicle.

It polishes. It cuts, It drills. It grinds. It buff. It cleans. It’s small and wireless. It can get into tight spaces.  You will use this…. a lot.

You want to do your modification cleanly.  No unsightly cables taped and dangling. To get them properly routed and hidden, you’ll need to open up door panels, trim, carpet and upholstery.  DON’T use a screwdriver. Use the tool that is write for the job.  I’m taking Amazon’s advice and picking up this one.  Comes with an assortment of replacements, because you will break one. 

When you find out you need this, it’s too late.  This tool turns on water spigots that the knob has been removed.

I love gaffers tape.  It adheres very well, but does not leave a sticky, difficult to remove reside behind.  The surface is cloth based, so its not shiny like duct tape.  You will also use duct tape for permanent, out-of-the-way taping needs, but if it’s out in the open… trust me. Use what pros use.

Weather resistant duct tape is great for RV’ers especially full timers.  Heavy duty duct tape for the jobs where you don’t want to see the tape.  Like ducts.  It’s a necessary evil, but if you need to tape something that will be seen, use the gaff tape above instead.

This is one of my most important ‘tools’ in my kit.  Every screw will get loose on a motorhome. Every screw.
Locktite “Blue” is not an adhesive, but a thread-locker.  Dip a bit on the end of each screw, let it set, then reset the screw.  It adds just a bit of mass to the screw, allowing it to sit a bit tighter in its hole. Cabinets stay tighter. Switch mounts don’t loosen.  You will find yourself crawling around the RV removing then resetting screws.

Engine, Suspension and Tires

You will have a blow out in your RV. It is inevitable.  Putting miles on your vehicles on rough roads and trails puts wear and tear.  The TireTraker TT-600 system reads each tires temperature and pressure, displaying it in real time on your dash.  Alarms go off when a sensor detects overheating or pressure dropping.  Knowing immediately that a tire may be in trouble will give you time to pull over before bigger damage occurs.
There are pricier systems geared to the trucker market, but this system is used by many long-time RVer’s.  Make sure you order for the correct number of tires (include all trailer tires for your total).

Spare batteries for each of the tire sensors. You’ll never want to run out.  Have a spare set on hand..

This kit extends the valves of the inner tires in back and brings them to the outside tires so you can check pressure, add air and install the TPMS system.

You will add life to your tires by keeping them out of the sun when parked or stored. Sun damage to the sidewalls will cause drying out, cracking and splitting; shortening the tire life. The covers themselves are UV coated, so they’ll last a lot longer as well. 

There are many reasons for a portable air compressor: Daily pressure checks and fills, bicycle tire maintenance, and the need to under-inflate your tires to get out of being stuck in sand or mud to name a few. 
The ViAir 88P connects to your house battery (not your cigarette lighter plug) and packs a powerful motor that can put out up to 120psi at 1.5cfm with a relatively small foot print (10″x7″x6″ @ 4.5lbs).

Accurate, easy to use and an ergonomic handle. The digital read out is bright and makes it easy to see, especially at night.

This convenient kit provides me peace of mind.  It hasn’t been needed – yet –  but it’s only a matter of time before I take a nail puncture down the road. I do carry roadside assistance, but there will come a day, when even  that falls through.  I’ll have this little kit tucked in the back corner of storage to save me and get me back on the road once again.

Of all the addons and upgrades,  this is probably the most important because the shocks that come with your Mercedes Sprinter RV we’re never upgraded by the RV manufacturer. With all the weight and size of the ‘house’, these motorhomes will sway and bounce drastically when caught in ‘truckers wash’ or on rough roads.  
Agile Offroad takes the Fox shock and applies their ‘tune’.  Rather than rocking back-and-forth when coming off a driveway, the van settles down after one rock. You get control and confidence back when behind the wheel. Combine these with suspension springs and you can actually drive without white-knuckling it!

