Ahh, Covid-19, you've turned our lives upside down, shaken them around a bit, and left us hanging about when things might start to return to normal. All this time inside with little to do has had some of us turning to future travel plans, craft projects and DIY to get through the slog.
My partner and I have found ourselves happily burdened with a 2015 Peugeot Boxer and intend to spend this period in a state of sawdust-covered, camper-converting bliss. Travel plans thwarted and last-minute plans made to return back to the UK, a van conversion seemed a fun project to keep us busy. With a set of tools just sufficient enough to get by, and limited enough to make it an interesting challenge, our quarantine routine has apparently turned us into fully-fledged (albeit rather clueless) carpenters/builders/decorators.
Hey, they say we have at least 8 careers in a lifetime these days. When we're not apologising to the neighbours about the drilling (again), endlessly scrolling #vanlife porn on Instagram, or taking excessively long tea breaks to contemplate what on earth we've taken on, I find myself daydreaming about our post-lockdown adventures in the UK.
Once all the sawing and sanding is done, I'll be excited to start making those adventures come to life, by turning our house on wheels into a home. But what to take? What are the best campervan accessories for an epic UK adventure? What essential, what's luxury, and where should we even start? Below is your ultimate guide to the best campervan accessories. From the can't-go-without, to the convenient, to the downright cool, here's the list that will jazz up your van, cosy up the space and generally make it feel like somewhere you'd never want to leave.
Fancy renting a campervan to taste a bit of van life before you fork out a load of cash for one? Check out our partner Camptoo (Airbnb but for campers)
Like most things in life, the best campervan accessories are not always the most exciting ones, but the ones that you'll notice you don't have. Nothing says a summer surf trip like endless waves, beach BBQ's and sandy toes. But nothing says a subsequently sand-free van like a portable outdoor shower. Stick it on the rear door, plonk yourself in front of a nice view and Bob's your uncle, the most scenic shower you ever did have.
You can get some pretty varied showers when it comes to camper vans but this one is a good place to start. It's powered by 12V electricity, meaning you can plug it into a cigarette lighter or wire it simply in to your van electrics. A handy trick is to get a shower curtain that fits between the outer edges of the rear doors, creating a perfect little cubicle of privacy wherever you are.
Check out this Portable 12V DC Powered Shower Unit.
One of those boring but crucial purchases that you'll congratulate yourself for E-V-E-R-Y-T-I-M-E. If you're staying away from campsites with marked out pitches and want to go wild camping, chances are you'll struggle to find completely level ground to lay your head.
To be honest, this is sometimes the case with campsites too. Whether you're a full-time van life wizard or just going away for a few nights, you'll thank us for a level nights sleep. Trust us, we've had enough nights rolling off beds to know that levelling makes a huge difference.
Check out the Fiamma Level Pro
This one's for the freelancers, the remote workers, or the Netflix enthusiasts. Whilst some may want to escape the everyday tech-fuelled hustle and bustle of life, some choose it as a lifestyle that compliments their work. And what could be better than working remotely in front of the beach or in the middle of the forest? Perhaps you're just keen for the odd film marathon on a rainy day, but either way you'll want some connection to the Internet when you're in the middle of nowhere.
Check out this TP-Link Archer Wifi Dongle
A campervan's best friend. You never quite know when you're going to run out of power. Perhaps you were expecting sun to charge the solar panel and it rained instead. Perhaps you can't get to a campsite with mains hook up for a while. This is where the back up power pack comes in. A more useful gadget there never was. With multiple cable inputs and the ability to even charge a solar panel, this is a portable generator that packs a punch.
Check out the Poweroak Portable Power Station
So I know we're talking about campervan accessories, but this pretty, much falls into any outdoor category when it comes to useful gadgets to have. Wild camping, hiking, trail running, thru-hiking and bike packing, this is just super handy to have at all times and means you won't be panicking about dehydration on the trails (is there anything worse?)
The Grayl portable (and world's fastest) water purifier is generally known as the industry leader. In 8 second it can make 710ml of safe, clean, drinking water anywhere on the planet. There's heaps of videos out there of people turning stagnant pond water or even Coca Cola into pure, clean drinking water with the Grayl, so we're pretty stoked about this one.
