Prado Cargo Space

Submitted: Wednesday, Apr 22, 2009 at 21:44
ThreadID: 68121 Views:10669 Replies:12 FollowUps:17
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Anyone travelled in any 4x4 wagon with all rear seats removed ?With just 2 people all other seats removed and not towing anything on say a remote trip such as the simpson desert crossing or a trip to Rudall river did you have enough internal cargo space or did you need to use a roof rack and if so what did you put up there. Natuarally all travellers are a bit different but I am interested in your experience as to whether a roof rack was needed. I am thinking about buying a Prado not sure there will be enough room without a rack. I have not had a roof rack before but imagine it would be a challenge getting stuff packed and unpacked from a roof rack but perhaps its not needed ?
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Reply By: Robin Miller - Wednesday, Apr 22, 2009 at 22:03

Wednesday, Apr 22, 2009 at 22:03
I certainly have Kwk56pt - I have several setup modes for my 4800 Patrol - and have spent some 14 days in last year in that mode which included a double bed arrangement , home built to sit 150mm off the deck (150mm allows for a large flat area of storage space high enough to hold cans of food etc).

We do not travel with roof racks , bull bars , twin wheel carriers or LPG bottles or anything that adds unecessary weight to the Vehicle.

It takes a little while to work out a range of lightweight camping gear that works for you but in the end , even on many of the remote trips , with up to 300lt of fuel we have always managed to keep the car under its GVM and check this on weightbridges.
Robin Miller

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AnswerID: 360969

Follow Up By: kwk56pt - Wednesday, Apr 22, 2009 at 22:31

Wednesday, Apr 22, 2009 at 22:31
Thanks for your reply Robin. Sounds like you have managed ok without a rack, I assume you only travel with the one spare ?
FollowupID: 628726

Follow Up By: Robin Miller - Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 07:46

Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 07:46
Hi Kwt56pt

Yes , I specifically stay away from things I think contribute to making vehicle less safe, for me this includes weight on roof and the spares on back of car. I prefer solutions in depth so carry the tools and parts to be able to fix several tyres, but more importantly reducing the stress on suspension thats put wheels at risk in the first place.

The bag project I posted recently thread 67633 , allows for some lightweight stuff like rubbish to be moved outside of car creating space.
Robin Miller

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Reply By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Wednesday, Apr 22, 2009 at 22:04

Wednesday, Apr 22, 2009 at 22:04
For 4 years I travelled that way with a 90series Prado. I used a platform roofrack for the second spare tyre and depending in what we were doing, a tent and poles.

My setup for remote trips was a storage system in the back with fridge 2 drawers with food and cooking stuff, 3 jerry cans water, chairs and table. And fold down table on the tailgate.

Middle section without seats had a steel mesh cage with 2 more jerries of water and up to 4 extra jerries diesel; plus a clothes bag each, plus spare parts and swags.

I was always pretty keen to have the heavy stuff forward of the rear axle, and not too much on the roof.
AnswerID: 360970

Follow Up By: kwk56pt - Wednesday, Apr 22, 2009 at 22:54

Wednesday, Apr 22, 2009 at 22:54
Thanks for your input Phil. Seems like a rack is needed. Can I ask with regard to your vehicle whether there was any particular reason you chose the tray plus box option rather than a intergrated tray body. I note your box has been made to the profile of your vehicle which is a good idea to avoid scratching on tracks and wind drag. Its a nice rig you have got ,the HDJ79 seems to be the pick of the utes.
FollowupID: 628729

Follow Up By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 10:52

Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 10:52
I bought the vehicle when it was 18 months old and it had a good aluminium tray. Plan was to have the box easily removable, so I could use it as a traytop when needed, but I could never be bothered, so the box is permanently bolted down.

I wanted the profile to be narrow for narrow tracks and easy rearward visibility and less wind resistance, so I cut 2 inches off each side of the tray, making it 1750 wide and they made up the canopy to match.

The other reason to have the tray separate is that it is easy to keep the box and upgrade the vehicle, but as you say, the 79series is a great truck and I see no benefit in going to the new V8.
FollowupID: 628779

Follow Up By: kwk56pt - Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 11:13

Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 11:13
Yes I figured the slim profile was a good idea. Did you trim the tray down yourself or have it professionally done and if so would you mind telling me how much the work cost ?. I had until now just assumed the tray had been manufactured from new to that width and didnt realise triming the tray was a feasable....thanks Peter
FollowupID: 628782

Follow Up By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 14:30

Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 14:30
Easily done. I took the backboard and sides off. Drew a line on each side and ran a 7" circular saw along to trim the aluminium. Then put the side back on, and a bit of extra aluminium here and there to tidy it up. I have a friend who did the same, but he had his box a little wider, so only trimmed about 30mm off.

