It’s almost seven years now since we purchased our 2011 Keystone Cougar fifth wheel trailer. Over the years as I could afford it I’ve been adding, modding and upgrading things. If you have followed the blog for any length of time you know, I often publish RV product reviews. Most products are purchased by either Anne or myself and some are freebies sent out by manufacturers.
I strive to be completely honest with my reviews. I also try and update the reviews, months or even years later, after we have used the product for a while. I think folks appreciate knowing how a product or mod performs after some real-world use. Well, I’m back again with 20 more RV product review updates. I hope you find them helpful.
1 – See Level II Tank Monitor System
The See Level II monitor has continued to perform well on the fresh water tank and the bathroom/shower gray tank, however, it’s readings are inaccurate when it comes to the black and galley gray tanks. This is consistent with my original review back in January 2017. I have tried giving the tanks an extreme cleaning a few times since then and did manage to get them to read correctly.
But, once we were back traveling again they refouled. It appears it would take constant flushings to keep them working. This is something that is not worth it to me as we are often boondocking and don’t have the time or water to waste.
I personally don’t find it much of an issue though as the fresh water and shower tank are the most important to me and they are accurate. We rarely if ever have filled the galley first and the black tank level is easily estimated by the flushing sound.
In hindsight, I still would have purchased the See Level product. The panel display, buttons, and switches are a significant improvement over the OEM unit.
2 – TadiBrothers Wireless RV Backup Camera
Love this addition to the rig and wonder how I ever traveled without it. The few times I have forgotten to turn it on I instantly missed it as if someone took your cars rearview mirror. It’s called a backup camera, but my primary use for it is as a rearview camera. It’s so reassuring to be able to see what’s going on in that big blind spot back there.
The TadiBrother’s camera and display have continued to perform as detailed in my November 2016 Review. I’m pleased with the wireless connection overall only noticing glitches when in heavy urbanized areas.
My biggest complaint would be with the picture quality. I’m not sure if its the camera or the display’s fault but I find the image a little washed out and desaturated, especially when it’s bright and sunny out. Does the job but I wish it were better. Another negative is the price. As pointed out by many commenters, it’s pricey compared to similar units on the market.
3 – Winegard RV WiFi Booster
With over a year of use under my belt, I can say the Winegard WiFi booster works pretty much as advertised. Easy to set up and use. It maintains a reliable boosted signal to all our internet-connected devices in the RV. See June 2017 Review
We used it extensively while camped for four months last summer in BC. I set it up to hook on to a citywide network provided by a local cable company called Shaw. The Winegard maintained a connection with very little interrupts or disconnects. We called our local network on the Wingard router Hummingbird. All our smartphones, computers, TV, etc. connected to Hummingbird and could get online with good signal strength and a stable connection.
I like to listen to podcasts at bedtime with my smartphone. Before the Winegard booster that was almost impossible due to weak signal unless I had pre-downloaded them. With the Winegard WiFi booster, I was able to stream the podcasts to my heart’s content.
Not many negatives other than price seemed a little on the high side, and the unit had no 12-volt adapter. I did overcome that flaw though with a little mod of my own. I added an inexpensive 12 – 24 volt DC to DC converter and switch, so I can shut it off when boondocking. The mod has worked flawlessly so far.
4 – weBoost Drive 4G-X RV Cellular Amplifier
To complement the Winegard WiFi booster, I’ve installed and reviewed the weBoost Drive 4G-X cellular amplifier. I don’t find we need it too much these days as the cell companies keep broadening their coverage but when we do, I’m thankful to have it. There have been at least a half dozen times in the past year, or so it kept us online in a location where without it we would be virtually cut off. Many other times it’s made a marginal, flakey cell signal much more useful.
I’m happy overall with the installation. The mods I made have worked out well. I like having the on/off switch on our rig’s control panel and the way I mounted the antenna on the ladder rail. The Eternabond tape has proved to be a good idea to hold down the wire run across the roof.
The only change I may make is to acquire a directional antenna to further improve signal in fringe areas by having the ability to point the antenna at the cell tower. I’m told this will increase the signal strength compared to the stock omnidirectional antenna.
