Truck Gear 101: How To Equip Your Pickup

Part of the joy of owning a pickup is decking it out with cool add-on gear and accessories.

Making your rig your own style is part of the fun, and a few additions can make a big difference in your day to day interactions with your pickup. 

Truck owners know their vehicles are workhorses, and they often rack up several more miles than the average driver.

Gear and accessories can play a major role in making sure your truck is up for the challenge of everyday life and are a great addition to your truck’s usefulness while helping to stretch its lifespan. 

How To Equip Your Pickup

Build a Better Pickup with These Must-Have Gear and Accessories

Everything on this list can make your truck work harder and even boost its value.

These products are in no particular order. Maybe one of these accessories is something you’ve been looking for all along and just didn’t know it existed.

These products will help make your truck even more helpful, whether it’s used for play, work or perhaps both.

Front Grill Guard or Bull Bar

Front Grill Guard

A grill guard or bull bar is not just a menacing aesthetic boost (let’s face it, that’s a big part of the cool factor), but it also makes for a mounting point for any extra lights or winches you want to add to your truck.

But a well-built grill guard or bull bar will also help protect your pickup — you do not want to hit an animal or boulder and deal with the subsequent damage.

A front grill guard not only makes your truck look more rugged and tough, but it can also provide extra safety to the engine components of your truck.

A grill guard helps to safeguard the radiator which typically lies behind the grill.

When purchasing a grill guard, you need to purchase one that is right for your vehicle’s make and model.

You also need to consider the type of steel. Although thicker steel would offer more protection, it can also decrease fuel efficiency.

An Electric Winch

An Electric Winch

The value of a reliable winch is immense and the electric winch has been a mainstay in the truck community for decades for its value, effectiveness, and simplicity.

A winch can be a lifesaving tool in a variety of occasions. They aren’t just helpful for the weekend warrior. Winches are useful on the job site, on your ranch or even around town.

A winch can be utilized to retrieve another stuck vehicle as well as remove debris from the roadway and many other situations require a good winch to assist you in getting the job done.

One of our favorites, The X-BULL ATV, a 12000 lb winch, is made to be a high performance and reliable product.

It provides strong power to recover your vehicle when it is stuck under various circumstances in the off-road adventure world.

We suggest you pick a winch with 1.5 times the pulling capacity as your vehicle’s GVWR, if you’re driving something a bit burlier you should consider jumping up in capacity.

Tonneau Cover

Tonneau Cover

Next on our list of awesome truck accessories is the Tri-Fold Soft Tonneau Cover. No truck is complete without a Tonneau cover.

Tonneau covers provide extra security and organization for your truck’s bed.

They are a handy, and relatively inexpensive way to add a bit of customization to your truck. One of the top-selling truck upgrades, they are both attractive and functional.

In the world of soft-folding Tonneau covers, you just can’t beat the TruXedo TruXport Soft Roll-Up Truck Bed Cover.

The Truxedo’s TruXport is an attractive roll-up truck bed cover that includes top quality features with a price that won’t break the bank.

Truxport is easy to install, and operation is simple. The TruXport mounts on top of the truck bed rails providing distinctive good looks that will truly compliment your truck. 

It is an essential truck bed security accessory that can also improve your gas mileage by as much as 10%.

When looking for a cover be sure it is the right fit for your pickup, easy-to-use, built with a sturdy and lightweight aluminum under-frame, installs in a matter of seconds and comes with a good warranty. 

Running Boards

Running Boards

For a lot of taller pickups, it can be a long expanse from the ground into the cab. Drivers can make it easier on themselves (and their passengers) by adding a set of running boards.

Be sure to check your vehicle’s model to ensure the type of running boards you choose will fit. 

Articulating running boards are our favorite but are relatively expensive compared to other options.

Understand that the running boards that attach underneath the body are not as strong, so look for ones that attach to the frame, they are the sturdiest you can get.

Also, be cautious of chrome running boards because some don’t mix well with road salt spray from winter roads.

The metallic finish can peel off, or rust quickly, and they might have to be replaced after just a couple of bad winters.

Floor Liners 

Floor Liners 

Having a custom-designed floor liner is a great way to keep your truck’s carpet looking good and this must-have accessory will do just that.

