Saturday, 17 December 2011

Top 10 Essential Caravan Equipment - Dummy's Guide!

I've put together a top 10 essential caravan equipment list, not only for those who are thinking about getting a caravan for the 2012 season but also for all you old hands who maybe thinking of replacing or upgrading your kit.

In no order, just as I think of them.

Electric Hook Up Cable, now, before I had a caravan I wouldn't of had a clue what a hook up cable was or indeed if I needed one. Your caravan or motor-home normally has two different ways of getting electrical power, either from it's on board batteries, or by plugging into the mains on site. To plug into the mains on site you are required to have a special cable, commonly known as a hook up cable, or EHU cable. These are normally bright orange in colour with special plugs either end. You cant just use a 3 pin plug electrical extension reel!

They come in various lengths, but I would suggest you go for the longest you can, say 25 metres, and if your like us and want to be fully prepared have two of them!

Then if one fails, or becomes damaged you will always have power, not only that but you cant always be sure of getting close to a hook up point! This doesn't happen very often but it can happen!

One thing to do though is always check your cables on a regular basis, just run the cable through your fingers (with it unconnected)! and look for splits, cracks and nicks to it, dont repair it, buy another, 240v running through yr fingers is not a good idea.

25 Metre Electric Hook Up Cable

Aquarolls. Until we started living in our caravan we did not realise exactly how much water you tend to get through! We have two aqua-rolls, these are like barrels which you can hook a handle over each end and push or pull depending on how your feeling! Really great as they save carrying heavy water containers, the handles also come apart for easy storage.

They generally come in two different sizes, 29 litres and 40 litres, although I have seen a 50 litre one.

In my own humble opinion I would like to suggest 2 x 29 litre aqua rolls. Why? because if you work on the principle that each 29 litre roll weighs when full 29Kg then its easier to stand up and move about a 29 litre roll than a 40 litre roll, let alone a 50 litre roll!

We use 2 x 29 litre aqua rolls, and each roll is more than enough for a shower, just make sure its full to start with or you may upset your other half if it runs out half way through! An early lesson 

Go for having two as well, you can be sure that when you do run out its just when you need it the most, so a simple switch over to the other roll is far simpler than having to wander off across a field to get water, especially if it happens to be raining!

The one below also comes with a filler tube, this connects to the tap and then you simply put the other end in the aquaroll, this stops you getting wet legs and shoes, we have all done it haven't we!

Aquaroll 29L Complete With Filler Tube

Grey Waste Container - Waste Hog. Grey Waste I hear you say, what the heck is that? Grey waste is your washing up water, shower and wash basin water, it has to go somewhere, you cant just let it drain onto your pitch, so you need a container to put it in. Specially designed ones like the Waste Hog which are slim and can normally fit underneath your caravan on a level pitch. The water from your caravan drains into this, then once full, off you trot to the grey waste emptying point on pitch, and empty out.

Just dont forget to have some piping from your waste outlet points on your caravan and possibly junctions depending on how many outlets you have so you can direct it into your waste hog.

We have three outlets on our caravan, they all join to a single pipe direct into our waste hog. 

Waste Hog For Grey Waste

CADAC - If you have been reading our blog for a while you will know that this bit of kit is my No 1 essential piece of equipment. I think they are brilliant! A CADAC originates I think from South Africa and its a gas powered BBQ, but not just a BBQ, you can cook all sorts on it. 

You only have to look back on our blog to see that we have roasted chicken, beef, lamb and pork, cooked chilli's, curry's, roast potatoes, yorkshire puddings, full english breakfasts, and a multitude of fresh meat, fish and vegetables with the CADAC's different cooking tops. From Griddles, Roasting Pans, Paella Dishes to even being able to use your own roasting tins! Infact i challenge anyone to find me something that you cannot cook on one of these! (Did I really just say that)!

