MSA: How to pack your 4×4 Drawers

Drawer Systems are a great addition to any touring 4WD to keep weight down low to avoid lifting your center of gravity. But how should you organise them?

The Right Drawer System

To start, ensure you choose a drawer system that fits your needs and consider how you might use them. Most drawer systems are available in single and double drawer configurations, as well as multiple lengths to suit utes and wagons.
Below are some additional considerations when selecting the right drawer system for you;

ADR Crash Test Certification

A load of cargo carried inside the vehicle can weigh 20 – 30 times their own static weight during impact, which is capable of causing severe bodily injuries or even death to vehicle occupants. Select a drawer system that has been crash tested to enable you to safely carry a comfortable load and ensure that your vehicle occupants are safe in the event of an accident.


Crash Tested Cargo Barrier Mount Points and Child Restraint Points

If you’re looking for a set of drawers for a wagon, and are thinking about adding a cargo barrier, it’s important to ensure that crash tested cargo barrier mount points are included. It’s the same if you require child restraint points, as having these anchorages on the back of a drawer system mean that they are sitting higher up on the drawer, and no longer bolted to the manufacturer’s approved safety anchor points, with new angles of force and tension. You need the peace of mind that they are operating as per the ADR of your vehicle, and most importantly keeping the family safe from harm.


Warranty & Installation

After sales support and warranty is an important consideration when purchasing any new product. Does the drawer system offer the bare basic consumer guarantee, or does the company stand behind their product with a longer warranty period? Are you ordering online with the expectation that a third-party business will install it for you? It’s always worth checking first that your preferred installer will be happy with this scenario as they will only likely be able to provide a warranty on their installation.


Comparing Apples with Apples

With so many different 4WD Drawer Systems available in the market, it’s important that you are comparing apples with apples. Every product exists to cater to a specific target audience, so make sure you’ve done your research and have taken into account all the relevant features being offered by the various drawer systems to identify the one that best suits your needs.


Pack for Easy Access and Weight Distribution

The practicality and safety of a fully tested drawer system is that when you pack it, it stays where you put it; it doesn’t bounce around and it’s not coming through the rear window of your ute, or over the rear seats of your wagon.
Try to displace your heavy items in the vehicle drawers evenly; having long drawers with full extension allows you to place your heavier, bulky items as well as items that you use infrequently, back over your axle, which helps with bounce on the tracks.
Below are some basic essentials to consider packing inside your drawers so that you can access them quickly and easily when you arrive at your site:

  • Spare set of clothes (Check the weather forecast so that you know if it’s going to be cold and wet or hot and muggy, to help with your clothing choices!)
  • Toilet paper, soap, shampoo, toothpaste and toothbrush, deodorant and other important toiletries you may need
  • Towels
  • Sleeping bag
  • Snacks and chocolate
  • Cooking equipment


First Aid and Safety Gear at the Ready

Apart from your everyday essentials, don’t forget to pack your first aid kit and safety gear within easy access in case of an emergency:

  • Fire extinguisher
  • First aid kit & Medication
  • Maps (If you’re running a GPS, a physical printed map in the vehicle can act as a safety backup)
  • Torch (with new batteries)
  • Matches and fire starters (lighters)
  • Quality rope (or tie downs)
  • Sunscreen & Hats
  • Insect repellent
  • Tools & any spare parts
  • Quality rated recovery gear such as shackles, pulleys, snatch straps, winch extension & tree trunk protectors
  • Bottled water and non-perishable food such as a couple of tins of baked beans are a great back up in case you get stranded and are away for longer than expected


Use Containers and Canvas Organisers

To organise your drawer system, use containers so your potatoes don’t end up as mash and your shampoo doesn’t spill all over your chocolate!

It is best to organise like items together, such as vegetables, so they store well and are easy to find. Keeping food items together makes it easier to pull out the relevant containers/bags when you need them.

Consider Weight

Understand your vehicle’s GVM. Gross Vehicle Mass is the maximum weight that a vehicle can carry including its own weight, and is crucial to the safe and efficient operation of a vehicle. When you are packing your internal drawers, you will need to consider how much weight you are putting into them to avoid over packing.


Be ruthless with what you can pack and follow the ‘less is more’ rule. There is a tendency for newbies to over load their drawers with everything they can think of. Remember, there are going to be local shops in most towns and stops along the way if you find you need something or need to restock your food.
If you are travelling in a group, the easiest way to reduce weight would be to share equipment such as camp ovens and tools. Before you trip, create a list of items you will be able to share and allocate one or two vehicles to carry them.
A little planning beforehand can save you from carrying unnecessary weight.

Download MSA’s Packing Checklist