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“What tools do you carry in the RV?” I get asked this question all the time. With limited space and carrying capacity, it can be a challenge to figure out which tools you need in your RV tool kit. I have been RVing since 2015 and this is a list of my must have tools for your RV tool kit.
20 Must Have Tools For Your RV Tool Kit
1. Multi-Bit Screwdriver
If I could only pick one tool to carry in our RV, it would be the Picquic Stubby multi-bit screwdriver. It’s six screwdrivers in one small package – 2 flat heads, 2 Phillips heads and 2 square drive bits. Other than the tools I carry in my pockets (#4. flashlight & 5. knife) I find myself reaching for the multi-bit screwdriver more than any other tools in my RV tool kit. For times when you need something longer, add the Picquic Sixpac Plus. These also make great gifts and I like to have multiple – one in the glove box, one in my backpack that goes wherever I do and on in a drawer inside the RV.
2. Pocket Knife
I’ve carried a pocket knife everyday for the past twenty years. I use it to open packages, cut just about anything, slice a piece of cheese or apple during a picnic or pop open a stubborn pistachio during movie night. Just like the flashlight, once you carry it, you’ll wonder how you ever survived without this handy tool. When shopping for a knife, I always look for something with high quality steel, a pocket clip and the ability to be open and close the knife one-handed.
For the past few years I’ve carried the Spyderco Para 2 and Kait carries the Spyderco Chaparral. Spyderco and Benchmade are my two favorite brands of knives and while they are expensive, both companies use high quality steels that hold an edge and will stand the test of time.
If you’re looking for a good quality budget folding knife that has a clip for your pocket. I currently have a Buck 110 Slim which is my beat up knife and gets clipped onto my tool bag. I use these when working on the truck, scraping things, etc. With all the abuse I’ve put it through, a quick cleaning and sharpening is all it takes to look new again. I also use the Buck 040 Onset for various work projects since it has stout construction and a S45VN steel blade. I like the pocket clip it has and blade flipper makes it easy to open with one hand.
Note: Be aware of local laws regarding carrying knives as you travel. I’ve found that a knife with a blade under three inches is legal in most places. If you like the Spyderco Para 2 but want something with a blade under three inches, check out the Para 3 which is a smaller version than the Para 2.
I keep the Pelican LED flashlight in my pocket at all times. After carrying it for over three years, I can honestly say I don’t know how I managed without this must have tool. Before getting this flashlight, I used the one on my phone. Now I find carrying an actual flashlight is much more useful. I also keep a headlamp handy for walking at night and those times I need to keep my hands free. If you need to light a room or your campsite, an LED lantern is a good tool to have.
4. Tire Pressure Gauge
Checking tire pressures before a trip is one of our RV checklist items. Not all tire pressure gauges are equal. If you have large RV tires, your tire pressure could be well over 100 psi. I have the Accutire digital tire pressure gauge. It’s inexpensive, easy to read and has a max pressure reading of 150 psi. I have checked the accuracy against a gauge at the tire shop and the reading was within less than 2 psi.
If you have the room, I would also highly recommend buying an air compressor. These can be invaluable if you have tires with high PSI ratings that most gas station pumps won’t work on and for those who like to take their campers off-the-beaten path, the ability to air down and then air your tires backup can be a game changer.
5. Adjustable Wrench
When space and weight are at a premium in an RV, a few adjustable wrenches can replace a whole set of SAE and metric wrenches. A set of small, medium and large adjustable wrenches should cover most of your needs.
Note: adjustable wrenches can slip on stubborn nuts/bolts or be unable to get to a bolt/nut you need to unscrew or tighten. That’s why the next tool is a must have for your RV tool kit.
6. Socket and Ratchet Set
Sockets are essential to reach things that you would never be able to get to with a wrench. An inexpensive socket set with reversible ratchet that has SAE and metric sockets is a good starting point. Of course, there are accessory sets that will increase the usability of your sockets.
