Outfitting Our Liberty Part 1

Our daily driver is a 2011 Jeep Liberty Limited 4x4 Anniversary Edition.  As you've seen in previous posts we also use our Liberty off-road on day trips. 

A long time dream of ours has been to own a 2-door Jeep Wrangler Rubicon.  I was at our dealer recently having the Liberty serviced and spent some time ogling the Rubicons on the lot but the  the prices were even more intimidating than I remembered and I realized we'd need to spend even more money to outfit a Rubicon like we would want it.  Then I started thinking....

The Liberty has not been well thought of by many Jeep enthusiasts but, while it may not do what a Wrangler Rubicon can do, we've found it quite capable off-road and it's much more comfortable than a Wrangler, especially on the road.  After I got home I did some research.  For much less than even a good used Rubicon we could outfit our Liberty to be everything we would want.  Would it have the off-road performance of a Rubicon?  No.  Would it do everything we need and then some?  Absolutely!  Besides we like our Liberty.  We call him Tonka (did you have any Tonka Toys as a child?) because he is indeed a great toy.  So our course was set.

The first thing we needed was better storage.  To date we've transferred equipment from our big camper rig when we prepared for a day trip then back when we got home.  It was a hassle, everything was just loose in the cargo area and there was always a chance we would forget something we needed.

There's lots of options from plastic storage containers to custom storage drawer.  As usual anything specifically associated with a Jeep is expensive.  Then I found the solution on amazon.com.  Better Built, well known for pickup truck toolboxes, also makes an SUV storage drawer that would fit in the cargo area of our Liberty and it was on sale for $300! 

Here's what it looks like:

 Recessed top with textured rubber mat, nice chrome latch, smooth, sturdy drawer guides that allow the drawer to fully open.  The cosmetics aren't perfect but for the price we are well satisfied.

Recessed top with textured rubber mat, nice chrome latch, smooth, sturdy drawer guides that allow the drawer to fully open.  The cosmetics aren't perfect but for the price we are well satisfied.

We put a rubber mat under it to keep it from sliding around in the cargo space and a rubber mat in the bottom of the drawer to keep the contents from rattling.  As one might expect opening the drawer fully makes the unit tip forward.  The Liberty has four recessed tiedowns in the cargo area and I had the perfect little cargo strap to hold the back end of the unit down.  We loaded up and took off on our first day trip with it.

As often happens on the dirt we hit a few large, unforeseen lumps and bumps.  When we got home we discovered a loose cargo strap and a broken tie down.  Seems the tie downs are plastic. Bummer!  

The next day I stopped by York Jeep and talked with Chris Ramm the Accessory Manager.  Chris is an experienced off-roader and all around great guy.  He suggested using cargo tie down track and mentioned that a local company, AT Overland Equipment, uses it all the time on their builds.

I went to AT Overland where Clint greeted me and asked how he could help.  I showed him my problem and he showed me the tie down track and related hardware.  I originally thought I'd buy materials and install them myself but I thought better of that and asked if they could do the install.  I was expecting to make an appointment but Clint said:  "Sure! We can install them in a few minutes."  I unloaded our equipment in the drawer into the backseat and helped James take the unit out.  Sure enough in about 30 minutes James had tie down tracks installed. 

 Tie down tracks in place with rings.  There's 5 special riv-nuts under each track that 5 1/4" bolts screw into. Even with the riv-nuts fastened to the plastic floor pan rather than metal there should be plenty of strength for this application.

Tie down tracks in place with rings.  There's 5 special riv-nuts under each track that 5 1/4" bolts screw into. Even with the riv-nuts fastened to the plastic floor pan rather than metal there should be plenty of strength for this application.

Everyone at AT Overland was very professional and focused on quality work and great customer service.  I recommend them highly.

At home the next day I recut the mat for under the drawer unit then reinstalled and reloaded the unit.  Here's a few photos:

 Here's a close-up of the hardware.  These spring loaded rings clip into the tie down tracks.

Here's a close-up of the hardware.  These spring loaded rings clip into the tie down tracks.

 Here's the drawer unit in place. That red line at the back is the cargo strap that holds the back of the unit down when the drawer is fully open.

Here's the drawer unit in place. That red line at the back is the cargo strap that holds the back of the unit down when the drawer is fully open.

 Here's the drawer reloaded and fully opened.  We have additional equipment in mind and plenty of room for it. As you can see there's also room for soft items between the sides of the unit and the sides of the vehicle.

Here's the drawer reloaded and fully opened.  We have additional equipment in mind and plenty of room for it. As you can see there's also room for soft items between the sides of the unit and the sides of the vehicle.

 All loaded and ready to go.  There's still room on top of the drawer unit and the 60/40 rear seat folds down if need be.

All loaded and ready to go.  There's still room on top of the drawer unit and the 60/40 rear seat folds down if need be.

 The Liberty has a roll out cover if we feel the need to cover the cargo area.

The Liberty has a roll out cover if we feel the need to cover the cargo area.

Next up is a weekend camping trip but you can bet we're looking forward to taking our Liberty out on the dirt again.  As time and money permit we have lots more in store for Tonka.