Once you’re ready to start van life, it’s important to have a tool box in your camper van for when you need to do repairs and basic maintenance. We carry a canvas tool bag in our van conversion that we frequently take out from under our bed when something needs to be fixed.
In this post, we share many of our most often used van life tools. Whether it’s to fix electrical problems, water leaks, or repair and inflate tires, this comprehensive tool list should have you covered for most basic camper van emergencies.
- 61-Piece Screwdriver & Ratchet Set
- Irwin Wire Multi-Tool
- Digital Multimeter
- Utility Knife
- Breaker Bar (With Bit Set)
- Painter’s Tape
- Heavy Duty Work Gloves
- Tire Repair Kit
- Viair Air Compressor
- MC4 Solar Components
- Rubber Washer Gaskets
- Mini Flashlight
- Tape Measure
- Cold Weld Epoxy (JB Weld)
- Caulking Gun
- DeWalt Power Drill
- Final Thoughts: Have Peace Of Mind By Bringing Your Own Essential Van Life Tools
61-Piece Screwdriver & Ratchet Set
Space is limited in a camper van. So instead of filling your small toolkit with multiple screwdrivers and rachets, pick up this compact and convenient 61-piece set. This handy set can also be used to repair computers, cameras, bicycles, and more.
We frequently use our set to tighten screws, bolts, and nuts that get loose from the constant driving.
Irwin Wire Multi-Tool
We love this tool because, just like with the screwdriver set above, it can do multiple jobs. This saves valuable space in your tool box. Specifically, this Irwin tool can:
- Cut electrical wire
- Strip wire jackets
- Crimps terminals onto wire ends
This tool handles wire between 10-24 AWG in thickness, which is perfect because most of the electrical wires in your camper van should be between these thicknesses.
Great tool for quickly cutting, stripping, and crimping on terminals. This will be one of your most frequently used tools when building your van's electrical system.
The digital multimeter is another one of those tools that can do multiple jobs with one device. If you travel long enough with your camper, electrical issues are bound to occur. Problems can include:
- Electrical wires coming loose
- Solar panel malfunction
- Dead battery
When an electrical issue arises, the first tool we grab is the electrical multimeter. With this one device you can view a battery’s voltage, verify solar panel output, check electrical continuity, and more.
TIP: If you’re on a budget and cannot afford a battery monitor, you can use a multimeter to calculate a battery’s state-of-charge (SOC) by viewing the battery’s voltage output.
Digital multimeters are a great way to get electrical readings all throughout the van's electrical system. They display battery voltage, measures DC current, and can help troubleshoot many electrical issues that you might incur in the future.
Every camper van tool box needs a foldable pocket blade. Whether it’s cutting rope, sharpening twigs, opening stubborn packages, or even stripping away paint, it’s always useful to have a utility knife nearby. Some people recommend really high-end knives, but we’ve found even a cheap one has adequately served all of our needs
Breaker Bar (With Bit Set)
This breaker bar can be used for numerous different vehicle maintenance jobs. But in our experience, it is mostly used for removing the tough lugs on our van’s wheels so that we can change out the tires. It’s a powerful and versatile tool that takes up minimal space in our van.
Good To Know: The tool that came with our new Ford Transit was surprisingly low quality. It rusted after a few years, couldn’t fit tightly around the wheel lugs, and made replacing tires a tough task. Check to see the quality of your wheel lug tool to gauge whether it’s worth replacing with this breaker bar.
This is a versatile and easily removable tape that has plenty of useful applications outside of painting projects. We use it hold items on our countertop when we drive, keep loose wires in place, close packaging bags, and more. And when we no longer need the tape, we easily peel it off and there isn’t any sticky residue remaining. In our experience, painter’s tape is much more useful than standard duct tape.
Painter's tape is something that comes in handy every virtually every step of the van conversion process. From painting, to vent fan installation, to sizing the countertop, painter's tape is always good to have around.
