28 Cool Van Life Gadgets, Gear, Accessories, and Essentials (2020)

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New to van life or looking to enhance day-to-day life in your beloved van? Today, there are many van life gadgets, gear, accessories, and essentials on the market, that bring plenty of necessities and comforts into your van.

Van life pros will be the first to acknowledge that the better prepared you are, the smoother, safer, and more enjoyable your time on the road will be.

There are many things you need to consider before heading out into the wilderness. Safety, power, and cooking utensils are just three of many.

So buckle up, wishlist in hand, as we take a closer look at 28 essentials, gadgets, and accessories, to help make van life a safe, enjoyable, and memorable experience.

You can also jump to any of the categories below.

Cool Van Life Gadgets, Gear, Accessories, and Essentials

Van Life Security & Safety

1 – GPS Tracker

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For those times you park up your van to explore or get supplies, you want assurance that, in the rare case your van is broken into, you’ll be able to track and find it.

Equipping your van with a GPS tracker is more than worth the investment. If the worst were to happen, you’ll instantly be able to track your van’s movements, and share these locations with local police.

Regardless of the probability, it’s always best to prepare for the worst. A GPS tracker will give you peace of mind for those times you’ll be leaving your van unattended.

2 – Security Safe Box

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Vans come in so many wonderful shapes and sizes. And while many vans use plenty of innovation when it comes to cupboards and storage, you’re going to want a place to store invaluable items with much greater security.

Even cupboard doors and compartments with locks can be broken into with some basic tools. Hence, it’s a great idea to get a security safe box for your van.

With a key-coded door and thick, steel exterior, security safe boxes are a far safer way to store passports, cameras and tech, and expensive jewelry.

3 – Roadside Emergency Kit

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While breakdowns and accidents are frustrating, they can undoubtedly be a part of van life.

You haven’t truly experienced van life until you’ve had to change a tire, jumpstart a battery, or deal with an overheating engine! If anything, it’s a rite of passage.

In isolated places, getting help can be difficult. And to make repairs yourself, it’s essential to have a roadside emergency kit on board.

Roadside emergency kits come with a huge selection of tools to cover so many scenarios. Because they pack them, they’re also very easy to store in one simple, easily accessible place.

4 – Fire Extinguisher

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While fires are a rare occurrence, they are more probable in a van. With propane canisters, more electrical equipment, and overworked engines, you should always prepare for the first.

Always travel with a portable fire extinguisher onboard. That way, you can quickly put out a fire, before it spreads and becomes a serious problem.

5 – First-Aid Kit

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A first aid kit is a van life essential for anyone living in a motorized home. Often, you may be far from medical help, so you’ll want peace of mind to know you can clean wounds, bandage injuries, and take medication.

This compact first aid kit has a huge amount of medical material inside. With basic first aid knowledge, you’ll sleep safe knowing you have the tools to address injuries or minor emergencies.

6 – Carbon Monoxide Detector

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A carbon monoxide detector is another must-have van life essential. Particularly while asleep at night, you’ll be under huge risk if there is a leak.

Carbon monoxide detectors are compact, portable, and simple to use. You can keep it anywhere in your van and sleep soundly knowing such a vital failsafe is in place.

7 – Steering Wheel Lock

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If you’re asleep, or away from your van and someone breaks in, it’s going to be much harder for them to drive your van away with a steering lock in place.

As with many of our security essentials, a steering lock is portable and can easily be stored in your van. Simply attach and lock it to your wheel at night, or while you’re away.

There’s also a greater chance a thief will be deterred from breaking in if they peer through the window and see a steering wheel lock.

Van Life Power

8 – Portable Power Station

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Getting power to your van is something you need to figure out long before you hit the road. Naturally, van life power comes in many shapes and sizes.

Portable power packs are a great option for keeping tech and electronic devices charged and available to use.

Goal Zero Yeti’s lithium battery power station comes with an interactive LED screen. This gives you important information such as the charge level of the power station, so you know how much power is still left in it.

Be sure to double-check the outlet options, so that you know devices can be charged through USB, USB-C, and other ports.

