For many travelers, a campervan is the ideal mix of accommodation, storage, and transportation all in one. They’re ideal for exploring the countryside or making your way from one remote campsite to another, far away from civilization and crowds of people.
As great as they are for moving from place to place and giving you somewhere to sleep when you get there, though, the tech inside many campervans hasn’t kept pace with the demands of the modern traveler. That’s especially true if you plan on working remotely from the road, where everything from power to connectivity can end up being a major challenge.
Most campervans come with a 12v socket and basic USB ports for charging a phone, but on smaller models in particular, that may be all you get. There might be a traditional electrical outlet for powering larger devices if you’re lucky, but usually only one. Even then, it often works only if the campervan is connected to a power source at a campsite.
Of course, just because the tech features you need aren’t built into your camper doesn’t mean you can’t add them yourself. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of our favorite gadgets for campervans, including solutions for charging multiple devices, maintaining a reliable Wi-Fi connection, and entertaining yourself on the go.
This BESTEK 300W power inverter is one of those gadgets we recommend time and time again. It’s the best solution we’ve found so far for safely and reliably charging multiple devices from a 12v vehicle accessory port.
The inverter will charge most electronic devices via the cigarette lighter in your vehicle. It has 2 AC outlets and 2 USB-A ports on the inverter, and an 18W USB C PD socket on the plug end. That’s enough capacity to simultaneously charge your laptop and most or all of your other mobile devices at full speed.
Be sure to check the maximum power draw of whatever you’re plugging into it, but in general as long as you avoid high-power appliances like electric heaters or hair dryers, you should be good to go.
The inverter boasts of being travel-sized, and it is, but it’s still a bit bulky if you’re a lightweight traveler. That doesn’t matter once you’re driving around, but it can be a factor before and after if you’re only renting a campervan for part of your trip.
The cable situation can also get a little chaotic in the front of your vehicle when you’re powering several devices at once and trying to find a home for them, the inverter, and the various charging cables. It’s manageable, but you just need to take a little care to avoid ending up with a tangled mess.
Remember to tuck the inverter, along with all of your other charging cables, well out of sight when not in use. This helps prevent vehicle break-ins, since a power inverter is a sure sign to a thief that you have devices worth stealing.Buy on Amazon
USB C Charger
You may not need an inverter at all if you have a laptop that charges over USB C. The Anker PowerDrive Speed+ 2 delivers up to 30W of power to USB C devices from a 12v car port—depending on your laptop model, charging may be no slower than from a wall outlet.
Before you buy, double-check the power output of your laptop’s current factory charger. If it’s 45W or less, the Speed+ 2 should charge it at a fairly similar speed. More than that, and charging times may be a lot slower than you’re used to.
The charger also comes with a second USB port that puts out a maximum of 19.5W. This means you could fast-charge most phones or tablets while still charging your laptop, and all with a gadget that fits in the palm of your hand. If your mobile device also charges over USB C, never fear: Anker makes a very similar model with a pair of USB C ports instead.
The biggest selling point is the charger’s size. Smaller than a credit card, it measures just 2.5 x 1.5 inches and weighs just over half an ounce. You could easily justify packing it for a longer trip even if you’re only renting a vehicle for some of your journey.
Looking for something a little different? Check out our complete list of the best car chargers for road trips.Buy on Amazon
Portable Generator With Solar Panels
If you want more power and have a bit of extra storage space, a large-capacity portable generator can be a huge convenience on the road. When paired with solar panels, a portable generator offers endless power no matter how far off-grid you end up.
Portable generators like these come in a variety of different types, depending on what you need to charge. Something like the Jackery Explorer 300 Portable Power Station can be paired with 60 or 100W solar panels to provide endless clean energy. You can buy the generator and panels separately or as a bundle.
The generator provides ~300 Watt-hours of power at up to 300W (500W peak), charging in 3.5-5.5 hours via a solar panel, 12v accessory port, or wall outlet. From that, you can charge most laptops twice, a recent iPhone around 30 times, or run a car refrigerator for four hours.
