** Bed, Boxes and Beyond**
It used to be that accessories for your pickup truck's bed were limited to various forms of toolboxes and bed protection. Not anymore. Take bed boxes, for example. Yes, there are still quite a number of toolboxes and accessory boxes on the market, made from steel, diamond plate and plastic. But accessory makers are reexamining the basic bed box to find better ways to use truck-bed space.
Amp Research in Southern California has developed a collapsible box called the Truck Trunk. This plastic-and-aluminum container folds up against the back of the bed when not in use so virtually all of the bed's length is available for hauling long cargo.
Sears Craftsman recently introduced a truck toolbox with a whopping 9,500 cubic feet of storage space?equal to that of a five-drawer rollaway. The Full-Size Truck Storage Chest can hold more than 500 pounds of equipment and has optional rails that let you roll it from the back bed wall to the tailgate. Craftsman also offers narrow bed-mounted containers that fit in the little-used area either ahead of or behind your wheelwells. Some include sliding drawers while others can be removed from a bed-mounted bracket.
Dee Zee has developed a way to powder-coat its bed boxes in the Mossy Oak camouflage pattern. These and other accessories, including mud flaps, bed rails and side trim pieces, will be available in the spring of 2001. Bed boxes are even being made for SUVs. Bestop, well known for its line of Jeep soft tops and bikini roof panels, now makes weatherproof (and lockable) storage containers designed to fit behind the front seats of CJs and Wranglers (as well as Sidekicks and Trackers). These containers are available individually, or they can be fitted together as storage modules.
Protecting Your Truck Bed
|| |---| | Rugs or spray-on liners protect beds, while extenders, like this one from Steel Horse, provide even more cargo-carrying capacity. Photo: Drew Hardin | Bed protection has reached new levels of innovation, too. Plastic is no longer the only material of choice for bed liners. The BedRug from Wise Industries is made from polyester carpet bonded to water-resistant, closed-cell foam to keep cargo from sliding around during transport. The BedRug can be hosed clean like plastic (perfect for carrying game animals), and it is die-cut to fit particular pickup and SUV bed shapes.
Several manufacturers, such as Rhino Linings, offer spray-in bed liners that provide permanent bed protection. Many of these liners can be color-matched to your truck's paint scheme.
Duraliner has added convenience to bed protection by introducing the CargoPro, an aluminum-framed sliding tray that holds up to 1,000 pounds when fully extended past the tailgate.
Hitch Racks and Accessories
Even the lowly trailer hitch hasn't escaped scrutiny. It used to be that receiver hitches held your hitch ball and little else. Nowadays, that square channel is used as an attachment point for a wide variety of products. Ramsey, Superwinch and Warn all make some form of platform that allows you to mount a winch into a receiver. The advantage to the temporary mount is that you can store your winch when it's not in use to protect it from exposure to the elements or theft. You can also have a winch at either end of your truck if you bolt a receiver to the front as well as the back.
Several companies offer accessory racks (for bikes, skis and other gear) and cargo-hauling platforms that slide into a receiver channel. Such platforms make getting your deer back to camp a breeze and they're perfect for hauling coolers and chop boxes.
Draw-Tite has taken the receiver a step furtherr with the introduction of the Dual Port System. The DPS (which will be marketed jointly by Draw-Tite and Reese) is a hitch that combines two round ports, spaced 28 inches apart, with the square receiver channel. The receiver will still be used for trailer-hitch mounting, while the round ports will provide stable anchoring points for a number of DPS "lifestyle accessories," including a camp table, bike rack and cargo platform.
Receivers also can expand your truck bed's hauling capabilities. Steel Horse Automotive makes the HitchHand, a T-shaped bracket mounted to square steel tubing that slides into the receiver. The sides of the bracket expand to 49 inches in width, and the unit will accommodate loads up to 750 pounds.
And this list barely scratches the surface of what's available for your truck bed. Tube-frame extenders hold cargo when the tailgate is down. Diamond-plate caps protect your bed rails and tailgate from dings and dents. Cargo nets keep groceries and other small goods from spilling. Ramps make loading ATVs easier. Steps that slide over your back tires help access to cargo. You name it, it's probably being made for your truck bed. Or it's on some designer's drafting table.