It can be tough figuring out what to buy a van lifer. Campervans are small and can’t fit loads of stuff. You don’t want your thoughtful gift to end up in a landfill or at Goodwill.
But there are certain campervan gifts any seasoned camper will love.
As a van lifer myself, these are items I’ve tested and love when I’m living in my Chevy Astro van.
Here are my camping gift ideas.
1) Packing cubes for campervan storage
My clothes were a rumpled mess before I started using these packing cubes in my campervan. This campervan gift idea is great for people trying to stay organized on the road.
I use an assortment of small and larger packing cubes in my Chevy Astro, where I store all my clothes in one ottoman! Van lifers can organize their stuff by type of clothes, or season.
I started out with these packing cubes from Compass Rose. They are small, but great for compressing clothes in a campervan. Plus, they are affordable!
2) A compact camping table for outdoor cooking
I can’t go anywhere without this GCI compact camping table from REI. It’s great for cooking, putting a jug of water or making morning coffee.
Also, we’ve used it for eating dinner and having a glass of wine in the evenings and makes one of many perfect campervan gifts for that van lifer who’s hard to buy for.
This camping table has extendable legs and folds down to a very small, flat size for storage. I can’t recommend it enough!
3) A collapsible water jug
A collapsible water jug is a must-have for anyone living in a campervan. We have a two-gallon jug and always try to keep it full. You never know when you might need water when living the van life.
We’ve used this jug to wash our hands, do dishes, store water for hot days, etc. Plus, it folds down to almost nothing when not in use.
4) A collapsible camping chair is a great campervan gift
We use these tiny camping chairs constantly when traveling in our Chevy Astro van. They fold down to almost nothing and are comfortable when set up.
Just recently I set up a chair on the beach to watch the sun go down. These compact camping chairs only weight a few pounds, and are small enough to fit in a backpack. Perfect for a van lifer to take down to a lake or a river to sit and read a book.
5) Darn Tough Socks
Darn Tough socks are our absolute favorite socks. My boyfriend Tom and I gift each other these socks at holidays and birthdays, and they’re amazing. They work for lounging, camping, hiking and sleeping in cold weather.
I have to admit I’ve worn these socks for several days, without any type of smell of funkiness.
Darn Tough socks are made in Vermont from fine gauge Merino wool, which is naturally antimicrobial and antibacterial. Socks make such a perfect campervan gift because few people buy them for themselves!
6) Rumpl Puffy Blankets for chilly mornings
Nothing is better than a cozy blanket to wrap around yourself when reading a book in a campervan or sitting outside with morning coffee. These Rumpl Puffy Blankets are light and packable, fitting into a small, waterproof stuff sack when not in use.
These awesome blanket are made with the same warm synthetic materials found in premium sleeping bags and puffy jackets, and are durable, waterproof and resistant to odors.
Many van lifers swear by these awesome blankets.
7) Microfiber Towel
These small Wolfyok microfiber towels work like a dream and are small enough to pack into a campervan. We use ours all the time! Microfiber towels are absorbent and quick-drying – they dry much faster than a terry cloth or cotton towel.
They’re also lightweight and compact, weighing only 8 ounces. We’ve taken microfiber towels backpacking and hiking, and love their portability and performance.
8) Solar Lantern for camping
There have been many nights sitting at a camping table with a headlamp wishing I had an awesome solar lantern. Goal Zero makes great products and is a reputable solar power company. This Goal Zero Lighthouse 400 not only lights up a campsite, but its powerful lithium-ion battery recharges phones and tables when off-grid.
This lantern can run up to 48 hours and only weighs a little over one pound. Plus, it has collapsible legs for convenient storage – perfect for a campervan!
9) Bluetooth Portable Speaker
I can’t tell you how often we use our Bluetooth portable speaker. It’s great for our sailboat and for our campervan combined! A Bluetooth portable speaker is small enough to store, but packs a big punch for music. Who wants to listen to music from a smartphone speaker?
We use the Sony XB-20 with Extra Bass and it’s been more than enough to play our favorite hits.
