What I built
So the cargo area of the standard SUV can hold quite a bit of stuff. That’s not the problem. The problem is getting at all that stuff without unpacking everything. What does on top for easy access? What gets buried? Is it worth digging out the chairs? Where does the dog sit?
All issues we dealt with before I built a deck box for the 4Runner.
The deck box i built is sized for the Front Runner Outfitters Wolf Box. This is a plastic rectangular storage box with a securely closing lid that we use for storing food and cooking gear.
I built the deck out of 3/4 thin-wall mild steel square tubing that I got off craigslist for $20 and welded with a borrowed welder. I am not an experienced welder, as is obvious from the close ups. But I did learn a lot building this prototype.
The Upper Deck
The upper deck here is where the magic happens. It sits just above the wheel wells which lets me place the cooler all the way to the tight against the side. All the way on the left I can place two Front Runner boxes with the dog bed on top where the dog sits comfortably. In the middle I can place 2 more wolf boxes, or bags, duffles or the Stanley Adventure Water Cooler. This gives me easy and quick access to cold water, dry food and cold food. I usually also tuck the 2-burner Coleman Classic Propane stove up here too.
The Slide Out Table
The slide out table is 37′ by 12′ and is perfect [PERFECT] for preparing sandwiches for trailside lunches and even works passably for cooking with the Coleman 2-burner stove. I have seen many slide-out tables for truck boxes, but nothing quite like this. I can’t imagine another design that would work better. The table is slim enough that I can still reach the cooler and food as well as get things in and out of the lower deck. It’s wide enough for preparing food. It’s so easy to deploy and stow that we use it all the time, even if we just need to cut an apple.
The Lower Deck
In the lower deck, the less used items go in the back. These are the tool kit, the compressor tire kit, etc. These things require you unload the gear in front, or fold down the rear seat.
On one side I keep the 4 camp chairs, which are basic REI camp chairs. They are the smallest and the most comfortable. 2 are full size and two are child size. These are quick to grab and go and are not a hassle at all.
Next to those I keep an REO collapsable table. It’s not much bigger than the chairs. It’s also quick deploy.
Next to that I keep 1 or more tubs or baskets with incidentals such as:
- Blue Ridge Overland gear Kitchen Tools bag,
- Barebones Living Forest Lantern
- Wash kit,
- Fuel bottles
- MSR Dromedary bag
- There is also a tub with dog food/bowls and one with mosquito candles and sprays.
Last I keep a shovel, axe and machete. Sometimes I’ll also cary bolt cutters. The machete and bolt cutters are there for zombie apocalypse survival only. Although the kids really want a chance to make bad decisions with the machete.
There is space outside the deck feet as well that we use for various items and kits, some of which I’ll feature in future videos. They include:
- REI First Aid Kit
- Cat Hole Kit: grab back for pooping in the woods
- Hike kit: Stuffable backpack, poncho and parafoil kite
- Garbage Kit: grab bag with contractor bags, kitchen bags and grocery bags for various refuse
- FrontRunner Stratchits
- Dog leash/chucker
Cargo Deck Revisions
I do have plans to make revisions to the cargo deck that revolve mostly around using better materials and skills and designs to make pretty much the same thing, only better. But I am actively looking for ideas, so post a comment if you have any!