30 pounds of Crap in a 5lb sack!



As long as I’ve been with my dear sweet bride Maria, I’ve been going “down the shore” (Jersey speak for the beach) with her family every year to Ocean City, NJ.  And as long as I can remember, and no matter what vehicle I’ve ever owned. It has always been packed to the roof with food, and umbrellas, and coolers, and CRAP!  And while it makes our week long family vacation MUCH more comfortable having everything we own, it’s always difficult to get everything in the car to fit, both coming and going.  Luckily for my own sanity, I AM the master car packer!  I’ve been road tripping it with my family my entire life, so when it comes to packing 30lbs of crap in a 5lbs sack, I’m your guy!  I’ve never had a problem until this last year…

I am the proud owner of a Toyota Tacoma, It’s a pickup truck.  This is the truck we take on vacation, and two years ago I tried ordering a Tonneau cover for the bed of the truck to keep our stuff dry and out of sight.  I didn’t get it in time, but I installed it when we got home, and realized almost instantly it was well worth the money.  It keeps my stuff dry, and INSIDE the truck blasting down the Garden State Parkway.  Shown below, Extang’s BlackMax Tonneau cover.   If you’re a truck guy and want a cheap bed cover, this is the one for you.  It was $220, it has snaps which is a pain to close up when its cold, so I seal it up in the fall on a nice warm day and hopefully don’t have to open it till spring.  The only other problem has been my own fault; I left the back part of it open on route 80 with part of a handtruck popping out in the middle of the winter, and it torn apart at the seams a little.  Again, my fault, and voids warranty.  Now its not as weather proof as it once was, but still does its job for the most part.


Since our son Nikolas joined us last year, we had to forget about bringing the 6 bikes and everyone beach gear and everything in order to make room for pack & plays, and 2 strollers, and diaper bags, and bouncy seats and various other baby paraphernalia.  Everything barely fit, except my wife’s suitcase and our big rollie cooler.  I fixed that whole problem by borrowing my brother’s wire rack cargo carrier.  They run a couple hundred dollars, but they are fantastic.  They connect right into the tow hitch on your truck/SUV and can carry 200-400lbs depending on the model, and your vehicle specs.  I’ve seen people carry anything from a deer to a cooler, or luggage on the back of these things.  My brother uses it to carry one of his son’s 50cc dirt bikes out to our parent’s house in PA.

This all got me thinking last year when I was jamming our belongings under the bed cover on the truck, wishing and praying that everything my wife wants me to pack sitting in a tall pile on the driveway, will somehow fit.  “I NEED A BIGGER TRUCK NEXT YEAR BABE!”  We pulled into Ocean City, and it started pouring, CATS AND DOGS!  Everything under the tonneau cover stayed nice and dry, and everything on the hitch cargo carrier was soaked, but luckily it was only the coolers and CRAP, HER SUITCASE!

Since then I’ve been looking into my options, and short of buying an new truck, this is what’s available to extend your cargo carrying capacity, to keep everything dry and safe, instead of wet, and bouncing down the highway…

I don’t remember the name of the one my brother has, but it looks exactly like this one.


If you want one that will last, you’re gonna want to spend some money.  I’ve seen these flimsy things at Wal-Mart and Kmart, for like $60, and the thought of putting any kinda of load on it attached to a vehicle moving at highway speeds, scares the crap outta me!  Spend a couple hundred, and you’ll have one that will outlast your vehicle, and the one after that!  They make bags for these too to keep things dry.  The biggest problem is once you have it loaded, it’s impossible to get your back door or tailgate open!  You have to take everything back off, that’s where this next guy comes in.

This is a Stowaway2.

It’s like my brother’s carrier, but its weather proof, has 16 cubic feet of storage, and swings away from the back of the truck for easy access to the bed even when loaded with 200lbs of gear.  It’s a bit pricey at $600.  But its basically bulletproof and awesome.  They have a bunch of different models, this is one of their top of the line deals, but they start at a couple hundred.  The nice part about this is it gives you a ton of storage, and you don’t have to climb up on top of the vehicle to load it.  And this one swings away giving you access to the tailgate.

This is Cross-country model “Roof bag”  can be used without roof racks, its 100% waterproof, windproof, rain, and snow proof, tornado proof, zombie proof.  It’s like $100, and its 15ft of cargo space, can fit our suitcases, or all the smaller bags up on the roof, can be used with my truck or your car…  This is probably the best way to go, give us enough room to not squeeze everything in bed.  

this one is the Cross-country model.


A hard cargo carrier would be great because again, waterproof, impact resistant, weatherproof, and aerodynamic, but you need a roof rack, which my truck doesn’t have, and carrier alone would be $350-400.  Then I need to install a roof rack for another $100-150.  Doesn’t make sense unless I had an SUV right now.  But they are the ultimate in road tripping cargo space…

So for this year, I think I’ll want to go with the Soft roof carrier.  I need the room, with the bigger family, and I think I may be able to ditch one of the 2 strollers we bring when my wife isn’t looking, and cut down a little on my fishing stuff to make everything fit better…

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  • Jen

    We love our softshell carrier for the top of our mini-van.
    We were a family of 3 and when we adopted our baby in 2008, it added strollers, pack’n’plays, etc. We’ve had ours for almost 10 years and LOVE IT. Everything goes up but we ALWAYS put every item in a garbage bag to protect from any hard rainstorms. we’ve never had a problem and we’ve drove through some hard storms.
    We go to Florida every year and everyone packs ONE backpack with all their clothes. Then we have one bag with everyone’s shoes in them. We can get 7-9 days of clothes in one backpack per person per bag. The corduroy bags are the best. Then all those bags go up on top. I love to take my scrapbooking so I organize it into a rolling “backpack” suitcase and it goes up as well. This gives us more room INSIDE the mini-van.
    My husband used to put the strollers on bottom and everything else that’s soft on top.
    Hope you enjoy!

    • Bryan

      Hey Jen, thanks for dropping in, and thanks for the info!
      I think the soft top is what will work the best for us at this particular juncture. I don’t have a roof rack, so my options are limited on the old truck! I used to have a canoe I’d strap up there when i had the camper top that didn’t fit. The strap went around the roof and into the car. You closed the doors on them, and and hit the road! I’m glad it works out for you, and good to hear you’re happy with it. That makes the decision that much easier. I need to keep Maria’s suitcase somewhere it won’t get wet this year! Not strapped to the back of a pickup truck on the highway in a freak thunderstorm! I may have to put my tacklebox back there instead!
      Take care, and happy travels!

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