In 1907, an English soldier came up with the Scout motto: Be prepared. It was adopted in 1910 by the Boy Scouts of America when the scouts expanded to the United States. More than a hundred years later, it’s still excellent words to live by, especially for truck owners.
Why truck owners? Because we’re the guys who know how to do stuff. Who else do you call when something goes wrong? When you need help? There’s a reason your friends depend on you. Not all heroes wear capes.
Here’s what you need to carry to help friends, family, and random strangers with everything from a grizzly attack to a tire change.
- Tools for Repairs and Maintenance
- Tools for Off-roading, Overlanding, and Camping
- Tools for Towing
- Tools For Emergencies, Safety, and The Nitty Gritty
- The Ultimate Tool (DECKED Drawer System)
Tools for Repair and Maintenance (Your Everyday Tool Kit)
Your neighbor calls. She’s got a flat tire or her car won’t start. Or maybe you’re driving down to the lake and run over some Fourth of July broken glass, so now you’ve got a flat. It could be just about anything. We’re not talking about heavy-duty truck tools, just what you might need to repair common problems. Here’s a basic list of automotive must-haves for anybody who wants to be self-reliant, help others, and solve problems.
- Jack and Jack Stands – Flat tires are one of the most common rescue scenarios. If you’ve got a truck, don’t settle for a standard jack. Standard jacks can hardly get a small SUV off the ground (don’t ask how we found out, it’s embarrassing). Let’s just say we wished we had this Powerbuilt heavy-duty jack at the time. It’s so sturdy it doesn’t even require jack stands.
- Jumper Kit and Cables – The most basic of necessary service tools are jumper cables. Compact, portable jump starters are easy to come by and sure to come in handy. You won’t find yourself trying to do a 180 on the shoulder of a busy highway to reach a stranded friend or trying to avoid sliding into a ditch while pulling up along the side. You can just take this bad boy with you, straight to your buddy. A good kit will also include a battery tester and amp clamps to test the battery.
- Zip-ties or Cable Ties – These can be surprisingly handy. You can use them to wire a bumper back on if it’s dragging after a collision with a tree or a deer. There are about a thousand scenarios in which you might need one of these things during a repair. They take up almost no space; you might as well keep them on hand!
- Tool Box or Backpack – Everybody should have a basic set of tools in their vehicle. They don’t exactly have to be specialty tools, just basic hand tools you might need to perform a quick repair, like cleaning battery terminals or tightening hoses anywhere. To outfit your tool box or backpack for basic repairs, you’ll need:
- Wrenches (metric for automotive use)
- Rackets and socket set (check out the Torx collection from Lisle)
- Multimeters plus those zip-ties we mentioned
Bonus: Generator – If you want to prepare for anything, add a generator to your wish list. Nothing is handier than a generator. Whether you’re camping, hunting, off-roading, or at home during a power outage, a small generator can power the basics.
Tools for Off-roading, Overlanding, and Camping
When you’re going off the grid, you need extra prep to be ready for everything from a harmless little sprinkle to a torrential act of god. The great outdoors, while great, can sometimes spell disaster if we ain’t ready. Here’s a list of some essential truck tools you might need to be prepared for just about anything.
- Recovery/Ratchet Straps – Ratchet straps attach and then tighten to hold things securely in place without the stretchy give of a bungee cord or the inconvenience of knots. The ratchet action acts as a slack adjuster, tightening up the connection as necessary.
- Snow Remover or Ice Scraper – Depending on where you live, an ice scraper might come in handy on those pre-dawn hunting trips, even in Florida. (That’s right, icy windshields happen. One or two days a year.) Regardless, if your location calls for it, have these on hand so you can make it back in time for dinner.
- Snow Chains – Again, this only makes sense depending on the area you live in. If your town or city sees frequent snow, you want to make sure you keep snow chains as part of your everyday gear. Some mountains or overland terrain won’t let drivers pass without chains on hand. Don’t get caught out there with your pants down (especially if you didn’t bring snow chains…)! Keep these on deck.
- Air Compressor – A tire inflator is another handy little gadget to carry. You can use an air compressor to inflate anything, not just vehicle tires. You can inflate bike tires, footballs (you’re not Tom Brady, you don’t need soft balls), inner tubes, and inflatable mattresses (which they make to fit your truck bed).
Traction Boards – If you’re way off-road, alone, and stuck in the mud, traction mats are invaluable. You know what happens when you try to push and gun the engine…mud bath! With a few of these handy inventions, you just work the edge under the wheels, and you gain enough traction to drive out easily, even in seriously sloppy terrain. Take a look at the MAXSA Escaper Buddy Traction Mats, FieryRed Traction Boards with a jack lift base, or these Off-road Traction Boards and hit checkout!
Tools for Towing
As we mentioned before, when you have a truck, you’re likely going to need to tow something for someone at some point. You’re going to be called to tow vehicles to repair shops, pull trailers or boats, and do all kinds of rescue operations. From tales of cows being rescued from semi-frozen lakes to vehicles needing to be dragged out of the ditch, tools for towing are essential for every truck driver.
- Winches (electric, cable, etc.) – We love a good winch. Your winch is a fantastic rescue tool, grounded by 2 or 3 tons of truck weight, assuming you’re not parked on the sand. They’re a classic tool and don’t take up too much space. Heavy-duty and sleek, almost every die-hard guy with a truck has got one of these attached.
- Tie-downs – You’ve got plenty of tie-down options available, including bungee cords, ratchet straps, chains, and nylon rope. Use the method most appropriate for whatever you’re trying to secure or rescue.