Check out the Grayl GeoPress Water Purifier
If you're planning on living in your home on wheels full-time, chances are you'll eventually need to do some laundry. This is one of those essential campervan accessories you'd soon miss, and will barely take up any of your storage space. You don't just have to use it for laundry, you can use it for pretty much anything soft and squishy. The roll top means you can compress it to take up a tiny amount of space, and it keeps your dirty laundry out of the way.
Check out the Osprey Ultralight Bag
Washing Up Bowl Chopping Board
If this isn't what handy campervan accessories means, we don't know what does. Spend long enough doing van life and you'll see that anything that saves storage space is akin to magic. This handy gadget has a solid bottom, so that when it's collapsed it can be used as a chopping board, and then as a washing up bowl or means to transport your dirty dishes to the campsite washing up facilities.
Check out the 4in1 Collapsible Chopping Board with Washing Up Bowl
Command Picture Hanging Strips
Okay, this is undoubtedly the most boring accessory we've thrown in, but what is life without a little bit of boring. It's what makes the other stuff really cool , right? If you're building your own van or doing one to sell on, this will appeal. These super nifty picture hanging strips allow you to hang pictures on the wall and leave absolutely no trace of screws or nails. They're stronger than you think too.
Check out these Picture hanging strips
Not Really Essential But Pretty Cool
Two words. Proper. Coffee. Is there truly anything better than waking up in the middle of nowhere, in the comfort of your own transportable bed than a cup of steaming fresh coffee? Imagine lying in bed watching the view, the smell of fresh coffee filling the van. We're all about home comforts when it comes to van life.
Camping is great and requires lightweight, easy to pack technical gear, but on a camper van trip you can take whatever the heck you like. Massive fluffy duvet? Go for it. Proper cutlery and crockery? We're not going to stop you. And we certainly won't argue with kick starting the day of road-tripping with a decent espresso in your favourite mug.
Check out the Bialetti Moka Express Stovetop Coffee Maker
Depending on the kind of trips you want to do, this one could technically fall into the ‘essentials' list. Aside from being environmentally-friendly (tick from us), solar panels mean you can travel off-grid away from campsites and caravan parks. It's also very worthwhile considering if you're planning to live in your van full-time. You can also get small-size fold up charger-type solar panels, which is a pretty cool gadget to have if you're out in the wild.
Where you would otherwise have to charge your leisure battery by plugging into the mains power at a campsite, a solar panel will allow you to stray far into the wilderness for days without having to see another soul. That is, as long as there's sun...
You'll need to source a few components and a good deal of research before installing a solar panel if you plan to do it yourself, but the Goal Zero Yeti 400 is a good place to start.
Check out the Goal Zero Yeti 400 Lithium Generator
Second Leisure Battery
Like the solar panel, a second leisure battery buys you more time off-grid. You wouldn't have to worry about coming back to a campsite to recharge as often, and you'd be less worried about the sun, as you'd have twice the charge to last you. That said, they're pretty heavy beasts and take up quite a lot of space, so it's probably only an option if you've got a big van and a lot of payload. They're also pretty expensive and require a fair bit of technical know-how to install, so again this is probably an option for self-builders. Otherwise you could also get a professional to install it for you.
Check out this 12V 110AH Leisure Battery
Wonderbag Slow Cooker
Ok, so we're pretty crazy about this one. The Wonderbag was developed in South Africa to help save women time and fuel whilst cooking. The founder, Sarah Collins, has since transformed the concept into a carbon-reducing business that encourages larger companies to engage with the issue of climate change by connecting with the women most affected by its impact. Cool right?
That's not even mentioning the product. Once you've tried the Wonderbag, you won't look back. Saving hours of time and fuel, Wonderbag contributes to a saving of up to two tons of carbon dioxide from going into the atmosphere every year. It uses heat retention to slow cook food for upto 12 hours, without any gas needed. Cook your food and bring it to the boil, then simply transfer it into the Wonderbag whilst you're out adventuring or driving and you'll come home to good quality home cooked food. What could be better?
