" Weight is the enemy, space is a premium "

Is less more? Why downsizing can the be right solution

The space in my trunk where a great big footlocker containing all my camping gear, tools, and other equipment now sits empty.

Actually, I can’t remember the last time my trunk was empty that thing was always in there.

Removing the foot locker was a difficult decision. Throughout my childhood, this same footlocker, packed with everything we ever needed for an impromptu road trip or occasional breakdown had been there.

In those days, my mom was always carting my little brother Morgan and me around dirt tracks searching for wildflowers and other plants for her various projects. She took us everywhere, and everywhere we went we always carried that footlocker.

Now, the foot locker and its contents are strewn across our spare bedroom. “I’m destroying the house,” Niecie says. I call it downsizing.

Over the last year, I’ve become increasingly aware of how impractical the foot locker is.

It was great for keeping everything organized and in one place, but getting to anything often mean pulling the whole out of the Jeep. Given that, when fully laden, the whole thing weighed 50-70 pounds this wasn’t any easy task.

At the end of the day, my beloved footlocker wasn’t practical and it had to go.


Drawer prototype render downsizing

A simple sliding drawer system will replace my time-tested but impractical footlocker

As I mentioned in a recent Project Wrangler post a few weeks back, I plan to build a custom sliding drawer system to replace the foot locker.

I haven’t finalized my design yet, what I can say is it will be a single drawer design between 8 and 9 inches deep. This is partially due to how much the subwoofer on the Jeep projects into the opening of the tailgate.

I haven’t finalized my design yet because I don’t want to put hours of work into fabricating a drawer system that can’t fit my gear.

The drawer itself it will have quite a bit less space than the footlocker, which measured roughly 35x24x8-inches in volume.

Because I’m going to have less space, I’ve some tough choices to make. What goes and what stays.

This means getting rid of any unnecessary tools and equipment.


Over the next few weeks, I plan to reduce the amount of unneeded equipment I carry to a minimum.

There is no point in wasting a bunch of space on tools I’ll never use. I’ll also be looking at other ways to make accessing the equipment I do need faster and easier.

Once I’ve completed this I’ll compile a complete list of equipment.

General Breakdown

  • Tools – everything I’ll need to keep the Jeep running and nothing more.
  • Gally – cooking gear and food storage
  • First Aid / Trauma – bandages, CPR, pain, etc…
  • Recovery / Safety – fire extinguisher, snatch straps, recovery boards, jacks, etc…
  • Camp Convenience – camp chairs and the like. Everything I need to make the journey more livable.
  • Misc – anything that doesn’t fit into one of the other categories.

Further Reading

Interested in overlanding? You might enjoy these posts too.

Please comment and share

So tell us in the comments section:

  • How do you decide what equipment to carry and what to leave behind
  • What do you consider the most important equipment in your rig?
  • What do you keep in your tool, first aid or mess kit?

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  • Boots on the Trail

    That footlocker is like a childhood stuffed animal – much beloved (and needed) in its day but now past its sell-by date. But don’t get rid of it if you don’t have too – pass it along, make it a family heirloom (along with the stories that go with it). As for what to take/leave, I’d suggest reordering your prioritization list like this: First Aid / Trauma, Tools, Recovery / Safety, Gally, Camp Convenience. If something ends-up in “Misc” you probably don’t really need it…

    February 3, 2017 - 6:58 pm Reply
    • tobiasmann

      Yeah, it kind of is like a stuffed animal. I think I’ll load it up with essential supplies and return it to my father. He can put to use in the back of his truck. It lived there for many years. I’m sure it will get plenty of use.

      I might have clarified that first aid was never something of less importance than tools. I have a very well equipped first aid kid. That won’t be downsized, but rather rebuilt and relocated. I am considering keeping two kits. The first a smaller but easy to access (as in from any of the seats) trauma kit, and another larger general purpose first aid kit packed in an easily accessible place in the trunk.

      Tools are going first on the downsize list because I have more than I can use and are practical. I have SAE (imperial) sockets and wrenches in a vehicle that exclusively uses metric nuts and bolts.

      You’re probably right about anything in the Misc category being unnecessary.

      Speaking of hiking, which seems to more up your alley, I have a piece about a snowshoeing attempt from a few weeks back that Niecie has written up scheduled for next week, and a post about hiking in Phoenix the week after.

      February 3, 2017 - 10:30 pm Reply
  • One man and his Mustang

    I have a skeleton set of tools in my trunk. Spanners, rather screwdriver with multiple bits, a spare leng5h of electrical wire, a selection of fuses, lug nut socket and lever, jack, water, oil, portable li-on jump start battery, a few cleaning, cloths, and something I don’t see you mention a good led torch. Anything more than that I have big trouble anyway. Difficult decisions to downsize. As I go to car shows I also carry copious amounts of cleaning and wax products with microfiber cloths.

    February 4, 2017 - 12:54 am Reply
  • usathroughoureyes

    Great thoughts. We are learning these answers with each adventure.

    February 4, 2017 - 9:09 am Reply

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