A claw hammer is always good tool to have in the RV. In addition to using it as a hammer, you can use it to bend things back into shape, knock something loose or use the claw as a crow bar to pry something apart.
8. Duct Tape
I’ve seen Duct tape used to fix just about everything. In the last month, I used it to patch up holes in my gym bag and to seal a leaking hose. Keep a roll on hand to use in a pinch and if you find yourself with some extra time on your hands, try making a Duct tape wallet. If you need tape that can be peeled off safely, add a roll of painter’s tape to your RV tool kit.
A pair of needle nose pliers are an extremely versatile tool. Great when you need to get into those tight spots in an RV. Add a small and large pair of adjustable Channellocks for those times you need something larger with a flat nose.
Finally, consider a pair of Vise-Grips for your RV tool kit. These are a nice to have that come in very handy when you need to grip and hold something in place. As the name implies, you can use them as a mini-vise.
10. Allen Wrenches
A simple set of metric and SAE Allen wrenches is one of those tools that you will be glad to have in your RV tool kit when you need it.
11. Wire Cutters
Not only are wire cutters handy for cutting wires, but they work well for cutting off zip ties.
12. Zip Ties
I have different size zip ties to manage wires or hold things together in an emergency fix. This pack of assorted zip ties has 6, 8 and 12 inch sizes that should work for most applications. I once used zip ties to hold a license plate on after a screw fell out. The zip ties worked so well, I never replaced the screw.
13. Bubble Level
A surface bubble level is an inexpensive and easy tool for leveling your motorhome.
14. Utility Knife
A basic utility knife is a must have tool that you can use to cut through dense material or when breaking down boxes. Keep spare razor blades on hand for when the blade becomes dull and needs to be replaced. While you can use your pocket knife, I prefer to use the utility knife for big projects to save the wear and tear on the blade of the pocket knife.
15. Tape Measure
You never know when you will need to measure something in the RV. A 25′ tape measure should be more than long enough for most RVs. Knowing if an item will fit before buying it can save you many dollars and headaches. I used the tape measure to check the height of a barn once when we were backing our RV inside.
Batteries, solar panels, generators, converters, inverters, 12 and 110 volt. RVs have complex electrical systems and a multimeter can make short work of tracking down an electrical problem.
17. Thread Seal Tape
I don’t know how many times we’ve hooked up to water at a campground and there was a leak. Adding a strip of tread seal tape around the tread of the spigot fixed the issue most of the time.
18. Leather Work Gloves
A good pair of leather work gloves can save your hands. These are essential when picking up fire wood, removing thorny brush or poison oak/ivy from a campsite or changing a tire.
19. Bottle Jack
Assuming you have a spare tire (and you should), make sure you have a way to raise your vehicle and remove the lug nuts on your wheels.
Most vehicles come with the tools to remove a spare tire. However, if your vehicle has a lift and aftermarket wheels like our 2000 Ford 7.3 diesel, the stock tools may not work. I have a bottle jack to raise the vehicle and an impact wrench (see next item on the list) to remove the lugs from the wheels. Make sure to size the bottle jack for the weight of your vehicle.
While our first RV didn’t come with a spare tire, we added a hitch mounted RV tire carrier in order to carry a full size spare tire.
20. Power Tools
I made this section the last one because power tools aren’t necessarily a “must have” tool for most RV travelers. That said, they do make certain projects easier and allow you to do more. While I’ve had some corded power tools that I can run off the inverter in our truck camper, I’ve since upgraded to various Craftsman V20 cordless power tools and those are what I carry now.
If you were to only carry one power tool, the cordless drill would be my suggestion. We’ve needed to use one many times while on the road and it’s come in surprisingly hand.
An impact wrench is similar in appearance to a drill but it’s made to remove stuck bolts. If you need to change a tire on the side of the road, it will make quick work of removing and installing the lug nuts on the wheel, assuming you have the right size socket.
