Anyone unhappy with camping drawers in their vehicle? Drawers vs cargo boxes? (1 Viewer)

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May 17, 2017
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NH
Im considering building drawers for the rear of my cruiser for camping / overlanding and after discussing it with my wife, she doesnt like the idea at all and feels the drawers will limit what we can do with the cargo area. I can see where the drawers will limit how large of an item we can place in the back, but the drawers will be removable for those once in a blue moon purchases or times something large needs to be moved.

I was curious if anyone who has a rear cargo drawer system, doesnt like them, or feels that they limit you / storage space / versatility of your vehicle. Since i have never had them I cant really comment one way or another but can see some downsides. Im just not sure the downsides are greater than the upsides.

I do see people, for instance the overland bound couple, travel without drawers, and they use cargo boxes instead. Is this a better methodology?

Any input is appreciated
 

hoser

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Consider a half-drawer system. That way, you can still fit a single 3rd row seat, if needed. All your heavy tools/recovery gear will be secured. Sleep inside on your next camping trip. You'll be on the "High" side with plenty of sleeping headroom. She'll be on the low side, between your drawer and the wheel well hump. And she'll have no sleeping headroom with the 2nd row flipped forward, rather than flat, like your side.

Then, ask her if she wants you to add a drawer to her side. :)
 
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lol! i like it. I should add we removed the 3rd row, and dont plan on using it. I would also like to be able to sleep in the back of the vehicle at times - if needed, another notch towards using a drawer system, but she pointed out that a cot would work as well, similar to I am Jake on you tube if youve seen his setup.
 

Landpimp

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I use bags, lots of bags, they stuff into places boxes won't, you can lay on them, compress them, etc. I use a few boxes for certain stuff, but just rubbermaid totes. I have a bunch of pelican cases and others like it...just don't use them, same with my guns...lots of bags. (but use ammo cans to store mags and ammo)

I also like to use the rear of my rigs to haul random stuff,fixed drawers just don't work, I like flexibility. My fridge is strapped down but can be moved.
 
Joined
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I use bags, lots of bags, they stuff into places boxes won't, you can lay on them, compress them, etc. I use a few boxes for certain stuff, but just rubbermaid totes. I have a bunch of pelican cases and others like it...just don't use them, same with my guns...lots of bags. (but use ammo cans to store mags and ammo)

I also like to use the rear of my rigs to haul random stuff,fixed drawers just don't work, I like flexibility. My fridge is strapped down but can be moved.

This is the perfect summation of my wife's view, and where I can see drawers being problematic. We've camped like this, and i always feel like what i want is not quickly accessible and i'm always reaching over everything and its a pain in the ass. Was it more just becoming highly organized with the bags for it to be effective for you?
 
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Arkansas
IMG_5453.JPG
I am a fan of drawers over boxes. I had them in our 4Runner and just built a set for our LC. We are a family of four so when we get on the road or trail there is a lot of stuff. I like being able to open a single drawer to get the item I need. I don't like shuffling boxes or playing tetris to make things fit.

With our setup we can start cooking a meal within minutes of stopping. When we are on long trips it allows us to pull-off and let the kids run free while we make lunch or dinner. Nothing worse for a kid than to have to sit still in a restaurant after being in a car for a few hours.

Our drawers are bolted into the truck. If we rollover or get hit by a drunk driver (true story), I don't have to worry about items flying around in the cab and hurting anyone. You can certainly strap down cargo boxes and bags to keep them from being tossed around but then you have to remove the straps anytime you need to retrieve an item. I figure the time I got lazy and didn't strap it all down would be the time Murphy decided to stop by.

I also like to donate my disposable cash to anyplace that has building materials. lol. If needed I can remove my cooler and/or drawers and slide dimensional lumber inside our cruiser through the cabinet I built. If I need to haul a really large item I can remove the cabinet (13mm socket and 6 bolts) and be on the road in less than 10 minutes.

My wife and I also like having our system in when we are using the truck as a grocery getter. We put the cold items in the cooler and dry goods in the pantry drawer. That let's us make a stop or two on the way home without having to worry about frozen items.

I did not design our cabinet to allow us to sleep inside, but that is not important to us. Plenty of people do so I don't think that is a limiter.

Just my .02$. Hope it is helpful.
 
Last edited:
Joined
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New Orleans, Louisiana
Bags are indeed not as fast, but for a daily application I find it handy. I keep one bag for tools, one for limited recovery bag, and a medical kit. I have a ridgid roller box I also use (pictured below) for camping. I basically throw all my tools and more recovery stuff in this for longer journeys, and it goes under any other camping stuff we bring. It fits well next to my fridge (that is on a homemade slideout), and with the wheels I can pull the handle and wheel it out to the tailgate when I need access.

6fb03a84-88ee-4ea0-b4ec-5fe65466c0a7_1000.jpg
 
Joined
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MO
This is a cool question to ask, and one that I was thinking about myself yesterday. I think drawer systems look really tidy and "cool". I've never used either myself. But I've got to make that decision pretty soon here and I am leaning towards no drawers for flexibility. I will probably go with Rubbermaids. They will go under the sleeping platform.

I also feel like there is some valuable space lost to the structure and hardware of drawers. Bags/rubbermaids/etc seem like they'll be a bit better for that.
 
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Australia
I'm asking the same questions too, drawers are great for keeping things neatly in place, but they do take up a lot of room, and once installed, you'll need to add a cargo barrier to prevent things flying through your windscreen.

