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  • Writer's pictureMaggie Peikon

2019 Favorites: Van Accessories

This February will officially mark one year of van adventures for us!

We've learned a lot about life on the road...mostly from making mistakes on the road, we are learn-by-doing folks in this family!

After many miles, we've come to realize that there are a few new additions, upgrades, and fixes we'll need to make in this coming year to improve our van-life experience, and make things a little more durable to off-road adventures.

That said, we have to give gratitude to a few key accessories that have made our time on the road infinitely more comfortable, enjoyable, and just easier in general.

So, here they are, our 2019 favorites — Van Accessories addition.

The Van Toilet

Strictly for numero uno, this toilet might be my absolute favorite thing in the van next to my husband, dog, and our bed.

It saves us from having to pull over at rest stops frequently, saves me from having to venture out into the darkness at night for one final pee before bed, and saves us both from having to go out into the cold mornings after being so warm and toasty in bed.

Long story short: it just saves us. Doesn't smell, doesn't take up a lot of space, and doesn't spill (knock on wood, because FAK that would suck). It does, however, add an entirely new level of intimacy to your relationship.


The Bathroom Tent

Like I said, the in-van toilet is for numero uno only. We're all human, nature calls, and when it does when you're out in the backcountry (sometimes alone for miles, sometimes not) without a bathroom in sight, it helps to have a little privacy.

This thing folds up crazy small (that little round pouch is it), pops up fast, and is ready to rock. Also will for sure work well as a shower tent, though we haven't used it for that purpose just yet.

Available on Amazon


Not just for dogs. K, there I said it. Leave no trace people, it's important.

Available on Amazon


Space Heater

Aptly named My Little Buddy, this Mr. Heater space heater is, in fact, our favorite little buddy. We've camped in cold weather (like 30 and under outside) quite a bit now, and this little bud has been a life saver.

It heats up our entire van in just a few minutes, and makes getting dressed on cold mornings much less painful.

I wouldn't advise sleeping with it on for safety reasons (though it does have a tip sensor and turns itself off).

Available on Amazon


Camp Stove

This Coleman stove is compact, easy to use, powerful, and portable.

Love that we can cook with it inside if the weather is bad, or grab it and head outside to cook so that our van doesn't stink of (vegan) sausage and peppers.

Available at REI


Mini Fire Pit / Table

Some campsites don't come equipped with a fire ring—thats when this lil bad boy comes in handy.

It's small, but strong and can accommodate more wood than I expected it to. Would also be great for backpacking because it packs down so small. Highly recommend!

Currently unavailable, but from Amazon


Sound Machine

This might be a weird one, because most people love the sounds of silence.

I do too, up until complete darkness sets in and I remember that I'm afraid of the dark. Something about having this comforts me, and that's never a bad thing. We only ever use the "summer nights" sound, which is basically the exact same sounds as what's happening outside the van — crickets.

It can be plugged into a wall outlet, or battery powered (AA).

Available on Amazon



Love this flexi hose. Doesn't kink, doesn't take up a lot of space, and isn't a pain in the butt to re-coil. Van or home, flexi hose it is.

Available on Amazon


Sleeping Bag

This Alps Mountaineering double-person sleeping bag has to be the warmest sleeping bag I've ever had the pleasure of cocooning into.

Slept with this in a blizzard in Kansas when the outside temperature was in the 20s and we were nice and toasty with this.

No longer available on REI, but found it on Amazon



We had two fans installed professionally (because cutting into the roof is kiiinda a big deal, and you want to be sure you don't fuck that up) — one towards the front of the van, and one more towards the back.

They're great in the summer when it's hot inside, also great when we're cooking inside to keep the van ventilated...also great for when you have a smelly wet dog inside.

These have a rain sensor on them, so if you're sleeping with them open and it starts to pour, they'll close on their own.

I can't remember where we got ours, but I found them on Amazon



You know those mattresses and pillows designed to keep you cool, but comfortable all night? These 32 Degrees sheets are like that. They're perfect for hot summer nights, and though a little cold to get into at first in the winter, they're great then, too.

Sold out on 32 Degrees, available on Amazon (but only in a Twin XL)



Because of the dimensions we made for our bed, we had to go with a "short" version of a Queen—which is, apparently, what most RVs have.

This Zinus mattress was our first mattress-in-a-box which we all found (Finley included) highly entertaining to unroll. It's crazy comfortable, and long enough that neither of us are dangling off the end (we're 5' 7 + 5' 11 for reference).

Available on Overstock



We have a 12x12 drop in sink that initially we worried would be to small, but has been perfectly sized.

I can't remember where we got ours, but Home Depot, Amazon, and Wayfair all have similar options.



We wanted to find a faucet that had a flexible hose, and this one fit perfectly under our cabinets. Added bonus that it has a spray mode, too. Easy to install—cutting the hole in the counter top was the hard part...but that's for another blog. Anyway, no complaints.

Available on Amazon



What we were looking for in dishes: Unbreakable if they come flying out of our cabinets while we're bumping along a dirt road.

These are seemingly indestructible, don't rust, and are compact enough to fit in our relatively small cabinets without taking up much room. The cups are perfect for a glass of whiskey—only downside is they really take on the temperature of what's in them, so they're pretty cold to hold. Same should be said for the bowl when there's hot soup in it (also, the bowl is pretty tiny so a mug would probably be a better alternative for soup).

Available on Amazon



In a carrying case so they don't get lost in the abyss of the cabinet space or food bin. Seem to be pretty durable so far. We really just wanted a van set so we didn't have to remember to pack them from home every time we were heading out.

Available on Amazon



Kind of a random inclusion, but cloth napkins are just a way more sustainable option over paper napkins/paper towels.

Pack a few, because spills always happen. So far, all of the ones we have are durable after many, many rounds in the washing machine + dryer.

Available pretty much everywhere—TJ Maxx always has a ton of options for a great price



Safety tip: get knives that have slip covers for the blade. I can't remember where we got ours, but these are pretty much the same (save the Cuisinart name).

These ones are from Williams Sonoma (and they're on sale!)

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