How do Truck Drivers Stay Warm?

December 20, 2021

Truck driving is year round work, which is a good thing for you and I.  Unfortunately for our truck driver’s that means spending long cold nights in their truck during the winter months.  I actually did a ride along with a long time driver friend of mine and one thing I noticed right away was that he was not at all prepared for cold nights, especially during the winter months.  

So, after that experience I did some research to find out how the most experienced truck drivers stay warm at night, especially during the winter months.

Trucker’s rely on a combination of clothing layers, down comforters, and thick sleeping bags built to conserve body heat during low temperatures. Truck Drivers plug 12 volt space heaters, heated mattress pads and heated jackets into a truck's power source for added warmth while parked during breaks. 

These simple steps help truck driver’s stay warm at night through the winter months, but I uncovered the most important aspect to fighting the bitter chill of a cold truck cabin and that is early preparation.

What to bring to prepare yourself for cold weather:

The most important thing a truck driver can do before a long drive is a pre-trip inspection of their truck, but what most forget is to inspect your bags and sleeper cab for these essential items to get you through a long-cold drive.

Thermal Underwear - long johns are a great option for truck drivers because they help you stay warm by way of your own body heat.

Driving Gloves - Make sure to pack a pair of gloves that are warm and provide a strong grip on the steering wheel.

Reflective Cold Gear - Always pack a heavier jacket that can go over your clothes if you have to step outside to help with loading or unloading.  Just make sure that it is high visibility clothing to ensure your safety.

Thermal Underwear for Men & Women

Durable Truck Driving Work Gloves

Reflective Sash that fits Over Your Cold Gear

Sleeping Bag - Sleeping bags are the ultimate truck driver sleeping hack.  It’s easy to “make the bed” and they do a great job of keeping you warm through the night.

Zero-Degree Truck Driver Sleeping Bag Made of 100% Cotton For Adults

  • COZY: Soft 100% cotton flannel lining;anti-snag zippers can unzips inside or outside,and unzips at the top or bottom for easy access and ventilation,perfect for camping in 3 seasons.
  • WARM: the extreme temperature is 0 ℉,the limit temperature is 15 ℉,and the comfort temperature is 30 ℉.A draft tube along the zipper keeps body heat from escaping.
  • BIG & TALL: 90 x 39 in.; ideal for campers up to 6 ft. 7 in,and people who like side sleeping or roomy.
  • MACHINE WASHABLE: Wash in cold water with mild detergent,on the gentle cycle.please put the flannel surface in the washing machine to protect the waterproof coating of the shell.

Sunscreen - You should wear sunscreen whenever you are exposing yourself to sunlight, even in the winter months.  You may think the windows are there to protect you but actually they do very little to keep harmful UVA rays from causing damage to your skin.

Sunglasses - squinting at the sun is dangerous and causes damage to your face and skin.  Especially as you do it overtime from behind the wheel.

Can you Idle Your Semi  Truck All Night?

When you pull into a truck stop, you might notice that some driver’s or owner operators have their trucks running for a long period of time even though they are hours away from their next load.

Some driver’s do this as an added effort to stay warm.  

As it turns out though, idling your engine through the night is not good for the environment or your engine over the long term.  Semi truck manufacturers state that running engines at idle actually causes more damage to internal parts than starting and stopping the truck in heavy traffic.

Plus, an idle engine burns about 1 gallon of fuel per hour which can increase the cost to operate your rig and eat into your profit margins.

How do you power a heater in your truck without draining the battery?

When I introduced my truck driving friend to everything I’ve shown you so far he had a few questions, but number one was how he was supposed to power these heating tools without running the battery on his truck empty.

A valid question but one I knew there was an easy answer too.

What most truck drivers do is use a small aftermarket appliance called an APU or auxiliary power unit to provide power to things like heated blankets, space heaters, hair dryers and more all without affecting the reserve battery in the truck.

It can keep a lot of stuff charged like electric components. This is essential when wanting the sleeper cab to be warm during the winter and cool during summer.

This is an APU unit that is installed on the truck in order to provide power to devices without draining the battery while parked.

No more cold nights in your sleeper cab.

Staying warm while driving and parked is a necessity for truck drivers.  Driving is a strenuous job and its important to stay as comfortable as possible behind the wheel to minimize the risk of accidents to you and those sharing the road.  

These tips will help you stay prepared for the cold, just remember never to leave for a trip without the proper cold gear and any tools you need to keep the chill away.

About the author

I’m Luis Uribe, author of this website. I am the owner and head publisher for Trucker Daily and a freight brokerage Total Connection Logistics. I have been in and around the trucking industry for over 15 years. It is my mission with Trucker daily to equip truck drivers, with the latest in industry updates, news, and helpful tips to help further your trucking career and life. Whether you are a truck driving veteran, or beginner, you will find information on this site to save you a lot of time in your driving journey.

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