Sturdy, weather-proof storage boxes are a must for long backcountry adventures. Whether you are on the trail or hanging out at camp, overlanding storage containers hold, organize, and protect your supplies and gear – all of the stuff outlined in our Essential Overlanding Gear Guide.
As with many things, your choices for an overlanding storage system comes down to your needs and your budget. Here, we’ll offer some criteria to consider when choosing one of the many options. We’ll also share our picks for some of the best camping boxes on the market.
Choosing Overland Storage Boxes
Below are a few questions to ask yourself as you consider what overlanding cargo boxes to choose.
How will you carry them?
Whatever storage system you use, it will have to fit inside your vehicle, be mounted to the outside, and/or be carried on a trailer. It’s important to consider in advance how you will fit your gear and passengers into your vehicle. One temptation is to put all the gear on top, but this can make your vehicle top-heavy and raise the risk of tipping over.
Some camping boxes are designed to stack, which is more stable and saves on space. Some containers have tie-down features, such as holes or groves, that help you securely fasten inside your vehicle or lash them to an external rack, whether its a roof rack, tow hitch rack, or an overlanding trailer.
More recently, companies have created storage systems where the containers fit into a rack system. These are a nice addition to the overlanding gear market. The downside is the high cost and that they only fit on certain vehicles.
Are they waterproof/weather resistant?
Truly waterproof camping boxes are expensive (see Pelican Cargo Cases below). That said, keeping your gear dry in wet weather can be priceless. Waterproof boxes are especially useful if you plan on carrying them on the outside of your vehicle and exposed to the elements or if you’ll be traveling in an especially wet climate. If you plan on carrying your overland storage cases inside your vehicle, and rain is less of an issue, you might be able to get away with a less watertight system.
Are they durable ?
Again, cost is a big factor here. Super-sturdy, professional-grade storage boxes cost a pretty penny. You can find much cheaper plastic boxes at Home Depot or other big-box retailers, but they won’t last long under rugged use. Maybe that’s okay for a time. You can always buy replacements, though having them break during a trip can be a hassle.
Our Picks for the Best Overland Storage Boxes
If you are just getting started Overlanding, you don’t need anything particularly fancy. Fake it ‘til you make it! Eventually, if you are doing enough overlanding, you will likely want to make a long-term investment in quality camping boxes. Below, we’ve listed our picks for overlanding storage solutions from least expensive to most expensive.
Rubbermaid wisely came to the realization that people were using their plastic bins for outdoor adventures and released the ActionPacker line, a purpose-designed collection of bins for camping and other outdoor activities. These are a solid option for a basic storage system for overlanding.
They come in four sizes: 48 gallons, 35 gallons, 24 gallons, and 8 gallons.The plastic bins nest together for easy stacking and have latches to hold the lids on. You can secure the lid closed with a padlock. Two 8-gallon containers will fit snuggly inside the 48-gallon box. They aren’t fully waterproof, but you can leave them outside in the rain or snow and the contents stay dry. The lid is double-walled and can support up to 100 pounds. The run in the $30 to $70 range depending on the size.
Internal volume: 8 gallons
Internal: 14 x 11 x 10 in
External: 26 x 18.3 x 17 in
Internal volume: 32 gallons
Internal: 20 x 14 x 15 in
External: 26 x 18.3 x 17 in
Internal volume:: 35 gallons
Internal: 31 x 16 x 14 in
External: 35.25 x 20 x 17.25 in
Internal volume: 48 gallons
Internal: 40 x 17 x 14 inches
External: 44. 25 x 20.625 x 17.25 in
Front Runner Wolf Packs
Front Runner Wolf Packs are popular overland storage boxes built by a company focused on the adventure vehicle market. They are made of durable high-density polyethelene (HDPE) plastic. They have sturdy clips to hold the lids closed, but they aren’t lockable.
While they are generally water-resistant, they have two small holes on the bottom, presumably to let spills drain. We like the look of these – they have more of a hardy expedition feel than the ActionPackers.
One advantage to the Wolf Packs is that they integrate with the Front Runner roof rack system and other accessories, including their Monsoon Bags, which are waterproof and dustproof. Another thing we like about the Wolf Packs is that they have various channels and corners that make it easier to lash them to a rack. They run around $40 each.
Internal volume: 8 gallons
External: 20.1 x 15.8 x 9.1 in
Internal: 17.7 x 17.7 x 8.1 in
Pelican Cargo Cases
If you’re looking for top-of-the-line storage boxes for overlanding, look no further than Pelican Cargo Cases. Pelican makes incredibly durable and watertight cases that are used by professionals of all stripes to keep safe expensive and sensitive gear, such as cameras and electronics. In early 2020, the company announced the release of its Cargo Cases line, featuring cases in eight sizes. They range in size from 1.22 cubic feet to 6.92 cubic feet of internal storage.
The cases have metal attachment points build in that are designed to pair with Pelicans for attaching to roof racks and truckbeds. When you use this feature, you can open the cases even when they are attached to the rack. Super handy.
These are bombproof cases that included a lifetime warranty. This kind of quality comes at a price, but they are designed to last many years. The cases run in the $200-$450 range.
Pelican Cargo Case Sizes
BX50 Cargo Case
Internal volume: 9.1 gallons
Internal: 13 × 12.3 × 13.3 in
External: 17.25 x 17.25 x 16.00 in
BX55S Cargo Case
Internal volume: 9.6 gallons
Internal: 32.38 x 8.00 x 8.52 in
External: 36.63 x 13.00 x 11.50 in
BX80 Cargo Case
Internal volume: 14.2 gallons
Internal: 20.75 x 12.25 x 13.25 in
External: 25.00 x 17.25 x 16.00 in
BX90R Cargo Case
Internal volume: 18.4 gallons
Internal: 32.38 x 15.00 x 8.75 in
External: 36.62 x 20.00 x 11.50 in
BX135 Cargo Case
Internal volume: 25.7 gallons
Internal: 36.80 x 12.25 x 13.20 in
External: 41.00 x 17.25 x 16.00 in
BX140R Cargo Case
Internal volume: 30.1 gallons
Internal: 41.75 x 19.00 x 8.75 in
External: 46.00 x 24.00 x 11.50 in
BX255 Cargo Case
Internal volume: 51.8 gallons
Internal: 42.80 x 16.25 x 17.20 in
External: 47 x 21.25 x 20 in
BX85S Cargo Case
Internal volume: 1.53 gallons
Internal: 51.75 x 8.00 x 8.52 in
External: 56.00 x 13.00 x 11.50 in