I’ve read a few posts by other bloggers lately about their fave camping gear and loved it. It’s a really great way to discover handy new products that’ll make your adventures easier.

It’s also a question that I get asked often. The old, what are the top three things you couldn’t do without in the van for instance.

Well, my top three at this stage, purely because I really can’t function without them, are –

  • 12v Fan
  • Collapsible Tubs
  • Dry Bags

Here’s a little more info about those items and also a list of all the other fabulous stuff that I couldn’t do without…



12v Fan – 

This has been a game changer. We struggled through a week camping over Christmas without one and it was HOT.

It was a total nightmare trying to get the kids to sleep during the day and the nighttime was not much better. These fans have a timer so you can set it to run for a certain period and then it switches off by itself after you fall asleep and once it cools down a bit.

They use hardly any power and move a lot of air around. It really is surprising how well it works even in the hottest of hot weather and I can run it on our solar setup seemingly endlessly without the battery suffering.

I got the Sirocco II Cabin Fan – 3 Speed from Caravans Plus, I have bought a fair bit of gear off them over time and they have always been great.



Collapsible Tubs –

So simple. So bloody handy!

I use these for carting washing to and from the laundry at caravan parks and campgrounds, washing dishes, stashing wet/muddy clothes and for setting up the foot washing station for the kids.

Then you just flatten them and stash them, they take up hardly any space and are pretty light weight too.

I get mine from BCF and have a few different sizes but the one pictured is my most used for sure.



Dry Bags – 

When you have a couple of kids these are especially handy. I stash dirty clothes, wet clothes, super stinky muddy can’t deal with it now clothes in there and stash it in the back until I can get to a washing machine.

They don’t let the smell out, don’t let the damp out and can fit a surprising amount per bag. I carry about five now.

They are also cheap, pack down super small in the glove box and weigh hardly anything. I grab the ones pictured from BCF for under ten bucks a bag.



Drying Mat – 

Actually this is making me regret only picking a top three initially cos really, this has to be on it too! A totally random discovery one day in Howards Storage and it had been so super useful.

I only have a teeny tiny kitchen in the van with a teeny tiny bench and this lets me wash up and stack the dishes on top of the stove without damaging the benches. It absorbs everything, every drip that leaves the dishes and stops the cabinetry in the van getting wet.

It’s also handy when I’m washing up outside and don’t want the washing up ending up in a puddle on the camp table.



Key Safe – 

This was actually Geoffs before I stole it for the van, sorry G! He used it to stash his keys when he’s surfing and it’s prefect for doing the same when we leave the van at camp and head off somewhere.

You can fit a whole set of keys in there and attach it to your door handle on your car or underneath the body of it somewhere. Then you just use your pin to retrieve the keys.

It just makes for less stuff to cart to the beach or on a bush walk and also helps with the try not to loose the keys mission. You can get this one pictured from Wildearth.com.au



Goal Zero Lighthouse Mini Lantern – 

This is my all time fave lamp. It’s small but pumps put plenty of light. It can be dimmed or set to bright and it has optional legs of you want it up off the table a little.

It also has a hook so you can hang it from the inside of your tent which is super handy.

It is charged by USB and the charge lasts for ages and you can also charge your phone from it if need be.

You can check them out on the Goal Zero website here.



Goal Zero Light a Life Mini light – 

These are the lights I use under my awning. They clip on with a carabiner or I just use a cable tie and string them under the arms that hold the awning up.

I like the fact that they are a bit more ambient and have a nice warm colour, also that you can set them to bright or a little more dim depending on what you need.

You can string up to four of them together but I have found that two is plenty for me, I don’t need any more light than that.

They plug into a USB port in the van and I went to Officeworks and grabbed 5m USB to USB extension cord so that I can easily get them out to the end of the awning even when it’s open to it’s full width.

You can check them out on the Goal Zero website here.



Percolator – 

There’s a lot of info and discussion out there about the best way to get access to decent coffee on the road and everyone has their own opinion, it’s a serious issue after all!

I’m still a sucker for the good old fashioned percolator. I have an old stainless steele two cup version that I love and it does a great super strong coffee for me.

It’s small, the coffee comes out hot and it doesn’t create a whole bunch of landfill in the form of empty pods. You can get your hands on the one pictured online at Myer.



