Your Guide to the Bits No Truck Should Be Without
by Jason Giacchino
When it comes to our pickups, each model year witnesses more and more OEM equipment coming standard to make our lives a wee bit easier. Think about it: items like voice-activated navigation, GPS, CD players, even cup holders have all become standard equipment. Even so, it seems like there are some important items that are left out.
Because luck favors the prepared, we’ve assembled the top 5 items no truck should be without. They may not all be standard equipment yet, but that doesn’t mean we should travel without them. Are you listening, Santa?
#5) Tire Inflator Kit
Whereas once a simple plug or patch kit was as good as it got for emergencies, these days enthusiasts have an incredible selection of tire inflation kit options. From 12-volt compressors that run off the vehicle’s electrical outlet to rapid canister inflation tanks of nitrogen or CO2. So effective are these kits that some manufacturers have actually forgone spare tires for the weight savings of tire repair equipment.
#4) Tie Down Straps
What’s that you say? You don’t need tie down straps because you have no plans of transporting a motorcycle or ATV? These things have countless uses in the cargo-securing department and as anyone who has driven a pickup can attest, some of the most important payloads come unexpected. Most truck beds come equipped with hooks, indents or loops designed specifically for this purpose. If you absolutely cannot abide dedicated tie downs, bungee cords, nets, rope, chain, or even an old seat belt should be something none of us travel without.
# 3) Flashlight
If you know anything about Murphy’s Law, you realize that trouble is going to strike at the most inopportune time, and unless you happen to be a bat, that would include an absence of sunlight. And bats make notoriously lousy drivers. There is no shortage of portable light styles and shapes to choose from, but the best bets are those that include some sort of charging system which works inside the vehicle as a flashlight with dead batteries is nothing but a space-taker. There are even LED flashlights that operate off the charge of a hand-crank, and hence never need batteries or a charger.
# 2) Tow Strap
There’s something about owning a pickup (4-wheel drive especially) that automatically implies willingness to tug, yank or pull others out of sticky situations. Ropes and chains can work in a pinch for this purpose, but the risk of failure is much higher and completely needless. Besides, while we like to hope we’ll never find ourselves in the situation, a tow strap could be essential should we find ourselves in a sticky situation requiring the willingness of someone else to tug, yank or pull us free.
#1) Fire Extinguisher/ First Aid Kit
A decent first-aid kit and at least basic knowledge on how to use it is never a bad idea. Additionally flares or warning triangles are extremely useful for breakdowns or roadside emergency situations. There’s a reason fire extinguishers are mandatory in many commercial vehicles: machines that put out high heat and carry tanks of flammable liquid are essentially bombs on wheels. A fire extinguisher can make the difference between a light singe and a smoking crater. Besides, the tank can be used to smash out a window in an emergency.
While there is truth to the notion that vehicles are becoming ever-more complex pieces of equipment, by nature, there’s still a lot of wisdom in carrying a universal tool kit””or at the very least a pocket multi-tool. Roadside repairs are at least a possibility with a modest assortment of common tools, and a pair of work gloves can be absolutely priceless. Oh, while the weather’s getting worse and worse, you never know when you’re going to need a shovel to dig yourself out; if you’re hoping to save space, check out the vast assortment of avalanche shovels meant for use in backcountry skiing, they break down small enough to fit in a backpack!