Effective 4WD Storage Solutions
We are always up for the next off-road adventure in the outback. The problem is, our gear requires constant upgrades and maintenance, so sometimes its hard to keep up. Budgets and available time limit these desired improvements to our vehicles. So we set priorities. Usually, blokes first try to protect the chassis from collision, especially the front hood and everything on it. Then there is the vehicle recovery gear, performance boosters, comfort items…the list goes on. While these priorities vary, the fact that at some point you need to address storage is a constant. When you are deep into the hinterland, every storage space counts and this is where the focus goes in preparation for long trip.
It’s only natural – use the roof. Since the space above the cabin is dead real estate anyway, why not fit it with 4X4 Roof Racks that will increase the storage options? Many off road enthusiasts do it, and even some tradies go for similar solutions. The only limit, of course, is the load capacity. Aside from that you have many options to choose from.
There are many types of roof contraptions, starting from roof bars, roof baskets, to full on roof cages. Whatever your choice, the most important feature of such storage solutions is their durability. They simply have to be sturdy and able to withstand the constant beating from the elements. Some blokes go for stainless steel frames and solid mesh, but that will decrease the amount of cargo you can actually put up there because these metals are heavy. Going for aluminium 4×4 Roof Racks will strike a balance between long service life and increased load capacity. Sometimes coatings are added to further improve the quality.
Installation of roof rails can be a drag, particularly if you have to drill to put them in place. Therefore, going for aftermarket roof rack that is made for the specific make and model of your vehicle will make things easier. Though, universal roof rails can be a great alternative too.
The roof is suitable for certain types of cargo relative to other storage options in your 4×4. You can use it to put dirty or potentially dangerous loads there – your recovery tracks, jerry cans, gas canisters, waste bags and similar. And if you follow the “work hard play hard” ethos you can place your bulky extreme sports gear up there.
Making the most of the ute tray is another obvious choice. This option mostly depends on the other uses of the vehicle, if any. For example, when you use the tray to carry construction or farming equipment on a regular basis, you probably don’t want to decrease the load capacity of the tray to install drawers. However, if you are an off-roader, then you would benefit from adding a touch of compartmentalization to the bundle of luggage in your ute tray.
You can choose from wide variety of ute drawer styles available. Some go for under tray drawers that can be neatly tucked away from sight. Others go for top mount drawer units with separate storage levels. If you intend to place these storage boxes exposed to the elements then you simply have to select a heavy duty box. Fortunately, you can easily find checkered plate ute tool drawers able to withstand such wear.
As to their actual use – that remains up to you. Even though they can be labeled as a tool box, you can practically store whatever item you need in there. By creating a system of roll out ute drawers, some off-road enthusiasts have created outdoor kitchens to prepare a meal. If you don’t have enough storage for clothes or gear, you can use ute tool drawers as an outdoor cabinet.
Remember, you can make small modifications to the set. Some manufacturers will allow you to customize the unit. However, keep in mind the actual quality of the drawers. Don’t stop at the sturdy material, look for hinges, gas struts, locks and other small details. You can recognize if the unit was made to last by simply inspecting these building blocks.
Overhead Cargo Net
This is a very compact solution, but it’s not for everyone. Adding a cargo net attached to a hook on the wall is typical for tight spaces, such as sailboats, for example. You can certainly give it a try in your 4WD, provided you remain mindful of a few considerations.
First, you can only store light items in such nets. There are many small and light pieces of gear: clothes, towels, pillows, tarps and similar. You can stuff the net full of these bulky loads that actually don’t weight that much.
Second, you must make sure the net is tightly secured. So go for the toughest hardware your chassis can handle just to be on the safe side. Preferably, you should place the cargo nets in the rear cabin. But if you don’t have a rear cabin and decide to place the net inside the passenger cabin you’ve got to do your best to secure it to the walls. You can keep it either packed full of stuff, or completely empty. Having a net swaying along with the movement of the vehicle is neither safe, nor enjoyable.