Ten Things Your Truck Shouldn't Be Without

Hilux South Pole_lead
By G.R. Whale

Lawyers and bean counters see to it that no pickup truck comes perfectly equipped. With our 30 years and a million miles in trucks, we’ve compiled a list of the 10 things every pickup should have on it, and we asked some truck people to make sure we weren’t missing something. While your list might be different, we’ve found the more of these items we carry, the less goes wrong. We’ve also approximated weight for each item; the average pickup driver -- we know you’re above-average owners -- would have a hard time measuring any change in fuel economy with or without these things on board.

10 Things Reese hitch
Receiver hitch:
The heaviest item on this list works for much more than towing. Beyond ball mounts, it can secure a rack customized for a clevis or tow hook, a step (or serve as one itself), a vise or work table, dune flag or any 500- to 1,000-pound object you can fab up from a 2-inch square stub. It’s also handy as departure angle skid plates and under-ride devices. 
Weight: 35 to 55 pounds for a half-ton Class IV; up to 20 more for a solid weight-distributing adjustable-height ball mount.

10 Things Fire Ext.
Fire extinguisher:
A no-brainer, these are required in buses, commercial vehicles and passenger cars in many countries. I’ve had a fire on more than one vehicle, and in every case, it was quickly stopped by a small on-board fire extinguisher. They can break truck windows in an emergency, too. They’re best when reachable by the driver or in a door. 
Weight: 3 to 22 pounds for an extinguisher that fits in-cab.

10 Things Spares
Spares box:
Even simple items stop modern pickups and finding the part under your seat is quicker than finding an auto-supply store on a Sunday night. A couple of quarts of oil, gear lube and a gallon of antifreeze won’t fill it, but they might get the truck to a safer location. What to pack in a spares box? Fuel filters minimize bad fuel damage, hoses and belts require few tools, fuses, a couple of light bulbs and maybe a U-joint like a 1330 Cardan joint if your truck runs an odd size. 
Weight: Everything you see, plus four quarts of motor oil weigh 21 pounds.

10 Things Tools
Basic tools:
These complement your spares box and skill set. A 3/8-drive ratchet is often adequate for changing a serpentine belt; for many people, a few sockets, pliers and screwdrivers are all they need. Others go simpler with a Leatherman or Swiss Army multitool. Everyone deserves a good pair of work gloves, a handful of zip ties, a tire pressure gauge you trust, and tools/lugnut keys to change a wheel. 
Weight: 19 pounds for the Craftsman 154-piece kit (above).

10 Things Recovery
10 Things Hi-Lift
Recovery equipment:
If your truck never breaks or gets stuck, your buddy’s will. A tow strap and attachment hardware (D-ring, tree strap, etc.) or length of chain can find traction, move a stubborn obstacle or drag roadkill off the highway. Multipiece shovel kits are handy and easily stowed. A Hi-Lift jack is a versatile tool and with two of them you have a short bridge, but the jack’s weight and size might mean it’s left at home for local trips. 
Weight: Gear shown, plus the shovel handle weigh 19 pounds. A Hi-Lift, available in 3- to 5-foot sizes, is 25 to 32 pounds.

10 Things Portable light
Portable light:
With a hat- or helmet-mounted flashlight, you’re your own toolbox; a tripod-mounted floodlight needs only its own power supply. My truck usually breaks in the dark. Electrical gremlins seem to occur more often in the dark, so relying on the truck’s electrics to fix those same electrics is poor planning. 
Weight: Less than 5 pounds.

10 Things Spare tire
Spare tire:
The days of everything having the same bolt pattern are over. You’ll need the correct wheel, a second set of lug nuts if your spare is a steel/conical mount and the others aluminum/shanked, and a tire with the same static-loaded radius as the other drive tire or tires. Keep it inflated to cold maximum pressures because it’s easier to deflate to the correct psi than inflate it, and since you’re checking your tire pressure monthly, always check the spare. 
Weight: A typical half-ton aftermarket 35/12.50-17 aggressive tire on a 17x8 aluminum wheel weighs 90 to 95 pounds, as does this 33/12.50-16.5.

