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.
As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases
(minimally, like coffee money, a small coffee… drip)
Code Readers can be a handy addition to your gear list.
The Towing Guide for Pickups – The Basic Gear You Need to Haul a Trailer
Amazon (Paid) Link
Required by DOT
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-Purpose
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 straps
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.
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 kit
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 weight
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 rating
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
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.