In many parts of the country, fall is the ideal time to pack up the truck and trailer and head out on a hunting, fishing or camping adventure. I like to do it all and often head to a nearby state or national park, or to a friend's farm where there's acreage and an ideal spot for camping in the woods. At the very least, this is an annual trip, and one I've taken so many times that I don't even need to look at a list to confirm I've packed everything.
Over the years, I've found tools and accessories — sometimes the hard way — that have made my trips and cargo hauling a little easier by increasing the convenience factor. Here you'll find a list of my top 10 favorite trip accessories.
1. Magnetic key case – My '95 F-150 had four-wheel drive, but it didn't have remote keyless entry or a keypad, which wasn't a problem until I locked the keys in the cab on a camping trip in the mountains. I now have a magnetic key holder hidden on all my vehicles to prevent future lockouts.
2. Liquid transfer tanks – Whether it's for the snowmobiles, UTVs, ATVs, dirt bikes, generator or a combination of all of the above, one of us always has a liquid transfer tank in the truck bed so we can keep all of our fun fueled up throughout the weekend.
3. Pet partition – Road trip or camping trip, Charlie and Oscar are two dogs who like to ride. I love their company too, but I don't want them jumping from seat to seat, getting hair everywhere or trying to get into the food I have packed while we're traveling. Plus, I want to keep them safer in the event I stop short, so I contain them to the rear cargo area with a pet partition.
4. Roof-mounted cargo rack or hitch-mounted cargo tray – There's rarely enough room inside the vehicle for everything we need to take, particularly if it's a longer holiday weekend or weeklong trip, so I gave myself some extra carrying capacity. Depending on what I need to haul, I stow the gear on the roof in a cargo rack or on a tray off the rear hitch, secure it and go.
5. Weather-resistant cargo bags – These save the day when traveling through snow or rain, and they look a lot classier than having everything stowed in plastic garbage bags.
6. Cargo net – If you're hauling gear in a truck bed or trailer and are worried about it blowing away once you're up to speed, invest in a cargo net. It's a lot safer and cheaper than having to go out and replace whatever you just lost to the side of the road.
7. Straps – Extra carrying capacity comes with the responsibility to other drivers that the load is properly secured. I like ratcheting tie-down straps because they get nice and snug and give me confidence that my load isn't going to shift or fly away. For organizing gear – including sleeping bags, extension cords and hoses – I use Velcro straps that keep everything from becoming a tangled mess.
8. Mounts – I use my UTV everywhere and for everything, whether it's work or play-related, and it's trailered behind me on almost every camping or hunting trip. I found the easiest and safest way to haul things on it, whether it's a weed-eater or a gun, is with a mount that attaches to the roll bar.
9. Cooler – Inside the truck, I got tired of messing with ice to keep my drinks and snacks cool when traveling from home to the campsite. I solved that problem with a 12V cooler that plugs into my dash and does the work for me, with an added bonus of keeping warm food at temperature, too.
10. 12V Heater – I only use this for emergencies now, but there was a brief period of time when my car's blower motor went out in November, and I relied on this little heat source to do the trick until I could get the motor fixed.
What are your must-have accessories when headed out on a camping trip to the woods or a road trip to grandma's house for Thanksgiving?
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