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 ports, with enough capacity to charge a laptop, phone, and other electronics all at the same time.
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 light 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 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 a mere 0.6oz. 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 11 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 240 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 240 Watt-hours of power at up to 200W (400W peak), charging in 3.5-5.5 hours via a solar panel, 12v accessory port, or wall outlet. With that, you can charge most laptops up to twice, a recent iPhone around two dozen times, or run a car refrigerator for four hours.
You get two 5V USB ports, and one 110V/100W AC outlet for small appliances like laptops, fans, or portable televisions. A 12V DC socket is also included for devices you’d normally power from a vehicle, such as lights, inflators, 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. These models have multiple outlets and USB C ports, and will be a better option for some people. I was 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 M1mobile 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.
There are dozens of Mi-Fi options suited to different needs and travel preferences, 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 over some friends during your travels. The Nebula Capsule II Smart Mini Projector 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.
The mini projector was made for portability, weighing in at 24oz and roughly the size of a tall can of beer. The three-hour battery life ensures you can get through nearly any movie with just one charge, and the factory charger juices it back up again in around two hours.
One of the most useful features compared to the competition is the Capsule’s powerful 8W built-in speaker, a huge asset when you’re watching anything outdoors.
It projects 200 ANSI lumens of brightness at a native 720p resolution as long as you remain within its recommended 100” max display. Don’t expect the same brightness as a traditional large projector, but it will more than get the job done in a campsite or RV park.
We tested the Nebula Capsule II recently, and found it was everything it claimed to be.Buy on Amazon
Interested in portable power and off-grid gadgets? We put together recommendations for the best portable batteries, camping batteries, and portable generators, as well as a full article dedicated to solar powered gadgets for camping and outdoor adventures.
Main image via Brina Blum, product shots via Amazon