Tools We Need For The Road

First, I’m going to assume you already have a sewer hose, a hitch, and other obvious items as trailer campers we need to have. It’s also important to realise the 8 items I am going to discuss is not a comprehensive list. For that I refer you to my following blog posts (just click on the links):

    1. Gear and Equipment List
    2. Must Things To Buy $$$
    3. Airstream Maintenance Sealants
    4. Let’s Talk Tape
    5. Torque Wrench – Why You Need It

The following 8 items below is a list of what we carry. Over the years of Boondocking our Tool Kit has enabled us to maintain and repair our complete rig (truck and trailer) in the middle of nowhere. I also realise that some things on this list may not be required because of how you camp (or glamp if you will), or travel, or have a trailer different from an Airstream, or how you maintain your trailer – i.e, DIY or only take it to a dealer/repair shop (dang, that’s a long sentence). Never-the-less, here is what we carry.

1. Tire Pressure Monitor System

Depending on the type of trailer you pull, a flat tire can do a lot of damage to your trailer. Today’s steel belted tires explode not just go flat. The steel belts become whips to beat the plastic wheel wells to shreds. A blow-out can destroy not only the wheel well but also tear up plumbing, destroy the the wheel itself, tear up the belly pan etc. This can leave you with thousands of dollars of damage that could have been prevented.

We carry a TST Tire Pressure Monitoring System. This constantly monitors the status of the tires on Blue Streak (Pressure and Temperature) and will sound and alarm if the tires roam out of the set safety parameters. There are several different systems out there on Amazon, but here is the rub – you get what you pay for. This is not a tool to go cheap.  I have a short blog post on our flat tire and TST experience (read about it here).

2. The Ability To Change That Flat Tire.

Our Airstream trailer did not come with a full set of tools needed to change a tire and I suspect your trailer didn’t either. I find it strange that Blue Streak has a spare tire but no way to lift the Airstream nor the tools necessary to take the wheel off!

Oh sure, you can call BCAA (AAA) or such, to come an change your tire – as long as you’re not Boondocking in the middle of nowhere. Let’s be clear here – help is not always available. Also, your tow vehicles tire change tools (jack, wrench etc.) may not fit the wheel lugs on your trailer nor be stable enough in lifting the trailer up to enable the tire change.

Our tire change kit consists of the following:

Since our trailer is tandem axle, we carry a Trailer Aid Tandem Tire Changing Ramp to lift and stabilise our trailer. (obviously a singe axle trailer will require some sort of jack) In-any-event, do not unhitch the trailer from your tow vehicle to change the tire.

You will also require:

  1. A good quality torque wrench (essential for correctly tightening the lug nuts when you put the wheel back on – we require 110ftlb).
  2. A breaker bar (used for loosening the lug nuts and removing the wheel). You will need an extension, and a correctly-sized socket (ours is 3/4).
  3. I would suggest a safety vest for roadside visibility and safety reflective Warning Triangles that are DOT Approved.
  4. A tire pressure gauge (the reads up to 100lbs as most RV trailer tires run between 65 and 80lbs of pressure and your tow vehicle gauge won’t work).

As an aside, we also carry a ViAir 400P-RV Automatic Portable Compressor Kit simply because where we boondock requires us to sometimes air down and air up the tires (if you don’t understand this, it simply means you don’t travel to the places we do). Read our Blog Post on Why We Love Our ViAir RV Compressor

Pretty much everything mentioned above can be found on Amazon and Canadian Tire (Auto Retail Store).

3. A Cordless Drill

I use the term “cordless” here meaning of course, “battery-operated“. This is one of those tools I use for more than drilling holes. We use this to raise and lower our stabilisers. At my age the old knees need all the help they can get. We happen to use a 20 volt DeWalt (lithium battery) and I high recommend you add to yours a “Right Angle Flex Shaft” accessory to get at those places that makes you want to “cuss like a trooper”. For example – the location of the water pump in Blue Streak was such that not only could I not get at the screws with the drill but the limited space would not even allow a anything but a “stubby” screw driver. The pump was obviously installed “before” the cabinetry. Also a good set of bits and extensions to fit different screw heads (phillips, flat slot, robertson, torx  etc.).

4. A Tool Box/Bag With Miscellaneous Hand Tools

What I am talking about here is “dedicated tools” for your trailer. What I mean by this are/is tools that travel with the trailer. I am not talking about your “garage/house tools” because you will find yourself discovering you left, “that one important needed tool,” at home.

