Should I put a drawer system in my vehicle?

Drawer Systems have become almost as polarizing a topic as roof top tents. For every adventurist praising the efficacy of Drawer Systems there seems to be an equally passionate contender. We may be biased being a vehicle storage solution manufacturer, but we are going to lay out some of our favorite and not so favorite aspects of [some] vehicle drawer systems. 

What We Love About Drawer Systems:

A Spot for Every Piece of Gear

Drawer Systems grant a place for every object that you can fit in it in the cargo area. SHW Drawer Systems, and many other drawer systems, feature sliding drawers with divided compartments. These compartments are the unsung heroes of drawer systems. Having separate compartments for small items can save a large amount of time.

Multiple Levels of Storage

Perhaps the most useful function of a drawer system is the fact that is creates two levels of organization, the bottom of which can be accessed without having to hassle with the top. Sliding drawers give the user instant access to the gear that matters most. This is critical in recovery situations, medical crises, or for finding your favorite spice at camp. The advantages of having an unimpeded storage level cannot be overstated.


Many people ignore the most important step in preparing for a trip. The gear is packed, the food is prepped, and the kids (or dog) are buckled in. But you know what isn’t buckled in? The hundreds of pounds of equipment that was packed in the cargo area. Unsecured items in a vehicle pose a major danger to the occupants. A drawer system creates a secure container for everything to stay in and can be anchored to tie down points in the vehicle. This is especially useful for small items that do not tie down well individually.  

Faster Packing Process

If there is anything more tedious than packing up the truck, it is unpacking the truck after a long drive home. Would if you could simply leave the essentials and only take out what needs to come out? If you don’t need the empty drawer space, a drawer system can stay loaded waiting for the next weekend trip while still providing a flat, spacious cargo deck for day-to-day hauling. 

What We Don’t Love About [Some] Drawer Systems:

We would be amiss if we didn’t also raise some of the downfalls of drawer systems. While the pros certainly outweigh the cons, here are a few instances where [some] drawer systems fall short. 

Wasted Space

Cargo volume can rapidly be consumed when loading up for any sort of trip or adventure. A drawer system takes up some of that volume just on its own. Some drawer systems are made from thin metals or plywoods which can help with space consumption. However, less durability is often a trade off when it comes to thinner materials.

The best way to overcome wasted space is to employ a drawer system that is built specifically for the vehicle in question. SHW Drawers are built based off of 3D scans of the vehicle, which allows the design to consume every square inch possible. The end result is system that gives you more storage capacity then multiple individual totes/cases. 




Car campers (Overlanders) are notorious for overpacking. Most people do not heed GWRS vehicle ratings and ignore the weight of their loaded vehicle. It is extremely important to monitor vehicle weight to keep you and other’s safe. Not to mention, staying within the limits of your vehicle design will help many components like ball joints, springs, steering linkages, and more in reliable shape. Many drawer systems add over 200lbs to the cargo area!

SHW Drawer systems are made of light weight materials like specially imported plywood from Spain and innovative composite panels. An Expedition Series SUV drawer system weighs around 140lbs and the Ultralite SUV drawer system weighs around 70lbs. Truck bed drawer systems weigh around 160lbs. 


Lack of Flexibility

Drawer Systems require the end user to commit to a certain way of organizing gear. They typically do not offer the flexibility of individual totes, which can be changed to a different orientation at any time. This level of flexibility is valuable to some, but many prefer to have a specific spot for gear, every time. It is critical to know exactly where things like recovery gear, med kits, and saws are located in the cargo area, and individual bins often mixed up. 

A SHW drawer system provides dedicated, fixed storage spots below while providing a platform to store bins and other items in any orientation. It is the best of both worlds. 

The Final Verdict

Being a storage solution manufacturer, we are certainly biased when it comes to the efficacy of drawer systems. However, we are a company centered on designing and building storage solutions because we realized their effect on our adventures the moment we implemented them in our vehicles. Today, we strive to share that experience with all others trying to get more out of their vehicle. Comment below what your experience as been with drawer systems!