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Get Your Pickup or SUV Organized

Add Storage Space to Your Pickup or SUV

Sue Elliott-Sink
Jun 29, 2004
Photographers: The Manufacturer
If you're like us, you hate things rolling around in the truck when cornering, braking, or accelerating. That's why we searched for storage solutions that'll keep cargo under control. Some of these products will clean up clutter, while others provide lockable protection for valuables. And many make use of wasted space, so you don't have to give anything up to get organized.
We've seen people stow everything from golf clubs to snowboards in a toolbox. This Dee Zee Competitor Series low-profile box is a crossover model that mounts just behind the cab and is supported by the truck's bedrails. The low-profile design keeps it from blocking the rear window. Its gas shocks make the toolbox easy to open and keep the lid from slamming into the cab. Dee Zee, Dept. TT, P.O. Box 3090, Des Moines, IA 50316; 800/779-2102.
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Want to protect your SUV's cargo area and control clutter at the same time? The Nifty Products' Cargo-Logic system starts with a heavy-duty cargo liner, which provides a stain- and moisture-resistant barrier to protect the carpet from mud, snow, sand, dirty paws, and broken eggs. In addition, the Cargo-Loks act like doorstops to hold awkwardly shaped items in place. Tear strips will keep it all under control on carpets, too. Nifty Products, Dept. TT, 2130 Tuley Rd., Hamilton, OH 45015; 800/356-5666.
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A console that goes on top of a bench seat can stow gear as well as separate kids in the back seat. Wolf's Contractor bench-seat console also works on a front bench. It features a notepad holder and an enclosed ice bucket. The console comes in five popular factory colors and has solid handcrafted wood construction. Wolf Automotive, a division of Global Accessories, Dept. TT, P.O. Box 3656, Logan, UT 84323; 435/752-1000.
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Whether you're using all three rows of seats in your SUV or you've filled up the bed of your pickup, hitch-mounted cargo carriers can provide more space. The StowAway2 plugs directly into a standard 2-inch receiver hitch, providing 12.5 cubic feet of cargo space with a 200-pound load capacity. The Swingaway model (shown) offers easy access to your vehicle. StowAway2 boxes feature fully functional four-way taillights, a secure locking mechanism, a weathertight seal, and impact-resistant body construction. Ironwood Pacific, Dept. TT, P.O. Box 1568, Lake Oswego, OR 97035; 800/261-1330.
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If you alternate between carrying big items that fill the entire cargo area of your SUV and carrying small things that slide around, then a soft, foldaway cargo organizer is a great addition. When you have groceries or soccer balls, just open the Kargo Keeper from Covercraft. When you're done, it folds up for easy storage, freeing the entire cargo area. The Kargo Keeper comes in two sizes and includes adjustable divider panels. Covercraft Industries, Dept. TT, 100 Enterprise Blvd., Pauls Valley, OK 73075; 800/426-8377.
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There aren't a lot of things that fit perfectly in the awkward space between a pickup's wheelwell and the cab, but Craftsman's newly improved Sidebed III truck boxes do. Each top-opening box comes with a removable metal tote, metal dividers, and vertical slots to customize storage. For security, there's a stainless-steel paddle handle with an anti-theft cam lock. The heavy-duty 16-gauge steel boxes come in all diamond-plate or all black in sizes to fit 6- and 8-foot beds. Available through the 2004 Craftsman Power and Hand Tools catalog.
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Toolboxes have been the traditional answer for lockable storage, and now Daws Better Built has expanded its toolbox line to include an SUV Chest Box. At 38 inches wide, this diamond-plate aluminum box fits in the back of almost any SUV. Handy for all types of gear (video cameras, tools, purses, backpacks, hunting gear, and more), the lid opens from the top and the front folds down. Handles on each side make the Chest Box portable. Daws Mfg.; 800/366-8269.
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When a truck comes to a sudden stop, toys and videos can become projectiles. Enter the solution: the Cargo Tote from Creekside Products. The mesh pouch hangs from the headrests of your SUV or truck, where it can securely store toys, movies, maps, jumper cables, flashlights, and more. A heavy-duty anchor pole makes it durable and stable, and the bungee opening keeps things from flying out. Creekside Products, Dept. TT, 1919 Santa Anita Ave., South El Monte, CA 91733; 626/280-0843.
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Now you can stop digging around for something that rolled under your back seat and solve your storage problems at the same time. Performance Products offers the Underseat Storage Console from Bestop, which mounts to your seat's frame. It adds 4.5 cubic feet of compartmentalized storage, perfect for emergency items you can't live without. Plus, it won't affect seat movement. It's available for full-size extended cab pickups. Performance Products, Dept. TT, 8000 Haskell Ave., Van Nuys, CA 91406; 800/789-1966.
