Van Life Gadgets Ideas
If you’re looking for ways to improve your experience, you’re in the right place. We’ve compiled a comprehensive list of 101 gadgets and accessories that will help make your time on the road easier and more enjoyable.
Whether you’re looking for a new way to cook or want to keep your gear safe and organized, we’ve got you covered. With so many great options available, there’s something for everyone. Check out our list today and start planning your next adventure!
What are the Best Van Life Gadget Ideas?
No matter how experienced you are with van life, we can all use a little help regarding essentials or campervan accessories. Whether you are new to van life or experienced, many of these ideas work for full-time van lifers, road trip adventurers, or even the occasional user.
We have three steps to determine whether it is a good idea or not for us. First, is it necessary? Second, will it be used regularly? Third, do we have room for it? Sometimes these answers may oppose each either and you have to make a judgment call.
Below is our list of 101 van life essentials that will make your life on the road a lot easier, ensuring you the best van life ever.
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Interior Safety Gadget Ideas
Van lifers tend to be outdoor people, therefore needing a portable GPS satellite communications unit. We do not always have cell phone service; this is where satellite comes in and allows us to reach someone in an emergency.
2. First Aid Kit
A must-have for anyone or any vehicle. Make sure it is stocked and expired items are replaced. Check out our Essential First Aid Kit post.
3. Clean Wipes
These come in handy more often than not. Whether you’re out on a hike, working on your van, or cleaning up your pups face.
We all have valuables. A small safe concealed in your van will give you the peace of mind that your items are safe when you are away from the van. Nothing heavy-duty is needed, just something you can attach to your van in some fashion.
5. Fire Extinguisher
Have at least a couple in the van, one for the kitchen area and one for the rear of the van or where your electrical cabinet is located.
We’ve all misplaced our keys in our van. Tile will help you locate your keys quickly, assuming they are in the van and not at the counter in REI.
7. CO2 / Smoke Alarm
Goes without saying if you live in your van. You need to monitor for carbon monoxide and smoke.
For those nights your lights are not working for some reason, or you need to step outside and need a little torch light to guide your way. This light is very bright!
Exterior Safety Gadget Ideas
9. Vehicle GPS Tracker
If your vehicle is not equipped with a GPS system from the factory, then a mountable or magnetic GPS will help you get your home back. Let’s face it, the cops typically do not want to take the time to search for your vehicle. If you can show them exactly where it is, it’ll make their job much easier.
If you’ve ever experienced a dead battery, then you know the importance of a portable Jump Starter. In addition, you can create some good karma for yourself when helping others in need.
11. Roadside Emergency Kit
You can safely identify yourself on the roadside when a fellow motorist or yourself is broken down. Check out our Emergency Kit post.
12. Work Gloves
With these other safety items, your hands can get dirty or cold. A good pair of work gloves will keep your hands clean and a little warmer.
13. Tool Kit
You never know when you’ll need a tool for a job on your van. It does not have to be an extravagant kit; just the basics will get you by.
14. Small Tarp
When you find yourself having to crawl under your van, a small tarp will keep you cleaner and maybe even dry. Even use it to kneel on when putting on your snow chains.
We never know the water quality when we are filling our tanks. It is well water or city water with nasty things making it their home. This water filter helps clean up that water, easing your mind on what you put in your body.
This may be considered a luxury item by some, but honestly, not only can it be used to warm the van up prior to driving, but as a safety item. If you are in a parking lot or out in the woods and you get the feeling someone is snooping around, you can start the van and startle the would-be criminal.
17. Vehicle Bottle Jack
Oftentimes your vehicle’s jack is designed for the van’s weight off the manufacturer’s assembly line. Now that you’ve converted it, you need a bottle jack to handle the excess weight. Most bottle jacks are even smaller than factory jacks.
18. Air Compressor
Whether it is a portable or fixed air compressor, you never know when you or another motorist may need some air.
19. Flat Tire Sealant
If you are out in the middle of nowhere and do not have a spare or installing the spare is not ideal, then a tire sealant may be your solution.
20. Snow Chains
For those who drive in the Winter elements, snow chains are a must-have safety item to have onboard.
If you have ever been stuck in the mud or the sand, a set of MaxTrax will get you out in a jiffy. And you will not have to wait for a tow truck or AAA to come to save you.
