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Saturday, August 20, 2022

14 Ways to Upgrade Your Camper

photo by _jure via iStock

Overlanding rigs come in all shapes and sizes. Some of you might drive full-on RVs. Others might tow a fifth-wheel or bumper pull trailer. Yet others of you might be like me and have a small off-road trailer with a rooftop tent.

No matter what kind of overlanding setup you have, there is always room to improve it, make it more functional, and ensure that it gives you a safe, comfortable place to put your head at night.

In the spirit of customizing your experience, I’ve put together a lengthy list of ways to upgrade your camper. Let’s get to it!

Upgrade Your Camper With a Better Mattress

Two upgraded mattresses in a camper

photo by PrathanChorruangsak via iStock

Getting a good night’s sleep is always important, but when you’re overlanding and have long days of travel, being sleepy behind the wheel can be extremely dangerous.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been all that impressed with the mattresses that come in RVs and campers, so my first suggestion is to ditch the camper mattress and go for an upgrade.

The problem, of course, is that you can’t go buy a traditional mattress and throw it in your camper or RV. Camper beds are smaller and shorter than traditional beds, so you’ll need to explore your options for RV-specific mattresses that offer an upgrade over your current experience.

Get a Better Showerhead

shower head

After you’ve been out in the dirt, mud, and campfire smoke, a nice shower feels great – unless you’re using the sad showerhead that came with your RV or camper…

But a high-pressure showerhead is a quick and simple upgrade to your camper that will pay dividends. Plus it’s only $16 so this is also an inexpensive way to upgrade your camper!

Make Sure the Roof is Sealed

Woman sealing the roof of a camper

photo by Onfokus via iStock

The rubber membranes on the roof of RVs and campers can quickly deteriorate, and that means one thing – leaks. Not only is a leak inconvenient, it can also be incredibly costly to repair.

Applying a new rubber seal on your roof will be required after a few years. But another way to upgrade your camper is to use Eternabond tape to cover knicks or tears in your RV or camper roof.

This stuff is sticky and will bond with the roof material to create a watertight seal. You simply clean the area around the tear, unroll a piece, cut it off, remove the backing, and voila – problem solved!

Upgrade Your Camper by Installing a Solar Power System

Two campers in the desert with solar panels

photo by Voyagerix via iStock

While installing a solar power system is one of the more expensive upgrades to your camper, it’s also one of the best upgrades you can make.

Having a solar power system on your RV or camper allows you to say goodbye to shore power and get further off the beaten path than you might have previously ventured. Sure, you can bring your generators with their noise and gas fumes, but a solar power system gives you reliable, clean, and quiet power that allows you to focus on the beauty of your surroundings – not how loud your generator is.

This is an upgrade that some folks might be able to do on their own, but I recommend going to a professional for a custom installation.

Briter Products, for example, builds and installs custom solar systems on RVs and campers that are reliable, durable, and offer you the freedom to roam where you like. But don’t take my word for it – see the value of upgrading your solar system in the video above.

Learn More:

Upgrade Your Camper Batteries Too

Man upgrading camper battery

photo by photoschmidt via iStock

Another upgrade you should do straight away is replace your old AGM batteries with lithium batteries.

I’m in the process of doing this as we speak, and I can’t wait to have the improved power of lithium batteries in my trailer.

I’ve written before about the benefits of upgrading from AGM to lithium batteries, but the short version is that lithium batteries last longer, offer a greater depth of discharge, and they are smaller and lighter than their AGM counterparts.

benefits of lithium batteries

My new batteries are Briter Products Ion-Ready batteries that offer a 5,000-cycle lifespan. A unique feature of these batteries is the onboard LCD display that gives me the status of the batteries at a quick glance. And as you can see below, there’s buttons next to the LCD that allow for easy recalibration.

Battery indicator

My new batteries are Briter Products Ion-Ready batteries that offer a 5,000-cycle lifespan. A unique feature of these batteries is the onboard LCD display that gives me the status of the batteries at a quick glance. And as you can see below, there’s buttons next to the LCD that allow for easy recalibration.

battery surge gaurd

I don’t know about you, but when I’m on an overlanding trip I have to set aside some time for work. That means that I will have my Macbook and other expensive items that I’ll need to plug in at some point.