(12 Sep 2020) – Due to COVID-19 interruptions, Agile Offroad shipments on this product are back order 10 to 12 weeks. 

Just like airbags on other vehicles, these springs are manufactured with a micro-cellular urethane.  The are designed to enhance load carrying ability, stabilize sway and improve driver control and ride comfort.  Quite easy to install, they don’t need anything done to them.  Lighter and stiffer options are available in case you want a firmer or softer feel.  Combine with the Fox Shocks above, and you’ve improved your ride ten-fold

Just like airbags on other vehicles, these springs are manufactured with a micro-cellular urethane.  The are designed to enhance load carrying ability, stabilize sway and improve driver control and ride comfort.  Quite easy to install, they don’t need anything done to them.  Medium and stiffer options are available in case you want a firmer or softer feel.  Combine with the Fox Shocks above, and you’ve improved your ride ten-fold.

Update: I’m holding off on buying these until I experience the rear axle upgrade.

Upgraded anti-swaybars are a necessity on all pre-2019 Sprinter RV’s since the stock bars are much smaller.  Hellwig’s upgrade provide a much larger diameter bar, and improves the ride immensely.   It appears that Mercedes paid attention because with the new design, the increased the size of their stock anti-sway bar.  Hellwig’s is 1 1/2″ and the new MBS is 1 3/8″.
Note: Currently I am not adding these to my rig after reading a number of reviews of other new Sprinter owners who noted no improvement.  Again, this only applies to the new, >2019 Sprinters.

The wheel-covers are known to come loose and fall off while driving. This is a common issues with the wheel-covers on Sprinter vans. A great DIY fix is these stainless steel zip ties. Tie the cover to the wheel and they will stay secure.

Leveling

You want your rig to be horizontal. Not sloping to one side.  If you slope, you will slide off the bed.  Your propane refrigerator will not work properly. You will be grumpy because you are tilting to one side!

Even though we have auto leveling jacks on our Tiburon, these are still needed for the times when your site is actually on a hill.

This pad is made of a recycled rubber material and is a great item to place under the leveler feet. It provides cushion. It settles the feet when on uneven surfaces (think roots, rocks) and disperses the load when setting on soft or muddy soil.  They come in packs of two, so buy two packs.

MAINTENANCE

Yet another item in the Black+Decker 20v Max lineup. This wireless vacuum works on the RV’s various flooring types: Vinyl, carpet and wood.  The attachments allow you to clean sofas and upholstery.  Since we have a number of batteries from the other B+D items, we always have a charged battery for the vacuum when needed.

Our RV, the Thor Tiburon 24RW has two slide outs.  The slideout for the bedroom comes out in the rear of the coach.  This is typically where manufacturers mount the ladder to access the roof. Thor does not supply a ladder for our model.  I have to be able to get to the roof for maintenance and repairs, and this nifty find works well for us. When compacted down, it measures 36″x20″; very compact and easy to store in one of the outside storage bays.  When using, it expands to 12 1/2′, which is just right to get to the top of the room (11′). There is a bit of flex, but it is quite sturdy and I feel safe using it.

This is the consensus product for RVer’s. There are many chemical options and tricks (ice or soap) but this is the one we hear again and again that people swear by. Add a treatment into the black tank and this organic powder will make the smells of your holding tank disappear. Happy Camper comes in numerous sizes.

This is by far the best septic/RV/marine toilet paper out there. It’s well made, and yet dissolves quickly when wet to minimize clogging in the black tanks.

Keep a box of these around all the time.  They are much more sturdy and easy to put on than latex disposables. I use them as a base layer glove when dumping the black tank. I put a longer pair of kitchen gloves on above these.

Chemical resistant gloves with long arms make your dumping chores a bit more bearable. This comes as a twelve pack.  You’ll probably want to always have at least three on hand, in case you decide to throw a pair out instead of reusing them.

