25 Essential Pickup Truck Items

25 Essential Pickup Truck Items

I have driven a pickup truck ever since I was 16 – that was 25 years ago.  I LOVE driving a truck.  I just can’t see myself behind the wheel of anything else (as a daily driver).  Do you know what helps make driving a pickup truck so awesome?  The essential pickup truck items that makes my trucks even more cool than they were the day I bought them.

My First truck was a 1978 Ford F150.  I loved that truck.  It took a beating and gave me trouble-free driving for many years.  On that truck, the only essential pickup truck items I added were some cool rims and tires, louder glasspack style mufflers, and an upgraded air filter.  Oh, I also had a rocking stereo in that truck.  What 16 year old wouldn’t enjoy a thundering stereo in the background while out cruising around in his truck?!!

Fast forward to today, and I am still driving a pickup truck as my daily driver.  I still love adding essential items for my truck!

I’m this article, I am going to list 50 essential pickup truck items that every pickup truck driver should consider adding to their truck.  After all………you can’t have TOO many pickup truck upgrades.   Am I right??!!


Spray in Bed Liner

I LOVE the durability that a spray in bed liner provides for my trucks, and it doesn’t cost a whole bunch if you do this yourself.  You can get fantastic quality bed liner products today online that are rugged and tough, and will last a looong time!

I personally have used Raptor Liner for all my trucks & off road equipment because of the high quality of the product.  I have even sprayed two entire vehicle exteriors with Raptor Liner so that they would hold up better when off roading (they were my off road vehicles, so this made the exterior surfaces very tough and they wouldn’t get all scratched up from tree branches etc on the trails).

Essential pickup truck items - bed liner

One thing that I LOVE about the raptor liner, is its ability to hold its color (and shine) throughout the years of being exposed to the sun and harsh weather conditions.  I also ride my off road trucks hard to thy see a lot of tree/bush branches dragging down the side as I cut a new trail.  I have never had any issues with the Raptor Liner scratching either.

One word of advice if choosing a bed liner product.  DO NOT cheap out and buy the cheapest bed liner product available.  I have seen many truck beds (and off road vehicles) sprayed/rolled with the cheap bed liner product, and the color ends up fading badly within a year, and then it looks terrible.

Use a product that is UV resistant (so it wont fade from sun/weather exposure).  For many different types of bed liner product, there is usually the option to ‘roll-on’ the product.  This would be ideal for those who don’t have access to a compressor for spraying it on.



Running Boards/ Side Step Bars

A nice set of running boards/side step bars can REALLY help make your truck look GOOOOOOD!!!

I personally think that these are one of the best essential pickup truck items available on the market!

Essential Pickup Truck Items - side step bars

These usually available in nice shiny chrome or black, depending on the manufacturer.  These not only look great, but they are very helpful when trying to get into a pickup truck that has a lift kit.  They are also very helpful for those with mobility issues, when trying to get into the truck.

Running boards/side step bars also help prevent rock chips on the fenders and lower door/rocker areas, which is a definite added benefit.


Tonneau Cover / Truck Bed Cover

Having a Tonneau/Truck bed cover comes in VERY handy when hauling around items that you do not want to get wet, or damaged by wind when driving.

This would be handy for hauling luggage on family vacations, when the truck cab is already full with mom, dad, and the kids.  The luggage has to go somewhere, and having this type of cover is priceless when travelling on rainy/snowy days.

It also comes in handy when bringing home flowers, plants, bushes, and trees from the local garden center.  The Tonneau/Truck bed cover would help protect the delicate leaves & foliage of these on the way home, by keeping them out of the way of harmful windy conditions.

If you check out the various brands and types of bed covers, you will see that there are a LOT of options available.  There are soft ‘roll up’ covers, slightly more firm roll up and fold up covers, more firm covers that fold up, and hard covers that are usually available in black, or can be painted to match your truck’s color.