5 – Garmin RV GPS
Christmas 2016 I was excited to receive a Garmin RV GPS from my wife Anne, it had been on the wishlist for a while. Since that time we have traveled many thousands of miles with it aiding our RV trip routing plus those sightseeing/shopping days without the trailer in tow. Anne even took it to Scotland to help her navigate over there. All, we needed to do was buy the Great Britain maps package. About $70 versus having to rent a GPS. That was pretty cool!
Like any GPS I can’t fully trust it. It has led us astray a few times, especially when you start to explore rural or off-grid areas. We found it highly useful this past December when we traveled through LA traffic to Long Beach. It told us which lane to be in on the congested freeways and alerted us to traffic delays up ahead.
6 – Garmin Dash Cam
Another Garmin device I’ve used since December 2015 is the Dash Cam 20. So far no complaints, its done the job. The dashcam footage has been handy to have in the production of my YouTube channels trip report videos. Folks like seeing what the road to various camp locations looks like.
I’m quickly able to transfer the footage to my laptop for viewing and editing. I’ve started a playlist on the Love Your RV Youtube channel for interesting dash cam footage that gets captured. If we are ever in an accident, I’m sure the dash cam will come in extremely handy if its “one parties word against another.”
7 – GenTent Generator Canopy
Reviewed this product last April and put it to the ultimate test on an ocean bluff in Oregon. Check out the end of my video in the review blog post if you have seen it. 🙂 So far I’ve used it maybe a half dozen times to keep the generator dry when boondocking. It’s a much better option than having to stuff the generator under the fifth wheel front to stay dry. Noise and exhaust gases are a concern. With the GenTent and an extension cord, I can run the generator a safe distance in a quieter location for us.
So for folks that do a lot of foul weather camping, it’s worth having. When not needed it rolls into a small, lightweight package for easy storage. The only negative I’ve come up with is the assembly and disassembly can be a bit of a pain if deploying it for short stopovers.
8 – Honeywell FocusPro Thermostat
I’m incredibly pleased with this upgrade I did in January 2017. The auto switchover from cooling to heating is great to have. We spend a lot of time in areas that you need the AC in the day and heat at night. Now we just set our preferred temps for each and forget. The backlight is nice too; our old one was difficult to see at night.
The downside is the unit may not work on all rigs. I’ve had a few commenters and people email with difficulties making it work in their RV. There are so many variables to rig design, color coding, and HVAC equipment used in our RVs.
9 – NOCO GB150 Battery Booster
I treated myself in December 2016 to a NOCO GB150 battery booster. It wasn’t a must have but a want to have. So far I’m super happy with it. Thankfully I haven’t needed it for an emergency jump for our truck, but have saved four other travelers stranded on the road. It was a good feeling to help them out. They were impressed when my little booster box started there vehicle.
It gets routine use as a 12-volt power source for my air compressor and boondocking water pump. The powerful flashlight is also handy. I wish the box had a little more capacity amp hour wise, but I guess its all a trade off versus size. The built-in lithium battery hangs onto a charge well. The unit has been a big improvement over my previous lead-acid power booster box.
10 – LevelMatePro RV Leveling Aid
The early doubts I had when I reviewed the LevelMatePRO in May 2016 were solved by software updates to the smartphone app. But as I used the unit over the course of months I also noticed it went through batteries quite quickly. This must have been an early design goof up as the company has since started offering the product with an on/off switch included.
I didn’t want to fork over the dough for the upgraded model so instead modded my old unit by adding a simple toggle switch. It’s worked fine since, and I can report I’m on the same battery I installed almost four months ago. I just have to remember to turn it on and off when we depart and set up at each campsite. We’ve added it to our checklists.
11 – Clamp-On Amp Meter
I’ve only had it a few months now but wonder why the heck I didn’t get one before. It’s perfect for boondockers with solar. You can quickly check how all the different 12-volt circuits are performing. I use it all the time to get the best position and tilt for my ground panel. All those extra amps add up!
The UNI-T brand isn’t the best quality out there but does the job I want it to, and the price was right. I love the compact size. The only bad thing I discovered is the readout isn’t instant there is a bit of a lag to it. I’m sure the accuracy isn’t top notch being so cheap, but it is in the ballpark suiting my needs for a quick amperage check.
12 – Stove Spark Igniter
This October 2017 mod upgrade is much appreciated by my wife as she makes her morning cafe mocha on the stove top. The electric push button sparking is much nicer than the original mechanical turn style knob. I’ve found a single AA battery lasts a month or two.