When you’re camping in a campground that has electric hookups, you have to worry about surges of power coming in that could damage or destroy your laptop. To protect it (and everything else in your camper) consider investing in a 30-Amp or 50-Amp surge protector that you plug into the shore power source. 

Invest in Better Lighting to Upgrade Your Camper

Camper at night

photo by gsagi via iStock

All new campers and RVs come with LED lighting, which is great because they last a lot longer than old incandescent bulbs, are cool to the touch, and most importantly, draw less power.

If you have an older camper or RV like I do, upgrading all the lights to LEDs is a relatively inexpensive way to upgrade your camper and do so quickly. Pop your new LEDs into the lights inside and outside your trailer and enjoy better light on your next overlanding trip!

Add Locks for the Storage Bays

Travel Trailer with open storage compartment

photo by Groomee via iStock

When I was looking at buying my first camper, a buddy of mine came along with me. He was on his third or fourth camper by that time so he had a lot of good input that helped me find a great deal.

Part of his input was this – the locks on camper and RV storage bays are extremely common. To prove his point, he got out his keys and opened the storage bays on the camper we were looking at.

Needless to say, having common locks amongst millions of RVs doesn’t exactly provide the best security for the valuables you might store underneath. If you want to scale up the security, though, you can easily add aftermarket locks that will prevent other folks from simply using the keys they have to pop open your storage bays.

Install a Double Waste Valve

upgraded Double Waste Valve

When you drain your RV or camper’s black and grey water tanks, you can let them empty for hours on end, but the next time you untwist the valve cover, there will be some gross water that leaks out.

There’s an easy solution to this, though – install a second waste valve.

A valve like the one shown above twists onto the end of the waste pipe just like the pipe cover. With this bad boy in place, you can remove the pipe cover without fear of what’s going to leak out!

Buy a Backup Camera

Backup Camera

If your tow vehicle has a backup camera, it’ll be hugely helpful when you’re hooking up to your trailer. But when it’s time to back into your space at the campground, that camera won’t do you much good.

A backup camera like this one will do wonders for helping you back up your bumper pull or fifth-wheel (or older RV without a camera) into your camp spot or driveway while also assisting you in avoiding any obstacles.

Buy More Fire Extinguishers

Fire Extinguishers

The fire extinguisher that comes with RVs and campers will only last a few seconds. That might do the trick for a very small fire, but you’ll need more help if a larger fire breaks out.

You can get a two-pack for less than $50, and it might be the best money you spend on upgrading your camper!

Get a Rug for the Front Door

Camper parked by a lake

photo by ewg3D via iStock

Your camper or RV is going to get dirty inside no matter what you do. But you can help minimize all the mud and dirt that comes inside with you by adding a rug outside the front door.

Those tiny RV steps just don’t give you a lot of room to take off your shoes before you head inside. Having a “foyer,” if you will, gives you a spot to kick off your shoes without standing in more dirt in your socks or bare feet.

As an added bonus, having a rug outside the front door gives your four-legged friend a comfy spot to lay down without getting himself covered in dirt!

Replace the Flooring Inside

Upgraded flooring in a camper

photo by gsagi via iStock

I’m not sure who thought it was a great idea to put so much carpet in so many RVs and campers…

While soft carpet is nice on your feet, it gets dirty really fast and it’s far more difficult to clean than linoleum.

If you want to upgrade your camper in a way that minimizes the mess and makes cleanup a lot easier, think about having all the carpeting replaced with vinyl or even laminate wood flooring. It’ll pay for itself the first time you can simply wipe up a dirty footprint instead of having to bust out the carpet cleaner when you get home.

Upgrade Your Camper Kitchen with Counter Extensions

Upgraded counter extensions

Unless you’re in a massive fifth-wheel or RV, your camper kitchen will likely not have all the counter space you need to cook meals for you and your family.

But for about $30 you can buy a counter extension that gives you a little more space for getting your meal prepping and cooking done. If you’re handy, you can build one yourself too!

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