5th Gen Mods, Accessories, Camping, Gear, Install, Off-Road, Overland

AJC Gear Plate – A Modular Rear Cargo Plate for the 5th Gen 4Runner – Review & Install

Updated 7/20/20 / Read Time: 8 mins

AJC Gear Plate for 5th Gen 4Runner with Sliding Cargo Tray

AJC Gear Plate for 5th Gen 4Runner with Sliding Cargo Tray

The cargo area of the 5th Gen 4Runner is an important area we rely on for storing our gear. This space dates back to the 1st Generation 4Runner and has been a long time pillar of what makes the 4Runner great.

We rely on the space in order to carry around our travel gear, recovery gear, every day carry, refrigerators, drawer systems, tools, beach toys, soccer balls, groceries, and everything in between.

The rear cargo area ranges from about 45 to 90 ft.³ depending on your model, which is quite a bit of storage area for all the activities that we like to enjoy. The interior storage height is 32 inches, the cargo length is 66 inches (when rear seats are folded down), and the wheel well width is 44 inches wide.

In order to maximize all of the storage space however, is sometimes a challenge. Depending on which model 4Runner you have will depend on exactly how much space you’re able to utilize.

Customize Your Cargo Space with the AJC Gear Plate

AJC Gear Plate for 5th Gen 4Runner

I wanted to go over the basics on how to maximize and utilize the cargo space in your 4Runner using a rear cargo area mounting plate, more specifically, the AJC Gear Plate.

Overview

Depending on your 4Runner, you will have a couple of options for mounting the AJC Gear Plate system. This system is compatible with the TRD Off-Road, Trail Premium, TRD Pro, SR5, base models, and they are currently working on a system for the 3rd row 4Runner.

For the cargo tray owners, you have two options; delete the cargo tray and mount a Gear Plate in its place, or mount a tray straight on top of your cargo slide tray. For non-slide tray owners, you simply bolt down the Gear Plate right over your carpet to the side tie-down points.

Currently times on the plate between one and two weeks.

Material

Made from the highest quality Baltic Birch wood right here in the USA – the AJC plate system comes with black 3MM thick line X and all hardware to install.

Slide System Options

The plate is pre-drilled and fully optioned to run multiple brands of refrigerators and refrigerator slide trays. From Dometic to Tembo tusk and even the Dobinsons drawer system, AJC provides just about every mounting point you might need to run popular cargo accessories.

All Dometic slides excluding the 95 and 100 and the Tembo Tusk Docking Station for their jumbo slides are compatible. All Goose Gear kitchens and drawers for the 5th gens will also directly bolt down to it as well. The plate system comes pre-assembled with t-nuts inserted from the bottom into every hole for a quick bolt-on installation of slide-out trays using 1/4″-20 thread bolts.

Install

The plate system is completely plug-and-play with no drilling and installs in under 5 minutes.

Find it online: 

AJC is actually making quite a few new options for their Gear Plate. There will be many really exciting options coming from AJC soon.

The Cargo Area Challenge

AJC Cargo Plate for 5th Gen 4Runner - Review & Install

My main challenge with the cargo area is tie-down points. Only having four real tie-down points on the sides of the cargo area (plus optional straps on the slide handles) doesn’t give us many options, and you lose the handles on the non-slide-tray models (base, SR5, and SR5P).

I have made due over the past 6 years, but without a good system, I still scratch my head on exactly how to organize the rear cargo area all the time. It’s never been perfect. Not for camping, not for the beach, not for day wheeling, not really for anything other than basic road-trip travel or a trip to the store. I have never found that “wow, this is a perfectly organized situation” and being overly type-A, I have pretty high expectations.

Now with the AJC gear plate and the US Cargo Control L-Track Bracket Mounting rails, you literally have an endless amount of mounting possibilities.

In order to get that perfect set-up, I think a modular plate design offers lots of versatility. Both for daily driving, day trips, and even full weeks at a time.

Cargo Tray or Cargo Tray Delete?

AJC Gear Plate 4Runner System (Cargo Plate)

I have the Trail Edition Premium which features a rear sliding cargo tray. When I first bought the 4Runner, I thought the cargo tray was pretty cool but in all honesty – we rarely use it. For the most part, my recovery gear and tools live in stationary storage boxes (like this Zarges Box), and although it works for storage, this prevents the cargo tray from sliding out. This is because when you slide the tray out, items can fall into the low section under the tray.

AJC gives you the option to run the Gear Plate on top of the slide-tray or delete the slide-tray. If you add the Gear Plate on top of your slide-tray, you get a flat stable surface that covers the entire surface area which means no more gear falling into the bottom section under the tray.

Deleting the tray? 

Deleting the cargo tray and running a plate system is a really popular option for many owners. Frank did a write-up last year on the Goose Gear plate system and I liked it a lot. I have always had my eye on the Goose Gear tray-delete system but at close to $500, I couldn’t justify it. I thought about building one multiple times, and then just got sidetracked with other projects.

