Winter poses a unique set of challenges for truck drivers, from icy roads to decreased visibility, making it essential to be prepared with the right tools. As professional truckers, ensuring the safety of both yourself and the cargo is paramount, especially when navigating the treacherous conditions winter often brings.

That is why we have prepared this list of some of the best tools to have on hand during the colder months. Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or a rookie on the road, these tools are indispensable for your winter travels.

Don’t get stranded out in the cold – make your own winter trucking survival kit

Every driver on the road will tell you, a survival kit is one of the first things they pack. That being said – every trucker’s tool kit has different essential tools. Depending on your location and habits you may not need everything on this list, or you may need something not included. These tools are still a great place for a “truckers tool kit” to begin!

Simple Tool Kit

A simple tool kit equipped with basic tools like wrenches, screwdrivers, pliers, and a flashlight, can be a lifesaver when minor mechanical issues arise in remote areas. Cold temperatures can make parts brittle, affect battery performance, and lead to tire issues. Having the trucker tools to perform quick fixes can mean the difference between being stranded in sub-zero temperatures and making it to the next stop or service station.

Safety glasses

Protecting your vision is paramount to safely navigating the vast highways and byways. Beyond the basic challenges of weather and road conditions, there’s also the occasional need to inspect or repair parts of the truck, often under less-than-ideal circumstances.

It’s in these moments that safety glasses prove their worth. Designed to protect the eyes from debris, chemicals, and even the glare of oncoming headlights, safety glasses are an indispensable tool for any serious driver.

A metal dowel rod

While it might appear simple in design, this cylindrical metal piece offers a range of applications that can be indispensable for drivers during their journeys. Crafted from sturdy metals, such as steel or aluminum, these rods are built to withstand significant pressure and resist corrosion, making them ideal for both emergency and routine uses on the road.

In the rare event of cargo doors jamming or mechanisms faltering, a robust metal dowel rod can serve as a leveraging tool, assisting drivers in opening or adjusting components without causing damage. Though it’s easy to overlook, the metal dowel rod is a testament to the idea that sometimes, the simplest tools offer the most profound solutions, making it a worthy addition to any OTR driver’s toolkit.

Crescent wrenches

The value of the crescent wrench goes beyond its multi-functional design. For truck drivers, space is always at a premium, and the ability to carry one tool that can address multiple needs is a significant boon. Whether it’s adjusting a truck’s mirror brackets, tightening loose bolts on a trailer, or performing routine maintenance checks, the crescent wrench stands ready to assist.

Combination wrenches

The open end of a combination wrench provides the nimbleness required to turn nuts and bolts in tighter spaces where movement might be restricted. On the flip side, the box end, with its enclosed design, ensures a more secure grip on fasteners, reducing the risk of rounding them.

This is especially crucial for truck drivers who may encounter bolts that have rusted or been weathered over time. The boxed end’s 12-point design also allows for easier positioning, accommodating a wider range of angles for efficient maneuvering.

A tire air pressure gauge

A thorough pre-trip inspection is always important, but it is even more important during the winter. Low tire pressure could cause you to become stranded in the cold, not only delaying your load but endangering your safety. A reliable tire pressure gauge could mean the difference between safe delivery and long delays. Doing quick tire pressure checks every day will ensure that you are always aware of your tires and are truly prepared for the long road ahead!

A tire depth gauge

Like the tire pressure gauge, a tire depth gauge can also help protect you on the road. Blown tires not only can cause an accident, but they can also damage the cars around you. You don’t want to get 300 miles down the road and discover that your tires are bald and you have been at risk. This becomes even more important in the winter as the road conditions are constantly changing and could become slick easily. Protect both yourself and the four-wheel vehicles by using a tire depth gauge during your pre-trip inspection!

A small LED flashlight

In the world of trucking, where the unknowns of the journey often come alive after sunset, a reliable source of illumination is not just handy—it’s essential. Enter the small LED flashlight, a compact luminary powerhouse that has become an irreplaceable tool in every driver’s toolkit. Despite its modest size, this flashlight punches well above its weight, providing brilliant illumination when it’s needed most, be it during nighttime inspections, map readings, or unexpected roadside repairs. As a truck driver, you will not want to go out on the road without it.

A first-aid kit

For truck drivers, who often find themselves miles away from the nearest medical facility, having immediate access to basic medical supplies can be crucial. Whether it’s dressing a minor cut, treating a burn from a hot engine part, or addressing an unexpected allergic reaction, the first-aid kit provides the initial line of defense.

Equipped with items such as bandages, antiseptics, pain relievers, and more, it empowers drivers to respond swiftly to common medical issues. Furthermore, in the event of a more serious situation, the contents of the kit can provide vital interim relief until professional medical assistance is available.

A lighter

In the hands of a truck driver, a lighter can serve as a quick source of heat for tasks like shrinking tubing on electrical repairs or sealing frayed ends of ropes and cords. It can be employed as a temporary illumination device in tight spots where larger lights might be cumbersome. Furthermore, in emergency situations, especially in colder climates, the ability to start a fire for warmth can be a lifesaver, making the lighter a critical piece of emergency gear.

