Platform and Drawer System

If you've been reading along on this build you know that there was a dog deck and a folding utility shelf installed, neither of which worked as well as I would have liked. Add to that one of the reasons I went with this 2.5 is its room to create a sleeping platform, and I decided to do a do-over, making this Interior Modification, Part 2, combining a platform with a drawer system. 

I studied a number of DYI systems on Expo and other build threads, making decisions on materials and dimensions, but keeping all this driven by our overland history of what has worked and what we wish we had. The driving need here for us was to have the ability to pull over, level out, roll out pads and bags and go to sleep. 

We've done the RTT route and have a Kodiak ground tent, both with pros and cons. Being able to sleep in the Monty seems to be the best compromise for us; easy set-up and access, great weather protection and climate control, off the ground away from critters and more of a challenge for predators to get to us. 

We didn't want to compromise storage, and given we've turned this Monty into more of a Nomad (its new nomenclature) by removing everything aft of the front seats, a platform with a drawer system and storage hatches would be the way to go. The system would provide a cooking and cleaning workspace and a large drawer.

And then there's the fridge dilemma. Every fridge system, save for a couple small ones, exceed the platform height requirements I established for this build; 12" high from the cargo floor, giving us and the canines enough room above board to sleep and travel comfortably. That equates to 18" in the middle seat passenger-side footwell, but the well itself is just a bit too small to accommodate an Engel or ARB fridge, so I originally considered a smaller 12V fridge.  

With these considerations in mind, I hit the drawing board. 
This shoot-for-the-moon design featured a stainless drop-in propane two-burner stove and a drop-in stainless sink in a slide-out drawer. A 23"W by 30"D drawer would store mess and camp stuff. There's room for a ten gallon water tank and a Luna Dual Battery system to power the fridge and isolate the 2.5's main 12V system. 

I calculated around 170 pounds was removed from the interior and I didn't want to exceed that in this build. I compared MDF, plywood and particle board in terms of weight and strength and decided to go with particle board. (Welding a frame together was out of my scope.) UPDATE: Finished build comes in at approximately 185 pounds. 

The first alteration to the original plan was to flip it, putting the kitchen slide-out on the door side using it as a wind break to shelter the cooking area.

I went four inches shorter on the outer uprights to allow easier access for storage under the platform.

The platform was originally designed with three hatches; two wings on the sides flanking the drawer cabinet, and one long hatch to access the space in the cabinet ahead of the drawers to store gear. I took care to make certain the interior dimensions of the cabinet were square from to back, top to bottom.

A fourth hatch was added just aft of the front passenger seat to provide access to the fridge. With everything cut, it was covered with Select Elements Foster Gunmetal Indoor/Outdoor carpet and Gorilla Glue.

With the cabinet and platform built, installed and covered, I took dimensions for the drawers, keeping in mind that the drawer sliders would occupy an inch of the width dimension of each drawer.

The original plan was to contract out the drawer construction, but for the time and cost involved I decided to build them myself. I went with one-by-two inch milled pine for the stove/sink frame instead of what I specified in the plans and 5.5" milled pine on the storage drawer.

The next big plan alteration was the hardware for the kitchen slide-out. I decided to go the budget route and use what I had on hand. I found a great little collapsible sink made by Ultimate Survival Technologies and have on hand a Camp Chef single burner butane stove and made changes to the layout.

I rotated the stove 90 degrees to make it easer to load the butane, access the controls and give it more space away from the edge of the platform.

Snap hardware was used to mount the stove to the pull-out surface, keeping it firmly in place but capable of being removed for cleaning. The collapsible sink creates space to store a dromedary bag underneath. The drawer glide for this pull-out is a 30" Firgelli Automations Full Extension Drawer Slide rated up to 400 pounds.

With all these design considerations and alterations, this is what we ended up with:

The drawer pulls are lockable Amarine 2" Flush Pull Slam latches. 

Accuride 28" Full Extension Drawer Glides support the gear drawer rated at 100 pounds. 

The Monty has constant power to the disc changer which I've deleted so I pulled its power to feed this 12V panel. 

In our travels we never once said, "Wouldn't it be nice to have a fridge?" Our Coleman 54qt. cooler never let us down. But, it, too, was too big to fit in the space behind the front passenger seat. 

Engel makes a 30qt. cooler that fits perfectly in this spot as seen from behind the passenger seat. The center support stanchion is made from 1" PVC. 

To access the cooler, I created the fourth hatch that lands on a collapsible bracket on the right.

When open, the underside of the hatch has a white plastic cutting board food prep surface. 

The support brackets (on both B-pillars) are an 8" folding spring-loaded support made for microwaves.

The hatch has a second support, a sliding latch that locks into the platform at the head end. 

The driver's side passenger door storage area accommodates two camp chairs, our Volcano grill, portable lu, folding table and other gear. 

The leading edge of the platform is protected with a strip of aluminum stair edging.

And the other three sides of the platform are finished with white vinyl wire channel.


  1. Really nice job with the platform! Now that it's done have you had a chance to use it? Any changes or updates if you were going to do it again? Thanks, Ross 99 2.5

    1. Hi Ross. I've used the platform for three overnighters so far, but have yet to cook with the pull-out. We're heading out for an overlanding trip in a week to put it to the test.

      I should've used a high quality plywood or perhaps MDF instead of the particle board - it's sturdy enough but it sheds and warps. I thought 3/4" would have the integrity I was looking for. For a 4X8 sheet at $20 I couldn't resist.

      We're adding a second awning along with an enclosure that'll connect on the driver's side of the Montero, making me wish I did the cooler/work-surface area behind the driver seat instead of the passenger. The thought at the time was to be able to have more flexibility in leg room for the driver side, but the platform length makes both sides the same.

      Other than that, I'm very happy with it.

  2. Great post!! Much appreciate the superb photography and details about materials. How'd the May trip go?

    1. Thank you. Glad it's being enjoyed. Our May trip was was cut short due to a micro burst in Valley of the Gods that wiped out our awning tent hardware. You can read about it here -, and our subsequent trip in June here -

      I use this platform every week since I camp when I make the commute to Southern Utah, and it's held up very well. As of writing this, I'm off on a nine-day trip to Southern Utah and on to Ft. Huachuca, AZ.

    2. Eric,

      Thanks for the link. I'd read the post without realizing it was the May trip. What is that you do that has you commuting? I'm heading to Portal around the 26th to meet a friend on her estate. The Huachucas are amazing aren't they?

    3. I teach at a university in Southern Utah, twenty years now. I live in Bountiful, north of SLC now since my spouse advanced her career in the Salt Lake area. I'm close to an early retirement but don't want to walk away just yet, so I'm trying to make the best of that commute. I've never been to the Huachucas. It's my daughter who draws me to FH for a visit.

    4. If you have time, let me encourage you to visit Cochise Stronghold. Take Ironwood Rd to the west just north of Sunsites. There's dispersed camping on the right just beyond the cattle guard and hanging sign marking the Natl Forest boundary. Be sure you have enough gas; there's none available nearby.

  3. This is the cleanest, well engineered montero build I have seen. So much attention to detail that it looks like factory build. I am 80% of completing mine when I saw this build. We have the same general lay out except mine still retains the second row seats beacause we have kids that comes along on our trips.

    1. Thank you. Just saw your comment. I've migrated the build to this address for more information -

    2. Love to see the build that retains the second row seat! Going to end up doing this myself in my Gen 2.


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