Ready to Roll: RV gear guide

by Chris Dougherty and Kristopher Bunker
March 30, 2017
Filed under Top Stories, Tow Vehicle Gear, Trailer Gear

 

Trailer Life’s annual roundup of products designed to enhance your camping and trailering experience

Recreational vehicles are our passion. They are a great way to spend time with family and friends, see the country and experience the outdoors while bringing the comforts of home along and getting fresh views from the living room window. As with other hobbies, rookie RVers will want to gear up to start enjoying the lifestyle, and seasoned RVers need to replace aging accessories. Then there’s the opportunity to upgrade the RV. Every year, companies introduce new products that make RVing safer and more enjoyable, and trying them out is part of the fun.

To help you outfit and update your rig, we’ve compiled a list of the most common accessories and the companies that provide them. It’s an ideal place to start your search for the ultimate RV gear.

 

Care and Maintenance

 

Cleaners and Waxes
An RV is a big investment, and protecting its function and appearance is essential. Let an RV go unwashed for too long, and the dirt can damage fiberglass, aluminum and painted surfaces, and shorten its lifespan. Grit and grime can lead to cracked seals, which, if not tended to, can allow water to enter. UV exposure can damage roof membranes and plastics.

Detailing your RV is a necessary and rewarding part of RV ownership. Products from the following companies can help with everything from cleaning black streaks and removing baked-on bugs and debris to restoring the RV’s original luster.

Dometic, 800-544-4881, www.dometic.com/usa
Gel-Gloss, 800-243-3272, www.gel-gloss.com
Gold Eagle, 844-601-9841, www.goldeagle.com
Griot’s Garage, 800-345-5789, www.griotsgarage.com
Meguiar’s, 800-347-5700, www.meguiars.com
Poli Glow, 800-922-5013, www.poliglow-int.com
ProtectAll, 800-521-3032, www.protectall.com
RejeX, 469-583-9218, www.rejex.com
Reliable Products, 800-932-8742, www.reliableproductsonline.com
Roadmaster (Voom!), 800-669-9690, www.roadmasterinc.com
Shurhold Industries, 772-287-1313, www.shurhold.com
Star brite, 800-327-8583, www.starbrite.com
Thetford, 800-543-1219, www.thetford.com

 Sealants
RV roof seals should be inspected at least every 90 days for cracks, separation and holes, and renewed and replaced as needed. The same goes for the side walls, including appliance openings, doors and windows. Damage due to water leakage and infiltration is a major problem and can be avoided with proper exterior roof and seal maintenance.

Sealants come in a variety of forms, including tape, foam, caulking, silicone and more. Make sure you know your RV’s roof type and which sealants you need. Follow the instructions for application and curing carefully, and always use caution when working on an RV roof or a ladder.

 TIP: Never use silicone on a rubber-membrane roof.

Alpha Systems, 800-462-4698, www.alphasystemsinc.com/productcare
Dicor, 800-837-2059, www.dicor.com
EternaBond, 800-248-4010, www.eternabond.com
Geocel, 800-348-7615, www.geocelusa.com
GE Silicone, 866-275-4372, www.caulkyourhome.com
Loctite Products, 800-624-7767, www.loctiteproducts.com
Sika Corporation, 800-933-7452, www.usa.sika.com

 RV and Tire Covers
RV and tire covers are a great defense against environmental hazards, and many are lightweight and UV- and moisture-resistant. Available in universal sizes and custom fits, and in a variety of materials, RV covers are generally designed for the climate they’ll be used in, from harsh winters to intense sun.

 TIP: Covers made using Tyvek synthetic material may cost a little more but offer better overall protection.

ADCO, 800-541-2326, www.adcoprod.com
CalMark Cover, 800-838-7236, www.calmarkcovers.com
Carver Industries, 888-482-6837, www.carvercovers.com
Classic Accessories, 800-854-2315, www.classicaccessories.com
Covercraft Direct, 800-274-7006, www.covercraft.com
Coverking, 800-268-3754, www.coverking.com
CoverQuest, 888-726-9300, www.coverquest.com
Elements, 888-626-7576, www.campingworld.com/elements
Empire Covers, 844-859-0910, www.empirecovers.com
 

Electronics and Electrical Systems

 

 Backup Cameras
Backing a trailer is a technique learned over time and can be difficult, even for the best drivers. A backup camera is a helpful tool, offering a wide view behind the RV. Some trailers come prewired for a backup-camera system, and some come with one already installed. The new wireless systems can transmit longer distances in full color. Hitch cameras, which come as optional equipment in some tow vehicles and are also available on the aftermarket, make hooking up to a trailer a snap.

