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Set up a Comfortable RV Campsite by Using the Best Gear

Don has been an avid traveler and motorhome owner for most of his life. He shares his experiences along with valuable tips for RV owners.

My campsite in Rustburg, Virginia.

My campsite in Rustburg, Virginia.

RV Campsite Setup Ideas

Every outdoor camper, whether they own a large motorhome or a smaller camper trailer, needs to set up their campsite properly, with safety in mind at all times.

Some RV campers just want a simple campsite they can use for an overnight stay before they hit the road again the next day.

Other RV campers will plan on staying in the same campsite for a week or longer, and these people will want to set out a campsite that supports everything they want to do for this longer period of time.

If you plan on staying a while, you will want to set out all of your camping gear (i.e. coolers, grills, tables, lanterns, lighting, rugs, screens, and tarps).

Either way, your campsite should be laid out for maximum efficiency when doing what you want to do, as well as for camping safety. In this article, I'll be describing some of the best gear you can use as well as good campsite layout ideas.

Selecting a Campsite

When selecting a campsite, I usually choose a large site that is level, covered with plenty of gravel, and well-shaded. If possible, I also try to choose the site with the highest elevation, so that I can get a breeze and stay cool.

Next, you want to try to choose a campsite in the center of everything. At my campsite in Rustburg, I was five sites away from the bathrooms and showers, 300 yards away from an 11-acre fishing lake, and a five to six minute walk from the activity center and swimming pool.

Another thing to consider when selecting a campsite is the length of your stay. Here are my recommendations:

Short Stays

If you are just going to be at a site for an overnight stay or a couple of days, you can settle for a nice quiet site that is relatively small.

As for equipment, you should only need to pull out a couple of chairs and maybe a small grill.

Long Stays

For longer stays, you will need to pull out more of your camping gear, so make sure the site isn't too small. You'll likely need a couple of spare chairs for the occasional guest, a small or large rug, and some night lights.

Extended Stays

For a several-week stay, get a large campsite so you can use all your gear to make a comfortable, if temporary, oasis.

Picnic tables are one of the most frequently used pieces of equipment.

Picnic tables are one of the most frequently used pieces of equipment.

Selecting a Table for Your Campsite

You will always need some kind of table when you camp. I've included my recommendations below:

Picnic Table

Many campgrounds have picnic tables on all of their campsites. Some seat four, while others seat six. Since these are public tables, they are often warped, badly scarred, or even burned and stained. Because of this, I always bring a table cover for the tabletop and benches.

But don't take for granted that your campsite will include a picnic table. Make it a part of your campsite research to check if the site comes with a table and, if so, how big it is.

Storable Table

It is wise to carry a storable table. That way, if the campground doesn't include a table or you are expecting many guests, you have the required amount of room for sitting and eating.

Some people use fold-up tables. I had one of these, but it took up too much of my storage space. Now, I use a roll-up table, which is made with slats supported by crossbars and folding legs. It can be rolled up and stored very easily. It also comes with its own storage bag.

A handy, foldable side table.

A handy, foldable side table.

Side Table

It is always good to have a couple of cheap fold-up side tables for people to set their drinks and food on when visiting. They only cost a few bucks each and are really handy.

Many campsites come with a grill for the convenience of campers.

Many campsites come with a grill for the convenience of campers.

Selecting the Right Grill for your camping lifestyle

There are a lot of grills out there that RV campers can use. And every camper needs to find and select the one that suits their camping style best.

Fixed Campground Grills

Many campsites come with a fixed, charcoal-style grill. If you are hurting for storage space, simply use what is already provided, but make sure to confirm your campsite includes one of these grills by calling before you arrive.

Large Grills

I thought I was brilliant when I bought a two-burner camping grill several years ago. I spent a lot of money and purchased every accessory for it, including griddle plates, grills, a carry case with wheels, and so forth.

After the first time using it at a campsite, I began to realize what a mistake I had made. These are some of the lessons I learned:

  1. Don't get a grill you can't move by yourself without seriously injuring your back.
  2. Don't get a grill that is complicated to assemble and disassemble. This one had a pair of folding legs that would repeatedly drop down and hit my shins whenever I attempted to carry it.
  3. This goes along with number two, but the more parts, the more there is to clean and misplace.

Medium-Size Grills

A medium-size grill is perfect for RV camping. It should include:

  • Hinged top
  • Built-in thermometer
  • Ceramic-coated grilling surface large enough for four steaks
  • Small, removable grill surface for simmering onions, garlic, etc.
  • Removable grease catcher
  • Legs long enough to set on a wooden picnic table without charring the tabletop

Selecting a Rug for Your Campsite

A decent outside rug is a campsite luxury and will add a lot of homestyle comfort to your campsite. There are many shapes and sizes of rugs available, and they often come in different colors and designs.

A campsite rug is designed to:

  • Be water-resistant. It should allow water to pass through the surface and soak into the ground or grass beneath.
  • Be storable. It should be able to be picked up after a rainy day, swept off, folded or rolled up, and stored.
  • Be made with an open weave so light can pass through to the grass underneath, keeping it alive.

Large Decorative Rugs

When I bought my first motor coach, I ran out and bought a pair of very nice decorative rugs. These were 8x16 and could easily be folded up. But after I camped a few times and had to store, un-store, fold, unfold, and clean those heavy things, I second-guessed my decision. You should only buy one of these if you are an extended-stay camper.

