Sturdy, weather-proof overland 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 come down to your needs and your budget. Here, we’ll share our picks for the best overlanding cargo cases on the market and offer some criteria to consider when choosing one of the many options.
Pelican makes incredibly durable and watertight cases that are used by professionals of all stripes to protect expensive and sensitive gear, such as cameras and electronics. Pelican recently launched a line of vehicle-cargo cases, designed for rugged adventure.
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.
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 and will give you peace of mind. The cases run in the $200-$450 range.
Pelican Cargo Case Sizes
The cases range in size from 1.22 cubic feet to 6.92 cubic feet of internal storage.
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
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
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
Here’s Pelican’s propaganda video on the cases:
Plano Storage Trunk
The Plano Sportsman’s Trunk is another great budget option for overland storage boxes. Plano makes products for hunters and fishermen, and the Sportsman Trunk is designed to withstand the rigors of the backcountry.
While not water proof the cases come with a snug-fitting lid and heavy duty latches, and the lid can be locked with padlock. The cases are designed for stacking and have tie down extensions for securing them. The Plano cases also have two wheels on once side, which is handy for rolling them when fully loaded.
The Sportsman’s Trunks come in three sizes, with internal storage capacity of 108, 68 and 56 quarts, respectively.
Plano Sportsman’s Trunk Sizes
Internal volume: 108 gallons
Internal: 34.75 X 16 X 13.5 in
External: 37.19 X 18.25 X 14 in
Internal volume: 68 gallons
Internal: 26 X 11.25 X 11.25 in
External: 30 X 14.25 X 12.75 in
Internal volume: 56 gallons
Internal: 13 X 15 X 24 in
External: 20 X 12 X 11.5 in
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.
The ActionPackers 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.
Wolf Pack Dimensions
Internal volume: 8 gallons
External: 20.1 x 15.8 x 9.1 in
Internal: 17.7 x 17.7 x 8.1 in
If you are looking for something a bit more compact than the Wolf Pack, Frontrunner makes a smaller set of cases called the Cub Pack which are worth checking out.
Cub Pack Dimensions
Internal volume: 5 gallons
External: 17.3 X 12.4 x 8.3 in
Internal: 15.2 x 10.6 x 7.3 in
Zarges Standard Cases
Zarges makes aluminum cases that are designed to withstand extreme punishment. Along with the Pelican cases featured above, these are the durable and protective camping boxes on our list. They aren’t waterproof like the Pelican cases, but they are water and dust resistant, and arguable tougher when it comes to heat and sharp objects.
The cases come with cast-aluminum stacking corners, which makes them stay put when stacked. The aluminum frames are fully-welded and the joints riveted which makes them highly stable. The make their standard case in more than two dozen sizes.
Similar to the Pelican cases, these are a premium product that you probably only need if you are planning some serious overlanding trips. That said, these are the kinds of cases that you can purchase once they will last for many years.
To see all the models and current prices, visit the Zarges store on Amazon.
This promo video from Zarges shows a Grizzly going after one of their cases:
Choosing Overland Storage Boxes
Below are a few questions to ask yourself as you consider what overlanding cargo cases 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 it’s 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.
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Having a durable set of cargo containers will help you get organized and protect your gear. Hopefully, you found something that will suit your purposes highlighted above. It’s also important to make sure you don’t overload your vehicle with too much weight. For more information on that, check out our article on overlanding vehicle payload capacity.