RV Sliding Storage and Cargo Trays

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May 31, 2009

Storage can be a problem with some RVs. Just where do you put all the “stuff” you think you need for that long weekend of camping? Most of us don’t pay much attention to all the things we store in our RV because we just might need that certain something someday. While some things are obviously important, like basic tools, WD40, food, clothing, the dog, etc., some things we could well leave behind. But if you must take everything but the kitchen sink (RVs already have those) with you, then storing it in a convenient place is going be high on your list. Adding storage and cargo trays to your RV can make all the difference on whether you have to dig through your stuff or just slide it out and it’s there in front of you.

You have many choices when it comes to adding cargo trays. Some RVs, such as class A’s and C’s already have sliding cargo trays from the factory either as an option or because that’s how they come. These types of RVs make it easy to add more trays because they tend to offer more storage capacity in terms of both weight and storage areas. Some larger 5th wheels also have good sized storage areas and can greatly improve storage organization by adding a full length cargo tray. Since 5th wheels generally have access to the same front storage compartment from each side of the RV, the sliding storage tray can slide out from either side. This is very convenient. You can store things you use more often on the curb side of the RV and the other stuff on the street side.

Travel trailers are a different story however. There is more freedom for the RV manufacturer in terms of floor plans, which can limit external storage options. Most travel trailers that have a front bedroom will have a pass-through storage area that extends from one side of the TT to the other passing under the bed. This is a great place to add a cargo tray and some TT brands do offer a plastic sliding storage tray as an option. These trays however are a bit bulky and take up a lot of storage space themselves. This is where you can build your own sliding tray that will provide much more room for your stuff.

Since I work in the computer world, I have access to server hardware that gets recycled after their end of life. The rails that are used on some servers are perfect for an RV sliding storage tray. Two rails can support up to 300 lbs., more than enough for most storage needs. I used these rails (see picture above) to build a 2 foot by 4 foot tray using plywood as the base. I had some extra plastic drawers laying around and I was able to bolt 3 of them to the plywood floor. As you can see, I can store a lot of stuff I use everytime I go out camping. I have 2 more rails in the garage that whisper to me as I walk past them, begging me to install them on the other side of my TT’s pass-through. They will have to wait for another time though.

There are some other options as well, like using a sliding tray to mount your batteries on. If your batteries are mounted in a compartment, or if you have added more batteries, then having the ability to slide them out for maintenance is a must do mod. Several manufacturers, like Kwikee Slide, make sliding trays specifically for this application. The trays can hold up to 4 batteries, perfect for that 6-volt battery upgrade you’ve been dying to do.

Moving to the inside of your RV, there are some sliding tray options here too. If you have a dinette with bench seats, chances are there is enough room inside of them to house a cargo tray. Although you can’t store tall items if you go this route, it sure beats having to remove the seat cushions everytime you want to get to some of your stuff. Just open the door at the end of the dinette and slide the tray out. Sliding rails for this application are more common and can be found at most any home improvement store.

Have you done this mod? Please share your comments about what you did and how you did it!

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  1. Mark Corgan

    @John: Why so much anger? Who said anything about adding a Joey type slide? This article is about adding storage trays to RVs. Each RV owner can judge whether a particular storage tray is suited to his/her RV. My TT has about 2200 lbs of CCC. The slide pictured above is the one I built in that TT. It, along with the contents of the storage bins, equals 200, leaving me with plenty of CCC left for my needs. And where is that Tupperware in my rig? I could use it to store some food…

    @Gary Rosa: I did the same thing with the plastic storage bins for a while but got a little tired of taking out the bins in the middle. It always seemed like what I needed was in the middle two bins no matter how I organized them! Besides, I had a few extra slides laying around and needed to do some kind of mod to the TT. It had been a while. 😉

  2. Gary Rosa

    Our travel trailer has a compartment that runs from side to site with access doors at each end. This compartment, like most, has a vynle floor. What we have done is to buy plastic storage bins with lids that are as large as the compartment door will allow. Four of these bins almost fit the width of the trailer exactly so all we do is to allow one bin to be pushed towards the middle of the trailer as the next is shoved in. To retrieve the middle bins I simply hook the handle with my awning pull rod and slide it to me. Some of these bins available at home improvement stores and K-Mart even have wheels on them…makeing them slide easily.

  3. John

    I’d laugh if it wasn’t so sad. Most of your average Stick and Staple, Plastic Palace Fire Traps have less than 2000lbs cargo capacity before they leave the lot and this article is talking about adding Joey Bed type slides. Give me a break. In addition to their minimal cargo carrying capacity this article would have you tag on cantilever weight to a system that already hangs off whatever frame (or sadly unibody ).In many cases all you have to do is look in their Tupperware bays and read the load limit. Many of them are nothing but plastic bins (speaks to the rest of the rig)

  4. Bill i carry all kind’s of medical supply’s even a Field surgical Kit’, Lawn-chair’s a 250 Guad-runner, Fishing Pole’s & Tackle-Box’s Shotgun’s 10 gauage with rifled Deer barrel for Bear in the State Park’s & Primitive campground’s Those Big-ass 10 Guage Deer slug’s will Break a Black-bear’s charge real Quick with a shoulder shot Then finish Him Off! got one beer claw nceklass! Not looking for trouble but it sneak’s up on me ocasionally! Rick Vogel U.S.Army Retired!

  5. Love my slide our Deep-Freeae & Refigrator Combination. it’s Great I stock-up at Military base’s and it will last me a long Time also appreicate my 42″ sanyo out side under the awning with my 6 stack cd player Y the B.B.Q. Grill! & My Floor Safe where i keep my Travlier’s Check’s! Can’t beat it Storage out the ying-yang on theat 41 footer! Rick Vogel U.S.Army Retired Traveling on Tax-Free, Money! Can’t Beat That! Heeee!

  6. Bill Andersen

    Whatever I get next will have sliding trays in the larger outside compartments for convenience.
    Our C compartments aren’t big enough to worry about.
    But, we just don’t haul that much stuff: we don’t even fill up the compartments.