Inland Crossing

Storage Solutions

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As I start planning the requirements for outfitting a replacement vehicle for the Durango for travel and outdoor activities, I’m working through my options for carrying spare parts, camping gear, supplies, and other necessities. Given the limited space behind the front seats of a smaller vehicle, sticking with smaller storage bins so as to maximize the use of the space by flexible arrangements of the boxes seems to be the best approach.


I think that one of the most useful storage solutions is the ActionPacker, a line of dual-latching plastic storage bins offered by Rubbermaid. Most off-roaders, campers, and expedition crews are familiar with them. The bins are tough, are available in a number of sizes to accommodate all sorts of supplies and cargo, stack fairly well in vehicles, and are reasonably water resistant.

The handiest I’ve used is the 8-gallon size, which is perfect for carrying spare fluids, recovery straps and gear, tools, and other things that are typically thrown in the back of the vehicle for an outing. I’ve had trouble occasionally finding the 8-gallon size at the local stores which have carried them in the past. The larger sizes are readily available, but the smaller ones seem to have been removed from the shelves.

Recently I came across a 10.5 gallon bin at Walmart that caught my attention. This was a ToughTote, bins  that are manufactured by StyleWorks that appear to be made from the same tough plastic material as the ActionPackers, but vary in that the lid is hinged and secured with a single latch instead of an unhinged double latch design.

The ToughTotes appear suitable for our use, and have some advantages as well as some disadvantages over the ActionPackers. The hinges on the ToughTotes are plastic and are a potential failure point. Another disadvantage is that room must be available in the vehicle to lift the lid far enough to retrieve something from within the box. With the ActionPacker, the lid can be slid aside or slid out entirely for more convenient access, even among a stacking of numerous boxes. This means that you can more or less leave things stacked on top of an ActionPacker lid and still slide it to reach inside to retrieve something.

The ToughTote does offer a few more cubic inches of storage, and the taller design allows me to place some items upright inside that previous had to be laid on their side. A gallon-size container of coolant, for example, fits inside nicely while taking up a smaller footprint along the bottom of the container. The attached hinged lid also means that the lids probably won’t get lost.

The ToughTote provides a viable alternative to the ActionPacker, particularly its 8-gallon size proves a bit too small. It is more than suitable for hauling camping gear and other items that typically get offloaded at a campsite, and offers lots of protection and reasonable water resistance at a slightly lower cost than the more expensive ActionPacker (roughly $19 vs $24). Larger sizes are also available to meet a number of storage requirements.

The label on the bin shows the manufacturer’s website as www.styleworksusa.com, but the site seems to be parked by the domain registrar. An online search will return resellers, including Walmart, that carry the product.

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