Truck Tool Box

If you find that your average workday requires the use of tools, then a truck tool box is a fantastic way to help keep your tools safe, and reduce mess/clutter inside the truck bed box and inside the cab.

I used to work in construction years ago, and my truck bed tool box was probably the best thing I had installed on my truck at that time.  I started out with a couple soft bags & bins of tools in the back seat area in the truck cab.  Eventually I found it to be a pain in the butt to constantly be moving my tools around whenever I wanted to take my kiddos with me anywhere in the truck.  I then tried putting them in the box of th truck, but they would move around a bit when driving, and they weren’t secure because there was no real good way to lock them up.

Here’s where the truck bed toolbox came in handy!  It bolts down to the truck bed and/or rails, and the toolbox also had 2 locking doors that I could open up to get access to my tools easily.

In todays market, there are SEVERAL different styles of truck bed toolboxes available.  So if you find that you are not that keen on the classic truck tool box (the original style that sits on the top of the bed rails and is mounted right at the front of the truck bed), there are many more styles available to choose from.

Here you can see many of the different styles of truck tool boxes available, in the pictures below.

Essential pickup truck items - truck tool box 1Essential pickup truck items - truck tool box 2

Essential pickup truck items - truck tool box 4Essential pickup truck items - truck tool box 2


Lift Kits

OK…..so maybe this one isn’t ESSENTIAL……but c’mon…..it’s definitely one of the coolest in my opinion.

Adding a lift kit to your truck not only looks great, but it also allows for a larger tire upgrade J.

There are levelling kits that are generally smaller lifts to give your truck a bit of a height boost, and there are full-out suspension lift kits to give your truck a more aggressive look!  The full kits include a lot more suspension components, so you are getting a better product with these.

However, those levelling kits are a great bang for the buck when it comes to essential pickup truck items.


Wheels/Tires Upgrade

This is definitely one of the most essential pickup truck items in the history of truck upgrades!!!!

Even for a stock height pickup truck……a nice set of rims and slightly larger tires can totally change a truck’s appearance.  This is usually the first upgrade I make with my trucks.

If I don’t plan on lifting the truck, I will generally order a set of wheel spacers and look for a great looking set of rims, and then get some rubber to wrap those sexy rims with!  The wheel spacers help with clearance on the slightly larger front tires, when making sharper turns where the wheel gets closer to the fender liner.  The wheel spacers do exactly what they sound like they would do – move the wheels towards the outside edge of the truck by whatever thickness the wheel spacers are.

The wider looking ‘stance’ of the tires on the truck (once the spacers are installed) just looks plain COOL as well!!

When I DO plan on lifting the truck I am driving, then I definitely will look for larger rims and tires, to help balance the appearance of the lifted truck.  You simply CANNOT drive a lifted truck, with stock size tires……am I right???! Haha.


Wheel spacers

As mentioned in the above section (Wheels/Tires Upgrade) , adding wheel spacers will move the rims/tires towards the outside of the fender.  This generally done for 2 different reasons:

  • To help with clearance for the front tires during larger turn radius (tighter turns) when upgrading to larger tires
  • To help make the trucks overall ‘stance’ look more aggressive when looking at it (with the tires sticking up just a bit more than the factory placement)

Essential pickup truck items - wheel spacers

Wheel spacers can be purchased in varying thicknesses, with most manufacturers offering spacers in thicknesses of 1” , 1.25” , 1.5” , and 2”.  These are generally the most popular sizes for those looking at this particular upgrade.


Fender Flares

Fender flares are a GREAT way to beef up the look of your pickup truck!

Installing fender flares will give you more ‘tire coverage’ when it comes to modifications to your pickup truck’s wheels/tires.

In the examples above, adding wheel spacers and larger tires help create a much more aggressive look for your pickup truck.  But adding a nice thick set of fender flares take that beefy look to a whole new level!

These are very easy to install yourself, and they can be painted to match your vehicle if you desire to do so.

These fender flares are usually black in color, which luckily looks good with any truck paint color if you do not wish to paint them to match.