You get one 60W USB C Power Delivery port that’s powerful enough to charge most modern laptops, two USB-A ports, and two 110V AC outlets for small appliances. A 12V DC socket is also included for devices you’d normally power from a vehicle, such as lights, air compressors, or a car cooler.
If you plan to be off grid for days at a time or need to power larger devices, versions with up to 1000Wh/1000W are also available. I was very impressed by the Jackery Explorer 1000 when I reviewed it.
No matter which version you go for, if you have the space, this is a handy device that gives plenty of extra flexibility on any campervan journey.Buy on Amazon
Wi-Fi Range Extender
After power, the next biggest question is how to maintain a reliable Wi-Fi connection on the go. Whether you’re working from your van or just want to stream your favorite Netflix show, you need to be able to get within range of the nearest Wi-Fi hotspots and have a stable connection when you do.
Alfa has been making quality long-range Wi-Fi extenders for years, and has developed a kit intentionally aimed at RVs and campervans. The Alfa WiFi Camp Pro 2 is a long-range Wi-Fi RV system that will pick up a weak wireless signal from up to several hundred feet away, boosting and repeating it as your own personal hotspot.
The kit comes with everything you need, including a Wi-Fi repeater, outdoor wireless receiver, weatherproof aerial, and the cables to connect it all together. Setup only takes a few minutes, and after that you’ll have better access to Wi-Fi across all of your devices.Buy on Amazon
Unlocked Portable MiFi
When even the Alfa kit above doesn’t get you within range of a Wi-Fi connection, it helps to have your own data connection beyond just whatever your phone can provide.
An unlocked portable MiFi lets you drop in a SIM card from any provider, maximizing your chances of finding a signal when your usual cell carrier has little to no service. You can share your data across multiple devices, and it’s a good backup option for connection problems when you’re working on the road.
The Netgear Nighthawk M1 mobile hotspot is a great place to start. It provides 4G/LTE support throughout most of the world, dropping back to 3G as needed, which makes it useful almost anywhere your travels take you. You can connect up to 20 Wi-Fi enabled devices at once, more than enough for all of your own devices and a few friends as well, if you feel like sharing.
At 8.5 ounces, it’s compact enough to bring along on day trips as well, and the impressive 11 battery life means it’ll last most of the day as well. There’s also a USB port on the side, which lets you get a bit of charge back into your phone or other mobile device if you need to.
Back inside the RV, the M1 can double as a media server in the evenings or on rainy days. Plug in a USB stick, hard drive, or microSD card with some movies on, and it’ll stream them over its Wi-Fi connection to any device you have connected.
Note that Netgear has released an updated version with 5G support, the M6. It’s very expensive for what it offers, though, so unless you’re desperately in need of 5G coverage, we’d suggest steering clear until the price drops significantly.
There are dozens of other Mi-Fi options suited to different needs and travel styles, so it’s worth doing a little research to determine the best for your needs and budget. We compiled a list of our favorite unlocked mobile hotspots to help you decide. Just be sure to choose a device that’s unlocked so you can switch SIM cards as needed when you change location.Buy on Amazon
Our final gadget isn’t a practical necessity, but it will make your evenings more enjoyable and likely win you some friends during your travels. The XGIMI MoGo Pro is by far the best portable projector on the market, so if you’re looking to take movie night on the road with you, this is the best way to do it.
This projector was made with portability in mind, weighing 2.2 pounds. That’s not the absolute lightest on the market, but the Full HD resolution and 300 ANSI lumens of brightness are impressive for the money. If it doesn’t appeal, go for the Nebula Capsule 3 instead–it impressed us when we reviewed it.
The roughly two-hour battery life is enough to get through most movies on a single charge, or you can run it with the charger plugged in, via an extension cable if necessary. You’ll need a wall outlet for the charger: that’s rarely a problem in an RV, but may be more of an issue in small campers.
The pair of 3W speakers provides surprisingly crisp stereo sound, and are loud enough to comfortably listen inside your camper. If you’re watching outdoors or somewhere that’s particularly noisy, you can also connect an external speaker or soundbar via Bluetooth or the headphone jack.Buy on Amazon
Main image via Brina Blum, product shots via Amazon