Categories
Outdoors

Long Term Review of DECKED And New Truck Install

I removed the DECKED drawer system that was in my 2016 Ford F-150 and into the 2021 version. I wanted to share my journey to remove and install into the new truck and my overall review of the product after 3 winters in Canada.

I refer to the design change for F150 tie down that DECKED support was able to help me out when I ran into an issue with rust. The new tie down or bracket to j-hook the front is a big improvement and will extend the life of your investment when you change over model years on your truck.

Since the truck bed of the F150 did not change between the 2016 and 2021, I simply had to remove the DECKED as per their video. My only problem occurred with how the front brackets were designed. You see the front tie-down of the 2016 F150 is higher than the back, and DECKED provided hardware where you needed to replace the OEM tie down and replace it with an angle bracket which then screwed under the front ammo cans. The Tacoma also had a similar hardware bracket.

When I was removing the DECKED, one of the bolts that screwed into the bracket had rusted and seized. I ended up snapping the bolt and eventually had to remove the entire DECKED. A quick exchange with DECKED support got me the new updated J-hook and I was back in action.

You really do need some help when handling each side of the DECKED. I ended up using a drill to help speed up the work. I made sure that the clutch setting was low to not overturn the bolts.

The only other areas of rust I noticed was one bolt that attached the rear ammo can and the spring associated with the handle to open a drawer. I sprayed some lubricant on these areas including the bolts to the j-hooks.

One thing you will notice when removing a DECKED after a few years in a truck bed is the amount of foliage that ends up at the head of the truck bed.

Hauling Tall Stuff?

My main recommendation is that if you haul tall items that will tip over, get a headache rack, or back-rack to secure your load. It’s the best low cost, no drill option you can get that looks great on your truck but is actually useful.

The main reason for this is the fact that the DECKED will decrease your truck bed depth by 12 inches, meaning that anything taller than a moving box or bin will be prone to tipping over. I’m thinking water heater, fridge, oven, etc.. In my 2016 F150 my back-rack was a very handy accessory to have. I did not install it on my 2021 as I’ve added a utility trailer to my arsenal.

Loading Heavy Stuff?

For those who work in trades and need to haul heavy items, this may not be the right accessory for you due to the tailgate loading where you have to extend and lift to get onto the deck. It certainly can handle the weight as it can support as much as the truck bed. I’ve had a snow blower, a palette of engineered flooring on it and not a problem.

What I mean is that you are lifting say a compressor or one of those Husky tool boxes from Home Depot and not only do you have to lift the item as high as the tail gate (which is already high), now you have to lift another 12 inches as you reach past the tail gate onto the DECKED. This is a very awkward position, not bad when items are long that you can slide in, but short items is a pain. Short of removing the tail gate, this is the main reason why I see people who work in traded opt not to get a DECKED. However, for the average Joe like me, it satisfies my needs.

I Prefer This Over A Tonneau Cover

After 3 years in Canada this product has worked well and based on average joe usage is a good item to store 300 litres of goods into the our truck bed and not into your cabin.

My main usage has been to use one drawer to store long term items and use the left for ad-hoc storage for camping, recreation etc.. Let me break it down to what I have right now.

Right Side

  • Axe, Shovel
  • Camping Chairs (1 full size, 2 compact ultra light ones)
  • Ammo can (various small items, 12V alternator)
  • Gym Bag (tarp, ropes, solo cooking gear, Jet Boil)
  • Locks for bike rack, trailer tool bag

Left Side

  • Step Ladder
  • Tire inflator
  • Space for backpacks, duffel bag, helmet etc..

Ammo Cans

  • Tie-Down straps
  • Bungee net
  • camping propane canisters (2)
Categories
Outdoors

Truck Camping With Kodiak Canvas Truck Tent

During our research for a new family camping tent, I looked at a few options where you pitch your tent over your truck bed. It looked interesting but we passed on it and bought the Kodiak Canvas Cabin Tent – which for family camping was a good choice.

However, there are times during the shoulder seasons where I wouldn’t mind going out for weekend or overnight and hauling the cabin tent is not an option. Hammock camping for me is past me, so what else could I do?