Functional Roll-Up Rugs

If you mostly camp for short periods of time, get one or more smaller rugs. They should be made of a thin synthetic material and be able to be rolled up and stored easily.

Every camper should have a small mud rug to place at the bottom step of their RV door. By using one of these, there will be a lot less dirt, sand, and gravel tracked into the cabin. They only cost a couple of bucks and are worth every penny.

Every camper should have a small mud rug to place at the bottom step of their RV door. By using one of these, there will be a lot less dirt, sand, and gravel tracked into the cabin. They only cost a couple of bucks and are worth every penny.

The inventive camper can always look around and find a rock to weigh down their rug.

The inventive camper can always look around and find a rock to weigh down their rug.

How to Keep Outdoor Rugs Grounded

One problem with outdoor rugs is that the wind loves to blow them away. Murphy's Law ensures this will happen when you are away from your campsite. Don't buy an outdoor rug without purchasing metal grommets to place in the corners and along the sides.

If the campground is cement or you forgot to pick up grommets, try these other methods of weighing down your rug:

  1. Jugs of water situated in the corners
  2. Strategically placed chairs
  3. Stones situated in the corners
  4. Planks of wood

Selecting Chairs for Your Campsite

Below are some types of chairs I really like.

Director Chairs

The director-style chair is one of the more comfortable designs and is generally made of canvas. Some come with a small fold-out table on one side.

Backpack Chairs

Backpack chairs are popular for taking down to the beach. The straps are very convenient, leaving your hands free for other tasks. They also come with a storage compartment and beverage holders.

Folding chairs are great and east to transport.

Folding chairs are great and east to transport.

Folding Chairs

Folding chairs are never bad to have on hand. They are easy to store, transport, and fold. The best part? They're comfortable.

Reclining Chairs

These can be expensive, but for the added feature of a recliner, it is great that they don't take up any more space than a regular folding chair.

Foldable Stools

I keep one three-legged stool in my RV at all times. These are great for sitting by the fire or working in tight spaces.

Various chairs at my campsite.

Various chairs at my campsite.

Selecting Lights for Your Campsite

If you truly enjoy camping, enjoying the outdoors doesn't stop after the sun goes down. But in order to do this, you will need some outdoor lighting. Below are some options.

Lanterns are a camping must-have.

Lanterns are a camping must-have.

Campsite Lighting Options

Lanterns

I recommend every RV camper carry at least one outdoor lantern. There are kerosene lanterns, propane lanterns, battery-powered lanterns, and rechargeable lanterns available at nearly all outdoor or camping stores.

Note: For safety's sake, I do not recommend kerosene or propane. With recent advances in technology, there is no reason to carry flammable materials when you don't have to.

Light Strings

Light strings are very popular and come in many different styles and colors. I have several light strings and use them for extra light during the night. One set is a string of butterflies, and two are simply multi-colored LED strings

Solar Lights

Solar-powered lights are becoming more and more popular with campers because they are cheap, don't require batteries, and give off adequate light for four to six hours.

Solar Light Strings

These days you can pick up a 20-foot-long LED light string that is powered by a small solar collector/battery at the end, for only a few bucks. You can lay these out along your walkways and forget about them as they will often put out light most of the night.

Other Campsite Accessories

With the advice and recommendations given above, you should be more than ready to embark on a successful camping trip. Still, you can never be too prepared. Here are some other campsite accessories you might choose to bring along with you.

Having a fold-away cooking table can simplify your campsite.

Having a fold-away cooking table can simplify your campsite.

Cooking Table

I highly recommend a separate cooking table. This will allow you to keep the hot grill away from kids and clumsy people, and provides a space for the cook to keep all of their ingredients and utensils.

Footstool

I recommend bringing at least one of these little plastic wonders. Often, after you have leveled your RV, a large gap is left between the ground and the floor of your cabin. A small footstool can give you the boost you need. They can also be used as an extra seat in desperate situations.

Table cover weights will keep the wind from blowing your cover away.

Table cover weights will keep the wind from blowing your cover away.

Handy Accessories

Table Cover Weights

Table cover weights are popular with campers who use cheaper, non-fitted picnic table covers. They weigh just enough to keep the cover from blowing away, and many are decorative.

Outdoor Broom

Every campsite needs a good outdoor broom for sweeping trash and leaves from their campsite. I recommend one made of plastic.

Regardless of where you camp, always keep a can of bug spray handy.

Regardless of where you camp, always keep a can of bug spray handy.

Bug Spray

Keep bug spray on hand whenever you camp. I keep typical mosquito repellents nearby at all times, as well as a can of wasp spray.

Some people carry old tire rims with them because they make good fire pits.

Some people carry old tire rims with them because they make good fire pits.

Fire Pit

Fires are one of the best parts of camping. There's nothing quite like roasting marshmallows, singing campfire songs, and talking around a community flame.

Make sure to ask every campground about their fire policy before hitting the road. Some campgrounds do not allow fires, and others require you to bring your own fire pit. However, most campgrounds come with a fire pit built-in to each campsite.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

Question: What kind of grill is this red one and where did you get it?

Answer: The grill shown in my article is a Coleman model. You can find several versions on sites such as Amazon or Camping World and others.

I would recommend that you get one with a decent temperature gauge on it so that you can accurately monitor how your food is cooking.

THis one fits my personal criteria in that it easily fits in my RV exterior storage compartment and I can cook 4 steaks on it at one time.

Have a Great Day,

DON

© 2010 Don Bobbitt