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Being prepared for anything is a common mantra among RVers. Like Murphy says, if it can go wrong, it will. While we can’t predict equipment failure, we can be prepared for it. Overcoming minor setbacks or making repairs to your rig while you’re traveling is the key to a successful trip. Moreover, having the right tools in your RV tool kit is the best way to handle these situations when they arise. In his post we are going to cover the basic essential tools you should keep in your RV tool kit. Let’s jump in, shall we?
I’m sure you can go down to your local “big box” home improvement store and find several tool kits that have the basic household tools. These kits will have things like screwdrivers, tape measure, utility knife, and maybe a hammer. While these tool kits are useful for minor household repairs or hanging pictures, they may not contain certain tools you need.
Build You Own RV Tool Kit
By building your own, personalized RV tool kit, you can equip yourself with the tools that better fit your needs. For example, you might find a tool kit with several different screwdrivers. It is more beneficial to have just one, a multi-bit screwdriver. More on that a bit later. The point is, when you build or stock your own RV tool kit, you can make sure you are only carrying the essential tools you will need.
The very first thing you will need for your RV tool kit is, well, a tool bag. While most kitchens have a “catch all” drawer, this isn’t the place to keep your tools. A tool bag needs to be large enough to store your tools, yet small enough to store easily in your basement storage compartment. A great choice is a basic 13” zippered tool bag.
Hammer Or Rubber Mallet
The most important part of your RV tool kit arsenal is the all-mighty hammer. Not only is a hammer very useful for chocking your wheels, but it is also vital for driving in tent or canopy stakes. The claws of the hammer can double as a metal straightener as well. A rubber mallet is a little easier on the plastic type wheel chocks. It will allow you to get those wheel chocks tight under your wheels without damaging your chocks. As you may already know, properly chocked wheels are the first step to keep your travel trailer from rocking.
If you look around your rig, you will notice that the manufacturer used a wide variety of screws to assemble your unit. You will find Phillips, or cross tip, square, and slotted screws. Instead of cramming your RV tool kit with several different types of screwdrivers, a multi-tip screwdriver is the way to go. It saves much needed space, and it will give you the ability to quickly change tips, preventing you from digging for the right driver. In addition, if you remove the tip, the driver turns into a ¼” nut driver.
A small torpedo level is a must have in your RV tool kit. It’s small enough to fit into your tool bag and it is a required tool for leveling your RV. In addition to the hammer, this is another tool that is frequently used.
If you are comfortable repairing minor electric problems, a quality pair of wire cutters/strippers is good to keep in your RV tool kit. Not only is this tool used for cutting and stripping wires, but you can also use the cutters to trim newly installed zip ties.
Slip-Joint Pliers (a.k.a. Channel locks)
One of the most versatile tools for your RV tool kit is a set of Channel Locks. These prove to be invaluable when you need a little extra “oomph” for loosening or tightening a leaky water hose connection.
If you are a master mechanic or a DIY mechanic, you might have a whole set of standard and metric wrenches in your toolbox at home. While that’s great for working on issues in your driveway, it’s not practical to carry a tool kit like that in your RV. For minor tightening and loosening of bolts and nuts, a set of adjustable wrenches will do the trick.
A basic utility knife or pocketknife can prove to be extremely useful for doing any kind of cutting. Either of these are a must have addition to your RV tool kit. Most RVers prefer a pocketknife over a utility knife simply for the easy accessibility. If you would rather have a utility knife, make sure you have extra blades on hand in case you need one replace it when it gets dull.
I am a retired electrician so my opinion on what a quality multi-meter might be a bit biased. I used a multi-meter every day for over 20 years and my personal preference is a Fluke. The Fluke 322 is a fantastic basic multi-meter that I have in my RV tool kit. It will test DC voltage, AC voltage, continuity, and AC amperage. There are other options available that will provide the same features, however, sometimes you get what you pay for.
Tire Pressure Gauge
Part of your departure checklist should be checking the tire pressure on your tow vehicle and your camper. Proper tire inflation will increase your gas mileage and could prevent you from being stranded on the side of the road with a blowout. My tire pressure gauge stays in a door pocket on my tow vehicle, not in my RV tool kit.
It’s a simple fact of life: you can’t see in the dark. The front porch light of your rig will only illuminate so much. Plus, if you arrive at your destination after dark, the porch light will not be of any use. Headlamps are a great way to see in the dark when you need the use of your hands.
Allen Wrench Set
An Allen wrench set is one of those things you keep in your RV tool kit that you won’t know you need, until you need it. I have always had the belief that it’s better to have something and not need it, rather than need it and not have it. Plus, Allen wrenches take up very little space in your tool bag.
In addition to these basic tools, there are additional items you should keep in your RV tool kit, just in case.
Like you tow vehicle, many devices in your RV operate on DC, or battery power. These things, like lights, freshwater pump, and electric tongue jack use fuses instead of breakers. When a fuse blows, you can’t just re-set them like you can a breaker. You will have to replace them.
Keeping an assortment of the proper fuses for your camper is an inexpensive way to mitigate a disaster. We learned this the hard way. When our tongue jack retracts or extends too far, it will blow the inline fuse to prevent damage to the jack.
In one instance, I extended the jack a bit too far and blew the fuse. The bad part was the trailer hitch was still too low to remove from the truck. And with a blown fuse, the jack doesn’t work electrically. I now keep an assortment of fuses on hand for instances just like this.
It’s no secret that duct tape is the most versatile “fix-all” on earth. You can probably build a rocket ship if you had to. Not really, but you get my point. Keeping a roll of duct tape, or electrical tape in your RV tool kit is one way you can ensure you can fix anything, at least temporarily. And, if you have the tape that you can’t tear with your hands, you can always use that utility knife.
Just like duct tape, zip ties are another one of those popular “fix-all” products. Zip ties are useful for tying cords up or for making “make-shift” shower curtain hooks.
Plumber’s Tape/Teflon Tape
Most minor plumbing repairs can be made with plumber’s tape, or Teflon tape. Especially on a threaded connection. This may not be a permanent solution to your leak, but it could get you through your camping trip until you can find a more permanent solution.
Wheel Lug Wrench
When we bought our Kodiak, I asked the salesman a question that threw him off. I asked him where the jack and wheel lug wrench were. I mean, you give me a spare tire but no way to change a flat. He quickly informed me that our travel trailer doesn’t come equipped with either. In that case, we picked up a universal wheel lug wrench to keep in our basement storage. As far as a jack, you can either purchase a bottle jack or build a ramp with your leveling blocks to lift one tire off the ground.
Conclusion Of Tools For Your RV Tool Kit
By having an RV tool kit, you will be prepared for most anything that comes up. When getting your tool kit ready, keep in mind that your specific RV or camper may require some specific tools. This RV tool kit list is an example of the tools that you need to make minor repairs. Afterall, you don’t want to cut your trip short because of a minor setback that you can’t fix, at least temporarily. For more tips on how to have a successful camping trip, check out how RV Can Also Stand For Ruined Vacation.
What are your thoughts on an RV tool kit? Do you have anything to add to the list? If so, we would love to hear from you. Leave us a comment below and let us know what you have in your tool kit.