And let's not forget the weight of drawers, 100 pounds plus just for the privilege can attribute to an overweight cruiser.
 
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You absolutely have to factor in the weight of drawers. I am at roughly +30lbs when you factor in the weight I lost by removing the third row seats. Not a huge difference. I run stock bumpers so even fully loaded I am well within the weight limits of the LC.

As for space, a well made set of drawers is a better use imo. Obviously volume is volume. How you access it is the difference. My deep drawers hold what fits in three 27 gallon stacking bins. You could argue I lose a small amount of space to drawer slides, but no one big or small is lifting the bins or their weight in and out of my vehicle to access it.


IMG_5460.JPG


To the OP or anyone else weighing their options I recommend taking your time and consider your personal needs. It's cheaper to start with bins and will give you an idea of what you really need to carry with you. Just remember to enclose or strap down the bins. In an accident the tops will pop off and things will start flying around.
 
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View attachment 1489339

I like this idea. Make the two side cabinets semi-permanent and have the center shelf fastened but easily removed. You can even design it so the center section can be slid in on floor level.

Ok, now we're getting somewhere! I spent about 3 hours yesterday on the banks of the Current River (MO) considering the best way to "loft" a sleeping platform. If I went without drawers, I would ideally want NO vertical supports dividing my storage area. I will need to inspect it at the store, but I have a feeling that 1/2" plywood with a 2x4 perimeter and 2 or 3 supports going left-to-right will provide sufficient rigidity.

But then the question was how to support the perimeter. This photo gives a good idea for the rear edge!

You absolutely have to factor in the weight of drawers. I am at roughly +30lbs when you factor in the weight I lost by removing the third row seats. Not a huge difference. I run stock bumpers so even fully loaded I am well within the weight limits of the LC.

As for space, a well made set of drawers is a better use imo. Obviously volume is volume. How you access it is the difference. My deep drawers hold what fits in three 27 gallon stacking bins. You could argue I lose a small amount of space to drawer slides, but no one big or small is lifting the bins or their weight in and out of my vehicle to access it.


View attachment 1489310

To the OP or anyone else weighing their options I recommend taking your time and consider your personal needs. It's cheaper to start with bins and will give you an idea of what you really need to carry with you. Just remember to enclose or strap down the bins. In an accident the tops will pop off and things will start flying around.

You make a good point about ease of access and ergonomics. I believe drawers are better in this way, as many commercial products are tapered like shown in your photo. Wasted space! I like what's going on with these: https://www.containerstore.com/s/travel/auto-travel/grey-utility-trays/12d?productId=10035847
 

cruzerDave

Land Shark Outfitters
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@Lucky Strike I think you'll find 100 people have 100 different opinions, and the only ones that really matter are you and your wife's;)

A HUGE plus for drawers (IMHO) is that you will have your gear when you need it, not just when you remember to put back in a bag or box. They secure your gear safely and give you near-instant access to your fire extinguisher, medical bag, flares, or even bottles of water in the midst of a trip:
kiss-stuffed.jpg

(early prototype, ignore the different handles)

No bin or box system will give you as easy access as drawers.

The slide system you choose can have a big impact on space, like mentioned above, so consider as you design. Traditional slides eat up 3/4" each side, so x4 = 3" of usable space, multiplied by the length and height, well, I calc'd it at 74 liters of space - not trivial.

As for weight, I think a 5000lb cruiser that can carry 1000 lb of gear without dropping an extra gear can handle drawers. But do consider once you have them you WILL put stuff in them, so it really is the drawers+their contents. YMMV.

Final note on needing to take big stuff, I have not in a year had one instance where mine were a problem for taking anything I needed. And actually the drawer height matching the folded down seats has made it easier to take some large stuff, not less so. Also, I find it easier to load the truck at the store by only having to open the hatch, and the drawer tops are a couple inches below the tailgate lip so less bending over to load and unload - a benefit I never expected. FWIW my wife was pretty meh on drawers as I built mine but a year later agrees- their utility is so outstanding we'll never go without drawers again.

But that's just opinion #101 :cheers:
 

uHu

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You can make drawers without roller bearing sliders. That way you loose less space. There is thread on someone who built drawers with a kind of synthetic slider under the drawers, which reportedly worked well.
 
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If we end up doing drawers I have a few custom ideas to not loose any space to slides but we will see what we (my wife ;) ) decides on. I've seen Teflon plastic or uhmw plastic strips used with success, I wouldn't be scared to try that approach either.
 

NCFJ

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We considered using a drawer system in out truck but we use it for so much more than camping. Ours goes to the feed store on a regular basis, hauls dogs, runs for parts and is my wife's go to any time the weather is bad. We try to keep as much in bags as possible. As stated above bags allow for a much more flexible packing arrangement.

That said, if we had a dedicated "off roading" rig I think a drawer system might work, the extra weight bothers me a bit.
 
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Drawers take up way too much room. You can pack the stuff you will need during the day close to "the surface" for ready access. With drawers you might lose use of the tail gate as a table....
 
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Eastern, OR
I'm really liking that setup you have @78f150tx. Do you have any more pics? I've been wanting to build something similar. We use our rig as the family vehicle so permanent drawers are not a very good option for us although if we weren't going to use the third row seats I would be all over the KISS drawers from @cruzerDave. I'd like build something I can remove and install little more easily for when we travel. Maybe a hook that latches to the seat anchors or a couple bolts. Idk.
 

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