Products We Like
For the Tow Vehicle
We personally use and like all these items
The things we don't like, don't get listed here!Wherever possible, the product link is to amazon.com. I chose Amazon because they are great to do business with and most everyone is comfortable buying from them. Check the product links to see other user ratings and reviews on the Amazon product page. Thanks again for helping me out and purchasing through these links.
Tire Pressure Gauge★★★★★ This is IMPORTANT!
One of the biggest causes of tire failure is not having them inflated properly. For trailer tires, they should always be inflated to the maximum pressure indicated on the sidewall. When traveling, I try to check mine each morning before we start to drive. You also need to check your tow vehicle tires and may have bikes that need to be inflated occasionally.
The extended hose on this gauge makes it easier to use in many cases. The gauge also holds the reading until you press the button to release it.
National Geographic Road Atlas
★★★★ You SHOULD HAVE this
Depending upon a GPS when traveling often presents problems. Having good printed road maps is key. This Atlas has good maps of the U.S, Canada and Mexico. It also has plastic covers and spiral binding to help it hold up well.
Here's a complete article I wrote about why you need something like this.
Hitch Ball Lube
★★★★ You SHOULD HAVE this
With most hitches, lubricating the ball will reduce wear. With all hitches, a light coat will also make it easier for the hitch coupler to slip on the ball when you're hooking up and are not perfectly aligned.
Tire Air Compressor
★★★ You MIGHT NEED this
In case you need to put air in a tire while you are on the road (such as having a flat and putting on an under inflated spare), it's a good idea to have a compressor that will run off your car battery. I couldn't find a source for the compressor we have, but this one is very similar and has a lot of good reviews on Amazon.
Magnetic Hitch Alignment Rods★★ This comes in HANDY
When first learning to tow a trailer, there are two things you have to get the hang of. The first is how to back up (Click here to see my article - Four tips to simplify backing up a trailer), and the second is how to line up your tow vehicle with your trailer when you are getting hooked up. There are a lot of solutions, but these rods are what I've used. They really work pretty well and are cheaper than most other solutions. In my case, I quit using them once I got used to hooking up, but they were a great tool to learn with.
Checkout the short video below to see how it's used. (The rods in the video are a little different, but work the same way. I like mine better. It's very easy to see the balls in my rear view mirror.)These rods are a little different than ours, but the video shows how they work.
Digital Laser Infrared Thermometer★ This is REALLY NICE TO HAVE
If you pull a travel trailer, you really should check your wheel bearing temperatures at each stop to be sure they are not overheating. (See the explanation under Things to Keep in Mind Throughout the Day on the On the Road page in my Beginner's Guide.) It's a rare, but huge potential problem that can leave you stranded. The most common way to check them is to put your hand on each hub to see if it's excessively hot. This works, but usually gets your hand dirty. Should you ever find you have a bearing overheating, you'll also likely burn your hand finding out!
This digital laser thermometer is a much better solution. You simply aim the laser gun at your wheel hub and pull the trigger. You'll see the red laser beam wherever you aim it, and get an immediate digital reading of temperature. Best of all, no dirty hands.
As a bonus, it's also just a cool gadget. For anyone like me, they'll find all kinds of things to point it at!
Hitch Ball Cover★ This is REALLY NICE TO HAVE
Unless you remove it, you will frequently bump up against the hitch ball when getting things in and out of your tow vehicle and get dirty. If you lubricate the ball like I do, you will get grease on your leg. The easy solution is to keep the hitch ball covered when it is not connected to your trailer.
NOTE: This link is for the most common size ball used with small trailers, but be sure to check the size of your ball to get one that fits correctly.