Every van conversion needs some sort of storage. Be it drawers, overhead cabinets, or prefab storage you have to decide on something for your van. We even considered like a Craftsman tool chest from Lowes and almost went that way. But after a bit more thinking we went an unusual route. Milk crates.
One things has ruled our build from the onset and that is we don't live in the van, we camp out of it. That is to say we tend to arrive at a campsite and "set up camp". We decide where we are going to cook, where the firepit goes, and where we are going to eat and hang out. That being said, weather happens and we also need to have critical cooking items accessible while taking shelter in the van in case we need to cook and eat inside. We try to avoid this but it happens.
Most of what we need to store here is related to cooking and as stated earlier we would like to take these modules outside where to most often cook. Milk crates provide deep storage that is great for holding pots and pans, plates, cooking tools and even a coffee pot.
This is a view of the coffee crate. It holds everything we need for our morning coffee including coffee, coffee pot, grinder, AeroPress, small stove, stove fuel, sugar, filters, a spork, etc. All of the smaller items are in the canvas storage bag.
In the mornings, we just grab the crate and set up to make coffee on a picnic table.
So milk crates are a useful, durable and flexible way to store things. But now we need to build a place in the van to hold them securely and keep them quiet going down the road.
basically it was a matter of constructing shelves that would not only hold the milk crates but also capture them to keep them from spilling out on rough roads. I constructed a set of shelves that have aluminum angle on the front to capture the crates. I made sure that there was just enough space between the shelves so that I can just lift the crate over the top of the aluminum angle to free the crate either for removal or just open it enough to access the contents. It ends up making what functions as a removable drawer. As you can see above I put outdoor carpet on the bottoms of the shelves and on the back wall to help keep the crates in place and to keep them quiet should they shift back and forth while on the move.
Since I built this system a company that I looked at for standard milk crate dividers has come out with their own crates that look very interesting.
You can find out more about them at the SidoCrate website.
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