Everyone who drives for a living has had the experience of needing a certain something on the road and not having it. Whether “it” is a dry pair of shoes, a fuse, a pair of pliers or a cooler, having the right gear can make the difference between a safe, comfortable trip and a difficult, unpleasant one.
There were so many replies from those veteran truckers who responded to the questions on what was most important to have on the road, the answers have been grouped by category.
Tools and spare parts
A flashlight, good for checking under the hood or in the corners of a dark trailer, was mentioned more than anything else. That was followed by a tool kit for emergency repairs and replacements. Drivers specifically mentioned hammers, tire thumpers, tire gauges and tire plug kits, side cutters, multi-tools, fifth wheel pullers, jumper cables, vise grips, and air hoses for gladhand connectors. WD40, duct tape and electrical tape also are must-haves. For winter driving, make sure to have additives that liquefy gelled fuel and thaw out frozen fuel filters.
Tools and spare parts often go hand-in-hand. Drivers recommended carrying extra fuel filters, fuses, light bulbs, replacement headlights, marker lights and even an alternator.
The requirements here depend on the time of year and where you’d driving. If it’s winter up north, pack as if you might be stranded in the cold because that’s a possibility. That means a winter coat, warm clothing and even thermal underwear. A sleeping bag can keep you warm as well.
Regardless of the weather, work boots (insulated or not) are always a good idea. Bring an extra pair of footwear in case one gets wet. Packing a pair of tennis shoes makes it easier to get in a workout.
One or two pair of good work gloves (one rubberized) is another necessity, drivers said. And a reflective safety vest can save your life in a dark terminal or by the side of the road.
Electronics and appliances
For over-the-road drivers, the cab is home, and outfitting it for maximum comfort and efficiency is important. Our respondents singled out the CB radio and a high-quality Bluetooth headset as must-haves. A power inverter to power appliances and electronics is another recommendation.
More truckers are preparing and packing food in order to eat healthier and save money, so it’s not surprising that appliances were on everyone’s list: mini-fridges, 12-volt ovens, crockpots, microwaves and coffee makers.
Sometimes, the little things make a difference. Though virtually every truck and cell phone is equipped with a GPS, several drivers still recommended packing an old-fashioned road atlas for those times when electronics fail. Things bounce around in trucks, so it’s a good idea to pack some bungee cords and zipties. Glass cleaner and paper towels keep your windows clean, and hand cleaner, soap and disposable towelettes can do the same for you.
A first-aid kit is a good idea, as is additional food and water.
But the most important thing to bring on the road, according to many drivers, is common sense or, as one trucker put it, “Don’t forget to pack the brain between your ears.”
Whether all the items listed here can even fit into a sleeper cab is questionable, and there probably isn’t a driver on the road who carries them all, but it’s a good start from which drivers can make a list according to their own needs and circumstances.