Everyone knows that extra space is critical to an active lifestyle. From soccer moms to safari leaders, people have the need for additional room to tote along essential gear and equipment. Why do we need all this extra room? Simple: the consumer marketplace is flooded with space-robbing goods that didn't exist 20 years ago. Gone are the days when dad could grab a couple of sleeping bags and strap in the kids for a simple camping trip. Nowadays, dad must spend three hours packing portable barbeques, mountain bikes, fire wood, coolers, tents, tarps, chairs, shower stalls, air mattresses and a first-aid kit if he even wants to attempt to pry his youngsters away from the PlayStation 2. Yes folks, this is one of the reasons the size of SUVs and pickups has swollen to mammoth proportions in the last 10 years. Just look around at any mall parking lot and it's obvious that consumers today demand ample room to spare. That's why we decided to put together this guide to alternative storage methods. We also threw in some interesting products that can make those frustrating pack jobs a little easier.
Available in various sizes and colors, a dry-bag can make the difference between packing it on the roof or putting it inside, where space is of a premium. We've seen these handy sacks used in whitewater rafting for years. The one shown above is from Seattle Sports and features an easy-to-use three-roll closure; radio-frequency welded seams; and waterproof, abrasion- and ultra-violet-resistant fabrics that have a design life of 19 years.
The All Road from Bauer Vehicle Gear is the perfect universal-type rack for a small or midsize SUV. The hardware included in the kit allows it to be mounted to any round or square factory roof rack, or, like we've shown here, to a Yakima- or Thule-type crossbar. Mounting an All Road basket during the summer months in place of your ski/snowboard carrier will ensure that all your little luxuries can be taken along wherever you go.
Garvin Industries manufactures these stylish Wilderness sport racks to fit tons of different applications. The model shown above is designed to mount on vehicles without a factory roof rack. By removing a small portion of the factory roof trim, mounting holes are exposed where bolts provided with the rack simply secure the rack to the vehicle's rooftop. When mounting a rack in this manner, it's very important to consider your vehicle's weight limit specifications. A roof rack may be able to carry 200 pounds, but the vehicle top may only be rated at 165 pounds.
One problem with storing valuables on a roof rack is vulnerability to theft. This ingenious product, called a Pac Safe, from Outpac Designs Inc., provides easy-to-use security for anything you put in it. Made from stainless steel wire, it deters thieves from tampering or pilfering, and enables you to lock your valuables to a fixed point of the roof rack. Available in three different sizes, complete with padlock and a storage pouch, this product is the perfect addition to any roof rack.
For the extreme adventure seeker who wants to carry enough gear to support prolonged excursions in the backcountry, the Garvin Industries Off Road Rack series is a good option. Utilizing a track mounting system, these racks can support up to 500 pounds of equipment. Custom designed for each vehicle, these racks feature 1/2-inch square steel tubing with a durable black powdercoat finish. Six-inch-tall sides ensure all your equipment will stay put over rough terrain. Optional mounting kits for various trail necessities are available: a Hi-Lift jack (shown), shovels, auxiliary lighting (shown) and even a spare-tire mount. All Wilderness racks are covered by a limited lifetime warranty.
For expensive electronic equipment, we recommend Pelican cases to keep valuables dry and secure when packed overhead. These cases are said to be unbreakable, watertight, dustproof, chemical-resistant and corrosion-proof. They offer total protection for your equipment, and are made of ultra-high-impact structural copolymer that makes them extremely strong and durable. All Pelican cases come with a "You break it, we replace it, forever" warranty.