In the RV world, there are brand names everybody knows. First-timers know who Winnebago, Forest River, and Airstream are and what products they make. So when you shop for RV essential accessories and after market must-haves, do you know which RV brands are the industry’s benchmarks?
In this article, we’ll show you the top 7 RV brands for the best camper accessories and components. You’ll learn who they are, their road to success, what unique rv accessories they make, and why they’re vital to the RV world today.
Like many RV brands, each one has a different origin. Some started as business ventures immediately; others began in different industries. One started as an “aha moment” by a guy with bad eyes, and one couple spent the first years giving up “date nights” for a pair of 55-gallon drums to mix up antifreeze.
RV Brands You Know From Your Bricks and Sticks Life
Some residential home brands have leapt into the RV world by using their expertise to create RV-friendly versions of their products. One of the best examples is RV washers and dryers. Splendide produces machines specifically for the RV and marine markets. Other popular names like LG, GE, and Black and Decker have stackable or RV washer dryer combination models for your drivable or towable coach.
In the tire industry, you’ll find that trailer tires are different than passenger cars and trucks tires. There are specific trailer tire brands, but Goodyear, Dunlap, and Kelly Tires have tires for travel trailers. Class A, B, and C motorhomes use tires designed for the chassis that carry them.
You’ll find other residential brands that cross over into the RV world. Many of you may bring residential home products for cleaning, organization, or other needs that you trust and fit well into your rig. However, when it comes to cleaning products, spend an extra minute or two making sure it’s safe to use in your RV. Residential pipe cleaners, toilet paper, and a few others create more problems than solutions.
The 7 Best RV Brands Every RVer Should Know
Here are the top 7 RV brands for camper accessories and components.
Founding Date: 1900
Headquarters: Chicago, Illinois
One day in 1900, a young typewriter salesman was walking down a sidewalk in a small town. In the dark of night, he saw the glow of a smokeless kerosene lantern burning in a shop window that burned brighter than traditional oil lamps. William Coffin (W.C.) Coleman took that knowledge and built lanterns used in WWI and single-burner stoves that were standard equipment for every G.I. in WWII.
When the American soldiers came home, Coleman’s products were the first and only products those veterans used for outdoor recreational activities.
What must-have RV accessories does Coleman make?
Pretty much any product or accessory you could need for outdoor recreation, Coleman makes.
- Canopies- Beach shades, screened shelters, sun shelters
- RV Camping Supplies- Camping tools, hiking gear, outdoor storage, personal care, safety/survival gear
- Camp Furniture- Aerobed airbeds, air pumps, camping cots, camping tables, sleeping pads
- Camp Kitchens- Camping stoves, drinkware, kitchen accessories, kitchen essentials, outdoor grills
- Coolers- Cooler accessories, hard coolers, soft coolers, thermoelectric coolers
- Lighting- Battery lanterns, flashlights, gas lanterns (kerosene or propane), headlamps, lighting accessories, spotlights
- OneSource– Rechargeable batteries that fit many of the RV brands electronic products
- Sevylor- Personal inflatable watercraft like canoes, kayaks, and others
- Sleeping Bags
Why is Coleman an important RV brand?
Other outdoor, RV, and camping accessory companies have competed with Coleman, but none have had the staying power or quality that Coleman produces. The brand became a household name where parents and grandparents passed down their camping gear to younger generations. In fact, if you clean out your attic and find one of those original lanterns or stoves, more than likely, it still works.
How do you maintain brand loyalty to Coleman?
If you own a Coleman lantern, light, or rubicon, you may want to buy all of your RV essential accessories from Coleman to show your loyalty to the brand. Unfortunately, unless you own a Coleman pop-up made before 1989, you’re not actually camping in a Coleman camper.
From 1967-1988, Coleman did make pop-up campers out of its plant in Somerset, PA. In 1989, Fleetwood bought the division and plant. Coleman licensed its name to Fleetwood to continue building pop-ups using the Coleman brand name.
When Fleetwood had to file bankruptcy and let go of some significant assets, the company divested the pop-up plant. In 2010, Coleman licensed its brand again, this time to Thor Industry’s daughter, Dutchmen.
You’ll find Coleman’s has licensed its brand many times to various companies in the past on products that relate (directly or indirectly) to the outdoors.
Founding Date: 1991
Headquarters: Wichita, KS
Airxcel began in 1966 as a division of Coleman. Sherman Coleman, the son of W.C. Coleman, created the PolarPal RV air conditioner in 1967 under his leadership. In 1991, after a 3-year negotiation, Coleman divested the air conditioner division to L. Catterton, a private equity firm. Since then, Airxcel has absorbed many other brands that build heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) products. They also have other RV-related components brands outside of the HVAC sector.