We learned of this glass cleaner years ago, when researching how to clean a glass fireplace panel. It was the only thing that worked, and just as important, it did not leave any streaks.  You’ll love this.

This is a great general purpose cleaner.  It’s actually diluted hydrogen peroxide. it cleans well, doesn’t stain/whiten if it touches colored cloth and doesn’t smell like chlorine or ammonia products.

Peak Blue DEF is the best selling brand of diesel fuel treatment. You can get it in gallon or 4x gallon packs.
DEF is extremely sensitive to contamination — for it to work properly, purity is critical. Contaminants around the fill cap can make their way into DEF and cause damage as well. If the area around the tank and cap isn’t cleaned before the cap is undone and fluid is added, it’s very easy for dirt or dust to fall in and get washed down into the tank. This can cause serious contamination-related issues — and cause unplanned downtime.

ELECTRICAL

The World’s Only “All-in-One” RV Power Solution, now surge protection. The Hughes Autoformer Booster with Surge Protection has the same performance and reliability of the Hughes Autoformer Voltage Booster now with advanced surge protection in one package. The surge / spike protection unit is also replaceable. In the event of a massive spike, the surge unit will take the hit ensuring your booster and more importantly, your RV stays safe. Installs into your RV electrical system (with the optional internal mounting installation kit sold separately) or plugs into the park’s power pole.

Note: In addtion to surge protection, you get critical voltage regulation.  Just imagine being at a full-capacity RV park on a warm summer evening.  Every camper in the park wants to run their air conditioner at the same time. This is when you start to experience brown-outs and major fluctuations in voltage.  Your system needs to see 124v, and no less than 120v.  In this scenario, you are probably getting 110v or lower because the RV park doesn’t have the proper wiring and capabilities to support the power demands.  Your electrical system in your RV is working hard to compensate for the lack of voltage, and you will ruin expensive items like A/C, refrigerators, pumps and other electrical components.

This autoformer converts a bit of the incoming amperage into voltage so you always have the proper amount coming in, regardless of what the RV park is providing at the moment.

This portable surge protectors is portable devices that have both surge protection and pedestal testing in one unit. Simply plug the device into the power pedestal to check the quality of your power and then plug in your cordset. You can continue to monitor the quality of power while your RV is connected and surge protected.

Camco does campers right with this cable.  It’s the right gauge (10AWG), the right length (25′) and it has a convenient handle grip on the male end. 5-Stars!

You’ll need this when you pull into a campground and they tell you there is only 50amp electrical sites left. It adapts from 50amp down to 30 amp. Don’t worry though, you won’t hurt your electrical system with this conversion.
Made with 10 gauge cable, this is again a great item from Camco.

The second ‘dogbone’ electrical adapter you should have in your toolkit.  This is needed when you pull into a friends driveway and they don’t have anything more than the regular 110v edison outlet.  Just connect to this and you can get 15 amps running into your RV.  Not much, but it might be enough.

Color coded replacement fuses. This is definitely one of those things you want with you, instead of having to wait to get into a town to buy one.  This setup has the appropriate fuses for both the Sprinter and house side of the RV.

Small and affordable, this charger is a simple addition that does so much. You connect it between the house battery and your chassis (engine) battery.  It will provide a constant charge of electricity to the engine battery, ensuring that it always stays charged.  You can disconnect your main battery during storage but it will still drain. This allows the battery to maintain a full charge all winter long.

Basic features that make it straightforward to use. The Bayite energy meter is with an LCD display, which can show the direct current voltage and other settings. The energy meter also works as a 4-in-1 device that works as a voltmeter, ammeter, multimeter and power energy meter. Choosing it, you will be able to maximize the value of your money because you don’t need to buy separate meters for every measurement to get. It also has a nice feature of storing energy data when the device is powered off, making it more convenient to use. More so, it can be reset to zero, adding to its functional performance.

