How to Set Up Your Truck for Hunting

posted on April 24, 2023
Hunting Truck Set Up Lead

If you spend any time on social media and study hunting influencers’ impressive trucks, you might get the sense that in order to build a truly capable, go-anywhere hunting rig, you need to spend tens of thousands of dollars. Heck, you might even get the feeling that configuring a world-class hunting rig means building a rig dedicated to hunting—modifying your truck so extensively that you can’t really use it for daily driving anymore.

Hunter sitting on cooler beside truck campsite near pond.

I am here to tell you that simply isn’t the case. You can have a comfortable daily driver and a capable hunting rig in one. Virtually any rig made in the last 20 years can be modified in a weekend to support you for 10 or more days in the backcountry while retaining its streetability.

It only takes three pieces of equipment to turn your daily driver truck into a world-class hunting rig: Leitner Designs’ ACS Forged bed rack, DECKED’s Drawer System and Freespirit Recreation’s Aspen Series hard-shell rooftop tent.

To prove my point, I sat down with native Iowan and lifelong hunter Chris Neville, video content manager for GOHUNT, to ask him about his rig, a 2014 GMC Sierra 1500. In addition to set of all-terrain tires, Chris added these three components to his late-model GMC and transformed his hunts, allowing him to hunt not only more often but for longer and more comfortably.

Rearview of truck bed with hard shell tent mounted on top in woods.

Chris is a humble guy; I had to really push him to brag about himself. Although Chris now lives in Fort Collins, Colo., he grew up in central Iowa, where he taught himself to hunt. He’s hunted just about everything from black bear in Canada to elk in Colorado to wild pigs in Texas. And he’s done it from the back of his mostly stock GMC.

“I didn't really have anything fancy on it at all. It was just like a bare truck,” Chris admitted. “I slept on the ground next to the truck. I’d have the back of my truck full of totes—basically all my hunting gear in five or six different totes. My clothing, boots, food, pack—everything would be in different totes just sitting in the back of my truck. Then when I wanted it, I had to go digging through each of these totes.”

Over the years, Chris had grown used to being cold, tired and dirty—for days and weeks at a time—while hunting. Worse yet, he risked leaving his expensive gear loose in the back of his pickup, accessible to whomever or whatever might want to rummage through it.

That was until he was asked to try out Leitner Designs’ ACS Forged bed rack, DECKED’s Drawer System and Freespirit Recreation’s Aspen Series hard-shell rooftop tent. Initially, Chris admits, he was skeptical. But on his first hunt, he became a convert to the relatively simple setup.

The lightbulb first clicked on for Chris when he was packing the Leitner ACS Forged system, which features patented eye-level storage called GearPODs, which come standard with locks. Rather than literally tote his valuable hunting gear in and out of his garage ahead of every hunt, he leaves his GearPODs packed year-round.

Rearview of truck bed with rack storage system and elk antlers.

“There's no more packing, repacking—I keep everything in the GearPODs all year,” Chris said. “I can lock the GearPODs, so I know they're secure. They prevent my gear from getting stolen, dusty or wet. I keep my boots, pack, clothes, some food and essentials like propane and stoves stored in my GearPODs on the side of my truck.”

Another couple near Leitner accessories Chris has on this ACS Forged are the HydroPODs, which are shower pods that can hold 4.8 gallons of pressurized water each and come standard with 20-foot hoses and nozzles. Chris has two HydroPODS on his rig, one he uses for drinking water, the other he uses as a shower—for both his gear and himself.

“I've taken five or six showers out in the backcountry, and there is nothing better. When you're coming off the mountain on a 10-day hunt, and you have a nice shower that you can take behind your truck with the HydroPODs … it is a real treat,” Chris chuckled.

GMC truck in open field with rooftop tent over rack storage system.

Leitner Designs’ ACS Forged does more than support Chris’s gear and shower, it also holds his FSR Aspen rooftop tent. Even though the Aspen weighs 154 pounds, it and Chris’s gear is well supported by the ACS Forged, which boasts the highest payload capacity for any bed rack on the market—1,400 pounds static load.

“With the Freespirit, I don't have to worry about setting up a ground tent. Takes me three seconds to pop up the tent and hop in. I go to sleep instantly, no time wasted. I'm up the next morning hunting, and don't have to take down anything. It saves me a lot of time. I can hit more hunting spots in less time.

Lastly, in the bed of Chris’s GMC is the DECKED Drawer System. In the two lockable, full-length drawers, Chris keeps his sleeping pads, tents, stoves, rain gear—essentially all the gear you can think of or possibly need going out on a hunt—in all the drawers’ different storage areas. He can still load a ton (literally) more gear on top of the DECKED because it has a 2,000-pound payload, which is more than enough for Chris’s cooler, chairs or anything else bigger than the GearPODs.

Truck bed rooftop hard shell tent in darkness with starry sky.

“Now, I have all my essential gear locked in the GearPODS or in the DECKED Drawer System,” Chris admitted. “When I had all my hunting gear in the bed of my truck, I was running out of space with big coolers and all the different totes. I ended up not having any room in the bed of my truck at all after a while. Because I now have everything stored in better-utilized spaces, not only can I bring more gear,  I can keep it securely stored in my truck at all times, so I know it's always there every time I go out hunting.”

This article was in collaboration with


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