Building a better outdoor rig, part one.

For diehard outdoor enthusiasts, a tricked-out truck is a thing of beauty. You’ve seen it—a jacked-up Gladiator or Tacoma, with a rooftop tent and a bevy of off-road accoutrements. Alas, the ideal outdoor rig doesn’t come easy—or cheap. Suspension lift and oversized tires, roof rack and bike hitch, camper top and truck drawers… all these add-ons cost a heap of time and money. On the other hand, they allow you to go anywhere, carry everything, and do it all. From rugged mountain roads to the wide-open prairie, you can travel safely, with gear aplenty, and enjoy comfy, albeit austere, camping. Fair trade, I say.

Which is why, when it came time to retire my first outdoor rig (cue nostalgic sigh), I decided to ramp things up from the get-go. First things first: better truck drawers. Don’t get me wrong, my old, custom-built wooden drawers are great, and they served me well for over a decade. But they’re not waterproof, which means when the topper comes off, the drawers have to come out, too. Say goodbye to safe and secure gear storage—the whole point of getting drawers in the first place.

After extensive research, I went with DECKED. Not only are their drawers weatherproof, but the platform is strong and stable—I could hold a ten-person techno-rave on it, were I into that sort of thing. That kind of sturdiness assures me that come fall, I’ll be able to yank the topper and haul a hefty load of logs—a luxury my old drawers did not afford. With the elevated platform, I can easily reach items from the side, over the high bedrails. I can even hit the car wash without concern for what’s stored inside.

Now, the main function of truck drawers is gear storage and organization—and in this regard, the DECKED system delivers. Two heavy-duty drawers slide smoothly, shut securely, and settle open with their weight on the tailgate. Included dividers and storage boxes offer easy segregation of cooking items, safety equipment, and outdoor gear. Loads of optional accessories—first-aid kits, cooksets, gun holders, etc.—mean you can customize the drawers for your own particular outdoor proclivities.

Where the drawers really shine, though, is during installation, which you can do yourself in a few hours. As you assemble, it becomes increasingly clear how well-designed the DECKED system is, with meticulous engineering for a snug, secure fit at every point. Expect some jiggling to get things lined up—that kind of precision is what produces the stoutness of the platform and the smooth operation of the drawers. Couple that with excellent instructions—well-written, with easy-to-follow illustrations and a smattering of the company’s trademark wit—and you get an idea of why “Made in the USA” is such a big deal. This is American manufacturing at its finest, where folks take pride in a well-put-together product.

And so the build of my new outdoor rig starts out strong, with durable drawers to keep gear and camping equipment at the ready, safe from thief and thunderstorm alike. And the price is right—equivalent drawers from ARB cost nearly three grand, while TruckVault is upwards of four. Conversely, you can get DECKED delivered to your house for a flat $1,450. At that price, I can forget all about buyer’s remorse and instead focus on my next upgrade.

Check out these drawers at, and stay tuned for part two in the series: a cargo rack for hauling watercraft and a grille guard for exterior protection on those long road-trips through deer country.