Due to the relatively small size of semi-truck sleeper cabs, truckers need to be efficient about what items they take on hauls. However, it’s also important to be prepared. If you are a new truck driver, you may feel overwhelmed trying to figure out what exactly is necessary for your first solo trip. This list of truck driver essentials is a good starting point and you can also add to it as you get more experienced with maximizing the space and organization of your truck.
If you get stopped for a roadside Department of Transportation (DOT) inspection, you will need to provide several different documents. It’s a good idea to have all of these well-organized and available at all times.
You should have:
- Your commercial driver’s license (CDL)
- Vehicle registration
- DOT medical examiner’s certificate
- Shipping papers
- Vehicle inspection reports, if applicable
In addition to bringing your wallet and any debit/credit cards you use, it can be helpful to have some cash available in case of an emergency.
Personal Care Products
There are many different items you need to keep up with personal hygiene on the road. Although you may be able to find some of these at truck stops if you forget to pack them, this can quickly get expensive. It’s usually better to be prepared and have everything you need before you hit the road.
You should have:
- Flip-flops for showering at truck stops
- Towels (two or three should be plenty)
- A shower bag or caddy to carry your personal care products
- Basic hygiene items such as shampoo, soap, deodorant, etc.
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Baby wipes for quickly freshening up
Some truckers prefer to meal prep before their hauls and have as many of their meals stored in their rig as possible. Others may be more inclined to pick up food at truck stops and restaurants along the way and just have a few snacks available. However, keep in mind that eating out is often more expensive and less healthy. It’s also important to have a good supply of non-perishable food available in case of an emergency, especially if you are trucking during the winter. In addition to food, make sure to have plenty of fresh water.
You should pack enough clothing to last for the length of your trip and keep options available for layering when you pass through colder regions. Waterproof boots and gloves are also a good idea to have. Keep a bag available for dirty clothes and also bring detergent and any other supplies you need to do laundry at truck stops.
Tools and Truck Maintenance Items
Keeping a tool kit in your truck is essential. This should have wrenches, a hammer, a screwdriver, a flashlight with spare batteries, a tire pressure gauge, and other items to maintain your vehicle. You should be able to find a basic starter tool kit with everything you need, or build your own.
Having cleaning supplies available helps you keep your truck tidy and comfortable.
You should have:
- Paper towels or a reusable alternative
- Your preferred cleaning solution/spray
- Disposable cleaning wipes
- A small broom and dustpan and/or a small handheld vacuum
- Trash bags
Other Truck Driver Essentials
- A road atlas
- A first aid kit
- Any over-the-counter or prescription medicine you will need
- Road flares and cones
- Bedding and extra blankets
- Pens and paper
- Chargers for all of your devices
In addition to the essentials, you may want to bring along other items depending on your personal preferences. As you spend more time on the road, you will be able to determine what is most important for you. Your packing list may include a gaming system, books, small decorations, and more. Even with a small space, you can get creative to make your semi-truck feel like home.
DSW Is a Supportive Trucking Company
At DSW, we support our truckers and want to help you succeed. We have a small company atmosphere with freight that rivals larger carriers. This allows you to get miles, get paid, and get home regularly.