A truck’s bed is about as simple as it gets. Basically, it is a big metal box with no lid that you put stuff in. Some manufacturers, like Toyota, have experimented with different materials to construct them. Others, like Ram with its innovative RamBox, have tried to put a slightly different spin on the venerable truck bed. But the basic design has remained unchanged for decades.
Some might consider that to be a serious case of stagnation, but it isn’t. Truck beds have stayed the same for decades because they are so versatile. They simply work as is. As the old saying goes if it isn’t broke, then you don’t fix it. And there really is no need to “fix” a truck bed. Manufacturers have decided to leave good enough alone and only make some small tweaks here and there.
That is great as it gives us more of a blank canvas to work with. We can set up our truck bed to best fit our needs. Thankfully, there are a lot of parts out there that can do just that. Bed slides, cargo organizers, racks, and a lot more are available to allow you to customize your bed however you want. What follows is a list of some of our favorite bed accessories that are perfect for maximizing the versatility of your truck’s bed.
A tonneau cover is an excellent addition to any truck bed. They have come a long way from the large and unruly one-piece covers of the past. Now, there are a whole host of options that still allow you to keep much of the versatility and usefulness of your truck’s bed. Some covers fold up, roll up, and retract out of the way. For a full break down on the different types of covers and their pros and cons check out our story here. No matter which type you decide to get, a quality tonneau cover will provide security against theft and protection from the elements. They are a great addition to your truck’s bed.
It doesn’t really matter if you want to call it a truck cap, a camper shell, a topper, or a canopy. They have been around a long time and have come a long way from their earlier, more simplistic versions. Now, options like LED lighting, windoors, sliding windows, integrated roof racks, and much more are available. The debate between whether a tonneau cover or a shell is better can drone on for hours. Remember, what works better for one person might not work well for you. It is your truck and you need to build it for how you will use it. We have used both and shells are great for providing security and weather protection for anything in your bed. However, if you need to transport taller items, like a dirt bike or a fridge, taking one off can be a bit of a pain. Choose wisely.
BEDSLIDES are rugged, flat drawers that slide out from the truck bed using heavy-duty rollers. They are available in four different versions capable of holding up to a hefty 2,000 lbs. A whole host of accessories, like small bins and side rails, are available for them. Some versions require drilling to install, while others tie into existing bed mounts for a clean, no-drill installation.
Those that have BEDSLIDES seem to love them. They really do make life easier as you don’t have to climb into the bed of your truck to get at something in the front. Instead, you just roll the contents of your bed out to you. This is especially handy for those with toppers. You no longer have to smash your head against the top of the canopy when fishing out something from the front of the bed. And, those with lifted trucks no longer have to jump into the bed either or try to reach over the side. BEDSLIDES are also great for securing cargo as they provide multiple tie-down locations. They don’t provide protection against the elements like some drawer systems do. But you aren’t limited to hauling only things that will fit in a drawer either making them good for bigger items.
L-Track is extremely versatile with a ton of applications. Originally, it was developed for the logistics industry and used in aircraft. L-Track allows for a multitude of tie-down points that are strong and secure. There are also a ton of different attachments that can hook into L-Track giving even more flexibility when securing cargo. It is available in an almost any length and comes in angled and recessed versions as well.
Most trucks now come straight from the factory with some kind of cargo tie-down points. These are typically found along the bed rail or at each corner of the bed. Using them to secure stuff in the bed can be an exercise in frustration. Usually, the ones along the bed rail are located too high to secure smaller items in the bed. And, one in each corner of the bed simply isn’t enough. We like to run two strips of L-Track down the length of our truck bed to solve this. It gives a ton of flexibility in securing items in a very low-profile setup that doesn’t interfere with using the bed.
If you have spent any time in your truck bed moving cargo around, you know they aren’t exactly soft places. Even with a bed liner, you are more than likely to wind up with banged up knees and elbows. A BedRug solves this by providing a nice, cushioned mat that can go on top of an existing bed liner or a bare bed. BedRugs look like carpet but are actually made from polypropylene. This means that they are way tougher than any carpet and are resistant to stains and chemicals. And, unlike some bed liners, they also offer a non-skid surface to keep cargo from sliding around. They are easy to install without all the prep work involved that spray-in liners require. We love the clean look they give when in place and our knees like them too.
