11 Crucial Items to Pack for Your First OTR Trucking Job

Assorted wrenches and tools for truck drivers

For new drivers, being an over-the-road (OTR) truck driver is an experience unlike any they’ve ever had before. If this is your first time driving OTR, you will also need several items to be prepared and comfortable in your new truck driver lifestyle.

A GPS and a pair of clean underwear seem like obvious choices when you’re on the road and away from home. But packing everything you want is not so easy when you realize that you are limited to the confines of the cab and space is limited.

Here is a list of 11 items that are crucial to pack for OTR trucking.

1. Clean Clothes and Bedding.

You could be on the road for weeks at a time so make sure you bring enough clothes to last. Bring your laundry bag too, so you can stop and do laundry if you find the time. Consider the weather, season, and region where you will be driving and make sure to dress appropriately.

Don’t forget your sleeping bag or bedding either. Keep them clean because the truck will be your home for a few weeks at a time.

2. Pad Lock.

Whether you are a company driver or you own your own truck, don’t forget a pad lock for your trailer. A lot of times your trucking company will provide this for you, but you definitely need to get one regardless. When you’re hauling valuable commodities, theft is always a risk.

3. Truck-Specific GPS and Trucker’s Atlas.

The GPS is an incredible invention. Getting a real-time update on your route is nothing short of magic, and there are even trucker-specific GPS devices that tell you routes that are best for trucks.

There are going to be times, however, when technology will fail you. GPS systems can lose signal and leave you lost if you don’t have a map. Sometimes, GPS may even take you down a road that trucks cannot travel. A trucker’s atlas is your fail-safe.

4. Electronics and Entertainment.

If you are following the Hours of Service (HOS) regulations – and you should – then you will have some downtime on the road.

Obviously a smartphone is great for keeping in touch with family, surfing the Internet, and everything in between. Since you’ll always be on the road, we recommend getting a plan with unlimited data. Both AT&T and Verizon offer plans, and they can cost about $90/month.

Truck driver with silver laptop in front of blue tractor-trailer
Laptops are useful for truck drivers.

A laptop is great for entertainment and using free WiFi (to read ClassADrivers.com). You can download music, audiobooks, and podcasts to listen to for the road.

You’ll also likely have a smartphone for both work and leisure. Other small items include books, a portable DVD player, or even video games to keep you entertained. 

Just remember to bring your USB cables, adapters, and car chargers to power all your toys and tools.

Truck cabs also have traditional power outlets for charging as well.

5. Sunglasses.

The Sun can be blinding on the road, so sunglasses might just become your best friend. If you wear glasses, talk to your optometrist about getting polarized prescription lenses or amber vision sunglasses.

6. Overnight Kit.

Items such as toothbrushes, floss, toothpaste, mouthwash, and deodorant are everyday essentials that an OTR truck driver needs to maintain a healthy and hygienic truck driver lifestyle.

Include any daily prescriptions you take with your kit. Don’t forget your health. Also bring baby wipes, which are essential for quick clean-up.

7. Shower Kit.

Some truck stops provide soap and shampoo for OTR truck drivers, but don’t make it a habit to rely on them. Bring your own. Even with a well-planned route, you may not end up at the truck stop that you thought you would.

For many new drivers, the idea of living on the road and showering at rest areas is a brand new phenomenon. It’s easy to overlook the simple stuff. Always pack your kit that contains soap and shampoo.

8. Cleaning Supplies.

In addition to cleaning yourself, you want to keep your truck clean too. This is especially true if you’re always snacking and drinking in your cab.

Bring a handheld vacuum cleaner, all-purpose cleaner, and paper towels! You may also want some air freshener to keep your cabin smelling nice.

9. Work Gloves.

A pair of work gloves not only helps to keep your hands clean when you have to make repairs, but they also make the task of loading and unloading loads a lot easier. This is a critical item to pack for OTR truck drivers.

10. Tools.

A toolbox with some screwdrivers, a hammer, and a pocket knife is always helpful to have around. A flashlight is a must!

When on the road for weeks at a time, you never know what you’ll need. A tire pressure gauge may also come in handy to quickly test your tires.

11. Emergency Gear.

Expect the unexpected and be prepared. Have light reflective cloths, a sturdy pair of boots, road flares and cones, as well as chains for tires during snowstorms. And a first aid kit for yourself.

These types of items are crucial in certain unexpected situations and can save you in an emergency.   OTR truck driving comes with many challenges, so you want to be as prepared as possible. This keeps you on the road, driving as much as possible.


About The Author
Contributor: Clyde Hoggatt (Technical writer for 5+ years).