9 – Solar Panel

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Keen to generate your own power, all from one source? A solar panel is an essential piece of gear for anyone who plans to live in their van long term.

Solar panels can attach to the top of your van via a variety of different mounts. As you drive, you’ll be able to generate electricity and store it for later use.

Portable batteries can only provide you with so much power. If you require more power for heating, work, or entertainment, a solar panel is a sound investment.

Van Life Must-Haves

10 – Van Toilet

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When it comes to your van toilet, you need something that’s comfortable, easy to install, and simple to empty.

A self-contained composting toilet is a great choice if you’re in the market for a toilet.

This featured Nature’s Head model has a huge capacity, with emptying every 4-6 weeks for 2 people using it full time.

11 – Portable Shower

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When it comes to showering in your van, space is always going to be your biggest challenge.

Fixed showers with tanks require a lot more room to hold larger volumes of water in the tank.

Portable showers are far more compact, and they can be installed in much smaller spaces. The trade-off may be water pressure, but you can operate far more efficiently and save a lot of energy.

12 – Van Water Filter

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Regardless of where you source your water, it’s always difficult to know where it’s come from and how clean it is.

This is why a water filtration system is a van life essential not to be overlooked. Ensuring your water is filtered will go a long way to keeping you healthy and safe.

You can attach this filter to many hoses for instant, filtered water. Plus, with a three-month filter lifespan, you’ll only have to change it 3-4 times a year.

Van Life Maintenance

13 – Tool Kit

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No van lifer should hit the road without an almighty tool kit. There are many things that will need to be fixed and reattached during your time in the van.

All-in-one tool kits cover you for so many bases. Plus, the storage allows you to keep everything in one place, readily available.

14 – Tire Inflators

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From bumpy roads to the sheer weight of everything on board, naturally, your van’s tires will deflate over time.

Monitoring your tire pressure and maintaining it at the right level is important to ensure you stay safe and keep your van road-worthy.

For those moments you may be far from a gas station, it’s a good idea to have a tire inflator on board.

This tire inflator has a simple air pressure monitor, and it can be plugged into a jack found in your van.

Van Life Kitchen Gadgets

15 – Portable Induction Cooker

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Keen to keep your kitchen setup compact? Don’t want gas canisters onboard? You should look into getting a portable countertop burner.

Portable burners are great energy savers, while also generating enough heat over a singular hob to cook plenty of delicious food in a singular pot.

16 – Van Refrigerator

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If you’re planning on cooking fresh and diverse meals, a van refrigerator is a great option for storing food with a short shelf life.

Portable coolers can be stored wherever you have space in your van. Requiring minimal electricity, you can stock up on ingredients like milk and meat, knowing you can store them in a chilled, safe place.

And let’s face it, no one wants to sip a warm beer or lukewarm glass of wine after a long day out on the road!

17 – Portable Coffee Maker

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If you swear by your morning coffee, a coffee sachet and a kettle just isn’t going to cut it!

If you like your coffee to be rich, strong, and flavorful, bring your favorite beans or brew out on the road and invest in a portable coffee maker, such as the Aeropress.

Aeropress is easy to use and requires no power. Every morning, you can brew yourself rich, filtered coffee, using ground beans of your choice and hot water from your kettle.

18 – Kettle

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Kettles an essential part of any van kitchen. For hot drinks, cooking, and boiling water, they’re very much an item many can’t travel without.

If you can, choose a model with a transparent body. That way, you can easily measure water, and use less energy when boiling.

Cordless kettles also allow you to easily pour drinks and water away from your kitchen unit.

19 – Cast-Iron Skillet

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Cast iron retains heat incredibly well. For cooking in your van, a cast iron skillet is an excellent choice.

This type of skillet will cook food quicker, and save on valuable energy. Plus, you can do so much with a cast-iron skillet. Bake, fry, grill or sear your food, the way you like it.

20 – Portable Blender

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If juices or smoothies are an important part of your diet, you’ll need a van-friendly portable blender to prepare your meals.

Portable blenders are ideal for a van environment. They require less power, and they are more lightweight than conventional blenders.

21 – Instant Pot

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An instant pot is an essential piece of kitchen gear if you want to cook simple, one-pot recipes, with little hassle or effort.

