We have found that the Thetford line of portable toilets is very good quality. The first one we started out with was a low capacity basic model, the Thetford Marine Porta Potti 135.
Since then, Thetford has developed larger toilets with a larger waste holding tank (fewer evacuations needed, but heavier to haul when the waste tank is full).
Our personal favorite is the Thetford Porta Potti 365 with Piston Pump Flush, as shown on the left. When used in conjunction with an appropriate amount of deodorizing chemical like Campa Chem, there is never a problem with smell or waste breakdown.
(Note: the dry product available through Amazon.com is too expensive for us to list. Some Wal-Marts carry it. It's also available through CampingWorld.com.)
Among trucker accessories, we have used this one not only for receiving human waste but also for receiving water from washing hands, washing dishes and brushing teeth. It can also be considered the means by which to help keep your truck secure since between times that you have to dump the waste holding tank you don't have to leave your truck to find a restroom elsewhere.
Trucker Accessories: Cold Food Storage Device
We have used the three different types of devices for keeping cold food cold over the years: compact refrigerators, thermoelectric coolers and ice chests. Although some professional truck drivers may have success with the first two types of cold food storage devices, we never have. They have always broken down somehow.
Furthermore, if one is in a truck without an APU (as we always have been), one is limited by the charge in one's truck batteries on powering them.
An ice chest will never fail you as long as you have ice.
Truck stop ice can be expensive. Some drivers have success in filling their ice chests with "free" ice from machines at their trucking company's terminals.
Others have found inexpensive ice vending machines along their routes.
We even purchased a portable ice maker (NewAir AI-200SS Portable Ice Maker) to make our own ice on the road. As long as we had water to put into it, electricity to power it and emptied the machine's basket when it was full, we could make up to 35 pounds of our own ice per day.
Regardless of where you get your ice, the best way to keep it cold the longest is to have a well insulated device.
Among this type of trucker accessories, we have found that the "Xtreme" line of Coleman ice chests work best.
The ones shown here are said to "[Keep] ice up to six days in temperatures up to 90° F."
Note: Although the Amazon.com description doesn't list the ice-keeping ability of the blue ice chest, Coleman.com does.
One drawback of keeping food on ice is having to continually drain off the water from melting ice.
But to us, this sure beats losing a whole refrigerator full of perishable food when a compressor goes out.
Trucker Accessories: Appliances to Cook in Your Truck
Yes, there are 12-volt appliances for sale in the truck stops, but many of them have a very short warranty period (90 days) and experience has taught us to stay away from them. (You can read our experience with the "Pot 'n Pop" from years ago.)
A hot pot allows you to cook foods that have a watery base (like soup) or that need to be boiled (like hard boiled eggs or pasta).
The Presto 06006 Kitchen Kettle Electric Multi-Cooker and Fryer shown here has a "fryer/steamer basket" that we have used many times for either steaming vegetables or as a "colander" when draining off boiling water from cooked pasta.
We have found the Presto Kitchen Kettle to be high quality and roadworthy. Contrast this with the quality of other trucker accessories made for cooking.
An electric skillet is perfect for cooking food more horizontally oriented. Many times, we have cooked ham and cheese omelets, hamburgers, beefaroni, pork steak and other food and recipes in ours.
It's great for making grilled cheese sandwiches and even just plain toast.
There are different sizes of electric skillets and the 11-inch model shown here takes up less room to store under a truck's lower bunk than its 16-inch "brother."
Trucker Accessories: Powering Your Appliances
Of course, to "power" your non-12-volt appliances -- whether cooking appliances or electronics -- you need a source of electricity.
For drivers of non-APU-equipped trucks, we feel that it is essential to have a DC-to-AC inverter.
Even drivers whose trucking companies limit them to an inverter that can only pull as much power as is available through a 12-volt cigarette lighter-style outlet in their trucks -- about 175 watts -- can still use a crock pot that pull less than that.
We were amazed at how much we could power on just
175 watts through the PowerDrive
175 Watt DC to AC Power Inverter. Of course, to power
multiple trucker accessories at once, we had to plug in a multiple
protector. (You just don't want to draw more power than the outlet or
inverter is able to deliver.)
If you drive for a company that allows you to have a battery-connected inverter -- especially one that can deliver up to about 1500 watts -- the world of kitchen appliances opens up to you. (Good quality hot pots and electric skillets take about this much power.)