This really is a versatile piece of kit, that packs up easily into a bag! A real must have for anyone who enjoys eating and cooking outdoors! I can often be found under an umbrella cooking or on a cold frosty night looking up at the stars. You cant beating cooking outdoors!

CADAC Carri Chef Deluxe

Head Torch. You can be sure of one thing, if your gas bottle runs empty it will run empty when its dark! Being a two handed job unless you are an octopus you need some way of holding a torch whilst this is done. A head torch also comes in very handy for emptying loo's and filling up aqua rolls. I know we all say we always do these things during the day, but life isn't always that simple is it! So a head torch is near the top of the list of essential caravan equipment.

LED torches being all the rage, and to be honest they are bloody good, a better, brighter light and longer battery life ensure that LED torches are the way forward. We have many different types but the head torch certainly gets used the most by me.

The more LED's it has the better and brighter it can be, most have different settings so you can have only half the LED's on at a time. Adjustable head straps mean you can have a comfortable fit, well, as comfortable as they can be, so no matter how big your head is, being elasticated you will find one that fits!

We have the one below, it works really well. Having bought some of the very cheap one's in the past this one has failed to fall apart and it does have a hard life, being used every night whilst out walking "China" dog.

Pathfinder 21 LED Headlamp Torch

Welly Boots. When we first started this full time lark, I suffered from a medical condition that I called "Campers Toe" I seemed to always have the front part of what ever shoes I was wearing wet! So a pair of Welly Boots is essential. I've tried cheap pairs which have lasted 5 minutes so a good trusted brand is a good idea!

As you an see they come in a variety of colours, so you can make a statement even in your welly's!

Personally I like the comfort of the shorter boot, having a generous calf, which is completely different from an onerous giraffe!

Traditional Length Hunter Welly Boot or Short Length Hunter Welly Boot

Melamine Crockery. When our first caravan was vandalised and pushed down a hill and through a hedge we saw the results of what happens when all your crockery is china as it all came crashing out of the cupboards and smashed! 

We now have a full set of melamine crockery, all though we still have our china tea mugs. I wont travel with out it. Unless I'm drinking out of china it's just not the same. (That's china porcelain and not "China" Dog)! Its also lightweight, which is also an important factor.

If your full timing like us, then I would advise against a light coloured set as they do tend to discolour with continued use. But for weekends and holidays, I wouldn't let that put you off.

Outside Seating. One of the attractions of being in a caravan, is that you are out in the fresh air, surrounded by wonderful countryside. So don't sit inside and watch strictly dumb prancing on the TV, which in my opinion should be left at home. Instead why not sit outside and talk to your other half! Or if you cant manage that at least sit outside with a book or dare I say it just simply relax and enjoy your surroundings!

To do this you do need to have a degree of comfort, or you will end up with pins and needles in your legs. We bought these when we first started, a pair of Vango Corona chairs, and worth every penny. With us they get a hard life being used almost daily, as we nearly always have the awning up so get used right through winter, and during the summer we are always outside! They are still in great condition with no problems at all, but they have faded slightly but this is to be expected considering the use that they get.

Three reclining positions, very comfortable, I've fallen asleep in it many a time. and they have beer holders in each arm, very handy indeed!

Vango Corona Camping Chair

Mattress Memory Foam Topper. If your caravan mattress isn't that comfortable get a piece of memory foam, cut it to size and use your sheet with the elasticated ends to secure it. It really is that simple. With this caravan, I thought the mattress was fine, but "M" didn't like it, so we did what I've just suggested and it works a treat. In fact its one of the most comfortable places I've ever slept in. As I've slept in many a strange place (read a post done a while ago) I do know what I'm talking about!

This option is much cheaper than having a mattress made to size and spec!

2" Double Memory Foam Mattress Topper
Bombay Saphire Gin. Yes, you cant have a caravan without a bottle of Bombay Saphire! I know its glass but a top tip with any bottle is simply place an over glove over the top of the bottle whilst travelling to protect it.

