One of the questions we often get has to do with how and where we produce a weekly RV Podcast, our YouTube RV Lifestyle Channel videos, our RV travel guides and my NBC-TV syndicated technology reports, and yet still be on the road half to three-quarters of the year doing RV vlogs and RV videos .
When we tell them that we do the vast majority of our RV vlogging and media work right from our 2019 Leisure Travel Vans Unity FX, people think we’re spoofing them. They imagine us working with a big production crew, doing most of our RV vlogging in a state-of-the-art video production studio.
But the truth is, we do all our RV vlogs from our state-of-the-art RV. Think of it as a RV vlogging mobile!
Fact is, the RV gadgets and gizmos we carry with us for our vlogging work make it all possible. And the technology is now so compact and multi-purposed that, when not in use, most of our vlogging gear fits easily in a cabinet or on one of the outdoor storage boxes on the side of the Unity.
Back when I worked as an on-air TV reporter, it used to be that to produce a news story required a videographer, a sound tech, often a lighting tech, a producer and me (the reporter — who my videographers called a “blow-dried microphone stand.”)
Fast forward to 2020 and the only similarity to my old days in daily TV news is that we still travel in a van.
It’s been said that in this age of the Internet, anyone can become a vlogging media star. And it’s the truth. When Jennifer and I visit RV shows, it seems like every other person we meet now has a YouTube channel. And they’ll want to know about our vlogging RV gadgets and gizmos, as do many of our followers’ who send us email.
I’ve promised a post like this to many people over the past couple of years who’ve asked about how we do our RV vlogs. Now, with time on my hands during the stay at home orders we’re under because of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have the time to do that post. I hope it’s not too techy. And I hope it also inspires you to go out there in your RV and tell your stories via vlogging using some of these RV gadgets and gizmos I’m going to describe.
I am including our Amazon affiliate links to each of these products. You should know that you don’t pay any more if you order from them but I do get a small commission of the sales, which we appreciate very much. But if you don’t want to order through Amazon, no problem, just search Google under the product name and you’ll find lots of other places you can order from.
Okay, here’s the RV gadgets and gizmos we most often use for our vlogging work.
RV Gadgets and Gizmos – The Cameras
I have bought and used a lot of cameras over the years. Vlogging and documenting our trips in video and through still photos is as much a hobby for me as it is my job these days. Cameras are obviously a huge part of the RV gadgets and gizmos we carry in our RV.
I use seven different cameras.
Now let me point out that clearly, you don’t need all these RV gadgets and gizmos at the start to do RV vlogs. If you’re just starting out, you can do an amazingly excellent vlogging job with just your cell phone. The gear we describe ear took years to accumulate.
So… ket’s get to it: Here is my favorite camera and vlogging gear.
The Canon R mirrorless full frame digital camera – We just got this camera a few weeks ago. The R is one of the most sophisticated cameras I’ve ever used, yet very simple to operate doing our on-the-go style of vlogging videos. We expect to use it as our main vlogging (video blogging) camera for probably 75% of all our video work. I shoot mostly in 4K and the images from the R are so good that I can grab individual frames for stills when needed for our blog or social media. I use a 24-105mm F4 kit lens with it and an adapter that lets me put on a 300mm lens for wildlife shots.
I carry it on a small Manfrotto Pixi EVO mini tripod for most of our handheld selfie shots. We also mount it on a MeFOTO Roadtrip Classic tripod. That tripod telescopes down to just over 15 inches and stores in the front wardrobe of the Unity. You can also convert the tripod to a full-size monopod by combining one of the legs with the center column.
Canon EOS M-50 mirrorless camera – Until we got the R, this was our main vlogging camera and we’ve had it for almost three years now. It’s rugged and takes excellent videos. We will use this as a back-up to the R and dedicate it to shooting our on-camera driving shots from inside the van. The M-50 is smaller and lighter than the R and thus better suited for the confined conditions of shooting in the cab area of the Unity.
Canon 5D Markiii – This camera is the one you see in the featured image above. I’m using a Canon 300 mm lens on it with a 1.5 extender for some wildlife shots at Glacier National Park. I don’t bring this on every TV trip because of its size and bulk but it is a great DSLR.
GoPro Hero 7 – This is our action and time-lapse vlogging camera. I have a suction mount for it that lets me get driving-down-the road shots from outside the Unity. I have a chest mount for point of view shots while doing things like zip lining or white water rafting or bicycling.
BlackVue DR590W-2CH dashcam – This is a top of the line dashcam system. I love its high quality 1080i front and rear cameras. The front one is mounted at the top of the windshield and is pointed towards the road ahead. I have it wired up so that as soon as we are moving, it starts recording. The rear cameras is mounted above and slightly behind us in the middle of the cab and is pointed at our backs for an over-our-shoulder driving perspective. We like these points of view road shots and usually get some in on every travel video we do.
iPhone 11 Pro Max – I am daily stunned by the quality of the images – both video and still – that come from this latest generation Apple iPhone. It is now my main still camera, the source of a great many of the photos we use to illustrate our RV vlog posts, our travel books and social media. The three-lens system with wide-angle and telescopic features capture fabulous images. And it also shoots 4K video. In fact, using the DJI Osmo Mobile 3 gimbal, it produces some of the highest quality video imagery we’ve ever done. It’s a full-fledged vlogging camera in and of itself.
Dji Mavic Air drone – I’ve had several drones over the years, some much bigger in size and boasting more features. But the small compact size of the Mavic Air makes it so easy to carry and it is very easy to fly. I use it for scenic vista and shots of the RV to give aerial perspectives.
