How do I "properly secure cargo" in a pickup truck?

:smack: I know, it’s the dumbest GQ asked so far, right?

I’m a city girl, and not pickup savvy. However in a few weeks I’m renting a pickup to go camping - hubby’s taking our car somewhere else the same weekend. I’ve got a “Chevy Colorado, Dodge Dakota or similar” reserved at Enterprise, 'cause it’s half the price of an SUV. They’ve confirmed it will have four seats and is car seat safe for the toddler, but I’m not sure how to make sure all my gear isn’t flying out all over I-90.

Will I be able to lash a tarp over the whole shebang somewhere without damaging the paint or body - I’m thinking maybe with bungee cords? Just how big (feet, inches) is a pickup truck bed, anyway?

As for the stuff itself, does it need to be packed any special way? Heavy stuff near the front, or in the middle or anything like that?

Does anyone know of a visual guide for pickup truck loading for dumbasses anywhere on the internet? :smiley:

Methinks you’re worrying a bit much.

The two vehicles you mentioned will have small beds. Approximately 3.5 ft. wide between the wheel wells and about 5 feet wide above the wheel wells. Maybe 6 ft long.

You won’t be able to lay a tarp over the top and down the sides without scratching the sides. If these trucks have tie-down hooks inside the bed (most do now-days), you can bungee a tarp inside the bed. Personally, tarps are more trouble than they’re worth in my opinion. It’s hard to keep them secure at highway speeds. A better option would be a cargo net or some ropes.

You only need to worry about securing stuff that’s small enough or light enough to fly out in the air stream. For example, a cooler full of food isn’t going anywhere if it’s sitting in the bed.

As far as weight, just distribute it evenly. If you have something (or someone) so heavy that symmetry is an issue, you need a bigger truck. With four people and the trucks you mentioned, you should be able to carry 500 - 600 lbs. of stuff.

Remember that you won’t be able to leave the truck unattended if you stop along the way since your stuff is in the open and easy to pilfer.
The airflow tends to cause a low pressure area in the bed, things like cooler lids can be sucked off and blown away. Load distribution shouldn’t be a problem w/ typical camping gear.

Get a truck with a cap on the bed. (Do they rent those?)

Moi? Surely not. Unless you think maybe I am. I don’t know, do I worry too much? I just like to do my worrying ahead of time so on the day I leave it’s all contingency-planned out. I guess maybe sometimes I do worry too much. I’ll have to think about that some more… :wink:

Yeah, mostly what I’m worried about is the milkcrate full of “stuff”. Y’know, flashlights, sunscreen, bug spray, cable ties, seam sealer, duct tape…all that random crap one lugs everywhere after 10 years of camping “just in case.” (Obviously, I’m a car camper, not a backpacker!) Maybe I’ll just pop the packed milk crate into a garbage bag so nothing flies out.

The other light stuff is folding camp chairs, a broom (shut up, I camp kushy!), air mattresses, etc. The tent is a behemoth, no worries about that sucker going anywhere!

Good point. It’ll be me and the two kids, and the older one is old enough to stand “guard” at rest stops. (A pickup is short enough to make it through a drive-through, right?)

Good idea, and if they have one in stock, I’ll request it. They don’t promise anything that detailed, however. I’d have to do more work and probably pay more money somewhere else to ensure a capped truck, and it’s probably not worth it.

This is most definitely not true. You also need to work about long flat things that can lift at speeds. Like the mattress that flew out of my friend’s pickup into the middle of the highway.

Go to a local auto parts store and buy a cargo net. It’s like a giant elastic spider web that keeps every thing inside the bed.

Ladders also fly out of truck beds on a very regular basis.

Anything that flies out of the bed and causes a problem, by hitting another vehicle or causingthem to swerve and hit something, is your problem. So I say you’re wise to ask the question.

The cargo nets, as mentioned above work well, but depending on the truck there might not be much in the way of anchor points. The milk crates should work well, and you can put a bungee or two across the top to hold everything in place.

A cooler with a non attached lid would need to have it’s lid secured so it doesn’t fly away.

Garbage bags are good too, as long as the contents are heavy enough to keep them in place. They provide some waterproofing too.

The chairs and such can be tied together so that they are heavy enough to stay put. You just need to be careful of items that have a lot of wind area for their weight.

