I spend weeks at a time on the road, hopping from state to state, looking for gorgeous places to bike, hike, paddle, or photograph. But it can be tough to find room in my 20-foot campervan for all the outdoor gear and equipment I’d like to bring—and I have friends in Class A RVs with the same problem. Luckily, brands are taking note, and creating space-saving tools that are worth packing in your rig.
Gear for the Lake
Although I’m primarily a cyclist and hiker, I do enjoy paddling and fishing. The Intex Explorer K2 inflatable kayak is one of the most useful gear options for RVers. It’s a tandem boat, so both you and your travel partner can enjoy the water together. And, it can inflate in as little as 10 minutes.
For serious kayakers, Oru Kayak makes a foldable kayak that’s both nimble and tracks better in the water. It handles so well that I’ll even forget it’s collapsible. The all-around kayak takes up a similar amount of space to the K2—but it’s much more expensive. Another popular option is Kokopelli’s pack raft lineup. With a price point between the Intex and the Oru, it’s worth trying for the avid kayaker. And for standup paddle boarders, there are plenty of inflatable models on the market.
For fishing, my go-to rod and reel is a telescoping Zebco Ready Tackle model that collapses from 63 to 17 inches. It comes with a small tackle box that includes the basic hooks, sinkers, and lures you’ll need for an afternoon of fishing. Similarly, REYR Gear makes a fly-fishing rod-and-reel combo that telescopes down and uses a fraction of the space. A neoprene case keeps the Reyr relatively safe, but I keep both fishing poles in a sturdy cardboard box for greater protection.
Gear for the Trail
When it comes to hiking poles, the Mountainsmith Trekker FX is a personal favorite because it doubles as a monopod for my camera and comes apart to store neatly in a drawer. Be aware that it doesn’t come with a storage sleeve, but a couple of rubber bands will hold everything together.
You have a few options when it comes to storing a bike in your RV—I have a four-bike Küat hitch rack on the back of my Roadtrek. A few of my vanlife friends keep bikes inside their vehicles via sliding trays underneath their bunks. To save space, recreational bikers can look toward Bike Friday’s folding bicycles. You’ll give up some speed thanks to the smaller 20-inch wheels, but you can still ride the same terrain and mileage as you would on a standard road bike. Best of all, the bikes pack down to the size of a suitcase. There’s even an option for a folding e-bike if you want faster speeds.
For bike maintenance on the road, the Feedback Sports Ride Prep Tool Kit holds my most commonly used tools—Allen and Torx wrenches, rotor-truing and chain tools, and more—in a compact zipper case.
Sometimes there’s no ideal space-saving option for your favorite activities. I enjoy cross-country skiing during the winter but have yet to find a suitable option that doesn’t take up precious floor space (where it’s a tripping hazard). So, snowshoes are a better option. For winter weekend warriors like me, MSR’s Evo Trail snowshoes are the best combination of value and performance, and they can easily fit in a van’s outdoor storage compartment.
Gear for Hanging Around the Campfire
After an adventure-filled day, I love relaxing in my ENO hammock. For sitting, you can go for a small chair that takes up less storage space—REI sells an excellent tiny camp chair—but I prefer to stretch out a bit. This relatively inexpensive Coleman folding chair is both durable and comfortable and has a built-in drink holder.
I prefer boondocking to campgrounds, so I often don’t have the benefit of a pre-built firepit. The Primus Kamoto Portable Fire Pit sets up quickly and folds flat for storage the next morning. The large pit is big enough for multiple friends to huddle around.
For those campfire tunes, I’ve recently taken up the acoustic guitar, but a full-size instrument and case takes up a lot of precious room in a van. That’s why I’ve been eyeing the Martin & Co. Backpacker guitar. Based on the reviews and videos I’ve seen so far, the sound quality doesn’t match my Fender Dreadnought, but it sounds better than I expected for a significantly smaller instrument.
With this list of handy and easily stowable gear, you’ll be able to enjoy more outdoor and campground activities on your next RV camping trip.
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