Feature Friday: 7 Rear Cargo Area Storage Setups For 5th Gen 4Runner

4Runner Rear Cargo Overland Setup

Rear Cargo Storage Systems for the 5th Gen Toyota 4Runner: DIY To Aftermarket, Here Are Setups To Inspire Your Overland Build In 2022

This Week’s Topic: Rear Cargo Storage Systems

Welcome back to another Feature Friday! If you missed last week’s FF, we looked at Tire Swings & Spare Tire Carrier Setups. This week we will continue to showcase the rear end of the 4Runner, in the form of rear cargo area storage solutions, both DIY and aftermarket options.

We all know that the 5th Gen 4Runner is one of the best vehicles to purchase for anyone looking to build an adventure-ready rig.

The Toyota 4Runner doesn’t come from the Tahara Plant in Japan fully decked out with all the camping essentials, gear, and organization needed for a weekend trip in the mountains. That would be pretty awesome, but that’s not the case. Instead, the 4Runner comes as an excellent platform for any owner who wants to start building out their ultimate dream setup.

Since the 4Runner is a mid-size SUV, storage is very limited. The only storage space is behind the second-row seats. For that reason, many overland/camping setups revolve around this area.

I’m a huge fan of both DIY and buying only necessary items, versus spending money frivolously on things that will be used once. There are so many ways one can deck out the 4Runner’s cargo area, and you can only dial in your personal setup through trial and error.

Every build will differ based on the owner’s end goals. Below we have seven different rear cargo setups from basic DIY to the ultimate kitchen on wheels, including the kitchen sink!

Feel free to DM the owners on IG to ask more questions about their setup if needed.


1. Greg (@beer4r) – 2015 SR5

5th Gen 4Runner With DIY Drawer System & 75L Dometic Fridge

Rear Cargo Storage Key Items

  • Rago Fabrication MOLLE Panels
  • Home Depot DIY Drawer System
  • 75L Dometic Fridge

What Do You Like About Your Rear Cargo Area Setup?

Overland 5th Gen 4Runner Build With Dual Swing Out & DIY Storage Drawers

To start, I have the Rago Fabrication MOLLE rear window panels. On these, I store my lightweight accessories and extra bungees. Instead of purchasing the shelf that straddles the space between the panels, I built my own using some scrap hobby wood that I already had. On the shelf, I store all of the soft stuff: sleeping bags, pillows, a mat for the dogs, and a small camp chair.

Moving down is the drawer system, this is the Home Depot special, made by my good friend @t4pocalyptic for his own rig! A few years ago he wanted to take a different route so I purchased it from him. The rear-most portion is mostly the same as he left it. The left side is a sliding drawer that I keep cookware in. The right side is basically a cabinet where I store my Lifetime folding table and Coleman camp stove. My 75L Dometic fridge is mounted above that, and I also added rubber flooring to the top surface of the drawers to prevent items from shifting and making noise!

Where the rear seats used to be is a layer of plywood with rubber flooring so that my dogs have plenty of grip while riding in the back. I cut the plywood in half width-wise and installed door hinges on it. When the dogs aren’t loaded up I can fold the flooring up to access storage space in the rear seat footwells!

I’m traveling with two German Shepherds so I have to be very creative with space! We’ve traveled across the country with this setup and intend to go for it again! I’m also happy with the cost savings of buying used gear and modifying it or building it yourself from scratch. It’s definitely rough around the edges (no pun intended – I’ve received splinters from it a few times) but it adds character!

2. Tiffany Wang (@4xploration) – 2016 TRD Pro

5th Gen 4Runner With Goose Gear Ultimate Chef XL Package

Rear Cargo Storage Key Items

  • Goose Gear Ultimate Chef XL Package
  • 65L Dometic Fridge

What Do You Like About Your Rear Cargo Area Setup?

The cargo area of my vehicle is set up for cooking. The Camp Kitchen 2.4 houses a Dometic 65L fridge and a double burner cooktop. Each of these items has its own slide, allowing for easy access and movability. I store all my kitchenware in the double drawer module. Previously, I had two large storage bins filled with cookware. With the help of dividers in each drawer, I have maximized the use of this space

3. Dan Kaiser (@darkrunneroverland) – 2014 Limited

65L Smittybilt Arctic Freeze Fridge Mounted In 4Runner Cargo Area

Rear Cargo Storage Key Items

  • Custom DIY Drawer System
  • 65L Smittybilt Arctic Freeze Fridge
  • Orange Boxx Fabrication MOLLE Panels
  • Velox Off-Road Gullwing Window

What Do You Like About Your Rear Cargo Area Setup?

