Top Ten Essential Extras for new Mercedes Marco Polo owners
So you’ve just bought yourself a sparkly new Mercedes Marco Polo? Well congratulations on what we hope and suspect will be a great decision for a future filled to the brim with awesome camping trips and adventures. The Marco Polo certainly has an abundance of great in-built features, but you’ll find that there are many additional items which can be separately purchased to greatly improve the overall experience – in this article we’ll try and help guide you towards the ones which we’ve found could make the biggest differences. In no particular order….
Dual EU to UK socket expander with twin USB ports
This great little socket expander has been a really useful gadget for us, based as we are in the UK. The Marco Polo only possesses a single 240V electrical plug point, and it is an EU-style two-pin socket!
The UK Marco Polos do come with a basic EU->UK adaptor, but this £10.99 accessory does things so much better.
The socket expander plugs directly into the onboard EU socket and increases the efficiency of the used space fourfold by providing 2 x UK sockets and 2 x USB sockets for charging battery-powered gadgets. With three occupants using the van at the same time, charging sockets can be at a premium, and we have found this gadget to be highly useful.
Nestling 2m Telescopic Ladder
We’re slowly finding that it’s getting harder and harder to manouevre ourselves up into the pop-top roof of the Marco Polo – perhaps it’s getting old, but more likely due to overeating during successive lockdowns!
The Nestling 2m Telescopic ladder is a perfect antidote to this. It stores neatly away behind the seats when not in use, but can be quickly extended when you want to go to bed.
The 2m length of this set of ladders is perfect for any campervan and can also be used externally if you fancy putting a roofbox on the top for extra storage.
Atera Strada DL2, 3 or 4 bike rack
This Atera tilting bike rack is a sublime piece of kit – one of those well-engineered items which just efficiently does the job for which it was bought for. Yes it’s expensive and getting hard to find, but it is definitely worth the outlay in our opinion.
The Strada comes in three different flavours, depending on the number of bikes you wish to carry – DL2, DL3 (which we went for) or DL4. It can be stored in a flat configuration and doesn’t take up that much space in your garage. After unfolding and clamping firm the main bike arm, attaching the bike rack to the Mercedes tow ball is easy, even though it weighs a healthy 14.5kg. The bikes can then each be lifted on to a storage rail and securely attached at both the frame and wheels via individual ratcheted straps. The bike rack includes a lock to secure on the towball and also individual locks for each bike.
What makes the Atera Strada stand out is its ability to let the bikes slide out of the way of the rear boot door, meaning that the boot can be opened without taking the bikes off. Check out our video below which shows this. It is an exceptionally useful piece of design and makes the Atera far superior to the official official Mercedes bike rack in our opinion. We use this functionality all the time.
To sum up, we don’t think that a better bike rack exists for the Marco Polo, unless you have a particularly large Ebike. If this is the case then we would recommend the Thule Velospace instead, which also rotates enough for the rear tailgate to open on the Marco Polo, but is even more expensive and heavy!
Eono Microfibre Towel
These great little camping towels aren’t expensive at all but represent great value. They pack in the Marco Polo cupboard very compactly and are adept at drying you off after a shower. Hang em outside in the sun and they’re soon dry themselves. Definitely worth buying a few for your van.
Anker LC90 USB-chargeable LED torch
I seem to have bought more LED torches in my lifetime than the average person – probably over twenty all-in. Most were cheap and nasty – I was always looking for that elusive amazing value torch for the cheapest price (usually Chinese), but never really found it.
This brings me nicely on to the Anker LC90 which is an absolute bargain and perfect for keeping in the Marco Polo for the midnight walk to the toilet block. What sets the Anker apart from the others is that:
- it can be charged via a standard USB cable unlike nearly all other torches which require a separate charger for their particular lithium batteries
- it’s IP65 water-resistant
- the beam is very bright (three different levels of brightness)
- the beam can be controlled from a tight focus and long ‘throw’ to a more diffuse spread
- the battery lasts ages before a charge is required
I would sincerely say don’t hesitate, just buy one!
Outdoor Revolution Cayman Air driveaway awning
We’ll be producing an in-depth round-up soon of all the best driveaway awnings for the Marco Polo – there’s alot of choices, and it can be difficult to decide which is best for your particular needs. There is even the question of whether the hassle of carrying, setting up and packing away an awning is worth it – we definitely think that it is for a van the size of the Marco Polo – it can massively expand your living space and when there is more than two of you away for more than a night it’s a no-brainer to bring along.