Smittybilt Adventure Box
Over-the-rail toolboxes are pretty common additions to a truck bed. They offer storage for tools, recovery gear, and whatever else you can fit in them. One drawback is that thieves know this too. With them not secured to the bed that well, they are easy to steal and ideal targets. And, trust us, getting all the gear that you thought was safe stolen from the back of your truck sucks.
That is why we like the Smittybilt Adventure Box. It functions much like any metal box providing a safe and secure enclosure for whatever you can put in it. At 48 x 16 x 16 inches, the Adventure Box is also bigger than the average truck toolbox. The big plus is that it sits below the rail instead of on it. This means that it will be out of sight in a lifted truck and not stick out like a sore thumb. And, it will also sit nicely below a tonneau cover for even more protection against the sticky hands of thieves.
DECKED Drawer System
If you need to organize a lot of gear, the DECKED drawer system is a great way to go. It provides two big drawers that you can fit whatever you want in. Accessories like dividers, boxes, and tie down tracks are available to customize a DECKED further to make it better suit your needs. The DECKED is also tough enough for off-road use and truck life. It uses a steel skeleton and the rest is made of a burly HDPE material. It can handle exposure to most solvents, chemicals, and the sun. Each drawer has a payload capacity of 200 lbs. while 2,000 lbs. of whatever can be stacked on top of it. Another major plus is that it keeps the weather out keeping the contents of the DECKED dry. The drawers can be locked as well and can’t be opened with the tailgate in place. Even better is that they don’t require drilling for installation and are relatively easy to remove if needed.
Addictive Desert Designs Universal Tire Carrier
It is often hard to find a suitable place to secure a spare tire when running larger tires. In most trucks the factory spare tire is located under the bed with not much room to spare. Anything bigger than the OEM-sized tires probably won’t fit, which only leaves you with a few options. One is to not run a spare tire at all. That can come back to bite you hard if you get a flat in the middle of nowhere. Another option is to lay a spare tire flat in the bed, but that takes up a lot of room.
A better option is Addictive Desert Designs Universal Tire Carrier. Like all of Addictive Desert Designs’ products, it is meticulously fabricated. It secures a 33-40 inch tall tire that is up to 14 inches in actual width vertically to take up less space. A Y-strap can secure the tire to the carrier over rough terrain. Slotted mounting holes also allow for some flexibility in mounting. Installation does require drilling, but the ADD carrier uses Snaptoggle anchors. This allows the carrier to be easily removed should you need full access to your bed.
Wilco ADV SL Bed Rack
Bed racks are synonymous with overlanding, but they are pretty damn handy. Ones like the Wilco ADV SL Bed Rack, with its 275 lb. load rating in off-road conditions makes for a great place to mount a roof-top tent. It can also handle up to 1,100 lbs. in static conditions and 550 lbs. on the road. Besides a solid place to mount a tent, the expedition side panels allow for the fitment of Rotopax-style fuel containers and recovery boards. The ADV SL is unique in that it uses lightweight aluminum for its construction and also has sliding crossbars. This allows you to haul taller items by merely sliding the crossbars forward. And, you don’t have just to use the rack to secure a tent either. We have used them to haul a canoe along with longer pieces of lumber making them extra handy.
ARB Elements Freezer Fridge
The ARB 63-quart Elements freezer fridge might seem like a bit of a stretch as a bed accessory. However, as its name suggests, the Elements is perfectly happy exposed to the elements mounted in the back of a truck. Built with a stainless steel exterior, anodized aluminum latches, and protected electrical connections, the Elements can withstand whatever Mother Nature can throw at it. It also features a gas/spring strut that can hold the door open in any position. A slick touchpad is easy to operate and can also engage a magnetic lock to prevent unauthorized beer access. An optional mounting kit keeps the Elements secured to the bed of your truck. And, remember the Elements isn’t a cooler, but a portable freezer fridge. This means you never have to worry about finding ice or your cooler and its contents turning into a soggy mess ever again. And, there is nothing quite like a perfectly-chilled beverage or ice cream after a hard day on the trail.