I returned to Kodiak Canvas website and saw that they offered a truck tent version. Their tent model was very simple; akin to a fitted bed sheet. So I got curious and decided to pull the trigger this season.

Welcome To Truck Camping

Yes, truck camping is a thing. I noticed it was gaining momentum a few years now where I first started seeing more of it being used during marathon events, ultra or other long term races in the woods. People would convert their truck cab, SUV or van into a sleeper. Cheap and easy camping option.

Then the world of overlanding started to come in and now a bunch of products and gear are available for a multitude of configuration options. It reminded me when I was hammock camping; the interest was being very modular and customizing the build based on your needs. Truck camping was no different, just the budget got bigger and I could use my backpacking gear.

The Truck Camping Build

I currently drive a Ford F150 short truck bed with a few accessories that I wanted to help with outdoor recreation but kept the truck useful for hauling stuff.

Back Rack

This is a headache rack that is an easy no-drill install at the front of the truck bed, protecting the glass of the cab. I got it to tie down down bikes, canoes and kayaks. It is an essential item if you intent to use your truck and load up the truck bed.

I also could, based on the site attach a rope from a post and pitch a tarp to give me some cover.

DECKED Truck Bed Drawer System

Instead of shopping for a tonneau cover or other tool box which shrinks down the size of the truck bed, I opted for the DECKED platform. This gives me two 150 litre drawers and four ammo can sized areas in each corner. I love this thing. It can support 2000lbs and you still are able to utilize the entire truck bed.

Since I have the short truck bed, I could not fit a camp cot into the truck bed, but the DECKED gives me a good flat surface and I still got drawers to use. You see a lot of youtube videos of people building their own system.

Kodiak Canvas Truck Tent (model 7206)

This is the truck tent model that will fit truck beds between 5.5 ft and 6.8ft. This looks like an old chuckwagon tent when setup and with the short truck bed, I have to roll up a bit of extra fabric. This doesn’t include a floor so essentially you are drapping a canvas sheet over the truck bed and use the support archs to make the shape.

Tent Is Not Perfectly In Place

My truck accessories at the front of the truck bed is restricting the truck tent from covering it completely.

The backrack uprights are situated on the side 1/3 from center. This allows me to access the corners of the truck bed with the tent no problem. There is a short 18 inch section that I need to clamp down or use magnets to cover.

But the biggest issue was the gab between the truck bed and backrack. Air would come in very easily. A quick fix is to find some pipe insulation from Home Depot and stuff it in between the gap. This fixed the problem.

Because of the short truck bed and DECKED, I could not lay flat and straight without having my feet dangling off the DECK over the tailgate. But an easy fix for that was to place a bin on the tail gate as an extension. This was a surprisingly easy fix. Plus I got a quick access bin for my gear.

My First Night Truck Camping

I decided to go for an overnight over at Five Islands Provincial Park, overlooking the Bay of Fundy. The camping is geared more for trailers and RV’s as you are up against a mountains side – everything requires you going up or down the hillside. That being said, enjoyed a good stay there and would go again.

So – doing a dry run setting up the tent is highly recommended. You simply work out the quirks and with this type of tent, it will speed up the process the next time.

I took 15-20 min setup to get the tent up and secured. I was curious to see how it would react under stiff wind or rain. I was hoping for either but I got wind. I was really surprised how stable the structure was.

Now – getting in & out of the truck bed….well that depends on how limber you are. A step ladder or bin as a step would be helpful or at the very least some foam on the tailgate for your knees.

But once in the truck bed and under the tent, I was pleased with the space the truck tent offered and the DECKED worked as a seat when you want to put on your shoes getting out of the tent. The DECKED also was a nice surface to sleep on.

Reduce Gear Footprint

I had a mix of regular camping and backpacking gear with me and now that I’ve done a few outings – I think I can reduce the reduce the footprint of some of the gear to pack it more efficiently in the truck.

Camping Stove

I tried out two camping stoves: Coleman camp grill and a Coleman 2 burner Fold N Go stove. The stove I ended up liking more was the Fold N Go. Simply was the more compact and as usuable stove. The only downside is lack of wind guard but you can fashion something or only fold down one side and use the other as the guard. There is a one burner version and I might be interested in that down the road. But for now I’ll stick with the 2 burner.