As any van lifer knows, you do not always have level ground. These inexpensive levelers make your overnight stay more comfortable.
Kitchen Gadget Ideas
23. Drinking Water Filter (interior)
For some of us, we like redundancy. A larger inline water filter is nice to have.
24. Frying Pan
Not all cooking pans are equal. A good frying pan that works for your cooktop is nice to have. You can find nestable pot and pan combos to save valuable storage space.
25. Cooking Pot
Not all cooking pots are equal. A good pot that works for your cooktop is nice to have. You can find nestable pot and pan combos to save valuable storage space.
26. Plates and Bowls
There are a lot of options when it comes to plates and bowls. We prefer to use smaller ones that take up very little space and are made of recycled items or bamboo.
No matter where you are, you can use any water bottle posted here. You can scoop up brown dirty water, filter, and purify it in a single bottle. Check out our 5 Best Water Filtering Bottles post.
28. Nestable Food Storage
Tupperware of sealable bags takes up very little space and allows you to store leftovers without waste.
Some meals you do not want to cook inside your van; like steaks, seafood, or even some veggies. Being able to cook them outside on a BBQ is nice.
30. Collapsible Mixing Bowl
There are various sizes available, but they work very well for making salads or pasta and being able to store it without it wasting space.
31. Refrigerator / Cooler
If you are a van lifer or use your van for camping or road trips. Food storage is a must. Depending on the size of your crew or length of stay off the grid will determine the size and style needed. Check out our 5 Best 12v Fridges for Van Life post.
32. Coffee Maker –
There are many ways to brew your coffee, we’ve tried many of them, and honestly, the pour-over method is the best. Storage to clean up the pour-over method is the way to go. Goes with the next item on the list.
33. Water Kettle
We use this little kettle, pretty much every day of the week and sometimes a few times a day. Heats up quickly so as not to drain your batteries excessively.
34. Instant Pot
This is a nice-to-have item, not necessarily a must-have. It does take up a fair amount of room. Especially if you have the air fryer lid in addition.
35. Magic Bullet
Nice and small, it does not take up too much room at all. Comes with several items, but we do not store all of them in the van. The blender, one blade attachment, and one bowl for mixing are all you need.
36. Wonder Pot
For those that like to bake, this little genius item allows you to bake items on your cooktop.
37. Cutting Board
Smaller cutting boards made with recycled materials.
Small and portable, it works very effectively. Not all pots and pans work with this style. This is the best option we have found for cooking in the van. It can be kept in a drawer when it is not in use.
Housekeeping Gadget Ideas
39. Dust Pan / Broom
The interior gets dirty, especially if you have pets. These are nice and small and easily stored.
40. Dr. Bronner’s Soaps
They have great soap, and they have a lot of options. I prefer the orange, it works with the whole body and does not burn the eyes. Works for hand soap as well as many other situations.
41. Microfiber Towels
Great for cleaning counters and the larger ones for drying yourself off.
42. Dish Drying Rack
Most of us do not have the luxury of a dishwashing machine in the van. Does anyone? So, if you do not like to dry your dishes after washing, these racks span your sink and allow your items to drip dry and get plenty of airflow for quick drying.
These are small and powerful little vacuums. Just make sure you buy the correct one for your van. If you do not have 120v dc power, then make sure it is an ac powered vacuum.
Storage Gadget Ideas
44. Packing Cubes
Storage is a valuable commodity in a van. Packing cubes allow you to pack drawers or cabinets more efficiently easily.
45. Storage Bins
You can mount these anywhere you can screw or bolt to fasten them to a wall. They come in a few different sizes and work great beside the bed and in your garage area.
46. Magnetic Hooks
These little guys are strong and can mount anywhere you have exposed metal. Great for hanging your drying rack or dishrags. Even hanging your keys above the slider.
47. Fold Down Hooks
For the areas, you do not always need a hook and would like to fold them away when not in use.
Exterior Gadget Ideas
These little guys are bright! Works great for driving lights, backup lights, or just lights for the side of your van.
49. Running Boards
Not necessary for everyone. But these are awesome if you need an extra step to get in your van. They look great and do not have that tubular look like most on the market.
