Instead of buying a commercial slide out from the cooler manufacturer, I decided to make my own. This was for a few reasons;
- The commercial sliders are expensive.
- They require you to bolt them to the bed of your car or truck.
- I wanted to be able to move the slider from one SUV to the other.
- I wanted to have enough room to have the back seats folded or upright.
- The slider also needed to slide out far enough to open the lids on my cooler.
The commercial off the shelf sliders did not meet all of my requirements.
So, if you want to keep a cooler in the back of your SUV like this, your first decision point is to buy a slider or make one. If you buy one, it will be a metal slider designed to be bolted to the floor. This is what the Dometic slider that is made for my cooler looks like.
It is very nice, and would work in my project, but I didn’t want to pay $423 for a slider. But, if this works for you and you have the same cooler, you can buy it on Amazon here. If you have smaller sized coolers, sliders like this are also available at a cheaper price.
After measuring the amount of room I had to work with in the back of both SUVs with the seats folded flat, I started thinking of ways to attach a slider in the back of the SUVs without drilling holes or making permanent modifications to the cars.
My solution was to cut a piece of 3/4″ plywood that would sit on the floor of the SUV, that I would mount my homemade slider to. Looking at my possible existing points of attachment, I found that I have four attachment points at the floor level in all four corners in the cargo storage area behind the rear seats.
Because there were only 4 attachment points at the corners, my plywood had to cover the entire floor, not just the area taken up by the cooler. Even though there are four attachment points, I realized that I only needed to use the two closest to the back seats. These would keep the plywood base from tipping up when the slider is extended.
So, I cut my plywood base to fit the cargo area, sanded and painted it, and attached some aluminum plywood U-channel to protect the edges. These are available at your local big box stores.
This photo shows the bracket I made to attach to the base that hooks under the factory tie down. There is one on each side. The holes you see to the right are where I had modified a ratchet strap to use this in my other SUV. That was not possible here, because the loop is up off the floor. The base needs to stay firmly flat to the floor, or it will tilt up when you have the cooler extended.
If you make a base like this that you can have firmly attached to the cargo area, you could bolt a factory slide out to the base and you would be done.
I decided that since the base covered the whole cargo area, I would make two slide outs, with one for the cooler and the other to slide out as a table or holding other items. I made two identical slide outs, and the cooler can be mounted on either side.
The biggest expense and most important part is the drawer slides. They have to be heavy duty enough to hold the weight of the cooler (while loaded with food and beverages) and slide out far enough to give access to the lids of the cooler. They also had to be able to lock in place when stowed, and lock in place when fully extended.
To meet these requirements, I found the Vadania 32″ Heavy Duty Drawer Slides with Locks. They extend out far enough to meet my needs, and will hold over 150 pounds. They are available here on Amazon for $101 for a pair.
I mounted these to the base using 2″ aluminum solid angle bars from the local big box store.
I measured the base of the cooler, then cut two slide outs that would fit it. These are 3/4″ plywood, painted, and with aluminum U-rails to protect the edges. All screws and hardware are stainless steel.
On the bottoms of the slide outs, I used the same aluminum angle to attach those to the base slider rails. You have to be careful to get these perfectly straight, or they will bind when opening and closing. They can also cause the locks to not work right if they are not even.
After attaching both slide outs to the base, I realized that I had a two inch gap between the rails. I decided to make drawers for each side that would make use of this space. They are not very deep, but they are very long. It turns out that this has been a very handy addition to the project.
Note that once this was assembled, my setup is 4″ high. Be sure to take the height of your slide out into account when making sure your cooler still fits when sitting on top of your slide out. Most lift gates will give you less room for taller objects as the back window angles inward. The higher the cooler, the closer to the back window. You also need to ensure it clears any side trim and ceiling headers.
I bought the tie down points at the big box store. I attach the cooler’s handles to these tie down points to keep the cooler secure. I found that my everyday elastic bungee cords didn’t hold it tightly enough and it would slide around a little when driving. I found The Better Bungee Cargo Cord Kit for $57 on Amazon. It consists of two solid core stretch cords, 6 adjustable ends, and 2 o-rings. These 10′ long cords can be cut to the exact size you need, and the adjustable ends connect firmly. They are also removable and adjustable to meet the specific length needed. I love these. I bought two more kits to use on my trailer and hold down my kayak.
When preparing for a trip with the cooler, I attach my Jackery 1000 to the opposite slide out with a bungee, hook it up to the car’s 12v socket, and connect the Dometic via the 12V DC out. This can run the cooler up to 72 hours without a charge. The Jackery and Dometic always stay in the car, and it charges while driving.
I hope this gives you some good ideas and inspiration for your project! If you use my links to Amazon in this blog, you will pay the same price but I will get a small affiliate commission for your purchases.