There is nothing better than after you have emptied out your waste hog, and filling your aqua roll to have walked on your new EHU cable without fear of being electricuted in your Hunter welly's as you start to cook on your CADAC and dish up your wonderful home cooked food onto your Melamine plates in the dark using your LED head torch, relaxing in your Vango chair sipping a Bombay Saphire gin and tonic before retiring to your memory foam bed!

Thankyou and good night.....................


  1. Hi Jools
    THis maybe the wrong place to post this comment but I could not see where to do it on your equipment web site. From this side of the world (NZ)using "Chrome" the equipment for sale does not fully display. I thought you should know as it maybe affecting you UK customers also.

  2. Hi Robin, strange as I use Chrome here and all appears ok? Not too sure what to suggest must be the difference between northern and southern hemisphere's!

  3. I'll blame the equator and I will have a look at my settings

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  5. I have another essential for me. A small extension on a roll to connect the caravan grey socket to the car tow socket to supply 12volt to run caravan lighting, power for phone charging, ignition for the gas side of the heating and fridge and to run the fan on the blown air. I used the previous caravan at all times of the year using just the car battery before I installed mains electric. We had been away in Dark December for ten nights with no problem. I just used the car at least to drive a few miles each day for a newspaper.

    More recently, with the present caravan. I was very pleased to have it when the outside temperature was -10C and the mains to the site was interrupted for over 10 hours. What was worse I had no working on-board leisure battery. We were leaving home about 10.30 on a Sunday morning when I found that the battery had dies and I need a motormover to get the van out. I borrowed a neighbours leisure battery to get the van out but, despite his protestations, gave it back to him as I said I could pick one up whilst away. In the event we arrived on site at 12 o'clock. By 1pm the awning was up, we were all set up having a sandwich and a pot of tea when the power went. Not sure when the supply was restored but I understand that it was in the early hours of the following morning. It also came in handy a few years earlier. We were booked on a caravan club site for a week (think it was in Devon but might have been Cornwall). No hard standings left and unless you had 4 wheel drive you had to be sited by the sight tractor. We pitched up (I had 4 wheel drive) on a part of the site that was not cut up as people didn't want the few pitches in that area as there was no TV reception). Ideal I thought. However the ground conditions were so bad that the mud just oozed up when you stood on the ground. We found a CL at a nearby pub. All tarmac but solid ground. No hook up. No problem.

    Easy T

  6. What a great list - we have everything on this list (incl the Gin) except the mattress topper. One for the list of 'must haves'. Great stuff!

  7. Fantastic! Am definitely going to pursue the Cadac. We use a smaller electric version however is now needing replacing and is defo not big enough! Put the Gin top of the list! :)

  8. Excellent, interesting and useful list.

    However I would like to comment on your inferred suggestion that you could use two cables together if you are further away from the electric point than 25m.

    The max length of a hook up cable is restricted to 25m for well thought out technical reasons. Over this length the resistance of the cable conductors, all be it very small, starts to interfere with the ability of the circuit breakers to operate quickly enough, in the case of an electrical fault.

    Modern RCD's are designed to be able to cope with this problem for shock protection, but why rely on that? My advice would be to move the caravan closer to the hook up, no matter what, or do without.

    The electrical regulations in the UK are more severe for caravan sites than your house, because they need to be!! Many years ago I got an electrical tingle when touching my caravan from the outside. The problem was traced to another van on the site which had been wired incorrectly which was putting a voltage onto the site earthing. This should, of course not, happen, but it did. It was a small voltage, but sufficient to give me a mild shock when standing in bare feet and touching the metal work on my van.

    If I could feel it, it could have been about a tenth or so of what could have been a fatal shock. The site owner told me the site had been properly inspected and tested and I believed him. It just shows how difficult it is to make something like this, 100% fool proof.

    Cheers and happy caravanning.
    Dave Bush

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  10. What a fab list. Will be going on our first trip in September and so I now know what we need.