Truck Storage Options for Road Trips and Camping

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Trucks are great for road trips and camping because they are rugged enough to reach the exciting locations other vehicles cannot reach and have the potential to carry more equipment. However, for a successful and hassle-free road trip or camping adventure, you must make use of the best storage options and pack properly.

Storage Limits

Before you throw anything onto your truck bed, check out your vehicle’s GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating), GTWR (gross trailer weight rating), GCWR (gross combined weight rating), and maximum payload capacity. This information will be provided in your owner’s manual and may be printed on a sticker on the inside of the driver’s door. If you can’t find the information there, check the manufacturer’s website.

These important figures tell you the maximum load you can safely carry on your road trip without damaging your truck or hampering its driving capability. For example, the Ford 2020 F-150 XL with 2.7l EcoBoost V6 engine has a GVWR of 6,070 lbs, a GTWR of 7,600 lbs, a GCWR of 12,200 lbs, and a maximum payload of 1,860 lbs. This means you can safely load 1,860 lbs of equipment into your truck bed and pull a trailer weighing 7,600 lbs as long as the total combined weight of your vehicle, trailer, and cargo does not exceed 12,200 lbs.

Truck Bed Storage and Loading

Your truck bed is the obvious place to store your camping and road trip provisions. However, you shouldn’t just pile in your equipment without care or thought.

You must ensure heavy equipment doesn’t damage delicate items. Balancing a heavy load is important to maintain traction and steering. For off-road driving and remote wilderness roads, consider investing in a steering stabilizer for extra assurance.

Anything you might need frequently or in a hurry should be stored in an accessible location. Give every item a specific storage location so you know where your gear is when you need it.

To protect your truck bed from damage, use a truck bed liner. When loading heavy items, such as motorcycles, a loading ramp is essential. Any tools you may need should be kept in a well-organized toolbox.

If you’re taking bikes, you can better organize them in a truck bed bike rack. You can protect all your equipment from the elements using a truck bed cover.

If you want to explore the remote wilderness in your truck, you can even convert it into a UV by fitting a truck tent to your truck bed.

You’ll no longer have to worry about the stony or soggy ground beneath your tent when your solid truck bed provides a firm floor, and you only need enough space to park your truck to erect your tent.

Trailer Storage

The best way to increase the load capacity of your truck is to pull a trailer. A simple utility trailer can quadruple the maximum load you’re able to carry.

If you’re planning to carry heavy loads in your trailer, you should also purchase a weight-distribution hitch that prevents the back of your truck from sagging and spreads the load over all axles.

Sadly, thieves will occasionally attempt to steal a trailer if it appears to contain valuable items, such as expensive cycles, motorcycles, or a boat. To protect your trailer and load, invest in a hitch lock.

Truck Exterior Storage Space

If your truck’s roof is large enough, a rooftop cargo carrier box provides ample extra space for storing equipment and supplies for your road trip. Where rooftop space is more limited, a rooftop basket or rooftop bag provides extra space for clothing and supplies. Rooftop baskets are more flexible for storing odd-shaped packages while bags are more weatherproof and aerodynamic and often offer more easy and simple access without straps to contend with.

If you want more extra storage space than your rooftop allows but don’t want to pull a trailer, invest in a hitch cargo carrier that attaches to the rear of your truck. It provides less extra space than most trailers but is less problematic when reversing to park or turning tight corners.

hitch mount carrier

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Richard Moore

Richard is a co-founder of and major contributor to Outside Pursuits. He has trekking and survival experience throughout Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. Richard contributes his extensive travel and outdoor experience to the editorial topics and content on Outside Pursuits including outdoor gear, motorcycle accessories, auto/4x4 accessories, and tools. In 1998, he survived in the wilderness for over a week without food or specialist equipment. He was stranded on the northern coast of Honduras following Category 5 Hurricane Mitch.

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