For the wise, to fail is to learn (another tidbit of wisdom from yours truly…you're welcome). In our many recent adventures, OH I HAVE LEARNED. I've learned a lot. Through failure. But you know, they never would have invented the fire extinguisher if it weren't for one fateful small fire that got out of hand. Necessity is the mother of invention. Those who fail to prepare, prepare to fail. Insert other such quotes of inspiration here.
My point is, along the way, we learned that there are inevitably times when you slap yourself on the forehead and say, “Hot dang! I knew I should have had that.”
We've experienced this many times as we've been out and about in our car or truck on an adventure. Through my experience I've created the ultimate preparation list: the 7 things EVERY truck must have.
First aid kit
It's not hard to pack this, really. As a matter of fact, it can actually be a bit fun. They sell ready-made packs at most car parts stores and drug stores. However, you can put together a really nice set up which would be more customized to your needs. I use a 5.11 MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) zipper pouch. You can get all sorts of sizes and types, but I love that I can also throw it on the side of my hiking backpack when we travel. Plus, the cloth structure fits into vehicle nooks better and tends not to crack or break over time.
If you drive a truck, you're probably driving something with some power and sturdiness. It's important to remember that with great power comes great responsibility. Sort of. Our Ford F350 comes standard with two batteries and an extra large alternator. It was a bit embarrassing, though, when we came across someone with a dead car and we had no jumper cables to help. We were nice enough to leave them with a “Good Luck!” before we were on our way, but I believe in a time when people used to stop and help others. Maybe not every time, but most times it is common sense. Like when you encounter a fellow unprepared family in a middle-of-nowhere desert.
A lot of people have a little Maglite in their glove box. Some people have those cheap-o lights from the AM/PM register stand display. It's important to have light on-hand to illuminate those areas where your headlights won't help. One example is looking under the hood or under the truck to inspect what that loud God-I-hope-it-just-bounced-off BANG sound may have broken. On one occasion, I was driving home from work in the dark of morning and noticed a “larger than normal” amount of broken glass in the middle of my country road. I stopped and located the dim tail tail lights of a 2011 Corolla ten feet down an embankment in the brush. Long story short: they lived. But without a flashlight it was hard working around their car and signaling other speeding cars to either slow down or maybe even help (nowadays, people are more likely to stop and film with a cell phone than think to help). I like the Streamlight Strion LED or the Streamlight SL 20x LED because both are rechargeable and come with car adapters. No extra batteries to worry about, and you can take it everywhere.
Very simple and easy to store, rope is a no-brainer. You never know when you'll need a backup dog leash or want to secure something picked up at a yard sale or hardware store. A good 20-30′ roll of climbing rope is inexpensive and can always come in handy. Luckily, when we drove to Yellowstone, I had a spool of 550 Paracord (the strand is about 1/8″ and holds 550 pounds). When the unexpected snowstorm, billowing dust from other offroaders and sudden torrential Colorado rain all attempted to pummel our military trailer full of gear, having a rope and tarp handy saved the day. And Chelsea's shoes.
You can never anticipate the job you might encounter. Which is why, if you need to have one item handy, you want a tool that can do…well…a lot. I knew that one immediate need for my truck was a Leatherman. A rope-cutting, wire-sheering, nut-turning, screw-driving, fingernail-trimming Leatherman. This handy dandy little tool will get you through most small jobs in and around your truck.
Tow Strap and Hooks
So…I've learned, as much as I love my truck, it too can get stuck. Turns out that driving downhill in sand is waaaaaaay easier than driving uphill in sand. Even if you have a 4×4 with a lockable rear differential and 35×12.50 BFG tires. On this occasion of experience, I was lucky enough to find a local with a John Deere tractor just big enough to pull me out. Now, all he had was an old horse rope. When it snapped, I was again lucky that it didn't shatter my windshield. Which is why I now stock my truck with a good ol' tow strap. If not just for me, perhaps for another not-yet-so-learned driver or drivette. Also, now I don't drive down a sand hill to the edge of a lake with no way out.
As my father says, this is a no-brainer. Because if you don't have it when you need the other six items…you won't have a brain. Yes sir, it's a proven fact that from time to time, people with a truck will need to mitigate brain pain as well as other soreness developed through the wonderful experience of owning a truck. So throw a bottle or two in your glove box, because you're going to need it. Which is why we also bring it along on our camping trips.