Everyday use alone is enough to allow food crumbs, rocks, dirt, sand, mud and other debris to be spread all over the floor of your brand new truck. 

Look for floor liners that have these basic attributes:

  • Designed to keep snow, slush, and mud contained in the mats
  • Rubberized DuraGrip material designed with comfort in mind with the perfect balance of softness and strength
  • Properly fitted edges with a raised ridge that runs along with the door jam, protecting your truck from all manners of mess
  • Stay put cleats help keep the liner from shifting around underfoot whether you’ve got carpet or vinyl
  • Easily installed

Spray-in Bedliner

Spray-in Bedliner

Even though your new pickup truck bed is meant to haul everything, including dirt, rocks, and gravel, most owners don’t want it to be tarnished by scratches, dents, and dings.

A bed liner helps defend the truck’s metal bed from damages, and also provides a skid-resistant surface that helps to keep cargo from sliding around.

We prefer a spray-in bed liner more than a drop-in one because it protects the bed from rust better; doesn’t allow dirt, water, or debris to collect under it; and it offers better traction if you’re standing in the bed when putting things in it or cleaning it out.

However, it’s important to understand that spray-in liners are permanent, and that could make some bed repairs challenging. Some trucks have a lined bed as a standard feature.

Tow Hitch

Best Weight Distribution Hitch

If you plan on towing anything, a tow hitch is a no-brainer, but even if you’re not, this can be a valuable addition to have when you’re ready to part ways with your truck.

The most important thing to consider is the class of hitch. The best hitch for pickup trucks is a class 3, class 4 or class 5.

These hitches offer the capacity to safely tow larger loads. Most of these hitches are also compatible with a weight-distribution hitch, a device typically needed for towing travel trailers.

The finish is another factor to consider, powder-coated is recommended.

Although a chrome finish is available, it’s more susceptible to rusting, or to the effects of any chemicals owners might deal with.

Size, weight, and type of hitch should be considered depending on your truck size. The locks and pins are also important, and a lot of the original locks and pins on lower-end hitches can be flimsy.

All tow hitches for sale are regulated, so they have stickers on them that will tell owners how much they’re rated to tow.

Any hitch you buy should be labeled with the information you need to know.

48″ Hi-Lift Black Cast and Steel Jack

Don’t rely on the feeble tire jack that came with your truck.

The Hi-Lift is a tall jack, as the name implies, and it can do more than simply raise a vehicle. It can be used as a hand winch, spreader, or clamper.

Its accessories allow you to lift a vehicle in deep sand or lift from the vehicle’s wheel instead of a bumper or frame section.

The Hi-Lift jack has been one of the most popular tools for off-road enthusiasts since the pastime began.

Multi-Purpose Fire Extinguisher

It’s always smart to install a B-rated (liquids) and C-rated (electrical equipment) fire extinguisher in your pickup truck.

After all, there are plenty of fire accelerants right on board every vehicle, including antifreeze, oils, and those smoking exhaust pipes.

Additional Gear and Accessories to Build a Better Pickup

Above we suggested some Must-Have gear and accessories, but now we have a few suggestions for additional products that will enhance your overall enjoyment of your pick-up and make everyday life safer and a bit less stressful

Dee Zee Truck Tailgate Assist

There is perhaps nothing quite so trembling as hearing your tailgate clang open violently.

Everyone knows that the tailgate can be one of the most annoying parts of a truck to deal with. That’s why truck makers are making them lighter or incorporating struts, to begin with.

Adding a tailgate assist lets it down easier, by using essentially a strut (a big spring, really) to cushion the fall. They’re simple, and they don’t take up any cargo space.

This affordable little contraption slows down the drop of the tailgate when you open it.

Unless you have a truck with one of those electric tailgates that softly open up on their own, you’re going to want the Tailgate Assist.

Locking Toolbox

Locking Toolbox

Pickup truck drivers often have expensive tools or other items they might need and want to keep secure.

Many of these toolboxes fit inside the bed, across the back of the cab, and some can even move on tracks toward the tailgate to ease access when you’re working in the field.

4×4 Essentials Recovery Kit or Tow Strap

If you don’t have an electric winch mounted on your front bumper to extract your rig from sticky situations, you can still add a winch accessory kit to aid in recovery.