This device also comes with a blue backlight that you can control manually, too. In addition, this unit comes with an overload alarm function. It also boasts its feature of the power and backlight flashing if the power is higher than the capacity is. This unit also has a large screen for displaying current, voltage, energy and active power at the same time, making it more functional than other choices on the market are.

Many users buy three:  One to read the incoming charge from the battery, one to read the incoming charge from the solar panel, and a third  to show the output you system currently draws.  This way you can see if your are using more than you’re making.

When you start your A/C, for just a 1/10th of a second, the amperage draw to kick on the compressor jumps to 41 amps.  After that it settles down to around 11 amps.  When you’re connected to shore power, this isn’t an issue.  When you try to start your A/C when boondocking and are getting power from your battery bank or a generator, this load is too great, so your A/C will actually never start. 
This soft starter corrects this problem, by slowly ramping up the power surge.  The compressor gets the power needed, then runs fine without that huge, momentary draw.
Other benefits:  When the compressor kicks in, the noise is considerably reduced. The system runs quieter.  Also, by adding a second starter, you can actually run two A/C units at the same time on one generator.

Not only is storage space at a premium, so is wall space in an RV. I love this power strip because it uses vertical space.  Set this inside your tech storage, and it frees up walls for mounting and it doesn’t hog floor space by laying flat.  We use this to plug in our WiFi router, Blu Ray player, HDMI switch, iphone and a couple of other items in the cupboad.

Our GL.iNET mini traveling router requires 2.4 volts of power. Usually we keep it in the tech cupboard with the Blu Ray.  If we need to move it to the cab for work on the road, we just plug in to this.  It provides the right amount of power for both the router and the hotspot phone.

49.5watts of charging power is a lot. You can recharge a laptop battery just like you’re plugging into the wall outlet, without having to turn on the inverter. Great to use while working from the cab.

This is own our Wish List for our coach battery replacements.  We’ve done the research. 

  • Amp Hours – When AGM and other lead batteries claim 250 Amp hours , you have to cut the number in 1/2. You will cause damage to the battery if you ever go below 50%. This is not the case with LiFePO batteries.  100 amp hours means 100 amp hours.  You can drain it down to zero and not harm it.  
  • No Maintenance. Install it and forget it.  It doesn’t need to sit horizontal.  You can set it sideways for a smaller footprint and its not an issue.
  • Weight – At 31 lbs, it is 1/3 the weight of lead acid batteries.   
  • Battery Management System – The built in BMS  protects from ground faults acting as a shut-off system if it senses temperature and ground fault issues.
  • Cost of Ownership – When you consider the longevity over lead acid, and the lack of maintenance needed, these batteries will eventually cost less to own than buying multiple lead acid batteries over the same time.

Bed | Bath | Kitchen

1.5″ Memory foam with a 2.5″ high-density base layer for support. This mattress folds into thirds, which helps when closing the bed up, and has a washable slip-cover to protect the foam and keep particles from tearing off.

We’ve always slept with a fan for white noise.  I needed something smaller in the RV, and this is the perfect replacement.  The EVO provides 10 white, pink and brown noises each, plus multiple fan noise options. It’s powered with a USB connection, so I can plug it in to any of the ports around the bed.

As full-time RVer’s we have struggled with two bad choices regarding laundry.  1) Spend countless hours and dollars at campground laundry facilities or in town laundromats, or 2) bring in a 40 lb 16″x16″x30″ washing machine into the motorhome. Due to the size of our Thor Tiburon, it’s obvious that there really is no place for this.  We decided to give it a try and are happy with the results. The washing machine now lives inside the shower.  We secure it when traveling.  When its time to shower, we roll it into the living area.  

As for clothes washing, we’re have had a good experience with it.  We connect the inlet hose to the sink using a faucet adapter, and drain directly into the shower.  Each load runs about 40 minutes. The spin cycle does a good job of wringing out the clothes.  

