26 Essential Van Camping Accessories for Your Next Adventure

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Need to know what to bring on your next van camping adventure? Then this list is for you. 

In 2020, we bought our first van camper van and have since perfected our van camping packing list over the past two years.

Whether you are renting a van for a camping trip or heading out for your first van camping adventure in your new van, this list of van camping accessories will help you make sure you have everything you need.

This list will focus on what you need for your campsite, your van, and your camp kitchen.


Campsite Accessories and Equipment


Quick Dry Towels and Dish Rag

No one wants to stash away a wet towel in their van, so having quick-dry microfiber towels on your packing list is a must. 

We use them for many things, including:

  • Drying dishes
  • Wiping down condensation on the inside of our windows
  • Showers
  • Swimming
  • Wiping down anything that got wet 

We found this multipack of towels and love the varying sizes and carrying case.


Biodegradable Soap

Part of enjoying the outdoors is making sure we do so responsibly. And one way we can do this is by making sure we use biodegradable soap in the wilderness. 


Our favorite is Dr. Bronner’s Baby Unscented soap. We use this for both our dishes and our showers.


Camping Shower

We learned quickly that not every campground has a shower. Therefore, having a portable shower is essential for a fresh-smelling van after a day of adventuring. 


We like this simple shower with a back panel meant to heat the water via the sunlight.


Clothesline

Whether you took a dip in the lake or got caught in a downpour, having a clothesline for your campsite is a must-have van camping accessory. 


Our favorite clotheslines are ones where you can easily string from a tree and ones that have built-in clothespins.


Camp chairs and Table

While many campsites have a picnic table, it’s nice to have camp chairs and table for around the fire and when away from your campsite. 


A roll-up table is a great sturdy option that also packs away nicely.


Cooler

A cooler is necessary if your van doesn’t have a built-in refrigerator. We like coolers that you can easily carry from your car and also are known for keeping things cool for a long time.


You can also look into using a plug-in cooler. These work well if you are driving each day to allow for the cooler to cool down during your drives.


Solar Power Bank

If your van does not have a power source like solar panels when the van isn’t running, then having a battery pack to charge your devices at your campsite is essential. 


Solar-powered battery packs help you stay connected and keep those devices charged. Many also function as a flashlight as well.


Headlamps

Flashlights are great, but headlamps are better.

Headlamps make doing things around the campsite at night like cooking or setting up a breeze. They are also great for that midnight run to the bathroom. 

We like rechargeable headlamps like these so we don’t have to bring batteries with us on our camping adventures.


Rechargable Latern

A campsite lantern is a solid companion when eating dinner or playing games at night. Yes, headlamps are great for most things. But they are not a great option when the situation requires you to look at other people. 

We like compact and rechargeable lanterns like this to save on space in the van.


Fire Starters

Having a way to start a fire at your campsite easily is something we didn’t think we needed when we first started van camping. If we had a lighter or set of matches, we thought we would be good to go.  Unfortunately, we were wrong.


Wet wood or minimal available kindling made starting fires tough. But then we found these amazing eco-friendly fire-starters made in Minnesota, and starting a fire hasn’t been a breeze since.


Van Essentials for Camping


Window Covers

Making your van both comfy and private is a necessity when van camping. Therefore, covering your windows when you are sleeping is a must. 

Window covers help make the van feel cozy and also prevent you from waking up with the first sign of daylight. Find covers that work best for your vehicle or make some of your own.


Window Screens

There will be times when you want to get a little fresh air into your van, but you don’t want to sleep with the bugs. 

That is where window screens come in.  These sock-like screens go over your windows to allow fresh air in and keep the bugs out. They even have some for your sunroof

When looking for window screens, make sure you take measurements of your windows to make sure you purchase the correct size.

Packing Cubes

We used backpacks for our first few van camping trips to store our clothes. Unfortunately, the backpacks were bulky and took up too much room. 


So we switched to packing cubes, and it’s been a total space saver. Even on our week-long adventures, a packing cube surprisingly fits all our clothing needs. We like this packing cube from Eagle Creek since it has two compartments to keep clothes more organized.


Laundry Bag

Laundry bags are great for keeping your dirty clothes organized and away from your clean clothes. 

Nothing is worse than trying to remember which clothes are clean when getting dressed in the morning at your campsite.


