Trekking with Trekboxx

Joined
Jun 28, 2010
Messages
401
Location
Pasadena, CA
This is how I have packed my truck for years worth of camping....No Bueno!


Decision Making Process

Drawers have been an ongoing conversation between my wife and I since we bought our 2001 land cruiser. I have wanted a drawer system for my cruiser pretty much since the day I bought it and started looking at mods. Finances mostly kept us from jumping in with any one particular drawer system right away but I have also built my truck on the core principle of not buying anything until I have proven, through many field experiences without the particular item, that it will benefit my travel experience or safety. For four years my truck has only had a lift, tires, 9” LED light bar and communications gear.

After dozens of camping trips and having to pack, unpack, and repack all our gear in the truck just to get to some cooking gear my wife and I were fed up and ready for some kind of organization system in the truck. I started researching all the systems available, looking at every home built system, and eventually taking all those ideas and designing my own. I designed a beautiful system but it was still going to cost a fortune and take a lot of time that I didn’t have. A quote from my wife regarding this aspect:

“What I loved most about the system was it was custom designed and already done for us; instant satisfaction. No husband wasting precious weekends building a drawer system out back, cussing up a storm, and risking cutting his hand off with a circular saw. Those weekends could be spent doing what we love - camping!”

About the time that I was wrapping up my own design, Dave from TrekBoxx started posting about his own personal build. I subscribed to the thread on IH8Mud and kept a quiet eye on his progression from sharing his own build to forming his own company to trying to sell the systems to all of us 100 owners. I appreciated Dave’s attention to detail, his thought process with the design, and as a mechanical engineer myself, how well he made compromises in his design as he transitioned from his near perfect fine cabinetry prototype to something that could actually be produced on a larger scale. Dave’s final design was very close to what I had designed except much better. I sat back patiently and waited for Trekboxx to get off the ground.

While waiting I decided to build a test drawer; something similar to what Dave was building except no drawers; just the shell of a system. My wife and I both wanted to test drive something before committing to a permanent system. We both had plenty of reservations. I wanted to see how we could pack our gear more efficiently and my wife wanted to see how a drawer system could fit in with daily life at home and daily life on the trail with two toddlers. The test was a great success and we came out of it with all kinds of ideas for improvements and a much better sense of what we both wanted and needed from a drawer system. Two issues we both agreed on were that the system had to keep all of our junk from falling in behind the fridge when it was pulled out and we had to have a way to store stuff in the area above the fridge. From my wife during the early stages of our testing:

“I was not convinced that an actual drawer was the solution. I liked the open cubby as we could slide things like our camp pads, sleeping bags, and tent in it. At the time we owned the REI camp kitchen and had all our kitchen items stored in it. Even with the cubby, it did not solve the problem we ran into when trying to access our kitchen stuff with the car packed. This was especially annoying during lunch time when we were on the go and had to unpack half the car and then dig around in the camp kitchen to find what we needed. It turned lunch into a major production. My biggest reservation with the Trekboxx at first was it looked quite permanent. My other reservation was whether I could fit our stroller in it. I honestly didn’t put much thought into it beyond that. I had never seen a drawer system in the field, in person, so I didn’t even know it’s potential. ”

This is the test drawer/platform/cargo system. Nothing has a really specific place and everything is loose. Big improvement over the first picture.


The week before heading out to100’s in the Hills I got a call from Chris Hunt (Bluecruiser on Mud) saying that Dave had a full Alpha system ready to go and asking if I was interested (he knew I had been for some time). Someone had ordered one and apparently backed out or something like that. Regardless, he had one ready to go and I was getting ready to depart on a 3 week, 3,000+ mile camping trip with my wife, 3.5 year old son, and 1.5 year old daughter. My wife and I decided that if there was any time or trip to get a drawer system, this was it. Despite all our initial reservations on how it would fit in with daily life at home, the consensus was “screw it, lets do this”; it will make our lives so much easier and we will make it work for daily life one way or another. On top of that it will force us to get out even more to justify having a permanent cargo system in the truck.


Five days before heading out on our trip, I drove up to San Jose, CA and met up with Dave at RobRed’s house where the three of us got to work prepping the truck and installing the drawers.

Assembly

The assembly of the drawers is really straightforward; it goes together just like a piece of IKEA furniture minus the poor quality. Dave used top-notch hardware for every part of the system. It took about 2-3 hours to assemble the main structure, all the drawers and slides, and have it ready to go in the truck.

An example of the quality of the CNC work


Assembly like IKEA but better. This is the drawer the fridge sits on.


Fridge slide and small drawer


Dave provides all the shims needed to get the drawer slides set at the right height



Testing the slide action with everything assembled


Wings on and in the truck. Two people could get it in and out of the truck but three is nice.