After owning several awnings and reviewing many more, we have found that the Outdoor Revolution Cayman Air is the best for our particular requirements and represents great value for money at under £500.
- a single air strut which makes putting up the Cayman a breeze. We’ve had the whole awning up and fixed down in less than 10 minutes. Some awnings with three air beams are very tiring to pump up and can take >30 minutes to setup.
- fairly lightweight to carry (18kg) – some of the larger awnings are impossible to carry by one person
- opens up on all three sides so you are not limited to facing one direction – good airflow inside
- lifetime guarantee on the airbeam itself
While there are a few little design niggles which we would like to see improved – for example one of the side panels uses Velcro to secure down rather than a zip, this is a great awning and is one of our current favourites.
Marco Polo essential #6 – the Travel Dude Compression Packing Cubes
These excellent Travel Dude Compression Packing Cubes have certainly made our usual family packing fiasco much easier to handle as prepare for a trip away.
They use a clever system of zippers to allow your clothes to be neatly arranged inside and then compressed down to a much smaller footprint than you might expect. They work especially well on socks, underwear and t-shirts, although the principle obviously can extend to other clothing. Available in several different colours so you can probably get a set to match your Marco Polo!
We also have a soft-spot for these particular cubes because they’re fully made from recycled plastic.
Compression Packing Cubes
These excellent Gonex compression packing cubes have certainly made our usual family packing fiasco much easier to handle as we prepare for a trip away.
They use a clever system of zippers to allow your clothes to be neatly arranged inside each ‘cube’ and then compressed down to a much smaller footprint than you might expect. They work especially well on socks, underwear and t-shirts, although the principle obviously can extend to other clothing. Available in several different colours so you can probably get a set to match your VW camper van!
Quarkace liquid-proof foldable bin
Every camping trip produces waste, and you need somewhere to keep it before you make a trip to the big bins on site. This Quarkace foldable bin offers a neat and practical solution to the problem and is certainly a step up compared to chucking a bin liner into the corner of the campervan!
It can be folded flat when not in use and also has a handy strap for storing it on the back of the front seats of the Marco Polo.
Both the outside and inside of the bin are waterproof so if any of your rubbish happens to leak then it won’t soak through and spoil your van. The inside consists of a liner section with two straps which means it can be lifted out to empty the bin – nice thoughtful design touch which you don’t get on the cheaper versions. It may seem a little expensive at £20, but it’s well made and will be durable. Read our full review of the Quarkace here.
A slightly cheaper option for trash disposal which is still of reasonable quality and almost identical design is the Winzwon bin. Either of these suggestions will enhance your Marco Polo and get rid of that ugly bin liner on the floor!
Folding mattress and/or Duvalay Topper Sleeping Bag
The Marco Polo downstairs bed is a little uncomfortable if you’re just lying on the flattened chairs themselves. Some form of topper is definitely required for a restful sleep, but the official Brandrup/Mercedes memory foam version stretches northwards of £300.
We’ve had great success with this much cheaper option which is 1.2m wide, 2m long and 10cm thick. It folds in three sections and can be packed away reasonably well in the back of the Marco Polo. Make sure you buy the 120cm wide version and not the 80cm which is only a single bed width. The 120cm can be squeezed fairly well into the Marco Polo available space, but it definitely benefits from a quick flash of a Stanley knife, to sculpt the width down closer to the 111cm minimum width of the downstairs bed.
The mattress is very comfortable due to the sizeable 10cm thickness (most memory foam toppers are only 3-5cm) and helps avoid the hip ache you can get if there are two adults sleeping side by side downstairs and turning over in the night is a little difficult. Please bear in mind that it is made of just standard foam though, and not memory foam. Of course, this is just one option out of many, but for £60 you can’t really go wrong.
A more expensive but excellent alternative for restful sleep are the Duvalay integrated sleeping bag toppers which are exceedingly comfortable and great quality. These are recommended time and time again on various Marco Polo forums around the internet. After trying one recently, I can see why.
Although they only have 4cm of memory foam incorporated into the soft sleeping bag, it is very supportive and is the ‘proper stuff’. My simple rule of thumb is that 2cm of normal foam is roughly equivalent to 1cm of memory foam.