We have used numerous DC-to-AC power inverters over the years. The PowerDrive RPPD1500 1500-Watt DC to AC Power Inverter with USB Port and 3 AC Outlet is pretty truck-tough. Among trucker accessories like it, this one especially has sheaths to protect the connection posts from shorting out.
A bit of inverter troubleshooting showed us that a problem we had with one unit was a blown fuse between it and the truck's batteries.
Trucker Accessories: Navigation Tools
These items are updated on an annual basis. We have purchased numerous copies of each. The ones listed below are the most recent edition we can find through our Amazon.com affiliation.
Every professional truck driver needs a trucker's atlas.
Not just any atlas, but a Motor Carrier's Road Atlas with specific information for large trucks like
Our personal favorite is a large scale, spiral bound, laminated page trucker's atlas.
The atlas is fine for navigating the roads, but what about where to get fuel, where to park your rig for the night and where to get truck- or trucker-specific products or services?
For these, you may need a comprehensive, annually-updated list of truck stops -- particularly if you don't have the type of cell phone that can download apps.
Trucker Accessories: Communication Tools
Doing your job as a professional driver without a way to communicate is like flying blind. There are times when you need to find out what the roads look like ahead (especially in the winter).
Some shippers and receivers page truckers over their CB radios regarding their loads. If you don't have one in your truck, it can get awfully tiring walking back and forth between your truck and the dock.
Our preferred CB radio is the Cobra 29WXNWST Nightwatch 40 Channel CB Radio. Not only does it have the standard 40 channels, but it has 7 weather channels and its backlight lets you easily see it at night.
When we originally published this page, the rule hadn't yet been put in place, but it was made on November 23, 2011: professional drivers are banned from using hand-held phones while driving.(1)
For this reason, it is important to use either a hands-free device or headset to talk on the phone. There are numerous trucker accessories available for purchase.
We personally own and recommend the VXI BlueParrott Roadwarrior B250 Bluetooth Handsfree Headset for Cell Phones and Computers with AC and Auto Chargers. It has up to 10 hours of talk time and 100 hours of standby time. Furthermore, the premium noise canceling microphone really does block out engine and road noise.
Among trucker accessories, one of the nicest features about this headset is that you can answer and disconnect a call at just the touch of a button. You can also adjust the volume up or down the same way. No more fumbling for the volume control on your phone to hear who is calling you.
We got into the habit of plugging ours in every night before going to sleep so that it had a full charge for the next day. It is Bluetooth compatible.
That's it for our list of recommended trucker accessories.
You may be wondering why we have not listed a GPS unit on this page. The reason is simple: we have never used one. However, we have listed a number of them through our Product Reviews page so that other professional truck drivers who have used them can rate them.
Money saving tip: By using the trucker accessories listed and/or linked above, we have been able to save time and thousands of dollars -- whether directly or indirectly.
We encourage you, our reader, to be proactive in regard to your choices. If you cannot find an item that meets your needs, shop around. Do not be satisfied with an inferior quality product (or service). Inventors regularly make innovations or upgrades to products so that they will do more.
Also, we list the above products for your convenience. If you can find the same quality product at a lower price, by all means, consider buying that one instead.
You may wish to use your truck stop reward program points to buy some items. Of course, the more expensive the item, the more points you will have to build up to "buy" them. But that's not much different from having to save up to buy something large with cash.
Consider the difference between a "need" and a "want" when it comes to your trucker accessories. By using some items -- such as those that allow you to cook in your truck -- you may be able to save money more quickly. Abide by your trucking company's policy regarding having and using certain accessories in your truck.
Another idea to consider regarding electrical appliances is portability from inside your truck to another location that uses a standard electrical outlet. A 12-volt appliance may be convenient to use in-truck, but it won't be worth anything in your home or hotel room; when was the last time you saw a cigarette lighter plug-in in a hotel room?
Ice chests and portable toilets can be transferred and used almost anywhere. If you take camping trips, there's a use for both of them, not just limited to in-truck use. And if you have an emergency situation and need quick access to one or both, you've already made an investment that pays dividends for the future.
In other words, don't buy trucker accessories that cannot be repurposed for use outside your truck if at all possible. Think of all the ways that you can use an item for both truck and personal purposes, write your ideas down on an easily accessible list, and make your purchases accordingly when the time is right.
1. http://www.truckersnews.com/fmcsa-bans-in-cab-cell-phone-use/ (no longer online)
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