Review: FrontRunner Gear

Gearing up for more convenient camping.

Off-highway exploration is about many things: excitement, adventure, seeing new sights, and testing one’s driving skills, to name a few. But at the end of the day, when it comes time to set up camp and get a-cookin’, two considerations rise to the fore: comfort and convenience. Which is where FrontRunner gear comes in. They’ve got everything imaginable for outfitting your off-road rig, from cargo racks to coolers, rooftop tents to waterproof boxes. And the stuff is made to last. For my purposes—and with my limited budget—I snagged a roof rack, a camp table, and a storage box, plus a few tie-down items. All these have vastly improved my camping experience, keeping the truck free of clutter—a place for everything, and everything in its place. I can’t imagine going back to my old configuration, which was basically stuff-and-unstuff, ad nauseum. That gets old real quick.

First up, the Slimline II Rack shifted all my gear from the back of the truck to the top of the canopy, freeing up the bed for a permanent sleep station. No more packing and unpacking sleep pads, bags, and pillows—it’s convenience at its finest. The rack is intelligently engineered, and setup was straightforward; just allot some extra time for securing the feet to the tracks, as access to the nuts is a little awkward. Once assembled, the rack proves impressively stout—I hauled my 180-plus pounds on top and didn’t feel any bend in the crossbars. Which means the rack will serve me well come hunting season—I can throw a couple deer on top and keep my permanent bedroom below. $954 for my smallish canopy version; price varies based on size and configuration.

Although I made it years without one, a folding table has taken my camping to the next level of comfort—no more stooping over the ground or sliding things around on the tailgate. FrontRunner’s Pro Stainless Steel Prep Table is slim, sturdy, durable, and easy to clean. What’s more, it slides under the Slimline rack with a special mounting bracket, stashing it out of the way until you need it. Pretty clever, FrontRunner. $559.

The third item in my new kit is the Wolf Pack storage box, which also mounts with a custom bracket, like most FrontRunner accessories. It provides impact- and water-resistant storage for small items like dry food and extra clothing. I only got one box, but I predict one or two more in my future—they shut tight, mount securely, and double as a camp chair or stepstool for accessing the rack. $30.

To attach additional items—traction boards, waterproof bags, watercraft, et al—I picked up some tiedown rings and “stratchits,” which are clever clip-and-crank compression straps encased in stretchy webbing, along with Velcro wraps to secure the excess. Which means no more cam-strap tails flying loose and flapping in the wind. $15 and $40 for two each, respectively.

As time and money allow, I’ll invariably add more accessories to my new system, increasing comfort and convenience even more. For all you ascetics out there, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it—or until, like me, you’ve camped like a Spartan for 30-some years. When you hit age 50, a little luxury goes a long way.

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