 TIP: Whether or not you have a backup camera, check your campsite and utility connections before backing in to make sure cords and hoses will reach and to look for low-hanging limbs or low-profile posts that can cause damage.

ASA Electronics, 877-305-0445, www.asaelectronics.com
Furrion, 888-354-5792, www.furrion.com
Hopkins Towing Solutions, 800-835-0129, www.hopkinstowingsolutions.com
iBall, 877-298-2055, www.iballhitchcam.com
Toren (Swift Hitch), 617-600-8282, www.swifthitch.com
 
GPS Devices
RV-specific GPS devices from the companies listed below map the best travel routes without leading under low overpasses or onto other roads that are unsuitable for RVs. These systems can be set to provide routing specific to the size of the vehicle, and some provide RV-friendly fuel stops, campground listings and other pertinent information. They keep map data on the device, so you don’t need to depend on a strong cell signal for navigation, but you will need to upload new data regularly. Some models connect to your smartphone’s data connection to provide real-time weather, traffic and other helpful information.

 TIP: With Rand McNally’s RV GPS, trip planning can be done on the Good Sam website and loaded directly into the device.

Garmin, 800-800-1020, www.garmin.com
Magellan GPS, 800-707-9971, www.magellangps.com
Rand McNally, 877-446-4863, www.randmcnally.com
TomTom, www.tomtom.com/en_us/drive/camper-caravan
 
Solar-Powered Systems
Solar-panel systems can be tied to advanced charging, inverter and even lithium-ion battery systems to provide amazing amounts of run time for appliances, including air conditioners, while disconnected from the grid. An investment up front can easily pay for itself in terms of convenience and enhanced livability.

 TIP: Solar panels are modular and can be added as the need arises and the budget allows. Start building the system from the bottom up, one piece at a time. Size components such as wiring, chargers and batteries with future needs in mind.

AM Solar, 541-726-1091, www.amsolarrv.com
Deltran USA (Battery Tender), 877-456-7901, www.batterytender.com
EEZ RV Products, 510-910-5397, www.eezrvproducts.com
Go Power, 866-247-6527, www.gpelectric.com
Nature Power, 800-588-0590, www.naturepowerproducts.com
Samlex Solar, 800-561-5885, www.samlexsolar.com
Sunforce Products, 888-478-6435, www.sunforceproducts.com
Zamp Solar, 541-728-0924, www.zampsolar.com
 
Energy-Management Systems
Most RVs have sensitive electronics built into them, and these, as well as appliance motors, are susceptible to power surges and brownouts. Surges can come in many forms, the most common being lightning strikes, and brownouts can happen in hot weather when RVs are running air conditioners and campground circuits can’t handle the load. Surge protectors and energy-management system units can help. Some are portable, plugging into an RV’s cordset, and others are built into the rig. Some offer an optional remote control and readout.

 TIP: Surge protectors equipped with an indicator for miswired or otherwise faulty pedestal power let owners know when it’s safe to plug in.

Camco, 800-334-2004, www.camco.net
Hughes Autoformers, 888-540-1504, www.hughesautoformers.com
Progressive Industries, 919-267-6948, www.progressiveindustries.net
Technology Research, 800-780-4324, www.trci.net
 
Inverters
Converters take 120-volt AC shorepower and convert it to 12-volt DC power for use in the RV and charging the house batteries. Inverters do the opposite, taking 12-volt DC energy from the battery bank and making 120-volt AC power for use in appliances and power outlets. When AC power is available, a combination inverter/charger will charge the house batteries when not inverting. Sizes range from small 150-watt units that plug into a cigarette-lighter-style outlet and will power a portable razor to large built-in systems that produce as much as 3,000 watts of 120-volt AC electricity.