With little to no shelf space, you must find innovative solutions for daily life. This shower dispenser is perfect because we use four products all the time: shower gel, conditioner, regular shampoo and a second special purpose shampoo.  it mounts with waterproof silicon glue and two-way tape.  A great solution for us. 
Since our bath sink area has no counter space, this doubles as our sink soap dispenser as well.

First, you turn off EVERYTHING else. Then you dry your hair.  This is a perfect hair dryer for your RV. It’s compact, light weight and folds down even smaller for storage. The 1200watts of heat is enough to get your hair dried quickly.  

We are glad to have stumbled on this towel. First off, they are designed to be thin.  Perfect for keeping things to a minimum in an RV. Unlike regular bath towels that absorb moisture, this towel ‘pulls’ the water off your skin then spreads it evenly across the surface of the fabric. This process allows it to dry very quickly.

Manufactured with silver anti-microbial properties and SPF sun protection, it will work very well as a beach towel as well.  It will not get the ‘funky’ odor even used frequently for a few days.  You’ll never go back to regular towels again. 

We work from the road.  Typically we’ll have two laptops running in the RV. One person can take over the dining table with just their stuff.  We need a second table so someone can work from the couch or even the back bedroom area. This table isn’t pretty, but it’s sturdy, it folds flat and it’s only 11 pounds.  It does just what we need it to do.

The inside of an RV in the winter is damp.  Very damp. As full-timers we have to work hard to keep the moisture from creating mold and mildew. This unit works quietly. It’s container can hold 1000 mililiters (about 4 cups or 32 oz).  Its HEPA air filtration cleans the air of allergens.  All that and it weighs about 6 lbs and stands just over 12″ tall.

The Insta-Pot is one of those appliances that come along once in a generation.  It is now a must have if you’re on the road. With its ability to quickly pressure cook, saute or slow cook or make a pot of rice, the Insta-Pot is the most used appliance in our kitchen. The 3-quart version is the perfect size for just two.  There are 6 and 8-quart versions for larger families.

The removable handle swaps between the sauce pan and frying pan. With the handle removed, both pans work inside the convection oven. The non-stick surface makes cleanup easy. Just two pans makes for a complete kitchen cooking solution

The Insta-Pot is one of those appliances that come along once in a generation.  It is now a must have if you’re on the road. With its ability to quickly pressure cook, saute or slow cook or make a pot of rice, the Insta-Pot is the most used appliance in our kitchen. The 3-quart version is the perfect size for just two.  There are 6 and 8-quart versions for larger families.

I need coffee every morning. A french press is my choice.  Not a Keurig, not a Mr. Coffee…. just something simple.  I like this style because its all metal construction means no broken glass, which means no mornings without coffee.

Small, portable and built to last.  This grinder has 18 different settings for different grinds, with a ceramic greinder.

Efficient use of space. Three bowls: 1.5-cup, 3-cup and 5-cup with interlocking lids.

Small and compact is good in an RV.  This set of silicone measuring cups and spoons are a perfect fit for your cramped kitchen space.

Anything that can get smaller when not used is a plus.  This dish draining rack sets over the basin, then rolls up small when not needed. 

These expandable bars keep your bottles, jars and boxes from tipping over in the refrigerator. These serve double duty by being able to be used as clothes rods in a closet and other uses

CAMPING + PATIO

Everyone needs a mat right outside the door.  They help keep the dirt and grime down when going between outside and the house.  We really liked this reversible mat for its length and because the design closely matches our RV’s paint scheme.  

Anchor the above mat with these large stake/washers.  Keeps your outside area neat and tidy.

Is it worth spending $260 on a camp chair? You can swing on uneven surfaces (sand, rocky), it can recline you back for skygazing or next to a campfire. It’s rated at 300 lbs, folds down very small and has a lifetime warranty.

Plenty big for moving our office outdoors on nice days.  When we’re working we each have a separate monitor and laptop. Also great when the camp picnic table is less than usable.  This is sturdy and deep enough. It nicely folds in half so we can stash it in the back storage.

