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RV Set-up Step by Step: Exterior

Katlyn Andrews

Jan 31, 2023

My Paradigm Shift into the RV World

On previous camping trips I have helped out with set-up and break-down, but have never fully observed the process. At first it seemed a little daunting to me. You hear about how usually one person addresses the inside of the rig and the other does the outside. I was afraid that if I did something wrong I could ruin a major function of the RV. This time I wanted to do it all myself. With a little guidance I completed steps A-Z and learned that it's not that scary after all. Keep in mind, we have a 2012 Keystone Cougar so this guide is subject to change per rig but it is relatively transferable and easy to do!

Getting Level

Not only is being level advantageous so you don’t feel like you’re on a pirate ship every time you walk around, but it is more important for the health of your fridge, plumbing, and in some cases your LP. The importance of being level can be looked forward to in another post! Here is what I did through this process:

  1. Assess your side-to-side leveling. Use boards, leveling pads, or rocking levelers if needed.

  2. Chock your tires

  3. Grab your landing pads and drop the landing gear (at the front of the rig)

  4. When you are on relatively flat ground, extend the landing gear until the king pin just barely lifts off of the plate of the fifth wheel

  5. Unhook the emergency brake-away cable and the 7-pin from the truck, then pull the lever to release the pin on the hitch. Lastly, pull out the truck. Don’t forget to lower the tailgate!

  6. Extend or retract the landing gear once again until the rig is level front to back

  7. Head to the back of the rig to lower the stabilizers until they are firmly touching the ground. Remember that these are stabilizers and they are not meant to lift the rig, only to stop it from rocking around so much. 

  8. Double check with a leveling app, in-house leveling sensors, or just go open the doors in your camper. They are easily able to judge whether you are leaning one way or the other. 


Each rig is a little different in what amperage it is supplied with. Some important things to be aware of are the proper connections and to avoid “dog-boning” as much as possible. The most important thing to check is that you have good power coming from the pedestal, especially if you do not have a surge protector. The best way to check this, regardless of the plug-in type (20, 30 or 50 amp), is to use a multimeter to be sure that it reads 120V and is not wired in reverse polarity. Multimeters can be a tad bit expensive, but can come in handy for many things when troubleshooting on the road. 

  1. Check the pedestal for appropriate voltage

  2. Plug in your surge protector and wait until it reads that it is ready

  3. Plug the 50 amp cord into the surge protector then into the camper


The number one thing to be aware of when hooking up water to your rig is the pressure (PSI) of the city water. The PSI coming out of the spigot is usually more than any rig can safely handle. I prefer a water pressure regulator with a gauge so I can easily see and adjust the PSI as needed.

  1. Double check that all faucets are turned off inside!

  2. Grab your water pressure regulator and hoses, as well as setting up exterior water filters and your water bay

  3. Attach the water pressure regulator to the spigot and adjust to 50 PSI. This is what is safe for the plumbing and fittings in your rig.

  4. Attach one hose to the pressure regulator and the other end of that same hose to the filter inlet

  5. Connect your second hose to the filter outlet. Now pause, this is where you need to turn on the water to get rid of the air gap. This is very important to ensure you do not blow any lines or fittings!

  6. Now you can turn the water off and connect the other end of the second hose to your city water inlet on your rig. Make sure that it is the right connection! Many water bays are labeled terribly and can be awfully confusing.

  7. You are now ready to use the water in your rig!


Connecting sewer lines seems like the most gross and daunting part of outdoor set-up. Really there are just a few easy steps and you should keep your hands clean! On our fifth wheel we have an extra waste-gate at the exit port to ensure there is not any additional leakage. 

  1. Grab your bin of “stinky-slinkies” and toss on some gloves

  2. If you have one, extend your sewer hose support system

  3. Connect a sewer hose to your wastegate fitting. Double check that this is on all the way! The last thing that you want is waste spraying back at you when you go to adjust it after finding out your mistake the hard way… been there, done that.

  4. Connect the opposite end of the hose to the fittings of your adapter and place that in the sewer port (in the ground)

For another helpful source, try checking out Changing Lanes’ Travel Day RV Checklists. Join me later for the importance of proper leveling, electrical connections, water connections and draining tanks!

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