Designing Drawer System for our Off Road Overlanding Vehicle

Since we started our 2016 Toyota 4Runner build, we realized right away that we needed a solid drawer system for the back that would help us stay organized and fulfill all our functions and needs.

What we wanted in our perfect drawer system:

  • House our 47L ARB fridge
  • Large organized drawer for storing food, kitchen supplies, loose accessories, and quick to access items.
  • Drawer doubles as a table for cooking and other table needs.
  • Securely mount our Goal Zero Yeti 400
  • Securely house two additional 33AH batteries to extend our Goal Zero Yeti 400
  • Water Pump for pressurized water for filling water bottles, cleaning dishes, showering, etc.

Take a look at what we came up with!

Self Contained Workable Table

One of the biggest things we hate about our current setup is working off a small camping table for everything.

Need to cook? Camping table.
Clean dishes? Camping table.
Play a game? Camping table.

You get the picture, it’s a chore juggling all of our table top needs from a single small camping table.

One of the neat things we came across when doing research for our perfect drawer system was adding a liftable surface on top of the drawer that can double as a working space when the drawer is fully extended.

Using cabinet hinges for simple lifting access to the drawers, and a pneumatic lift will allow for smooth and easy access. Also using secured clip-in latches so the top does not rattle when driving.

Simple Power and Secure Drawer

The way our 4Runner is setup (when looking at the rear seats through the back hatch) we have a 60/40 split when it comes to fold down rear seats.

That means if we wanted to keep any of our seats in the truck, we most likely would keep the smaller side. So the fridge would need to be located on the left-hand side of the rear cargo area.

The challenge with locating the fridge on the left-hand side means the battery, it’s electronics, and everything else would need to sit behind it. (most convenient and efficient use of space)

But our rear cargo area 12v socket (the one connected to the trucks alternator/electrical system) is located on the right-hand side.

So, we would install a 12v socket on the right side of the drawer system, and run wires to the rear electronics area (pictured a bit below) to another 12v socket.

Our Goal Zero 400 Yeti would plug into it’s closest 12v socket, and the box would plug into the rear cargo area socket. (Think of this as a convenient internally wired 12v extender)

Electrical Management and Water Hose

We like our toys, especially our electronics.

One of the things we really enjoy is being able to recharge our electronics like cell phones, cameras, etc.

We found that the easiest and most efficient system was the Goal Zero Yeti 400, it has multiple outlets for varying plugs like USB, 120v, and even 12v.

The only downside to the Yeti 400 was the 400-watt capacity, which we managed to increase through additional batteries.

Our Goal Zero Yeti 400 is the system center, everything goes in or out of the Yeti 400 including the ARB Fridge which keeps our food and drinks cold.

For simple battery and electrical management, we would install a 4 socket panel which would house 2 voltage meters for the additional 33AH batteries to monitor their health, a 12v socket so we could connect the Yeti 400 to the vehicle for charging (which we mentioned about extending above), and a switch to turn on/off the water pump.

Additionally, the left side of the box would have an external hose for the water pump that would have a quick disconnect on the front of the box (rear of the vehicle) to plug in extension hoses.

Where the external hose goes into the box to connect to the water pump, we’d plum a quick disconnect for the inlet to the pump. This allows for when we stop and set up our campsite to connect the inlet hose and drop it into our 7-gallon portable water tank.

We found that a portable tank that we kept in one of the rear seat footwells was the most efficient use of space. It allows for us to quickly remove the tank for refilling, and keeps it low to improve the center of gravity of the truck when driving.

Additional Batteries and Water Pump

As we mentioned above, we figured out a way to extend out Goal Zero Yeti 400 from 400 watts to 1200 watts by adding two daisy chained 33AH batteries which mirror the internal battery inside the Goal Zero Yeti 400.

Underneath the Yeti 400 would be a removable panel to allow access to the additional batteries and the pump.

Using quick disconnects for both power and hoses would allow for efficient servicing, limiting access to this cubby.

– – – – – – – – – – –

So, that’s what we have planned!