The RV subsidiaries and products of Airxcel
- Aqua-Hot– Diesel and propane hydronic heating systems
- MaxxAir– Ventilation solutions
- MCD– Window roller shades
- United Shade– Window shades
- Vixen Composites– Fiberglass reinforced plastic and custom composite panels
Why is Airxcel important to the RV accessory world?
Airxcel is the largest essential component designer, manufacturer, and distributor for the RV, marine, commercial, and industrial industries. Every U.S. RV original equipment manufacturer (OEM), like the many brands of the “Big 4” top rv manufacturers: Winnebago Industries, Thor Industries, REV Group, and Forest River, uses the RV parts and supplies of Airxcel in their motorhome spare parts and accessories and their travel trailer accessories.
Some use competitor brands, but when it comes down to determining which A/C unit, water heater, window, roof PVC membrane, or other components, it usually boils down to whether the RV manufacturer uses an Airxcel subsidiary or a direct competitor. Many of these daughter brands date back to The Late Vintage Era (1945-1970) or The Classic Era (1971-1989).
Founding Date: May 17, 1956, as B&L Industries
Headquarters: Elkhart, Indiana
2013 RV Hall of Fame inductee, Larry Lippert, and Don Baldwin started B&L Industries in 1956. Originally, they manufactured home roofing, called Duratop, for Detroiter Mobile Homes and Redman Industries (Redman is the same company that built Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball’s Long, Long Trailer).
Baldwin sold his shares to Lippert a year later, leaving Larry and his family to grow the business. The company had its bear and bull periods but managed to do well in the mobile home industry as the decades progressed. When Hurricane Andrew devastated Florida in 1992, they ramped up production of mobile home chassis from 15 to 55 a day to do their part to help FEMA supply families with temporary housing.
Lippert joined the RV industry in 1997 when Larry’s Grandson, Jason, hit the start button at the McAdoo, Pennsylvania plant. In 2003, because of his efforts, Jason took the CEO seat from his retiring father Doug. Almost every year after that, Lippert acquired companies with the best RV, marine, and mobile home technologies making his corporation the largest chassis and components supplier around the world. Lippert currently has locations in Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America.
What RV products does Lippert make?
- Access and baggage doors
- Automatic jack leveling systems
- Bed tilt sleep systems
- Curt Manufacturing– RV hitches, brake controls, and accessories
- Entrance steps
- Euro loft bed lift
- Flow Max– Faucets, water Pump
- Furrion– Cameras, HVAC, water heaters, AV, wireless networking, electronics, solar, appliances, and navigation
- HappiJac– Power bed lifts, truck camper accessories
- Jacks- Tongue and stabilizer
- Let’s Go Aero– Cargo carriers, bike racks, utility trailers, and utility trailer soft shell pop-up
- OneControl– Smart RV app
- Ramp doors
- RV and trailer windows
- RV chemicals
- RV entry doors
- RV pin boxes
- Slide-outs- chassis motors, supports, boxes, and parts
- Stainless steel sinks
- Suspension enhancement
- Sway Command– Electronic sway control system
- Tailgate storage systems
- Teddy Bear- Bunk foam mattresses
- Thomas Payne- RV furniture collection
- Thule- Crown awning
- RV Chassis- For campers, travel trailers, fifth wheels, and motorhomes
Why is Lippert important in RV trailer accessories?
Lippert products supply RV manufacturers with the essential rv trailer parts they need to build their motorhomes and travel trailers. Very few RV makers assemble their own chassis. Lippert is the primary component supplier to most RV OEMs one way or another.
Founding Date: 1966
Headquarters: Greensboro, North Carolina
Imagine standing in a 5,000 square foot facility on a Saturday night. While most couples enjoy the weekend, you and your spouse are standing next to 55-gallon drums mixing chemicals with 2×2 wooden posts. Both of you do this for the first 2 years of your company’s operation to make a living and keep reaching for that dream of success.
During the first years of C&M Products’ existence, Don and Teresa Caine spent many weekdays selling their trailer plumbing antifreeze (TPA) and creating more mobile home and RV products. As the business grew, C&M became Camco Incorporated. As the company grew, so did the workforce and product lines. New factories opened around the U.S. Today, Camco RV makes over 5,600 products in five different facilities across America with more than 1,500 workers. They even have five international operations in Asia.
What brands and products does Camco make?