Progressive Industries, 919-267-6948, www.progressiveindustries.net
Samlex Solar, 800-561-5885, www.samlexsolar.com
Sensata Technologies (Magnum Energy), 425-353-8833, www.magnum-dimensions.com
Tripp Lite, 773-869-1111, www.tripplite.com
Xantrex, 800-670-0707, www.xantrex.com
 
Generators
If your trailer doesn’t have a generator, investing in one allows you to charge the batteries and run an air conditioner, TV or automatic-drip coffeemaker when a 120-volt AC source is not available. Generators come in gasoline- or LP-gas-powered versions for portable or built-in use in trailers. Before purchasing a generator, calculate the load and buy one that can handle it with juice to spare. Noise can be an issue, so shop for one that will be quiet enough for where you plan to travel. Choosing an inverter-based generator is a good choice for taking care of sensitive electronic devices.

 TIP: The energy-management system unit may need to be disabled when using a portable generator. Check the manufacturer’s instructions.

Champion Power Equipment, 877-338-0999, www.championpowerequipment.com
Cummins Onan, 800-888–6626, www.power.cummins.com
Generac Power Systems, 888-436-3722, www.generac.com
Honda Power Equipment, 770-497-6400, www.powerequipmenthonda.com
Powerhouse Generators, 877-544-4449, www.powerhouse-products.com
Yamaha, 800-962-7926, www.yamahamotorsports.com/generator
 
LED Lighting
LED lighting is included in almost every RV built for 2017, but if you have an older model, and especially if you dry camp, switching to LED can be a wise investment. LEDs are generally longer lasting than incandescent bulbs, project more light and use a fraction of the power. In most cases, existing bulbs can be replaced with LEDs, and LED fixtures can be installed with relative ease.

 TIP: Be aware that some built-in LED-light power systems can cause interference with TV and radio signals, so check that as a cause if you install replacement LED lights and the interference starts around the same time.

Alpenglow Marine Lights, 406-889-3586, www.alpenglowlights.com
Command Electronics, 269-679-4011, www.commandelectronics.com
Diamond Group, 800-456-4498, www.dg-usa.com
EEZ RV Products, 510-910-5397, www.eezrvproducts.com
Jirah, 909-297-1926, www.jirahled.com
M4Products, 818-717-8840, www.m4products.com
Star Lights, 800-883-5444, www.starlightsinc.com
Super Bright LEDs, 866-590-3533, www.superbrightleds.com
 
Tire-Pressure Monitoring Systems
Tire blowouts on trailers are a leading cause of damage, as the deflated tire can disintegrate and wreak havoc on the side and undercarriage of the RV. When a tire loses pressure, a tire-pressure monitoring system, or TPMS, warns drivers with an audible alarm and sometimes flashing lights, so you can stop before more harm is done. These systems consist of a base unit in the cab and sensors that are programmed to each wheel on the trailer, and in some cases, the tow vehicle, if it’s not already equipped.

Advantage PressurePro, 816-887-3505, www.advantagepressurepro.com
Danko Manufacturing (Tire Patrol), 800-815-2159, www.tirepatrol.com
Doran Manufacturing, 866-816-7233, www.doranmfg.com
EEZ RV Products, 510-910-5397, www.eezrvproducts.com
Hopkins Towing Solutions, 800-835-0129, www.hopkinstowingsolutions.com
Minder Research (Tire Minder), 772-463-6522, www.minderresearch.com
Tire Traker, 866-200-9773, www.tiretraker.com
Truck System Technologies, 770-889-9102, www.tsttruck.com
Valor TPMS, 800-568-9188, www.valortpms.com
 

Entertainment

 

 Audio and Video
While some people like to unplug on an RV trip, others like to relax with their favorite programs or listen to their favorite music. From large-screen HDTVs to surround-sound bars, Blu-ray players and the latest in Bluetooth and network connectivity, the sky’s the limit in RV entertainment.

 TIP: Some of the products at your local electronics store are great for home use but may not fare as well in a mobile environment. It’s best to select equipment tested for RV and marine applications. The following companies are a good place to start.