Check out The Wonderbag
A versatile campervan accessory if ever we saw one. Not only will a roof rack hold all your essential adventuring gear (surfboards work great here), but with a bit of DIY nous, these roof racks have been transformed into sunset watching decks, stargazing spots and sunbathing platforms. Plus, they're pretty good for all that other crap you can never quite squeeze into the cupboards.
Check out Van Guard Ulti Roof Racks
We get it, sometimes camping can make you feel gross. Or cold. Or just wanting to remember how it feels to look nice. Maybe you're going out for dinner or just want to feel normal again, or are fed up of having slightly damp hair from being in the sea (more likely the rain in this country). A 12v hairdryer is your answer. Super easy to use and okay, maybe not quite as effective as a normal hairdryer, but better than nothing, right?
Check out out this 12V Travel Hairdryer
Most motorhome or caravan dwellers would consider this to be the best campervan accessory. You've probably noticed that motorhomes often have them to create extra, sheltered space for tables and chairs or sometimes an extra tent for kids. You can get awnings that are simply a cover, and some that are walled and offer more privacy. It's not essential, nor it is a luxury, it's just something we think you'd find pretty useful to have.
Check out this Fiamma Awning
Not At All Necessary But Entirely Epic
Does this one really need its merits explaining? Making and sharing a fire has got to be up there as one of life's most simple pleasures. Everything is better in front of a fire; a glass of red wine, a good book, a game of scrabble. What's more, it means van life all your round, not just when the sun is shining.
OK, it's not really a campervan accessory as such... you can't just pick it up and sling it in a cupboard. But if you're converting your own van, this is a super exciting one to think about.
There are few greater pleasures than escaping the hustle of our tech-filled lives and spending an evening collecting firewood and watching a fire crackle and burn. Not to mention, it's more exciting than an electric heater. Nothing quite says 'home on wheels' like a van with it's own woodburning stove.
Check out Wendy The Woodburner
Of all those listed, this is in our minds one of the best campervan accessories out there. We love an outdoor gadget and the YG300 is no exception. Film nights and Netflix binge sessions just got a whole lot more exciting. If the wind is howling and the rain is hammering in the middle of winter, what could be better than curling up in front of a film? Well, curling up in front of a film and a woodburner, I suppose. There are plenty of projectors out there but this YG300 is a great one to start with. It has multiple streaming options for phones, laptops and iPads and won't break the bank.
Check out the YG300 Home Theatre
Portable Barbecue & Firepit
Summer evenings, marshmallows and time with friends are all improved with a campfire. Two in one barbecue grill and firepit, this piece of kit will really jazz up your van life experience and keep you warm and toasty. It's super easy to clean and set up and packs up into a handy carry bag so you cart it off to the beach for the day. Just remember to Leave no Trace.
Check out this VonHaus Firepit and Grill
Who doesn't love lounging about in the sun? These inflatable lazy beds are everywhere right now, and for good reason. They pack down super small, hardly weigh anything, and are so comfortable you don't want to leave all afternoon. Dangerous, we know. It's easy to carry, so you could even take it to the beach and be that person.
Ok, so if you haven't already decided that you want to buy all of these campervan accessories yet (because we do), or if you're unsure where to start but want to make a purchase to level up your van experience, check out the guide below. It'll help you to consider where to start, what to prioritise and might even mention things you haven't thought of yet.
Check out this Inflatable Sun Lounger
WHAT TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING ACCESSORIES FOR YOUR CAMPERVAN
There is a seemingly endless choice of campervan accessories to spice up your van life experience and it can be tricky to know what to splash out on when there's so many exciting things out there. There's accessories that will go in during the build phase and those that are great add on's to add in after. Not sure where to start? Here's a few questions to ask yourself (in this order!) to make sure you've got what you need, and then what you want.
What would you use every time you go away in the van?
This is a useful question. There's not much point splashing out on a roof rack so you can sit up top and have your morning coffee every day if you've forgotten the kettle. Start with the truly essential items that you will always always use on a trip. The best campervan accessories don't have to be fancy or expensive. Proper cutlery, a grater, a beer opener all create their own tiny joys. We're talking fridges, bedding, chargers, cooking utensils etc. Check out some useful packing tips from Escape Campervans.