- Black Boar– Toy hauler tie-down points, storage boxes, and accessories
- Camping Essentials- Small gadgets and gizmos for camping adventures like plastic egg containers, fire starting kits, and other accessories
- Crooked Creek– Oars for personal watercraft like canoes, kayaks, and rowboats
- Currituck– Coolers, insulated drinkware, and upgradable parts
- Eaz Lift– Hitches and stabilizer jacks
- FasTen- 10 packs of stackable jack pads
- Hydro Life– Inline and multi-stage water filtration systems
- Kuuma– Outdoor grill and accessories
- Life Is Better At The Campsite– Personalized decore, kitchen, living room, and RV-oriented apparel
- Olympian– Outdoor grills, propane portable campfire devices, and electric heaters
- Powergrip– Power cords, dog legs, adaptors for 30 and 50 amp RVs
- Rhino– Thick high-grade polymer RV sewer hoses, attachments, black tank treatments, and plumbing components
- Trac– Marine anchor and winch parts
- TST– Black and grey tank treatments, RV-friendly toilet tissue, and antifreeze
Why is Camco important to the RV accessory world?
While most brands focus their attention on the bigger rv camping accessories, Camco makes their fortune on the little things. You’ll find all of their products at Camping World and many of their tools at Ace Hardware. So if you need an outdoor mat, awning “twinkly” lights, or just some little doodad that’s RV specific, Camco probably makes it.
Founding Date: 2001
Headquarters: Solna Municipality, Sweden
In the early 1920s, Swedish college students Baltzar von Platen and Carl Munters come up with the brilliant idea that adding heat is the key to refrigeration. The two became so involved with making a working prototype that they started skipping some of their classes. By 1922, both young men invented absorption technology which many RV refrigerators still use today.
The two are granted a patent and sell the rights to Arctic, a Swedish refrigeration company, a year later. The refrigerator is shown at the Stockholm Exhibition and impresses “Vacuum Cleaner King” and the founder of Electrolux, Axel Wenner-Gren. Wenner-Gren acquires Arctic and the absorption refrigerator goes into mass production.
By 1968, Dometic, Electrolux’s leisure appliance division, opened in the U.S. Compression refrigeration was now the rage, but absorption refrigerators found a home in RV refrigerators. In 2001, Electrolux decided to divest itself from the Dometic division and sold it to the private equity firm EQT. At this point, Dometic has an air conditioning company apart of it from an earlier acquisition.
For the next 20 years, the company makes strategic acquisitions in the United States and worldwide, including most recently, Zamp Solar.
What RV parts and accessories does Dometic make?
This camper trailer brand is known for their popular Dometic refrigerators, but they do so much more.
- Air Conditioners- Roof-mounted A/C units, thermostats, and control kits
- RV Awnings and RV awning parts- RV awnings, slide-out awnings, window awnings, awning track parts, power awning track components like speakers, USB chargers, and spotlights
- Blinds- Full window blind or a dual day and privacy version
- Camping furniture- Outdoor chairs, tables, and portable kitchens
- Heating Solutions- AC or DC-powered RV furnaces
- Ventilation Solutions- LED lighting, vent fans, vent covers
- RV Windows- European-style hinge-out acrylic windows
- Outdoor Drinkware- Insulated bottles, mugs, and tumblers
- Mobile Cooking- Interior propane 2-burner stoves, sinks, or combination units for small RV kitchen countertops
- Coolers- Insulated coolers of various sizes or chest-style refrigerator/freezers
- Refrigerators- Absorption or compression RV refrigerators of various sizes
- Cleaning- RV cleaning chemicals, supplies, black tank treatments, and accessories
- Sanitation- Ceramic or polymer RV toilets that are either gravity or macerator flush. Dometic also has portable cassette toilets.
- Water Heaters- 6-10 gallon water heaters that come in either propane or electric. Water heater door covers and conversion kits sell separately
- Control Devices- RV digital control panels
- Energy & Lighting- Portable lithium battery solar generator
- Driving Assistance Systems- Tow vehicle extension mirrors and D-shaped entry door handles
- Safety Solutions- LP and CO detector
Why is Dometic important to the RV accessory world?
Absorption technology did make it to the U.S. before Dometic crossed the pond. Yet, their contribution to the RV Industry continues. Their refrigerators have been a standard in the RV industry since The Classic Era (1971-1989). Until much later, most RV companies didn’t have a dominant presence in the European and American RV worlds like Dometic. They used this advantage to lead both markets in RV components by sharing innovations between each region.
Founding Date: 1963
Headquarters: Ann Arbor, Michigan
In 1963, Thetford created the first slide-action valve for RV holding tanks. A year later, they introduced their low-profile RV toilet. Today’s foot pedal flushing system on your RV commode comes from Thetford’s 1963 design.
The company expanded into Europe in 1971 and now has a presence in Africa, Asia, South America, and the Oceanic region that makes up Australia and the Pacific Islands. Since 1988, Dyson-Kissner-Moran (DKM) Corporation has been the private equity firm managing the business side, while Thetford focused on innovation in the industry.
What camper parts and accessories does Thetford make?