Velox Off-Road Gullwing Rear Quarter Panel Window & Storage For 5th Gen 4Runner

My rear cargo organization setup consists of a custom-made drawer system that incorporates 2 sets of 500lb drawer slides. This allows for a storage drawer (for tools) and a fridge platform (for Smittybilt Arctic Freeze 65L fridge, Viair 400 air compressor, and RTT ladder) to slide out independently of each other. Beneath this drawer setup, I removed half of the 3rd-row seats to allow for a 15-gallon water bladder storage system, complete with a water pump.

Along the rear passenger window, I have installed a MOLLE panel from Orange Boxx Fabrication. I use that to store my DRO Sidekick TP carrier, tire deflators, and a 2000W pure sine wave power inverter. On the other side of the panel, you’ll find my first aid kit, fire extinguisher, knife, and hatchet beneath the Velox Off-Road Gullwing window. From the rear hatch, I have mounted a Fiskars 28” axe, shop towels, and custom LEDs (amber, red and white) wired directly to my aux battery.

My whole rear cargo setup happened organically. I originally removed 1/2 of the 3rd-row seats and used the empty cavity to store tools and recovery gear. However, whenever I had anything in the trunk, I couldn’t access the storage compartment. So, I decided on a drawer system that doubled as a fridge slide and designed something based on multiple YouTube build videos.

With the empty cavity begging for attention, I found a 15-gallon water bladder would mold to the space allotted rather than trying to fit a rotomolded water container into the cavity. Then I simply utilized the remaining space to fit the other equipment I required. All these pieces still allow for the driver-side 3rd-row seat to be used when I have all 4 kiddos in the 4Runner.

Ultimately, I love the functionality of the setup despite the added weight and limited rear window visibility.

4. Zach S. (@overland_engineer) – 2015 TRD Pro

5th Gen 4Runner Overland Rear Storage Setup

Rear Cargo Storage Key Items

  • Custom Built Drawer System
  • Finn Fab MOLLE Panel System
  • Amazon MOLLE Panel Bags
  • Mini MOLLE Panel Bags

    What Do You Like About Your Rear Cargo Area Setup?

    Luno Life Air Mattress For 5th Gen 4Runner

    My first setup was amazing because I was always ready to camp. If I lived somewhere like Colorado where trails were 15 minutes away and I could easily go one night a weekend, I would still run my old setup.

    With summer projects in full effect, having my trunk space fully available has been amazing. I have taken the saddle bag approach to my MOLLE panels. They are more for storage than quick access. By buying larger MOLLE panel bags, I have been able to store almost all my non-camping gear, recovery, etc. on my MOLLE panels so it’s always with me but off of my WeatherTech mat.

    For the interim, I have been using a leveling platform (or dog kennel) to throw a mattress in the back. Another setup is probably in the works 🙂

    My new setup has pretty much everything from my original setup minus the DIY drawer system and memory foam TriFold mattress. I went for a more space-saving solution with the Luno Life air mattress.

    If you are interested though, I have gone into a lot more detail on my YouTube channel. You can find my whole rear cargo playlist here.

    5. Mark Moreno (@magic_marrkkk) – 2015 SR5

    Overland Wood Works Dual Drawer For 5th Gen Toyota 4Runner

    Rear Cargo Storage Key Items

    • Overland Wood Works Dual Drawer
    • 75L Dometic Fridge

    What Do You Like About Your Rear Cargo Area Setup?

    The 3rd-row was deleted and a custom dual drawer setup by @overlanderwoodworks was built to my specs. It accommodates my Dometic 75L refrigerator/freezer and 10 gallons of pressurized water.

    Before my current setup, I used storage bins from home depot to store my gear. Since my 4Runner is not my daily driver, I wanted to have all my gear secured and ready to go at all times. Having a custom storage system allows me to have everything organized and accessible. This makes setting up and taking down camp quick and easy.

