The Towing Guide for Pickups – The Basic Gear You Need to Start Towing 

The towing guide is a list of the basic equipment you need to tow bumper pull trailers using a pickup truck with a trailer brake controller already installed.  

This Guide should help you get legal (trust but verify! Regulations change all the time.)  but is not a full list for life on the road.  The guide includes safety equipment required by DOT to be in your truck and our recommended towing gear. We are not including driver regulations such hours on duty, drug testing policies, ELD, IFTA, vehicle inspections, etc.  Please contact us for more information on how we can assist getting you up to speed on compliance.

To be completely prepared for the road ahead while towing marketing trailers is nearly a big task.  The list of what we carry in our trucks is much longer that the list here and can at times seem endless. Gear ranges from standard tools like power drills and wrenches to  homemade wood ramps and thermal imaging cameras for troubleshooting HVAC.  Since we have 2 mechanics on our team we have added additional gear such as putting a code reader in every truck. That way if there is an issue the driver can read the codes to our mechanic and we can decide how big a priority the issues is and react accordingly. 

This guide is meant to provide the basics that you should arrive with at a trailer pickup.  You can always add more gear down the road based on need. Please let us know if we missed anything in the comments below.

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The Towing Guide for Pickups: towing gear basics

code reader part of Towing Guide for Pickups: Towing Gear Basics

Code Readers can be a handy addition to your gear list.

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The Towing Guide for Pickups – The Basic Gear You Need to Haul a Trailer

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Safety Equipment

Required by DOT

Fire Extinguisher

A fire extinguisher having an Underwriters’ Laboratories rating of 5 B:C or more

This one is ~$55.  Yes there are cheaper ones out there but once you have the experience of the plastic pin coming out and the joy of cleaning up flame retardant you too will seek quality.  Also the higher priced units are rechargeable ($5-$25) so this could last multiple seasons.  Comes with mounting plate which is useful for mounting a second trailer unit or if you want to mount it in the truck bed. Class A B INKC Multi-Purposefire extinguisher towing gear basic
Securing Mechanism for Extinguisher

The fire extinguisher(s) must be filled and located so that it is readily accessible for use. The extinguisher(s) must be securely mounted to prevent sliding, rolling, or vertical movement relative to the motor vehicle.

DOT officers love to write tickets for an unsecured fire extinguisher.  What secured means is undefined.  Using one or two of these guys will allow you to secure in cab or in bed.  Also should fit up to 5 pound extinguishers but you would need multiple. Cost around $10 each.  You will need some screws. Rubber tool mounting strapsTowing Guide for Pickups: Towing Gear Basics: tool strap
Warning Device for Stopped Vehicles

(3) bidirectional emergency reflective triangles that conform to the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard  or at least 6 fusees or 3 liquid-burning flares.

Gotta have them and they cost 2-3 times as much when purchased along the road.  You will be tempted to get the cheap lightweight version.  Avoid that temptation and get these.  They are less likely to blow away when a truck passes at 80mph. Safety Triangle Kit with weighted bases.Towing Guide for Pickups: Towing Gear Basics required by DOT stopped vehicle warnings
Spare Fuses

Power units for which fuses are needed to operate any required parts and accessories must have at least one spare fuse for each type/size of fuse needed for those parts and accessories.

This one surprise you?  Just check the box with a mixed set.  This set is around $10. 120 piece fuse kitdid you know fuses were required gear for towing?

Towing Equipment

Recommended gear for towing bumper pull (tow behind or ball on bumper) Trailers


Adjustable ball mount

This is what we recommend for 3/4 ton trucks and above.  We have a whole article on why we like this type of hitch.  You need a receiver 2.5″ or a 3″ with a reducer.   Cost is under $300 and it can handle nearly anything you would want to tow. Adjustable Hitch rated at 20,000 pounds trailer weightTowing Guide for Pickups: Towing Gear Basics our favorite adjustable hitch
Hitch Pin/Lock Skip the $10 pin and get a lock.  That hitch is basically $200 hanging off the back of your truck.  The lock won’t stop a thief but maybe you’ll hear them stealing it. 5/8 Hitch Lock with 20,000 ratingpin locks basic towing kit and theft deterrent
Wheel Chocks If you have ever had a trailer roll on you, even just a little after detaching you will never want to go without these.  Wood, rocks, and bricks also work. Pair of Wheel Chocks Towing Gear Basics gotta have wheel chocks
Trailer Jack Truck jack might not have the height or weight capacity to jack up the trailer so make sure you have a way to change the trailer tire.  If you have a tandem axle trailer you just need a couple of scrap pieces of wood. Have tandem axles? Skip the jack!Towing Guide for Pickups don't jack up the trailer roll up
Spare Tire(s) with Rim Never travel without a mounted spare! Trailer Tire Selectionspare tire is essential towing gear
Tire Gauge Remember the recommended psi is when the tires are cold! High pressure gauge needed. tire pressure gauge is a towing basic
First Aid Kit It’s not a setup unless someone bleeds.  Injuries are usually treatable with disinfectant and a band-aide but a good marketer is always prepared. First Aid Kit

Additional Requirements for CMV Drivers

DOT Regulations and requirements are extensive and ever changing.  Contact us for assistance.  From hours of service and ELD’s to DOT inspections and recordkeeping we can help get you on the road. Click Here to learn about our transport services

Staff Recommendations

The road staff offered up their favorite piece of kit.

Head Lamp Clinton: “Flashlights or a headlamp is huge in my book”
Multi Tool Gordon: “Gerber Chard is always on my key ring and we give them away during the holidays”