Fulltime RVing – Eleven Tools we Cannot Live Without

Wisdom is commonly described this way- “If I only knew then what I know now“. Such is fulltime living in an RV. Four years of it can be summarized as follows – an accumulation of trials and errors, painstaking learning curves that rely heavily on YouTube videos, the occasional and quite gratifying “high five” when we fix something (or think we fixed something), and the continually unexpected issue that still – to this day! – can be addressed by the following statement “we need a _________(fill in the blank) tool”.

To those of you beginning the journey of RV living or are thinking about it, Vivian and I would like to share some of our hard-earned wisdom because we know that RV maintenance and RV is a significant factor of RV lifestyles. This is not a proclamation of expertise; rather, like 99.9% of the RV community, we learn as we go. Which is much more than I could ever imagine, largely due to the hard-earned knowledge generously shared by so many. By sharing our acquired wisdom with you, we believe your RV life can be easier and maybe save you money and time, and lots of frustration.

To begin, we provide you our top 11 tools we cannot live without, whether on the road or sitting in place for a spell. None of these tools is specific to RVs, but because we are dealing with an RV, each one has a big part to play. We’ve driven our fifth wheel over 30,000 miles and have many more miles to go. We live in our fifth wheel 24/7. If this sounds like the kind of lifestyle you wish to lead, than these tools will likely become your top 11 as well. And if you are only an RV weekender or an occasional RV tripper, you too will make use of these tools.

Be sure to click on each tool’s name to purchase or learn more about the product.

Standard hammer and a rubber mallet. We don’t use them often, but when one is needed, there is no other tool that can do the job – and that is to pound things.

Multi-bit screwdriver. I would bet money that our multi-bit screwdriver is the most used tool, both inside and outside the RV. Much of that can be attributed to the constant loosening of screws when moving down the road. Unlike a sticks and bricks home, your RV contains many screw heads that require a square bit (circled in red below) to tighten down. But at times, you will need a flat and Phillips in different sizes, and a nut driver. Sometimes you will find the need for a multi-bit stubby (a smaller version) to get inside tight spaces when a regular size screw driver will not fit.

Pliers. An adjustable pair and needle nose type will be the most useful. It’s good to have a set.

Cordless Power Drill. We have a battery operated drill with a compact head. Buy quality drill bits that can go through hardened aluminum, steel, iron and wood. We also have adapters and standard bits and extensions to get into hard to reach places.

Socket and Rachet Set. A set like this one pictured below is adequate but you will need a 3/4″ deep 1/2” socket for your torque wrench, and if you have a suburban water heater, you’ll need a 1 1/16” socket for the anode rod. An adapter that goes from 3/8”- 1/2” can be purchased as needed.

Torque wrench. We torque our wheels before leaving on a trip and then every 500 miles thereafter. It’s also important to torque 50 miles after installing new tires and again 100 miles later before going into the 500-mile routine. We keep it handy inside our truck so we can access it at rest stops.

Wrenches. At the very minimum get an 8” adjustable crescent wrench. We carry a set of combination wrenches.

Multimeter. Very handy to diagnose electrical problems in both AC and DC systems. Find one that will give you voltage measurement, Ohm measurement, and Audible Ohm scale (continuity). We have a clamp meter as well.

Crimp tool. At some point you will have to do some wiring and having a wire cutter and stripper. For these times, a crimp tool is necessary. The bare minimum is to have a crimp tool along with appropriate connectors.

PEX cinch tool. Our RV has 2 types of plumbing lines, PEX and flexible hose. All are 1/2” diameter. The bottomline is this – leaks are not uncommon. Having some extra PEX line aboard and a PEX crimper with crimps and a PEX cutter helps to repair lines. The flexible hose requires hose clamps. This is a good kit to have.

Tire inflator. Another tool that we use often to make sure RV and truck tire pressures are spot on. When traveling, this is a frequent need. When sitting for long periods, we check tire pressures every couple months. Our inflator kit includes an extension cord to reach the RV tires with the inflator connected to the truck battery.

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