10 Things Load retention
Load retention gear:
In a hard stop or crash, anything in your truck becomes a missile. I’ve seen an innocuous tissue box and CD case cause injuries that needed stitches. Secure everything with the appropriate bungee cords or nets, tie-down straps, rope, chain, cargo bar or even a seat belt for your cooler to save you a big headache. Literally. 
Weight: Four red five-foot straps (900-pound load rating), four blue 14-foot (1,200-pound load rating) and four yellow (6,000-pound load rating) car tie-downs ring in at 13 pounds.
10 things CB
CB radio:
We’re going old-school because i-this and berry-that don’t work everywhere. Unless you’ve got a satellite phone (and aren’t stuck in a tunnel) and an unlimited air-time budget, a CB makes sense for traveling with or without pals, finding friends in campgrounds and genuine “real-time” road conditions. Channel 9 often gets a faster response than 911 from any mobile phone. Remember to get a good antenna that’s properly mounted. 
Weight: Less than 10 pounds for a large unit with antenna, brackets, microphone, cabling and a PA speaker.

10 Things Safety
Safety equipment:
Punching up OnStar, 911 or Channel 9 still works for major injuries, but a decent first-aid kit and the knowledge base to use it always helps. Flares or warning triangles are good for breakdowns or emergencies; they’re also handy when your rig doesn’t quite fit in the campground or your job site has low visibility. 
Weight: 5 pounds for the gear shown.

Optional: For trucks often off-road or pulling trailers, an air pump is No. 11 on our list. 
Weight: Electric or belt-driven, these can add anywhere from 5 to 100 pounds, depending on performance and installation. 

Using the heavy end of these estimates adds up to 277 pounds or 5 percent on a long-cab half-ton. Leaving the Hi-Lift at home is the same as leaving 5 gallons out of the gas tank, and one passenger could equal the same weight as all this gear put together. It'll be up to you to decided which gear or passengers will be more beneficial for your next trip.


Very good tips and suggestions!

Jumper cables, tape measure, box of matches, box cutter, one bottle unopened water. Little things that mean everything when you need them.

Interesting article. I can see how all of these things can make a difference epically where I live. The winters can get dangerous if you are crazy enough to travel. It gets crazy cold too. I've seen it as low as -52˚C! I would add some extra blankets and/or clothes to the list and maybe even a small heater if you live in the north.

You forgot a few obvious things to add, well for here in Alaska anyway!:

1. Large caliber gun. .45-70 guide gun, shotgun or .480 caliber pistol would do.
2. Arctic gear for up here, or water and shade tarp for the desert. You will die without it.
3. Sat phone.
4. Good first aid kit.
5. Mountain house food and a jet boil. You can live a long time with that combo.
6. Good sleeping bag and bivvy sack.
7. Great boots for if you have to walk out.

NOW you can do it all!

@Huck BB62 Here in Australia a snorkel for your diesel pickup. Even if they do not go off road , you see them attached

BullBars to stop severe damage from Kangaroos, Camels(introduced in the 1880's to help build railways, now 1 million feral animals and Asian Buffalo, introduced by Asian Traders to the Aborigines in Northern Australia and of course cattle.


a small axe and a folding shovel, you can dig yourself out with the shovel, axe can be used as hammer also

i got it just load every thing and any thing in a 20 ft closed trailer and tow it with you every where you go haha

Cooler????? You can keep six packs of... cokes and... anything you want to keep cold, Tommy.

GAS !!!

