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Truck Driver Essentials: 35 Must-Have Items on the Road

There are a number of truck driver essentials that every trucker should know bout. Learn more about the critical items you need to make your job and life easier on the ro

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Jacob Lee
February 28, 2022
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Truck driver essentials are no joke. Being a trucker is hard work and ensuring that you have everything you need with you before you go out on the road is critical to your success. 

In our nearly 30 years of experience at ABCO Transportation, we’ve found that some of the most important truck driver essentials to have while on the road include: 

  • Important paperwork
  • Work pants
  • A book
  • First aid kit
  • Bathroom supplies
  • Gloves 
  • Sunglasses
  • And many more

The truck you travel in is essentially your home while you're out on the job. Make sure you have these items to make your job a bit easier.

As a company that hires and employs truck drivers, we value the well-being of our drivers. We have found that our drivers use these essential items to help make life better out on the road.

35 Truck Driver Essentials

Items you need on the open road can range from creature comforts, to safety supplies, day-to-day basics and critical items necessary to do your job successfully. We list the top items you'll need when you head out on the road as a truck driver.

1. Important Paperwork

A hand fills out paperwork with a pen

This goes without saying but making sure you have all of the paperwork you need should be your priority before you head out on the road. Having the right paperwork will help you in the event you get into a car accident, get pulled over by DOT, or for a variety of other scenarios

Here’s a list of important paperwork the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires that all truck drivers have (FMCSA):

  • State driver’s or commercial driver’s license (CDL)
  • Medical Certificate and if necessary, Skill Performance Certificate
  • Vehicle registration and safety certificate for the truck
  • Vehicle registration and safety certificate for the trailer
  • Insurance paperwork
  • Record of duty status (also known as a logbook)
  • Most Recent DOT Inspection Document
  • DOT cab card
  • International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) Certificate
  • MCS-90 Form
  • Emissions Certificate
  • Relevant State Permits
  • Bill of Lading and other shipping papers

Depending on the type of goods you're transporting, you might need some additional paperwork. In the case of hazmat shipment, the FMCSA requires you to have paperwork that provides details about the hazmat materials you’re carrying. 

For heavy haul shipments, you will need a permit for freight over 80,000 pounds and that has a width over eight feet and six inches. As you can tell, you’ll be carrying quite a bit of paperwork. Keep your paperwork from getting cluttered by using a binder, folder, or paperwork organizer. 

2. Shirts

The second item on our list of truck driver essentials is shirts. Be sure you pack enough shirts that will either last you the entirety of your journey or for an entire week before you have to wash them.

T-shirts are the most comfortable to wear, but make sure to pack ones that you're not worried about getting dirty. If you know your journey will take you to a cooler climate then pack some quality-made flannels that will help keep you warm.

3. Pants

Packing your bags with plenty of work pants is equally important as having enough shirts. You want your work pants to fit well but also leave enough room for you to move around in. 

Cargo pants are an excellent choice because of the extra pockets and functionality. Jeans are great to wear while you’re trucking as well. They’re comfortable and can withstand a good amount of punishment. 

4. Jacket

A man puts on a jacket

There are a variety of jackets that truck drivers can use to stay warm. A popular one is the windbreaker jacket. Windbreakers are a good option because they will help protect against cold and a light amount of rain. 

Some windbreakers are in high visibility colors that will help you stand out when it’s dark. For routes in extremely cold regions pack at least two heavy jackets. One can have high visibility colors for when you have to get out on a roadway. 

The other jacket can have normal colors for when you need to stay warm while you're off the roadways. Pairing your jacket with flannel will ensure maximum warmth in extremely cold environments. 

5. A Book

As a truck driver, there will be many occasions where you find yourself doing absolutely nothing. This could happen when your trailer is loaded or unloaded or while you're at a truck stop settling in for the night.

Rather than sitting around being bored, take the opportunity to be productive. Having a good book on hand to help entertain yourself will help pass the time. Besides providing entertainment, reading has many different benefits. It will help ease your stress from the day’s events and improve your sleep.

6. Cell Phone Charger

Starting your journey on the road only to realize you have no way of charging your phone is pretty deflating. You can always pick one up once you're on your route but that takes up time and money.  

So much of our lives are on our phones whether we use them for entertainment, communication or information. As a truck driver, there’s a good chance that you even use it for job purposes. Make sure to grab your charger when you prepare to go out on a job. 

7. Healthy Snacks

Health snack food, like apples, celery, carrots, etc.

Eating well while you’re out on the road is difficult. Every time you pass an off-ramp you’ll experience the temptations of big blue logo signs advertising fast-food restaurants. 

Thankfully, they’re plenty of healthy snacks and foods that you can pack that are just as good. From salads to apples and peanut butter to trail mix, there is an endless amount of healthy foods that you can bring with you during your travels. 

You can start on your list by getting some inspiration from our article on 10 healthy snacks for truck drivers

8. Portable Stove

In order to enjoy your healthy meals you’re going to need a portable stove. With this essential item, you will be able to cook just about all the same types of meals you would normally be able to at home. Portable stoves are also easy to clean after use.

