The indispensable objects in a motorhome

You have just bought a motorhome (either new or used) and you need to equip it. But with what? And within what limits?

Determine your objectives and your constraints

First of all, it is necessary to determine:

  1. The payload you can carry.
  2. How you will use your motorhome.
  3. The degree of autonomy you want to reach.

Well, let's be honest, since manufacturers and sellers are not, a motorhome, even new, always exceeds its declared empty weight. The following paragraph are probably only valid in Europe.

Worse: the law authorizes the manufacturer to underestimate the declared weight by 5% (according to the NF EN 1646-2 and 92/21/CEE standards), but once in your hands and with the registration card in your name, there is no more margin possible, so the 5% is taken from your payload.

This payload also depends on the weight of the passengers. The norm gives a rule that is quite complicated, but roughly speaking, for 4 people, the conventional load mass is about 350kg. Moreover, manufacturers often audit vehicles with smaller tanks (the law requires that the tanks be filled to 90%) which is not really in good faith.

Calcultator below:

How many passengers allowed passengers
Vehicle length in meters m
Number of methane gas tanks of 26kg
Gastank volume L
Allowed additional charge kg

This is to be compared with the difference between the GVW total authorized weight of your vehicle and the OWL empty mass in running order (which must be higher than this conventional load mass).

In reality, the easiest way is to have your motorhome weighed empty when you buy it (either in a technical control center or on an agricultural machinery scale) and to calculate the difference with the GVW, the cold shower usually follows, you don't have much room for maneuver.

So I advise you to weigh everything you put in your motorhome.

What weighs the most in general is water (often around 100kg for 100L of reserve), gas (26kg per full bottle) then come the accessories.

If you plan to use your motorhome to go camping, then you don't have to overfill the water tanks, nor take too many clothes.

On the other hand, if you plan to be nomadic, then all the fluids (water, gas, electricity) will contribute to extend your autonomy, and thus your comfort. In this perspective, you will naturally choose a bigger solar panel, a bigger battery and try to limit the waste of water, etc...

Similarly, if you intend to use your motorhome only in summer, you might be tempted by an air cooler (for nomadism) or an air conditioning (for camping). On the other hand, if you plan to use your camper in winter as well, then you should consider an additional heater (electric type) and/or accessories for skiing.

I have compiled a list of items according to the use you might make of them. It's up to you to sort out if it fits your needs.

In general, in complete autonomy, the length of time you can get depends on the most constraining element. If, after 2 days, your WC tank is full, it doesn't matter there is still 50L of water in the clean water tank, you will have to empty your tanks, and you will have to refill them with water. Obviously, the more you use your WC, the more often you will have to empty it.

As an example, 2 people who only use the RV's WC will fill it in 2 to 3 days. The more you use the public restroom, the longer it will take. If you are careful, a family of 4 can last 3 to 4 days with a 17L tank for black water.

Then, a gas bottle lasts 3 to 4 days in winter in negative Celsius temperature for heating. If you go to an area with electricity (even partial, 12h/day), you can make a bottle last a week, even two. In summer, a gas bottle lasts a little less than 2 weeks for the fridge and cooking and heating water.

Water depends on your use (if you shower every day like at home, don't expect to last more than 2 days at 2). On the other hand, if you use a washcloth and limit the use of water (especially for washing dishes), 80L can be enough for 3 to 4 days with 4 people.

The electricity comes from the engine and the sun. If you move frequently, you will probably not lack electricity, but you will always be recharging your gizmos. On the other hand, if you settle on a spot for several days, in winter, your electric expenditure will probably be higher than your solar production. It is then necessary to count 3 to 4 days of autonomy for a lead battery of 110Ah.

The essentials


A motorhome is heavy and therefore quite constraining in case of mechanical breakdown. That's why I recommend you to take an assistance contract in your insurance contract. This should allow you to avoid carrying a spare wheel (count about 50kg for the wheel + transport support + jack + wrench).

It is much easier to get stuck with a motorhome than with a car, because the weight is mainly on the cell (at the back) and the carrier is a traction (at the front). A little bit of mud, snow or sand is enough, so it is necessary to have de-icing plates to increase the friction of the front wheels.

Bailing plates

A folding shovel is also highly recommended.

Also, depending on the power of your engine, it is possible that important slopes (12 to 15%) are not passable (whereas it would be without problem with your car), which can be annoying without help to get out of a situation. In this case, a pulley block is recommended to pull your vehicle out of the area, with a tow rope.