Anchor bolts in


Barriers


Barrier install





Dave had some cool extra features in his own truck that I will add later. The LED lights are exceptionally nice. The warm LED are the way to go.


Bungee cord and custom wiring keep the 12V line to the fridge from getting caught up as the fridge slides in and out.


This system was the first system that has been installed in a truck other than Dave’s. So for all the ease with which the system was assembled there were a few minor hiccups along the way. The first came up when we were putting the drawers in the truck and getting ready to bolt them down to the 3rd row seat anchor points. Dave had the holes machined “perfect”, meaning there was no accommodation made for tolerances in both the position that the CNC machine put the hole in the wood and the actual location of the anchors for the 3rd row seats. So several things happened because of this. First, the holes didn’t all line up well enough to get all eight bolts in. Second, there was no room to move the entire drawer system around to get it centered side-to-side and front to back in the truck even if the 8 bolts had gone in where the needed to. This issue was easily fixed by opening up the diameter of the hole with a drill and making it more of a front to back slot.

The second problem we ran across was one that turned a 3 hour install into a 9 hour install. We had assembled and tested the slide action of the fridge slide with the small drawer prior to putting it in the truck and everything seemed to be extremely smooth as expected. Once the whole system was in the truck we found that the small drawer under the fridge would stick halfway as it was pulled out. It took us 6 hours to figure out that the back panel of the small drawer was causing the drawer to not be square; it was pushing sides of the drawer out towards the back of the drawer. We found that the problem was in how that box was assembled prior to installation. Once we loosened up pretty much all the bolts we started to tighten them one at a time as we pushed the drawer in from a fully extended position. This let the drawer conform to the tolerances set by the larger drawer and box. The fix was simple and just required a few beers to figure out.

Through these two minor problems Dave had a notepad by his side and took very detailed notes so he could make changes to the hardware and also make changes to his already very detailed assembly instructions. I considered both issues minor and just part of dealing with the very first production run of anything. I knew there might be unseen issues going into the install. I don’t think either of the problems we encountered will be a problem for future installations.
 
Joined
Jun 28, 2010
Messages
401
Location
Pasadena, CA
First Impressions

The fit and finish are second to none. I just stared at the system all day long as it is beautiful to look at. It was almost painful to have to pack it with stuff because it looked so nice empty. Immediately after getting home I started to throw gear in to see how it would pack. Right away I could tell it was going to be a game changer. I think this applies to any drawer system though.

First try at packing before my wife got her hands on things and showed me the right way to pack (i.e. actually thinking about where the kids stuff will go).




There were some things I found that would be nice to change either on my system or for Dave to change for future systems.

1) There are several sets of holes for the fridge anchors to be placed. I wish it was a continuous line of evenly spaced holes. This would allow me to slide the fridge as far back in the truck as possible and keep the tie downs close to the fridge. Having an extreme angle with the tie downs wastes a ton of space in front of the fridge. I could fit a standard size Rubbermaid container in front of the fridge if this change was made. As it stands the fridge is farther forward and our little box has to sit on its side.

More holes needed for more placement options.


This is with the fridge pushed back as far as it can go.


This is how the box sits up front with the fridge just slightly more forward with the tie down straps angled away from the fridge



2) The fridge hits the main cargo barrier and prevents it front sliding another couple of inches back for even more room in front of the fridge. Having the barrier flush with the shelf would be ideal. Every inch counts when packing and fitting gear in. I have an ARB 47qt fridge.


3) The little pull handle on the small drawer under the fridge is plastic and would feel better if it were metal. This pull tab is part of the lock so it may be hard to find an entire lock unit that has a metal pull tab.

4) Inability to operate one handed. When holding a 1.5 year old it is impossible to open. An extra pull handle right by the drawer slide locks would be nice.


5) The cage system could benefit from captive nuts in the center wall of the system. Currently if you were to remove the cage you would risk loosing one of the nuts behind the main drawer. Total pain to fish out. Ask me how I know.

Things that probably wont change but were just observations

1) Line-X hurts like hell when you scrape your knuckles on it while loading gear. Just have to suck it up on that one. The durability wins out there.

2) The system isn't lightweight. I think it weighs in around 200+ pounds. After doing a complete dry run of packing I realized that my OME 860's were not going to cut it. The day before leaving I threw on OME 863's and have been completely happy with the ride.

860 with empty drawer system


863 with empty drawer system


863's with fully packed drawers and roof carrier. I never felt like I was dragging my rear end around.


The things that I liked about the system. I wrote these things down before we had even put 100 miles on the truck with the drawers installed.

1) very quiet, no rattles from the system itself or any of the gear inside. The Line-x covered baltic birch does a great job of dampening out noise.

