Top 15 Essentials for an Optimal Vanlife Experience


Are you considering building your own van? Congratulations! It takes a special kind of awesomeness to embark on this journey. While there will undoubtedly be frustrations, setbacks, and a lot of trips to the hardware store, the end result will be a custom home on wheels that you can travel in and be proud of.

When planning your van build, it’s important to prioritize what you need based on your lifestyle. Consider the items and features that will make your van comfortable and functional for your needs. Research resources and solutions, and don’t underestimate the power of YouTube tutorials for guidance and inspiration.

One of the first things people often ask about in van life is the toilet. There are various options to choose from, such as composting toilets and fully-flushing ones. It’s essential to consider your budget, lifestyle, and vision for your van life when selecting a toilet.

We personally chose the Separett Tiny compost toilet for its waterless, urine-diverting design. It has separate sections for liquid and solid waste, making it easy to empty and maintain. With proper ventilation, it is virtually odorless. While not the most glamorous aspect of van life, we are happy with our choice.

In terms of appliances, we opted for the Breville Smart Oven Air Fryer Pro. It has been a versatile addition to our van, allowing us to cook a range of foods. We also invested in a True Induction 2-Burner Portable Induction Cooktop, as we preferred to avoid propane in our van. Induction cooking is energy-efficient and provides better indoor air quality than gas cooking. Plus, it won’t heat up without a pot on it.

For refrigeration, we selected a Frigidaire Compact Refrigerator with a decent-sized freezer. It’s larger than typical RV fridges and allows us to store more food, including frozen items like ice cream. This dorm-style fridge meets our needs and is more affordable than 12-volt RV fridges.

Proper ventilation is crucial in a van, which is why we recommend installing a MaxxFan. It helps regulate temperature and improve air quality. Another great addition is a skylight, which not only brings in natural light but also allows for stargazing from the bed.

Getting a good night’s sleep is essential for van life, so we prioritized a comfortable mattress. We chose one with temperature control features and paired it with Ikea adjustable bed slats for added firmness.

In terms of the kitchen, we found a bar sink that was larger and deeper than traditional RV sinks. It fits our needs perfectly, and we mounted a faucet and water filtration system on it for convenience.

Water tanks are an essential part of van life, and we went with Class A Customs for their reliable quality. We have a 25-gallon tank for fresh water and a 10-gallon tank for gray water, which strikes a good balance for us. It’s important to consider tank sizes based on your needs and how long you plan to boondock.

To fill the water tank, we recommend using a Gravity Water Inlet Fill Dish with a locking cap. It ensures that your water supply remains secure.

For connecting to shore power, a reliable extension cord is a must. We chose the Camco PowerGrip 50-Foot Camper/RV Extension Cord for its durability and convenient LED indicator.

When it comes to sound deadening, Noico is a great option. We used it in our van and are satisfied with its quality. It helps reduce noise and improve insulation.

For insulation, we highly recommend Havelock Wool. It is an environmentally-friendly and sustainable option that provides excellent insulation, sound absorption, and moisture management. It’s also biodegradable and compostable.

These are just a few of the essential items we’ve included in our van build. For a comprehensive list of everything in our van, check out our D.I.Y. Van Build Kit on We hope this helps you in your van build journey. Safe travels and happy van life!

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