Sounds like you might be thinking of making the step from a Prado to a traytop! Many of my Prado friends have done this. Some have had custom boxes made and a couple have Carry me campers or Trayons. The reasons they move to the traytop are that you can carry more weight, you have rigid axles, a heap of storage space and easy access and they are the most reliable desert vehicle you can get. Downsides are that you have no chance of a back seat, can't recline the buckets and the 79series is nowhere near as manouverable as the Prado. But the longer wheelbase makes for a good ride with little pitching.
FollowupID: 628806

Follow Up By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 14:38

Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 14:38
And the other downside is the cost of setting it all up.
A HDJ79 might cost between $30-40,000 second hand.
Registration of a traytop might be $300 more per year than the Prado.
The custom empty aluminium box will be $6-10,000 (mine cost $5720 in 2004).
I made my own fitout - if you DIY out of plywood, you might spend $500 on hardware, carpet, glue screws etc etc
And I have a flat mesh rack on top that I made myself - about $150 for the steel.
Quality undertray plastic water tanks will cost up to $600 each
FollowupID: 628807

Follow Up By: kwk56pt - Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 15:38

Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 15:38
Yes HDJ79 landcruisers are significantly more expensive than the HJ79 non turbo version which I understand is not the best if you want to tow a boat as part of its duties. Seating isnt the best either and that appears to be expensive to improve. A good quality two door basic box is $7500. Your costings are accurate. There have been some good points raised about roof racks and a tyre casing for a second spare could be a good compromise.

Apart from the set up cost the Traytop option is my preference I was drawn to good reports about the Prado in terms of good off road ability and comfortable seats and its good compromise as a capable on and off road vehicle. My perception is this would not be as expensive to set up so I thought I would explore the Prado option. So I am thinking traytop or Prado hence the question about your vehicle so I am just gathering up some info so hopefully I end up making a decision that I am happy with.

Its great to know that trimimng down the tray is easily done as having the box protrude outside the vehicle would be a significant wind drag and it would end up with a gouge down the side from a protruding branch on a track eventually
FollowupID: 628819

Follow Up By: kwk56pt - Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 21:08

Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 21:08
Hi Phil, you mention you have friends with the custom box and others with the carry me campers. Having seen the campers in action I assume you prefer the custom box so I was going to ask what you would do differently if you were building another custom box ? Thanks Peter
FollowupID: 628880

Follow Up By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 21:56

Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 21:56
Yep, I still prefer a custom box and sleep in a good swag. Don't want to camp on the roof - you have to pack it up to go for a drive. So there's nothing major I'd do different.
Probably have more reinforcement on the back wall, so it can easily clamp and support two spare tyres and the HF aerial - I had to reinforce this with some steel channel myself.
I wouldn't bother buying the undertray toolboxes - a lot of money for very little storage and they get wet inside on water crossings.

I've changed a lot from what I had planned 5 years ago. It now has 2 water tanks, 2 spares on the back, a new HF bracket that slides up and away from the tyres to improve transmission, 285 tyres to improve 4wding; Boss airbags to keep the level right; AGM battery in the back.........and lots of little things.

Everyone has a slightly different way to fit out a canopy - we all start off with a blank canvas!!
FollowupID: 628891

Follow Up By: kwk56pt - Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 23:13

Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 23:13
Yes everyone has a different way to fit out a canopy but its worth taking note from other more experienced 4wdrivers.The Bostton canopy I was looking at had the channel sections already to take the two spare wheel mounts. Thanks for your info on the underbody toolboxes. I had figured the roof top tent would be good for overnight stops but I would still need to carry a tent to make a base camp when needed. These roof top tents seem popular so I thought I would get your observation.

Your input has been appreciated, I am sure it will assist me get beyond procrastination. I have been watching the auctions but the global financial crisis has not dampened the publics appetite foer HDJ79 landcruisers...yet
FollowupID: 628904

Reply By: Tenpounder - Wednesday, Apr 22, 2009 at 22:27

Wednesday, Apr 22, 2009 at 22:27
Hi there. Yes, I have a 90 series Prado, and the second row seat has been removed completely, as well as the rear row. Briefly, there's not a lot of room in the back when you take into account the fridge, water, tools, compressor, recovery gear, food, camping gear including bedding. In my case, my second and third batteries are also in the back. I wouldn't be happy going into remote areas without at least a second spare, and sometimes also a spare tyre plus tyre changing tools. The big one is fuel and water and spare wheels/tyres: if you have your liquids low down inside, then there's a fair chance you'll want to lose the second spare and a few other things onto a roof rack. I get scared at leaving tools behind.
But small tent; mean and stingey with the camping gear; minimum water; and reliance on factory fuel tanks; then you might just squeeze it in - that's my guess. (Shame about the second spare!)
Hope this helps, and I know I tend to overdo 'contingency planning!.