Backup camera

These are truly a great invention to help those who drive trucks (and cars) that didn’t come equipped with factory backup cameras installed.

With the widely available selection of brands for these items, the competitiveness between the manufacturers is extremely high.  This really helps drive down the price on these camera systems, which means it is a very affordable essential pickup truck item!

Most of the ones I have seen are waterproof , so they will be able to last through tough winters and rainy conditions.

Such a small price to pay to be able to feel 100% confident when backing your pickup truck into a tight parking spot, or even back up against a vehicle behind you.  Even making minor contact with your truck’s bumper against another automobile behind you, will likely cost you 4-5 times the cost of one of these units, to fix the damages.


Pickup Truck Floor Mats

IF you work or live somewhere that experiences volatile winter conditions for part of the year, good quality truck floor mats are worth every penny.

The last thing you want to do is soil the factory carpets in your nice truck because you are using cheaper floor mats that cant handle the snow and mud during the winter/wet seasons.

Essential pickup truck items - floor mats

IF you have children, then you will fully understand how much of a mess they make in the backseat of your car or truck, regardless of weather conditions.  Spilled drinks, food crumbs, and dirty footwear can mess up the backseat of your truck in a real hurry.  Having a good set of deep floor mats can make cleanup a breeze, and help protect the truck’s factory carpets.


Seat Covers

Another great way to protect your trucks interior from the messes that weather and young children create, is by installing a nice set of seat covers/protectors.

The seat covers available in the market today are a million times better than what was available 10-15 years ago.

You can get seat covers today that are water proof, and can be found in a variety of finishes such as, cloth, tweed, faux leather, neoprene and many more options.  Some are even waterproof!!!  Great to help prevent any stains from splashes and spills that often happen when you are toting your little ones around town.

There are universal fit seat covers that offer more affordability for purchase, and there are also custom fit ones that will cover your existing factory seats like a glove. These ones are more expensive, but once you see how nice they fit, you will agree that they are worth the price.


Bull Bars / Brush Guards

Does your truck have a nice set of running boards or side step bars installed?

If so, adding a Bull Bar or Bush Guard to the front of the truck is another great way to improve the appearance.  These look best on a pickup truck that already has running boards or side step bars installed.  It really ties in the look of these two accessories nicely.

Like the running boards/side step bars, these are mostly available in shiny chrome or black finish.

Essential pickup truck items - bull bar 2Essential pickup truck items - bull bar

These not only look great, but they do offer some protection to the front end of your truck in a situation where you come into contact with something.  Car and truck body parts and labour are VERY expensive, and it doesn’t take much of a ‘bump’ to create over $1000 in damages.


Under seat storage units

I personally LOVE these things!!!!

I like to keep as many tools/supplies in my truck as possible, so that I am prepared no matter what situation I encounter on the road.

Essential pickup truck items - under seat storage

I like to keep a small socket set, screwdrivers, wrenches, zip ties, rope, first aid supplies, flashlight, booster cables, tow rope and hooks/shackles, tire inflator, folding orange pylons, hydraulic jack, etc all in my truck under the back seat of my truck in case of emergency.  I also like to have 3-4 bottles of water and a box of granola bars and some lighters as well……..you never can be too prepared.

I live in an area that experiences some nasty winter weather, and I often end up helping tow out people from snowbanks, or from ditch areas, after bis snowstorms.  I always like to be prepared.


12 Volt Air Compressor – for inflating flat tires

This is another MUST HAVE item for your truck.  I always make sure that everyone in my family has one of these in their car/truck.

I used to work in construction, and I would get flat tires often from all the nails and screws that get dropped on the ground in new construction areas where I worked.  I would park my truck, go work inside a house for 5-6 hours, and then once I was finished, I would go back to my truck, pack up all my tools, get ready to leave……..

and then realize that I had a flat tire.

A lot of the ‘new construction’ areas are miles away from any gas stations where I could use their air hose/compressor to inflate my tire.