    6. Gene Cho (@drty_t4r) – 2016 Trail

    5th Gen 4Runner Rear Cargo Drawer System & ARB Fridge Box/Mount

    Rear Cargo Storage Key Items

    • Goose Gear 60% Rear Seat Delete
    • 50QT Fridge Box
    • Rago Fabrication MOLLE Panels
    • Front Runner Wolfpack Storage

    What Do You Like About Your Rear Cargo Area Setup?

    Versatility is the number one benefit of this system. You can have a full or partial platform, take out the fridge box and add another drawer, and so forth.

    It also provides a good amount of storage underneath the platform where the seats used to be, and an easy access latch. The bed setup is a also breeze. I just remove any storage boxes and roll the sleeping pad out. The Rago MOLLE panels house essential camping and emergency gear. Dry foods and additional gear are stored in Front Runner Wolfpacks as needed, and essential/recovery gear lives in the drawer.

    7. Thaddeus Bender (@tadbitoflife) – 2018 TRD ORP

    5th Gen 4Runner Water Fording With Open Rear Hatch

    Rear Cargo Storage Key Items

    • Velox Off-Road Gullwing Window
    • Rago Fabrication MOLLE Panels & Shelf
    • Dobinsons Drawers w/o Wings
    • ARB Elements Fridge

    What Do You Like About Your Rear Cargo Area Setup?

    I started my cargo upgrades with a drawer system from Dobinsons which is a pretty basic steel framed box with 2 drawers and a slide. This allowed me to put tools on one side and dry food/ camp items on the other side and immediately support a fridge system. The non-slide side still comes with built-in tie downs which allowed me to find six storage bins on Amazon that stack together well and are easy to tie down. These keep gear separate from vehicle liquids, pet gear, camp games, etc.

    The Rago panels and shelf were a no-brainer for me and serve a number of uses such as strapping smaller items (headlamps, hoses, etc.) to the sides. The shelf stores my camp table, ladder, pillows, blankets, etc.

    The Velox Gullwings were installed to provide access to the other side of the Rago MOLLE panels and I generally use this space for air hoses and other frequent camp items.

    Likes: Every trip load out is different depending on kids, pets, duration, location, and time of year. This setup has allowed me to be very flexible with a lot of load-out options. The longest I’ve gone without restocking the rear was a 10-day trip through Colorado’s San Juan Mountains and then up to Oregon.

    Dislikes: The drawer system leaves a lot to be desired from the quality of design to the lack of features (multi-position drawer locks, dividers, better vehicle compatibility). However, they serve the basic functionality required of them.

    Additionally, the gull wings were intended to expand the effectiveness of my MOLLE panels while creating more functionality around the vehicle. While they technically do that, the MOLLE panels are so close to the rear window, you don’t get that much useable space (maybe ~3-4 inches). This limits your storage options and the latch mechanism takes up a great deal of those precious 3-4 in. to function. Oh, and they are crazy expensive!

    I’ve developed this setup over many years and on multiple platforms, and I am happy with the functionality and diversity that comes with my rear setup.

    Final Thoughts

    5th Gen 4Runner Rear Cargo Kitchen Camping Setup For Overlanding

    Holy smokes! Are you freaking pumped to go camping now or what!? Admittedly, my 4Runner is the dog mobile. Whenever we have to take our dogs somewhere, it is in the 4Runner with the rear window down so they can enjoy the breeze. However, this week’s Feature Friday really has me looking at DIY setups and considering turning the rear end of my 4Runner into a mobile kitchen on wheels. Ugh, I really need to move.

    We want readers to get inspired by a variety of rigs/products. Submit your build for Feature Friday here to get featured. Next week we will be showcasing 1/2 Length Roof Racks. If you would like to submit your build for next week, include your setup details and an awesome photo that shows it off.

    Have a great weekend everyone!

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    1 month ago

    Alright, I’ll bite. What’s the context behind #7? Seems like an odd photo to use.

    1 month ago
    Reply to  mike

    How to destroy your investment in one photo. ECU is toast.

    1 month ago
    Reply to  mike

    How does this even happen. Did he forget the hatch was open or was he sending it for the gram?? This guy needs to chime in…

    1 month ago
    Reply to  mike

    I love that THIS is the “high resolution” picture they threw in there! So many questions!

    1 month ago
    Reply to  mike

    i was wondering the same.

    Questions or Comments? x