ASA Electronics, 877-305-0445, www.asaelectronics.com
Furrion, 888-354-5792, www.furrion.com
Fusion, 623-580-9000, www.fusionentertainment.com
Insignia Products, 877-467-4289, www.insigniaproducts.com
King, 952-922-6889, www.kingconnect.com
Patrick Industries (iRV Technologies), 888-373-3939, www.patrickind.com
PQN Audio, 805-794-6475, www.pqnenterprises.com
 
Satellite Programming
Cable TV in RV parks can be inconsistent and may lack the channels you want, so if television-viewing is a priority on your agenda, the best way to do so may be satellite TV. The receiver can be rented or purchased, and the service turned on and off monthly, depending on the provider.

 TIP: If you already have satellite service at home, adding it in the RV can often be done easily with an additional monthly charge.

Bell, 866-897-4117, www.bell.ca
DirecTV, 855-567-1665, www.directv.com
Dish, 888-434-0112, www.dish.com
Shaw Direct, 888-554-7827, www.shawdirect.ca
 
Antennas
Television programming is available through the satellite-TV providers noted above and via digital broadcast signals, which can offer lots of choices, especially near urban centers. In either case, you need the right antenna — or antennas, if you wish to watch over-the-air programming and satellite TV. Choose from permanent-mount hardware and portable solutions.

 TIP: Some antennas are designed for use with particular satellite-TV providers. For instance, only the Winegard Trav’ler can receive DirecTV HD signals.

King, 952-922-6889, www.kingconnect.com
KVH Industries, 401-847 3327, www.kvh.com
Shakespeare Marine, 800-845-7750, www.shakespeare-ce.com/marine
Winegard, 800-288-8094, www.winegard.com
 
Wi-Fi and Cellular Boosters
Boosters can help keep Wi-Fi and cellular signals coming by repeating or amplifying them. If the source signal is weak or the system has too many users, service still may be slow or nonfunctional, but these devices give you the best chance of a good connection.

C. Crane, 800-522-8863, www.ccrane.com
PDQ Connect, 858-598-5001, www.pdqconnect.com
Shakespeare Marine, 803-227-1590, www.shakespeare.ce.com
Singlepoint, 866-959-9434, www.yoursinglepoint.com
SmoothTalker, 877-726-3444, www.smoothtalker.com
weBoost, 866-294-1660, www.weboost.com
Wi-Fi Ranger, 208-321-5544, www.wifiranger.com
Wilson Amplifiers, 800-568-2723, www.wilsonamplifiers.com
Winegard, 800-288-8094, www.winegard.com
 
Freshwater Systems
 
Water Hoses, Appliances and Connectors

Drinking-water hoses, fittings and filters are a big part of getting water into the rig, and selecting the right ones is important. Don’t go cheap here. Paying a little extra for them saves money down the road. Remember to carry at least two hoses: one for the city-water connection and one for rinsing the black holding tank.

 TIP: Many RVs come with a basic water pump that can be upgraded to a quieter, more efficient one with improved pressure and flow.

Camco, 800-334-2004, www.camco.net
Camping World, 888-626-7576, www.campingworld.com
Pirit, 888-747-4844, www.pirithose.com
Shurflo, 800-854-3218, www.shurflo.com
Teknor Apex, 800-556-3864, www.apexhose.com
Valterra, 818-898-1671, www.valterra.com
Xylem (Flojet), 949-608-3888,  www.xylemflowcontrol.com
 Water Filters
Clean drinking water is a must. Any water that goes into the RV’s freshwater tank should be filtered to avoid contaminants, especially considering the variety of water sources in different campgrounds. Various types and sizes of water filters are available, from disposable ones that connect to the freshwater hose to elaborate built-in systems that remove sediments, rust, cysts and microbiological contamination.

Camco (TastePure), 800-334-2004, www.camco.net
Culligan, 877-386-0823, www.culligan.com
Flow Pur, 234-759-3077, www.flowpur.com
Hydro Life, 800-626-7130, www.hydrolife.com
Multipure, 800-622-9206, www.multipure.com
RV Water Filter Store, 602-625-1875, www.rvwaterfilterstore.com
Water King, 337-988-2360, www.waterking.com
 
Exterior Showers
If your RV didn’t come with an exterior shower, it may be possible to add one. They’re great for cleaning off sandy feet and beach gear, and washing pots and pans that are too big for the kitchen sink.

