From pressurised showers to shoe deodorisers, gear for vans and car camping is about striking a balance between comfort, cleanliness and packability.


Last weekend I bought accommodation in the Snowy Mountains. I also bought accommodation in Noosa. And a cheeky 1-bedder down in Jervis Bay.

Wow, Gear Editors get paid a lot huh?

Well… what I bought was a van.


10 Things I Wish I Had In My Van

Said accomodation had its maiden voyage to the Snowy Mountains over the weekend. That’s why item no. 1 on this list is what it is…


About 4 hours into #vanlyfe, a random lady in a surf carpark asked me how I liked my new Hyundai iLoad and if I’d recommend one. Sure! 

Although mine has already been fit out with a bed, drawers and room for surfboards and skis, the list of to-do’s (read: to-buy’s) remains long. 

So, I thought why not spend work hours writing a list of all the things that I’d like to take my new #vanlyfe up a level. (If you’re wondering, #vanlyfe must be spelled this way, and the hashtag is also mandatory).


10 Things I Wish I Had In My Van


I’ve already packed the wheels with a bunch of gear like a coffee filter, my camp kitchen equipment, ZOLEO Satellite Communicator, roof rack straps and camp rug

So, here’s what’s missing… after a chilly weekend at the Snowy’s. 

1. Rumpl Down Puffy Blanket

Rumpl are purveyors of very fine blankets indeed. They make them from the same technical materials that you’ll find in outdoor gear – like ripstop nylon and a range of insulation from recycled synthetic to duck and goose down.

We’ve been writing about quilts of late for the purpose of lightweight hiking and bikepacking. We separately reviewed the Alton Ultralight Top Quilt and the Sea to Summit Ember Quilt – both great items. 

I’m drawn to a blanket in a van since it’s easier to throw over yourself than something like the Alton Quilt which has the inbuilt foot box. 

10 Things I Wish I Had In My Van

The Down Puffy Blanket is made with a durable ripstop nylon fabric that repels water, stains and dirt and it’s stuffed with traceable 600-fill duck down to keep you (me) cozy without taking up much space at all.


Shop Rumple Blanket

2. Portable Esky – Yeti Tundra 35 Hard Cooler

For a van that doesn’t come with in-built 12-volt refrigeration, an option like the Yeti Tundra Hard Cooler seems to kill two birds at once – and then freeze the sh*t out of them. 

Mobile enough to whip out of the car and carry to a picnic spot, but solid enough to keep cans cold for days. There’s also the option of a Soft Cooler


Shop Portable Esky

3. Helinox Table One – Hard Top

A sturdy table is a must and Helinox are making some of the most solid and packable options out there. 

Our team swears by their hiking chairs and the table one carries on where they leave off with a generous 76cm x 57cm surface area, ideal for two, but a packed size of just 60cm long and weighing less than 1.6kg.


Shop Helinox Table

4. Biolite SolarPanel 5+

Solar power and #vanlyfe tend to go hand in hand.

This panel from Biolite comes with an integrated sundial and 360 degree kickstand to maximise rays.

The 3,200mAh battery can also store energy for charging later.


Shop Solar Charger

5. Kea Kit Ultimate Outdoor Survival System

We’ve actually got someone at this very moment, sampling the KEA outdoor survival system. They’ll be reporting back on their findings shortly in an in-depth review, but I’m confident enough from what I’ve seen to think this could be a do-it-all adventure kit that could live quite happily in a vehicle. 



It includes over 30 items and is completely modular, so you can add and subtract what you think you’ll need.

Most critical to #vanlyfe would be the first aid kit and tools box, so if you didn’t want to commit to all of the above, those two are musts. 


Shop Survival System

6. Camping Shower – Nemo Helio LX Portable Camping Pressure Shower

Unlike most camp showers that needed to be suspended above you for it to work with the help of Newton’s theory, the Nemo Helio can stay firmly on the ground and deliver ample pressure to wash the #vanlyfe away.

It works by pressurizing a 21 litre tank with a foot pump. They say a few extra pumps during use and you’ll have pressurized water for 7-10 minutes. 

A lot warmer than jumping in Lake Jindy!


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7. Sea to Summit Airlite Towels

While vans can pack a lot in, it’s worth economising where you can. I’ve found Airlite towels are hard to beat in this department. They dry uber quick and come in a range of sizes – most of which would fit into a glovebox and the smallest of which is about the size of a ping pong ball!


Kate Donald recently reviewed the Airlite collection and considers it ‘a must-have for hikers wanting to save on pack weight.’ 


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8. Leatherman Signal Multi-Tool

Leatherman is really saving my soft keyboard fingers here. Instead of having to write a list of ‘10 tools yadda yadda’, this single tool does it all in one. 



It’s got all the traditional leatherman tools like pliers, saw, can and bottle opener, awl, a variety of hex and Leatherman bit drivers, and combo knife blades. But, it’s also got some emergency tools like a fire-starting ferro rod, and an emergency whistle.


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9. Shoe Deodoriser – Boot Bananas

I already have a pair of these. They’re currently punching well above their weight, rotting in my climbing shoes — they turn brown when they near the end of their sweet-smelling lives. 

So, I want another pair, and I want to spread the good word if you haven’t heard of them. 

Boot Bananas are made from naturally absorbent salts, minerals and plant extracts with lavender, lemon, patchouli and tea-tree essential oils all wrapped in a 100% cotton banana skin.’


Shop Shoe Deodoriser

10. Helinox Chair Zero High-back Camping Chair

Now we’re at the end of the list, space is becoming something of a luxury. The lighter and more packable the better, and when it comes to camp chairs, they don’t come much better than the Helinox range.

We’ve compared them to cheap knockoffs in the past and raved about the new High Back version.

The High-back range is built for those taller folk or those who would still rather a little extra height without having to sacrifice much on the packability front. Check out our complete report on the recliner here.


Shop Highback Chair

10 Things I Wish I Had In My Van


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