Professional tidier Marie Kondo says you should only keep the things that spark joy in your life, but that's not realistic for all of us. You can't toss all the gear you don't love, but you can keep working and be happier and more efficient with a well-organized vehicle. Don't just throw valuable tools into the bed — use these storage tips to organize everything that goes into your truck.
Rule number one is: it's easier to organize when you have fewer things. That rule doesn't really work here, so go with rule two: every item you own should have its own place. That's true for both the socks in your drawers and the first-aid kit and tire inflator in your truck or SUV. A cargo area can be a big place for small items to slide around in as you take corners or stop suddenly, so organize your cargo area with a cargo divider. These are as simple as a mesh screen or steel tubing barrier for keeping your dog out of the passenger area or a plastic or composite wall that seals off the rear area entirely. You can also consider using smaller containers to subdivide and organize parts or small tools. It can make your life a lot easier in the long run.
Roof Mount Cargo Box
While some people can clean up their clutter by downsizing what they have, sometimes the issue isn't that you have too much stuff, but that your available storage space is too small. Professional organizers frown on buying a storage shed, but would probably approve of additional vehicle storage. Attaching to nearly any vehicle's roof rails in just a few minutes and requiring zero tools, a roof-mounted cargo box offers 18 cubic feet of cargo space, which is the same size as a trunk from a BMW 5 Series (only way more affordable). It's not just for professionals either, as this is the perfect affordable solution for road trips or if you are moving soon.
Similar to the cargo box above, a roof-mounted cargo basket adds additional storage space on top of your vehicle. You can strap down cargo to your roof, keeping it out of the way of passengers. Unlike the cargo box, a cargo basket is a powder-coated steel mesh that act as an extra cargo floor. A big difference here is the cargo box protects your cargo from weather conditions, while a cargo basket is open to the elements. This is a great option for holding sawhorses or circular saws in their weather-proof cases.
Got a Jeep? Trail racks attach to the hard point where the spare tire mounts to the rear cargo door. This means additional extra storage without drilling. It's an easy install, and the racks can typically hold around 50 pounds. That's a huge backpack or a loaded cooler that isn't inside taking up a passenger seat.
If your work site is often muddy or dirty, or if you enjoy outdoor hobbies like fishing or hiking, your vehicle's interior probably takes a lot of abuse. There are ways to successfully clean any filthy interior, but why not prevent the grime from ever reaching the carpet? Cargo area storage tubs are custom-fit pieces that protect your vehicle's interior. You can toss muddy boots and tools into these rugged ABS plastic bins, and with a lifetime warranty and easy lift handles, you will have years of protection and easy cleanup. When it's time to sell your ride, you'll enjoy a higher resale value from the immaculate interior.
You can't just leave the tailgate down, as your cargo could slide out while you're driving. A bed extender is the solution here, and it's especially helpful if you've got a truck with a small bed or a crossover truck like an Explorer SportTrac. Attached to the trailer hitch receiver, a bed extender tool is a secure extension of the bed, designed to handle outsized cargo like lumber or professional size ladders. With a load capacity of 750 pounds and DOT approved reflectors, you can safely and legally haul those 16" 2x10s from your local lumber yard. When not in use, it disassembles into a small package compact enough to fit into one of the other storage solutions.
Soft Side Cargo Carrier
“All this stuff is cool," you say. “But I'm not a professional contractor. I do go camping, though." Great, there are storage solutions for you, too. If you go truck camping, the soft side cargo carrier is for you. Sure, it fits trucks and SUVs, but also crossovers, wagons, minivans and even sedans. It installs with no tools and doesn't require you to already have a roof rack. The UV coating on the PVC mesh and welded seams mean it's weatherproof, and when not in use, it folds flat for convenient storage. It sure beats having all that stuff rolling around loose in your truck or SUV.
Got a bunch of unusually shaped stuff to haul? If you're the gear hauler for the local football team, you don't need all those helmets and pads banging around. A cargo net is designed to safely secure all your oddball light cargo needs. Just slip the hooks over any size pickup or SUV anchor points, and you're good to go. When you're done, cargo nets can be quickly wadded up and tossed in a garage corner, or since this is a tidying article, you can fold it up and put it in the tool box below.
Let's say you want to carry large items in your truck bed, but also want them out of sight and locked up. You need a tonneau cover. There are two main styles of tonneau covers: the soft, roll-up kind and the hard fixed style. The roll-up tonneau cover delivers cargo security in an efficient and convenient lightweight package with no-drill installation that easily rolls up when not in use. The hard tonneau covers are usually fiberglass or composite construction and lock your valuable equipment away from view. The hard covers can open by folding, rolling or a hinge near the cab. The single-piece cover can be optioned with style lines to match your truck, making it the finishing piece of a head-turning show truck ride. Plus, tonneau covers are proven to reduce drag and increase gas mileage.
Expensive tools need a safe place out of the elements to help them last longer. The ultimate in professional tool protection, a truck tool box is just like your standard tool box, but designed to fit your specific truck's bed. Truck tool boxes are commonly made of diamond plate or stainless or powder-coated steel and usually sit right behind the cab. Features include left and right openings that let you reach in from either side of the truck, internal dividers so every tool has its own place and a locking design that keeps expensive tools safe.
Didn't find what you need? Check out the Truck Accessories page for thousands of options on making your truck fit your life.