- Toilets- RV toilets, Porta Potti portable toilets, recirculating toilets, cassette toilets, and accessories
- Cleaning Products- RV cleaners like Aqua-Foam and Ultrafoam
- Norcold Refrigerators– AC, DC, or LP RV refrigerators. Norcold also makes chest-style fridges/freezers
- Convenience Products- Staytion RV shower hose and accessories and Stormate accessories
- Holding Tank Products- Aqua-Soft toilet tissue, holding tank treatment, and maintenance chemicals
- Evacuation Products- Titan Tote and Smarttote portable holding tanks, Titan and Sani-Con sewer hoses and accessories, RV sewer tote storage system ladder mount and parts
- Culinary Collections- RV propane stove and all-in-one stove/oven combo. RV folding kitchen sink with 5-in-1 features
- B&B Molders Parts & Accessories- Exterior plumbing and electrical shore connection ports, climate control covers, door locks, bay locks, bumper plugs, and other finishing parts
Why is Thetford important to the RV accessory world?
Thetford holds a lot of innovative firsts in the RV sanitation sector. In 1966, they solved the water conservation issue by making the first low-water-use RV toilet. In addition, they came out with RV-friendly toilet paper that doesn’t clog and breaks up in the holding tank a year later.
1971 was when they found the right kind of polyethylene to mold holding tanks instead of aluminum. Then, in the September 1975 Popular Science Magazine, you could read about Thetford’s Aqua-Magic III, the first water seal RV toilet. The toilet prevented odor seepage back into the interior of your coach. The list goes on even today.
Founding Date: 1953
Headquarters: Burlington, Iowa
Have you ever wanted to watch something on TV and found out you couldn’t because your provider doesn’t offer the channel or you have to pay an extra subscription fee? For John Winegard of Burlington, Iowa in 1953, it was worse: he wanted to watch President Harry Truman’s address in Chicago, IL. For John, it was a problem of having a TV antenna strong enough to pick up the signal. His solution was to build one.
John would use that antenna to start his antenna company. One of his great accomplishments was his contribution to the Apollo 11 Space Mission. The world heard Neil Armstrong’s “One small step…” message through Winegard’s antenna.
Winegard serves both ground-based and mobile communications markets for over-the-air, cellular, GPS, Bluetooth, satellite, and other wireless connectivity solutions.
What products does Winegard make?
- Cellular- 4G LTE hotspot devices, signal boosters, cellular mounts, and cellular accessories
- WiFi- Repeaters, extenders, WiFi mounts, WiFi accessories
- Satellite TV, internet, and IoT- VSAT, portable antennas, roof-mounted antennas, satellite TV antenna mounts, and accessories (Omni and directional dishes)
- HDTV digital antennas- Indoor antennas, outdoor antennas, attic antennas, HDTV antenna amplifiers, VHF/UHF antennas, UHF HDTV antennas, HDTV antenna mounts, and accessories
- AM/FM antennas- Omnidirectional for each broadcast signal type
- Accessories- Signal meters, signal finders, wallplates/ DC power supply ports, and amplifiers
Winegard Doesn’t Play Favorites With Service Providers
Winegard has the FreedomGO 4G LTE data plan in either pay-as-you-go or options that range from 1-20 GB. If you’re already a customer of T-Mobile, AT&T, or Verizon, the Winegard devices accept SIM Cards from any of these providers. You can also connect Sling TV once you’re up and running.
Dish, DirecTV, Bell, Shaw, and EpicVue will work on your Winegard product for satellite TV services. The TV service provider customer service rep will walk you through the steps over the phone to set it up. You’ll need to read the various numbers of your specific satellite, so make sure to have them available.
Why is Winegard important to the RV accessory world?
If Winegard didn’t invent the device, they made it as good or better than the competition. In today’s RV world, where GPS, internet access, and cellular service are crucial, you want to know how your communication technology works. You’ll never have to worry about compatibility issues with Winegard. They have all the devices you need to make your RV network as simple or complex you need without using a competitor’s product to fill the gap.
There Must Be More Out There
Thousands of companies worldwide provide components, gear, and accessories to RV makers and consumers. Some have their names listed on the Fortune 500 List; others you’ll find on Etsy as independent owners trying to make a living from their talents and everything in between.
When you look online or walk through a camping store, you’ll see many different brands of the same products. Prices may vary, ingredients or construction could be essentially the same, but how do you really know which brand to choose?
Check out iRV2 and the other brand-specific forums within the RV Life Network. Here you’ll find other RVers like you, with different levels of experience, who’ve tried these products. Getting a peer review from other RV Lifers can give you their firsthand experience to help you decide what’s best for you. Best of all, you can ask questions and make some new friends.
What do you consider to be the best RV brand or best RV accessories?
We’ll See You Down the Road!