Full Time Tools Checklist

Getting going full time requires a lot of work. Aside from downsizing and crazy new organizing skills, there are a lot of tools you will need for basic maintenance and everyday living. Here are our recommendations.

Note: Never cheap out! Every time we’ve cheaped out on anything, we ended up buying the better tool after the cheap one failed or didn’t function well enough for use. Go for the good stuff from the beginning so that you don’t waste money like we did.

Another note: We note that a lot of our traffic is American. If you will be using Amazon.com, please consider clicking the banner link below to buy these products so that we still get our insignificant commission. It costs you nothing more.



Surge Protector

If you will be hooked up, this is a must, must, must have accessory. Surges go both ways. You neither want a grid surge or park electrical problems damaging your rig, nor do you want something that has gone wrong on your rig causing damage to the place you are parked; you could be held financially responsible. Should a surge hit your rig, the entire thing could need a rewire; thousands or tens of thousands of dollars in work. A surge protector also lets you know if there are problems on the electrical line before hooking up, such as an open ground or reversed polarity, in which case you can avoid damaging your electrical due to park problems. The investment is worth the peace of mind. We recommend the covered options to help reduce chances of short circuit in the rain. Make sure you purchase the right one for your RV: 30 or 50 amp.


Drinking Hose

This is very important. “I drank water from the garden hose as a kid, I’m fine!” Yeah, so did I. But you didn’t drink from it while the water had been sitting pooled in the hose for hours at a time, you ran the water and drank it after it was cleared out.

Your hookup hose will be sitting without flowing water for hours on end. During that time, chemicals from the hose will leach into the stagnant water. While you may not notice it right away, you are slowly poisoning yourself by using a standard garden hose. For the price, it just isn’t worth it to skimp; especially if you have kids.


Sewer Hose Kit

Whether you’re going to be hooked up to a park sewer system or hauling tanks full of sewage, you’ll need a complete sewer hose kit with all hookups for clean draining.

Not much to say about this. You just need it. Pro-tip: drain your blackwater first, greywater second. You’ll thank me later.


Instant Pot

You are moving into the tiniest of tiny houses. The Instant Pot replaces numerous other appliances and makes cooking a breeze. It does an absurd number of tasks and some models can even make cake. It cooks quickly, which saves a lot of electricity. We love ours and make many meals using the Instant Pot.


Lug Nut Torquing Tools

Many RVs (primarily travel trailers and fifth wheels) require that you re-torque your lug nuts before moving. This is because – unlike with a vehicle – the trailer wheels undergo high side pressures on sharp turns which can loosen the lug nuts. Loose enough and your wheels could fall off. And you’ll know when they fall off; all of the energy from the RV’s weight will be converted into spinning speed and your wheel will shoot past you.

You have two options: a torque wrench or an electric impact gun and torque sticks. The upsides of the torque wrench are that it is cheaper and more accurate. The downside is that you have no way of knowing just how accurate unless you test it; one shop I know of tested their torque wrenches and found them all very far off despite regular calibrating. Cheaper torque wrenches are also more likely to lose calibration. The upsides of the electric impact gun and torque sticks are ease of use, speed, and good enough accuracy. The downside is primarily cost. Personally, I prefer to use the impact gun and torque sticks; if you have a flat on the road, the impact gun makes the job far easier than manual tools.

I included a few options below. Despite the price, my recommendation is the Milwaukee impact gun, torque sticks and impact sockets. It makes the job so much easier and less of a chore, the tools are good quality, and you will be ready not just for wheel maintenance but other problems and can help your fellow travelers stuck on the roadside. Either gun has enough power to do the job, and don’t forget the charger and battery.





Jack and Jack Stand

Be prepared for the almost inevitable. Most full timers have eventually run into the flat tire. It sucks to no end when you don’t have the right tools.

In addition to the ability to properly torque the lug nuts on the spare, you’ll want to be able to life your vehicle or RV and be safe while swapping out the tire. There is a good chance your vehicle has a jack of some sort; usually a bottle jack, but sometimes a scissor jack. Even if you have a jack, working on a vehicle balanced on one is dangerous. A good quality jack and jack stand will also help if you want to service your own wheel bearings, which saves a fair amount of money.

I haven’t had the opportunity to try it, yet, but I found an all-in-one jack and jack stand at a reasonable price. Reviews are mixed, but it would likely do the job in a pinch. Also linked is a good quality jack like the one I have, and jack stands for your safety.


Dehumidifying

I’ve talked about this in the blog. Your rig just isn’t built for air exchange. While you should regularly open windows and turn on the fans to clean the air out, doing this every day in overly cold and hot weather wastes a lot of money. Worse, if you are wintering on Vancouver Island or elsewhere on the West Coast, you’re living in a rain forest where the humidity will kill you even when you circulate air. The last thing you want is mold problems. Americans have the advantage of being allowed to use wood stoves in their RVs – cheap to operate and dry things out well so you can crack windows and vents – but in Canada doing so can run you into insurance problems at best and a possible visit from CFS if you have kids. I have seen RV options but they are expensive.

If you will be in relatively dry climates, 3 to 5 Eva-drys will do the trick, but you run into the issue of where to put them. We prefer a good dehumidifier. I have a more extensive review available here, but my recommendation is that you buy the Ivation. It is efficient, you can set it to turn off at a desired humidity level, it has a washable air filter, a timer, speed settings, and a UV light and ionizer for killing mold spores and bacteria. I did the math on how many Eva-dry’s you would need to equal the dehumidifier in the link above; it wasn’t pretty.




Electric Drill

The handiest of the handy. Electric drills help with numerous tasks around the RV, especially any modifications you want to make. One would think I would recommend a Milwaukee drill for this, but I actually don’t; I recommend Ryobi. This does mean that you need a different battery and charger.

Here’s the thing; if you have stabilizers on a travel trailer like we do, you are supposed to hand crank them into position. The travel trailer frame will bend if you lift the wheels off the ground. The nice thing about the Ryobi is that it isn’t strong enough to bend the frame. The Milwaukee just might.

Now, if you’re not quite as paranoid as I am (or you do not have a travel trailer), stick with Milwuakee; it is a far superior tool. But for ease of mind and general use, the Ryobi does the trick (besides; my wife had one when I married her).

Note: I linked the drill kit, but it is about $20 more expensive to buy the kit and the impact gun over getting the impact gun, drill, and the battery/charger combo. I don’t know if a carrying bag is worth $20 to you, but I wouldn’t get it.



Other

These are other items we have found of use while living full time. What have you found to be most useful? Don’t hesitate to ask if you need a recommendation for something!