Camco, 800-334-2004, www.camco.net
Dura Faucet, 888-242-5932, www.durafaucet.com
ITC Marine, 616-396-1355, www.itc-marine.com
LaSalle Bristol, 800-718-7187, www.lasallebristol.com
Phoenix Faucet, 800-222-6041, www.phoenixfaucets.com
Thetford, 800-543-1219, www.thetford.com
 

Indoor Living

 

 Shades
Rolling and pleated shades and other window treatments help insulate RVs from heat and cold and provide privacy, especially in the close quarters of a campground, rest stop or rally. Among the many options, valance-mounted power shades are available for windows and even screen doors.

Auto-Motion Shade, 905-470-6198, www.automotionshade.com
Carefree of Colorado, 800-621-2617, www.carefreeofcolorado.com
Dicor (United Shade), 877-262-0954, www.unitedshade.com
Irvine Shade and Door, 574-522-1446, www.irvineshadeanddoor.com
Magne Shade, 336-753-0905, www.magneshade.com
MCD Innovations, 972-548-1850, www.mcdinnovations.com
 Climate Control
Heating, ventilation and air conditioning all contribute to the comforts of home in an RV. Modern climate-control systems have efficient air conditioners and heat pumps, better-designed furnaces, and digital control systems that can be programmed for energy savings. Upgrading may be easier than you think.

Airxcel, 316-832-3400, www.airxcel.com
Atwood Mobile, 800-546-8759, www.atwoodmobile.com
Dometic, 800-544-4881, www.dometic.com/usa
 Powered Roof Vents
Part of the RV experience is enjoying the fresh air, and when conditions are right, bringing that fresh air inside is a glorious thing. High-flow fans can quietly move air in and out, depending on the fan’s options and settings. Vent covers allow them to remain open, even in the rain. Many of them are quite sophisticated, with digital remote controls, programmable wall thermostats and rain sensors.

Airxcel (MaxxAir), 316-832-3400, www.airxcel.com
Fan-Tastic Vent, 800-521-0298, www.fantasticvent.com
Heng’s Industries, 877-295-1205

Appliances
Manufacturers have come out with new lines of RV appliances that mimic home versions, from gas ranges with cast-iron tops to wall ovens, wine coolers and instant water heaters. As a bonus, an upgrade in style brings with it more efficient technology.

 TIP: Remember to keep power requirements and weight changes in mind when building your mobile dream kitchen, especially when it comes to residential-style refrigerators.

Airxcel (Suburban), 316-832-3400, www.airxcel.com
Atwood Mobile, 800-546-8759, www.atwoodmobile.com
Dometic, 800-544-4881, www.dometic.com/usa
Fisher and Paykel, 888-936-7872, www.fisherpaykel.com
Furrion, 888-354-5792, www.furrion.com
Girard Products, 866-559-1221, www.greenrvproducts.com
Splendide, 800-356-0766, www.splendide.com
Thetford (Norcold), 800-543-1219, www.thetford.com
Truma, 855-558-7862, www.truma.com
 

Outdoor Living

 

 Awnings and Accessories
RV awnings are a great invention, allowing RVers to take their activities outside with protection from the sun. The latest offerings have powered accessory tracks, built-in speakers, LED lighting and automatic retraction in the event of foul weather.

 TIP: If your awning didn’t come with auto-retract capability and wind and rain are in the forecast, roll it up to prevent damage, especially if you’re going to be away from the RV.

Awnings by ZipDee, 800-338-2378, www.awningsbyzipdee.com
Camco, 800-334-2004, www.camco.net
Carefree of Colorado, 800-621-2617, www.carefreeofcolorado.com
Dometic (Power Channel), 800-544-4881, www.dometic.com/usa
EEZ RV Products, 510-910-5397, www.eezrvproducts.com
Fiamma, 407-672-0093, www.fiammausa.com
Girard Systems, 800-382-8442, www.girardrv.com
Lippert Components, 574-535-1125, www.lci1.com
ShadePro, 800-328-5100, www.shadepro.net
 
Leveling Systems
Being level is important to the RVing experience, not only for comfort but for refrigerator and slideout operation as well. For 2017, travel-trailer owners can benefit from the push-button leveling convenience once relegated to fifth-wheel and Class A motorhome owners. Some of the latest leveling systems can be controlled by a handheld remote or even a smartphone app.

