Gear that makes RV travel way easier

Our goal at AIR GEAR is to help people travel safer and smarter, and a big part of that is helping Airstream and RV owners get outfitted with good stuff. 

For that reason, we often recommend items that we don't sell ourselves. If it's truly useful and/or necessary for safety, we want you to have it on hand so your camping life is more enjoyable. 

Here are 9 "basics" that I recommend to any Airstream owner.

cordless drill

1. Cordless drill

This is a handy tool for many purposes. If your Airstream trailer has manual (hand-crank) stabilizer jacks, a cordless drill with a 13/16" socket adapter makes setting up a snap.

Of course it's also handy for drilling holes for hooks, drilling out a stubborn rivet, replacing screws, and other miscellaneous repairs.

You can find good cordless drill choices at big box hardware stores. Get at least an 18 volt model, to ensure that it has enough "oomph" to do the heavy jobs.

2. Portable air compressor

In an unfamiliar town it can be a real pain to hunt down a gas station that has an air compressor. That’s why I always carry a portable air compressor and an extension cord. I can add a little air to the tires anywhere, anytime—and that’s a huge convenience.

Most late model Airstreams have inverters built in, so you can use a 120-volt AC (household power) air compressor with an extension cord. Personally, I prefer 12 volt portable compressors. They're inexpensive (less than $40), light, small, and come with convenient carry bags. If you choose the 12 volt variety, make sure it has enough cord to reach the 12 volt "cigarette lighter" outlet on your truck or Airstream.

Battery-powered compressors are also an option. If you choose one of those, be sure it's rated to fill truck tires (and be ready to plug it in if the battery is dead).

Look for air compressors at auto parts stores, hardware stores, general merchandise stores, or Amazon. 

bottle jack

3. Bottle jack

If you've got a single axle trailer, you'll need a bottle jack to lift the trailer and replace a tire. The jack that comes with your truck isn’t designed to lift an Airstream.  

People sometimes ask why we don't include one with the AIR GEAR Tire Changing Kit. It's because most Airstream trailers have two axles, and they don't need a jack. A bottle jack would add a lot of weight, bulk, and expense to the kit. If you need one, you can find them easily at auto parts stores, hardware stores, and online.  Make sure yours can lift the weight of the trailer.

4. "Lithium" LiFePO4 batteries

If you're a frequent off-grid camper and you're willing to pay the price, these batteries are revolutionary. They can triple your power capacity in the same space as a lead-acid battery. (You can read all about the pros and cons of a lithium battery upgrade in this Guide.)

You can find Battle Born, Renogy, and many other brands online, and at dealerships (generally for a lot more money).

5. Battery box lock

This is an inexpensive upgrade that can make you feel better about leaving $1,500 worth of lithium batteries in your Airstream while it's in storage.

AIR GEAR Battery Box Lock

Like all pre-2024 Airstream trailers, our 2020 Globetrotter didn't have a lock on the battery box door. So we developed this Battery Box/Utility Door Lock Set to deter theft. The locks are from a limited series that includes 10,000 possible combinations, making it highly unlikely that someone in the campground has the same lock you do. Although it's not an impenetrable solution, it does deter theft, and I feel better about the safety of my lithium batteries.

By the way, the battery box door locks on 2024 and later trailers can be opened with a common CH751 key. I guess that's an improvement over no lock at all, but a very slight one. You can replace that lock with our lock set.

6. Headlamp

I love a good headlamp for nighttime tasks outside the Airstream. It's so much easier to be hands-free when you're trying to get something done, like hook up the water connection or fix a small problem.

Headlamps are easy to find everywhere, even places like Wal-Mart and Target. You can find better ones at outdoor gear stores like REI. While you're at it, get a battery organizer for your spare AA, AAA, and 9 volt batteries (try The Container Store for that).

7. Power adapters

It's mandatory to have adapters so you can plug into 15-amp household outlets, and 30-amp or 50-amp plugs at campgrounds. This gives you the ability to get power no matter what's available. You can find these inexpensively at Wal-Mart, hardware stores, and RV stores. While you're at it, consider an extension cord as well, for those times when you're parked in someone's driveway overnight.

8. Wheel chocks

Chocks are generally not needed when the Airstream is parked on level ground, but when you need them, you want them to actually work. Sadly, the cheap plastic chocks that are commonplace really don't hold well on asphalt surfaces. For owners of tandem axle trailers I recommend the "X-type" chocks that go between the wheels and tighten with a wrench. You can find these on Amazon.

Single-axle trailer owners should look for good quality chocks with rubber or "no-slip" bottoms that hold to the ground more reliably than plastic ones. 

9. Cleaning supplies, grease, lubricants

Many times we get asked if there are special cleaners needed for Airstreams. The answer is "not really". Common products made for cleaning cars are fine for the exterior, for example.

You'll find many specific recommendations for interior cleaning in "The (Nearly) Complete Guide to Airstream Maintenance".

What's important is that you have a few items on hand, especially lubricants. Silicone spray will solve 70% of your Airstream squeaks, and we detailed how to address the rest in this blog. You should also always carry a bit of whatever grease is recommended for your hitch. These types of products are easy to find at local hardware and auto parts stores.

 

8 comments

Stan Gilbert

Stan Gilbert

Thanks for the information. I have always assumed I could use my F-150’s jack in case of a flat on our Airstream trailer. Why do I need to buy a separate jack (bottle jack) from that of the truck?

Barbara

Barbara

Love your newsletter. Many thanks. And … I’ll be back at the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge gain this winter, (as of the second week of October) volunteering in the visitors center. Come visit! And I’ll also stop in your store.

Donald N Wright

Donald N Wright

Ryobi has a neat little Air compressor that uses the 18 volt battery. Home Depot.

Rich Luhr

Rich Luhr

Stan, The jack for your truck is made to fit the jack points on your truck. The Airstream does not have the same jack points, and as a result the truck’s jack will not be safe.

Leonard Casson

Leonard Casson

Did you have to modify the back of your propane cover for the Hensley?
If so, who did you get to do it.
Thank you for all of the products you see at AirGear!!
I have a majority of them already on my trailer.

Hal

Hal

Yes I have a separate jack for my 2019 FC 19CBB. I don’t want to use the TV Jack because I would have to unload to reach the TV Jack. I put Craftsman jack with Craftsman cordless air compressor , Craftsman cordless auto impact drill along with knee guards, work gloves and rags.

Tom

Tom

Is there any reason not to use the x-type chocks in all situations as opposed to carrying a set of conventional chocks, say, for level ground, plus the x-type for situations where the conventional ones are less than ideal?

Rich Luhr

Rich Luhr

Leonard: There should be no need to modify the propane tank cover to accommodate the Hensley hitch. The hitch head sits well in front of the cover, and the black strut bars you see go beneath with plenty of room to spare.

Tom: I feel that the X-type jacks are superior for all situations, and would recommend them to anyone who has a tandem or triple axle trailer. For single-axle trailers you would have to use a convention style chock.

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