Chris (SA)
AnswerID: 360980

Follow Up By: kwk56pt - Wednesday, Apr 22, 2009 at 22:42

Wednesday, Apr 22, 2009 at 22:42
Ok thanks Chris, yes I think the second spare is needed for piece of mind if nothing else. It does seem a rack is needed, I did suspect so as I am more a decent tent bed and chairs kind of traveller. So least I know the Prado option will probably require a rack......Thanks Peter
FollowupID: 628728

Follow Up By: Tenpounder - Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 12:55

Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 12:55
Robin Miller has a point though: once you have fitted a roof rack (mine is an alloy 3/4 length from TJM) you then have a perfect excuse for an awning (mine is home made), plus a pair of maxtrax, plus a shovel, and of course your comfy chairs can now be easily stored on the roof together with the tent poles. Next thing you are overloaded and top heavy!
Incidentally, many a tyre has been destroyed beyond repair by a puncture leading to a sidewall blowout, and there's no know way to patch that. So tyre pliers, beadbreakers and levers and patches are OK as far as they go, but there will be times when a spare tyre or two is called for. But there's truth too in the defensive approach of Mr Miller (drive to conditions etc.) iin order to minimise the risk of big troubles.
Hope all our comments help you in your decisions.
FollowupID: 628796

Reply By: Member - Turtle (VIC) - Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 08:02

Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 08:02
I have an 06 Prado. Two years ago went up the CSR - took out all seats, installed a small drawer with fridge unit in the rear and put on a roof carrier. Up top went a second spare wheel, etc.

where the back seats were went 4 gerry cans for fuel and a 65litre bladder of water across the floor behind the front seats.

Tent stored above drawers. Adequate space for our needs.

Good luck.

AnswerID: 361017

Reply By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 08:57

Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 08:57
Every person that travels will have different needs and gear that they take. Is it going to be a one trip only or something that will be used year in and year out.
I fall into the second category and our Prado is used primary what it was made for.This is our set up, works a treat for us, but may be no good for someone else.

Third seats removed permanently and Black Widow Rear Draw System fitted, including fridge slide. In the draws, one side has most of our food, while the second draw has recovery gear, cooking gear, plates, cutlery etc. One top of draws, is fridge water and other gear that sits all at an arms length if needed. Over the draws is a Black Widow Top shelf barrier holds wash up gear, tarp for the ground under our swag, towels pillows and any other light gear.

Second seat removed and in goes Black Widow Twin Forward Floor
Bottom floors houses chairs, table, small garden rake for clearing site before swag goes down,shovel, spare shoes and lots of other gear.
Top floors has second spare complete wheel strapped to cargo barrier, cloths bags, more water, double swag and more gear.

We have sports bars on roof that hold Black Widow Awning, MaxTrax and OzTent for times of wet weather.

The above set up has been refined over many remote bush trips.
The only exception for this years trip will include an extra 40 litres of diesel, as our biggest stint of 1400 kilometres between Warburton and Laverton there will be no fuel stops.

Like I said, this works fine for me, but may be not for others


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AnswerID: 361034

Reply By: curious - Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 09:17

Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 09:17
I have a 90 series Prado, have tried to avoid a roof rack although I have one I use occasionally. I've made cargo drawers, fridge slide and storage bins in the rear but found for an extended trip (remote area or several weeks trip), I've needed to pack extra gear - as mentioned by other posts here. Removing the second row of seats provides a lot of additional room but I didn't use the space efficiently because I hadn't fitted a second cargo barrier behind the front seats nor fabricated any shelving for this area. I simply anchored items to the floor with strapping.

I try to maximise load space efficiency by good packing & planning but also by reviewing and modifying my cargo bins & storage area. E.g. I removed the plastic side panels in the rear because everything chaffed against them and replaced them with carpet covered plywood panels. This also increased the storage area by several litres.

By careful and clever design with shelving & storage, I should be able to fit a large amount of gear in the second seat area. As Phil and others have mentioned, storage in this area also assists overall weight distribution.

One other aspect you may wish to consider is that Prado 90 series (not sure about later models) has quite a low roof rack weight limit (90 kgs?). Although my roof rack has full length runners, I'm conscious that I'm limited in the weight I can store up there compared to other vehicles (Cruisers, Patrols etc). Hope this helps a bit.

AnswerID: 361038

Reply By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 10:58

Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 10:58
I have only the front two seats in my Cruiser.
Have two cargo barriers in it. One right behind the front seats with a floor back to the drawers One in the rear position to stop the small stuff from falling forward onto the Waeco and washing machine.

One small point to stay legal, if you remove the second row of seats it should be recomplianced as by doing this you alter the category of the vehicle..
Also advise your insurance company.