These lights hit every mark I had on my list when researching security lighting.  I wanted something that I could temporarily mount on the RV roof and point in various directions. The lights needed to be portable and battery powered, so I didn’t have to wire five additional lights. I wanted them to be motion-sensor and also wanted the ability to switch to full-on mode, if we needed this while outside.

This light gives me all of this, with the plus that it doesn’t even need batteries, because they’re solar powered. A few 3M Command strips hold them up, and we can easily take them down for travel days.

With a couple of quick straps, we can mount these on a tree limb, or light pole near our RV and have additional motion detecting from a bit of a distance. Have them set away from the RV adds light to the motion sensors that are placed on the roof of the rig. This is very useful when boondocking to just provide us a heads up that there is movement outside, before they get too close to us.

Keep the sun out of your patio on hot days with this UV protected mesh sun shade.  Designed  with “one-way” viewing, you can see through it, but those looking in can’t see you.  It easily attaches to your ovehead awning and anchors to the ground.  It comes in multiple sizes, so double check your awning length when ordering.

First Aid / Emergency

A first aid/emergency/bug-out bag is a priority for us.  Being on the road we can experience any number of situations that may require us to either leave immediately or even have to leave the RV behind. For that reason we keep a kit of survival and first aid items together in one waterproof ‘bug-out’ bag.  Not only does this bag contain first aid kit items, it also contains thing like: Coins for vending machines, a USB drive backup of our computer files, panchos and survival blankets, multi-purpose tool and fire-starters, flashlights and water purification.  

Our goal is to be able to survive with just the contents of this bag for 72 hours if needed.  A number of these items are duplicated with other items we keep on our RV, but we keep a separate item exclusively in the bag so we can just snatch it and run.  No scrounging trying to find that item needed. Below are the items we have chosen.

This is the most important piece of our emergency bag. If it fails, we’re in trouble. This 20 liter capacity, waterproof bag is constructed of 500D PVC.  It has two adjustable shoulder straps. All seams are welded (not taped/sewn) and the top has a roll-top closure.  Included is an IPX8-certified waterproof cellphone case.  There are a variety of sizes up from 5L to 40L.

In an emergency, getting access to updated information is critical. This AM/FM/Weather Radio does not require batteries. An internal generator is powered by hand cranking, so you never worry about dying batteries. It also has a flashlight and USB charger built into it to charge your phone.

Sturdy disks with bright flashing lights to set out during a roadside emergency.  

The pack contains essentials for treating medical trauma. It includes: QuickClot gauze pads, triangular bandages, adhesive strips, duct tape, streile nitrile gloves and antiseptic wipes .  

A comprehensive kit includes numerous bandages, sterile gauze pads, medical tape, triangular pads, an emergency blanket, prep pads, scissors, tweezers, a compressed towel, a whistle, Q-tips, safety pins and a flashlight.  

Thick, lightweight, hooded  panchos with elastic wrist bands. The manufacturer recently doubled the number of front snaps from 3 to 6. The overall length takes this down to your knees.  A good idea to add a second one around your bugout bag.

A plug for my relatives who own Myerchin Knives.  The Generation 2 Pro knife has a 2″ marlin spike and a serrated sheepsfoot blade. Lanyard hole, nylon sheath and double lock.   A sturdy, safe knife with my family’s name on it.

A top-line multi-tool is a must have. This Leatherman model has a replaceable screw bit. It comes with two bit kits with 42 additional screw bits.  Something to consider having in your kit in case you need to repair or fix something in a hurry.

A well packed kit with a big selection of tools: wrenches, knives, bottle openers, flint, wire saws, camp spoon & fork, carabiners, compass, whistle glass breaker, nylon cord, flashlight, etc.  I hope to never need to use it, but it will be packed in the bug-out bag, just in case.  