A couple of recovery straps, shackles, and that Hi-Lift jack can help you get out of most situations.

If you are on a highly used trail, there’s a good chance someone with a winch will drive by, and if you’ve got a recovery kit then you’ve got a good chance of getting unstuck.

It’s a just-in-case piece of equipment, essentially a big long rope to pull another vehicle out of a bad situation.

You can hook the strap to your truck and use it to grab someone who’s stuck in mud, sand or some other mess.

Most trucks will have a tow hook on the front, and many will have one on the back.

Tow straps are made of high-strength, woven material, kind of like a polyester cable. All reputable tow straps should have strength ratings associated with them, up to 30,000 pounds.

For full-size pickup owners, a 20,000-pound tow strap should be about right.

If you need to use one, you should account for the weight of your own truck in addition to the weight of the vehicle you’re trying to pull to freedom.

BedRug Full Bedliner

The BedRug is a commonly misjudged accessory. People often say “Why would I carpet my truck bed” “That’s not why I bought a pickup truck”; well, you get the idea.

However, if you end up buying one, it will quickly become one of your favorite acquisitions.

The BedRug isn’t carpet in the traditional sense. It’s mold, wear and water-resistant plastic that is very durable.

When it’s paired with a Tonneau cover it’ll change how you use your pickup truck. Your bed can essentially become a massive trunk.

But don’t worry because it’ll still be durable and tough enough to carry dirt, gravel, and mulch, along with anything else you may want to transport.

When hauling things like groceries or Costco bounties they won’t slide around banging all over the place and you’ll no longer dent and scratch up your bed.

You can easily clean it up with a vacuum and hose it off.

BedRug Features

  • Rugged construction handles heavy cargo
  • Bleach, oil and even battery acid washes off
  • Custom designed for specific make and models
  • Comfortable knee-friendly 3/4 inch cushioned floor
  • Anti-skid surface prevents cargo from shifting; engineered for exterior use
  • Stain and UV resistant easily cleaned with just water

Truck Bed Lighting System

Truck Bed Lighting System

When you have to work in the bed of your truck in the dark, it’s easy for things to get misplaced.

Most new stock pickups come with a central, high-mounted light on top of the cab that lights up the bed, and some will have a rear camera incorporated.

Most new trucks, however, do not come with lights built into the bed itself. But pickup truck owners can add new lights to brighten the bed up, including lights from the truck manufacturer.

Additional LED light systems, whether from the factory or aftermarket, are especially handy for trucks with Tonneau covers.

After all, the cover makes it like a cavern in there, and the high-mount cab light doesn’t help in that situation.

Some LED lights are inexpensive and easy to tuck underneath the bed lip to keep them out of the weather, and they typically tap into the electrical system, which could lead to a switch inside the cabin, which is handy.

Many aftermarket systems have lights that run nearly the entire length of the bed, but the safe bet is to stick with the OEM systems—you know you’re getting a factory-installed, fully warrantied kit that’s properly wired.

Regarding aftermarket systems, tapping into a 12-volt system in modern trucks can void the warranty and potentially damage systems.

One advantage for manufacturer lights is that they often will have switches both in the cabin and in the bed for easier access.

Can you imagine yourself rummaging through the gear in the back of the truck trying to hold a flashlight with your teeth?

Air Compressor

Air Compressor

Occasionally it is beneficiary to deflate your tires for more traction, but because you won’t want to run on deflated tires for any long period of time, you’ll want to add an air compressor to your shopping list as well.

This unit, the ARB CKMA12, is light, compact and can be easily installed under the hood of your pickup truck.


While all of these accessories are great in their own rights, they all may not be for you.

I’ve put together this list solely based on my personal experiences and recommendations that have been made to me in the past.

Please take your time to review all of these above-discussed products and think about how well they could improve your day to day use of your pickup truck.

Louis Gilliland

Louis Gilliland

He began his career as a mechanic, working on cars, trucks, and trailers in Michigan for over 20 years. He quickly developed a passion for towing and hitches and began specializing in that field. Louis started his own business installing hitches and providing towing services, quickly building a reputation as one of the best in the state. He also began teaching and training other mechanics on proper hitch installation and towing safety.