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Organize Your Adventures: A Review of the Dobinsons Rear Drawer System for Toyota 4Runner

Gone are the days of using giant storage totes to hold all of our camping and off road gear. Prior to adding our Dobinsons drawer unit, we were using tall and bulky bins, that would require us to dig through to find what we needed. On top of that they took up a majority of our rear cargo area and would be harder to stack items on top. We did our best to keep organized, but when things shuffled around inside the bins, everything would be harder to find.

Overland Drawer System Toyota 4Runner 5th Gen Dobinsons Drawer System

With no particular brand in mind, we began our research for a drawer system for the rear of our 5th Gen 4Runner. We bounced between the idea of building our own, or buying a name brand unit such as Goose Gear, Iron Man, Dobinsons, Boss StrongBox, etc. While the DIY route would save us a little bit of money, it would still require a several hundred dollar investment for wood and drawer slides. Man those things are pricey! Then you have to look at some features that you might be losing if you go the DIY route. For us, we probably would not have built a sliding fridge tray, or added locking handles. While we love projects, we felt that our woodworking skill was beginner at best. We also did not have the best tools to work with, and felt our craftsmanship would be lacking. In the end we opted to buy instead of build on this project.

Overland Drawer System Toyota 4Runner 5th Gen Dobinsons Drawer System

We started sifting through the options out on the market. Some we felt were too tall, and others were just way too expensive. Eventually we narrowed it down to a few favorites, and when we noticed Dobinsons was running a sale, we pulled the trigger. We managed to get a great deal and ordered the dual drawer system with the extra side wing pieces. With one of the shorter lead times, we had our delivery on the way in no time!

A few weeks later, we were out front accepting delivery of our system from the freight company! We wasted no time getting to work to get it put together. One thing we had heard about the drawer system is that it is a universal system with only the side wing kit being vehicle specific. This would lead to a lot of trial and error in getting the system fitted for our vehicle.

Overland Drawer System Toyota 4Runner 5th Gen Dobinsons Drawer System

Let's talk about the build quality. Dobinsons features a steel body, with heavy duty plywood panels fitted with marine grade carpet. On one side of the system is a built in fridge slide, which doubles as a top access pane to the drawer below. The drawer slides are built off a ball bearing system, and actually supported more weight than we would have been able to hold on any other system. 330LB drawer weight capacity! On top, they have 8 heavy duty spring loaded tie down points, perfect for securing any loads. The front locking latches are heavy duty, and give that promising click when they are locked in.

Overland Drawer System Toyota 4Runner 5th Gen Dobinsons Drawer System

We calculated the space differences between our previous storage bins and our new drawer system and it was nearly identical. This meant everything fit and we even had some room for extra items! It gave us another excuse to do a spring cleaning of our gear and to consolidate unneeded items. Before the drawers, if we were just going on a plain old camping or road trip, where we would not likely see trails, we would usually leave most of our recovery gear tote behind. Then I would realize that in the event I get a flat or stuck somewhere unexpected, all my tools were in the other bin. I could just take out some of the essentials, but where do we draw the line? For the extra little bit of space, it never hurts to be too prepared. With the drawers, everything is always with us. Now, we don't have any worries if we get stranded somewhere or have a roadside breakdown.

Overland Drawer System Toyota 4Runner 5th Gen Dobinsons Drawer System

Let's talk about some of the things we dislike about this system. First off, is the lack of locking drawer slides when extended. Although not necessary, after a few trips on some uneven surfaces we really wish they were available. We have since made our own DIY clips that will lock the drawers in the extended position. Second, the side wing kits are nice to have, but they really aren't the best fitting. Looking into the car from the rear, the front pieces on either side are off quite a bit and they leave you some carpet to kind of mimic a proper fit. I found that without anything behind it, as soon as you move it, it will fold in on itself. Not a big deal and maybe will consider finding a fix for it with a simple brace. Up top, not entirely a huge fan of the fitment with the removable piece as its a straight edge on the drawer and a curved corner on the car. Once again, small things but just things to keep in mind. Lastly on the front trim on the top platforms it looks like the edge trim was cut a little short and you have this odd gap where the carpet has already begun the fray. Not the most appealing thing, but hey it'll get beat down over time and that will be the least of my issues.

One of the biggest drawbacks to having a drawer system, is our gear is now loaded up in our rig full time. If we ever choose to take another car, we would have to transfer everything. Thankfully we are spending a lot more time in our 4Runner than our other vehicles, and have not had to do that yet. Another downside to any drawer system, is that all of your gear is with your vehicle. In the event of theft or a break in, it is at risk of being stolen. With our drawer system, they are lockable, but let's be honest, no lock is bulletproof. If someone really wanted to get into them, they could. For us, we have made sure to keep our rig as protected as possible through alarms and cameras, and always are aware of our vehicle/surroundings at all times.

Overland Drawer System Toyota 4Runner 5th Gen Dobinsons Drawer System

Installation difficulty will vary on a few factors. Having an extra set of hands is highly recommended and something I wish I had at the time. If you already have or are planning on adding a plate to the cargo area it will make your installation much more smoother. For us we had to get creative which took several tries to get it right. This meant installing and removing the drawer system multiple times. The instructions provided are not very clear and even the vehicle specific pages skim over a lot of useful points. Like many others who have installed their Dobinsons system, there is going to be leftover hardware that will leave you wondering if you did something wrong. Due to it being a universal kit, they at least give you plenty of extra hardware rather than not enough. Drilling will be required in most cases, so be prepared to tackle that.

Once the drawers are in, the complaints stop. I love these drawers, as it keeps our camp so much more organized and makes it quicker to get what you need. The size is just right for our needs, as we are able to fit everything inside from pots and pans to larger recovery items. It does not cut down too much of cargo space in the rear unlike some of the taller systems available.


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