May 24, 2022

Alice-in-chains

Automotive forever

How To Prepare For A Cross-Country Road Trip

Summer travel is an American institution. Every year, millions of otherwise happy people take to the highways to crisscross our great nation in search of fun and adventure. Taking an RV or towing a travel trailer along on these journeys has grown in popularity as pickups and SUVs have taken hold of our driveways in greater numbers. Need proof, try and book a camping spot in any of our fabulous National Parks it’s almost impossible. This summer, we’re going to become part of that statistic by spending a month on the road towing a 13-year-old travel with a 2020 Ford F-250 Super Duty.

While we’ve been working through getting both the truck and trailer ready for the trip, we’ve also been working on a list of gear to take along for the ride. For the places we’re planning to visit, we need to be fully self-sufficient and ready to MacGyver a roadside fix of anything that might befall us. We prefer to work under the pretense that being prepared for the worst will turn a bad situation into a minor annoyance. It may seem like overkill, but this mantra has served us well for a lot of years.

This should by no means be taken as a comprehensive list, rather take it as a jumping off point in preparation for making your own memories. Now, get out and explore!



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The biggest downside to road tripping with a pickup is the nature of their open cargo beds. For a month on the road, we needed to have the bed covered in an effort to keep our supplies clean, out of the sun, and out of the prying eyes of those with sticky fingers. To do this, we opted to install Extang’s new Trifecta ALX trifold tonneau cover.



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The truck we’re working with is a 2020 Ford F-250 Super Duty crew-cab equipped with the company’s 6-foot 9-inch short bed. Fortunately, Ford’s pickup beds are rather deep, giving us a fair bit of volume to work with. We opted to leave the bed-mounted loading ramps installed as they could come in handy in a variety of roadside situations.



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Before the idea of a fuel shortage took over the national news narrative, we had planned on bringing spare fuel along for the ride. Because our route includes long stretches of open roads, we decided it would be prudent to have 10 gallons of additional diesel on board (good for about 120 miles of towing range) along with 5 gallons of gasoline incase our camper’s generator tank runs dry.



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RV road trippers know that propane is liquid gold, as nearly every function of a camper runs on LPG. To make sure that our refrigerator stays cold, we stay warm, and that we have the means to cook we’re bringing along an extra 20-pound propane cylinder.



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The travel trailer that we’ll be using for our summer adventure has a built-in 4,000-watt Onan (Cummins) generator. However, Murphy and his law always seem to pop up at the worst possible time so to combat that we’re loading up a spare 2,000-watt Yamaha inverter generator. In the case it’s needed, this generator can run every function of the trailer with the exception of the air conditioner.



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Preparing for the absolute worst situations, we’re also hauling with us a portable Miller Multimatic 200 welder. This multi-process machine can run MIG, TIG, and stick welding and can do all three on both 110-volt and 220-volt inputs. We’ve loaded the welder up with a spool of flux-core MIG welding wire and packed necessary equipment to run it as a stick welder as well.



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Loading the Super Duty’s bed with oddly shaped items can feel like an extreme game of Tetris. Fortunately, we found the perfect slot for a large Vault case by Pelican and Rubbermaid Action Packer.



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We’ve loaded the Rubbermaid Action Packer with all of the accessories needed to run the Miller Multimatic 200 welder. Not pictured are the gas regulators for the MIG and TIG welding processes. Even though we’re not brining gas cylinders on the trip, we’ve also loaded the regulators just in case.



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Inside the large Vault case by Pelican is a small collection of Milwaukee battery powered tools. We’re taking along with us a powerful -inch impact driver (for breaking even the most stubborn bolts), a 3/8-inch impact driver, a -inch drill, and a 6-inch angle grinder. With this collection of tools, we should be able to repair most things. Not pictures is the collection of sockets, bits, cutting discs, etc.



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Nothing ruins a road trip quicker than tire issues. And trailer tires seem especially susceptible to damage and blowouts than truck tires. Since we also subscribe to the theory that “one-is-none” we’ve opted to bring three full-size spare tires for the travel trailer with us. One tire is on the trailer and two will ride in the pickup bed. These tires are about two-years old and in good shape overall. It’s also important to check the air pressure in the spares before setting off.



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Using an inferior jack to change a flat tire can really leave you in a sour mood. To ensure that tire changes are quick and painless, we’ve bringing along our 2-ton Pro Eagle floor jack. With large rubber wheels and an 8-inch extension the Pro Eagle jack can handle the toughest lifting job we can imagine running into.



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Underneath the Pro Eagle jack are another pair of smaller Vault cases by Pelican. Inside one of these cases is a collection of recovery gear, including shackles, clevises, a tow strap, and more. In the other one, pictured here, is our tire changing gear. Having all of the tools that could be needed to change a tire on either the truck or trailer in one place is incredibly important.



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If you’ve paid any attention to our 2020 Ford F-250 Super Duty long-term reports you’ll know that this truck’s Power Stroke diesel engine has a thirst for diesel exhaust fluid, especially while towing. To ensure that we don’t have issues finding DEF along the way we’re taking a tote (or two) along with us.



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Stacked on top of the Action Packer is a medium sized Craftsman toolbox. Inside this toolbox is our electrical repair kit. We’ve got enough tools, wire, splices, fittings, and more to repair just about any 12-volt electrical issue that should arise.



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No road trip would be complete without a full Power Tank. In addition to being able to fill tires, the power tank can also be used to run air tools should the need arise. We ensured that our Power Take was completely full, as filling tires to the high pressure needed by an HD truck and travel trailer tends to deplete the tank more quickly.



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An interesting and unique issue for folks like us who like to boondock camp, meaning out in the wild with no hookups, is the size of travel trailer and RV gray and black water storage tanks. To ensure that we don’t end up in an, um, undesirable situation we’ve opted to take a 20-gallon portable waste tank. Here’s hoping we don’t need to use it.



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Keen eyes will notice a second propane bottle and an open space. This bottle will be used for our Weber BBQ and the space is where it will live once we hit the road. There’s almost nothing better than grilling in nature.