Six fellow truck camper owners create new exterior storage solutions finding new spaces and utilizing existing ones better. Got exterior stuff?
Exterior storage is one area where far too many truck camper designs fall flat. We can’t tell you how many times we’ve seen a brand new camper model and thought, “Where’s the exterior storage?” This is yet another reason why we are relentless in our pressure for truck camper designers and decision makers to go truck camping.
Thankfully, our community is equally relentless (and clever) about solving truck camping problems. Need more exterior storage? They invent in, or otherwise make the storage that is available more efficient, and better organized. That’s the stuff our community is made of, and how we deal with our exterior stuff.
1. Exterior Storage Organization Shelves
Submitted by: Ray and Brenda Fair, 2016 Silverado 3500, 2015 Eagle Cap 850
Before leaving home, an inventory was made of the stuff we might need. Tools, lap compound, and other assorted stuff was placed in one outside compartment. One-pound LP bottles, campfire starter kits, fishing equipment, and more stuff were placed in another. During the trip, we accumulated additional stuff.
Days later, when looking for the new stuff, I could not remember which compartment the stuff was in. Shifting of the stuff in the compartments during travel did not make looking for things any easier.
I’m not even going to show the other two compartments.
When the stuff was removed from the compartment and lined up, it looked like we were going to have a mini garage sale. Action was needed.
A shelf was required for each compartment. I purchased a 4′ x 4′ plywood that was 1/8-inch thick, a 1x1x8 pine strapping, hasps, four small brass hinges, and a tube of construction glue.
A 1/8-inch piece of plywood was cut to width and half the depth of the cabinets. 1-inch x 3/4-inch stock was glued to the sides and to the back of the cabinet to support the shelf.
I cut two 2-inch strips for a lip on each shelf. Cut the strapping to match the length and width of the shelf. Then I screwed two hinges to the bottom of the shelf and lip.
A 4-inch high fence was hinged to the front of the shelf to prevent items from falling off. A latch was screwed to the left side to secure the fence in the up position. When installing the latch, I failed to pre-drill the screw hole and the wood split.
When planning, you need to consider the high of the tallest item expected to be stored under the shelf. I glued the strapping to the sides and rear of the cabinet to support the shelf.
After the glue dried, I fasted a hasp to one side of the lip and drilled a hole in the cabinet sidewall so the lip could be locked in the up position. I repeated the sequence for the second cabinet.
Above is the left compartment finished. The shelf fence is in the down position, the LP bottles are secured in a quart soda bottle holder (provided by our local convenience store), and the item on the left side of the holder is a Citronella candle. My fishing equipment is on the shelf. Life is good.
The project took three hours and the cost was under $35. In my opinion, the skill level of this modification is easy.
2. Extra Storage in the Rear Camper Overhang
Submitted by: Mark McVicker, 2005 Ford F-250, 2014 CampLite 11 S
Above: Before the storage compartments were added
I wanted to make about 12 cubic feet available of unused storage space under the black water tank.
Above and below: Unused space in the back of the camper
I first checked with the camper factory about the modification. They approved the mod, and gave me the name of the door company that made the original doors.
I then measured the openings that I needed for the two doors and called Challenger Door company in Indiana to order the doors.
I used a Roto-Zip with a drywall bit to cut the openings in the outside aluminum skin. Then I cleaned up the openings and fit tested the doors.
I pre-drilled all the screw holes using the doors as a template. Before screwing the doors in place, I applied a healthy bead of black silicone to seal the doors in with screws.
The doors look like they were installed at the factory. They have allowed storage space for both a 25-foot and a 50-foot water hose, two 25-foot 30 amp power cords, a 28-inch by 60-inch folding table, two 12-foot extending flag polls, and the long hook for the awning.
I am thrilled that I was able utilize this space. Our last trailer was a 25-foot Airstream, so we had the bed of our truck for storage. Having this additional storage certainly helps to make up the difference.
It took me six-hours to complete this modification and cost me $200. In my opinion, the skill level of this modification is hard.
3. Better Access To Basement Storage With Drawers
Submitted by: Scott Ellis, 2012 Chevy 3500, 2019 Northern Lite 9-6 QCSE
Our Northern Lite came with a single plastic tray for basement storage management. That’s fine, but that tray was a foot shorter and a couple of inches narrower than the available space. There was nothing at all for the other side of the basement. At four feet deep, it is not somewhere I just want to pitch stuff and hope to fish it out again later.
In the future, I am going to add a set of runners under the drawers, so that I don’t have to lift them over the lip around the door.
It took me about three hours to complete this modification and cost me $80. The $80 was for one sheet of 7/16″ Euro ply. In my opinion, the skill level of this modification is medium. If you’re comfortable around a table saw, you can do this.
4. Rear Overhang Storage Added
Submitted by: Thomas Wilson, 2015 Chevy 3500, 2015 Adventurer 89RB
Above: The empty space that was in the overhang – click to enlarge
I purchased an Adventurer 89RB, which is designed to match long or short bed trucks. I matched the camper to a 2015 Chevy 3500 short bed and wanted to make use of the space behind my truck’s taillights.
First, I made a template out of plywood. The template gave me the sizing for my inside metal and provided a pattern for the rough cut-outs for the doors. Placing the template against the inside wall on each wing, I cut out the door openings using a saber saw. I changed blades for each door. Then, I installed storage boxes on each side of my camper.
The doors are quite similar to the factory doors, and provided about 3.8 cubic feet of space on each side of the camper. The result has more than met my expectations and fits perfectly with the camper loaded and unloaded.
Above: The overhang doors are now on both sides of the back of the camper
It took me about ten hours to complete and cost approximately $225. In my opinion, the skill level of this mod is hard because I had to locate a supplier for the doors.
5. Seven-Inch Back Wing Compartment
Submitted by: Brian Hoekstra, Chevy 2500HD, Lance 855
There was a gap of about nine or ten inches between the tail light and wing, so I fabricated a seven-inch deep compartment out of sheet metal and aluminum to store the hose and filter in.
6. Temporary Under Cabover Storage Area
Submitted by: Sandy and Mark Anderson, 2017 Chevy 3500, 2017 Lance 975
For truck camper stays longer than a weekend, we wanted additional outside storage that kept the campsite neat and our things dry. We also wanted items like our bikes, cooler, grill, and lawn chairs out of sight.
Our modification is an under cabover storage area. It’s great because there are no holes drilled or anything permanently attached to the camper.
We used recycled corded tent poles to fit the sides and front of the cabover area.
We attached the corded tent poles to the camper with four 3M Damage Free cord clips.
Then we sewed and hemmed waterproof/windproof tarps together with a sleeve and slid the tarps onto the tent poles.
We left the tarp length fairly long as the length needed will vary. The poles are anchored into a piece of a 2×4 with a hole drilled where each pole is inserted. Then the whole set-up is stabilized with a bungee around the top of the jack housing.
The storage area worked perfectly on our recent trip and everything stayed dry with wind and rain for three days.
It took me four hours to complete this modification and cost $75. In my opinion, the skill level of this modification is medium.
Disclaimer: The modifications above are submitted by Truck Camper Magazine readers. It is your responsibility to make sure that any do-it-yourself modification project you undertake is safe, effective, and legal for your situation.