It’s the eternal conundrum for pickup-truck owners: How do you organize and secure stuff in the bed? Some manufacturers offer their own solutions, like Ram with the RamBox storage bins built into the bedsides, or Honda and Hyundai with their underbed trunks. Many owners resort to a tonneau cover, which addresses the security aspect but not the one pertaining to organization. And a tonneau cover essentially turns your truck into a giant Lincoln Town Car—when you’re using the tonneau, the bed is a trunk, so you can’t carry your dirt bike or ATV or grandfather clock. deckeda company out of Defiance, Ohio, has a solution: its truck-bed drawer system.
The idea is that you get the benefits of a hard tonneau (lockable, weatherproof, out-of-sight storage) along with slide-out drawers to organize gear while retaining the ability to haul large, heavy items. That’s because the deck isn’t flush with the top of the bed, like a tonneau. It sits lower and is designed to support 2000 pounds, so you can load gear in the drawers and still park your Yamaha Banshee on top. That all sounded promising, so we tried out a Decked drawer system ($1499.99) on a 2022 Nissan Frontier.
The installation process is more difficult on a frontier than it would be on a full-size truck, since full-sizes don’t require drilling (on larger trucks, the system is secured with the factory tie-downs). For the Frontier, we needed to relocate a couple of tie-downs and drill holes at the cab side of the bed to mount the center channel that goes between the drawers. But as long as you embrace the “measure twice, drill once” credo when pointing a drill at your truck, it’s not daunting. The extremely detailed and thorough installation instructions are 22 pages long, and when you’re in the thick of the process, you’ll appreciate the sense of humor that runs throughout.
Extra-important sections are highlighted in red, such as the page concerning the weatherstripping that goes on the edge of the drawers. That part reads, “IMPORTANT: Facing the weatherstrip the wrong way will funnel water into drawer: BAD!” There’s also a helpful installation video.
Decked recommends recruiting a buddy to assist in installations like this, since relocating the tie-downs is mighty tough with one set of hands. The instructions warn, “You will need to grab a pal for this step (or have incredibly long and flexible arms).” Our Frontier installer did it solo, somehow. But the whole process will go quicker if you have help. Near the end comes the fun stuff—installing the bottle opener and ruler, securing the ammo cans (vertical bins with snap-on lids that flank the drawers).
You could just throw your gear in the drawers, but Decked includes organizers designed for the space: dividers, a small fitted toolbox, a bigger one called the D-Box. (There’s an optional soft bag dubbed, yes, the D-Bag.) Overlanders might opt for the Decked X Pathfinder Campfire Cooking Kit or the Survival Kit. If your truck doesn’t have a locking tailgate, you can order locks for the drawers too.
Our Frontier owner, who does contracting work, is smitten with the Decked system. Now instead of hauling his tools from his truck to the garage every day, he just leaves them in the Decked drawers, ready to go. He also pointed out that the upper cargo surface sits above the truck’s wheel wells and thus makes it possible to haul sheets of plywood or drywall laid flat, which wasn’t the case with the stock bed. The system also proved totally waterproof after going through a carwash—the ammo cans, which aren’t billed as weatherproof, barely got any water inside. And everything about it, from the way the drawer handles unlatch to the snug fit of the lids on the ammo cans, feels extremely well-made. The dominant material is high-density polyethylene (HDPE), which is both durable and, in this case, 100 percent recycled.
As for downsides, your cargo deck gets higher, so that will add a challenge if you’re using ramps to load an ATV (you’d want to back the truck up to a steep banking or use really long ramps). And the system weighs 205 pounds, extra mass that counts against your truck’s payload rating. The frontier didn’t seem to notice. Finally, if you like to put an inflatable pool in the back of your truck to make a redneck hot tub, that setup will now have to be aboveground, as it were. We’re just warning you.
But overall, the decked system is a well-thought-out, well-executed solution to the trade-offs imposed by pickup beds. You retain the ability to carry big, heavy truck stuff while gaining organized, secure, waterproof storage. Once you see it in action, you wonder why truck beds aren’t designed like this in the first place.
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