Have fun!

Are those one-size-fits-most, or do I need to know the kind of truck I have before I got to the Auto Parts store?

Great idea. I wouldn’t have thought of that. I suppose I can even tie or bungee them to my water jugs for more stability.

One size fits all.
About tying lawn chairs together. You need more weight, or you are liable just to lose all your lawn chairs at one time. (I’ve seen it happen) Your basic aluminum pole lawn chair weighs nothing. 3 of them tied together weighs only slightly more.
Put them under the net, and you will be fine.

I think it’s very likely that the P/U will have tie off points, probably under the upper lip of the bed side panels. Since you don’t own the truck it isn’t very practical to buy a cargo net, or other special equpment. You can use long bungee’s, or light rope/heavy twine to criss-cross the cargo. Tarps tend to pull lose and, even if they can’t fly off, they will flap in the turbulence. The noise will be annoy and could mar the paint.
If there are no tie offs, put a heavy item in each corner of the bed and use them as anchors. A gallon jug of water would work.

Saw a fellow lose one of those big honkin stainless steel Grillomator Max propane dealies on the Baltimore beltway a month or so ago. It was all bendy and effed up. Thankfully nobody hit it and had a wreck.

It may very well be worth it to reduce the chance of getting your stuff stolen. Camping thefts are pretty common these days. You could even be sleeping in a tent next to your vehicle and wake up only to find the bed of your truck will be empty.

If they have a cap, get it. If not, plan to stuff everything into the cab of your truck when you are away from it.

I’m pretty sure that the Colorado and the Dakota both have tie down loops in the bed. In addition, almost anything that you rent will have a plastic bedliner (saves a lot of scratches and scrapes). I’ve always had good luck with Sterlite totes in the back of the truck at highway speeds. I went through a gulf storm with four of the 18 gallon ones a few years ago and nothing got wet. If it makes you feel more secure, you can bungee cord the lids on, although it isn’t really necessary. If the truck doesn’t have a bedliner, invest in a couple of long bungees to keep the totes from sliding around. You can also criss-cross them across the top. Both of these trucks are rated at half ton, so unless you are carrying enough gear for an army, weight should be no problem.
Have a great trip!

Umm… no. You need to secure everything. Just in case you come to a crashing halt.

You’re right. I’m just used to having a pickup bed so full of stuff that I have to wedge things in, which secures them quite well.

Thank you for the advice, but this is so far down on my list of worries - it’s the same campground we camp at regularly, a family place with less than 100 people whom we know very well. I leave my large tent unattended all day with all my stuff in it clearly visible through the window mesh - if anyone was going to steal stuff, they could just open the zipper while I’m off playing in the river.

If I was camping as most people do - in a strange public place or a place where I don’t know everyone, then I might shift my priorities in favor of a cap, but it’s just not applicable in my case. I’m more-or-less going “home” to camp; if anyone there needs an extra cooler or camp chair badly enough to steal it, I’d give it to them anyway.

Oh, hey, now that’s a great idea! I think I have a huge empty Rubbermaid container somewhere. Actually, now that I think about it, there’s no reason I can’t pack everything small into my car top carrier - the one that usually sits on top of my car - and put that in the truck bed. Might look a little funny, but it will certainly be heavy enough to stick!

See, this is why I love you guys! Even if it’s not brain surgery or airplanes on treadmills, y’all are smart, and you make me be smarter, too! Thanks! :smiley:

I have a 2004 Dakota. There are 4 tie down points, two in the bed at the front, and two where the side meets the bed at the back. When I make the annual pilgramage north (400 miles, interstate), I put stuff like clothes and sleeping bags in trash bags. I secure cooler lids with bungees. The only thing I tie down is the outboard motor, tied so it does not move. Light stuff goes down first and usually something like a bike is on top to keep it from flying.
I did lose the top to a plastic trash can once. It was lying in the bed and not tied to anything. The only time I used a tarp was with a load of wood chips in the back. Tied tightly at the four points mentioned above it seemed to work okay, but only at speeds up to and under 50 miles an hour.

have a good trip!

Securing your load id important. Recently a man lost a wood chipper that was improperly secured, killing a man and two of his three children.

Personally, I like a combination of cargo nets and bungees. It is a good idea to stop every so often, especially early in the trip, to check your load.