Take a Drive: Road Trip Essentials
The keys to a good drive? Check the pants you just tossed in the washer. The keys to a good road trip? Look no further than here.
Whether you've got a camper or a spaceship-sized RV, a minivan or a 1992 Toyota Corolla, road tripping can be the adventure of a lifetime. Urban hubs pulsing with lights and energy give way to cruise control on the highway, and the scenery of small town backroads opens up into soul-quenching stopovers in national parks, state museums, and - mmmm, homemade peach pie - local diners.
So pack your sense of adventure, your favorite podcasts, your tolerance for cheesy car games, and at least some of the following road trip essentials to guarantee your trek on wheels rolls along smooth.
Note: Road trip gear prices are listed as they were at printing. Prices are subject to change.
Maxpedition Doppelduffel Adventure Bag
A big bag with a soft outer, so you can squish that much more inside the duffel and inside your trunk, hatch, or back seat.
The main compartment of the Doppelduffel measures 13" long x 9" wide x 24" high. The outside has a triple coat of polyurethane for water resistance, plus a final coat of DuPont Teflon Fabric Protector to repel other fun-ruining elements you might encounter on the road.
Not the popo though, sorry.
Roadster Seatback Luggage
You don't even need a back seat if you've got a Seatback. Roadtrip Luggage has developed this clever use of space for travelers who want to make the most of the limited storage in their cars. Roadster Seatback Luggage is a tri-fold garment bag with a hidden "hoodie" that slides over a front headrest to turn the area just behind your seats into an extra bit of hanging storage.
It's large enough to hold a couple of suits, folded shirts, toiletries, and a pair of shoes, and needs just 3" of clearance behind the front seat to settle in. When not driving, the Roadster folds to airline carry-on size, and can be latched over the handle of a roller bag.
The Camperbox - Backseat Bed in a Bag
An ultra-portable travel kit that Camperbox creators say will "transform your car into a hotel bedroom in less than 30 seconds."
Adjustable to fit many cars, SUVs, and vans with collapsible backseats, The Camperbox is a sort of bed frame / flat platform with space for a foam mattress and sleeping bags on top, and storage underneath. It's intended to be light enough to pack into a bag and move easily in and out of your vehicle, but sturdy enough to support the weight of 2 sleepers with a solid and consistent surface.
Cyntur JumperPack Car Jump Starter
I've had this jump starter / USB charger / flashlight combo for 3 years now - and have probably charged it twice in that time - but only just had the "opportunity" to use it when I came home from a trip to a dead battery last week. Dead, dead. I couldn't even open my doors. I was going to have my friend Cornelius come over to give me a jump, but cars were parked on either side of me in the garage and there was no way to get to my battery with the jumper cables he had.
Long story short, this little brick, having sat untouched in my trunk for at least 2 years, jumped my battery in 2 tries. Try 1, the engine turned, turned, turned, but no go. Then, per the directions, I waited a minute. Try 2, it turned, turned, and fired up. No problems since. (Left on a dome light that killed the battery in the first place.)
Imagine yourself in a similar situation on a road trip. Not only might you be blocked it by other parked cars, but your friend Cornelius most likely would not be available to drive over to Wall Drug in South Dakota give you a jump. According to Cyntur, this JumperPack has a 12,000 mAh battery that will get 4, 6, and even 8-cylinder engines going again. A fully charged device has enough power for 25 back-to-back jump starts.
Drop Stop - Car Seat Gap Filler
I don't need to tell you you need snacks for the road. I probably don't need to tell you to be careful not to spill those snacks in the gaps between your car seats while you're munching on them. But I think I do need to tell you about the Drop Stop, a potential mess- and rot- and decaying-fry-stench-saver that will fill the gaps.
Drop Stops have built-in slots that attach to the seatbelt catch and create a solid plane between the door and the edge of the cushion. In addition to fast food and Skittles, they're also good for catching runaway coins and phones. The fillers are made of high-grade neoprene with expansion / contraction properties to enable them to fit most vehicles and gap sizes currently sucking up your belongings. Once in place, Drop Stops should require no readjustment or reinstallation, even when you need to move your seat.
2018 Rand McNally Large Scale Road Atlas
Sure, you can figure out where you are and get directions with your in-car nav system. Google Maps on your phone. A handheld GPS device. Until you enter a dead zone of service, or a dead zone of battery, or otherwise lose connectivity to the electronics that enable us to never know where the hell we're going.
If you're headed out on the road, I'd recommend stashing an old school map in the glove box. This US road atlas from Rand McNally has maps of every state, plus over 350 city inset and national park maps.
Stinger USB Emergency Escape Tool
Maker Ztylus says the Stinger is a USB car charger that can save your life. And not just figuratively when you're on your last 8% and get a very promising hit on Tinder. In addition to the dual USB ports fed by your car's cigarette lighter, this combo tool has the literal life-saving features of a spring-loaded window punch and seatbelt cutter to help you escape from your vehicle in an emergency.
Coleman PowerChill Thermoelectric Cooler
The Coleman PowerChill Thermoelectric Cooler replaces the mess, heft, and fleeting nature of ice with a simple, trusty, always-at-the-ready power cord to kep 40 quarts of your favorite drinks and snacks up to 40 degrees F below the surrounding temperature. An included PowerChill 12V vehicle plug readies the cooler for road trips and car camping, while a 110V home plug (sold separately) gives you expanded cooling range on the back patio or in the garage.
WaterBrick Stackable Water & Food Storage
WaterBricks help you prep for emergencies, road trips, road trip emergencies, and emergency road trips. The stackable water and food storage containers are made of high density polyethylene (HDPE) strong enough to withstand years of knocks and bumps in the back of a truck, and have 2 interior conical reinforcement columns designed to keep them locked together even in a disaster.
Night Vision Driving Glasses
Sorry, night vision driving glasses won't help you cruise around in the pitch black all stealthy like a Navy SEAL. In fact, these yellow tint lenses aren't meant for predominantly dark conditions at all. They're for reducing glare, enhancing clarity, and evening out contrast when the darkness gets mashed together with the extra bright. Like when some jackhole is coming at you with thousand-lumen low beams. When you're hit with unexpected reflections. When you're driving down flashy streets, or off into the sunset.
Shiatsu Massage Pillow with Heat
OK, maybe necessity is an exaggeration, but there's a good reason this kneading massage ball pillow comes with a cigarette lighter plug-in. Whether driving or riding in the passenger seat, long hours in the car can screw with your back. And - my personal favorite place to use this shiatsu massage pillow - your ass. Seriously, if you want a real good butt rub, look no further.
Tvan Off-Road Camper Trailer
TRACK Trailer is an Australian company, so they're not (just) about pimpin' out your road trippin' ride, they're about the practicality of road trippin' in the outback.
The Tvan MK5 is the latest Tvan Camper Trailer release. Originally launched in 2000, the Tvan's off-road power and wicked look put it on the RV map, and it's been rolling through dirt, rock, and potholes, picking up various performance awards along the way, ever since. The MK5 stays true to the rugged, compact, easy-to-use foundation of the design, but adds a slew of upgrades to the MK4's body panels, electrics, sleeping quarters, and kitchen variants.
One of the Tvan's primary bragging points is its sleeping space. The Camper Trailer allows for sleeping on a queen-size mattress, and under a hard roof with walls - no flapping canvas - that provide protection from weather and bugs, plus noise insulation. You can also double your living space by deploying the stored tent, which adds some "flapping canvas" but is attached to a fold-out hard floor to keep you dry and off the ground.