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We came prepared in a fully-loaded but beat-up Tacoma with our shotguns, fly rods, tents, dogs, stove, and all the other gear you need for an upland hunt and fishing trip. Being an Easterner, I wasn’t ready for the steep hills of Southern Idaho and the jagged rocks and high rims that the chukar call home. I made the trek across the country to hunt and fish with a new friend, Matt Hardinge, and test out the DECKED truck bed drawer system. This accessory can be found in endless pickup trucks across the country, but is seldom mentioned in the hunting space. I was here to answer one question: is the DECKED drawer system worth it for hunters and anglers?
The short answer—Yes.
The plan was to hunt chukar and fish for trout if time permitted. Matt, a diehard upland hunter, picked me up at the airport with a pair of pointers. The four of us made the two-hour drive directly to camp where we pitched our tents and pulled out the stove to make some dinner. The hunt was a long day chasing chukar in the hills followed by an evening spent tailgating, courtesy of Matt’s DECKED system.
The first night brought heavy rain and strong winds. We were in the elements, the true test of any outdoor gear. Throughout the trip, I was able to test, use, and play around with the DECKED drawer system to see how it can serve as an advantage for hunters and anglers, especially those with lots of gear.
These were my takeaways.
The DECKED Drawer System: Organization and Versatility
The DECKED drawer system has been around since 2013. More likely than not you’ve seen it before, either in a buddy’s truck or on a Youtube video.
Simply put, the DECKED truck bed system is an extremely durable and reliable organizational tool for any construction worker, hiker, camper, biker, and of course hunter or angler who owns a pickup truck. It serves as a secure and weatherproof area to store your fishing waders, boots, rods, guns, tools, and any other valuable equipment.
The system fits most full-size and mid-size trucks. It comes with installation instructions that shouldn’t take more than a few hours to complete, with some help. The final product has a 2,000-pound deck load capacity and a 200-pound storage capacity in each drawer. The system is 12-inches tall, and is made from 100% recycled high density polyethylene that rests on a sub frame consisting of 40 pounds of steel.
The engineering of this system is second to none, made to withstand the harsh environments and rugged activities that outdoorsmen and women will put it through. The system locks securely. Once shut and locked, nobody else will be opening it.
The drawers themselves open by grabbing a sturdy handle which releases the drawer allowing it to roll out smoothly. Once open, let the organization begin. Divide and separate the drawers however you like to get the most out of your system. Install a few, or all of the accessories (detailed below) to help you improve your pursuits outdoors or at work.
What can I do with the DECKED system? Accessories and Usability
In my opinion, the most exciting part about the DECKED drawer system is inside the drawers. Each truck owner has different hobbies, necessities, and priorities when it comes to their system and how to use it. Organization is the name of the game with DECKED. The system’s wide array of accessories allow users to tailor the draws to their specific pursuits and needs.
The drawer dividers are the simplest way to organize and separate gear in the system. Users can purchase wide and narrow dividers in packs of two or four to separate sections of the system as they see fit.
The Drawerganizer is one of my favorite accessories as a hunter and angler, due to its simplicity. When I come out of the upland fields or marsh, the first thing I do is empty stray shells from my pockets. Drop the tailgate and slide the drawer open, and the first thing you’ll find is the Drawerganizer. This bin fits perfectly to the inside of the handle and provides an open spot for storage. Perfect for loose flies, split shot, and indicators. Keep extra shells, magazines, lures, or optics here, depending on the season.
The Crossbox and the D-box accessories take organization to a whole new level. If you need to take the next step and get even more fine tuned with the placement of gear and tools, these boxes will get you there. During our hunt, Matt brought Ceder and Summit, his two German Wirehaired pointers, to help us find birds in Idaho hills. Each day, Matt opened up his DECKED drawer system and pulled out a D-box filled with dog food. A perfect example of saving space on a big trip for a diehard upland hunter. The dividers are especially handy for keeping camping gear organized and neat.
Keeping the Piece
The accessory that excites me the most is the Piecekeepers. These dividers are specifically molded with foam to transport firearms safely and securely inside the drawer system. As a diehard waterfowl hunter, this accessory caught my attention right away. Every duck hunter knows the consequence of putting a wet firearm in a gun case: instant rust.
If your ride back home is anything longer than 10 minutes, there’s a good chance your wet gun will accumulate some rust inside a gun case. The Piecekeepers allow the gun to breathe while remaining safe and secure in the vehicle. This is especially helpful when hopping between spots upland or turkey hunting, so you don’t have to keep re-casing your gun every time you get back to the truck.
What I liked about the system
Organization and durability.
What’s the reason anyone puts a drawer system into their truck? They want to be more organized. So when it came time to test out the DECKED system on my hunt, organization was the number one aspect I looked for.
The system is simple and easy to use. Hunters and anglers have little time to be fumbling around for gear in the morning, and this system allows you to know exactly where everything is. Slide the drawer open, get what you need, and hit the trail.
I view the drawer system as the place for the “hunter (or angler) essentials.” Any hunter or fisherman with the DECKED drawer system should organize it so that their necessities are here—organized, safe, and secure. This means firearms, shells, rods, reels, tippet, fly boxes, first aid, camping gear, and other critical equipment should be kept here. Because let’s face it, the rest of the bed and the cab of the truck will be a mess. The DECKED system needs to be the place you stay organized.
To say that this drawer system is durable is an understatement. There’s no need to go into much depth here because we all know hunters and anglers beat the absolute hell out of their trucks and gear, taking them to rugged and remote places. The DECKED truck bed system has withstood everything that Matt, and legions of other sportsmen, have thrown at it. End of story.
What I didn’t like about the system
Everything is a compromise. What you gain in precise organization and security with the DECKED drawer system you lose in the overall available room of your truck bed. The system will take away 12 vertical inches of your bed, and for those who don’t have a cap, this may become an issue for larger storage space. Once you give up that initial vertical foot of your bed, you aren’t left with much else. Now, if you have a cap, this may not be as big of a problem. But for trucks without a cap, bigger storage items will most likely have to fit into the back of the cab.
On a recent grouse hunt in Maine, I noticed my buddy didn’t have a gunner kennel for his dog Sawyer. The reason was that the large gunnel kennel couldn’t fit in his mid-sized truck with a cap. Again, a compromise of valuable space is my biggest con of the system.
The benefits of the DECKED system for hunters and anglers
The question of whether or not a hunter or angler will find the DECKED truck bed drawer system useful is a simple one in my mind. Think of an exponential graph: the X-axis is the degree of dedication of the hunter or angler, and the Y-axis is how useful they will find the system. Simply put, the more hardcore someone is about hunting and fishing, the more useful they will find the DECKED system to be.
Now, it’s not the be-all and end-all for outdoorsmen. I based my decision on organization, durability, and usability. These are the three traits that I value when I pick out any piece of sporting equipment. This system kept us organized, withstood the abuse, and was a regular part of our time at camp.
Is the DECKED Drawer System worth the money?
This drawer system is pricey. But you’re getting what you pay for. Whether or not it is worth the money comes down to each particular user. There is no clear-cut answer to this. If you aren’t going to use the system and get the most out of it, you don’t need it.
If you’re out in the field or on the water every free second you get, then this system is definitely worth the investment. Like any quality piece of outdoor equipment, you pay for the best. While it won’t take a winning lottery ticket to buy the system, it still may take some time to save up before investing in it.
But if you value organization, durability, and usability—the DECKED drawer system will be one of the best pieces of hunting and fishing gear you own.