What’s In a Fulltime RVers Toolbox?

We hear this question a lot from folks heading out to fulltime in an RV.

We are cleaning out the garage and wondering what tools we should take on the road with us.

The tools you need depend on what all you are carrying with you while running down the road.

RV

RVs are relatively simple beasts (the phrase ‘sticks and staples’ has some truth to it). Most of your tool needs will be for tightening screws, replacing faucets, hanging towel bars or curtains, making shelves, etc so basic hand tools are all you’ll need.

Tow or Towed Vehicle

If you have significant tow or towed vehicle issues (blown transmission, leaking radiator, exhaust leaks, etc) you’ll probably have to hire a mechanic to fix it for you. You can’t carry the tools big enough to deal with these troubles nor will most campgrounds be cool with you swapping an engine while the family has S’mores around a campfire.

Smaller issues like flat tires, frayed wires, burnt out headlights or taillights etc. will also require a basic set of hand tools along with a 1/4” and 3/8” socket set.  A set of Torx wrenches and Allen wrenches might come in handy as well.

Other Toys

Past the basics, other tool needs will depend on what toys you carry with you. Bikes require metric wrenches. Inflatable kayaks need repair kits.  Motorcycles, quad-runners, or hard-sided kayaks will have their own speciality tool needs. We carry bikes and inflatable kayaks so have the related metric wrenches, Allen wrenches, patches and PCV glue.

Other Hobbies

I like to mess around with vintage tech gear, revising old radios into bluetooth speakers and making sculptures out of the old parts. If you have non-transportation hobbies they will require extra tools and supplies. I got rid of a Dremel tool when we left our sticks and bricks house, had no need for one for several years, and then needed to buy another Dremel set for this new hobby.

Tool Storage

I hate rattles.

Ditching Suburbia Sticker

Ditching Suburbia Sticker Sticker up your RV, boat, or water bottle with these Ditching Suburbia stickers from StickerMule.

They're approximately 3" x 3" and made from premium vinyl designed for outdoor use. They can even be run through a dishwasher.

I carry everything in soft-sided things so it can be “smushed” around and so that it doesn’t rattle.

For hand tools I bought nice tool rollups that keep things organized, compact and easy to carry. For my primary tools I purchased this rollup on Amazon and have been well pleased with it. It holds 90% of the stuff I need, has held up well, and cinches up to carry nicely.

For the miscellaneous tools and supplies I bought a selection of wide-mouthed zippered toolbags. Mine came from Sears and have mostly held up well with one of them starting to rip out after nearly 5 years use.

Other supplies go in industrial-strength padded zippered pouches that I bought at a HermanMiller company store years ago (I’d love to find more of them).

A Photo Inventory

For more specific idea of what I carry I emptied out my truck toolbox and photographed the contents. Scan the photos below for ideas of what tools fulltime RVers need.

A selection of bungees cords and ratchet straps for carrying kayaks on the truck, stacks of camp chairs to another campsite, etc.

A selection of bungees cords and ratchet straps for carrying kayaks on the truck, stacks of camp chairs to another campsite, etc.

Random supplies like zip ties, tape (masking, duct, packaging), soldering iron and solder, extra wire, PVC cement etc.

Random supplies like zip ties, tape (masking, duct, packaging), soldering iron and solder, extra wire, PVC cement etc.

Air hose and pressure gauge for use with our on-board air compressor.

Air hose and pressure gauge for use with our on-board air compressor.

Jumper cables, caulk and caulk gun

Jumper cables, caulk and caulk gun

Tow strap and 8-ton bottle jack

Tow strap and 8-ton bottle jack

Dremel with various attachments

Dremel with various attachments

A corded drill is my only power tool. I also carry drill bits and screwdriver bits, cutoff wheel, wire brush, C-clamp.

A corded drill is my only power tool. I also carry drill bits and screwdriver bits, cutoff wheel, wire brush, C-clamp.

Tool Rollup all rolled up.

Tool Rollup all rolled up.

Tool Rollup unrolled shows pliers, screwdrivers, vice grips, wire strippers, 3/8

Tool Rollup unrolled shows pliers, screwdrivers, vice grips, wire strippers, 3/8" and 1/4" sockets, level, utility knife, electical crimper, etc.

A secondary rollup holds less-used tools like hammer, various small saws, larger wrenches, allen wrenches, tin snips.

A secondary rollup holds less-used tools like hammer, various small saws, larger wrenches, allen wrenches, tin snips.

A hardware and supplies bin (similar to this one) holds wood and sheet metal screws, trim nails, various bolts, 12v wires, fuses, connectors, hose clamps, spare headlights etc.

A hardware and supplies bin (similar to this one) holds wood and sheet metal screws, trim nails, various bolts, 12v wires, fuses, connectors, hose clamps, spare headlights etc.

Another soft-sided bag holds silicone, WD-40, Paint thinner, power steering and brake fluid. etc.

Another soft-sided bag holds silicone, WD-40, Paint thinner, power steering and brake fluid. etc.

All fits in the truck toolbox along with Lynx Levelers, truck stove, other truck fluids, etc.

All fits in the truck toolbox along with Lynx Levelers, truck stove, other truck fluids, etc.

My jumper cables and air hose are now stored in these cable organizers.

My jumper cables and air hose are now stored in these cable organizers.

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Update

Recently I left my truck toolbox unlocked and overnight most of these tools were stolen. The photos I had taken for this post were crucial to file the insurance report and to restock my toolbox.

I ordered another tool rollup from Amazon along with some cable organizers for my jumper cables and air compressor hose. I went to Lowes and replaced my handtools with their Krypton brand. I was also able to find replacement tool bags for the miscelleneous stuff at Lowes.

11 Comments What’s In a Fulltime RVers Toolbox?

  1. Picture of Kerry DeanKerry DeanAugust 15, 2016

    Very nice article Mike.  All new tools….......yippie.

  2. Picture of BoyinkBoyinkAugust 15, 2016

    Actually, I’d pay a ransom to have my old tools back. These new ones have no soul.

  3. Picture of KimKimSeptember 18, 2016

    Great help!  We are just at the purging stage so these are great tips on what to keep and how to stow.

  4. Picture of Gerry StrohlGerry StrohlSeptember 29, 2016

    We are in the purging stage ...first to go is the mechanics’ tool chest on wheels.  I wholeheartedly agree with using softsided tool bags.  This versatile zippered toolbag from Lowes has become my primary tool carrier bit.ly/2ddM8ib Thanks for the “inside look” around your toolbox.

  5. Picture of Racheal BurdickRacheal BurdickDecember 23, 2016

    Im getting ready to buy a travel trailer to live in while finishing up my degree at the JC… then I will take it with me when I transfer. My father offered to put together a tool set for me to have on hand.

    Any suggestions as to what i should have?
    thank you,

  6. Picture of ThomasThomasJune 27, 2017

    Thanks Michael. Timely article for me as I’m beginning to purge tools that I’ll no longer need when we go full time in September

  7. Picture of Marilyn CMarilyn CAugust 17, 2017

    This is a very helpful article. I have to brag on my husband here a little, though. He actually did change out our Jeep’s radiator while in the parking lot of Advance Auto in Beaver, WV, last month. We were in a road trip, without our camper, with very few tools with us. We were delighted to learn that Advance Auto will loan you tools! I don’t know if all auto parts stores do this, but it sure saved our trip! So, I guess I’m bragging on my husband and Advance Auto.

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