When you’re on an expedition, or an extended overland journey, your vehicle is your home, except it’s a lot smaller. With no separation of living, eating, and sleeping space, every inch counts. And if we’re being honest with you, though we try hard, some of our team members aren’t the most organized. We suspect that without the vehicle-build genius that is Mario Donovan at Adventure Trailers, would have gone crazy about 15 miles south of the Mexican border.
Outfitting your overland vehicle is an expression of your personal requirements and the needs of your trip. That’s why off-the-shelf products sometimes won’t get the job done. One person may consider a hot water shower and fully-stocked pantry is absolutely essential, while the other is happy with a simple, secure place to store their recovery gear.
We’ve seen Mario work his magic on several Overland Journal project vehicles. He’s built a reputation for being able to save the utility of the vehicle’s seating arrangements, while pairing it expertly with your additional requirements.
Adventure Trailers offers their vehicle-specific drawer systems in both baltic birch, and high-quality, lightweight composite. We opted for the latter. All of them are coated in a tough bed liner-style material, which in the case of the composite systems actually bonds to the material, adding durability. We liked it because it wasn’t aggressive, however it added durability to the otherwise plush, carpeted interior.
With our 4Runner Rufio, we had a requirement for someone to be able to sleep inside every night, while storing gear for a large group of adventurers, some of whom do not pack lightly. But our specific requirement meant that we couldn’t just delete the back seat entirely. We needed someone to ride in the back all the way from Montana to the Darien Gap.
The crew at Adventure Trailers built a custom solution that removed half of the rear seat and provided a 6-foot sleeping platform for our team members. In addition, it provided us with cackles of storage and a place to mount our National Luna Freezer-Fridge and dual battery system. It worked great, and has been punished for over 20,000 miles without a single failure or creak. Speaking of which, you can quickly tell the quality of an aftermarket drawer system by the amount of noise it makes—or actually how much noise it doesn’t make. A small little rattle or squeak can quickly turn into a massive annoyance on the road, especially when paired with the otherwise silent interior of the Toyota 4Runner.
Our specific requirements didn’t require such an intense transformation of our other 4Runner, Apollo, but we still outfitted it with a rear drawer system, and that might be the most practical bit of information for most of our readers and followers who don’t want to loose a rear seat. It’s the perfect solution for storing your camping and recovery gear, without having to worry about packing it each time you’d like to venture off-road or spend the night outside.
A drawer system can add safety too—as I’ll assume you don’t want to take a d-shackle to the head in an accident. While saving your head, it also adds utility. No longer do you have those items floating around the back of your vehicle, in an unorganized chaos. In our case, AT Overland’s drawer system proved absolutely essential for our trip. There’s no way we could have kept going at the pace we did without some semblance of organization on the road. These drawers were the glue that held everything together.
We like AT Overland’s drawers for their high-quality components, thoughtful construction, and for their option of constructing it from lightweight materials.