It only cost $60 to get it done.

I know lots of you have done it and not bothered but I prefer to stay legal so dont flame methank you.

AnswerID: 361052

Follow Up By: curious - Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 17:07

Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 17:07
Graham, do you need recompliance if your second row of seats is removed temporarily (e.g. several weeks for an extended trip)? I wasn't aware of recompliance - there's often something lurking in the fine print, isn't there. - Peter
FollowupID: 628839

Follow Up By: Member - Ian H (NSW) - Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 17:42

Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 17:42
As long as they are bolt out/bolt in there is no need to do anything or tell anyone. The seating only shows maximum not "must be" figure.
That's how it is in NSW anyway.
FollowupID: 628840

Follow Up By: Member - Graham H (QLD) - Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 18:13

Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 18:13
Incorrect You may remove any seats that are NOT bolted in EG
Rears in a Cruiser100 series.
According to the engineer that did mine You cannot remove BOLTED IN SEATS AT ALL.
I rang Roads in Qld and they said you may remove them temporarily say for no more than a week.
The engineer said when he went for his ticket they said never at all.
This applies to any bolted in seats including rears in a Patrol and a 200series Cruiser.. Stupid I know but a lot of rules are.

If you read the ADR rules it states that it alters the vehicles category and different insurance and other charges may apply.
By taking out the two rows you effectively make it into a van.

I really dont care what others do.
I am quoting what I was told and prefer to be legal ,insured and alive as far as my vehicles go and for $60 its cheap insurance.
FollowupID: 628846

Reply By: Member - Brenton H (SA) - Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 11:05

Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 11:05
Hi kwk56pt.
We have a 120 series prado with the set up you describe.
I have a small engel behind the seats (easy to grab a drink without stopping) then the cargo barrier and the back section contains 80l water tank, the main fridge and drawer system plus whatever else we can manage to stuff in.
The roof rack carries the 6th wheel, Oz tent. gas cylinders, maxtraks, and spare fuel jerries if needed.
The need for a roof rack is determined really on how isolated you will be and for how long and hence how much fuel and water and gear etc is needed. When we go for long trips with others to the Simpson our vehicle is chokkers roof rack and all...but then again so are all the other vehicles irrespective of make and model that we go with.

(BTW, roof rack is the best spot for your UHF aerial as it gets a clear front and back signal)
AnswerID: 361053

Reply By: John Davies - Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 13:26

Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 13:26
Way back in 1995 I travelled the Canning stock Route in a Diesel LR Discovery with no roof rack.

As having only two people aboard, I removed the rear seats and built a false floor. I kept the cargo barrier in it standard place and straped a full second spare to it standing upright.
Sill tanks gave a fuel capacity of 180 litres underneath and I carried two jerrys inside. I had 60 litres of water inside as well as food for 5 weeks.

In a playdo you have more space to use so if you build a cargo system around your gear it should easily fit.

Little things like wire tie spare springs and shocks to the chassis rail save space inside.


John D - LR Defender 110 2.4
AnswerID: 361067

Reply By: RobAck - Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 18:26

Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 18:26
We run 12 Prado's and use the outback interior drawer system in the rear and their storage system which replaces the rear seats. This gives you two storage areas separated by cargo barriers. We can fit all our gear including Black Wolf tent inside the car so we don't have to climb on the roof every day to load and unload tents etc..

That still means carrying fuel and LPG bottles and a spare tyre and rim in the roof basket but it all works perfectly


AnswerID: 361109

Reply By: Kim and Damn Dog - Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 20:09

Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 20:09
Send me your email address, and I'll send you photographs of my setup.


AnswerID: 361136

Follow Up By: kwk56pt - Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 20:58

Thursday, Apr 23, 2009 at 20:58
Thanks Kim I would appreciate some pics of your set up. My email is

Seems most people manage with the bulk of the gear inside and some infrequently stored items on a rack. The drawers and twin shelf / bed extension set ups would help a lot. There has been some good replys from knowledgeable people providing lots of points and info worthy of consideration. Thanks to all who have made the effort to reply to my post........Peter
FollowupID: 628879

Reply By: tim_c - Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 15:56

Monday, Apr 27, 2009 at 15:56
I've previously done some decent trips (4-5 weeks) in a Jackaroo with all the rear/middle seats either folded up or removed and a cargo barrier just behind the front seats. The roof top tent was the only thing that went on the roof (although a small tent and couple of sleeping bags would have easily fitted in the car if we'd want to keep the roof empty).

The Jackaroo only has 85L fuel tank so we carried 4 jerries to give us comfortable touring range upto 1000km (for the Tanami) if you've got a Prado, I understand you'll have that capacity under the car which will save a heap of space inside the car.

Our load was just above the bottom of the windows so there was still some spare space!
AnswerID: 361875

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