Bullseye Leveling, 574-727-5795, www.bullseyeleveling.com
HWH Corporation, 800-321-3494, www.hwhcorp.com
Lippert Components (Power Gear), 574-535-1125, www.lci1.com
Quadra Manufacturing (Bigfoot), 800-752-9815, www.thebigfootleveler.com
 

Powertrain

 

 Motor Oil and Lubricants
Your tow vehicle works harder when it’s pulling a trailer than when it’s running unloaded. That’s why engine-oil change intervals are different when towing. To help keep your vehicle running smoothly over the long haul, change the engine oil and other fluids as recommended by the manufacturer.

 TIP: Use the lubricants the manufacturer suggests for your vehicle and usage habits.

Amsoil, 800-956-5695, www.amsoil.com
Castrol, 800-462-0835, www.castrol.com
Delo, 800-822-5823, www.deloperformance.com
Havoline, 800-822-5823, www.havoline.com
Lucas Oil, 800-342-2512, www.lucasoil.com
Mobil 1, 800-662-4525, www.mobiloil.com
Pennzoil, 800-237-8645, www.pennzoil.com
Prestone, 888-269-0750, www.prestone.com
Quaker State, 800-237-8645, www.quakerstate.com
Royal Purple, 888-382-6300, www.royalpurpleconsumer.com
Shell Rotella, 800-237-8645, www.rotella.shell.com
STP, 888-464-7871, www.stp.com
Valvoline, 800-832-6825, www.valvoline.com
 Tires
When trailer tires come apart, they can do serious damage. To avoid blowouts, check tire pressure before every trip, inspect tires at every stop and invest in a good tire-pressure monitoring system. Maintain proper air pressure by following the tire-inflation label included with your RV. Find the speed rating on the side of the tire and don’t exceed it. Don’t overload the RV; get it weighed, by wheel position if possible. If you see excessive or abnormal wear, cracks or other damage, have the tires checked by an expert. Once they reach five years of age, have them professionally inspected annually, and replace them once they reach seven years of age, regardless of their condition. Invest in tire covers and use them when the RV is in storage.

 TIP: Never use tire dressings that contain petroleum distillates.

Goodyear, 800-321-2136, www.goodyearrvtires.com
Maxxis, 800-462-9947, www.maxxis.com/tires/autolt/trailer
Michelin, 888-622-2306, www.michelinrvtires.com
West Lake Tire, www.lionsheadtireandwheel.com/westlake-radial-tire
 Engine Power Enhancements
If your tow vehicle struggles while pulling a trailer, you may have some options to get a little more juice from the engine. Ranging from engine tuners to transmission reprogrammers, replacement turbochargers, and air-filter and exhaust systems, performance-enhancement products are available for diesel and gas engines, and may provide more power and torque by adjusting heating points, air-to-fuel mixtures and even engine timing, although they will not increase tow ratings.

 TIP: Before installing any power-enhancement product, make sure it won’t void the vehicle’s warranty.

5 Star Tuning, 843-536-1244, www.5startuning.com
aFe Power, 888-901-7693, www.afepower.com
Banks Power, 800-601-8072, www.bankspower.com
BD Diesel Performance, 800-887-5030, www.dieselperformance.com
Bully Dog, 940-783-9914, www.bullydog.com
DiabloSport, 561-908-0040, www.diablosport.com
Edge Products, 801-476-3343, www.edgeproducts.com
Hypertech, 901-382-8888, www.hypertech.com
SCT, 407-774-2447, www.sctflash.com
Snow Performance, 719-633-3811, www.snowperformance.net
Superchips, 888-227-2447, www.superchips.com
 Suspension Enhancements
Half the fun of any trip is getting there, but if your RV handles poorly, the drive can be more exhausting than exhilarating. While an improperly adjusted  hitch system can contribute to a choppy ride, an upgrade to the tow vehicle’s or trailer’s stock suspension can make towing more pleasurable and help prevent wear and tear from bumps in the road.