Camping Chairs

I had bought these oversized Adirondack camping chairs from Home Depot and while they are fantastic, they are huge. I can’t fit them into my DECKED and have to haul them exposed in the truck bed. At the end of the day, I could return to the 10$ Walmart camping chair, but why stop there?

I got my eye on the Helinox Chair One XL. this thing packs down really small and supports more weight than the cheaper chairs.

Cookset

I borrowed the GSI Bugaboo Camper cookset from the family camping bin and this is a great cookset for 3 people. But with my solo camping it’s a good choice but I want to reduce the footprint more. So this GSI Bugaboo Mess Kit is a good compromise but the GSI Bugaboo Backpacker might be just right.

The components I am interested in is a skillet, nested cups and something to boil water in and wash dishes.

Air Mattress

I was using a Thermarest Basecamp XL which has been a very good sleeping mat when you can afford the size. However it rolls up kinda big and I would prefer something smaller.

I had found a Windcatcher AirPad but now you can see the technology used across the industry. Wanting a wider pad, I am getting my sights on the Klymit Static V Luxe pad.

Categories
Outdoors

Garmin Speak Plus – A Dash-Cam With Amazon Alexa

We are doing a quick overview and review of the Garmin Speak Plus with Amazon Alexa. This is essentially an Alexa enabled speaker that you install in your car or truck and with your smartphone data; you can access Alexa skills, stream music or utilize Garmin navigation.

I’ll be installing the Garmin Speak in a Ford F150. The box comes with the camera and USB to 12v cable which is long enough to go from the windshield and thread under the seat into the center console. You will three apps installed before you want to plug it in.

The setup wizard is very smooth and a lot of actions happen by themselves. You just need to be patient.

  1. 1. Garmin Speak
  2. 2. Garmin Virb
  3. 3. Amazon Alexa

Garmin Speak – is your gateway to the device. Not only can you ask Alexa to perform some skills, you can stream music through it. If you have Prime, then Amazon music is available but not Spotify as of August 2018.

Garmin Virb – This app allows you to connect via Wifi to the Garmin Speak to view download any video or photos taken with the included 4gb SD micro card.

Amazon Alexa – Finally you want to use this app to ass some Alexa skills such as populating your flash briefing – which in my case was Amazon weather and the hourly CBC news casts.

 

Garmin Speak Features I Like

Now that you can say “Alexa…..” just like at home, some features I do like using while in the car with the Garmin Speak.

Amazon Music – One of the neat features that you have access in your car is the ability to tell Alexa to play a song or track. At time of purchase (things may change) you can ask Alexa to play genre stations via Amazon Music (great if you are a prime member) and you have access to your spotify library. However! Garmin Speak doesn’t yet support Spotify, so we’ll have to wait until they start bringing in support.

Flash Briefing – Add several news podcast skills and simply ask Alexa what’s in the news. I find this feature great when I get into the car first thing in the morning. My list is composed of: Weather, CBC Halifax, CTV Headlines, CNN Headlines and CBC Radio Hourly news.

 

Garmin Navigation

Of course the big feature is being able to ask via Alexa for Garmin to navigate a route for me to an address. The turn by turn navigation is then displayed on the Garmin Speak screen via simply icons and alerts. Overall I found this to work great when you are doing city driving. However, you still get the problem of old Point of Interest data (like finding a gas station). While Garmin Speak does tell you the distance to the location, you lack an on screen visualisation to confirm that is the address or see the proposed route. Even when manually entering an address into the Speak smartphone app, you don’t get the type of feedback you are accustomed to in other Garmin mapping products or Google maps.

That being said, the navigation is spot on with the alerts. I found they come in at the right time and the little cues given by the device via LED light patterns is actually a great feature. I’ve come to really appreciate the lane and collision alerts that pop up – especially the “traffic is moving” alert when you are stopped at a light.

 

How Is The Dash Cam?