Great list. Some gear does change based on your geography. In south Texas even the winter gets uncomfortably warm. Pack a small tarp and some bungees and it's a good make-shift shade when you need it. Helps keep you from smelling like bbq after a trailside repair :-)

Or you can just get a Toyota.

fire extinguisher. of course. I saw that and I first thought "that's stupid why would you need a fire extinguisher?" But then I remember the time my old dodge dakota caught on fire. I used a pair of vise grips to temporarily tighten my battery cable and it shorted out. Stupid I know. It started a fire and melted the cable to unlatch the hood so I had no way to put it out. If it weren't for the water truck that just happened to drive by(seriously it was crazy coincidence or act of god) my truck would have been toast. This is a good article. I have all of these things in my truck except for the cb radio and the fire extinguisher. the radio really would come in handy for our fishing trips. Especially in central Idaho where there's no cell phone reception for miles.

Great list. The CB would be useless where I live in Canada. You go offroad, all of the gravel back roads are used as industrial roads for logging and mining. Every commercial vehicle uses VHF radio's. I don't know a single guy with a CB. I have a VHF radio. The problem is that you need a Ham licence, or a licence and permission from the frequency holders. I've talked to tourists that were confused by that fact. They complained that they every rig had antenna's but couldn't contact anyone.
A tarp is manditory. It can e used as shelter or as a ground sheet if you have to do a trailside repair or flat repair. If you have to drive out in really cold weather, you can use the tarp as a "winter front" to keep some of the cold air out of the engine bay. The coldest I remember is -49C without windchill factors. I'd add bug spray, rain gear, axe, shovel, a change of clothes, good boots, and winter cold weather gear. I pack some sleeping bags, spare food and water as well. This does depend on where I am going and the time of the year. A map is also handy if you are in unfamiliar territory.

Fire arms can be a problem in Canada. The only way that you can get a licence for a handgun is if you work in the bush ie. forester, surveyor, prospector, ect. I know guys who prefer something like a Winchester Defender with SSG rounds. Most of the guys I know have dogs for early warning against bears, moose, and cougars.
It pays to be bush smart and prepared.

interesting, even though the truck in the illustration clearly has a truck box, a truck box is not on your list?

Have all of that except the CB which is coming!

You should add proper bumpers and not brushguards!

Skid plates...


The top pic.

Those famous Toyota pickups and Landcruisers, the ONLY pickup to make it to the North Pole and the latter the FIRST to cross Antarctica!

Where is the Raptor and Powerwagon?

Toyota pickups winning wars and battles likewise and being used by U.S. Special Forces, again where is the Raptor/Powerwagon?

The most popular pickup for the United Nations is a Toyota and that is why you see them in all of the hotspots around the world and in military convoy's where the UN is deployed!

Why not the Raptor/Powerwagon?

Toyota pickups are used in many armed forces around the globe yet not a single Raptor/Powerwagon, why?

I forgot to mention Toyota is the most popular pickup to mount a heavy machine gun in the bed...

Not a Raptor/Powerwagon...


ummmm oxi ..... thinkagain... there have been power wagons used in the forces since the 40's might not be any "new" ones out yet but they do have a bunch of rams with diesels. And i don't see a toyota carring 20 or 30 soldiers. It was in the armed forces where the power wagon got its reputation, a strong, carry all, go anywhere truck.

@Oxi, you may have your bias, but what you are saying is right. US Pickups are made for the NA Market, not a global one.If GM Ford and Chrysler had some foresight in the past, they would have realized the potential for that market and acted accordingly. The Ranger and much less so the Colorado are "catch up" vehicles. How Ford goes with the new Ranger outside the US is going to be interesting.

@Judd You do , but it would be a Hino

@oxi - Why not the Raptor/Powerwagon?
1. Special Forces would stand out like a a "Bob" at a Ford event if they used a Raptor/Powerwagon.
2. The Raptor/Powerwagon are NA only products. (If there was an armed conflict in NA, what do you think everyone would be driving?)
3. What does US Border Patrol use? Raptors.
4. Taco's and Hilux - kinda like suicide bombers, there are tons of them around in those parts of the world, and all are expendable.
Do you ever stop and wonder why you get hammered all the time on this site?
It ain't Toyota's fault.

