It’s a common question for overland SUV owners.  Is it better to buy a ready-made system or have a go at building your own?  Well, ‘better’ is a very subjective term, so let’s have a look at the options.

There are a number of drawer systems available on the market that would suit the needs of most customers.  They take the guesswork out of the build and allow you to get to what you like most- adventuring.  All of the hard design work, hardware sourcing, testing, etc., is already done for you.  They are made with a production or semi-production type process, allowing the manufacturer to source components and materials in bulk and pass the savings on to you.  There is usually a little assembly required, but for the most part you can hit the road in a few hours after opening the box.  

There are some drawbacks to production systems.  They may not be made specifically for your vehicle model (as is the case with modular systems), so some space efficiency may be lost, or they may not work for you altogether. They are usually a one-size-fits-all when it comes to design and accessories, which may not be the perfect solution if you require exact specifications.  Depending on the design, they can be difficult or near impossible to modify, customize, or add accessories.  And for someone who isn’t terribly familiar with fabrication, they can seem quite expensive (even though they might actually represent a decent value).

Building your own system can be extremely rewarding.  You can design and build exactly what you want, and nothing more.  Having built your own system you will know it inside and out and can repair or modify it more easily.  But remember that you will be paying retail prices for materials and hardware, and you may have to buy some things in bulk.  Some materials may not be readily sourced by a retail customer.  You may need to purchase special tools and equipment.  The devil is in the details.  And if your time is of any value, I can almost guarantee you will not save money building your own system.  Also, if the design ends up a failure- there are no returns, refunds, or exchanges.  Don’t let me dissuade you, just understand what you are getting into.  Building your own system may still be a great option if you have the time and skills, and enjoy the process.