Van Life: Camper Van Necessities

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My regular blog followers know that I recently purchased a Mercedes Sprinter, and I am having it converted into a camper van.  My drop off date in December can’t come soon enough.  I am so excited that I have actually been online shopping for camper van necessities.  Anyone that knows me, knows I hate shopping! 

Anyway, I’ve been holding back on certain items until after I take VANgo for a test run when it is complete in March. But below are some of the camper van necessities filling my basement while I wait. Tic toc, tic toc….are we there yet?  I’m so ready to put all these purchases to use!

As I’m sitting down in my excitement to write about all these camper van necessities, I’m realizing they are hardly exhilerating, fun purchases.  But they are needs!  And they are things that I had a difficult time finding as I surfed the internet.  Hopefully, this summarized list will help others with the time consuming chore of sifting through the black hole of products on the world wide web.

Outdoor Blanket/Comforter

While buying pillows and sheets doesn’t rouse me, it will be nice to have new bedding for VANgo.  Picking out a comforter is more fun.  I wanted something functional that would also spruce up the small space.  I found an outdoor blanket which is light, warm, waterproof, and windproof that measures 60×70. 

It was a feat to find an outdoor blanket with dimensions that will work for a queen size bed.  Most were single size with limited color options.  Anyway, this blanket will work on the bed or on top of the camper van when I want to photograph the stars! It will also pack up in a stuff sack to be easily carried for a picnic.

Window Covers

Clearly window covers are not an exciting purchase either, especially for the expense.  But they are camper van necessities.  As much as I’d prefer waking up to natural light, I’ll sleep better knowing no one can see in my windows!  Not to mention, they are great for insulation.

Perhaps I wasn’t using the appropriate Google search terms, but I looked all over the internet before I found covers for every type of window on TouRig’s website.   On other websites, I’d find only the rear window covers or only the side window covers. 

Sadly, I wanted them all to match.  If I didn’t, I could have saved myself a lot of money with a DIY project.  Though I can only imagine my aggravation.  During COVID, I sewed some curtains…never again!  The measuring, the cutting, the ironing, the sewing…oh so tedious. 

When I get my hands on my converted camper van, I’ll be ready to go with covers that are perfectly sized and attach with magnets!  Who knows, I might even add on matching cab window covers and an insulated privacy curtain for the front.  But for now, I’ll do a trial run with a dark curtain and rod I have from car camping. Below are the covers I bought:

Bunker Blackout Rear Door Window Cover

Bunker Driver Side Galley Window and Bunker Passenger Side Slider Window Covers

Bunk Sliders Window Covers

Screen Door

While I have tons of windows in VANgo, I tend to feel claustrophobic if I can’t see outside or if there isn’t enough light.  As a result, I expect I’ll have the passenger door open frequently.  Given I get eaten alive by mosquitos, and I can’t stand flies, a screen door is another camper van necessity. 

Once again, I had a difficult time finding a matching set on the internet until I found these screens on the RB Components website.  So far, I’ve only purchased the side door screen and have yet to install it.  The installation reportedly takes 20-30 minutes and only the hands of two people.

The frame of the screen attaches beneath the door gasket.  Once attached and positioned correctly, it does not have to be removed for the door to close.  The screen may be rolled up or accessed through the magnetic connection.  I have a magnetic screen on the backdoor of my house which I absolutely love, and these camper van screens use the same concept.

Just walk through the doors and the screen will close with the strength of the magnets.  It’s like a giant built in dog door for Annie!  I’m so glad I found these and wonder how long it will take me to buy a rear door screen after my trial run.

I don’t intend on having the rear door open continuously.  That said, they will be open for any outdoor showers I take.  God knows how mosquitos and flies are attracted to water.  The rear screen might be the first one I need!  I hope I haven’t made a mistake.  But due to the high cost, I’m being patient.  If only they were priced like my $19 back door screen (which I highly recommend by the way).

Seat Covers

Since I have nice leather seats and a dog with long claws, I bought some seat covers.  These luxury seat protectors are non-slip and breathable.  They come with many attachment locations and even pockets in the front.  You can never have too much storage while living in a camper van.

Of course, I have a much longer list of camper van necessities as I haven’t even discussed kitchen needs like trash cans, storage containers, or cooking devices and utensils!  I’ll cross that bridge when I get used to using my space.  In the meantime, I’m covered when it comes to relaxing and sleeping! 

PS. I’ll update this post with pictures of VANgo once it is set to go on the road!  ETB

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Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned travel photographer and blogger.

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