Here ya go.....dodge military history....the real deal



Not talkin smack just sayin the power wagon was and still is a big part of the US armed forces. Anyways that is not what the article is about. Good one though, got almost all of that including the cb. Pretty well rounded list.

RobertRyan: Good one point taken, i guess i was just refering to the US armed forces.

@Lou. Taco's would stand out as well. Hilux's? well as you state their everywhere.

Toilet paper and any gentlemans magazine.

@oxi - what's your obsession with bumpers? The Hilux in the top pic doesn't have your bumpers. Bumpers get heavy and aren't always what you want off-road.

Some vehicles do need them however. My Discovery had plastic bumper covers that shattered at every opportunity. Seems like all it took was hitting a big bug at highway speeds. Come to think of it... I've probably cracked them just by looking at them wrong.

I know what I could do without - Bob and Oxi.


Let us know when the U.S. Military, Homeland Security, U.S. Secret Service, and Federal/state/county/city law enforcement agencies start trading in their fleets for Toyotas.

I would like to see (not really) these agencies give up their; Canyons, Chargers, Colorados, Crown Victorias, Econolines, Expeditions, Impalas, Rams, Rangers, Sierras. Silverados, Suburbans, and Tahoes -for Camrys, Tacomas, and Tundras.

Buy American. US Special Forces already do
"Let us know when the U.S. Military, Homeland Security, U.S. Secret Service, and Federal/state/county/city law enforcement agencies start trading in their fleets for Toyotas."

"Originally, I had thought the U.S. military did not
currently use military Toyotas, but I have since been corrected. Japan donated a number of Land Cruiser
75s to the U.S. military for the 1st Gulf War effort and they were used in a variety of functions at U.S.
military bases all over the world. Apparently, even a Land Cruiser 80 was used by General Norman
Schwarzkopf. The Land Cruiser and Hilux is still used extensively today by American and other military
forces in the Middle East. Even the American built Toyota Tacoma was used in combat by American special
forces in Afghanistan. Many of these Tacomas were literally purchased off of the showroom floor in the
U.S. and pressed into combat service in Afghanistan after minor modifications, still sporting their shiny
factory paint jobs and aluminum wheels! Below you'll see pictures of all these mentioned military Toyotas
and more.

Toyota Tacoma US Special Forces

A Model of a Hilux used in Afghanistan

@ Buy American , JohnR talked about the current Asian (Not Global ) Ranger.
"To Ford Motor Co., I am stationed in the middle east and drive a Ford Ranger 4dr 4X4, with a 4cyl diesel with a 5sp manual tranny. Guess what everybody, it runs great , works great and drives great. So Ford M.C., why can't we get it in the U.S.? I would buy one. If it's good enough for us troops to drive overseas, why don't you make it available in the U.S.? Why force Americans to buy small foreign pickups because you refuse to make these trucks available?
Posted by: JohnR | Nov 1, 2011 3:10:50 AM"

Photos of the Asian Ranger in Afghanistan,

I guess its time to visit the gun shop. You can never leave a home in your pick up without a durable line of defense to thefts.

Good article! Thank you. . It's great! And you bought me two of them! check out truck tie downs

Just dont buy a ford and you shouldnt have a problem!

Good list i would also advise a tire repair kit to go with your compresser

@84 Chevy

Thanks for your comment! I'd add a can of aerosol tire inflator, a few bottles of water, even just a milk jug full.

This is so true. I've been in a few sticky situations where I definitely could have used some of these things and ever since, I've really tried to be prepared. You really can never be too careful because you never know when you're going to break down in the middle of nowhere at night in the canyon with no cell phone reception. Can you tell I've had some bad experiences?

Cambria Rhay | http://www.northern4wd.com.au

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