The Garmin Speak comes with a 4gig micro SD card, so it will constantly record 3 min clips until the card is full then overwrite the oldest file.  Only when you say “Alexa, ask Garmin to save a video/photo” that the file is saved to the card.

The wide angle of the lens provide a pretty good wide view once you have the device centered, it provides a great field of view when reviewing clips. The overlay data fields like speed, timestamp and gps coords at the bottom provided everything you need within this context.

I found the quality to be pretty good, I don’t have much to compare it to. You are able to make out detail and the image quality is good.

I do find the process to connect to the cam via Garmin Vibe to be a bit a hassle and video seems to take a lot longer to transfer over to your smartphone when transferring videos via iOS Air Drop for example.

In Closing

The Garmin Speak Plus is an interesting device for Garmin, who are exploring new areas to bring some of their tech as traditional dash GPS devices are in decline. I find that a handful of Alexa skills work well in the car and the navigation cues are a nice touch instead of staring at your phone when driving.

The install was a breeze and the app integration was flawless so everything worked out of the box. As long as you have the three app already downloaded, you won’t have to really read any instructions to get it setup as the device will tell you the starting point.

 


 



Categories
Outdoors

DECKED Storage System For Your Truck

I got the DECKED storage system for my F150 truck as a way to get some storage but keep my truck bed open and not install a tonneau cover or truck cab.

The install process is identical to the videos you see from DECKED with a few exceptions for the F150 or Tacoma where the front OEM tie down need to be replaced with provided hardware from DECKED. The install manual is very dense with information, so take your time and read each page slowly and while you can do certain things out of order, it’s best to do each step in order.

DOWNLOAD THE MANUALS

You’ll find the PDF manual for Ford, Dodge, Chevy & GMC, Toyota, Mercedes and Nissan.

 

CAN YOU INSTALL THE DECKED BY YOURSELF?

Yes. Book a morning or afternoon in order to install this by yourself. Provided you watched the videos and read the manual, you should have no problems.

 

CAN YOU LIFT THE BOX?

No, Get a buddy or help when loading in your truck or unloading. The size of the box is too big to handle by yourself. If need be, simply open the box while in the truck and unload each piece individually (like I did).

 

CAN YOU DO THE INSTALL IN STAGES?

Yes, some items can be done independent such as the drawers and ammo cans with C channels.

 

DO NOT TIGHTEN ANYTHING UNLESS THE MANUAL TELLS YOU

Don’t skip ahead any steps and once you reach the spot where the action is to tighten, then tighten. This is important when adjusting the DECKED.

 

THREAD THE DRAWER WHEELS FIRST

The cast metal threads for the drawer wheels can be a bit stubborn, so thread them first before the actuall install, it will help as you won’t have a lot of room when putting in those final wheels.

 

HOW MUCH ROOM DO I HAVE?

Each drawer for the full size truck is 150 litre in capacity. Each ammo can can fit either an equivalent of a six pack and ice, or a few propane camping canisters and/or webbing. IN short, the ammo cans can fit a lot of stuff you don’t mind getting wet.

 

IS THE DECKED WATER TIGHT?

The main drawers are water tight but not air tight. Dust or morning dew / humidity will get in.

The ammo cans are not water tight. Drill the drain holes if you don’t want water to collect in the cans.

 

HOW TALL IS THE DECKED?

12 inches tall. on my F150 I got 9 inches left to store items above the deck.

 

WHAT IS DECKED WEIGHT CAPACITY?

Each drawer can fit 200 lbs of gear and the top deck can support 2000 lbs. As long as you don’t drop anything to pierce steel, the DECKED should support the load.

 

HOW HEAVY IS DECKED?

It is about 200 lbs and you should not see a difference in your fuel economy, but when loaded you will feel a difference when driving. and you have a stable load in your bed.

 

WHAT ARE ESSENTIAL DECKED ACCESSORIES?

Buy the dividers. It is something they should add as default but having 2 to 4 dividers will help you organise your gear in each drawer. Other items to consider would be the drawer locks or bed tracks to secure your load.

 

FURTHER VIEWING

On top of reading the manual for your truck, these install videos were a great help.


 



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