Microfibre Towels – 

After battling constantly to dry our towels at camp while the kids were jumping in and outta the water every five minutes last summer I decided to try microfibre towels.

I’m a bit fussy about towels usually and will be the first to admit that these can feel a little weird at first, but I’ve got to say, I am totally happy to make that trade off.

They dry super fast, they don’t take up a whole load in the washing machines so they save money there and they also don’t take up nearly as much space in our packing tubs as normal towels. Definitely a winner.

You can get these ones at BCF.



Portable Loo – 

Ok, I was convinced that this was something I could do without and didn’t want to cart around and I put off getting one for ages.

Until I had a couple of toddlers who were toilet training and also after spending a week on the road in the pouring rain. Both of those experiences changed my mind and I trotted off to BCF and got the Thunder Down Under portable loo. Best. Thing. Ever.

I use the Elemental Portable Toilet Bags from Tentworld with the loo. I just order them online in a largish quantity and always have plenty stashed in the van. The bags come with sachets that absorb liquid and reduce odour and the bags are biodegradable.



String Bag –

The kids smash through the fruit and it was taking up so much room in the fridge that I needed to try and come up with another option.

I tried a fruit bowl but I found that everything on the bottom went bad really quickly with the added heat of the van. I tried a colander too, thinking maybe the air flow would help but that didn’t work. Cotton bags didn’t work as the stuff on the bottom got squished and there still wasn’t enough air flow.

Then I grabbed one of these string bags from The Sunrise Kids and it’s perfect. Stretchy enough that nothing gets squished and I can hang it up from random places in the van.



Foldable Toaster – 

This one speaks for itself really, who doesn’t dig toast made on the fire?

It folds flat so you can stash it easily and it’s light weight. Just open it up, chuck the bread on top and either hold it over a fire or your gas burner.

I got the one pictured at BCF.



Hanging Clothes Airer – 

Or portable clothes line is what I call it. This picture is a bit crappy but I wanted to show you how this one that I have folds up into a tube which makes it great for stashing in the van.

The arms all fold out and you can get a surprising amount of washing on there to dry. I usually hang it under the awning if I haven’t got a good tree handy.

This one came from Woolworths for $5 and has lasted me ages.



Beeswax Wraps – 

These are absolute gold when you are space poor and also trying to minimise rubbish. Not to mention trying to be kind to the planet. Not having to take up half your pantry space with a box of Glad Wrap is cool.

I use them to keep cheese covered. For chucking over half eaten bowls of stuff I am going to get the kids to revisit later and to wrap any half pieces of fruit that weren’t eaten on the first go.

They are also great for wrapping soap in to keep it from drying out. The possibilities are endless!

You can get the ones pictured at beeswaxwraps.com.au



Outdoor Mat – 

A good camping mat is a must, and there are heaps of different options out there. I reckon they need to be ok in the rain cos  dragging your mat in every time it rains is a total pain. They also need to be light and relatively small so they don’t take up a whole lot of space in the van.

I use the ones pictured and I love them. I used to sell these but no longer have any in stock, you can get them all over these days, I’ve even spotted them at Bunnings.

They are beautiful which I love because it adds a bit of spunk to my photos and they are reversible so that you get two different styles in the one mat.

Because they are made out of recycled plastic they are lightweight and you can leave them out in all weather. A quick sweep is usually enough to clean them off but you can also hose them if they get really messy.



Keep Cups – 

While I’d like to say that I always make my own coffee with the percolator I mentioned earlier, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to buying a fair bit of coffee out there on the road.

We are having a really good go at trying to keep the amount of waste we create to a minimum so a keep cup is a must. And I have to say, these Cheeki mugs are by far my favourite. No leaks, easy to clean, fits in a cup holder and actually keeps the coffee warm for ages. A winner for sure.



Check out gear that makes camping with kids easier and road trip and camping toys that don’t take up too much space for some more ideas on what to take on your next adventure.

And, the only thing I use more than any of this stuff when I am on the road is apps if I’m honest. From getting from A to B, finding somewhere to camp or listening to music they make things so much easier. Check out handy apps for road tripping & camping for a list of apps that might come in handy.


Lily x


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