2) Clean. No carpet to get messy from water, food and whatever other toxic waste comes from the kids crawling around the back of the truck. Easy cleanup.

3) Robust construction and smooth/easy operation

4) Small drawer under the fridge is an awesome work surface. Professional grade cutting board. It held up well to cooking and cutting on every day for 3 weeks.

5) Install was straight forward

6) Customizing. The wood construction makes it easy to add switches, bottle openers, or anything else you might want to add to it.

7) The accuride slides are worth their weight in gold.

8) Most importantly, my wife loves it.

Real World Use

Over the 3,000+ miles we drove with Trekboxx in the back of the truck we stopped at parks, parking lots, schools, restaurants and stayed in hotels, cabins and tents. We used the drawers through all of it. They were an essential part of making every day on the road just a little bit easier. There is not much else to say other than the system has revolutionized car camping expedition travel for us. I kept saying to my wife "the best thing about this system is that it is invisible". Meaning I didn't think about it being there. It was never in the way, it never caused me to be frustrated, it just served its purpose with no hassles. I will let some real world photos do more of the talking. My wife loved it so much that she claimed it as her own. I am officially not allowed to pack the drawers except for the drivers side wing area where I am allowed to put my tools and recovery gear.

My space. The soft close hinges are a really nice touch. No slamming wings.
 
Joined
Jun 28, 2010
Messages
401
Location
Pasadena, CA
Lunch before leaving town.


Happy wife, happy life. Proud new owner


In full use


one of many quick lunch stops. We could pull in, deploy the awning, make lunch, feed the kids and be back on the road in 30 minutes if needed without unpacking any of our other gear.




I think one of the best features is the "junk" drawer under the cutting board. All the stuff that never really has a great place to go but that you need all the time fits in here. You have to plan carefully though, so that when you are cooking you don't need to get in there.


One handed in the rain while holding a baby. She makes it look so easy.


A lot of folks at HIH mentioned that the ability to have a stove built into the space under the fridge would be nice. I could see a half cutting board, half Partner stove working well.


We had a lot of people hanging around our truck all weekend at 100's in the Hills.


Our full camp at HIH4.


We were beyond fully loaded for this trip. Despite having the drawer system and roof top carrier there was stuff stuffed everywhere in the car. It was bursting at the seams. For a more normal 3 day weekend trip the drawers will make travel very clean. I will be testing it out again in the White Mountains this weekend.



As I mentioned before, my wife's biggest concern was how the system would work with daily, non trail life. What she means is, can she fit the BOB stroller and the groceries in the back. The answer is yes. This is very important for those with kids. A single BOB stroller will fit in. I had to take one side wheel off but I think if I rearrange it I wouldn't even have to do that. My wife wants me to test if our double BOB stroller will fit as well. I will have to report back. There is also no lack of space for groceries since there is a nice cold fridge available and the empty main drawer. We keep everything in a big Rubbermaid box in the garage when we are not camping on expedition.

BOB stroller, beach chairs. Ready for solo trip with kids to the beach.


So overall I am beyond happy with the Trekboxx. One of the most common comments I got at HIH was "....but its so expensive". My answer was always "Yes it was, and it was worth every single last dime paid". Sure ARB may be cheaper and do the same things but there is nothing quite like having something that is 100% custom built for your truck with a level of detail no other big manufacturer can manage for the simple reason of keeping costs down. I was parked next to a truck with an ARB system at HIH and you could tell just visually that the Trekboxx was in a class above the ARB. For my family this mod was the ticket to getting us organized and getting use really excited about getting out and camping from our truck. Before, I would just groan at the thought of packing the truck for a trip.

Please feel free to ask questions in case I didn't cover some aspect of the system. If anyone in the southern California area wants to see it in person just shoot me a PM. I live in Pasadena and travel around on a regular basis for work.

For anyone that wants to buy one, give Dave a call. He is a great guy and has built an outstanding product.

www.trekboxx.com
 

TrekboxX

Supporting Vendor
Joined
Jul 23, 2012
Messages
1,011
Location
El Dorado Hills, CA
I agree, great review! It’s really awesome to see my product out there, and the customer loving it. It makes all the late nights worth it!

