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Improving Your Tacoma's Storage and Cargo Capacities

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Shop Tacoma Exterior Storage Solutions

Managing all of your off-road equipment can be a chore. Rather than wasting time playing automotive Tetris, you're better off investing in storage solutions like truck bed nets, roof racks, and hitch receiver baskets. Save space and time, so you can fully enjoy your next overlanding adventure.

Tacoma Storage >>

The Toyota Tacoma has been the best selling mid-size pick-up in the US for over a decade and for good reason. It is a category winning combination of performance and reliability at a pretty budget-friendly price. Not to mention its versatility; depending on its level of equipment, the all-new 2018 Tacoma can tow between 3,500 and 6,800 lbs., and carry a payload up to 1,400 lbs. Not bad when you’re regularly hitting the trails or need an every-day workhorse. That isn’t to say though that there’s no room for improvement: you can build on the Tacoma’s already impressive cargo capacity with a range of aftermarket storage options. From roof racks to rear cargo racks, bed storage solutions and trailers – the combinations are nigh on limitless and will really maximize your rig’s versatility.

Storage Up Top 

Made from aluminium, traditional roof rack bars are both lightweight and strong, with most having a carrying capacity in the neighborhood of 200 lbs (which isn't really limited by the bars, but rather the actual load capacity of the structural roof). Roof rack bars like provide an easy and adjustable way to carry larger items such as such bikes, skis, canoes, ladders and cargo boxes. All of these longer items can simply be laid in place and strapped down to keep them secure. A conventional crossbar roof rack is a straightforward install that won’t require any drilling or other body modifications; they will either install to the Tacoma’s factory rails or for models without the OEM rails, a door channel clip-on system can be used instead. 

In terms of adjustability, some Tacoma roof rack systems are built upon a grooved rail, allowing the bars to be easily slid up and down the roof to create the necessary amount of spacing between bars in order to accommodate the dimensions of the intended cargo. A more basic roof rack system will require each bar to be removed and manually relocated, which, while more time consuming, will overall have a lower purchase price. 

For smaller items that might shift more easily in transit, consider a rooftop basket. Around the $300-mark, baskets, thanks to their raised edges, add an extra layer of protection, reducing the likelihood of shifting or flyaway cargo while in transit. Combined with a cargo net and/or tie-down straps, a basket can easily accommodate things like a jerry can with extra gas or water, a spare tire or shovel secure up top, freeing up space in your Tacoma’s bed for other larger items. 

In terms of installation, there are two ways to mount a basket atop your Tacoma. If you already have a roof rack bar system, the basket can be secured to the crossbars. If not, you will either need to add a rack mounting system (clip-on supports would be the easiest) or drill and mount tracks into the roof yourself.

Rear Cargo Add-Ons: Rear Racks and Trailers

If you’d rather not have anything up top, there are various cargo racks that can hang out back of your Taco, and allow much better access to whatever it's carting. An exterior rear cargo rack will utilize the hitch receiver, and as it is not hindered by the maximum weight capacity of the truck’s roof, will be capable of managing a heavier load. Most rear cargo carriers are a universal fit and feature a basket design with raised edges. Some will remain stationary and always upright, while other more 'luxurious' models can fold up and out of the way when not in use. Rear hitch racks are long and narrow, with most of them having dimensions (or in the vicinity of) 50" long by 20" deep with side heights ranging from 3-12". This makes them ideal for carrying bikes, dirt bikes, barbeques, coolers, and other weatherproof equipment.

Rear baskets are made from mild steel which is strong but is susceptible to rust. In order to counter this issue, the baskets are finished with a thick paint (typically powder coat) in order to effectively seal the metal from the elements.    

For those that have a ton of equipment to haul to work or the campsite, then only a trailer can provide more cargo volume. Trailers are divided into two categories: cargo/enclosed trailers and utility/open trailers. Careful consideration needs to be paid to the weight of the trailer and the weight and dimensions of the heaviest item you plan on hauling. In terms of overall carrying capacity, a trailer - be it opened or closed - is the runaway winner. However, this is also the most expensive option and will hamper maneuverability.

Optimizing Bed Storage

It probably goes without saying that there are a plethora of bed storage solutions for any and all pick-ups under the sun, the Tacoma included. At the cheaper and modification-free end of the spectrum are cargo nets. A cargo safety net will stretch across the full bed to secure its contents (ideal for when its packed to the gills), while an envelope or bag style net will attach to various mounting points and trap smaller items like groceries, and sports equipment. Other wallet-friendly possibilities are moveable dividers and cargo bars, which partition off sections of the bed, keeping larger items in place. 

Tool and storage boxes are another common means of augmenting the storage ability of a Tacoma. Bed mounted tool boxes are made from steel and feature a diamond-plate finish. They mount to the floor of the bed and provide a water-tight tool organizer that can be mounted up against the cap or to the side of the bed (dependent on box model and size). They are compartmentalized, and some higher end models may even feature multiple drawers.

A bed storage box is very similar to a toolbox (in fact, some companies just make a universal box that can serve as either one) and can be made of steel or plastic. A storage box usually just features one compartment (i.e storage chest) and is also weatherproof and lockable. For trail going Tacomas, a storage box is a great place to keep recovery gear organized, accessible and protected from the weather. 

At the fun end of bed accessories, some companies do make a bed mounted cooler. These coolers can be permanently mounted, however, most of them are intended to be strapped in place. Thermally isolated to keep your food and drinks cold, a bed mounted cooler is a superb companion for hunting trips or tailgate parties!

Fitment includes: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, Pre-Runner, X-Runner, SR, SR-5, TRD-Sport, TRD-Off-Road, Limited, TRD-Pro