We might delete the tray in our other 4Runner (Jade, the MGM) and run the AJC Gear Plate in its place to gain a little more height clearance. With deleting the tray, you will see an additional 2″+ in overall usable height space.

Cargo Area Storage Options

AJC Gear Plate 4Runner System (Cargo Plate)

Although there are many options for storage systems in the cargo area, the main systems I was looking at were a drawer system or a cargo plate. Let’s look at both the cargo plate and a drawer system and kind of compare these back to back.

Cargo area options

  • Floor mats
  • Drawer system
  • Stationary boxes and cases
  • Fridge/slide-out tray
  • Explore 4R Tray system
  • Sleeping platform
  • Plate system

Out of these options, I like the idea of either running a drawer system or a modular plate system given their unique functionalities and highly functional capabilities while maintaining a clean and organized cargo space.

Drawer Systems

BOSS StrongBox Custom Drawer System Step-By-Step Install and Review for the 5th Gen 4Runner

Drawer systems are nice because they contain all of your gear in one nice compact easy to access location and provide nice tie-down points. But, drawer systems also take up a lot of height and may prevent you from running or storing large items in the back of the cargo area.

Also, the main downside to running a drawer system is that it’s not easily removed. If you want to run something larger or throw something in the back of your 4Runner you can’t just pull your drawer system out in order to move something around. Finally, the last downside would be in a drawer system is the weight, they typically weigh a lot; 200-400lbs.

Even though I really like the idea of a drawer system and having tools/recovery gear super organized, there are downsides. The consistent weight load, loss of storage space, and the system not being modular.

Plate Systems & Tie-Down Points

Plate Systems & Tie-Down Points

Plate systems are completely modular, lightweight, and totally customizable. Given you have a design to accommodate many different accessories, the number of options you can run on a cargo plate are almost endless.

Plate systems take tiedown points in mounting locations to the next level.

You can literally create any different layout you want. Even if the plate system you buy doesn’t have a pre-drilled hole in the location you want, you can still add one by simply punching a hole and adding T-nuts and bolts.

Until now, I have never had such an organized system in the 4Runner. It’s beyond convenient to have an unlimited amount of anchor points.

Drawers and Kitchens? Yeah, Plates do that!

AJC Gear Plate - Camp Kitchen

The cool thing about plate systems is that they can accommodate almost anything a full-size drawer system can. From fridge slide outs to camp kitchens and even modular add-on drawer systems, cargo plates can do it all.

The best part about a plate system is that you can pull each one of these components off and out if you don’t need them.

Gear Plate Install

AJC gear plate for 5th gen 4Runner

It’s very simple. To summarize, pop up the two panels from the front on the OEM sliding tray, remove the two 12mm bolts that are 7” apart on each side, place the AJC Gear Plate down and insert the longer bolts provided. In case you want to see the install photos, take a look below.

Remove rear cargo tray bolt covers

Remove rear cargo tray bolt covers

Set rear cargo tray bolt covers to the side

Set rear cargo tray bolt covers to the side

Remove two front bolts

Remove two front bolts

Set the Gear Plate on top of the cargo tray

Set the gear plate on top of the cargo tray

Prepare for black bolts

Prepare for black bolts

Position bolts through gear plate

Position bolts through gear plate

Slowly lower gear plate into place

Slowly lower gear plate into place

Thread bolts into cargo tray

Thread bolts into cargo tray

That’s it – all finished

AJC Aiden James customs gear plate

Final Thoughts

I have been waiting for a company to drop a product like this for a while; affordable price-point and super customizable out of the box. AJC knocked it out of the park with this Gear Plate. This is going to be a great fit for so may 4Runner owners. From soccer moms to serious weekend warriors and hardcore rock crawlers the plate just offers a ton of flexibility.

The cargo area is one of the most important areas in our 4Runner and is the reason why I love this Gear Plate so much. I think the AJC Gear Plate takes the cargo space to the next level giving us so much more freedom and functionality to do what we want.

The price is great, the install is beyond simple and the end result is whatever you want it to be… which is the whole point. Customize this Gear Plate however you see fit.

This is a game-changer for the 5th Gen 4Runner and with all of the pre-drilled holes you can run a ton of different products. I know it’s just a piece of wood but I really am impressed. This is the kind of product that should have been a factory option straight from Toyota.

This will hopefully solve many of our mounting, and organization challenges in the cargo area of the 4Runner without spending a ton of money on a drawer system, for example.

Questions or Comments? Leave them below

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Vic
Vic
September 19, 2020 1:13 pm

Great article review Brenan! You have an awesome setup at your beach camp. You even brought the noodles! I’m curious, any photos on OEM cargo tray slide out with everything installed?