An angle grinder is a very specialized tool used to not only grind metal but also to cut through it. I’ve needed to use one on various occasions when making the storage system for our back seat storage build or cutting through the steel bumper on our truck to install lights.
Check Your Tool Kit
It’s important to check your RV tool kit regularly, especially if you change RVs and/or your tow behind vehicle. The essential tools I carry now have changed from when we first started RV living. As of writing this, my most extensive RV tool kit was designed for our 4×4 pop-up truck camper. Since the truck is now over 20 years old and has 260k miles and counting, I need to be better prepared when we were traveling in it. I made sure to carry a more complete set of tools to work on truck in the field along with various spare parts. Now that we have our new Class B van, I have forgone many of these tools/parts.
Watch the video below to see which essential tools I carried while we were living out of different Class B RVs.
Where to Store Your RV Tools
Since you won’t want your tools rattling around in your RV, you’ll need something to store them in. While a traditional tool box is great for the home, it doesn’t always work well for an RV. I prefer soft sided tool bags and boxes that allow you to compress them but also helps prevent rattling.
My go-to tool bag is this Nantucket #711 Diddy Bag. I’ve used mine for over 10 years now and I honestly think it’s indestructible. The bag can be used with the pockets on the inside or outside. I chose to have them on the outside where I can easily see/grab my tools and use the inside of the bag to store various things like wires, connectors, etc. I’ve also been able to fit this bag just about anywhere since it can be squished down to fit most spaces.
For all of the wrenches and sockets, I have the Step22 Pangolin Tool Roll with their wrench roll. This makes it very easy to store and find the wrench/socket I need. Another benefit is that I don’t have to pull out my entire tool bag if I just need a couple wrenches. I can pull the Pangolin out and it’s much easier to carry around rather than trying to carry everything in the Nantucket bag.
For all of the my “garage” items like tools I rarely use, spare parts, electrical items and various other things, I have two Step22 Stingray Flat Box. When not in use, this box will fold down flat. While I love this feature, I’ve found that when you put heavy items into other folding boxes, they tend to break (ask me how I know) but the Stingray has been rock solid. These are VERY durable and you can toss them around without worrying about them breaking. I have two stacked in the back of our truck cab and I want to get more.
What to Do When You Don’t Have a Tool You Need
Somewhere down the road you may find yourself in need of a tool that you don’t have in your RV tool kit. You have a few options: rent it, borrow it or buy it.
Rent it. Most auto parts stores will have loaner tools you can rent. Typically, the rental is free but when you take the tool out, they charge you the value of the tool as a deposit. You’re given a couple days to return it and they refund the deposit when you do. If you love the tool or forget to return it in time, you forfeit the deposit and the tool is now yours. I used the O’Reillys loaner tools program to rent the ball joint press set to work on our 4×4 truck with a pop-up camper on the back.
Borrow it. When I needed a specific power tool for a project on the Ram ProMaster van, rather than running out and buying one, I knocked on a neighbor’s door and borrowed it. I’ve lent out my tools many times to friends and neighbors who needed something specific to finish a project.
Buy it. This is pretty straightforward but if you’re going to invest in a tool, make sure to buy something that will last. On occasion when I’ve needed to pick up a tool like a deep socket, rather than just buying the single size I need, I’ll pick up a set because eventually I’ll buy the set and I hate having random doubles of sockets.
If you don’t have the room or budget to add everything on this list, or find yourself in need of a specific tool you don’t have, ask a neighbor. RVers tend to be a very helpful group and most will be happy to lend you what you need. Plus, it’s a great way to meet new people.
What essential tools do you carry in your RV tool kit? Let me know by leaving a comment at the end of this post.
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40 thoughts on “20 Must Have Tools For Your RV Tool Kit – Are You Carrying These Tools?”
Thank you so much for this extensive list.
Can you please tell me what tool bag you use in this post?
If you scroll to the end of the post you’ll see links to the different bags I use for my tools.
Thanks for the list Joe.