Will this be the final version? I doubt it.

I’ll probably keep tweaking things until it’s warm enough to be outside and actually build it.

Let me know your thoughts on our drawer system, any constructive improvements we could make or experiences you’ve had with building something similar.


Products Mentioned in this Article

Goal Zero Yeti 400

View at Amazon

Goal Zero Nomad 100

View at Amazon

33AH Battery

View at Amazon

12V ARB Socket

View at Amazon

Full Extention Drawer Slides

View at Amazon

ARB 47L Fridge

View at Amazon

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2 comments on “Designing Drawer System for our Off Road Overlanding Vehicle

  1. M on

    180º hinge (piano hinge) on the two hatches and get rid of the pneumatics. Put 2 or 1 swing out arms on the back of the drawer so you can use the tops as a table or work area. Add some finger holes or a lip to help lift the hatches. Save some weight and go with Stainless Steel, it also makes for a food safe surface.

    Batteries. What are their dimensions? What is the dimension of the battery cubby? If you are using AGM/ Sealed batteries, you can lay them on their sides. Stack them on top of each other. OR – since they are 33ah each. 66ah total, you could get some LiFePO cells and build a similar AH battery taking up a .25 of the space. Not to mention the additional weight savings. Also, consider a battery tray if using lead acid batteries in there. Wether it is a wooden box or a metal box, in the final design, a plastic / HDPE tray is what you need as an added layer of protection.

    Add vent cutouts for the fridge vents. Also add cutouts venting the battery compartment in multiple directions.

    You could add additional 120v outlets wherever you have the 12v outlets. Use extension cords to plug into the Goal Zero and save a couple stretching moments trying to get to it.

    Add a temperature controlled fan to the battery compartment since that water pump will generate lots of heat under use.

    Switches and Volt Meters. _ there is a switch blank that has DUAL volt meters in it. It is in the same form factor as a standard carlin switch, same with the water switch. You can get a switch face plate with ‘water’ or ‘shower’ or whatever you want on it from or similar. If you want the links get in touch.

    Water system. Since your water is in the footwells, keep the QD for it on the side I guess. I recommend putting either a “T” on both or just moving them BOTH the rear on the side of the side of the fridge in the same manner you have the 12v outlet on the opposite side. When washing dishes, wouldn’t it be easier and cleaner to do them on the table on the rear hatch instead f in the side of your vehicle. Showering would be the same I would think. Alternatively, you could plumb both the lines through your vehicle to some access grommets under the carpet making the connects under the vehicle. Still have the QD’s on the side of the box or wherever the final place is so you could still remove the whole unit when needed.

    • Mike Revelle on

      Great Feedback!

      I love the idea of the 180º hinge, that would be super helpful and finger holes on the hatch lids are already a part of the plan just not in this design.

      Stainless steal just isn’t an option as I have little to no experience working with that material, and wood would make it super easy. Maybe for version 2!

      For the batteries, we are stuck to using 33AH lead acid batteries as they are the only ones that we can daisy chain with our Goal Zero Yeti 400. I’ll definitely look into putting some type of plastic around/under the batteries.

      Mounting the batteries sideways would be super helpful and space saving, I’ll run the numbers and see if I can make them fit!

      The fridge has 1 inch of space on each side, and I plan to drill holes as well just not included in this design rendering.

      No need for the 120v plugs, as the Goal Zero has them already, I see what you’re saying with making extensions, but mostly when we charge items we keep them in the backseat area which is right next to the goal zero.

      I’ll look into the temperature controlled fan in the battery/pump area, I haven’t put a ton of thought into that compartment yet so I know it still needs to be cleaned up.

      I hear what you’re saying about the water quick disconnects, but I think you missed what I meant in that paragraph. The quick disconnects in the back are just there for simplicity for the water inlet, the outlet would be plumbed all the way to the rear hatch with another quick disconnect so we could use it out of the rear hatch area. The goal is to make the entire unit self-contained so we could remove it. That means unclipping unnecessary hoses.

      I appreciate your feedback! Keep it coming!

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