Australia - Vanlife Essentials

Updated: Nov 4, 2018

When we packed for our year-long roadtrip in Vinnie, he was almost packed to the roof. Two days before we left we had a huge meltdown and tried to do a big cull.

Here’s what we needed (and what we didn’t)!


1. Good stove – we had the Lido junior installed in Vinnie (with double burner and grill), but on hikes we used our Trangia or Jetboil.

2. Lighting – we installed lighting in Vinnie but found head torches super useful. Quite often we had to set up camp in the dark (as we stayed out watching the sunset) and having both hands free was essential. Also getting to a look-out or viewpoint for sunrise meant hiking in the dark – making head torches very handy!

3. Fridge – we have an upright Engel, mainly as it came with Vinnie. It’s much easier to take food in and out of but in the hot weather we found it was a lot more power hungry than the standard chest fridges.

4. Solar Panels/Power – we installed solar panels on Vinnie’s roof before we left, however they were only 80W in total. We ended up buying a portable 200W set on the road so we could free camp as much as possible. Since returning to Perth, we have replaced the solar panels with a thin flexible 200W panel and bought another 200W portable set (this time a lightweight set - 3.5kg only). Our previous set was closer to 15kg.

5. Inverter – absolutely essential, especially with how often drone batteries need recharging. Make sure you spend a little bit extra for one that outputs a genuine sine wave. We didn’t and it cooked the battery on James’ laptop (oops).

6. Dual battery system – given the amount of driving we did, this was a lifesaver for both charging the auxiliary battery and preventing any draw from our main battery. An absolute must have.

7. Water and water containers – we actually ran out of time (and money) to install a permanent water tank under Vinnie so we carried 15L containers from Bunnings. We were always cautious to fill up with water before going really remote.

8. Chairs/Table – we had a fold out table with two small benches and used this most days. The fold out aspect made it compact and we found we didn’t need individual chairs as well.


9. Toolbox – we took all of our basic tools and certainly didn’t regret it. Corrugations caused several of our panels to rattle off and having our tool box meant we were able to fix most simple mechanic issues ourselves.

10. Spare tyre + other common parts – fairly obvious but we always carried a spare fan belt, tyre and accelerator/clutch cables.

11. Spare oil + petrol – we checked our oil religiously, at least once a day, however that may have been more related to Vinnie’s 41 year old engine. We also carried a 10L jerry can on the roof but only really used it in Karijini National Park.


12. Lighter – we did a one day “bush survival course” and trying to rub two sticks together to get a fire going was nearly impossible. It was nice to know we wouldn’t have to resort to this if we got stuck. We really recommend the lighter from Dusk – especially as you can get free refills if you’re a member!

13. PLB – thankfully we never had to use this but for peace of mind, especially in remote areas, it was well worth it.

14. First Aid Kit (incl. snake bandages) – we recommend a larger kit to keep in your van/home and a smaller one to keep in your day pack. We made sure we went on a first aid course before we left on our trip and while we were very lucky (we only ever had minor burns, cuts and grazes) it was good to know we were prepared.

Earlier this year in Karijini we also witnessed a traveller slipping and falling – knocking himself out and nearly drowning i