9. Emergency Kit

The emergency kit is extremely important for any truck driver. Emergency kits are used when a trucker needs to survive some type of catastrophic events such as a hurricane, flood or tornado. The emergency kit will even come in handy if you find yourself stranded after your truck breaks down.  

Items that your emergency kit should include are:

  • Matches
  • Warning Flag
  • Spare eyeglasses or contact lenses
  • Spare Cash
  • Toilet paper
  • Batteries
  • Fire Extinguisher
  • Zip Ties
  • Jumper Cables
  • Duct Tape
  • One Gallon of Water

10. First Aid Kit

First aid kit supplies, like gauze, bandaids, scissor, etc.

Truck drivers can sustain minor injuries on the job and they must have the means to patch themselves up. A properly stocked first aid kit will allow you to take proper care of yourself in case that happens. Your first aid kit should have the following items:

  • Various adhesive bandages and compresses
  • Gauze
  • Tape
  • Benzoyl peroxide
  • Tweezers
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Hydrocortisone ointment
  • Antiseptic wipes

11. Flashlight

A flashlight is a handy tool you’ll need anytime you’re in the dark. If you think a tire is running low or need to adjust the straps on your load at night a flashlight will help illuminate your surroundings. Make sure that when you pack your flashlight you bring a few spare batteries.  

12. Tools

Tools are very important to have if you ever need to make repairs or adjustments to your truck. Even if you're not a professional mechanic you might be surprised at how many minor malfunctions you can fix on your truck or trailer.

Make sure your toolbox has these items:

  • Zip ties
  • Pliers
  • Brake Cleaner
  • Hammer
  • Pocket Knife
  • Tire Pressure Gauge
  • Set of Wrenches
  • Screwdrivers

13. High Visibility Vest

A person in a yellow safety vest

Although we do recommend having a high visibility jacket, we also recommend getting a high visibility vest for warmer climates. Truck drivers must be seen by drivers when they’re on the side of the road. 

Wearing a high visibility vest over the rest of your clothing will make you stand out whether it's day or night. There are also a variety of high visibility vest styles that you can choose from. 

14. Work Gloves

Work gloves help you in two different ways. First, they protect your hands when you’re in a cold environment. Secondly, they can prevent your hands from sustaining minor injuries when you're working on your truck or completing some other trucker-related task.

There are three types of work gloves that truck drivers in particular enjoy. They are:

  • Canvas Work Gloves
  • Leather Work Gloves
  • Winter Gloves

15. Bathroom Supplies

There are bathrooms at every rest stop and restaurant that you’ll come across when you're on the road. However, you never know when you’ll need to take an emergency bathroom break. Having a few rolls of toilet paper and an emergency bathroom container will be helpful in a pinch situation like this.

16. Personal Hygiene Supplies

Floss, toothpaste, razor, etc.

Even though you’ll spend most of your time on the road within the confines of your truck, personal hygiene is still an important practice to keep. You’ll still be meeting people on your stops and the truth is no one likes the smell of body odor. Rest stops will provide the showers so all you need to have are personal hygiene supplies.

The following items will make your hygiene kit complete:

  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Floss
  • Mouthwash 
  • Deodorant
  • Shampoo
  • Soap or body wash
  • Shower flip flops

17. Sunglasses

One thing you can count on when you’re traveling across the country is that you’ll be out in the sunlight. The sun will put a strain on your eyes especially if they’re sensitive. 

Protect your eyes and save yourself the trouble of squinting for hours on end by getting yourself a pair of sunglasses. Even a cheap pair at a gas station or pharmacy will give your eyes the protection they need. 

18. Road Flares and Cones

Road flares and cones are essential tools to use if your truck ever breaks down. Cones act as an indicator to other vehicles to steer clear of you. 

Flares are useful if you’re ever stranded in the middle of nowhere at night. Setting one off will indicate your position to anyone nearby who can help you.  

19. GPS

A GPS device inside of a vehicle on the road

Knowing where you’re going is an occupational requirement when you're a truck driver. Thanks to modern technology, GPS’s make that requirement easier and more convenient to achieve. 

20. Truck Drivers Atlas

A GPS should handle all of your directional needs. Unfortunately, there’s always the possibility that your GPS could malfunction or sustain damage that will prevent it from working properly.  

Just to be safe, you should always have a truck driver's atlas. Every year updated atlases are released with the most current maps and roads. They also come with the most recent truck regulations and fuel tax charts. 

21. 12-Volt Coolers

A 12-volt cooler makes an excellent addition to your truck driver essentials. These coolers can keep food and drinks cold but also don’t take up too much space within your truck. 

The only downside to 12-volt coolers is choosing which one you should get. Luckily for you, we have an article about the best 12-volt coolers for truckers that will narrow your search down.

22. Cleaning Supplies

A bucket of cleaning supplies, like surface cleaner, gloves, etc.

