A pickup truck is a great thing. It has a place for people (the cab) and a place for large amounts of stuff (the bed), but sometimes the abundance of space results in a giant pile of stuff slipping, sliding, and piling up on top of itself as you ramble down the trail. A dedicated trail vehicle has its spare parts and tools, but most of us need our 4x4 to earn its keep hauling stuff every day and only haul trail supplies on the weekends.
Last year we built an F-150 for the Ultimate Adventure, and the bed was perfectly outfitted for that weeklong trail trip. Once back home we started noticing that our other truck bed had a storage deficiency, or at least an organized storage deficiency. Our daily driver Ram 3500, for example, has to switch from parts hauler to tow rig to mobile camping bedroom, and with each switch come requirements in extra stuff. We thought back to the Tuffy Security toolboxes that worked so well on the F-150 build and decided to see if they could work on our multiuse white truck also.
Our Ultimate F-150 is the epitome of preparedness and organization. Under the spare tire and Synergy Baja Basket are two Tuffy Products slide-out drawers packed with tools, parts, and sundry trail wheeler tidbits. A Hi-Lift jack hides on the passenger side, and along the driver side of the truck bed rest an ARB Fridge Freezer, a Warn air compressor, Off Road Trail tools, and fuel and water cans. A Hobart Trek 180 rechargeable welder and a Harbor Freight inverter to recharge the welder fill the last remaining space.
When packed and ready to hit the trail the F-150 uses all its space wisely. But if you wanted to run to the hardware store or haul a bike, a bale of hay, or a sheet of plywood home, the F-150 would balk like a Lamborghini as far as extra storage goes.
Our white Ram truck is a tow rig, a parts hauler, a camping spot, and a 4x4 trail rig. As such, it has a plethora of stuff sliding around in the bed: tire chains, recovery chains, a Bubba Rope recovery strap, a shovel, spare fluids, multiple different drop hitches, clevises, ratchet straps, bungee cords, a small heater, and a Hi-Lift jack. 95 percent of the time we don’t need this stuff, but when we do it’s nice to have it. Unfortunately this stuff mostly slides around and bangs into the doors of our camper shell or makes a general mess, and always seems to be in the way when we need to load or sleep in the bed.
We first considered a chest of drawers in the bed of the truck, but that would present a problem when we want to sleep in the bed while camping or haul tall items like tires. We need all the floor-to-ceiling space we can get. So instead we opted for a pair of Tuffy bedside storage boxes.
The bedside boxes have brackets that pinch to the inner bedrail. These must be measured to the appropriate width and installed prior to the boxes because you can’t access them when the boxes are in place. The brackets hold carriage bolts that the boxes slide over.
Once bolted to the side plate, the boxes are bolted to the floor through holes we drilled into the bed. We were able to keep the slide-in bedliner. Even though the boxes bolt up close to the wheelwells, our install unfortunately left just 471⁄2 inches between the boxes, not quite enough for a sheet of plywood, but that might be due to bedliner interference. We can still access the rear tie-down point.
The storage boxes swallow a ton of gear. One trick we learned on the F-150 that we carried over to the Ram is the use of rags as packing material, especially around fluids like oil and coolant. This keeps bottles tight in place, and spare rags when you need to make a repair are always helpful.
The recovery gear and even our Hi-Lift jack fit perfect in the side boxes and can be accessed from outside the side window if need be. Tuffy also offers dividers for firearms and fishing rods. We like the security of locking the boxes even if we forget to lock the shell itself. The only item that didn’t fit was our small camp heater since the aluminum boxes only measure 651⁄4 by 7 by 171⁄4 inches.