An extremely versatile light.  High-impact resistant and waterproof, its designed to clip on to a helmet or hat providing point-of-view illumination with a pivoting head. White, blue, green and Red (IR) lights provide different color options. It has four brightness levels and is crush proof to 25 lb load.

The pack this comes in is only 6″x9″. When opened, you get an 8’x5′ waterproof, mylar tent/emergency shelter that can house two people. The mylar retains body heat.  It includes rope to run tie off the top to form the tent.

To go with the mylar emergency shelter, this is a four pack of 7’x4′ Mylar thermal blankets. When wrapped in one of these, 90% of the heat escaping your body stays under the blanket, keeping you warm.  Additionally, it can be used as a tent floor, rain poncho, backpack cover, water collector, wind shield, and emegency signal.

If you had to leave your laptop or external hard drive behind, would you lose all your data.  We backup our critical files onto two of these weekly and store them in the bugout bag.  One holds 256Gb of data. It is shockproof aluminum and waterproof to 200 meters.

Multiple uses in an emergency:  binding, bundling, hauling, lashing. Use to create shelters, or anything else you can concieve.

We have a couple of these.  We put prescription medicines in one, and a couple of thumbrdrives in another.  You can use them to secure money, keys matches, batteries, etc.

Duct tape is a good thing to have in an emergency bag. It can be used for binding, security, quick leak repairs, creating a splint and other first aid needs.

Another necessary item in your 72-hour bag is food. These bars are wrapped in waterproof wrapping. Each pack has 9 coconut-cinnamon flavored bars. Each bar has 410 calories.  Enough to keep your energy going when you’re unable to prepare a meal.

This is a personal water straw filter. You insert it into the water source and draw water through the filter with your mouth.  It removes 99.9999% of bacteria and 99.9000% of protozoa. It will filter 1000 gallons of water.  A must need in your emergency bag. This filter acts as a straw for immediate personal consumption of filtered water. For larger amounts (bottle filling), we have a second filter below.

Unlike the personal filter, which acts as a straw for immediate consumption, this system is setup to fill larger containers. Attach it to your water bottle or hydration pack and fill freshly filtered water immediately. The filtation element screens out down to 0.1micron, making it effective in removing 99.99999% of all bacteria and 99.9999% of protozoa.  We keep both systems to ensure we can make cleaned water at anytime.

A high quality piece of equipment.  This compass is waterproof and impact resistant with sturdy construction.  It’s floating dial provides accurate readings. This models contains a conversion chart for angle, gradient and distance.  The arrow is fluorescent, so it will illuminate in the dark.

You get (2) steel strikers and (2) 23″ ferro rods connected on a 2′ paracord lanyard.

Heavy duty gloves will be needed if you find yourself away from your RV, an in an emergency situation. These Carhart gloves will protect, yet are designed to provide high dexterity.

This high-quality water/hydration backpack carries 50 ounces and has an elongated sipping straw. Having this near your bug out bag ensures you will have a stored water on your person when you have to bug-out.

Miscellaneous

This insulation foil will accomplish three things. It will keep the heat out during summer, the warmth in during winter and it will deaden sound from the floor as you’re driving. 
It’s a project, but one with great benefits in the end. Applying this requires removing driver door panels, getting underneath the cab flooring, into the firewall, in the cab roof and removing other car upholstery areas.  You cut section to shape and adhere them to the vehicle metal walls and floors, and against the inside of the doors.  Some people recommend warming up the product with a hair dryer or heat gun to loosen it up prior to applying. This product is comparable to Dyna-Mat or Kill-Mat at a fraction of the cost.

Insulated window coverings are a must have item for your Sprinter.  Outside heat in the summer and cold in the winter easily transfer through the glass.  The coverings are custom cut and trimmed to fit the Sprinter windows.  I have found two online dealers with reasonable pricing.

