To improve the bed of your truck you can install a tonneau cover, possibly add some type of a bed liner or maybe even mount a tool box for additional storage options. The possibilities are truly endless, but for our needs we decided to do all three.
When it comes to tonneau covers, there are several different varieties to choose from based on your specific needs. There are one-piece hard covers, vinyl soft covers and everything else in between.
For our 2002 Ford Super Duty we wanted the durability and strength of a hard cover with the flexibility of a soft one and our first call was to UnderCover Truck Bed Covers. We had seen the folding UnderCover Flex cover on other trucks, so we were ready to test it out for ourselves. But before we got to the cover install, we decided to improve the actual bed first.
Nothing seems to attract people or start conversations quicker than the SwingCase that is also manufactured by UnderCover. Since we installed a dual set, people can't help but be attracted to the great space-saving tool boxes. The space between your wheel well and your tailgate is arguably considered dead space because there's not a lot you can do with it. But the SwingCase mounts easily in this area so it hardly takes up any room in the bed of your truck, yet can swing out and give you full access to storage.
We installed the SwingCases first because in the instructions it shows what to do if you have a BedRug so we figured it was okay to start here first. Honestly the hardest part of this simple install was removing the original tie-downs on our 10-year-old truck. The instructions warned that we might have to remove these tie-downs to make room for the case and on our older Ford it was needed. We went ahead and removed the front two tie-downs as well because we knew the BedRug bed liner was next.
We first laid out what we needed to get started, noting the SwingCase are left- and right-specific.
The first step is to install the mounting bracket. After removing the tie-down we could easily get the bottom of the bracket to mount flush with the bottom of the bed.
Then using the self drilling screws provided, we simply tighten them up, but you want to be careful not to over tighten because you could strip out the holes. Then just repeat this same process for the other side.
Make sure the bracket is level. We tested it out before adding the final two screws just to make sure the case would properly lock when we were done.
The SwingCase easily slips on the bracket and you're now good to go. It really is that simple. But because it is easily removable you can add your own paddle lock if you want to secure it to the bracket to avoid tempting thieves.
The SwingCase locks into position and to release simply pull on the latch below and it will swing out so it's easily accessible. Inside there is plenty of room to store loose items and as a nice added bonus you can lock the lid shut. To close, just swing it back and it locks into position and will not swing out until you release it.
If anyone has ever seen the install video for the BedRug bed liner and thought it looked too easy to be true, you're not the only one. When researching the type of liner we wanted for this truck we watched the video and after installing it ourselves, it really is quite easy.
We considered spray-on liners as well as drop-in liners, but it was the BedRug that intrigued us the most. We like the thought of having a nice padded bed liner that will be soft for the kids as well as the dogs, yet still be able to haul dirt and anything else we want to use this truck for. Because the BedRug doesn't hold water, you can easily spray it out with the hose, which was a huge selling point for us.
The BedRug comes in two sections and using the heavy-duty zipper the pieces connect underneath. Once installed, you'd never guess it didn't come shipped like that.
The detailed instructions clearly show where to place the fasteners on the BedRug. At first we wondered if this would be enough to hold it in place when we were done, but it's a fine science with the placement areas and everything continues to hold extremely well.
Then when you have the BedRug is place, simply peel back the adhesive protective film on the fastener in sections at a time and attach.
Using a small knife we cut a slit for the SwingCase latch, which still allows it to smoothly lock in place, yet you have a cleaner look now with the majority of the bracket hidden.
With the SwingCases back on, the back of the truck takes on a whole new look and feel. We expected the back to be padded, but it even surprised us a little just how good it felt on our knees.
With the SwingCases and BedRug now completely installed it was time to move on to the actual cover. The Flex Cover from UnderCover was surprisingly simple to install. Even though the folding cover has multiple applications including the big three, it felt like it was custom-made just for our truck.
The side mounting rails come pre-assembled so it's just a matter of using a 9/16-inch socket to place and tighten a total of six clamps, three on each side. The rails need to be 1/8-inch above the top edge of your truck bed rail.
The rear clamp has plenty of clearance for the SwingCase too so that was never a concern.
Next, you slide the two front mounting bolts into the track on the underside and then set the one-piece cover in place and just like that you're almost done.
You carefully unfold the cover after that and make sure it's centered. The easiest way to check this is to be sure the latches on both the left and right side are engaging with the cover mounting rail as you unfold. Once in place, use the flat washer, lock washer and star knob on the front mounting bolt underneath to hand tighten and secure.
One of the features we like is the built-in prop rods that allow you to keep the cover fully open so you can still easily use the majority of your bed if needed for hauling taller items like a dirt bike.
Our last step was to drill a hole for each of the drain tubes that attach to the fittings at the front of the mounting rails. This diverts water out of the truck bed and we quickly learned just how well it really works following a storm a few weeks later.
Looking back on this project, the installs for all three products were extremely easy and we would recommend them for those do-it-yourself types. Since installing, we've found plenty of good uses for our new setup including a camping trip where rain was only a minor delay, thanks to the cover. When the rain came we simply closed up the cover and we were good to go, unlike previous trips that had us scrambling for a tarp.
As for the BedRug, that turned out better than we imagined too and we had high hopes for it from the beginning. Trips to the drive-in movie theater with the kids this summer proved the BedRug to be a great choice as we continue to use the truck for every day abuse, ahem, I mean use.
Plus having the SwingCases is more than just a good conversation starter as mentioned earlier. They're a practical way to get the most out of your space while providing a great place to store your loose gear.
Overall we're extremely happy with our Bed Makeover project that seemed to take years off the look of our truck while making it more efficient and practical for every day use.