We have been using our simple plywood platform and Rubbermaid totes for the last 10 months on the road.  This worked fine (for the $60 it costs us) most of the time, but sometimes it got totally out of control organization-wise and nothing was ever easy to access.  Also, we realized that sometimes we really don’t want to haul everything out of the back of the truck just to make a snack or find the stove to brew some coffee.  Most of all though, we will need a place to sleep  indoors due to the very windy weather that Patagonia is famous for.


After 10 months on the road we looked at the ARB Outback Solutions drawers and ARB Fridge Slide, but had trouble finding anybody in Ecuador that had anything in stock or were willing to give us a quote.

This made it easy to move to the next option.  The plan was to have a local carpenter build us a drawer and sleeping platform.  At $25/day for skilled labor we thought that Ecuador was the best option for this. Well, the first carpenter came back with a quote of $950 and a two-week build time.  Umm… WTF. Obviously that wasn’t in our budget.  I don’t know what he was planning on building, but it better have been freaking amazing.

We were forced to move onto the third option, which ended up being the best and only option for us.  It was time to build this junk ourselves.  Luckily we were in Ibarra, Ecuador where we found a plywood store that could cut out the pieces we needed.  I sketched a quick design and gave them a list of pieces we needed cut.  We had a day to wait before picking them up so we went to the hardware store.  Since I brought my 18V DeWalt drill we just needed to pick up a pile of woodscrews, hinges, and some glue.  The hardware store also happened to have some heavy-duty drawer slides we could use as a fridge slide.  Sweet.


We wanted to have the main drawer on slides of some sort so we bought rails (1.5”x1.5”x1mm square tube) to mount to the drawer and 12 heavy-duty casters for those to ride on.  The following day we picked up all of our 15mm (5/8”) plywood and then started by tearing out all of the old stuff from the bed.  After a quick sweep of 25,000km of dirt from the bed we started piecing together the jigsaw puzzle.

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Now we have a nice low sleeping platform for when the wind is too strong for us to pop the rooftop tent. The 6ft drawer slides out nicely and we can access the necessary items without hassle. Also, Ashley can now actually see inside of the fridge by pulling it out to the edge of the tailgate.  Not too shabby for less than $200 and a day and a half of work in a campground in Ecuador 😉

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  • Graham

    Richard and Ashley, love this article. Very neat solution, practical and cheap solution. The cabinet casters to support a heavy draw is a genius master stroke idea! Enjoying the blog on your travels

    Kind regards
    Graham and Angela

  • Puffy

    So Impressed! Would definitely have taken me longer despite working in my garage with a full set of tools………..although I do tend to over-complicate things

  • Rhonda

    Love the sliding drawer and the ingenuity… I think you’ll be enjoying that sleeping platform high in the Andes and in the Patagonian winds.

  • Maria

    Looks good! I love how organized everything looks!

  • T&J

    sometimes it is better to get going by yourself!
    Often one does wait for the best solution to be implemented by somebody else. At a price!
    This drawer looks good!
    And with the limited space in the back it will stay cosy when the Patagonian winds are howling!
    Hasta Luego & Hamba kahle


  • Luke Ratliff

    Loks great! Did you guys bolt the drawer system to the bed? Also does the drawer need legs when pulled out? I ask because I’m building one for our trip!

    • Rich and Ash

      The drawer isn’t bolted down. The drawer can be pulled out about 4.5ft and doesn’t need legs when pulled out. At that point it’s resting on the last two casters and seems to hold up just fine. 🙂

      • Hunter E

        Looks Great! I would think about painting the whole system with a desk sealant or something to keep moisture off the wood(even if it’s treated, it will help with warping) Also maybe seal the seams of the drawer with the exception of a couple of small holes/plugs to drain water that might get in the drawer when slid out in the rain?

        Great Idea and execution.

  • Harley and Helen deBruyckere

    Great job you two! Love your blog.
    Stay safe and enjoy the rest of your amazing journey!
    Stay safe and many hugs!
    Helen and Harley

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