Unfortunately, I have to report problems with the Only Fire Model I bought. First of all, it had four outlets, and I only need 3. I quickly noticed the empty pin would arc over robbing some power from the spark. I solved this by using silicone rubber to insulate it.
However another problem has recently cropped up, one of the outlets quit. I believe the arcing between pins may have damaged something. I think I’ll order a new spark ignitor as I see now they have a three-outlet model available. Thankfully they aren’t that expensive.
13 – EZ Snap Window Shades
This addition for enhancing rig cooling installed last summer has worked out well. We don’t need it too often when boondocking as we can generally have our choice of orientation. I like to point the trailer in such a way, so we don’t get the sun beating in the windows.
Even so, there is still one window gets morning sun. The slide out window behind Anne’s desk area. We used to use reflecting foil in that spot, but have found the EZ Snap does a better job there and we can leave the window open for a breeze to filter in. All and all I’m happy with the EZ Snap product. It’s simple to put on and off and rolls up for compact storage.
14 – Pet Cot
Last summers addition of a pet cot for Angie’s aging bones has been terrific, especially when out boondocking. When she was young, she would lay on rocks, gravel, and what have you but as she approaches her 15th birthday that can’t be fun anymore. She seems to enjoy the pet cot.
I leave the pet cot mostly assembled and just pop off the legs for travel storage. It lays perfectly on top of our camp chairs in the RVs basement storage. One extra perk is the beagle is dragging much less dust and debris into the rig.
15 – WasteMaster Sewer System
Since I built it in Summer 2016, I’ve been thoroughly impressed with my WasteMaster Sewer system setup. I see folks at the dump station struggling with hoses and connectors and having to rinse everything off when done and smile. I just roll in pull out my hose, flip open the valves and dump away. Once drained I close the valves and slide my hose back into the storage box. No muss, no fuss.
My initial concerns about the storage box not having enough clearance have proved to be unfounded. I’ve towed our trailer over seriously lumpy terrain, road culverts and over parking lot speed bumps with no issues. The box hasn’t come close to hitting the ground.
If you’re interested in a similar setup, just give my friend Doug at DrainMaster a call. He can sell you the parts, or they perform custom installs for folks at their shop in Hollister California.
16 – California Duster
Two years now and still going strong. I heard the California duster gets better at the job the more it’s used and it true! It helps keep Big Blue looking shiny and clean without water. It’s also perfect for keeping the solar panels dust free for max power. Thumbs up on this product, no complaints.
17 – Werner Ladder
Not sure why I waited so long to buy one of the Werner folding telescopic ladders but sure glad I finally did in Sept 2015. I likely have saved myself a fall from the rickety step stool I was using. I haven’t babied this ladder, and it still works as good as new. It rides in the back of the truck and gets left out in all sorts of weather. The only maintenance it needs is a couple of shots of silicone lubricant once in a while.
When we boondock, I’ve been using the Werner as a prop for my remote ground solar panel. It’s beefy enough to keep the solar panel in place even against strong wind gusts. I just bungee it on.
18 – Fan-Tastic Vent Covers
I installed my first of three Fantastic Vent covers three years ago now, and it’s holding up just fine. No signs of discoloration of the plastic or cracking. I love the airflow these big covers provide and how easy they go on and off for easy cleaning and vent inspections.
The only negative I’ve encountered is during heavy rain with the strong wind gusts headed straight into the back end if the cover they allow water in. This has only occurred a few times, but a substantial amount of water came in.
19 – Rubber Chocks
Love the heavy rubber chocks I picked up a year ago. They work so much better than the standard yellow plastic things you see most RVers using. The only drawback I’ve discovered is the smell. With over a year of use, they still have a strong rubber, oily odor. Not a problem for me as I store them outside in the bed of the truck. But, for those that keep chocks stowed inside the rig, it may be a deal breaker unless in an airtight bin.
20 – Grab Bar
Finally number 20 my screen door grab bar. Why the heck isn’t this just part of the screen door to start with. Total no-brainer. 🙂
I hope you have found my reviews helpful over the years in deciding on upgrades, mods and gadgets for your RV. I will continue to report back from time to time letting you know how products have worked out for us. If you missed it here the link back to my previous RV Product Reviews update post and video. Cheers! Ray
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