Compared to commercial vehicles working the roads in days of yore, modern cabs are the height of luxury.
Some gaffers are good enough to spec some creature comforts for their drivers, while others are reluctant to stretch beyond the basics to protect their bottom lines. But regardless of factory-fitted options, there’s always room for improvement – and this issue, we’re listing the items we reckon can make a real difference to your quality of working life.
From TVs and aerials to face masks and ear plugs, here’s our pick of the kit that will make days and nights more comfortable in any cab…
Mobile WIFI Hotspot
It’s hard to imagine making do without the internet – and though most drivers can access the web through their smartphones while out and about, it becomes a bit more complicated if you then want to hook up a laptop or tablet computer as well. USB internet dongles are handy for laptops – just plug them in and away you go. But if you want to add more devices, it’s best to upgrade to a mobile WIFI hotspot device that can handle multiple connections. Most mobile providers offer their own units on a monthly subscription. This one from Vodafone, for example, can connect up to 10 devices at a time and is available from £17 per month for 6GB of data – or you can get it on Pay as You Go with 50GB of data for £50, which can then be topped up as required.
Mercury Modified Sine Wave Inverter
Web: Buy it at www.ebay.co.uk
Price: £219.99 (inc VAT)
Drivers who truly want to turn their cab into a home-away-from-home will want somewhere to plug in all their electronic kit – but no matter how hard you shove it, a standard UK plug just won’t fit into a 12 or 24V ciggy socket. Instead, reach for this 24V/2500W inverter unit from Mercury, which connects to the truck battery and uses a modified sine wave to power 230V mains equipment. Offering over 85 per cent efficiency, it offers two mains plugs plus a 1000 mA powered USB socket for charging your phone etc. Short circuit, overload and overheat protection ensures safety.
All Ride 24V Fan (8 inch)
Manufacturer: All Ride
Web: Buy it at www.amazon.co.uk
Price: £24.99 (inc VAT)
At the time of writing, the UK is basking in a 32-degree heatwave and we’re slowly melting into our keyboard. It’s fairly easy to keep cool while driving; but once parked up for a break or an overnight kip, a bit of directional personal airflow can make all the difference. For this, you’ll need a fan like this 8 inch model from All Ride. Mounted via extra-strong suction cup, just stick it to a window/windscreen, plug it into the 24V socket and get ready to bask in breezy comfort. Clip-on versions are also available, and some feature in-line controls for easy speed adjustment.
VOLUEX 3D Eye Mask
Web: Buy it at www.amazon.co.uk
Price: £7.54 (inc VAT)
Even the best cab curtains can let some light slip in during the night, especially when you’re stopped in a well-lit parking lot. And of course, daytime snoozes can also be problematic. So sort the problem with a good eye mask – and this high-tech mask from VOLUEX is widely regarded as one of the best of the bunch. Made from a combination of memory foam and cotton, it blocks out 100 per cent of light without putting pressure on the eyelids for better comfort thanks to its ‘3D eye socket’ design. It also features a wide adjustable head strap to keep side lights out, and the whole thing is ultra-durable so should last you a good long time.
BioEars Silicone Ear Plugs
Web: Buy it at www.boots.com
Price: £5.50 for 3 pairs (inc VAT)
Along with a good blackout mask, the secret to a good night’s sleep is peace and quiet – something that can be hard to find when parked up. So the remedy is using some earplugs to cut out noise; but with umpteen different types on the market, which is best? In our experience, you can’t go far wrong with these soft silicone earplugs from BioEars. Just roll the soft buds into a ball, then mould into your ear for a comfy, precise fit that effectively blocks out 22 dB of noise. They are reusable, hygienic, waterproof and each pack of three pairs comes with a carry case.
Pioneer Touchscreen 6.2 inch Head Unit
Web: Buy it at www.dynamicsounds.co.uk
Price: £649 (inc VAT)
If you’re tired radio/music kit is in need of an update, look no further than this superb 6.2 inch headunit from Pioneer. Featuring DAB+, built-in truck sat nav using HERE mapping and TMC, CD/DVD, WIFI, Bluetooth, Apple Car Play and dual USB support, this controller offers everything required of a cutting-edge multimedia hub. It can also hook into two additional cameras.
Kuda TV with DVD player
Manufacturer: Kuda Automotive
Web: Buy it at www.kudauk.ltd.uk
Price: £214.95 (plus VAT)
When you want to watch a TV show or movie, rather than squint at a phone or laptop, why not boost your entertainment prospects with a proper cab tellybox? This 16 inch LED screen from Kuda UK has a built-in region-free DVD player, plus PVR and USB input which enable you to pause, rewind and record live TV – and of course watch downloaded movies. Running on 12V, this unit is easy to install with VESA mounting and is just the right size to give a good view while not taking over your cab.
Moonraker DTV-1000 Digital TV Aerial
Web: Buy it at www.moonraker.eu
Price: £44.99 (inc VAT)
Once you’ve installed a decent TV, the next step is to pair it with a decent digital TV aerial so you can get the best possible signal reception, no matter where you are in the country. This model from Moonraker features a lightweight, compact and waterproof housing which has a range of mounting options in the box, including pole-mounting or suction cup. It has an integrated low-noise amplifier and can be powered by 12/24V cigarette lighter socket.