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If you have valuables to secure, the TruckVault offers an unobtrusive place to stow them inside an SUV or in the pickup bed. The locking-drawer storage unit creates a false floor with carpeting on top. TruckVault comes in one- and two-drawer models in 9- and 13-inch heights, with either stained solid oak or a rugged black composite on the drawer faces. You can get your TruckVault customized with drawer dividers and a high-security keyless lock, allowing quick, push-button access. TruckVault, Dept. TT, P.O. Box 734, Sedro Woolley, WA 98284-0734; 800/967-8107.
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Jeeps aren't known for having a lot of storage space. Fortunately, you can add a virtual trunk to your Wrangler by removing the rear seat and adding the Underseat Security Drawer from Tuffy Security Products. It's made of heavy-duty 16-gauge steel with a durable powdercoat finish. The large drawer slides on heavy-duty roller bearings that can handle 300 pounds of cargo when evenly loaded. Dividers (shown) are sold separately. Tuffy Security Products, Dept. TT, 25733 Road H, Cortez, CO 81321; 800/348-8339.
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Having plenty of room inside your truck doesn't mean you want to carry anything messy or smelly in the cab. It's nice to be able to plug Masterbuilt's Hitch-Haul cargo carrier into your 2-inch receiver hitch to solve that problem. The open carrier measures 20x60 inches and has a 500-pound capacity. An optional, durable Hitch-Haul Weather Shield cargo bag (shown) will protect against road spray and grime. Masterbuilt Manufacturing, Dept. TT, 450 Brown Ave., Columbus, GA 31906; 800/489-1581.
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If you carry a lot of family gear, you'll appreciate the VanPak. It attaches to the back seat in full-size SUVs and minivans and offers floor-saving vertical storage options. The VanPak features an assortment of pouches, plus a net section on the bottom designed to corral grocery bags. There's even an umbrella holder. The VanPak fits vehicles with or without headrests.VanPak, Dept.TT, 926 NW 165th Place, Shoreline, WA 98177; 866/559-4733.
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Yakima's Platinum Pro Series gear boxes will protect your skis and snowboards and can carry all sorts of outdoor gear. These storage boxes come preassembled and can be placed on the truck right out of the box. The Platinum Pro Series gear boxes feature smooth-action lid supports and open from both sides for easier access and installation. Boxes come in 16-, 18-, and 21-cubic-foot sizes. Yakima, Dept. TT, 1385 8th St., Arcata, CA 95521; 888/925-0703.
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No matter the size of a pickup bed, inevitably you'll want to haul something that's too long to fit with the tailgate closed. That's where the Bed X-Tender from AMP Research saves the day. Plus, the Bed X-Tender serves double-duty as a cargo corral when the tailgate is shut. It flips forward to corral smaller items like plants and sports equipment. The Bed X-Tender installs in seconds and weighs less than 10 pounds. It's strong enough to use as a bench and works with bedliners and truck caps. AMP Research, Dept. TT, 2552 McGaw Ave., Irvine, CA 92614; 888/983-2206.
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Have you ever had to crawl into your pickup bed to unload home-improvement supplies? Durakon Industries' CargoPro makes unloading the bed as easy as pulling out a tray. The rollout system installs in less than an hour without drilling and has a 750-pound cargo capacity. The tray mounts to a maintenance-free extruded-aluminum frame. Precision bearings provide smooth movement when you release a latch, and the tray locks into place at three locations. Durakon Industries, Dept. TT, 2101 N. Lapeer Rd., Lapeer, MI 48446; 800/695-4637.
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Now SUV owners can get the same convenient access to cargo that pickup owners have in their beds. The BedSlide from IFW is available for Suburbans, Expeditions, and Excursions. It mounts using the factory third-row floor attach points. When fully extended, the BedSlide will hold up to 1000 pounds of evenly distributed cargo. BedSlide/IFW, Dept. TT, 6451 Crater Lake Hwy., Central Point, OR 97502; 888/807-0099.
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These containers add as much as 21 cubic feet of storage space and attach to most factory and aftermarket roofracks in no time. The Evolution boxes open from either side. They can hold as many as 12 pairs of skis, and they lock to stay secure. The aerodynamic design reduces wind noise and drag. Choose from silver or black. Thule, Dept. TT, 42 Silvermine Rd., Seymour, CT 06483; 800/238-2388.
