Professional truck drivers are a unique breed made up of hard-working men and women who love the freedom of the open road and the many advantages that come with it. One thing that sets the successful truck driver apart from the rest is preparation. You can’t be successful on the road without being prepared and ready to handle whatever may arise along the way.
Comfort while out driving is important, however, due to the drastically different jobs you may encounter on a daily basis, knowing what items to have on hand for a relaxing drive can be difficult to pinpoint. Industry professionals have compiled a handy list of items every owner-operator truck driver should have on hand.
1. 6-Gallon Water Jugs
Many truckers, especially those new to the profession, may not realize how important regular access to clean water can be during long hauls. Whether it’s for maintaining proper hygiene, cooling down a faulty radiator, or to have an emergency supply to keep hydrated, truckers should always have several gallons of water on hand. For fleet drivers, having a supply of clean water is considered to be among the list of mandatory gear needed on the job.
One-gallon water jugs are easily found in most supermarkets, gas stations and truck stops. They tend to be the cheaper option, however, 6-gallon jugs are typically made of sturdier material and will not run out or require constant refilling like their one-gallon counterparts. Six-gallon jugs are available in a variety of styles for easy storage and their larger capacity makes the six-gallon jugs a better option for long trips.
The majority of your work as an owner operator will not require strenuous labor or be handling hazardous materials. In the event that you do require hand protection, a reliable pair of work gloves will definitely come in handy. A decent pair of cowhide leather gloves will get the job done, however, you may want to consider Mechanix work gloves for a little more comfort and dexterity. Work gloves are a necessary part of your personal protection equipment (PPE) to ensure safety and prevent injuries.
3. Multiple Ratchet or Winch Straps
Any seasoned trucker will tell you multiple straps are an incredibly useful tool. In addition to tying down heavy loads, both ratchet and winch straps are used for many other applications while on the road. Ratchet straps accommodate specific weights and are operated by a hand crank, whereas winch straps can be paired with a high torque winch bar – tolerating higher tensions and larger loads. Even if your rig already has a set of ratchet straps, it’s definitely worth looking into an extra pair of ratchet or winch straps. When you have tight deadlines to meet, being over-prepared is never a bad thing!
Your rig will probably never see the deep recesses of space, but there may come a time when you’re broken down in the middle of a frigid winter storm. In this case, a space blanket can be an incredibly useful, even lifesaving, item to have on hand. Despite the sci-fi appearance, space blankets keep you warm by reflecting your own body heat back, instead of letting the excess heat escape through convection.
Space blankets are more efficient at keeping you warm than traditional cloth or fur blankets, as well as incredibly compact and easy to store. Lifesaving and lightweight, a space blanket is a must-have while on the road.
Space blankets are an especially low-weight, low-bulk blanket made of heat-reflective thin plastic sheeting. Their design reduces the heat loss in a person’s body which would otherwise occur due to thermal radiation, water evaporation, or convection. Their compact size before unfurling and light weight make them ideal when space is at a premium.
5. Corner Protectors
These go in hand with straps or chains – corner protectors protect your cargo and your gear when used in tie-down applications. They are manufactured in a variety of different materials, most commonly from high-quality plastic or rubber. Corner protectors extend the life of your straps and chains while reducing tie-down related damage to your cargo. Plastic and rubber are ideal for straps or banding applications, whereas steel or metal protectors are best-suited for use with chains or on cargo with delicate corners. Many seasoned truckers swear by these!
When traveling alone as an owner-operator, it’s important to stay alert and focused. Staving off boredom not only makes the ride more enjoyable, it makes driving safer. While music is great, it will only last for so long before you’ve heard the same song one too many times. You obviously cannot be watching Netflix or Hulu while your driving on the road for safety concerns, however Audiobooks are an excellent alternative! There are hundreds of thousands of audiobooks available and the choices of stories are virtually limitless – new books are being published every day!
If you’ve already joined the audiobook club, consider a subscription with Audible which lets you listen to an unlimited number of books starting at just $14.95 a month.
An aluminum walk ramp is a valuable tool to have on hand in case your destination is not equipped with a loading dock or if the lift on the back of your rig suffers a malfunction. When you need to efficiently move cargo in and out of your trailer or flatbed, a walk ramp is a tool you will need to get the job done. Lightweight and sturdy enough to take on heavy loads with traction surfaces available, walk ramps are an essential tool to have in your rig.
Bonus: Quality Multi-Tool
If you’re a trucker, chances are you probably already have a handful of multi-tools in your collection. When choosing your everyday “go-to” tool, it’s important to not skimp on price. You’re going to want something that stands up to heavy daily use and will last for years. You’ll be doing yourself a favor in the long run by splurging a little on a quality multi-tool.
Some suggestions are a Leatherman tool – wave, Needlenose & Regular Pliers, Hard-wire Cutters/Wire Stripper, Serrated Knife, Saw, Spring-action Scissors, Ruler (8 in | 19 cm), Can Opener, Bottle Opener, Wood/Metal File, Diamond-coated File, Small and Large Bit Driver, Medium Screwdriver
AutoXscape – Vehicle-mounted Lifesaving Flashlight with Escape Window Breaker, Rescue Seatbelt Cutter, and Survival SOS Mode
Trucker’s Friend – Includes curved axe, spanner, hammer, nail puller, tire chain hook, pry bar and lever
Years of experience will teach you what will work best for you during long trips. With the above tools at your disposal and a solid grasp of the trucking industry, you’ll be a pro in no time. From protecting your gear to staying alert and entertained during long overnight hauls, the life of an owner-operator is never boring!
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