Essential Items to Carry in Your Truck

A truck driver can be on the road for days or weeks on end. You have limited space but need to be prepared for every situation, making it easy to over- or under-pack. Organizing a checklist of your essential items can make packing for your next haul much easier.

Preparing Your Vehicle for Your Next Haul

1. Personal Items  

A truck driver’s job is time-sensitive, making it difficult to schedule exercises. Proper dieting can help you stay fit when you’re on the road.  Instead of potato chips and chocolate, stock your truck with healthy foods. Fruit, protein bars, salads, yogurt, trail mix, and beef jerky are available at any truck stop or supermarket.  

Truck driverIn winter, a haul between Ohio and Louisiana will mean traveling in two very different climates. When on the road, you have to prepare for the weather you might encounter. Pack for expected or unexpected road and weather conditions. Not every truck stop has laundry services, so you might re-wear an outfit or two. This will save you space in your rig.  

On some trips, you may be sleeping in your cab rather than a hotel. Bring some of the comforts of home with you by adding bedding to your sleeper berth. 

When going on vacation, you usually pack your hygiene products in a small bag. Use the same strategy when packing for a haul. Bring the necessities, like a toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant, and a shaving razor. Some truck stops have showers, so you can save space by storing your products in a shower bag

While you may never need it, truck drivers should always have a basic first aid kit in their cab. If you’re on any medication, make sure they’re approved by the Department of Transportation. Then set some aside in your kit in case you forget your prescriptions at home.

When traveling across states, debit and credit card purchases might get flagged as suspicious. Cash is more straightforward—save the cards for emergencies. Hide a few hundred dollars in your rig if you lose your wallet.

2. Truck Supplies

Your truck has to be as prepared as you are. For minor repairs between service stops, have a basic tool kit on-hand. You should also purchase a de-icer, a multi-tool, an LED flashlight, zip ties, brake cleaner, and work gloves for extra assistance.

The road’s terrain varies, sometimes making it necessary to inspect your tires. Have a tire gauge and a fifth wheel puller on-hand. Pullers release fifth tires from the trailer floor quickly and keep you from getting dirty. They’re also used to adjust axle weight, rearrange air lines, and open trailer doors. The chrome versions are the most durable and cost-effective.

truck driverWeather can affect road conditions, especially in winter. Some states will require you to install snow chains on your tires. These laws are most common in western and northern states and areas of high elevation. Depending on your route and the season, you should stay familiar with chain laws.  

Over long trips, your cab and sleeper will need cleaning up. Handheld vacuum cleaners are portable and effective. Items like paper towels and all-purpose cleaners will work on your mirrors and dashboard, ensuring your truck is safe and doesn’t get stuffy.

Keep important documents in your truck’s glove compartment. Include your insurance information, registration, and a copy of your CDL.

Maintaining paper backups can save you time if your electronic devices fail. If you lose reception or your GPS is defective, a paper road atlas will prevent you from getting lost. You should also update a paper logbook daily in the event your electronic logging device (ELD) becomes unresponsive.  

If your truck breaks down, emergency gear makes handling the situation easier. A reflective safety vest will make you visible to drivers in the dark while you inspect your truck. Place road flares, cones, or a reflective triangle in the area to signal caution, protecting both your vehicle and passing motorists. If it’s going to take time for help to arrive, keep non-perishable foods, bottled water, and extra blankets with your gear.  

3. Necessary Electronics

During your pre-inspection, make sure your electronic logging device is functioning. If the ELD is an app on your phone or tablet, make sure it’s working and you packed any necessary chargers. ELDs allow truck drivers to manage their on- and off-duty hours. They clock drivers’ driven hours to ensure they don’t exceed their 11-hour maximum. By eliminating the need to file physical paperwork, drivers save at least $705 a year and more than 20 hours of drive time.

As a trucker, you’re a professionally trained driver, but many others on the road aren’t. That’s why many trucker drivers choose to install a dash cam in their vehicles. In case of an accident or a ticket, the footage can prove you were not at fault, saving you and your company a headache. Dash cams with time stamps and a GPS feature can also be used as an alternative if your ELD malfunctions on the road.

Truck driverCB radios have been an essential part of every rig since the early ‘70s. Drivers use them to alert each other to changes in weather and traffic in real-time. CBs also allow truckers to stay in touch with each other, creating friendships across thousands of miles of highway.

While you’re at home, prepare your meals for your next trip. There are minifridges designed to fit in a truck’s cab so that they won’t take up much space. When you’re ready to eat, portable microwaves and crock pots can heat them. You’ll not only be eating healthier, but you’ll be saving money too

Weather patterns can drastically in a few hundred miles. Modern hand crank radios are connected to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NOAA provides instant alerts about weather emergencies in your area. The radios also serve as a multi-purpose device. Hand cranks can be used as a regular AM/FM radio. With a USB port, they can charge your other electronic devices. They also have a built-in LED flashlight that can be used as an SOS beacon. 

Driving a truck no longer means being cut off from your family. During long trips, cell phones help you stay connected. For entertainment, apps like Audible and Spotify can play audiobooks, podcasts, and music. After your shift, you have to spend a mandatory 10 hours off-duty. Eating meals doesn’t count as being off-duty, so you might be spending the majority of that time in your sleeper. Laptops and tablets can help you unwind by streaming films, TV shows, and video games.

However, being in a sedentary job can make you restless, even in your off-hours. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires drivers to stay fit to keep their CDL. Unfortunately, it’s difficult for truck drivers to find the time to go to a gym. Apps like Active Trucker, which is available for Android and iOS phones, will help you stay in shape without needing a gym or any equipment. The exercises take only 15 minutes and begin with simple workouts. As your fitness increases, the difficulty of the exercises will too.  

Modern devices have made the lives of truck drivers more comfortable, but they will drain your rig’s battery. Invest in a portable power station that runs on rechargeable batteries rather than your vehicle’s power source. Power stations include outlets for appliances and smaller power tools and USB ports.  

For nearly 40 years, Hamrick School has helped thousands of Medina, OH, residents begin new careers as truck drivers. Their accredited CDL program offers personalized training on flexible schedules. Students are provided with in-class and behind the wheel experience from expert instructors. To learn about their streamlined admissions process and financial aid options, call (330) 239-2229. For more information on their services, including job placement assistance, visit their website.

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