Semi Truck Checklist: Trucker Driving Essentials

Congratulations on your new job driving a flatbed truck, freight truck or something similar. Before you set out on your first long run, you should brush up on the things truckers need to better ensure you start your journey off on the right foot. With that in mind, here’s a thorough list to help you compile a checklist. 

Comfortable Clothes 

If your company doesn’t have a uniform, you’re free to wear whatever you want. It’s best you wear comfortable t-shirts or button-down shirts that are breathable, to better ensure your comfort. When deciding on whether to pack jeans or shorts, check the forecast of the area you’ll be traveling to. Off-duty comfy clothes and pajamas are also a good idea, as are comfortable driving shoes and a jacket. You may need a hat or something to protect your head and ears from the elements. 

Road Atlas

Even if you have GPS on your phone or a GPS device in your truck, it’s still a good idea to bring a road atlas. That way, if you ever lose signal or power to your devices, you still have a reliable way to navigate your way to your final destination. You may be able to find a free paper atlas at a truck stop, or you can buy a laminated map, which is more expensive, but also able to stand up to more punishment and spills. 

Safety Apparel 

Safety trucker supplies are a must. Specifically, you’ll need:

  • Steel-toed boots if you drive a flatbed, and insulated boots for winter drives
  • Safety goggles/glasses
  • Coveralls (to reduce stains on your regular clothing) 
  • Raincoat
  • Polarized sunglasses, or other sunglasses designed to reduce sun glare

Check with your company to see if they provide any safety apparel. That way, you don’t have to spend your own money if you don’t have to. 

Atlas Aids

Touching back on your atlas for a moment, having sticky notes you can use to write down your destination or notes saves you a step. Also, sticky notes help maintain safety, so you can quickly glance at the map to successfully orient yourself without taking your eyes off the road longer than necessary. You can also use dry erase markers to make notes right on a laminated map. 

You can also use your windshield as a type of atlas aid, as well. Write down the directions to your final destination in the corner of your windshield with a dry erase marker. Use window cleaner wipes to both get rid of the directions and clean the rest of your windshield, giving you a crystal-clear view of the road ahead. 

Overnight/Grooming Kit 

You can pack all the right clothes, know exactly where you’re going, protect yourself from harm and the elements and still not feel quite right. You can’t forget your personal grooming and cleaning products. You’ll need a toothbrush, toothpaste, shower flip-flops, shaving kit, dental floss, bath towel, mouthwash, deodorant, body wash/soap, washcloth, body lotion. Just because you drive a truck doesn’t mean you can’t have great skin. Look into buying an exfoliating body scrub to slough off dead skin cells and give your skin a healthy glow while you’re behind the wheel, something that’s sure to make you feel better. 

If you wear contacts or glasses, pack a cloth to wipe your lenses clean, contact solution, a case for your contacts and an extra pair of contacts in case something happens to your current pair. Women, don’t forget to pack tampons. It’s also a good idea to have a shower caddy to make it easy to cart around your shower supplies. 

Cleaning Supplies 

Messes are bound to happen in your truck while you’re on the road, no matter how careful you are. Pack a portable vacuum cleaner, disinfectant spray and wipes, laundry detergent, paper towels, and dashboard conditioner to keep your driving space tidy and in order. You’re sure to feel at ease when the inside of your truck is clean and in order; it’s one less thing you have to worry about, and it can go a long way in quelling any anxiety you may have behind the wheel.  

Gloves

Pack both gloves designed to keep your hands warm and work gloves in case you have to unload or load your haul. 

Sleeping Gear

Make sure you’re comfortable with your bedding. Packing an extra blanket is a great idea for those chilly winter nights. Bring a comfortable pillow with you, maybe one with memory foam for extra comfort. Depending on your sleeping habits and your truck’s design, a sleeping mask can help block out light from the truck stop or daylight if you drive at night.

Emergency Gear

For sudden inclement weather conditions, breakdowns and the like, you’ll need to stash some emergency gear in your truck:

  • Emergency weather gear
  • Reflective safety vest
  • Road cones and flares
  • Work boots
  • Tire chains
  • First aid kit
  • Cell phone and charger
  • List of emergency contacts (in case your phone loses power or breaks)

Truck Toolbox 

Your truck could have a minor breakdown in the middle of a long haul, or you may just want to take care of some basic maintenance while you have some downtime. Either way, having a truck toolbox is a good idea. In it, you’ll need:

  • Screwdriver
  • Zip ties
  • Brake cleaner
  • Wrench set
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Pocket knife
  • Flashlight (with spare batteries)
  • Hammer

With this toolkit (along with some basic knowledge about truck repairs), you don’t have to worry about waiting for roadside assistance to address a minor repair you can take care of on your own with the right tools and a bit of know-how. 

Meals and Snacks

No road trip is complete without quality snacks; plus, your body needs fuel just as much as your truck does. Truck stop food or fast food restaurant selections may not be the most nutritious, and you can quickly go broke eating at restaurants for all your meals. Pack snacks and easy-to-make meals like bread, peanut butter, crackers, apples, baked goods, snack crackers, premade salads, canned soups and bananas. You may need a small fridge and/or portable hot plate to keep and prepare everything. 

Be sure you’ve got these trucking items before your next long haul. They’re sure to make your journey more efficient and enjoyable.

2 thoughts on “Semi Truck Checklist: Trucker Driving Essentials

  1. It was helpful when you mentioned that you should have emergency gear. My uncle is wanting to get a semi-truck to drive for his business and was wanting to know how to be safe. I’ll make sure to pass these tips along to him so he can know how to be safe when driving a semi-truck.

    1. Kate – I’m glad you found this article helpful. We have many more articles on similar topics including in-case of emergency contacts and tool box basics.

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