Van Camping Kitchen Essentials and Accessories


Travel Flatware

A good set of travel flatware will help you save space and stay organized.  

Look for a set of utensils that bind together. That way all of your utensils are easily stored and retrieved when needed.


Kitchen Utensils

For kitchen utensils, we recommend getting a kit that includes most of what you need. What we like about the kits is the carrying case that most come with.  


That way you’ll have a way to keep your kitchen supplies organized in your van.  We have this kitchen utensil kit and added a few items to it like a corkscrew and spatula.


Cookware

Keep it simple when it comes to van camping cookware. You have limited space so only bring what you need. 

We recommend having the following:

  • Frying Pan – We love using cast iron for camping but get something you’re comfortable cooking with and something that fits your space. 
  • Stainless Steel Tea Kettle – If you are a coffee drinker/tea drinker. We prefer stainless steel, so you have the option of using a campfire as your heat source. 
  • Stainless Steel Pot or Sauce Pan – We like a tall pot for van camping


Plates and Bowls

We love the good old enamelware camping plates from Coleman. These are classic camping plates that are durable and perfect for your campsite meals.


For bowls, we like to use collapsible ones to save space in the van.


Dish Washing Bin

We are lucky enough to have a sink in our van. But if you don’t, having a dishwashing station will be a necessary van camping accessory. 


Again, we like collapsable dish tubs. They are convenient and easy to clean after use. Some even double as a cutting board when collapsed.


Portable Stove

While we love cooking over a campfire, having the convenience of a portable stove is essential for van camping.  You can quickly make a meal or heat up some water for your morning coffee with a portable stove.

We love our one-burner butane stove, as it’s small and doesn’t take up a lot of space in our van. Another option if you have more space is the classic Coleman two-burner stove.

When buying a stove, you will choose propane and butane-fueled stoves. This article is a great resource to help you decide which fuel is right for you.


Chip Clips

This essential is one most don’t think of. 

Believe us; you’ll be grateful to have some chip clips on hand when you don’t finish that bag of chips from the gas station.


Reusable Silicone Bags

Reusable Silicone Bags are one of our favorite van camping accessories. They are perfect for food storage and reduce your impact on the environment around you. 

Silicone bags are durable, easily cleaned, and perfect for storing sandwiches and food. They are also great for coolers as they prevent your food from getting soggy in the melting water.


Our favorite bags are Stasher Bags. They are far superior to the other reusable bags on the market. We can honestly say that they are worth the price.


Coffee and Coffee Maker

You have several options for making coffee at your campsite. 

Our favorite two methods are an Aeropress or good ole’ instant coffee.

When we started camping, we went with the Aeropress as it’s compact and makes a delicious cup of coffee. But then we found this delightful Israeli instant coffee on Amazon and haven’t brewed our coffee since. 


Nice to Have Van Camping Accessories

These items are not van camping essentials but are fun to have if you have the space.


Hammock

After a day of exploring, relaxing in a hammock is one of our favorite things to do at the campsite. 

Hammocks today are so compact that finding space for them in your van won’t be too difficult. 

We like the double hammocks even for one person as they give you a lot of space and support. 

Our favorite has been this double hammock with additional tree-safe straps

Pudgy Pie Maker

Pudgy pies aren’t just for kids. They are a fun way to make a meal over the campfire. 

We love making pizzas or desserts in our pudgy pie maker. Through our research, we’ve found that the Rome brand for Pudgy Pie makers are superior. We love ours and recommend a Rome brand pie iron.

Cast-Iron Dutch Oven

Dutch Ovens are a great way to step up your campsite cooking. 

We love making campfire nachos and steaming bowls of chili in our dutch oven. If you are interested in learning more about dutch oven cooking over a campfire, Fresh off the Grid is a great resource.

More Van Camping Posts:
Benefits of Renting a Campervan for Your Next Road Trip
Road Trip Food Ideas: Packable Snacks and Make-Ahead Meals
How to Plan a Road Trip with Google Maps: A Step-by-Step Tutorial

Check Out More Posts

Picture of Craig and Mel in front of Albie the Campervan

Welcome to The Winding Road Tripper!

We are Melody and Craig: Wisconsinites that love weekend adventures from Milwaukee and long-distance road trips in our campervan, Albie. 

We created The Winding Road Tripper to help you plan your next Midwest or road trip adventure. 

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