If you plan to change your oil yourself, and unlike a car that can stand on a jack, jackstands are necessary. Take ones with a mechanical lock (not a simple folded steel sheet), 2 tons are enough for a 3.5 ton vehicle (you never lift more than a quarter of the vehicle)

A compressor is also necessary because the pressure of the tires (5.5 bars) is not reachable by the compressors in self-service in most of the stations of France. Don't hesitate to buy a model which proposes to reach 10 bars, because the maximum pressure announced by the manufacturer is always overestimated.

As for the electrics and tools, I recommend a set of wrenches (6 / 8 / 10 / 11 / 13 / 15 / 17 / 19 / 21) and an electric tester (many breakdowns on a motorhome are due to an electric problem) as well as a tool case because everything is fragile in a motorhome and repairs are frequent.

Another useful tip, if you park on a spot, is to attach the 2 doors of the carrier together, from the inside, with a strap. This way, even if you force the lock, it is not possible to open the door, because the strap holds it.


A basin fitted to your sink allows you to capture dishwater/food rinse water for immediate disposal after use (all the clean water you can dispose of lightens your vehicle)

A USB lighter is also a must-have if you plan to rely on more than just your stovetop piezo for cooking (or if you want to cook outdoors). Unlike a gas lighter, you don't have to deal with recharging this one, it is always functional.


USB flashlights are also necessary and can be used as a powerbank at the same time. It is convenient to have one for each person who has to move at night in the camper.

Multifunctional fans can also be used for these functions, in addition to cooling in the summer. The link below is a very quiet fan, with adjustable power and convenient to use.

Telescopic stools are also useful because they are very compact and light. They can be used all year round (as a footrest for the children during transport, but also under the camping table)

It is also necessary to equip yourself with kitchenware (and fabrics to space the utensils to avoid scratching them) and ideally with a pressure cooker (4L are usually enough), and a lid (in silicone for more lightness).

Finally, you must provide all the household linens (towels, sheets, dish towels, gloves, etc. ...) adapted to the dimensions of your vehicle.

And to refill your camper with clean water, an extendable hose is the most practical (15m are usually enough) with the different tap adapters: Expandable hose


Ideally, a good camping table is always useful. I recommend the ones that are rollable to the ones that have a folded in half panel because they are much more compact and light. Folding camping table

Also, good armchairs invite to relax. Rolling chairs are preferable to folding ones for the same reason.


If you plan to use your motorhome in the mountains in winter, it is essential to leave the grey water tank open to prevent it from freezing (even if you have a function to defrost it, it consumes battery power unnecessarily). In this case, put a basin under the tank which will freeze and will be easy to unmold:

10L Folding basin

A ladder is essential to clear the snow on your camper. I recommend you the CarBest folding ladder of 2.1m (because it fits in the length of the cargo compartment and weighs only 4kg)

Folding ladder 2.10m

An exterior windshield insulation is also recommended to limit heat loss (in addition to an interior insulation, if you have one).

An electric space heater is also recommended if you can plug in (it saves gas). Not necessary if you have a combination heater.

Summary table

Location Price Level Weight Importance
Bailing plates Stuck Vehicle 25€ approx 1kg High
Folding Shovel Stuck Vehicle 12€ 0.9kg High
Hoist Stranded Vehicle 90€ 8kg Medium
Towing cable Immobilized vehicle 20€ 0.8kg Average
Jackstands Mechanical maintenance 50€ N/A Optional
Compressor Road safety 50€ 0.5kg High
Electrical tester Safety 20€ 0.07kg High
Tool case Security 50€ 4kg High
Extensible hose Clean water 30€ 1.4kg High
Foldable basin Grey water storage 12€ 0.5kg Optional
USB Lighter Kitchen 14€ 0.07kg Optional
Utensils Kitchen 60€ 2kg High
Pots and Pans separators Kitchen 6€ 0.07kg High
Pressure cooker Kitchen 70€ 2.6kg High
USB Lamp Miscellaneous 20€ 0.07kg Medium
USB Fan + Lamp Summer 40€ 0.8kg Medium
Telescopic Stool Summer 20€ 0.9kg Average
Camping Table 140cm Summer 50€ 5kg Average
Folding chairs Summer 50€ 2kg Average
Folding ladder Winter 100€ 3.8kg Average
Windshield protection Winter 130€ 3kg Average
Auxiliary heater Winter 50€ 1kg Average

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