Gear Guy

How can I fit all my gear in my truck?

I'm a self-proclaimed "active" person striving to be at least mediocre at several "outside" activities, such as mountain biking, kayaking, backpacking, etc. I have a Ford Ranger truck, and finding it quite a challenge to figure out how to fit all my stuff on there -- with more than one person coming along, it gets really tricky! I'm wondering what the best way to transport kayaks on my truck would be. I have an aluminum truck box already taking up half of the bed (placed lengthwise on the driver side). I have mounts to put two bikes on the other side of the box in the bed. But how will I carry a kayak? Help! Owen Fennern San Jose, California

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Oh, I know you. You’re one of those people who drives around town with a vehicle laden with bikes, boats, packs and the like, as if you might just pull off the road at any second and start pedaling up some gnarly trail you’ve spotted, or toss a kayak into some handy whitewater for a little rodeo action.

But, who knows — maybe you do just that. Besides, I see your problem. In the business, we call it LST Syndrome. That’s pronounced LOST, and is an acronym for Limited Space for Toys. It’s a pathetic affliction, but fortunately there are cures, one that most poor wretches on this planet would find incomprehensible, seeing as they have no toys to begin with. But that’s another story. In your case, what you clearly need to do is install one of those metal frames that homebuilders and carpenters use. You’ve seen them around San Jose, I’m sure — it’s simply a rectangular frame that fits atop the box and lets you stack long, unwieldy items atop it. They’re called ladder racks, and are not terribly expensive. About $300 for a simple one, or up to $500 for a fancy setup with lots of tie-down points and other bells and whistles. You can install one yourself pretty easily. So check your phone book for a truck-accessory store, and tell them you need a ladder rack. Once you have one of those, you can mount a kayak cradle to it, and your problem should be solved. You’ll have clearance for the bikes, a cradle for the kayak, and room in the bed for packs and stuff. You’ll be the Gear Man of San Jose!

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