- Recovery Slings – Recovery straps are slightly stretchy nylon webbing designed to allow for tugs and jerks. The ends are looped to attach with anchor shackles. They are used primarily for lifting or pulling but aren’t the strongest thing you can get.
- Tow Straps – Tow straps look similar to recovery slings, but they are not stretchy and usually come with hardware attached. They are effective pullers used to tow one vehicle behind another and should not be used for recovery.
Chains With Hooks – Heavy-duty chains are the ultimate tool. They’re heavy but easy to handle and attach. They won’t break or come apart under pressure. They make towing heavy objects, like another vehicle or a fallen tree, less risky.
Tools for Emergencies, Safety, and the Nitty Gritty
Now we come to the common sense part of the article. When you go overland, you have certain basic needs you can’t afford to ignore. We’re talking basic handy-dandy everyday stuff. Luckily, you can find most of this stuff on Amazon. Just fill up your shopping cart and have it delivered. Ain’t modern life grand!
- Spare Key – A no-brainer. Who hasn’t lost their car keys or locked them in the truck? A spare key in a magnetic box is a smart move when you’re out in the wilderness. You don’t need a professional installer. Just make sure it’s secure and accessible only to you.
- Spare Tire and Repair Kit – Get rid of that useless balloon tire and get yourself a real tire. Before you head out, make sure it’s inflated and in good condition. You might also want to stock a repair kit for minor issues. For about 40 bucks, you can pick up a flat tire repair kit with everything you need to plug a puncture, including pliers, T-handle tools, hex keys, plug material, and other helpful stuff.
- First-aid Kit – You can get one for real cheap, but we recommend the deluxe versions, jam-packed with life-saving equipment and OTC meds packed in a waterproof bag, like this one from Surviveware.
- Extra Coolant – Engine coolant is a handy thing to have. Your engine block is nothing to take for granted. Overheating is such a common problem in older trucks that it should be a no-brainer.
- Trash Bags – Leave the great outdoors the way it’s meant to be. As folks who spend a lot of time out there, we hate when we get to a hiking rest stop and it’s covered in litter. Keep some trash bags on hand. For yourself, for others, or even for some rain. You just never know when you need to need to fashion a raincoat out of trash bags, but when you do, you’ll be glad you have them.
- Road Flares – Flares are pretty handy in that scenario where you or a friend (or even a stranger; after all, you’re the good guy) are stuck on the side of a highway. Get a set of flashing lights to warn drivers on the road and be easy to spot.
- Flashlight – Again, don’t cheap out on a dollar store plastic flashlight. Get a tactical flashlight bright enough to illuminate a big area and sturdy enough to survive running it over with your truck. Some of them even have a strobe, which seems like a handy thing to have if wolves are stalking you or there’s a bear after your picnic basket.
- Jerrycan or Canister – Bring something to carry clean water and spare yourself a bout of gut-wrenching giardia. These days, any stream can be downstream from a plant or other source of pollution.
- Phone Charger – You may want to go off-grid, but without social media, did it really happen? Just kidding, your phone is a lifeline, an entertainment center, a weather station, and a star map for clear nights. It’s a quick resource for plants, snake bites, and how to field dress a wound. YouTube has everything you need to know. Want proof? Here’s how to fix a fan belt with pantyhose. Pick up an adapter and turn that unused cigarette lighter into a versatile power port for all your devices.
- GPS – Your phone has GPS, but there are places your phone will not work. Garmin makes handy GPS tools with preloaded maps that work anywhere.
- Map – When all else fails, you can always count on print. It may be old-school, but at least the battery won’t die, and you don’t need 5G to make a printed map work.
- Duct Tape and Electrical tape – “Duct tape is like The Force. It has a light side and a dark side, and it holds the universe together.” No idea who said that, but it’s 100% true. If you need it and don’t have it, you’ll rue the day. Electrical tape is handy if you have a short.
Toilet Paper – Do you really need an explanation for this one? Even if you’re hiking on a trail with restrooms, they may not be equipped. And unless you’re sure you can recognize poison oak, we don’t recommend leaves.
Organize Your Tools Inside the DECKED Drawer System
So. Now you’re ready, but where on earth are you going to put all this stuff? What’s the point of having the right gear for any situation if you show up looking like a sh*t show? How are you going to lay out a truck bed mattress and put up a truck tent? Don’t worry; we have the perfect answer to your organization dreams.
The DECKED Drawer System.
Outfit the entire length of your truck bed with an easy slide-out drawer system and pack all your stuff under an elevated platform. Your gear is safe, secure, and bone dry, and you still have a truck bed capable of supporting a 2,000 lb payload. Plus, you cover your wheel wells to give you an even bigger load surface. Customize your drawers with a combination of modular storage options:
- DECKED Boxes and Bags – Build your dream solution using our Crossboxes, D-Boxes, Drawerganizers, and dividers. DECKED offers modular storage. Put your power tools in one box, your camping kitchen in another, and your hunting gear in a third. This makes going from work to weekend as easy as switching out a couple of pre-packed boxes. Because this is modular, you can switch different D-Boxes in or out depending on if you’re going camping or to a job site.
The new DECKED Tool Box – You read that right. There’s a new tool box on the market, and one of em’s got your name on it. The DECKED Tool Box comes with an innovative ladder that brings all your gear and tools to you. Waterproof, secure, and made with YOU in mind, the DECKED Tool Box checks all the boxes.
Being prepared is the only way you can be sure you have what you need, when you need it. Whether you’re out in your neighborhood, on the highway, or answering the call of the wild, you’re going to run into situations that require tools, equipment, and occasionally, bandages. Don’t let life take you by surprise and leave you stranded. Be ready for anything that comes your way. Be prepared. And let DECKED help you where we can.