What will you need for your daily personal care?
This is the stuff you really shouldn't be forgetting. That is, unless you'd rather go a few weeks without brushing your teeth. Ensuring you have running water to wash your face and brush your teeth, as well as some nice clean bedding and a comfortable bed to sleep in will always feel like a luxury when you're in the middle of nowhere and will allow you to live cleanly and comfortably whilst adventuring in a campervan.
What have you used previously on similar experiences?
Chances are if you're going on a van holiday or thinking of buying one, you'll have been camping or perhaps even away in a motorhome or caravan before. What accessories did you find useful on those trips? Maybe a portable barbecue or stove, camping lanterns, mosquito repellent candles and weather-appropriate clothing are the types of things you'd consider.
How are you going to be spending your time?
Finally it's useful to think about what you want to get out of your campervan travels. Perhaps it's a new way of working remotely, in which case a WiFi dongle and solar panels would come in very handy. Perhaps it's about reconnecting with friends or family, in which case accessories such as a fire pit, board games or a projector screen would be great additions to your trip. Think about how you want to spend your trip and choose to spend your money on those luxuries and fun items that will really enrich your experience.
Is it your own campervan or are you renting one?
Ok, so if you're renting out a campervan for a holiday, chances are you're not going to go out and buy all the accessories for it. There's something bits in there however which would make great camping accessories too though, so definitely worth a read. If you're the owner of a van that you use, or one that you rent out, these add on's are a fantastic way to level up your stay or that of your hirers.
Oh and we've teamed up with Camptoo (Airbnb but for camper vans). Head on over to their site to rent a camper for your next trip.
What's the best campervan accessory for 2021?
A tricky one. For us it has to be the portable Film Projector. There's just something so exciting about making your own little home cinema out in the wild on a stormy evening. Sure, it's not essential and many would say it fits into the "unnecessary gadget" category but we're all about the exciting, unnecessary things when it comes to epic adventures. As long as you've got the storage space, why not?
Won't more stuff make my van heavier?
It depends on which accessories you go for, and how close to the limit your van is weight-wise. If you own a camper van and are worried about weight, it's very easy to get it weighed in the UK at a public weigh bridge.
That way you'll know exactly how much weight you've got left. From experience, you nearly always have hundred's of kilograms more than you think you will, so a few extra bits and bobs won't make much difference. To the weight that is. To your adventures? They'll seriously level it up.
What does every campervan need?
Every campervan, in our humble opinion, needs a fridge, something to cook on, some pots and pans, a decent kettle and some super cosy bedding. That'll mean you can make a nice meal, enjoy a good cuppa and have a great nights sleep. But if we're really going into it, we'd argue every campervan needs levelling ramps, a solar panel and some kind of heater to truly elevate the experience.
How do I keep my campervan warm?
Well, great question. If you're a hardy outdoor lover and you want to get out exploring during the winter months, you're right to consider how you'd heat your van. Just above we mentioned a fantastic little wood burning stove you can install if you're building your own campervan. Diesel heaters, water heaters and portable gas heaters are all good options too. Sometimes just boiling the kettle and getting the gas stove on will help heat the space up too.
Can't I just take camping equipment like sleeping bags, do I need these luxuries?
Course you can! We're not telling you what to do here, if you want to chuck a roll mat and sleeping bag in the back of you campervan for a few days then you do that! But if you're wanting to level up the experience, make it a little more luxurious and enjoy some creature comforts whilst out I n the wild, we're here to help you on that journey.
What's the best accessory for wild camping?
Wild camping generally means you won't have access to a tap or electricity. So I think we'd have to go for the solar panel (this would keep you off grid for as long as it was sunny) or, if you're going super wild, the portable water purifier. That way you won't need to rush back to the city or a campsite in search of clean drinking water.
How do I know if what I'm buying is good quality gear?
Great question. Hopefully you'll find that we've directed you to some great products that personal experience and extended research have told us are fantastic accessories to have in your campervan. If not, read reviews, ask forums, friends and fellow van lifers about what they use and go from there.