It was great to meet you Paul, and work with you on the install. It was a bit embarrassing, the shallow drawer disaster. Thank goodness the fix was an easy one. I really appreciate all of the feedback then and now, and I take it to heart. I’ve pondered many of the changes you have suggested. I’ll take this opportunity to address them here:
  1. The fridge slide mounting holes - great suggestion! I plan to incorporate this in the future.
  2. The fridge hitting the cargo barrier - well, remember that the shelf is mountable at 4 different heights, yours being the tallest setting because the ARB 47 is one of the taller fridges. With an ARB 63, for example, it would fit under as well as the shelf being in line with the barrier. It’s not really designed for the fridge to fit back that far, but I totally get the need to maximize your space up front. Hmm.
  3. The finger pull on the shallow drawer being plastic - Yep, believe me, I know. See #4.
  4. Pull handles for one-handed operation - I’ve actually been working on this since the beginning. I’ve bought and tested literally dozens of pull handles. Basically, they are either ugly, too big to allow the tailgate to close, or they are cheap c**p. I’ve finally found a few that I will be putting on my rig and I’ll report back. They’re not perfect, but pretty close. This addition will allow you to throw the finger pull from the shallow drawer into the garbage!
  5. Captive nuts in the cage system - I’ve pondered this a lot. I need an elegant solution, but have not found one due to the tolerance limitations. A not-so-elegant solution is to squirt a dab of silicone caulk into the cross dowel hole while the connector bolt is tightened. Let it dry and then you should be able to remove the bolt and leave the cross dowel in place. But it’s hokey, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to tell a customer to “go and get some silicone caulk…” I’m open to suggestions.
  6. Install issues - First, as Paul smartly suggested the mounting bolt holes have been changed to be a bit wider and much longer, more of a slot. All new systems will have this. The second issue we had, the doozie, was the shallow drawer sticking due to the back piece. I believe this was a result of minor thickness inconsistencies in the coating. This is an ongoing battle for me. Line-X is really great stuff, but it’s not an exact science. Right now my thickness variance is less than 1/64th, but in this case it made the install difficult. Paul was a great help in figuring out a solution. All new systems have a shallow drawer back that is 1/16th of an inch shorter on each end to allow for these variances.
Thanks again for the in-depth review and your honesty about the system. It’s not perfect, but we’re sure going to try. You obviously spent a lot of time thinking about this, and your feedback means a lot to me. Keep the awesome pictures coming, and when I get these handles sorted out you’ll have a set in your mailbox.


David
 

ntsaint

Don't Assume I Know The Basics...
SILVER Star
Joined
Oct 16, 2010
Messages
6,934
Location
Louisiana
Instead of a pull handle for the drawer show in Paul's pic why not just cut out part of the drawer face, make that the handle? That make sense?


...via IH8MUD app
 

TrekboxX

Supporting Vendor
Joined
Jul 23, 2012
Messages
1,011
Location
El Dorado Hills, CA
Instead of a pull handle for the drawer show in Paul's pic why not just cut out part of the drawer face, make that the handle? That make sense?


...via IH8MUD app
Makes sense. But then you'd have a holy drawer;)

But really, it would be pretty rough on the hands. Paul wasn't kidding. Also, due to the drawer side it would have to be placed farther from the latches.
 

paflytyer

100s in the Hills
Media Partner
Joined
Sep 27, 2011
Messages
2,493
Location
ColoRADo
Great write-up Paul! It was nice to get a close up look at this system and see how it works. Pictures don't do the fit and finish any justice. This is a nice set-up.
 

r2m

Richard
 
Joined
Nov 1, 2007
Messages
1,264
Location
San Clemente, CA
Being a mechanical/biomedical engineer myself, I can appreciate your view and how you wrote up this review from a technical side. Very nice!
If you (and the family) should ever go to the beach down here in San Clemente, please PM me (I live across the street from the beach), I'd love to see that drawer system myself! I've been thinking about designing something myself up in SolidWorks, but why? If someone else has a form follows function design!
 
Joined
Apr 14, 2013
Messages
227
Now we need one for the lc200... Probably not enough of them to adapt the trekboxx :crybaby:

Sweet detailed review. Thank you.
 

bluecruiser

SILVER Star
 
Joined
Jun 26, 2005
Messages
3,197
Location
Phx
I also saw this system in action at HIH. Fit and finish is beyond awesome. You are getting what you pay for with this system. No doubt.
 
Joined
Mar 1, 2014
Messages
363
Location
ColoRADo
She's beautiful...............and the drawer system isn't bad either. =)

I've been drooling over these drawer systems, thank you for the great real world write up, very helpful and informative
 

tabraha

Hello My Name is: TAD
SILVER Star
 
 
Joined
Aug 20, 2003
Messages
2,521
Location
South Carolina
Great looking setup! Love the design of these.

Drawers/Fridge was the best money I spent prior to HIH last year. We had a CRAPTON of gear to get out to Ouray last year and between the drawer system and Yakima Skybox that you also have you can be setup for a long time on the road. The convenience of not having to unpack the world and just slide a drawer or slide out the fridge to get to something are best described as a type of magic that doesn't wear off. :)
 
Top Bottom