I then started buying the little 12 V air compressor/tire inflator that I could easily store in my truck under the seat.  They plug into the cigarette lighter on the dash and can easily inflate larger truck tires.  It can sometime take a little bit of time, but you can plug it in and let it run while you wait in your nice warm vehicle (or nice ‘cool’ vehicle if it’s a hot summer day, haha).

They are not that expensive and cost less than a tow truck visit.  They will inflate your tire fully as long as you don’t have a massive hole in the tire.  So you can then drive it home, or to the nearest auto shop to have it fixed.


Traction Aid / Traction Mat

These are helpful little tools that can get you out of a jam if you drive during winter conditions or on a dirt road often.

These are foldable mats/plates that can be laid out to help give your vehicle some extra traction if you ever become stuck in the snow or mud.

Take a good look around if you care considering buying these.  Don’t just go buy the cheapest ones available……those often will break the first time they are used, and that’s if they even help at all.

You don’t need the most expensive ones on the market, but I would recommend something like THIS one (add text link).  It’s a premium product in this market with a price that’s not the cheapest or most expensive when compared to similar products.


Folding Shovel

Again, this is an item I would highly recommend if you drive in snowy or muddy conditions often.

It doesn’t take up much space, and it is super helpful if you ever get stuck.


Road Safety Kit

I put one of these in my wife’s car, and in my oldest son’s truck, just in case of emergency.

You never know when you will need one.  Again, I would rather be over-prepared for any situation, than be stuck somewhere in a bad situation without supplies to help me and whomever I am with in the car.


Exhaust Powered Automotive Jack

When I was into off roading, I used to see a few of these out on the trails every now and then.

These are one of the innovative products in the automotive industry.  It is exactly what it sounds like.  It is a heavy duty airbag that can be inflated by hooking up a hose from your vehicle’s exhaust, to the airbag.

Essential pickup truck items - exhaust jack

They are super strong, and are great for lifting up your truck in unstable ground conditions (eg-mud or very uneven terrain.  They are also very easy on the body to operate……no difficult cranking or pumping with your arms like you would with a hydraulic jack setup.

These airbag jacks also often can lift up your truck higher than most factory jacks and aftermarket hydraulic ones.  They also fit nicely into your truck for easy storage.


Wheel Lock Nuts

Remember earlier in the article, when we were talking about adding a cool set of rims and tires to your truck?   Well, auto & auto part thefts are on the rise in America, and this is one way that you can protect those sexy truck rims and tires that you equipped your rig with.

A very small investment when compared to the replacement cost of wheels and tires, if you were to find you truck ‘sans wheels’ one morning.

A good set of lock nuts will deter most thieves as they are ridiculously hard to remove without having the special lock-key removal tool.

Let’s not forget that most wheel/tire thieves are not going to be that concerned with handling your truck gently when helping themselves to your set of rims n rubber!  They will often leave your truck wheel-less, sitting on the axle or brake components, leaving you with the costs of wheel/tire replacement and brake system repair costs.

Seems like a no-brainer to make the $25-35 purchase for a set of these when considering the theft repair/replacement costs and the hassle of arranging a flatbed tow, and missing work to get all this looked after.


Heated Seat Cushions/Inserts

If you get the ‘pleasure’ of hopping onto a nice cold leather seat in your truck during winter months, then I am sure you will enjoy reading about these little beauties.

You can purchase heated seat inserts to install in your existing factory seats, or there is the option of just buying heated seat covers to help keep you warm on those cold winter morning drives to work.

I live in Denver, CO …… so I get my share of cold weather days between mid November to February.  I am lucky to have factory heated seats.  Tis would be one of my first interior modifications if I did not.


Headlight Upgrades

IF you have a truck that is a model year of 2010 or older, then Im guessing you would appreciate having brighter headlights when driving on the highways at night.