Vic
Vic
September 21, 2020 5:17 pm

Thanks Brenan for the quick reply. I have a few additional questions. You mentioned on your reply that the cargo tray can slide out with the AJC gear plate with the bungees/ratchet strap latched to the cargo tray handle. Just wondering why that is necessary since the Gear plate is bolted the cargo tray? How far back is the gear plate cut out where it meets the 2nd row seat? Is it flush to the end of the cargo tray or does it overhang on top of the middle under-compartment. If it covers it, could be accessed if the cargo… Read more »

Aaron Howard
Aaron Howard
August 13, 2020 9:14 am

I though it was HDP, didnt realize it was Baltic Birch ( aka cabinet wood)

Mac
Mac
August 13, 2020 9:25 am
Reply to  Aaron Howard

Yeah, High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) material is superior in every way.The cost for raw materials is also much higher. Probably the same thing Mountain Hatch uses in their “food grade” plastic cutting board. I just looked up a 4′ X 4′ sheet and the raw goods cost is $322. If any company is selling HDPE gear plates, they would likely be in the $500+ range. Would be cool though. I would rather have HDPE. Probably wouldn’t warp overtime from liquid spills, and generally speaking would last much longer.

Jason
Jason
August 10, 2020 2:41 pm

What fridge is that? Sorry for being a bit off topic, but nice writeup and photos.

Gus
Gus
August 10, 2020 12:03 pm

Thanks for the review and writeup – excellent job! I like have been trying to convince myself to install a plate system from Goose Gear but couldn’t justify the costs. This one looks more reasonable with the sale price. Can you describe how the back of the plate attaches – I have already removed my slide and noticed in their video they seem to be installing two tabs under the plastic next to the tie downs. Do they link to the tie downs some how?

thanks again!

Gus
Gus
August 10, 2020 3:30 pm

great, thanks – Let me know if you need someone to review it…. 😉

Miguel
Miguel
August 9, 2020 9:12 am

Brenan awesome write up as always 👍

Jason
Jason
August 6, 2020 12:39 pm

“Currently times on the plate between one and two weeks.” I ordered this plate (non-sliding version) back on June 10. Quoted lead times then were 1-2 weeks also. I still haven’t received. I reached out on July 1 for an update, and I was told that the CNC tech had been out, and they expected the next batch to be shipping ‘within two weeks’. I’m still waiting. Reached out again this week for an update and haven’t gotten a response. I want to like this product and business but they have really dropped the ball on transparency with their customers.… Read more »

Miguel
Miguel
August 9, 2020 9:05 am
Reply to  Jason

Typical AJC… great product idea(s) FOREVER lead times and always a “reason” why…smh

Miguel
Miguel
August 9, 2020 9:08 am
Reply to  Jason

Oh and I almost forgot…good luck reaching them 🤦🏻‍♂️

Jason
Jason
August 14, 2020 11:48 am
Reply to  Miguel

Finally got a response on 8/13 from my 8/2 email. Guess what? I got the same answer as before – expected to ship within the next two weeks. I don’t want to tell someone how to run their business but I wouldn’t run mine this way.

Miguel
Miguel
August 14, 2020 2:30 pm
Reply to  Jason

I’m sorry man 🙁 but I’m not surprised

Jason
Jason
August 14, 2020 2:31 pm
Reply to  Miguel

Thanks dude. I told them either promise delivery within two weeks or cancel my order. The saga continues…

Jason
Jason
September 11, 2020 1:50 pm
Reply to  Jason

It’s September 11th, and I still don’t have my gear plate. Just emailed them to cancel and refund my order. I’ve had my fill of their excuses. I’ll be going with Goose Gear.

I’d caution anyone to buy from these people. The website STILL says lead time 1-2 weeks, LMAO

Tim
Tim
August 9, 2020 9:14 am
Reply to  Jason

AJC has a well earned bad reputation in the community. He has been banned from the biggest 4Runner web sites, and many FB groups.

Aiden James Customs - Scott
Aiden James Customs - Scott
September 11, 2020 6:32 pm
Reply to  Jason

Hello. As per my communication with Jason several times, after this review came out, I was not prepared for the barrage of orders all at once, many that requested to add mounting options for fridge slides the template in the program did not currently have. Along with that, getting the spec sheets from the slide manufacturers was slow and/or never came so I pushed to get those specs any other way I could. This batch of plates was cut nearly 4 weeks ago and has been slowly coming out of LineX and orders being fulfilled in the order received. AJC… Read more »

drycreek
drycreek
July 22, 2020 10:21 am

So $350 for a piece of line x’ed plywood with some holes drilled in it is a good deal? Anyone could build this for less than $100.

DKse
DKse
July 21, 2020 8:51 pm

Are those new awnings?

Star
Star
August 11, 2020 8:52 am

And they are Pricey

William Galloway
William Galloway
July 20, 2020 5:40 pm

Awesome writeup! I’ve been eyeing this plate and debating fabricating my own. What are the cargo boxes in the cover photo? And are they bolted down to the plate?

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