15 Tools Every Full-Time RVer Should Have

There is very little I miss about the "junk" at my old house. However, I DO miss all my tools. We had no idea what to bring with us when we moved into the RV. Rather than haul around a bunch of useless tools, we decided to go ahead and sell everything (except my 5 piece drill set). After full-time RVing for 6 months, I've decided to make a list of the 15 tools every full-time RVer should have.

I'm a really cheap (frugal) guy.  Every day items, the "brand name" isn't any better quality than the alternative. I realized as a homeowner that tools were the exception to that rule. I bought the cheapest tools I could find at first. And one by one, the tools started breaking. Unfortunately, going with the cheap tools up front ended up costing me twice as much in just a few years time. The real benefit of buying high-end tools is that they last. I cringe at the thought of paying a premium for name brand items. But in the case of tools, quality name brands pay dividends in the long-run.

Full-time RVing doesn't require you to have many tools. I'm sure some guys will disagree...but those are the guys opening their toy hauler/garage any time someone sneezes funny. I love those guys, by the way. They're extremely helpful and they're filled with knowledge that would save me a boatload of money; and although I'm learning, I'm not one of them.

For most people, a few basics tools should suffice. So you can splurge on a few quality products without breaking the bank. That said,  here are the 15 tools every full-time RVer should have.

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A wireless drill is a must. RVs move, so screws and bolts are constantly being rattled out-of-place. It's important that you walk around your RV and look for anything loose or missing. You don't want bolts to rattle out at all. But you certainly don't want your RV falling apart while you're doing 65 mph down the interstate!

This Ridgid (brand) is an 18 volt compact drill. They're light, powerful, and they have a great warranty. Quality here is important. You need a drill with consistent power and one that's reliable!

In addition to the drill, you may want to invest in an impact driver. An impact driver is similar to a drill but it has hammer-like thrusts that are better for tightening metal bolts and screws. Although I wouldn't say an impact driver is a must, it is nice to have. If you want the drill/impact driver combo, go ahead and buy the combo set here that includes the outdoor radio (normally $43.68) for an extra $20.

2) Plier Set 

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We've all handled cheap pliers. You know the ones I'm talking about; the ones without a grip. The cheap pliers often have a small rivet (basically a bolt that you can't get off) holding the two arms together. There's so much play in the arms that your hands are left with permanent indention from squeezing rigid metal. 

This is not the cheapest set out there but it's nice enough o get the job done. The nicer sets have no rivets. The two arms fasten to each other, so there's no play. And the comfortable grips make longer jobs easier to handle. 

This set comes with more pieces than I've needed, at this point. But, for an extra few bucks, go ahead and get a complete set and carrying case.

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This is one of the cheap items. For the price of a nice hammer, you can get this entire set. It includes a cheap hammer, tape measure, heavy-duty scissors, drill bits, hex keys, and a few other items.

I'm ok with going cheap here. The most important items are the hammer and tape measure. If bought separately, a decent hammer and tape measure will run close $15 or more. So, you might as well get a set like this. The redundant items in the "basic tool kit" could serve as backup or replacements to the nicer, more complete sets mentioned in this post.

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This tape is expensive but it's because it's THAT important! Water will RUIN an RV. This tape is arguably the best sealing tape on the market. It's easy to install and unlike sealant you buy in a bottle, you can use this stuff in the rain.

This is a product everyone hates spending money on. But, when you inevitably spring a leak, you'll be glad you have this stuff on hand!

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There's a Myth Busters episode on duct tape. They literally made a boat out of duct tape. The boat held two men going down a river. The boat made it down the river without leaking. 

You can do almost anything with duct tape...including build a boat.

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Huffington Post published "40 uses for WD-40." Read it. If you don't already have WD-40, buy some. You need it and you WILL use it.

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If your power goes out, you may need a good flashlight. When your breaker trips, you may need a good flashlight. If you're stranded in the desert, you may need a good flashlight.

Buy a good flashlight!

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How many times have you asked, "do we have any zip ties?"  Nuff said.

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Multimeters serve so many purposes! But, you have to know how to use it. Most people use multimeters to make sure they've got power. But, too much power is more devastating than no power!

This is the tool you pull out before you set up camp. Test your breaker box and be sure nothing funky is going on. I'm no expert in electricity, so I'll refrain from giving advice. But I'm learning how important it is to have a general knowledge in this area. If you don't know anything about electricity, do yourself a favor and learn as much as you can.  This article is a good place to start.

No power is inconvenient. Too much power could leave you homeless; as in, my house burned to the ground. Buy one of these and learn how to use it!

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You never know when you'll need a drill bit. I can't recall why I've had to pull mine out but I HAVE had to pull mine out! Basic wood bits are fairly cheap, so go ahead and start with a small set for a few bucks.

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You can get a plastic tire pressure gauge from gas stations for a couple bucks. But they're made of thin plastic!

Don't go cheap on a tire pressure gauge! RVs are heavy and you want to make sure you're measuring tire pressure with a reliable tool. The most important person in your life is the one crazy enough to live in an RV with you! Make sure your precious cargo is safe!

Click here to see it on Amazon

Loctite is a metal adhesive and miracle from God. Seriously, this stuff is amazing. Just dab a little Loctite on those pesky bolts that keep coming loose and you'll be good to go.

Beware of the label, though. There is Loctite blue, purple, and red. Loctite blue is for bolts. Loctite red is pretty much irreversible; yes...it's that strong!

Click here to see on Amazon
Click here to see on Amazon
Click here to see on Amazon

You can go cheap here but these are a few other "must have" items. Hex sets stand on their own. But if you think sockets and wrenches are the same, you're mistaken.

Wrenches are ALWAYS better than sockets. However, sockets are almost ALWAYS more convenient than wrenches.  You have more control and can get more leverage using a wrench. These two tools do the same thing. Which tool you use depends on the space you're working in and how tight you need the bolt.

These tools are relatively cheap, so go ahead and get both. You'll be glad you did.

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The Cobia Family

  • Diane

    great list, thank you! I’ve pinned it for future use.

  • Teresa Rosche Ott

    I’ve been wondering about this, but not a lot. Because it’s not my department 😀 Now I can send the post to my hubby and call it good – thanks!

  • Candace Agnew

    I looked at a few of the items… The #1 item wireless drill looks pretty complicated for a older woman alone to handle….. is this light enough and easy enough for a older woman to handle? If not, what would you recommend…?

    • Derek Cobia

      Every drill I’ve used has operated the exact same way. That particular drill is one of the smaller ones, which is why it’s great for RVs! And it’s powerful enough to do most jobs. The smaller, cheaper drills are going to be 12 volt more than likely. I think Walmart has a $20 drill, which is just fine for wall hanging and small projects inside the “house.” Any job bigger than that, however, you’ll want something with a little more power. I hope that helps!