Heavy Duty Work Gloves
Work gloves is that one thing that we use for everything around our van and helps protect your hands from cuts, bruises, and stains.
We wear them to loosen our hose fittings, when we collect wood in the forest for our campfires, when we changed a flat tire, and even to unscrew our jam jars.
You might already have one in your garage, or your parent’s, but if not, these work gloves should come in really handy when you need them.
Tire Repair Kit
Our Tire Repair Kit is one of those items we hope never to have to use. And we still haven’t. But having a repair kit brings peace of mind when we drive off asphalt roads. Having this repair kit could be the difference from having to call for an expensive tow truck to come pick you up.
If you do get a tire repair kit, we recommend saving an instructional video on your laptop detailing how to use the kit. Because if you’re stranded in a place with no Internet, you won’t know how to repair the tire.
Viair Air Compressor
An air compressor puts air back into your tires when pressure gets low. This is useful for when you’re tire experiences a flat or even just a slow leak.
However, in our experience, an air compressor comes in much more handy to reinflate tires after we PURPOSEFULLY deflated them. We are constantly adjusting our tire pressure based on the road conditions that our camper van is driving on. When we drive on dirt, rocky, and sandy roads, we like to deflate our tires to increase traction. But before returning to asphalt roads, we use our air compressor to reinflate the tires to improve fuel economy.
A van life essential for getting your camper van out of sticky situations. Perfect for reinflating tires after you get a flat, or when you purposefully deflated your tires to cross mud, sand, and soft dirt.
MC4 Solar Components
MC4 solar components can be difficult to find when you need them to repair your solar system. You can’t just go into a big box home center to find them. So we like to bring a set of solar components just in case we need them. Specifically, we carry:
- MC4 Connectors – These get clamped onto the ends of the solar wires to and from the solar panels. Includes wrench set.
- Branch Connectors – Used to combine multiple solar panels in parallel.
- Fuses – Fuses a solar array wired in parallel.
Rubber Washer Gaskets
When there’s a leak between two plumbing components, one of our first courses of action is to separate the two components and add a few layers of thread seal tape. This helps ensure a tight fit between the two fittings that hopefully stops any future leaks.
This tape is also helpful when you connect to the main water supply at a campsite with your hose to prevent leakage between the connection.
For when you need to do work at night or inspect an issue under the chassis, a small rechargeable flashlight comes very handy. We keep one of these in our van toolbox and the other up front, in our glove compartment.
We’re always looking out for great additions to our van. But it’s important to know if what we want to buy will fit in the space we intend to put it. Will that rice pot fit in that drawer? Will the rug fit by the front entrance? Will the box fit under our bed? We carry a tape measure for these purpose.
Cold Weld Epoxy (JB Weld)
We carry this package just in case we need to do emergency repairs on our van’s frame and chassis, whether it’s to fill holes or repair cracks. Also works on fiberglass, wood, and plastics.
You might already have a caulking gun if you are converting your own van, but if not, you should pick one up at a hardware store or on Amazon. Having one, along with a tube of sealant, allows you to fix leaks, re-caulk kitchen counters, re-seal windows & solar panel bracket attachments.
DeWalt Power Drill
A power drill comes in handy if you need to repair, modify, or build something completely new in your camper van. While a drill hasn’t been our most often used tool, it’s one that you’re glad to have when you need it.
Budget Tip: Drills are a common tool. You, or your parents, probably have one in the garage. You could probably also borrow a drill from your campsite neighbor, who most likely has one in his/her van life tool box! If not, we list the drill we carry below.
Final Thoughts: Have Peace Of Mind By Bringing Your Own Essential Van Life Tools
We know that tools often aren’t the most interesting things we pack in our van, but we hoped you enjoyed and learned a little bit about what we carry in our van life tools box for unforeseen events.
As always, if there are some tools you think are critical for van life and that we left out, please don’t hesitate to contact us to let us know. We’re always on the look out for new tools and we love hearing back from our readers.
Van Conversion Essential Bundles
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