Gear That Will Fit Perfectly in Your #Vanlife Setup

Camping & Hiking expert Hannah K. shares her top fifteen favorite products for a comfortable van lifestyle.

Photo by Mikel Ibarluzea

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Van-life is on the rise and dare I say… becoming mainstream? I spent some time in Joshua Tree recently and I think I saw 50 decked-out vans in one day. I am here for it, my friends. Van-life is a great lifestyle for those wanting to be nomadic, save some money on rent, and see as much of the world as they can. While van-life is great, this lifestyle may not always have the creature comforts of a traditional living situation. So, here are some gear items that will help add some comfort, cozy vibes to your van!

Bathroom

Let’s talk about bathrooms. Van-life often includes using gym bathrooms, showering at a friend’s place, or not showering—all wonderful options. Sometimes, however, it is lovely to have your own bathroom where you can wilderpee and wilderpoo and wilder-shower in your own space. Here are some products that might be a nice addition to your van and pack away nice and small.

This five-gallon Texsport Camp Shower is essentially a bag with a hose, but it’s a luxury after a hard day on the road. You can attach some sort of rod to the outside of your van to use with it or just find a tree and wash up. Pair it with this Stansport Pop Up Privacy Tent to ensure that wandering eyes won’t find their way to you. Both items pack down small so they won’t take up any of your precious space in (enter van name here).

When you are on the road, and all of a sudden you need to wilderpoo, you can pull out your handy-dandy Texsport Portable Toilet. I really only suggest this in case of emergencies, but it is nice to know that this is an option. It weighs basically nothing and folds down small to save space. That being said, part of van-life is enjoying the sometimes-awful but sometimes-funny situations that not having a bathroom can put you in. The struggle and the grind only make you stronger—and give you some great stories to share later.

Kitchen

Cooking great meals doesn’t only happen in five-star, fancy restaurants with air-fryers and cooking torches. Great food can even be made in your van. If you didn’t build a fold-out table in your van, this GSI Outdoors Table is ultralight and packs down super small. It is also flame and heat-retardant so it acts as a large cooking space. That table will give you more counter space than a luxury New York City apartment. Use this TravelChair Slacker Foldable Chair to eat at the table!

Some, but not all, vans will have a sink to wash dishes. If that is the case for you, splurge on this Granite Gear Foldable Sink that won’t take up much space and will be great for cleaning your oatmeal bowl or the rest of your tofu curry.

A green Volkswagen campervan in a grassy field

Photo by Zane Gunska

This MSR Mess Kit Dish Set is great for two, is lightweight, and packs up into a one nice package when stowed away.

The pots in this Katadyn Terra Solo Pot Set are lightweight, easy to clean, durable, and pack up small so when they aren’t in use, they won’t take away from all the space that your doggo friend needs. The Primus Primetech Pot Set is a slightly larger option so you can make more food at once.

Clothes

When packing clothes in a van, you want durability, versatility, and quick-drying options.

For undergarments, Exofficio is one of my favorite brands. The material is so soft, never smells regardless if I do, and dries quickly when I hand-wash it. I’m also a huge fan of Darn Tough socks. They are durable, comfy, and keep my feet warm and happy. These are great because you don’t really need more than two pairs if you don’t mind washing them slightly more often. It will save space for more climbing, backpacking, and hiking gear.

When it comes to a jacket, a nano puff is a necessity. This Cotopaxi is my go-to jacket for colder nights and days. It weighs nothing, has great insulation, is waterproof, and folds up into a ball.

A woman working on her computer at the back of her campervan

Photo by Brina Blum

Random Creature Comforts

I’m a fan of many blankets that I can toss around in my sleep or curl up with. This RAB Wilderness Quilt gets the job done and keeps me cozy when driving.

Posters and photos! They just chill on your wall. Although wall space is great for storage, a photo of loved ones is a nice creature comfort.

Lanterns and string lights help set a nice ambient mood to relax at the end of the day. Both the Mpowerd Luci Color Solar Lantern and the Mpowerd Luci Solar String Lights are solar-charged, fold away small, and are very budget-friendly.

Plants! This might be slightly ridiculous, but get some magnets and hang some very tiny succulents to bring the outdoors inside.

All in all, more people from all walks of life are starting to see the true value in van-life. I was swimming in the Moab section of the Colorado River in August (yes, it was ridiculously hot) with three friends when an older gentleman from Washington pulled up in his van, came down to the river, and told us about his life. He grew up extremely poor and knew one day he wanted to drive to Argentina. He spent the majority of his life working so that he could buy a van, customize it to his liking, and drive around the world. When we met him, he had left Argentina—accomplishing his goal—and decided to go across the entire country to New York.

Young people not wanting to be tied down to debt and wanting to experience the world, those retired and ready for more adventure, and anybody else excited by becoming nomadic have taken to this lifestyle.

Did I miss any creature comfort or van-life necessity? Hit me up through my profile and tell me about your setup! What is your van’s name? Does it have a name? Why or why not does it have a name? Tell me all the details!

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Written By
Although I've been hiking for most of my life, I didn't start backpacking and camping until college when I joined the University Outdoors Club at my school. My first backpacking trip was ambitious, the Batona Trail in the Pinelands in New Jersey done in two days. To do that, we had to walk a maratho...

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