After many miles of driving around the country, it’s more than likely that the cab of your truck will start to get cluttered and dirty. Your truck is your living quarters for the duration of your trip so it helps to keep it clean. 

You’ll need a few items to keep the inside of your truck clean and smelling fresh. They are:

  • Cloth
  • Disinfectants for rubber surfaces
  • Window cleaner
  • Paper towels
  • Air freshener

In addition to these items, don’t forget to throw away any trash that you have when you reach a rest stop, gas station, or restaurant. 

23. Pajamas

After a long day of trucking down the road, you’ve earned some much-needed rest. There’s no better way to do that than by slipping into some comfortable pajamas. Make sure you pack some for your trip so you won’t have to end up sleeping in your work clothes.

24. Work Boots

While some good tennis shoes might be comfortable, a much safer option is a pair of work boots. Work boots can withstand more punishment than average tennis shoes and they can be just as comfortable. 

Truck drivers encounter all kinds of climates and weather conditions during their travels. That’s why drivers need to have the right footwear to protect them.

There’s also the possibility that heavy items could fall on your feet while you help with freight unloading or as you complete your pre-trip inspections. Our article will help you discern what are the best boots for truck drivers so you know what kind to get.

25. CPAP Machine

A CPAP machine

According to FMCSA, drivers could lose their ability to operate a commercial vehicle (CMV) if they have an illness that affects their driving. That said, you can have your medical condition treated and regain the ability to drive.

While FMCSA doesn’t address sleep apnea directly, drivers should still carry and use their CPAP machines when they sleep. The CPAP is part of treatment for sleep apnea and will help keep a driver safe. 

If you’re a truck driver and think you have sleep apnea we have an article on sleep apnea and truck drivers that will help you discern if you have the illness or not. 

26. Sleeping Bag

Dealing with laying out sheets onto the bed in your truck can be a real hassle.  It’s also just more you have to clean and carry to and from the truck before and after a job. A much more convenient option is a sleeping bag since all you have to do is roll it out and get inside. 

27. Electric Blanket

If you’re settling down for the night in a cold area you might find that your sleeping bag isn’t keeping you warm. A good remedy to deal with the excessive cold in your cabin is an electric blanket. With the press of a few buttons, you can set your electric blanket to the right amount of heat to keep you warm for the night. 

28. Seat Cushions

Seat cushions are a must for truck drivers. Many hours of sitting behind the wheel can take a toll on your neck, back and rump. Having a good seat cushion will keep these areas from hurting and help you stay comfortable for a longer amount of time.

29. Dash Cam

A camera hanging from the ceiling of a vehicle

A dashcam is an item that many truck drivers don’t carry but has numerous benefits. The National Transportation Safety Board (NSTB) urges truck drivers to equip themselves with a dashcam.

Dashcams can provide a truck driver with legal protection in case of an accident. If you’re ever blamed for an accident your dashcam footage can provide the evidence you need to prove that you weren’t at fault.

30. Phone Number Lists

Thanks to cell phones, most people don’t have to memorize phone numbers anymore. This is all well and fine unless for whatever reason your phone breaks. Keeping a list of important phone numbers will ensure that you can still contact important people when you’re on the road.

31. Laptop

A laptop will serve you well when you have some free time. For one, laptops can be used for entertainment services. You can log into your preferred streaming account and bring your favorite shows. 

Or you can listen to audiobooks and immerse yourself in the world of your current novel. Laptops are also a great device for virtual chats and calls with friends or loved ones. While a cell phone can do all of these tasks, a laptop will be more convenient and give you a bigger screen to use.  

32. Office Supplies

Being a truck driver sometimes comes with completing paperwork. That is why it’s good to have some office supplies on hand at all times. Some pens and a small notebook will help you keep notes or any information you might have trouble remembering. 

33. Pocket Knife

An open pocket knife full of tools

While pocket knives could fall into the tools category, they’re unique enough to stand out on their own. What makes them so unique is how compact they are while also fitting numerous tools within them. 

You never know when you might need the services of your pocket knife to fix something on your truck, even if it’s just a minor adjustment.

34. Dash Mounted Cell Phone Holder

Safety out on the road is an important part of the job for truck drivers. Cell phones can be a distracting and dangerous hindrance to your driving. Using a mounted cell phone holder will keep your phone out of your hands while you drive

35. Noise Canceling Headphones

Truck driving takes a toll on drivers which is why they must get their rest. Typically, rest stops shouldn’t be noisy at night. All the same, it’s a good idea to have some noise-canceling headphones to block out any excess noise. Plus you deserve some peace and quiet after a long day of driving.

Get Your Truck Driver Essentials When You Drive for ABCO

Perhaps the most important of all truck driver essentials that a driver could have is a company that cares for them. At ABCO Transportation, you will find just that. 

ABCO transportation has jobs close to you and in many parts around the country. Our drivers are very important to us at ABCO Transportation which is why we make sure they are given adequate amounts of time to go home and recharge.

We also see to it that all of our drivers constantly have steady work. Fill out your truck driver application and start a great career as a truck driver with ABCO.

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