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Cargo Management: How To Customize Your Truck Bed Storage

PIckup truck bed storage system

DIY toolbox truck bed storageHaving the right tool on hand and keeping all of your gear protected when you travel is essential. Whether you use your pickup for work or just your daily commute, proper truck bed storage is crucial. Ready-made truck boxes offer some good solutions, but there’s also options for the do-it-yourself crowd. If you have six to eight feet of space to work with, there are plenty of options to suit your needs. Here are some DIY tips on how to customize your truck bed storage so you can say goodbye to clutter and get to work.


Plastic storage tubs are an inexpensive and simple solution to truck bed clutter. They are a great temporary option for those with a truck that sees double duty as work and play. Keeping your tools and smaller building supplies in plastic bins will keep them from getting wet and make them easier to find. There are even ruggedized storage containers designed for heavy-duty hauling. You’ll also have the option of shifting them around if you need to haul boards, pipes and other oversized items. They are also completely removable for times when you need maximum cargo carrying space. You can also tailor certain combinations of contents to match the job of the day. If you pick up sturdy weather-tight containers they also make great alternatives to suitcases when going on a trip. Consider using tie-down straps or a cargo brace to keep the tubs from sliding around while you’re driving.  Once you have your storage solution in place, consider installing a tonneau cover for extra protection against the elements.

Repurposed Bookshelf

Whether you have an old one you were going to throw out or you can pick one up at a tag sale, a bookshelf makes a great way to keep things more accessible. Make sure it is solid wood though, as engineered wood like MDF will swell and crumble once it gets wet. Once you have your bookshelf give it a good coating of waterproofing sealer or exterior house paint to protect it from the elements. Then simply lay it down in the back of your truck and use the shelved sections as compartments to keep things separated. Handy with woodworking tools? You can also mount a sheet of plywood with a set of hinges on top of the shelf to provide a flat work area and cover your storage compartments. The key here is making sure the entire assembly is  reinforced and well secured to the truck bed. Since bookshelves aren’t designed to be bounced around in a truck bed add a few extra metal brackets to give strength at corners. To secure the assembly you can use your existing truck bed tie-downs.

Dedicated Truck Tool Boxes

While some elaborate storage systems and truck boxes may be over the top for your needs. These boxes often have sealed lids with built-in work spaces and even cup holders. While some are universal fit, others are custom-made to fit certain truck models. The most popular design spans the entire width of the truck bed near the cab, but there are also options that attached to the sides of the bed. Others tuck into the area above the wheel well to maximize this often forgotten area. There are also simple boxes made out of durable plastic that lock together so you can add to your system as your needs grow. Simply mix and match these different storage options to suit your particular cargo needs.

Sliding Storage SystemDECKED Truck Bed Storage System

Sliding drawers are a great way to store equipment while still keeping the option to haul stuff in the truck bed. These systems create a false floor for your truck bed which holds lockable sliding drawers underneath. The trade off is a shallower truck bed, but proper cargo securing techniques can overcome the difference.

If you’re handy with woodworking tools, then you can also build your own custom sliding system of drawers that run the length of your truck bed. Start with a simple base and dividers, then build cabinet drawers that slide out over the tailgate. Similar to the bookshelf idea, you can leave it open or add a hinged lid to the dividers for a built-in workbench. If you go the wooden route just remember to give it a good coat of waterproofing to protect it.

Mechanics’ Box

If you own a set of mechanics’ toolboxes, they can easily be adapted as truck bed storage. In addition, using the drawer lock will keep the drawers closed while you’re driving. Remove the wheels from the bottom and mount the toolbox to the end of the bed using sturdy “L” brackets to hold it in place and keep it from rolling around. With this simple addition, you’ll have your very own mobile shop and still retain the majority of your bed for hauling larger items.

Bed Extender

Whether you have a long or short bed pickup, sometimes you just need a little more boxed area for hauling. A flip-out bed extender is a great way to capitalize on the floor area available when the tailgate is down while also controlling cargo. A bed extender is normally anchored in the tailgate hinge area and is usually quickly removable. When deployed outward the bed extender gives you an extra foot or two of space when needed. When stored inward the bed extender acts like a cargo divider keeping thing tucked up next to the raised tailgate. These are so popular that many truck manufactures offer them as factory options.

Pickups offer the versatility of a vehicle that can haul building material, tools and other items needed for work, home projects and other adventures on a daily basis; however, keeping tools and supplies organized can be a challenge. With a little creativity and understanding what your specific needs are, you can easily keep your truck organized and be ready for any job.

Check out all the exterior storage products available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on how to customize your truck bed storage, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.


Erich Reichert View All

Erich Reichert has been an editor and on-air personality in the radio control car hobby for 12 years. A certified car nut since birth, he has written for internationally published titles such as RC Car Action, RC Driver and Xtreme RC Cars, as well as Stuff Magazine, Road and Track and Super Street. He's covered everything from product reviews and tech articles to high-profile lifestyle pieces and celebrity interviews. Erich found his passion for writing after a successful career as an art director, working with brands such as Pepsico, NASCAR, MTV, Nintendo, WWE, Cannondale Bicycles and HBO. He's also a father, an avid hockey fan and an FIA race license holder who enjoys hiking, playing drums and movies.

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