A hammer

a hammer can serve numerous functions. It can assist in adjusting misaligned components, removing stuck or rusty parts, and even aiding in the securement of cargo. Beyond its obvious uses, it can also act as a makeshift tool in the absence of other specific instruments, displaying its adaptability in a range of scenarios. In emergencies, a hammer’s sturdy construction might even serve as a tool for breaking free from a compromised vehicle. Its undeniable heft and durability make it an enduring fixture in any trucker’s toolkit, ready to deliver force or precision as the situation demands.

A wire cutter and some electrical tape

Wire cutters, with their precise blades, allow truck drivers to cleanly cut, strip, and manipulate wires as needed. Whether it’s for installing new components, troubleshooting existing connections, or making necessary repairs, the wire cutter provides the precision required for the task. Its counterpart, the electrical tape, then steps in to insulate, protect, and secure those very connections as well as for bundling electrical wires. Resilient against moisture, heat, and abrasion, electrical tape is indispensable for ensuring that any exposed wires or fresh connections remain safe from external elements, preventing potential shorts or malfunctions.

Ideally, you would not need to use these and could instead go to your company maintenance team or wait for roadside support. However, sometimes emergency electrical repairs happen and it is important to be prepared.

Snow brushes and ice scrapers

As snow falls and temperatures drop, two tools rise in prominence, becoming vital shields against winter’s icy grip: the snow brush and ice scraper. Together, they stand as the first line of defense in ensuring safe and clear journeys through the frosty months.

A snow brush, with its sturdy bristles, is the go-to tool for swiftly clearing away fresh snowfall from a truck’s body, mirrors, and lights. This not only ensures optimal visibility but also prevents chunks of snow from flying off the vehicle, which could pose hazards to other motorists. Following closely behind is the ice scraper, a tool designed with a sharp, flat edge, adept at chiseling away the stubborn ice that forms on windshields and windows. In the early hours of a cold morning, when frost forms a crystalline barrier, the ice scraper ensures that drivers have an unobstructed view of the road ahead.

An extra pair of sunglasses

For truck drivers, the world unfurls through the windshield, a panoramic display of shifting terrains and changing skies. Amidst this ever-evolving backdrop, the sun can emerge as both a spectacular vista and a challenging glare. Sunglasses, in this context, are more than just a fashion accessory—they’re a protective barrier, ensuring clear vision and reducing strain. Yet, the true seasoned OTR driver knows the wisdom of carrying not just one, but an extra pair of sunglasses, an understated backup that offers more than meets the eye.

Accidents happen. Sunglasses can be misplaced during a rest stop, get scratched, or even break during the rigors of a long journey. In such situations, having an extra pair within arm’s reach ensures that drivers aren’t caught off-guard by sudden sunbursts or low-angle sunlight, which can compromise visibility. An additional pair also provides the flexibility of choice. Different tints or polarizations might be better suited for varying conditions, from the brilliant glare of snow-covered landscapes to the mellow hues of a setting sun.

A heavy-duty box knife

Crafted with robust materials and designed for durability, the box knife effortlessly slices through thick straps, opens up secured packages, and trims away unwanted materials. Its retractable blade ensures safety when not in use, while its ergonomic grip allows for consistent, controlled cuts even after extended use. For a truck driver who often finds themselves managing cargo, inspecting deliveries, or even making on-the-fly adjustments to equipment, this knife proves invaluable. Its utility goes beyond just cutting; it’s a problem solver, an enabler, and sometimes even a savior when time is of the essence.

Zip ties

Flexible, durable, and incredibly handy, zip ties have cemented their place as indispensable assets in the world of long-haul driving. Crafted from sturdy plastic, zip ties are designed to loop through and secure with a locking mechanism, allowing for quick fastening of various items.

For truckers, the applications are seemingly endless. They can be used to secure loose cables, bundle items together, temporarily fix broken parts, or even act as makeshift locks in a pinch. Their strength and resistance to wear and tear make them especially valuable in challenging weather conditions, ensuring that whatever they bind remains intact.

Emergency Food Supplies

One of the most fundamental preparations a driver can make is ensuring sustenance in times of need, and this is where emergency food supplies come into play. More than just provisions, they represent foresight, resilience, and the unwavering commitment of a driver to stay prepared, come what may.

In the vast stretches of highways, especially in remote areas, amenities can be few and far between. Weather conditions, road closures, or unforeseen mechanical issues can prolong the time between stops, making the presence of emergency food supplies not just convenient, but potentially critical. These supplies, often composed of non-perishable items such as canned goods, energy bars, dried fruits, and bottled water, are tailored to offer nutrition, energy, and longevity without the need for refrigeration or intricate preparation.

Extra Blankets or Sleeping Bag

While the cab of a truck offers protection from the elements, it’s the extra blankets and sleeping bags that truly provide a cocoon of warmth, ensuring that drivers are rested and rejuvenated for the miles ahead.

Especially in regions where temperatures can plummet drastically after sunset or during unexpected cold snaps, having additional warmth on hand can make a significant difference. An extra blanket, with its layers of insulating fabric, can offer immediate respite from the cold, whether draped around oneself during a quick break or used as an added layer during sleep. The sleeping bag, on the other hand, is a compact miracle of design—providing all-around insulation and ensuring that even the harshest of cold winds remain at bay.

Join the ShipEX Team!

As a ShipEX driver, you can take full advantage of our driver support systems! Our world-class maintenance and safety teams work together to help you be as safe and prepared as possible when you hit the road! Visit our careers page today to learn more!