Bilstein, 858-386-5900, www.bilsteinus.com
Blue Ox, 800-228-9289, www.blueox.com
Hellwig, 800-435-5944, www.hellwigproducts.com
Koni, 859-586-4100, www.koni-na.com
Lippert Components, 574-535-1125, www.lci1.com
MORryde, 574-293-1581, www.morryde.com
Roadmaster, 800-669-9690, www.roadmasterinc.com
Safe-T-Plus, 800-872-7233, www.safe-t-plus.com
SuperSprings, 866-898-0720, www.supersprings.com
 Fuel Additives
Fuel additives are formulated to improve mileage, remove water, prevent diesel gelling, prolong engine life and even increase horsepower. Some RVers swear by them, while others remain skeptical.

Amsoil, 800-956-5695, www.amsoil.com
Gold Eagle (Sta-Bil), 844-601-9841, www.goldeagle.com
Lucas Oil, 800-342-2512, www.lucasoil.com
Marvel Mystery Oil, 800-887-8539, www.marvelmysteryoil.com
Red Line, 800-624-7958, www.redlineoil.com
Royal Purple, 888-382-6300, www.royalpurpleconsumer.com
Star brite, 800-327-8583, www.starbrite.com
 

Sanitation

 

 Sewer Hoses
Don’t go cheap on sewer hoses.

A clear elbow will help you see that the tanks are clean. Kits with screw-in campground sewer connectors are best. Some trailers have multiple discharge connections, so you may need a wye connector and an extra hose, if you want to flush everything without switching the hose from one discharge port to another. A sewer-hose support makes a great addition to your setup. It will maintain a good pitch to the sewer outlet and make draining a breeze.

 TIP: When hooked up, keep the valves closed, and open them only when you’re ready to dump the tanks, black before gray.

Blueline (Prest-o-Fit), 888-770-5849, www.prestofit.com
Camco (RhinoFlex), 800-334-2004, www.camco.net
Lippert Components, 574-535-1125, www.lci1.com
Thetford, 800-543-1219, www.thetford.com
Valterra, 818-898-1671, www.valterra.com
 Toilets
Toilets can be freshwater-flush, cassette-type, portable or even composting. Options include full-size ceramic toilets that are easy to install and keep clean. Toilet flanges on RV bathroom floors are standard, though in rare cases they may need to be rotated for a replacement toilet.

 TIP: Be sure to use a new foam seal when installing or reinstalling an RV toilet.

Cleanwaste, 877-520-0999, www.cleanwaste.com
Dometic, 800-544-4881, www.dometic.com/usa
Heng’s Industries, 877-295-1205
Nature’s Head, 251-295-3043, www.natureshead.net
Thetford, 800-543-1219, www.thetford.com
 Tank Treatments
Beyond deodorizing, holding-tank additivies break down solids so they can be flushed out of the tank more easily, and in some cases they help lubricate valve seals, making them easier to operate and stay sealed. Available in liquid, crystal and drop-in forms in a variety of sizes, tank treatments come in “green” formaldehyde-free varieties and the standard blue formaldehyde-based versions.

 TIP: After dumping and rinsing the black tank, add a few gallons of water and additives to the empty tank.

Camco, 800-334-2004, www.camco.net
Century Chemical (Travel Jon), 800-348-3505, www.centurychemical.com
Dometic, 800-544-4881, www.dometic.com/usa
Eco-Save, 800-950-9666, www.eco-save.com
Star brite, 800-327-8583, www.starbrite.com
Thetford, 800-543-1219, www.thetford.com
Valterra (Odorlos, Pure Power Blue), 818-898-1671, www.valterra.com
Walex, 800-338-3155, www.walex.com
Worldwide Monochem, 512-267–5190, www.monochem.net
 Sewer Vents
The wastewater system must be vented to the outside for proper operation. These range from small under-sink vents to roof vents that create a negative air pressure in the system to expel odors through the rooftop pipe.

 TIP: If you notice odors or burping in the sink drain or toilet, an insect nest may be plugging the roof vent. Remove the vent to make sure it’s clear.

360 Products, 503-559-8094, www.360productsnorthamerica.com
Camco, 800-334-2004, www.camco.net
Coil n’ Wrap, www.coilnwrap.com
LaSalle Bristol, 800-718-7187, www.lasallebristol.com
Lippert Components (360 Siphon), 574-535-1125, www.lci1.com
Ventline, 574-848-4491, www.ventline.com
 Macerators
Taking the place of sewer-hose setups, macerators use a powered chopper to grind waste and pump it through a small hose to the sewer-discharge point. The hose rolls up nice and tight, and the device can even pump uphill. Built-in and portable models are available, and some have wiring kits to plug the unit in by the RV’s sewer connection.