You don’t require “every tool made by mankind” (ya, ya I know not politically correct, to gender-specific, should read human or person-kind) just an array of practical hand tools. Such as:

A few screwdrivers – Phillips, flats and here in Canada “robertson” (why you ask since all the screws in my trailer are phillips? Because you can’t get phillips in Canada and you end-up using robertson as a replacement) Remember your trailer experiences a level 2-6 equivalent earthquake, which means you will find yourself tightening screws from time to time. I usually find the odd screw on the floor now and again. I also carry blue Loctite which will help keep screws from coming loose again. Sometime wood requires the need to fix/fill the holes that have gotten too big to hold a screw. For this you can carry a few tooth-picks and white glue, believe me this comes in handy.  I’ve even used a bit of butyl tape in the holes.

We also carry a set of 1/2″ sockets and breaker bars.  Oh! did I mention a Torque Wrench – Read our Blog Post on – Why You Need A Torque Wrench

Add to your box/bag: adjustable wrenches, pliers, vise-grips, a small box for small parts like screws, spare fuses & fuse puller tool, teflon plumbing tape etc. and silicone spray. Because I own an Airstream I also carry a few spare aluminium pop rivets in an array of sizes along with a good quality rivet tool. We carry scissors, a mirror set on adjustable rods (to see in the back of dark holes), microfibre towels and disposable latex gloves.

I also like to have an LED headlamp so I can fix or examine things at night without having to hold a flashlight (which I also carry in the truck).

Don’t forget the 12 volt wiring system in your trailer! – add: electrical tape, butt connectors, crimping/wire stripping tool, fuses, etc. and a voltmeter (very important).

There are some great videos on YouTube in which full-timers discuss the tools they carry.

5. Shore Power Hook-up Management System

There are several item that are important to own if you are going to connect your trailer to power pedestals at campgrounds to make sure every thing is OK. Our Airstream has a 30AMP 120 Volt System, so I am speaking specifically with that in mind. However, the suggestions here apply to trailers that are much larger with 50AMP Systems.

First, never plug your trailer directly into a campground power pedestal without a “Surge Protector,” also known as an Electrical Management System (EMS). These devices check and monitor the power like a voltmeter but they also take action when something is wrong. If your EMS detects a problem, it will instantly cut the power to your trailer. Thus saving your trailers electrical wiring and appliances from damage. Most of the good ones will automatically re-connect the power when it is safe. Portable EMS also act as a tester, telling you when plugged-in if there is a short circuit and/or ground fault.

The second item we carry is a selection of “dog bones“. (50AMP to 30AMP, 30AMP to 15AMP) which allow us connection options.

The third item we carry is a AC 80-300Volt plug-in LCD Digital Voltmeter Measuring Monitor. This is plugged-in to an outlet inside the trailer when you’re plugged into shore power. This will show you the voltage that is powering your system on an on-going basis. This is important for you to be able to verify that there is a constant 120 volts powering the system. While the EMS will protect from power surges, LOW Voltage can also be problematic especially in running air conditioners.

Just as an aside, we also carry a 30 foot long, 30AMP extension power cord. The 25 foot power cord that came with the trailer works great when at a campground to connect to the usual campground pedestal. However, as a Boondocker, when we need to run our 3400 watt Champion Generator from the back of our truck, 25 feet is usually 10-15 feet to short!.

6. Coupler Vault

I have written an extensive blog post on Trailer Security From Theft (read post here) .

We DO NOT travel without our coupler vault. Once we are set-up, we secure the coupler with our Coupler Locking System, remove the chains and kill the power to the jack. I am not going to discuss this in detail here – I invite you to read the blog post. We have a 2004 Airstream which is worth about $50,000 cdn (about $40,000 us), so spending a couple of hundred bucks to secure it from theft seems like cheap insurance to me. By the way, when you’re deciding what to buy, you get what you pay for – just saying.

7. Good Quality Fresh and Separate Grey Water Hoses

There are hoses and then there are hoses. I, once upon a time, carried 25 feet of “orange” hose to use for cleaning and 25 feet of “white” food safe fresh water hose to use for connecting to city water at campgrounds and to fill my “fresh drinking water” tank. The first thing I discover was they don’t store well (taking way to much room) and the second thing was the 25 feet usually was to short! There are several brands of collapsible hoses on the market to choose from. We use the Zero-G Blue designed for potable water in 50 ft lengths (we carry two) and the Zero-G Grey for the general cleaning. Both collapse into a very small package and easily store in their appropriate box.  (Yep, there is a Blog Post on this too – Water Hoses – Blue & Grey).

8. Our Champion 3400 Inverter Generator 

I put this on the list of “tools” because for us this is a tool.  If you travel or Boondock, I suggest you carry something that you can used to charge your “trailer batteries“.  Read our Blog Post on – Why We Love Our Generator.  It does not have to be as BIG a generator as the 3400 Champion, but for my money it was the right choice – just saying. 😎

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