EcoFlow Delta battery power pack
If you’re camping ‘off-grid’ then the remaining power on your Marco Polo leisure battery is always a concern. With the fridge running, you’ve got a max of 2 or 3 days before you’re out of juice. Add in gadget-charging and maybe an additional inverter to charge your laptop and before you know it you’re at rock bottom.
Enter the incredible EcoFlow Delta 1300 which can provide high-wattage 240V AC power as well as DC power – it has six standard 240V plug sockets, four USB sockets and two high power USB-C ports. It really is a game-changer for wild and non-hookup camping.
The crazy thing is that the EcoFlow can power appliances up to 1800W – that is way higher than typical inverters. It will run an oven, boil a kettle and power a hairdryer! Incredible! At £1299.99, it’s not cheap, but the power and flexibility it affords you makes it a super piece of kit for camping off grid.
Charging is impressive – it can go from empty to 80% of full charge in one hour. It’s also possible to charge it via a solar panel. Bear in mind that it’s not a lightweight device – it weighs around 14kg, but more than makes up for it with the sheer power it can supply. We highly recommend seeking one out.
Remoska Electric Cooker
While we’re all for using the in-built gas-powered burners in the Marco Polo, if you’re paying for an electric hookup at a campsite then it makes sense to use it. In addition, it can often be nice to cook outside, and with an extension lead from your van this is possible with the fabulous Remoska Electric Cooker.
The Remoska is a great little cooker which is able to cook everything – from omelettes to roast chicken, risotto to cakes, bread to Yorkshire pudding or full English breakfasts. The possibilities are endless.
It comes in several different sizes – we like the original 2 litre version best as it fits in the Marco Polo cupboard easiest.
The cooker can essentially cook anything that you can cook in a proper oven and it does it so effortlessly and with such little energy consumption in comparison (400W vs 2000W) that we cannot leave it out of this list of essential items for your Marco Polo
Remoska were the first company to design an electric cooker like this (they are from the Czech Republic), and so we prefer to recommend their unit rather than one of the many Chinese knock-offs. Highly recommended – I just wish I was more adventurous than simply using it for endless Full English breakfasts. Old habits die hard!
OK now there’s one more – the Elegiant Bluetooth Splitter
This little beauty can pretty much be attributed to saving our marriage when our daughter was a wee toddler and we were trying to have some semblance of an evening together after finally getting her to sleep in our (then) caravan.
It is a small box which literally performs magic. It takes an audio signal from any device you own which uses a headphone socket – for example a laptop or TV playing your favourite movie, and generates dual bluetooth signals which you and your dear beloved partner can hook onto with your Bluetooth headphones. You can then both watch your movie together in perfect harmony and not worry about waking up dear little babba.
If your bluetooth headphones are reasonably up to date and support the ‘APTX’ protocol then you shouldn’t get too much audio delay meaning the sound and vision should be closely synchronized. If you’re just listening to music together then this isn’t a problem, but for a film it can be a bit of a major showstopper. One tip is to use VLC Player when playing films on a laptop because this allows you to adjust the delay between the words and sound. Very useful!
The Elegiant bluetooth splitter contains an onboard rechargeable battery which can last for around 24 hours of continuous playing – plenty for a sizeable camping holiday. We don’t leave home without ours. Even though our daughter is now 9 years old and could sleep through a combined hurricane and firework show, we still use it. It’s just something we do. Highly recommended!
And how could we forget this one?
Muchos thanks to Epigram on the Marco Polo Owners’ Club for this suggestion. Probably the most important gadget of all for any campervan, caravan, tent or bivouac!
This is our bottle opener of choice – it’s made by Barcraft and is certainly extravagant. Ridiculously so in fact! However, I challenge anyone using it to say that it’s not a great piece of mechanical design.
It opens your well-deserved bottle in an absolutely clinical and effortless way, and impresses anyone who sees it.
The Barcraft fits in the Marco Polo drawer next to the fridge and always puts a smile on our face when it makes an appearance…. Recommended for anyone who admires quality product design.
Well you got to the end of our top-ten (well ok, eleven!) essential purchases for your Mercedes Marco Polo camper van. We hope you like them and it gives you some food for thought – mmm that’s making me want to get the Remoska out now!
If you fancy cooking outside then be sure to check out our roundup of the best camping stoves and BBQs on sale in the UK at the moment.
If you have any ideas for other items which are essential for your trips away, then drop us a line at email@example.com and we’ll try and review them and get them on the site.