Field Tested: Alubox

It’s a constant conundrum—how to stash, store, and keep track of gear in an overlanding vehicle. Not to mention keeping fragile equipment dry, dust-free and, hopefully, not crushed by the other fragile equipment crammed into small spaces.

My wife and I selected a Toyota Tacoma Double Cab Short Bed as our overlanding platform because we wanted the ability to travel quickly over rough terrain and to navigate tight, technical trails during our off-road forays. The little truck meets these criteria quite well but where do we put all the stuff? There are only so many nooks and crannies, and with a 60-inch bed, there isn’t much room for non-essentials. The evolution of our gear management has seen us use everything from cardboard boxes to Pelican-style cases, Tupperware to Walmart storage totes. All represent a compromise of protection, strength, weight, and economy of space utilization. Meanwhile, we had been eyeing those shiny aluminum boxes we’d seen on a few serious overlanding rigs, the ones that look like something a scientist would use to carry sensitive research instruments or biohazard samples. We learned that they are actually not so rare among overlanders in the know.

Alu-Box is a small, family-owned company based in Denmark and marketed in the U.S. by Equipt Expedition Outfitters. Their boxes are used worldwide for anything requiring tight, reliable storage and transport. Manufactured from AW 5754 aluminum, the characteristics of this alloy combination offer an extraordinary balance of strength, malleability, and resistance to corrosion.

We selected four boxes for our truck, two 67L (23”L x 23”W x 9.5”H) to go above the cab on our BajaRack, and a 134L (34”L x 19”W x 15.5”H) and 157L (31”L x 23”W x 16” H) to nest in the bed behind our 30-gallon onboard water tank. They seal up airtight with a high-quality rubber gasket around the perimeter of each box and weigh a scant 11-15 pounds for most mid-sized boxes. The fold-over design of the lid adds another level of water protection. Lockable cam-lock latches snug the lid down tight and cast aluminum lugs protect each corner and allow equally sized boxes to nest without sliding around when stacked. Joints are sealed with silicone, and strong, extruded aluminum rims protect the edges from contact damage. Their vertical sides and square design maximize space utilization as compared to Pelican’s thick and rounded sides. The aluminum is subject to dents but can be easily straightened.

Accessories are available for interior organization, as are cutting boards and Baltic Birch tops to facilitate using the boxes for sitting or as tabletops. And, a rooftop mounting system is available for some sizes.

To protect the contents, I lined our Alu-Boxes with 5/16-inch-thick rubber matting from Harbor Freight; however, Alu-Box offers a lining option as well. The result is a strong, lightweight, and nice-looking storage solution that is easy to remove when the truck is needed for duties other than overlanding. The Alu-Boxes can be used to store our gear at home too, safe from vermin and other destructive elements.

Prices vary by size. Our selections were:

  • 67L $295
  • 134L $360
  • 157L $360

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Bill Dragoo is the founder of D.A.R.T. (Dragoo Adventure Rider Training), a certified flight instructor, commercial seaplane and sailplane pilot, skydiver, scuba diver, overlander, and adventure journalist. Always game for a challenge, Bill has won numerous competitions in motocross, cross-country mountain biking, and sailboat racing. In 2010 he represented Team USA in BMW’s GS Trophy competition in South Africa, Swaziland, and Mozambique. Bill and his wife, Susan, love to explore the American West and beyond by motorcycle and in their purpose-built Gen 5 Toyota 4 Runner as they research historic trails and traditions. He is quick to tell anyone that the synergy between overlanding, riding, and writing has opened doors he would never have imagined as a younger man.