10) JetBoil Backpacking Stove
I can’t say enough about our JetBoil stove. It’s not only awesome for backpacking, but for van life, especially for someone who doesn’t have a kitchen in their van (like me).
This JetBoil heats up water to boiling within a couple minutes – great for making that morning cup of coffee or warming up with a cup of steaming ramen.
It’s also super lightweight and portable, so can be taken backpacking or on a day hike to heat up food or coffee on the go. One of many great campervan gifts!
11) Car Battery Self Jumper
We own one of these, and think they’re a necessity for someone who’s traveling on backcountry roads where another car might not be seen for days. This powerful battery jumper is just the ticket for a van lifer who accidentally left their lights on while out on a day hike.
12) Cell Phone Booster
If you want to do a little splurge for the van lifer in your life, you might consider buying them a WeBoost Cell Phone Booster. These are great for people who need to work from a computer while living in their campervan, like me.
I love my cell phone booster, and you can read my review here for more info: WeBoost Review: The best cell phone signal booster
13) Jackery Explorer 500 portable power station
I just spent a lot of time testing this Jackery 500 portable power station. It’s great for someone who doesn’t want to spend time putting up an extensive solar system in a campervan.
This portable power station charges either from a wall outlet or a solar panel, and has enough power to run a small fridge for hours.
If you’d like to see my review and experience, head here: Jackery Explorer 500 Review
Living in a campervan means you don’t have a lot of space, and no space to lug around a bunch of books. I’m addicted to my Kindle Paperwhite for ease of use and portability, plus, I’ll never be without a book!
A Kindle can be connected to a hotspot signal to download a new book on the go. Plus, the Kindle Paperwhite, which I own, is backlit and can be read in a van without disturbing a sleeping partner.
I go everywhere with my Kindle, and hope I never have to go without! Also, the new Kindle Paperwhite is waterproof – amazing!
15) Go Sun Solar Oven
This is another great gift idea for a van lifer – as most of us don’t have ovens in our vans! The Go Sun Solar Oven is an amazing invention – it’s small, light-weight, and fits into a sturdy 7.5-pound carrying case with handles when not in use.
The stoves can be completely submerged and are rugged and durable. You can make cookies, bread, hot dogs, hamburger meat, etc. in this little oven fit for a campervan.
16) National Parks Annual Pass ($80)
The America the Beautiful Parks Pass is something Tom and I buy every single year. It saves so much money given that the typical entry into a national park is $30! This would make a great gift for any van lifer on your list.
I know I’d be thankful for it!
17) Gift cards! ($$ up to you!)
No van lifer will ever be upset to get a gift card as a present. Not only do they not contribute to “stuff”, they are invaluable for someone living on the road. Here are ideas for the best gift cards to buy van lifers:
- Fuel gift card
- Amazon gift card
- REI gift card
- Trader Joe’s gift card (have to buy in-store)
- WalMart gift card
- Flying J/Pilot truck stop gift card
18) The lifestraw campervan gift idea
The lifestraw makes a truly unique campervan gift. This “in-case-of-emergency” straw filters up to 1,000 liters of contaminated water. This could be a lifesaver for a camper who’s found themselves in the middle of nowhere with no safe water source.
The lifestraw fits in the palm of your hand, and is easy to carry on backpacking and hiking adventures. A wonderful camping gift for anyone who loves being out in nature.
19) A campervan conversion sourcebook
This one is perfect for someone who wants to live the van life but hasn’t started yet. The Sprinter RV Conversion sourcebook is a detailed, step-by-step guide to building out a campervan. Don’t let the name fool you – the information in this book can be applied to any type of campervan.
The Sprinter RV Conversion Sourcebook is 378-pages of pure conversion gold, written by Greg Keith, who is currently on his THIRD Sprinter van conversion. I’d say this guy knows what he’s talking about.
It teaches about solar installation, refrigeration, laying out a campervan, etc.
20) Remote Work for Nomads
Remote Work for Nomads is an online course I created to help people living in campervans learn how to make money on the road.
If the van lifer you know is struggling with making money and living in a van, this is the perfect course.
Not only is it affordable learning, but it helps pave the way for an independent income. Any van lifer’s dream!