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Rear storage boxes (closed) for series II through 2016 defender

340 Views 9 Replies 2 Participants Last post by  J!m
I’ll probably post over on expedition portal as well but I want to pick the brains here. I didn’t post in defender section because other than Series I, the wear width is the same.

I was all set to pick up four of those wolf pack boxes for the back of my truck. Then I realized that they are too wide to run two wide. I currently use (what’s left of) four McKesson delivery boxes. They did (barely) survive Africa but are certainly a “disposable” option.

Pros of the Mc boxes are: cheap, light and easy to get.
Cons: low durability, no dust seal (interleaved top) and tapered sides waste a bit of space. They stack okay but the upper box can slide around relative to the lower one.

I run these two across and two high in the back. That ends up about flush with the top of the fridge. I strap them down with a ratchet strap to the airline seating rails that run full length in the back.

All that background out of the way, I’m looking for four “new” boxes for this location. I want to go two wide and two high, same configuration as now. I’d like straight sides and secure stacking. I really like water sealed but at least must be dust sealed. Reasonable cost preferred but I’ll consider anything.

Let’s see/hear what you’ve got…
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Price (and to a lesser extent, weight) considerations aside, I've dreamed of a full Zarges or Alubox aluminum box setup. Zarges will even manufacture custom size boxes for you, if your pockets are deep enough:

I love the "idea" of Pelican cases, but in practice, they are just too damn heavy, and don't use volume very efficiently. Somewhat cheaper options that are still fully waterproof could be the modern "modular" tool boxes from DeWalt or Milwaukee available at any hardware store (the Milwaukee sets would probably need to be spray-painted to something other than "steal me" red). Can even get boxes with drawers for your cooking gear/food supplies.

The approach I used in my D90, where space is more of a premium, is to install a Front Runner rear drawer which exactly matches the height of the wheel wells. After that, you have a completely flat surface and can use any box setup you want. I've bought airline tracking, but haven't actually installed it yet.

For casual camping (and storing camping equipment when not in use), I've found that the "Really Useful Box" works perfectly: the 60 Liter box stacks perfectly and is about as large as one person can comfortably carry and reasonably sturdy (at least in warm weather--plastic gets brittle in the cold), while being significantly lighter and cheaper than all of options above. Drawbacks are that it is not fully water/dust sealed (though can be left out overnight in the rain if needed), and is probably not durable enough for full-time expedition use (though a good bit sturdier than the McKesson style boxes you mention above).
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I was just looking at “packout” boxes a couple minutes ago as I’m in Home Depot for a few things… the Husky brand ones are black and not as wide (look like same length). Then there’s DeWalt (yellow) too. Perhaps a combination of the three, but sticking to one brand is probably best.

Of course Milwaukee has the cool stuff where a tool box could be configured and interplay with the non-tool boxes (battery chargers etc.) so there’s that. And I have a growing collection of Milwaukee battery tools.

I want to spend some quality time to see if I can really fill the available space efficiently using different sizes and different pack orders. (I always spend a lot of time on my pack)

Then Zagres doesn’t look so expensive after a while… but I think packout would actually use more of the space than Zarges. I have two genuine (see above) and one knockoff which came from Germany that is much larger. I use that one for parts storage for the convoy when I do, and it holds a lot of stickers on its outside.

I agree Pelican are great as shipping/travel containers but not efficient use of interior space. (My camera lives in a Pelican) At least the current folding handle ones are better than the original fixed handle ones.
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According to the tool review websites, the Milwaukee Packout is the "best regarded" (made with special plastic from Israel, of all places), but is also the most expensive option. The "French Cleat" system to latch Packouts to each other is also quite robust (for everything short of a vehicle crash/roll-over, where you would want to use tie-downs); you can also get wall and floor mount plates. I ended up with a bunch after I went in heavy with the MW m18/m12 battery tools. Drawbacks: the color, as mentioned above, and that the interior space is not the best for the volume used--for instance, the larger boxes have metal grab bars on each corner.

The DeWalts and probably Huskey (though I did not look at those as closely) are not quite as sturdy, but are more space efficient, and less of an eyesore.

If you can find one, it's arguably worth getting a "Troy" style box that uses all of the space along the side. Great place to permanetnly and safely keep recovery gear, spares, etc:

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I like to have as much as possible off-loadable.

My four McKeeson bins are recovery, parts, camping and “fix it”. The big Zarges knock-off holds bulk parts and the small ones will be for food and beverage. I have used a low plastic case- like for bread or something I found but cans were lose in that and even driving to a site they could get free and cause problems… (but I kept it in the kitchen and would rotate my canned goods through it so I could “grab n go”)

I kept other things “free” back there but held with bungees or straps. Outerwear sits on top.

I’ll take a closer look at the bin options. Nothing says I can’t spray bomb whatever I decide on with some battleship gray!
I recently learned about a new "upgraded" Wolf box, but the size is exactly the same (external) as the old one, so it doesn't help me. This may be helpful for others, as I hear the lid clips break, and were improved, as was the lid seal. Interior space was reduced slightly from the first gen, however.

I found something I may go with, but the lid is not attached (just clicks on I guess). If I go with it I will add a small cable lanyard for the lid so it doesn't walk off. Of course, the dust control aspect of the lid may not work either...
I just recalled that Pelican now has a range of "vehicle cargo" cases with built in mounting brackets that are specifically designed to be mounted on vehicles:
Protective Cases. USA Made and Waterproof. | Pelican

They don't quite work for my particualr use, but they are certainly worth throwing into the mix if your budget (in terms of money and weight) covers it. There are some other brands that offer similar--one is "Roam" something.
I also tried a "RUX" case/square-bag when they had a 40% off sale, though still very spendy. On the one hand, very thoughtful and innovative design--mostly waterproof, collapsable, built-in tie-down components, modular accessories. But on the other hand, as it is a quasi-soft structured case, you can't really keep something has heavy as recovery gear in it (which was my intended use), and the sides are not load-bearing, so you can't really stack anything on top of it. I think I may use it for my camp-kitchen setup (much lighter than recovery gear):

RUX 70L - The Ultimate Gear Hauler
Those Pelican boxes ARE nice, but for the size/cost, Zarges is probably the answer. I have looked at those before and it didn't make sense to me. But those could live on a roof rack permanently, and I think that is the intent (again, so can Zarges not get as hot, being silver rather than black).

I'll have to check out your second suggestion.
The RUX cases would be more interesting if they had more sizes- and maybe they will in the future. They almost seem like they appeal to a different demographic.

I'd REALLY like a Lego-esque system where the bins/boxes could stack upon one another and be interlocked and configurable different ways. Not necessarily "clicking" together, but well controlled so they don't slide around when stacked different ways.

For example, two larger bins across the bottom row, with three smaller bins having the same overall width... Or two across and two stacked at 90 degrees to the first row (and not sliding all around). Then, as the pack changes with particular needs, the bins can accommodate the need. Maybe one tall one next to two shorter ones that equal the same height as the single. Stuff like that.

That's a big ask, so I try to find bins that fit the space well, and then pack them with the essentials and maybe a few luxuries if space allows.

I did use the carpet grip stuff under bins to help control them in Africa (and after in the series) on the bare aluminum floor. 110 has 3/4" thick rubber lining that doesn't slide around like bare aluminum (and a lot quieter).
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