My daily driver is a 2010 Nissan Titan and I upgraded my headlights after the first winter I had the truck.  The factory headlights just simply weren’t bright enough for my liking, so I made the switch to a nice LED setup.

Driving on the highways in the dark is a much more comfortable task now that I get a better look at what’s out in front of me now.

Essential pickup truck items - led headlights


LED Driving Lights / Light Bars

These are not only insanely bright, but they definitely help add to the overall look of the pickup truck.

I always had the LED Light bars on my off road trucks, and they were ridiculously bright, which helped a LOT on the trails in the dark.  I would usually put a few LED ‘pod’ floodlights on the back of the truck too so I had good lighting behind me for when I had to back up & make trail adjustments & repairs.

You can get LED driving lights/flood lights/light bars for much cheaper now than you used to be able to 5-6 years ago.  There are many more suppliers of these, which has driven the costs way down.

Please be sure to check your local laws in regards to adding driving lights & light bars to your truck.  There may be restrictions as to where you can LEGALLY mount these lights on your truck if you plan on using them on public roadways.


Truck Bed Lighting

While we are on the topic of truck lighting, let’s discuss something a little more milder than the LED Light Bars.  Truck bed lighting – these are great for use in the dark when camping, or working at night.

These lights are more mild, and can provide great value when looking for something in the back of your truck in the dark.

Plus…….they look REALLY COOL!!


Cold Air Intake

Do you want to get a few extra easy horsepower out of your truck?

Do you want to know an easy way to help increase your truck’s gas mileage?

Do you want your truck to have a more aggressive sound when the motor is accelerating?

Does saving money interest you?

I’m pretty sure the answer, from most truck enthusiasts, to all 4 questions is “HECK YES!!”

Well, I have a simple solution for you that doesn’t cost very much and it is easy enough to install, even for a novice.

A Cold Air Intake is an air intake for your truck’s engine that helps the engine intake more cool air, than it could with the restrictive factory air intake setup.

The cold air intakes are designed to improve air flow through a high flow filter, and a unrestrictied larger pipe housing, into your engine.  This unit also separates the intake filter away from the motor to allow for more COOL air into the motor than the factory intakes would allow.


Essential pickup truck items - cold air intake

More cool air into the motor = more horsepower & more efficient use of the fuel in the combustion chamber.  Adding one of these aftermarket air intake systems also makes the engine sound more aggressive, which is a pretty nice feature as well.

I almost forgot to mention the cost savings.  Yes, there is the original cost of the cold air intake system.  But you will start saving a bit on fuel right away.  But you will ALSO save money by not having to replace your air filter 3-4 times a year.

These cold air intakes use a re-usable filter that can be cleaned for re-use.  There is a kit that contains the cleaning compound that you use to clean the filter, so it can be re-used over and over again.

Factory replacement filters are expensive, so you will be saving money over time but not having to replace the air filter over and over again.

TIP: When I bought one of these for my Nissan Titan, I also purchased one extra replacement filter.  This way, I always have a clean one ready to swap into place when I need to clean the existing one.  I replace it with the clean one, and then clean the filter I just took off the truck.  Let it dry overnight, and I have a clean filter ready to go for the next time the installed one needs cleaning.

IF you want to learn more about Cold Air Intakes, and specifically how they work, please feel free to check out THIS article that explains in much more detail how these work.


Heavy Duty Battery Upgrade

For my off road truck…..I ALWAYS ran a Yellow Top Optima Battery.

They are more expensive than your average quality truck battery, but not by a LOT.

These batteries are super tough, and they last a very long time.  They are meant for ‘starting’ AND for continued power use, like with winches when off roading or even for power supply, when needed.

These are the batteries that a lot of large companies use for their machinery.  They hook up many of these batteries together to run their machinery because these batteries are EXTREMELY reliable and hold a LOT of power.

This same company makes a ‘redtop’ battery that is a little more affordable, and you still get the same quality of battery.  The main difference is that they yellow top model is better for running equipment/accessories and lights off of without draining the battery of power.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *