The Best Gifts for People Who Actually Use Their Pickup Trucks
Sure, floor mats are great, but we’re talking about real truck stuff here.
If you or someone you love drives a pickup truck, there's probably a reason for it. That reason might be work-related, or it might be status-related—I'm not about to judge for either because this is about being helpful, okay? Either way, this is the gift guide for people whose trucks are more than just high-riding family cars. It's for people who, for work or play, actually use their pickups. It's time to discuss what accessories, tools, gizmos, and doo-dads are must-haves if your daily driver has an eight-foot bed that never has to be made.
Now, the lists are a little different for folks who drive old—nay, classic—trucks like I do and others whose Silverado is still under warranty. There's a lot of overlap, though, and there's no shame in packing tow straps or something of that ilk, even if you don't expect your truck to break down. Then again, who does?
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Bottle Jacks Can Help in a Pinch, and They're Easy to Store
Even if your truck runs perfectly, unexpected problems like flat tires still happen. Not only that, but trailer troubles are real, too, so it's important to keep a jack handy. Since it isn't practical to carry around a huge floor jack—though you could, that's the beauty of owning a pickup—something more compact will have to do. That's where the bottle jack comes in handy.
I keep one under the seat in both of my dump trucks, so trust when I tell you they're plenty capable of lifting an F-150. Our gear review crew tested bottle jacks a while back and found this option from Pro-Lift to be the best overall value; you can snag it for a little more than $20 right now. That's for the four-ton jack, mind you—if you're worried about needing more capacity, there's also a six-ton offering for roughly $30. Any more than that might be overkill, but you do you.
You'll Want Jack Stands, Too—It's the Safe Thing to Do
While I'd consider bottle jacks to be safer than hi-lift jacks if you haven't been properly schooled on using them, there's still some risk involved. Along with ensuring you've found the proper jack point, you'll want to make sure your truck or trailer is secured once it's up in the air. As much as every DIY pickup owner would like to rely on wooden blocks instead of jack stands, they're simply not as safe.
I prefer not to skimp when it comes to jack stands, especially after seeing what damage bad ones can do. These Torin Big Red units were ranked the best by our gear team, and while they're not exactly cheap, they're a lot more affordable than an ER visit. (Hopefully, you didn't miss open enrollment.)
Bed Toppers Create Lots of Opportunities to Keep Customizing
I'm a sucker for a truck with a camper shell. Not only do they look cool, but they also add even more versatility to your already-capable pickup. There's an option for everybody, whether they use their truck for work and need lockable storage or if they simply want some shelter to sleep in the bed during a backwoods overnight.
Now, you'll have to do some research here to make sure it'll fit your specific truck. The shell you need varies depending on the year, make, and model, as well as the bed length. Good luck getting that info out of your friend or family in a stealthy manner; when you do, though, take a look around Leer's website and expect to pay four figures.
Hammers Might Sound Barbaric, but They Come in Handy
I'm not saying a hammer will fix all of your mechanical problems, but I am saying it'll fix some of them. So many, in fact, you might be surprised. When used correctly and with the proper amount of finesse, it's one of the best all-around tools—you've just gotta know when not to use it.
If you're doing any sort of suspension work, you'll wish you had a sledge or dead blow hammer somewhere nearby. I'm not talking about a big 20-pounder, of course. I've found something around three pounds to be a good sweet spot, and you can scoop up a set of three ABN dead blows for under $30.
Tow Straps Can Save Your Bacon, Even If Your Bacon Weighs 30,000 Pounds
So, here's where you have some options. If your truck is used off-road more often than on it with a load attached, something like Gear America's tow straps will work best for you. They're lightweight and durable, especially these 20-footers that can hold up to 10,000 pounds without snapping. If you're out wheeling with a friend and find yourself stuck in a mud bog, this is a good way to get out of it.
If your rig is used for work purposes and you're towing five or ten tons, you'll need something more. One of these 30,000-pound-capable straps from TGL is a good idea. Either way, expect to spend around $40 a pop—spares are smart to keep around, too.
A Cordless Impact Wrench Beats a Traditional Hand-Crank Any Day
If you or your loved one don't have a cordless impact already, you've been working too hard. They can be pricey, but they make jobs like changing tires a whole lot easier. Plus, since they're battery-powered, that makes them totally portable.
After spinning many a four-ways in my time, I considered it wise to ask for one last Christmas. Luckily, I got one but it didn't include the battery; make sure you're paying attention there. Or, you could just buy a kit like this one from Makita that has everything you need.
Fire Extinguishers Save Lives and Trucks
There's no disputing how important it is to carry a fire extinguisher in your car or truck—especially if it's older. A minor flame can erupt into something way more dangerous and destructive when there's fuel around, and it just makes sense to be prepared. If not, you could lose your vehicle and, potentially, your loved ones.
Not to sound so doom and gloom, but it's that crucial. Way too many horror stories are told today because people thought carrying an extinguisher was unnecessary. When you realize they typically cost between $35 and $75, you'll wonder why anyone would risk their truck burning to the ground instead of carrying one of these.
Truck Bed Extenders Are Good for the Long Haul (Heh)
Where I live in the Ozarks, kayaking and canoeing are immensely popular. Because of that, you see people with these hitch-mounted truck bed extenders pretty often, whether they drive a short bed Ford Ranger or a three-quarter-ton Chevy Silverado. They allow you to drop the tailgate down and carry loads that are a whole lot longer than your bed would be able to hold otherwise, all without having to mount a rack up high. When you're talking about a heavy 16-foot canoe, that can save your back in a big way.
They're not exactly cheap but good options like this MaxxHaul setup can be had for under $100.
Don't Overlook a Pry Bar
Remember what I said about owning a hammer? Well, the same applies when we're talking about pry bars. People might laugh when they see you break it out of your toolbox, but it's a pretty clear sign that business will soon be taken care of. Plus, you can't always trust a flathead screwdriver to be sturdy enough.
Since you don't have to worry about pulling nails in automotive applications, a four-piece set like Rexbeti's can certainly come in handy. With different weights and lengths to choose from, your probability of prying open whatever needs prying open goes through the roof—just hopefully not the one on your garage.
Magnetic LED Work Lights Are Unbelievably Handy
You've seen the Jeeps and straight-piped Ram trucks with blinding light bars on the roof, right? Well, this ain't that. Instead, it's a magnetic LED work light that can attach to your work surface and make almost any job easier, so long as it's got some metal to stick to.
Being able to see what you're working on is great, especially if you've spent a whole lotta time underneath an old F-Series using a dim garage light. These Worklight-branded tools are a little over $20 but you'll be glad you had 'em—just don't lose 'em.