A Comprehensive RV Packing List for the First Time Camper

This article is reader-supported. We may earn affiliate revenue from qualifying purchase made through links on this page. Learn more.

Camping for the first time in an RV can be an overwhelming experience. One of the most common questions we hear from campers is figuring out what to pack. We’ve combined years of experience and research to help you find the answer.

Couple and their dog sitting in a hammock outside their RV.
Photo by: Wanderland Travelers

Most RVs have a large amount of storage space that lets you bring along almost everything you want, but you don’t want to pack so much that you’re lugging around unnecessary weight. On the other hand, it’s the forgotten items that end up creating the most trouble while on your first camping trip in your new RV.

For the first time out, a packing list can help you to remember all of the essentials.

Camping in an RV is different from tent camping or even car camping. There are certain things that you need to remember to have the best trip possible. While this list is well-thought-out and thorough, it’s merely a stepping stone to help you discover and create a personalized packing list.

Kitchen and Cooking

Like gourmet meals? You’re going to love RV camping. Bringing a full kitchen wherever you go is one of the best parts of having a camper.

Blackstone griddle
From The Gillis Family’s Favorite Camping Gear

Here’s what to pack if you want to treat yourself to a home-cooked meal in your RV:

Bedroom and Sleeping

With an RV, there’s a lower risk of tossing and turning than a night in a tent, where you might set up the tent over a lump of dirt or rocks. RVs are built for a comfortable night’s rest after a long day of exploring your surroundings.

RV bedroom
From Tanner and Nallely’s Favorite Camping Gear

The bedroom is a sacred space where you recharge and get ready for the next day. So don’t hesitate to bring along extra pillows and comforts that help you sleep and feel more at home.

Clothing

You’re packing for an adventure. That means that you need to dress appropriately and have the right clothing along with you in case of the unexpected. The RV can serve as the world’s best closet for an adventurer. You don’t have to worry about buying only lightweight and packable down jackets because you have space for additional layers and bulkier items.

It’s never a bad idea to have your RV stocked with every layer imaginable, but you can easily cut down your closet if you know the weather that’s coming.

Woman on sand dunes with her dog.
From Sara and Mike’s Favorite Camping Gear

Here’s a great list to pick and choose from depending on the type of trip you’re taking.

  • Rain jacket and pants
  • Hats
    • Sun hat
    • Baseball cap
    • Beanie
  • Shoes
  • Sweaters or hoodies
  • Socks
  • More socks – you can never have too many pairs!
  • Underwear
  • Heavy jacket
  • Light jacket
  • Short and long-sleeve shirts
  • Shorts and pants
  • Swimsuit

Personal items and Toiletries

With personal items and toiletries are several little things that are easy to overlook and leave behind. It’s crazy how easy it is to leave your phone charger plugged in by your bed at home and forget to take it with you.

That’s where a checklist is most helpful. I have always found it best to have two of each item on this list—one that stays at home and one that stays in the camper. That way, I don’t go through the hassle of moving everything into the RV every time I want to go out for a weekend.

Shower soap dispenser
From Tanner and Nallely’s Favorite Camping Gear

On top of random personal items, you need to remember all of your toiletries. A full bathroom is another great luxury of an RV setup. You don’t have to be conscious of what small travel-sized bottles you can fit in your backpack or car camping kit as you’ll have a whole bathroom cabinet along for the ride.

  • Phone charger
  • Wallet
  • First aid kit
  • Sun protection
  • Bug spray
  • Bear spray, if you are in bear country
  • Sewing kit
  • Headlamp or flashlight
  • Extra batteries
  • Watch
  • Sunglasses
  • Reservation paperwork
  • Prescription medications
  • Contacts and lens solution
  • Deodorant
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Floss
  • Lip balm
  • Body soap
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Hairbrush
  • Nail clippers
  • Lotion

All of the Fun Stuff

While the wild has plenty to offer when it comes to entertainment, an RV provides more creature comforts. It allows you to bring a lot that you usually wouldn’t have with you on a backpacking or car camping trip.

Seating area outside an RV.
From The Adventure Travelers’ Favorite Camping Gear

This is the area in which you get to personalize your trip and tailor it to your group. Here are some ideas of what to take with you to bring the fun.

RV Essentials

If you are a first-time camper in your RV, you’ll quickly learn that there’s a decent amount of maintenance and care required to get you safely where you want to go. You’ll get the hang of RV maintenance with time and experience.

Air compressor
From Brad and Maggie’s Favorite Camping Gear

Plenty of things go smoothly on the road, but some bumps can just as easily come up. Learning to take care of the RV, and keeping a few emergency items on-hand, is your best bet and will allow you to avoid expensive mechanics and other costly fixes.

Did we forget something that every first-time camper should have? Leave it for us in the comments!