  • Sprinter Parts & Service Store – Located in Tualatin, Oregon, they have a form-fitting, reflective R16 insulation three piece kit for the main windshield and side doors.  The panels adhere to the vehicle with Velcro tabs.  Pricing @ $165 (shipping factored in).  The website states there could be delivery delays due to COVID related shipping issues as of 09/2020.

Reflectix is the insulation product that RV’ers swear by to insulate the house/coach windows.  You cut each piece to size for each window. It’s stiff enough to stay in place.  This helps with both heat/cold insulation as well as security

3M Crystalline Tint for Driveby Tourists Website
3M Crystalline Tint for Driveby Tourists purchases list

Big front windows on RV’s and Mercedes vans allow a LOT of heat to enter into the cab. On very hot days, the cabs air conditioning system can have trouble keeping up.  We see  fans mounted in Class A’s all the time, to help allieviate the heat.  

One answer to this problem is to apply a thin, almost transparent film on the front windshield.  Since it only lessens the incoming visible light by 10%, adding this film is permitted in many states.  I have linked to the 3M Crystalline Window Film web brochure and a tint company that handles Crystalline product.  You would need to find a qualified installer in your area to handle the install.

I have learned that it can cost upwards of $1000+ for the install, and it is not insurable if there is damage.  A number of RV’er who use it have bemoaned that if your windshield gets a crack and needs to be replaced, you’re out the cost of the 3M Crystalline film.  Those who use it swear by it.  The film rejects 99.9% of UV light, and reflects 34% of total solar energy.  It is a game changer, and makes driving days in the summer, tolerable.

Upgrade your your security, and get quick ease of access with a keypad/fob entry system.  

A must have for your tool kit. This head lamp has two beams, puts out 125 lumens with a 6 hour run-time and has a built-in lithium-polymer battery that is USB cable rechargeable.  It comes with two straps: an elastic one for your head, and a rubber strap to go around a safety helmet.  Impact resistant to 2 meters, unbreakable polycarbonate sealed lens and impact-resistant polymer construction. As an added bonus, you can swap out the contained battery with three AAA batteries. 

We have one in our tool kit and a second in our bug-out bag.

A great little flashlight in a  two-pack for less than $20. This lamp: zooms from pin-point to wash;  takes (3) AAA 18560 rechargeable batteries; is shock resistant to 10 feet; comes with a storage pouch (with belt loop and lanyard); and is water resistant has (5) five settings: High | Medium |Low | Strobe and SOS.  Pretty good stats for an inexpensive light.

This lantern is built with hurricane level standards:  IP67 Waterproof (submersible in 3ft for 30 minutes) and a 15′ drop resistant impact rating.  Made with a shock-absorbing rubber bezel.  Brightness is rated at 600 lumens, and it has three brightness levels. It boasts up to 260 hours or runtime in its energy saving mode.  Runs on 3 D batteries. Lifetime warranty as well!
We use the Panasonic eneloop D battery shell that places a rechargeable AA battery inside.  This beats always having to store extra D batteries around the rig.

The snow brush head pivots.  The length extends to 50″. When collapsed, it goes down to 36″.  Nice, compact and sturdy.  

Toys

Rad Bike

The Rad Bikes RadRover5 comes arrives with an industry topping 750 watt motor with a 25 to 45 mile distance range and top speed of 20mph. 

Originally, we had two very good bikes from Amazon. The HOTEbike, is unique in that the battery is embedded into the bike frame.  The ANCHEER is a folding bike has a 250 watt motor.

Due to the amount of jostling, many bike rack manufacturers do not permit use of their racks on RV’s.  The Kuat is strong enough to carry two fat-tire e-bikes and withstand the thrashing it can get on the back of your motorhome.

https://amzn.to/3kyKKYO

Bike racks on hitches are notorious for rattling and swaying. This simple solution tightens the connection between the rack and the hitch significantly reducing the wobble – providing you with a more stable ride.

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