Get in my belly.

Just because you’re living in a van, doesn’t mean you have to eat chili from a can. Get your camper van kitchen set up with these space-saving gadgets so you can start to enjoy some van-cooked meals.


Cooking in and around your van is easier than you think. A butane stovetop is compact, burns cleaner, and the canisters last a surprisingly long time (up to 3 hours). I prefer these because the base is solid, you have more surface area to rest larger pots and pans on, and you can fine tune the heat settings more accurately to help conserve fuel.

The other option is a classic 2-burner propane stove like the Coleman Triton, which use the ever-common green propane tanks. If you have the room for it and want the luxury of a second burner, these are proven and dependable.

Last, if space and money are an issue, and you don’t see yourself cooking very much, you can pick up a small backpacking stove like the MSR Pocket Rocket. They screw directly onto a small fuel tank, meaning these have the highest risk of toppling over if you aren’t careful.

highlight-arrow For a more in-depth comparison of stoves and their fuel, read our Butane vs. Propane Stoves post.

Water container

I went through one or two different leaky water jugs before settling on these. The 5 gallon jug is pretty much indestructable at a great price. I keep this as my main water supply when camping, and for those interested in installing a sink in their camper vans, two of these fit nicely next to one another to function as clean/grey water tanks. The 2 gallon water dispenser is what we use to fill up waterbottles and camelbacks, as well as a handwashing station for camp.

Ice Chests/Refrigerators

There’s a lot of options out there for keeping food and drinks cold in a van. If you’re running a solid solar setup that can produce the needed amperage to run a 12V refrigerator like the Whynter or Dometic then you are living large, my friend. There’s a good resource here in calculating if your battery bank can handle that. Another good option are propane refrigerators. Mini fridges like these are not something to skimp on, unfortunately. Inferior products are going to eat up way too much energy, or not get down to the temperatures you need to keep food from spoiling. (Looking at you, 12v coolers).

The alternative, (which I opted for) was an ice chest. A few companies have entered into the cooler game like Pelican or RTIC, both emulating the expensive-but-worth-it Yeti Cooler. Keeping ice frozen for over a week, you can see how these would be a suitable alternative to a refrigerator. But.. it’s also still a cooler. Prior to building our converted van, I had looked around for quality coolers under $100, and ended up buying the larger, well-reviewed Coleman Xtreme for car camping and fishing, and love it. It keeps ice for over 4 days at a fraction of the cost of the high-end coolers. So for our van, I bought the baby-brother – a Coleman Xtreme 28 quart, which has just enough room for some beers, deli meats and dairy items.

Note: Another option, if you’re looking for the week-long ice capabilities of a Yeti cooler at a fraction of that crazy price, check out this DIY insulated cooler video, and you can easily make any second-hand cooler into a kickass cooler.

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