Clean Dump, 360-798-2437, www.cleandump.com
Flojet, www.xylemflowcontrol.com
Thetford (Sani-Con), 800-543-1219, www.thetford.com
Valterra, 818-898-1671, www.valterra.com
 Portable Waste Tanks
If you’re dry camping and water suddenly backs up into the shower, there’s an alternative to packing up the trailer and towing it to a dump station. Portable waste tanks are easy to use, connect to the RV with the existing sewer hose and dump the same way. Some of the larger tanks can even be towed (slowly) from the campsite to the dump station by your tow vehicle.

Barker Manufacturing, 800-537-9940, www.barkermfg.com
Camco, 800-334-2004, www.camco.net
Thetford (SmartTote), 800-543-1219, www.thetford.com
 
Tank Sensors
RV holding-tank sensors can be problematic, primarily in black tanks, because buildup on the sides of the tank causes the electrically connected sensors to provide false readings. A couple of companies have developed better designs to help with this problem.

Horst Miracle Probe, www.rvprobes.com
Garnet Technologies (SeeLevel), 877-668-7813, www.garnetinstruments.com
 

 

 

 

Towing Equipment

 

 Trailer Hitches
Many vehicles that are suitable for towing come with a towing package (or the option for one), which includes a trailer hitch and connector. If your vehicle didn’t come with a hitch, the equipment can be installed by your dealer or an RV-service center. Selecting the right equipment is important. Be sure to correctly match the hitch for your specific vehicle. Different styles of the same vehicle may take different hitches.

 TIP: Don’t waste money buying a heavier-duty hitch than your tow vehicle is rated to handle, unless you plan to upgrade the vehicle. Its maximum tow rating cannot be exceeded.

Andersen, 800-635-6106, www.andersenhitches.com
Cequent (Draw-Tite, Reese), 800-632-3290, www.draw-tite.com, www.reeseprod.com
Comfort Ride, 844-873-5010, www.comfortridehitch.com
Curt Manufacturing, 877-287-8634, www.curtmfg.com
Demco, 800-543-3626, www.demco-products.com
Husky Towing Products, 877-544-4449, www.huskytow.com
PullRite, 800-443-2307, www.pullrite.com
Torklift International, 800-246-8132, www.torklift.com
 Weight-Distributing Hitches
There is no shortage of choices when it comes to WD hitches, and while the most economical ones will work, spending a little more on a higher-end system will result in a better towing experience.

Andersen, 800-635-6106, www.andersenhitches.com
Blue Ox, 800-228-9289, www.blueox.com
Cequent (Draw-Tite, Reese), 800-632-3290, www.draw-tite.com, www.reeseprod.com
Curt Manufacturing, 877-287-8634, www.curtmfg.com
Fastway Trailer Products, 877-523-9103, www.fastwaytrailer.com
Hensley Manufacturing, 800-410-6580, www.hensleymfg.com
Husky Towing Products, 877-544-4449, www.huskytow.com
Progress Manufacturing (Equal-i-zer), 800-478-5578, www.equalizerhitch.com
ProPride, 800-960-4767, www.propridehitch.com
PullRite, 800-443-2307, www.pullrite.com
Torklift International, 800-246-8132, www.torklift.com
 Trailer-Brake Controllers
In conjunction with the application of the brakes on a tow vehicle, brake controllers activate the electric brakes on the trailer, helping to slow the whole combination more effectively and safely. Many tow vehicles come with integrated trailer-brake controllers; if not, they may be prewired for one, which makes installation easier.

 TIP: If you’re willing to spend a little more money, opt for a proportional brake controller, such as an inertia-based model, instead of a time-based controller.

Cequent (Hidden Hitch, Tekonsha), 800-632-3290, www.hiddenhitch.com, www.tekonsha.com
Hayes Towing Electronics, 800-882-1204, www.hayesbc.com
Hensley Manufacturing, 800-410-6580, www.hensleymfg.com
Hopkins Towing Solutions, 800-835-0129, www.hopkinstowingsolutions.com
Tuson RV Brakes, 800-968-8766, www.direclink.com


 

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