50. Solar Panels
Solar panels are a must-have if you spend time off the grid for extended periods. They’ll help keep your batteries topped off, reducing the time you’ll need to use your dc-to-dc charger. Check out our Van Build Series – Exterior This and that.
51. Rear Bumper
Adds style to your van, a badass style. Plus, it goes with the front bumper.
52. Front Bumper
Adds style to your van, a badass style. If you’ve been driving and nearly missed or nailed a deer or elk, you know how nice it would be to have a nice aftermarket bumper that can take a hit and lessen the chance of totaling your ride.
Hanging out in a nice spot with a great view, a hammock is an awesome item. Takes up very little space and adds insurmountable joy to one’s life.
54. Solar Shower
AKA portable shower. There are several types of solar showers on the market and ones that may work better for your situation. These allow you to heat water during the day and use it to shower later.
Interior Gadget Ideas
55. Portable Bluetooth Speaker
Let’s face it, cell phone speakers suck. A good waterproof Bluetooth speaker makes a good outing great. Check out our Van Build Series – Interior This and That post,
These little things are game changers when keeping your drawers and cabinets closed, especially while driving. Check out our Best Door Latch post.
57. LED Reading Lights
Small flexible lights with three brightness modes and a red light option. These even have a USB port for charging your phone next to your bed or powering a small fan.
Toilets are nice to have in a van. Sometimes nature calls, and sometimes nature calls at the most inopportune times. Here is our favorite toilet; see my rant about composting toilets and their lack thereof. However, pulling off the road for a quick pee cannot be a better solution.
59. USB Powered Fan
These little fans can make an uncomfortable day just a little bit better. The USB-powered style allows you to plug them in while driving, lying in bed, or just plugging one in while cooking. Also, help with the airflow.
60. LED Puck Lights
Low-profile lights that add style and illumination to your interior. They use very little power and require very little room for installation.
Go with these devices if you want to wire minimal charging ports in your van along with 120v outlets. They have two 120v plugs, 2 USB A, and 1 USB C charging port.
62. Tap Puck Lights
These install anywhere you want extra light but do not have wiring installed for dc powered lights. The downside is if you use them a lot, they consume 3 AAA batteries at a higher rate. But for occasional use, they are a great option.
63. Insulated Partition
Game changer. A B pillar partition is a must-have if you use your van in hot or cold climates. It keeps a large amount of heat or cool from entering the main living area of your van. We still use our front and side window shades for privacy.
64. Window Coverings
We have several windows, 3 large ones. Without these four-season shades, we’d either be too cold or hot, and the heating and cooling would work harder. And not to mention privacy. Unless you are into the whole exhibitionist thing. Check out our Van Build Series – Windows post.
Living in a house or apartment with a comfortable bed makes life worth living in van life. Spend the money on a comfortable bed, but you do not have to spend too much. We’ve found this mattress to be the best one ever. We’ve tried a few in the van, but many in houses or just traveling. It is always nice to come home to our van bed.
66. Shower Controls
If you have an external shower or an internal one, these controls are low profile, minimalist looking, and work great.
67. 12v Power Inverter
For those that do not have an extensive electrical system in their van, these come in very handy for charging items requiring 120v.
68. Dometic AC Unit
We have two dogs, so an AC is necessary when traveling in southern states or during summer. It keeps a comfortable temperature in the interior of the van for them. Plus, it makes sleeping much easier.
69. MaxxAir Fan
I miss our fan, but our AC replaced it. However, I cannot recommend these enough. They move some serious air; if you cook inside the van and need to exhaust steam or smells, this will do the job.
70. MaxxAir Dome Fan
We went with this unit after installing the AC unit. Allows us to exhaust air while cooking or helps cool the interior when the AC unit is unnecessary.
71. Bug Net
Another must-have item for those climates rife with bugs. Keeps the bugs out and allows airflow. Plus, it enhances the view from inside the van. Easily rolls up out of the way when not in use.
72. Headroom Shelf
Takes a wasted space and creates an area for a fair amount of storage. With a couple of different sizes, we went with the deeper model, allowing us to use 4 large Ikea storage bins.
73. Projector / Screen
Great for entertainment. When a laptop or phone does not do a movie justice. Break out the white screen and your projector for a 60” screen.
74. Drink Holders
If you do not have the ability to place drinks next to your bed, then these will allow you to hold your drink and not knock it over. When not in use, they fold up and out of the way.
