Must-Have Towing Accessories for Truck Owners

/ / Car Accessories
Ford F-150 Lightning Towing

There are all sorts of different truck-and-trailer combinations currently traveling around the United States. From utility trailers and camping trailers to car trailers, horse trailers, and more — there’s a trailer for just about everything. And, of course, since America is the land of the pickup truck, there’s a truck for every task, too. But, depending on your rig and what kind of trailer you’re towing, there are some accessories that can improve the towing experience quite a bit. So, with a long history of towing experience, I’ve compiled a list of essential towing accessories that have high user reviews — a more in-depth explanation of how they were chosen is available at the end of the article.

Before we get into the accessories, let’s touch on some basics. Necessities for towing include (but aren’t limited to) being up to date on basic maintenance, having brakes and tires in good working order, and ensuring your truck can handle the load you’re towing. That means ensuring the truck has a proper tow rating and that the tongue weight is set up correctly. Then, items like a tow hitch receiver, a hitch pin, a ball mount, and the proper size trailer ball to match your trailer. Once all of that is checked off on the list, it’s time to start checking out the accessories.

Trailer brake controller

Trailer Brake Controller

If you tow something larger than a small utility trailer, your trailer will almost certainly have its own brakes. In most cases, you’ll need a way to control those brakes from inside the truck — something like the Tekonsha Prodigy P2 Trailer Brake Controller available on etrailer. With over 2,500 reviews and 4.9 out of five stars, buyers seem to like it quite a bit. Essentially, trailer brake controllers like this one link the trailer’s brakes to the vehicle, coupling the action of the trailer brakes to the driver’s input via the brake pedal. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with a seven-pin connector, but your truck may already have one. 

If your truck is relatively new, it likely came from the factory with the option for a seven-pin, which is required for trailer brake controllers. Once a trailer brake controller is hooked up and your trailer is connected, a setting called “gain” can be adjusted, dictating how much brake pressure is applied on the trailer when the driver hits the brake pedal. Most trailer brake controllers (including the option listed above) also have a feature that allows for manual application of the trailer brakes, which can be very useful if your trailer starts to sway a bit behind your truck.

Locking trailer hitch pin

Locking Trailer Hitch Pin

A locking pin is a small, affordable way to add a bit of security to your trailer hitch. The HAUL-MASTER 5/8 inch Trailer Coupler Pin Lock from Harbor Freight has 4.6 stars out of five, with over 1,400 reviews and it won’t break the bank at only $11.99. Typically, trailer hitch pins are just a bit of metal with something to keep them from sliding out: the pin and the clip. But locking hitch pins do just what the name advertises — they lock.

Some say that a locking pin like this is too easy to defeat — with a heavy-duty cutting tool of some sort, or even a lock pick — but it’s certainly better than the standard pin, right? 

Think about security in layers. Do you have a gate to lock your trailer behind? There’s a layer. Have a big, locked garage you can park your trailer in when it’s not in use? There’s a layer. Do you have a little locking pin that makes it more difficult to disconnect your trailer from your truck? There’s a layer. The more layers you have, the harder it is for a thief to make off with your stuff.

Trailer camera

Trailer Camera

Without a second set of eyes, it’s difficult to back up a truck and properly position a trailer simultaneously. Knowing where your trailer ends intuitively can be challenging, too — especially with large, boxy cargo trailers. Thankfully, that’s where items like this trailer camera from Tadi Brothers come in. With 17 reviews and a rating of 4.9 stars out of five, buyer sentiment is high, even if sales are limited. The camera connects wirelessly to a monitor (also included) that displays a rearview image at all times, giving you a serious increase in peace of mind. 

Some of the pricier systems allow multiple camera connections to hook up in places like the tow hitch, the sides of the trailer, and the back. A few even offer a split-screen configuration so you can monitor multiple places on the trailer at once. Depending on your truck and the camera system you go with, the camera display can connect to your existing touchscreen or hook up to a new, aftermarket screen. 

Many truck manufacturers have started offering trailer camera kits as accessories or even camera systems that make your trailer disappear entirely. But if your truck didn’t come with a high-tech invisible-trailer solution, it’s worth shopping around for something on the aftermarket. 

Trailer dolly

Trailer Dolly

Moving your trailer once it’s parked can be tricky, but a trailer dolly can make things much easier, especially when it comes to smaller trailers. If your trailer is under 600 pounds, this Haul-Master Trailer Dolly from Harbor Freight gets the job done. It’s a relatively cheap option at $59.99, so there isn’t much in the way of extras — and in the case of this particular dolly, assembly is required. Once the dolly is put together, it’s easy to use and small enough to store out of sight. 

I purchased this dolly for personal use, and after two years of regular use, moving my trailer around in my side yard or in and out of my garage, it never failed me once. Other users seemed pleased, too – there are over 2,000 reviews with a rating of 4.3 out of five. If your trailer is heavier, definitely invest in something with increased weight capacity. Some high-end dollies are available too, made with lightweight materials like aluminum or with additional features like height adjustability or electronically powered motors– but they’ll be significantly more expensive, so shop wisely. 

Towing lights

Magnetic Towing Lights

While some trailers are extremely well-lit and easy to see on the road, others aren’t as well-equipped. Big cargo trailers typically require taillights, brake lights, and reflectors. However, most small utility trailers are missing high-mounted lights, and car trailers typically only have lights down low. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make your trailer extra visible with an inexpensive lighting kit like this KENWAY 12V Magnetic LED Towing Light Kit from Harbor Freight. These magnetic lights have a rating of 4.4 stars out of five, with over 2,000 reviews. They can be attached to vehicles and small utility trailers in a variety of different places, and they can be taken on or off quickly.

It’s worth noting that if you’re pulling a small utility trailer behind your truck, the truck’s brake lights may be obstructed altogether — an especially dangerous scenario at night. So, you’ll want some way to signal to drivers behind you that you’re on the brakes. Luckily, lights like these are relatively inexpensive and available in a few different configurations, including two-piece setups and wider, single-piece light-bar style setups. 

Tire repair kit

Tire Repair Kit

Tire repair kits are inexpensive, small enough to store in your glove box, and relatively easy to use. This one from AutoZone has a rating of 4.5 stars out of five with 150 reviews, and it’s less than $15 — a small price to pay to keep your trailer on the road after a puncture. Many small punctures can be fixed without the need to replace a tire or pay for a patch, and in some cases, you can repair a puncture without ever removing the wheel and tire from the trailer. 

This can be a big advantage in several different scenarios. If you’re in a remote area, for example, towing a camping trailer to your off-road destination, there may not always be a flat space to jack up your trailer and change a tire. If you have the space, keeping a small air compressor with your emergency tools (to fill the tire once it’s patched) is an excellent idea, too. 

How these accessories were selected

Chevy Silverado Towing

These accessories were selected with first-hand experience, picking the best items I’ve come across or the ones I wished I had when I was caught in a jam. Over the years, I’ve towed farm equipment, car trailers, cargo trailers, utility trailers, and motorcycle trailers thousands of miles with a number of different setups, so I selected a wide range of products that could apply to many different towing needs. A tire repair kit, for instance, is something I keep in all three of my cars and under the seat of both of my motorcycles (yes, my garage is crowded).

A full-time trailer camera setup is something that would’ve saved me some significant damage on a rented trailer in my early towing days, so I made sure to list one of those as well — even though I don’t have one currently installed on my vehicle. Any accessories that were selected without personal experience had to be rated at least four out of five stars from user experience. 

Leave a Reply

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