Where do I keep all this vlogging gear?
Almost all of it stores snuggly and safely in the hard plastic Pelican 1535 Air case. The case is airline carry-on size and I keep it right behind the driver’s seat of the Unity. The drone fits snugly in a small soft carrying case and I store it at the back of the cubbyhole on the right side of the Unity as you come in the center door.
RV gadgets and gizmos – Computer and software
What do I use to edit all that vlogging video and images with? I use the Apple MacBook Pro 16 inch laptop. I have it loaded with 64GB of memory and a 1 TB SSD drive. I use 4T LaCie 4TB portable hard drives to keep all my RV vlogs video and images and since those hard drives have all our work for the almost nine years we have been doing this, I store them in the security safe that we had TLV install in our Unity.
Where do I do this work? I usually do my video editing in the back of the Unity where I pull out the special ottoman that stores under the rear sofa. I am a huge fan of this little extra from LTV. Pull up the top of the ottoman and you have a perfect portable desk for working on my RV vlogs.
RV gadgets and gizmos – Podcast gear
Every Wednesday, we do a weekly podcast called the RV Podcast (available on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, and all the major podcast apps, as well as this blog. We record it in the Unity, setting up our gear on the dinette table we can configure from the front lounge/Murphy Bed. I sit on one side, Jennifer the other. In between are our laptops and our podcast and RV vlogging gear.
We use the Rode Podcaster Pro, a portable production studio that integrates a mixer, sound effects player, phone tap for taking phone calls, recorder, and more, all in one box.
We each use a high-quality professional-grade Rode PodMic as our microphones on our RV vlogs.
We edit the podcast with Adobe Audition, a high-end software package.
The Podcaster Pro – connected to my MacBook Pro – also is used for our weekly Ask Us Anything live stream on our RV Lifestyle YouTube Channel, processing and mixing the audio when we do live video.
For switching between produced RV vlog videos that we sometimes show in the live streams, I use the Elgado Stream Deck XL, a keypad-controlled video and audio switcher.
All of the podcasting gear packs away snugly in a SKP iSeries case custom made for the Podcaster Pro and microphones. That case stores behind the driver’s seat right next to my Pelican camera case.
RV gadgets and gizmos – Internet gear
The key to being able to do my vlogging work from the road is the Internet.
We ordered our Unity with the integrated Winegard ConnecT 2 antenna system. Mounted on the roof. It serves as our TV antenna, a W-Fi extender, and a cellular router that links to nationwide 4G LTE networks for reliable, uninterrupted, in-motion and stationary coverage while traveling. It came standard with AT&T, but I went up to the roof and swapped out the SIM so I could use it with my existing data plan from Verizon.
Last summer, I also installed a weBoost Drive X RV Cell Phone Booster Kit in the Unity, mounting the outside antenna on the top of our rear ladder.
My plan was to use it to boost reception for our cell phone and Mi-Fi data card as another way to access the Internet if Winegard’s system was not strong in a particular location. It was a bad choice. Truth told, the ConnecT 2 does a better job and the weBoost is never needed.
RV gadgets and gizmos – My biggest mistake
While I’m at it, here’s another Internet mistake I have made. Taking advantage of an awesome deal from AT&T last summer for a device called Togo (it looks just like the ConnecT 2, but is white), I installed it up top as well. That way, I figured, when I entered an area where Verizon was weak, I could switch to AT&T. The deal at the time was $360 for unlimited access for an entire year.
In all our travels since then, the problem of a weak Verizon signal happened only once – in the very remote Flamingo Campground at the far southeastern end of Everglades National Park in Florida. AT&T did indeed work when Verizon didn’t, and I felt pretty smug about having that redundancy in my setup.
I had planned to renew the deal with Togo. But last December, AT&T suddenly canceled renewals of that deal and, if I was to renew, they now charge a rate that is so high it is prohibitive.
Big mistake. No more AT&T for me… ever. I was suckered.
RV gadgets and gizmos – Satellite TV
Besides solar panels, the weBoost antenna, the Winegard ConnecT 2 and the Togo, there was still a little more room on the roof of our Unity. So I installed a Dish Outdoors Playmaker satellite antenna up there. It was so easy. LTV has two prewired connections available in the roof. I didn’t have to do any drilling to snake the satellite antenna cabling inside (I used the other connector for the weBoost).
That satellite connection terminates inside the entertainment compartment just behind the passenger seat and the compact HD satellite receiver from Dish called the Wally fits perfectly.
The receiver connects to the antenna which automatically acquires the signal. It also works with wi-fi so we can stream Netflix, Hulu and other programming to our TV screens (one in front, one in back – both controlled by a switcher pre-installed by LTV).
So there you go. I know, that sounds like a lot of tech gear.
Truthfully, most people don’t need six cameras, a podcasting studio, and the vlogging gear Jennifer and I have. But while it sounds like a lot, it all is amazingly compact and very lightweight and fits so easily in our Unity.
When I look at the Unity and how we have turned it into a mobile studio for our RV vlogs, travel videos, and reporting, I am amazed how broadcasting and journalism have changed. We are now able to reach millions of people, live from our RV, anywhere, anytime, by uploading, live streaming and sharing audio, video, photographs, and writing and publishing books and blog posts.
That allows us to earn the majority of our income while on the road and enjoy the RV Lifestyle.
That is pretty cool.
P.S. Want to see the other RV gear we use in our RV travels?
If you want to see a very complete list of the products and other gear we use and recommend ourselves, we maintain an updated web page that lists EVERYTHING. You can find that at https://rvlifestyle.com/gear
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