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The Commuter Caddy from Axius can hang from the front or rear of any seat. It sports a large central pouch to hold maps, magazines, and other large items. Plus, it has several external pockets ideal for cell-phones, PDAs, sunglasses, energy drinks, and other road-warrior supplies. Axius, Dept. TT, P.O. Box 4427, Houston, TX 77210; 888/992-9487.
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Sometimes you have more than you can stow in or on your vehicle, but not enough to tow in a full-size trailer. There is an alternative--a mini trailer named Herman. You can stow up to five bicycles and other gear inside this fully enclosed, lightweight shell that provides 86 cubic feet of cargo space. And the small size ensures good visibility. There's also an all-terrain model for adventurous types. Let's Go Aero, Dept. TT, 3116 Century St., Colorado Springs, CO 80907; 877/464-2376.
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Haul gear like canoes and kayaks or lumber, drywall, and other home-improvement supplies? Then a ladder rack may be the best cargo-carrying solution. Amer-Rac offers several styles of ladder racks, including heavy- and light-duty models. The open-bed heavy-duty rack shown here leaves the entire bed available for cargo, and features the company's Aero siderails. Rear crossrails are removable for those times when you need to haul tall items but don't want to remove the rack. Custom racks are available as well. Amer-Rac, Dept. TT, P.O. Box 26785, Elkins Park, PA 19027; 800/411-8932.
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When you need to corral big loads some days and smaller loads at other times, you'll appreciate the Original Cargo Gate from Loading Zone. It works in the cargo area of an SUV or in a pickup bed--even when towing a fifth wheel. It comes in several sizes to fit most full-size and compact trucks and works with plastic, spray-on, and carpet bedliners as well as carpeted cargo areas. Loading Zone, Dept. TT, 1303 Pearl St., Waukesha, WI 53186; 866/247-0300.
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If you want to keep small things within reach while you drive, why not take advantage of the unused space above your head? The Visor Shelf-It from Pace Edwards installs above your visors in just a few minutes. Each unit is contour-matched to fit around the factory overhead console and blend with the interior of your truck. Visor Shelf-It comes in several factory colors. Pace Edwards, Dept. TT, 2400 Commercial Blvd., Centralia, WA 98531; 888/231-2686.
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Civilized road trips require luggage, so it's nice to know that there's a suitcase designed specifically to travel on top of your vehicle. The waterproof rolling duffel is part of Highland Group Industries' Car Top Luggage line, and it attaches to your roofrack with mounting straps. The waterproof suitcase features inline-skate wheels and a protective cover to keep contents safe from road grime. The 36x16x14-inch bag weighs 12 pounds and includes pockets inside and out. Highland Group, a division of Cequent Consumer Products, Dept. TT, 31200 Solon Rd., Ste. 1, Solon, OH 44139; 800/234-6992.
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Sliding a disc out of Scosche's visor organizer is certainly easier than trying to wrestle a CD out of its jewel box while driving, and the organizer's self-cleaning polypro pockets keep the discs scratch-free. Scosche offers several sizes of visor organizers in its SoundKase line, including this extra-large model for full-size pickups and SUVs. It also includes a vanity mirror. Scosche Industries, Dept. TT, 1550 Pacific Ave., Oxnard, CA 93033; 800/363-4490.
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Need to carry oddly-shaped gear? A heavy-duty basket that attaches to your roofrack could be the solution. Warrior's new Outback series is made from stout 1-inch tubular steel for strength and durability. It features multiple floor ribs and comes with a black powdercoat finish. You can add an optional spare tire carrier, Hi-Lift jack mount (shown), axe and shovel mount, and floodlight tabs. Warrior Products, Dept. TT, 11100 SW Industrial Way, Tualatin, OR 97062; 888/220-6861.
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What could be easier than pushing a button and watching your Joey Bed cargo roll-out drawer extend from your pickup's bed with all your tools? The latest addition to the Joey Bed line is available in motorized 1000-, 1750-, and 2000-pound-capacity models. The company also offers smaller nonmotorized models for SUVs and for the cargo areas under RVs. Each cargo drawer locks in multiple positions and is easy to install. Joey Bed, Dept. TT, 2627 SE Holgate Blvd., Portland, OR 97202; 800/522-5639.
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If you love the idea of stowing gear inside a toolbox but don't want to have to climb into your bed to reach it, why not get a side-mount box? Pro-Tech offers several sizes of aluminum siderail boxes, which provide convenient street-side access to tools and all your other gear. You can choose from top-open lids or front-opening doors. They come in multiple lengths, with either smooth aluminum or diamond-plate doors. Pro-Tech Industries; 866/454-5800.
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