Lately I’ve been yearning for the great outdoors and looking for ways to improve the car camping experience in my 2002 Chevy Trailblazer EXT. I’ve slept in the back with an air mattress a few times which has been ok, but the most rear section has a 3″ drop that makes the mattress slope down beneath your knees and feet. Not optimal.
I have seen a few OEM cargo shelfs like the one below on eBay, but they cost $80-100 which didn’t seem worth the expense.
Doesn’t she look so happy with her removable cargo shelf? I want to experience that level of happiness, but without dropping $100 for an accessory for my 13 year old SUV.
I surveyed the situation today and took some measurements before heading over to Lowe’s with the mission to spend as little as possible while keeping the construction as simple as possible.
The Trailblazer EXT has built-in slots to hold the removable shelf. The shelf can be installed in an upper and lower location. The purpose of the lower location is to provide a nearly level cargo area when all the seats are laying flat. This will solve that sloping mattress issue.
The slot is 1″ deep so I was thinking a 1″ thick board would do the trick. I later realized that a “one inch” board is actually only 3/4″ thick. Close enough!
The depth of the shelf slot is 14 3/16″ so my goal depth for the shelf was 14″.
The height of the lower shelf position from the floor is 3 1/16″ so I needed to create supports so that my shelf wouldn’t buckle under the weight of an air mattress with 1 or 2 people sleeping on it. I figure 3″ would do which is the thickness of two 2x4s.
After looking at the options available to create a shelf that is 14″ deep, I opted for a 1x8x10. A 1×8 board is actually 7 1/2″ wide so two of them side by side will be 15″ wide which is fine after cutting a 1/4″x1″ notch in each end of one of the boards.
Lowe’s is always happy to make a few cuts for you so I had the board cut into two 49″ pieces.
Luckily my neighbor Eric had some scrap 2×4’s to construct the 3″ high supports for when the shelf is in the lower location and needs to support more *ahem* weight.
We attached the supports 13″ from the ends to keep the supports from resting on a storage compartment in the floor of the Trailblazer.
Eric used a grinder to cut off the ends to the screws so there aren’t any dangerous pointy parts on the bottom of the shelf. Thanks, Eric!
Our 1/4″ x 1″ notch works perfectly!
Cargo shelf installed in the lower location with seats down ready to receive an air mattress:
Cargo shelf installed in the upper location with seats up ready to receive groceries or whatever:
Another benefit of this shelf in the upper location with seats up is added security for items stowed underneath.
- one 1x8x10 ($14)
- two 14″ pieces of 2×4 ($0)
- two 4″ pieces of 2×4 ($0)
- twelve 2″ wood screws
- radial saw
- grinder (optional if you have shorter screws)
- wrap in industrial carpet (hopefully scrap piece at no cost)
- sand and paint any exposed wood surfaces