75. Large Pillows
Large pillows will add style to your interior. Plus, you can store your sweatshirts or other clothes in them, and no one’s the wiser. Great little clothes storage hack.
76. Battle Born Lithium Batteries
Yes, they are expensive, but they are also the best. As technology advances, that may change, but for now, I only go with Battle Born.
77. Laundry Bag
Allows you to store your dirty clothes until laundry day.
78. Portable Washing Machine
If you are a minimalist regarding clothes, this little guy may be for you. Wash your clothes as needed off the grid; just because you are outdoors, there’s no need to wear stinky clothes.
79. Phone Holder
Makes driving safer. Allows you to mount your phone within your eyesight while driving. Many vehicles these days have navigation but are typically not as up-to-date as our phones are.
80. Down Blanket
These are warm and easily storable. Great for the interior or exterior of the van when a blanket is needed.
This is a love/hate relationship. It does work pretty well, just not great all the time. Sometimes you must be right beside the interior antenna to boost your signal.
82. Wireless Router
If you have electrical items in your van and need a connection to the internet, then this little gal is your answer. Now it may not work for everyone since it does require a cell signal. I can monitor our systems when away from the van, which is invaluable.
Camping Gadget Ideas
83. Folding Table
Easily sets up and gives you a table for food, drinks, cribbage, or an intense chess game.
84. Camping Chairs
There are so many chairs on the market. Check out our post here; even though these are for backpacking/hiking, they work for van life since they do not take up much space. Check out our 5 Best Camp Chairs post.
85. Gas Firepit
With fire bans becoming more of the norm and in some places during most of the year, these little gas fire pits add lovely ambiance and stow away nicely.
Not everyone has room for a sizeable standard-size propane tank. This little gem gives you enough gas to get by and easily stores.
Whether hiking trails in Colorado, along the Oregon Coast or walking through downtown San Diego, a daypack is nice to pack those extra things one may need.
Who does not like having an ax on board? For those areas, you can have a fire using firewood; you will likely need a small ax to get your fire going. It all starts with kindling.
Pet Gadget Ideas
89. Cooling Mat for Pets
Offers your pets a comfortable padded pad with cooling technology. If you love your pet(s), you’ll get them a cooling pad.
90. Foldable Floating Bed
Some pets do not like sleeping or hanging out on the ground. These keep your pets out of the dirt, track filth, and muck into your van.
91. Neon Collar
These are a must-have for your pets. For early morning or late night potty breaks and walks, visibility is a key safety item for your pet, especially when off-leash.
92. Long Leash
For those pets who like to explore but still need to be tethered to their human partners.
93. Collapsible Food / Water Bowls
We do not like our dog food bowls to sit out all day, so being collapsible allows us to store them in their food bin and out of the way. Plus, some dog food attracts bugs or flies, which helps reduce that. The same goes for the water bowl. However, we have transitioned to a spill-proof style to be left out constantly.
94. Food Storage Bin
Food storage is a must when you have pets. Unless you feed them wet food out of a can for every meal, you’ll need to store their dry food somehow. Many bags are unreasonable, so a plastic bin is an excellent option.
Fun Gadget Ideas
95. Bike Rack
Not all of us have room in our van garage to store our bikes. So, a bike rack is a must for us to take our bikes with us. Many are on the market, but we’ve found this one works the best for us.
SUPs are awesome to have when traveling, and you happen to be staying lakeside or along a river. Great for exercise and mental well-being. The inflatable style packs up rather tightly and can be stored in an exterior bin or garage.
These pumps are handy when you are not looking for an arm workout. Set the pressure desired and let it do all the work.
To record all those awesome adventures.
When filming from the ground just is not good enough. A drone gets you up above the action and gives you a whole new perspective on your surroundings.
100. Hiking Apps
AllTrails, if you are a hiker or backpacker, you probably already know about this app. Great detail and reviews help you plan an adventure. The pro version is cheap enough and offers many other options for the outdoors human. Check out our 10 Basic Essentials for Hiking post.
101. Biking Apps
Trailforks for the biking enthusiast. Like AllTrails, it offers great information for two-wheeled adventurers.
Now that you are all geared up with some of the best campervan accessories get out there and adventure and find your own life in utopia.