Instant pots can steam, slow cook, and sauté ingredients for hours on end, giving you delicate and tender food once finished.

Instant pots use a low amount of electricity. You can load it up with rice, meat, or vegetables, set your mode, and let the food gently cook away as you drive.

Van Life Comfort Products

22 – Gimbal Fan

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Seasoned van lifers will be the first to tell you that vans can get hot, very quickly! At night, trying to sleep can be almost unbearable in such heat.

Gimble fans are an excellent way to cool down your van. Their 360-degree design and lightweight base allow you to place them on hard surfaces throughout your van.

They are a simple, low-energy way of keeping your van cool, especially when the weather is baking outside.

23 – Dimmer Lights

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At night, you’ll need a way of generating light inside your van. Dimmer lights are a great way to do this.

As with plenty of essential van life items, they operate on lower power. Plus, their ultra-lightweight design allows you to place them on any surface or corner of your van, with relative ease.

24 – Hand Vacuum

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Whenever you are on the road for a long time, the inside of the van will inevitably get dirty. You’ll bring in all sorts of dirt on your shoes and small bits of food will fall to the floor.

Having a compact hand vacuum will let you keep your van as clean as and when needed. The cordless design makes it easy to operate and store in a limited space.

25 – Car Diffuser

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A car diffuser is a great way to keep your van fresh and your trips more comfortable.

Whether it is acting as a travel humidifier or helping spread the scent of soothing essential oil, a diffuser can greatly improve your day-to-day van life.

Van Life Fun Gadgets

26 – Inflatable SUP Board

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The true joys of van life are in those spontaneous moments. Every now and again, you’ll pass beautiful lakes or babbling rivers you’ll simply have to stop for.

For those moments, an inflatable SUP board is a perfect item to have on board. Paddleboarding is a fun and enjoyable way to spend time on the water.

While a conventional paddleboard will take up a lot of space, an inflatable board can be packed down and stored with ease.

27 – Inflatable Kayak

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Want to take those spontaneous stops at rivers or lakes to another level? Get yourself an inflatable kayak.

2-seater kayaks allow you and a friend or partner to have an unforgettable time out on the water.

Equipped with two paddles, you’ll be able to head out on some memorable adventures across lakes and along rivers. It’ll make those off-the-cuff stops even more magical.

Once you’re ready to head back out on the road, you can deflate the kayak and store it with ease.

28 – Portable Projector for Movie Night

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Portable projectors will take your movie nights to a whole new level. They provide a far more relaxed and immersive way to watch movies than on laptops or tablets.

All you’ll need is a space to project onto. This could be a hung white sheet, closed curtains, or a plain surface within your van.

You could even try to recreate a drive-in movie, and project outside onto the side of your van, as long as you have an extension cord.

Once you’re happy with your setup, plug in a USB stick or streaming device, and you’re good to go.

You can use device speakers, Bluetooth speakers, or projector speakers to listen to your favorite movies and shows. A great way to spend an evening.

Van Life Gadgets & Essentials  Summary

Whether you’re moving house, going camping, or doing an extreme sport, you’re always going to bring your essential equipment. Why would van life be any different?

Van life is an amazing way to see amazing places very efficiently.

However, a lot of planning and preparation has to go into your van to assure it’s safe, comfortable, and a place you can live for weeks or months at a time.

Together, we’ve taken an in-depth look at some cool van life gadgets and van life essentials to add to your setup.

These essentials will help make your van safer. They will ensure you have access to power. They will help you prepare food. And they’ll help you have fun along the way.

Treat your van with the love and attention it deserves. Invest in a proper van life setup, and it’ll go a long way to ensuring a memorable time on the road.

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Save and Pin for Later

Looking to add to your van life setup? Save these essentials to one of your Pinterest boards. That way, you’ll always have this list in a safe place.


28 van life essentials you need in your life
28 Van Life Gadgets You Need in Your Life

Author: Dale Johnson is a content creator and strategist, and a full-time digital nomad since 2016. He loves writing about smart travel, always trying to get his hands on the latest travel tech and gadgets.

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