For those not already in the know, let’s start with exactly what is an RV Basement, and then we’ll look at RV basement storage solutions.
Firstly, it’s more of a nickname than anything, because it’s not like the basement in a house, where you can go down stairs and walk around, etc.
An RV basement is usually no more than a couple feet high, and is generally just an extra storage compartment that is located under the floor of the RV.
In this article we’re going to look at some RV basement / RV pass through storage ideas that will help you to organize the space while still having good access to your possessions.
A Brief History
You see, back in the old days (for some of us), an RV basement wasn’t really a thing yet. But most 5th Wheelers and the bigger RV’s will often have 2 different floor levels, and some manufacturers saw an opportunity to create some much needed extra space with a simple little adjustment to the design.
For example, on a 5th Wheel, the floor towards the front is a step up from the floor level at the rear, due to placement of the hitch, etc.
So they extended the higher floor further back into the lower floored area, creating that extra storage underneath.
As you probably already know, storage space is as precious as gold when you’re living on the road, so such a simple design change that added the RV basement storage made a huge difference and pretty much all of them do it now.
1. Cargo Slide (aka Slide Tray)
If you don’t like bending over and climbing half way in to the basement to get to whatever it is you’re looking for, then RV basement storage slides might be the way to go.
It’s simply a set of rails fixed to the left and right of the interior space with a drawer or shelf that runs back and forth on the rails, just like a normal kitchen drawer, but much larger.
This makes life a lot easier because you simply pull on the handle and the whole shelf rolls out, giving you full access to everything you can fit in it.
But therein lies one of the possible disadvantages.
You see, once you’ve installed the railing system and the drawers or shelves that slide on the rails, you end up with a lot less space than you started with. Some setups use up to almost 40% of the original space (not to mention the extra weight, but we’ll talk about that further down the page).
Obviously not all of them take up that much space, but it is definitely something to consider when looking into the cargo slide option.
Something else to note is that you can buy these cargo slides separately and have them installed, or you can build your own. If you’re handy with the tools, you may be able to come up with a design that maximizes your space and wastes as little as possible.
Heavy Duty RV Drawer Slides
Before purchasing any hardware for constructing your own slides, you should consider what you plan to store on the slide. If you’re putting anything heavy, like a generator or a tool cabinet, then you’ll need to make sure that you get heavy duty RV drawer slides.
2. Suspend racks
Source: Forest River Forums
3. Storage Tubs
If you really need to maximize the RV basement storage space, but you don’t like the idea of having to dig through everything to find what you need, then using plastic storage tubs is another very handy option.
You simply store everything into half a dozen or so storage tubs first, and then pack the tubs into the basement. If you think it through beforehand, then when you go looking for something, you will already know exactly which tub to pull out.
Which leads us to some points to consider when using the tubs option.
Firstly, make sure you measure up your RV basement’s interior dimensions first, so you know what size tubs to buy and how many you need etc.
Do you want 3 either side (6 altogether)? Do you want more than one layer? Ie. 3 on the bottom, 3 on the top? Do you want lots of light, easily liftable tubs? Or just a few large (and possibly heavy) tubs?
Make sure you figure all that out before you head to the store and start trying to figure it out by memory.
Something else to think of, when using tubs… it may seem like a very minor thing, but it can really mess up your brilliant plans if you skip over it… and that is the internal corners of the storage space.
Specifically, where the vertical walls meet the horizontal walls (or floor and ceiling) are sometimes rounded, or curved, with a radius of up to a couple of inches… sometimes more, sometimes less.
This tiny detail can be a problem when you’ve bought a whole bunch of perfectly square or rectangular tubs only to realize that the end ones won’t slide in because the square corners don’t fit into the curved corner of the interior space.
Also, make sure the shape of your tubs are space efficient too. Some storage tubs are weird shapes, with sloped walls, sticking out handles, rounded corners and extra wide lids, etc.
This is often done to make them stackable on top of each other, but all of that uses up valuable cubic inches of storage space.
So just make sure your tubs have vertical sides and the lid doesn’t hang over the sides too far.
We’ve already spent way too much time on this but there’s still 2 more things to consider when going with the tubs option… and one is transparency. Do you want to be able to see what’s in the tub without opening it? Then make sure you get the clear, see-through tubs.
And lastly, consider having something like rope, or a strap, or even just use your awning hook, to reach in and drag the tubs out when they’re all the way in and you don’t feel like bending over and reaching all the way in.
If you’re handy with tools you can get creative and come up with any one of a million variations of sliders and storage tubs, above, but to cover them all here could take years, so maybe we’ll save that for a whole separate blog post in the future.
But before you rush off to start measuring up your own RV basement, there’s still a couple of things we haven’t touched on yet…
Don’t worry, I’m not about to ask you to lay off the burgers and start eating salad or any such thing… I’m talking about the weight of your RV.
Try and be conscious of how much extra weight you’re adding to your RV when you start filling up the storage areas with all your new tubs and sliders.
Again, it doesn’t sound like much of an issue, but if you’re loading them up with say… car parts… heavy tools… water and/or other liquids then you can start to really affect the overall RV weight a lot more than if you filled it up with things like clothing and linen.
Another basic one. But not everyone thinks of it until they find themselves fumbling around in the dark, rummaging through the RV basement trying to identify something based purely on what it feels like.
If there’s not already lighting in your basement area, you could get an electrician to install some for you (or do it yourself if that’s your thing). Otherwise, you could look at battery run lights as a quick fix solution. I doubt it’s something you would use every day (just on those nights where your friends have come over for a meal and a drink and you decide to play Monopoly… but the Monopoly game set is stored in one of the basement tubs) so having some light in there is going to make it that much easier to find.
What have you done to organize your RV basement storage space? Let us know in the comments or share your ideas of what works best.
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