I love the fact that zip ties are on the list. For me they have helped me out so many times around the house. Now I also need to get a pack for the RV. Never thought of that.
I HAVE A CLASS A DIESEL UNIT SO I CALL THE TRUCK SHOP FOR TIRE SEERVICE BUT WHAT I DID FIND USEFUIL IS A GENERAOR TEST METER THAT SHOWS VOLTAGE AND CYCLES ALSO A SMALL SOLDER IRON AND COMBO SOLDER PASTE AND FLUX, GET A HARBOR FRIEIGHT CRIMP CONNECTOR KIT. ELECTRICAL TAPE EVEN A SMALL BOW SAW . ME I BRING THE SAWS ALL WITH GOODL SELECTION OF BLADES SINC E I GOT THE 7 KW GENSET . ALL GOOD FEEDBACK. EVEN HAD SPACE FOR A LITTLE GIANT LADDER .
Tool pouch, pair of work gloves, adjustable wrench, crescent wrench, power drill with impact driver adapter and spare battery pack or two for at least one hour of operation each. Hammer, masonry chisel set (cold-chisel), cordless rechargeable vacuum cleaner. Sharpie marker. A coil of nylon rope for tying down the camper on especially windy days or to get help if you are stuck in mud or sand but use caution not to be pulled off balance it may cause injury like when you try to pull out your car if it gets stuck in the snow
You should also carry basic hand tools inside the trailer including pliers, screwdriver assortment; utility knife; tape measure; quick-g
I have a teardrop trailer. Your list of tools seems like overkill for me. And they are heavy and take up space. What does a person really need? I’ve used a teardrop trailer for six years or so and have not needed any–yet. Do I really need standard AND metric sockets, etc.
I modify the tools we bring depending on what we’re traveling in. I like to be prepared so if there was a need for standard and metric sockets, I would bring them but if you don’t have any metric bolts, then no need to bring metric sockets. That said, you may be able to get by with nothing more than a couple screwdrivers and a pair of pliers. It also depends on how handy you are and how comfortable you are making repairs. If you want to carry tools, design a kit around your needs and how much room you have.
We have been driving our 32-foot 2000 Fleetwood Bounder class A since new. I carry two tool boxes. The larger one has my standard and metric socket wrenches and include 1/4″, 1/2″ and 34″ drive. I have used them all. Instead of a framing hammer (too big) I carry a medium-small ball peen hammer in the tool chest and a hatchet that can be used as a hammer on the non-blade side. Also have assorted cotter pins, adhesive in a tube, and the tools you carry. Given a bit of time duct tape adhesive dries out and gets crumbly on repaired projects. Black Gorilla tape is stronger, sticks better, and lasts longer.
The two batteries of my very old electric drill no longer take a charge but my even older AC powered electric drill is faithful. I have used my air compressor many times. Tires lose air over time. Sometimes a valve extender gets loose and leaks. It also helped to get to a tire shop with a slow leak from a nail. I have a tire pressure gauge on all the tires including the 1999 Honda CR-V that we tow. They have proved their worth several times. As for my small tool chest, that is for the small tools like spin tights, pocket knife, Exacto knife, Assorted wire crimp terminals with crimper, electrician’s tape, long nose, needle nose and a bent nose assortment of pliers, wire cutters and strippers, extra crimp-on TV cable connectors and more items. I have used everything over the years and have the room to carry all that. I also carry a couple of lever-type grease guns with extra tubes of grease plus a plastic oil pan with screw caps.
I am 87 and still change my own oil and filter, and grease the 12 Zerk fittings in the Ford RV chassis. It is particularly important grease the three universal joints in the drive shaft. This save me over $100 every time. Many years ago I pulled, overhauled and reinstalled engines in our 1965 VW van and then in our 1972 Ford 12-passenger van. No, I am not a mechanic but can do it. I am a retired aerospace technical writer for mechanical, electrical, electronic and digital equipment from units to full systems. The challenges ranged from frustrating to fun.
