Commercial truck driving takes a special combination of driver skill, attention to surroundings and, perhaps most importantly, patience and preparation.
It’s a tough job made tougher by variable driving conditions and changing weather, both of which are out of drivers’ control. What drivers can control, however, is the gear they bring along to make each trip easier to bear.
On top of necessary items like spare clothing or sunglasses, additional tech equipment is vital for improving comfort and assuring driver safety. Here are five essential gadgets every truck driver needs before hitting the open road, compiled by Trucks.com and Commercial Truck Trader.
1. GPS Device
Using a GPS device is about as mandatory on the road as getting proper sleep, and Garmin’s nuvi 2789LMT is a reliable co-pilot. The device has a 7-inch color screen that functions horizontally or vertically and offers voice-activated navigation with active lane guidance.
Other features include the Garmin Real Direction function, which calls out recognizable landmarks for guidance. There’s also Lifetime Traffic Avoidance that keeps the map open at all times, even when traffic updates are shown. Its $500 price tag isn’t cheap, but dependable GPS is worth every penny.
2. Coffee Maker
Rugged yet portable, Oxx’s Coffeeboxx plugs into three-prong power outlets and works with any Keurig-brand K-cup coffee pod. At just under a foot tall and 11 inches long, it won’t take up much space in a truck’s living quarters.
The machine is made of BPA-free plastic and metal components, weighs just 12 pounds and features a retractable power cord. Its impact-resistant and crush-proof design mean it can take a beating while on the road without affecting its ability to brew a cup of coffee. At just $200, it’s a relatively inexpensive way to have joe on the go.
3. Portable Refrigerator
Dometic’s CFX 95DZW electric cooler offers truckers dual-zone versatility – the ability to store refrigerated and frozen goods at the same time. With compressor cooling technology, the CFX consumes little power while on and continues to function in high heat or frigid cold.
It operates using AC, DC or solar power and can run efficiently without completely sapping a truck’s battery power. When it senses a low charge, the cooler automatically shuts off to allow it to recharge.
Each zone’s temperature is set via a digital control panel on the unit itself or through a Wi-Fi-connected smartphone application. It also features interior LED lights. The Dometic CFX 95DZW retails for $1,429.
4. Dash Cam
The KDLinks X1 HD dash cam records wide-angle video on a constant loop, providing a simple and hands-free method for recording the road should an incident occur. Each recorded video captures in high-definition 1080p at 30 frames per second and saves to the included 8GB microSD card.
With built-in GPS, the X1 records data that provides feedback pertaining to location, speed and routes driven via Google Maps. Its F1.6 six-glass lenses and Wide Dynamic Range allow it to also capture clear night-vision video.
The X1 costs $170 and comes with a one-year manufacturer’s warranty.
5. Power Station
Goal Zero’s Yeti 1400 can charge smartphones and tablets and power televisions and small power tools. It’s even able to power many of the gadgets on this list, including the Dometic CFX, by itself.
It features 10 charge ports including three USB ports and two AC plug-ins. The Yeti 1400 also has Wi-Fi connectivity, allowing it to be controlled remotely by a smartphone. Connected devices can turn ports off, update the firmware or check power levels.
At 43.7 pounds it’s heavy but compact enough for easy storage, measuring 10 inches tall and 15.3 inches wide. The Goal Zero Yeti 1400 sells for $1,439 and is a great solution for taking stress off a truck’s battery.