DIY Bed Mods For Your Trail Truck

Bed, Bumper, and Beyond

When it comes to building a trail-oriented truck, one of the biggest challenges can be working around the very thing that gives the pickup its identity—the bed. While the all-new Jeep Gladiator is sure to have more aftermarket bed support in six months than our '01 Chevy S-10 did in its entire production cycle, it doesn't mean the bed is a lost cause. One of the things that makes our Crew Cab so unique is its extremely compact bed. At 4 feet 6 inches, it's the shortest bed ever placed on the S-10 platform.

The good part of that is the more off-road-friendly wheelbase it provides (122 inches, a full 15 inches shorter than a Gladiator). The bad part is that it fills up extremely fast. For many trucks, a simple bob of the bed can take an otherwise terrible departure angle and make it ideal for the trail. However, given that we wanted to stuff a 40-inch fullsize spare in the bed along with our fuel cell, bobbing was not an option.

Thankfully, the crew at Low Range 4x4 in Wilmington, North Carolina, had an excellent idea for how we could optimize our S-10's bed. In this article we'll walk you through what it took to convert our bed into something that could work well on the trail and retain its usefulness as a traditional pickup.

Perspective Is Everything
There's no question that a solid-axle-swapped S-10 on 40s is big mini-truck. However, park it next to a comparable Jeep Wrangler Unlimited JK on 40s, and you realize it's actually not too extreme in the size department. In fact, our roofline is 79 inches at its highest point, meaning we can still fit in a standard garage.

We've mentioned the new Jeep Gladiator a couple of times for comparisons, primarily because it's the only midsized pickup in the U.S. offered with front and rear solid axles from the factory. Yes, building a custom Crew Cab S-10 is nowhere near as easy as driving to your local dealership and taking home a new Gladiator. However, it's worth mentioning that if you're willing to put in the work, there are some very solid Crew Cab pickup options that could be built for a quarter of the price of a new Rubicon-edition Gladiator.

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