Flex tape. It fixes plumbing and exterior mishaps. That stuff is great..
I’ve have clear Gorilla Tape and colored Duct Tape that matches my car. That way repairs don’t scream out.
Great and awesome post! I appreciate your efforts on writing.
I have trouble pulling some of the cotter pins out and have been looking for a good extractor that I can easily grip.
Hey Barbara, I would try using a pair of pliers, vice grips or channel locks.
I have a cotter pin extractor tool. Look for one.
The 1/2 inch breaker bar with a 12 inch extension with deep well impact sockets (sized for your tow vehicle & trailer, 5th wheel, etc.) . Plus a 36 inch piece of steel pipe for a cheater bar .
A large blade screw driver 12 to 16 inches .
Open end wrench set 1/4in. to 3/4 in.
Wire stripper tool .
Teflon tape approved for LPG .
Assortment of wire connectors .
Have a breaker bar and a deep socket to get lug nuts off your truck or trailer. An impact drill wont get it off. Preferred 1/2 inch.
All the necessary tools listed in the post. This very helpful post. Thank you for the post.
The other day my brother mentioned he bought an RV and asked if he should keep some tools in his RV for emergencies. I appreciate how this post made a list of tools that should be kept in our RV. I will ask him to look at the tools and test them out live before proceeding.
The camp light in your bag looks very interesting. Where can it be found?
Hi Jerry – if you scroll up, the light I have is the 4th item in the list.
One major thing on a folding knife. Make sure it is one with a locking blade. Blades that don’t lock can be very dangerous. Been there done that.
I carry a battery jumping pack for when you need to get your vehicle started or just need a jolt to run something on your RV.
I don’t even have an RV but I’m pretty sure that multi tip screwdriver would be a handy thing for anyone to have in their glove compartment. That and a pocket knife and you’d be pretty much set.
Wire stripper/cutter/crimper and a small assortment of crimp-on terminals, a few wire nuts, a few lengths of appropriate gauges of wire, electrical tape.
Thanks for this, Joe. We’re new to RVing, thus I’m currently in the process of reconciling what I have against your list.
BTW, another item that is extremely valuable to have on the road or at home are Nite Ize Gear Ties (https://www.niteize.com/collection/Gear-Tie.asp).
Absolutely don’t travel without my tool bag in the motorhome. My wife noticed I had an assortment of tools scattered around different spots in our home and bought me a tool bag. It’s bulging at the seems after a couple of years of use. But, whether it’s an emergency repair by the side of the road or just a little tinerkering, I grab my tool bag.
You forgot one- rubber mallet. It can be purchased for 1 dollar at Dollar Tree. Invaluable in several circumstances already. Best buck I ever spent!
You know I’ve always had one but never used it. What do you use yours for?
I use rubber mallet for gentle persuasion of wrenches, adjusting shims to cabints,, nudging covers that don’t quite fit, any number of other uses where a steel hammer is needed, but you don’t want to mar the object.
I recomend adding some steel bailing wire for when Duck tape just won’t do.
Great List – Thanks for the help.
Love the tool bag. Where can I get one for my husband?
Here it is: https://nantucketbagg.com/products/canvas-tool-bag-nantucket
My favorite set of TOOLS include, Danny Carey, Adam Jones, Maynard James Keenan, Justin Chancellor, and even Paul D’Amour.
Great list of tools sir! I still need to buy a multimeter. Feel like I am slacking…have solar but have yet to really use/test it much yet. Thanks for sharing! – Shane
You’re very welcome! Hope all is well with you two.
Joe do you carry an air compressor ? Considduringnthat you keep a great tire pressure gauge !
We used to but there isn’t room for one in the van. We’ll go to a gas station or tire shop if we need to fill up.
Nice video on your tool bag. Thank you for sharing. Hope you three are having a wonderful safe trip.
Hi dear friends.
For me another indespensable must have is a “Leatherman surge” with spare bits.
It has been a reliable companion for many years now.
All the best to you both my dear friends