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Next-Level Gear Organization: Leitner FORGED Active Cargo Truck System Review

The Leitner FORGED Active Cargo System, complete with GearPODs, has changed the way I haul my gear in all the best ways.

Leitner Forged Active Cargo System and GearPODsLeitner FORGED Active Cargo System and GearPODs; (photo/Rachelle Schrute)
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Why wouldn’t you utilize the airspace of your truckbed as storage? I’ve had traditional camp toppers, in-bed storage tubs, DIY disasters, and everything in between. The combination of a Leitner FORGED Active Cargo System and a full GearPOD setup has been, shall I be so bold to say, game-changing. Yeah, I went there.

As someone who uses my truck as a base camp just about every season of the year, secure and organized storage is invaluable. I’ve had every configuration you can imagine, from totes to duffel bags and everything in between. Because of my lifestyle, I need my truck bed. I can’t rig it out with a full in-bed camper and I certainly can’t be made into a van lifer just yet. I have feed, dogs, and meat to haul.

The Leitner Active Cargo System and GearPODS seemed like the ideal storage option and rack system to outfit my truck in a way my DIY solutions simply couldn’t. The price certainly isn’t super wallet-friendly, but is it worth it?

In short: The combination of a Leitner FORGED Active Cargo System kitted out with GearPODs has been a wild breath of fresh air. It allows me to bring it all, keep it organized and secure, and still have my truck bed available to haul my bounty.

Leitner Truck Bed Rack & Gear Pod Review

Leitner FORGED
Ted the Tundra, who’s never been clean, decked out with his Leitner FORGED storage system; (photo/Rachelle Schrute)

The Real Tester: Ted

Before we dive too deep, introductions: Ted is my steed. He’s a cherry red 2011 Toyota Tundra Double Cab with body damage no truck deserves. However, every ding, dent, and scratch has been well-earned.

Until recently, he sported a traditional, hard-shell topper. My storage configurations varied from season to season but always involved a raised cot that I built out of scrap wood with a conglomeration of plastic totes sliding around beneath it.

Because so many of my seasons overlap, it isn’t uncommon for my truck bed to pull quadruple duty. It’s often my riverbank camp overnight, my fishing rig in the morning, my scouting rig in the afternoon, and a hunting rig by evening. That means Ted is geared out at all times with a wide spread of outdoor goodies.

… and then there was Leitner Designs.

My Leitner Setup List

Leitner FORGED Active Cargo System, GearPODs, and DECKED system
Leitner FORGED Active Cargo System, GearPODs, HydroPODS, and DECKED Drawer System; (photo/Rachelle Schrute)

Right off the bat, we need to clarify: this isn’t a budget-conscious buildout — I’m aware of that — this is the Cadillac of truck storage solutions.

This current setup is also partnered with a DECKED drawer system, a (super-secret-squirrel, undisclosed, and unpictured) roof-top tent, and a Trxstle CRC Fly Rod Carrier. Essentially, this means there is more monetary value in Ted’s new storage setup than Ted has himself.

However, if you live out of your rig and spend your time hunting, fishing, and just generally dirtbagging from the river to the mountains, this is the dream setup.

The Leitner FORGED Active Cargo System Rack

Leitner FORGED Truck Rack
(Photo/Leitner Designs)

The rack itself is substantial. I’ve had several folks with similar but different rack systems venture over to my rig to check it out, all of whom have either commented about how sturdy/rugged it feels or how clean and fitting the install looks.

The installation is pretty simple and slick. It took us about 4 hours from unpacking to a full installation (including the GearPODS), and that was with a 12-year-old boy working as our foreman. Leitner has built an incredibly in-depth instructional video on how to install every part and piece. I highly recommend watching it fully before you embark on your installation journey.

The specs on the rack will vary depending on your truck model, but they’re built out of an aluminum alloy and, as far as I can see, all versions weigh under 100 pounds. The rack has an off-road, dynamic carrying capacity of 400 pounds, while the on-road capacity jumps to 800 pounds.

The parked weight capacity might seem like a silly thing to know since vehicles are known to move pretty regularly. However, if you use this puppy to haul a rooftop tent, you might want to know how many friends you can invite over for the night. Luckily, you have a cap of 1,400 pounds of static weight load with this rack system. For reference, most rooftop tents weigh between 100 and 200 pounds.

One big perk is the sliding load bars. This allows you to slide the rear crossbar forward and out of the way in the event you need to load something large, like a dirtbike.

How I Utilize the GearPODs

Leitner GearPOD XL
(Photo/Leitner Designs)

A place for everything. Everything has its place. Let’s start with the smallest Leitner accessories and move our way up.

For the sake of not repeating myself over and over again, the GearPODS are made of roto-molded high-density polyethylene. Think recreational kayak construction and that’s just about right.

HydroPOD ACS Rack Shower Kit

Leitner HydroPOD
Leitner HydroPOD ACS Rack Shower Kit; (photos/Rachelle Schrute, Leitner Designs)
  • 4.8 gallons
  • 20-foot hose

I didn’t know I needed these, and now I don’t know what I’d do without them. Having pressurized water at the ready has been something of a luxury that has so many applications. I can hose off my waders and wading boots, clean off my truck bed, wash my hands, spray off any muddy/bloody gear, and shower. When the team at Leinter suggested two of them, I wasn’t sold.

Now, I’m so glad I have nearly 10 gallons of water ready to do my dirtiest bidding.


Leitner GearPOD
Leitner GearPOD outfitted with MyMedic Collab First Aid Kit; (photos/Leitner Designs, Rachelle Schrute)
  • Weight: 20 lbs.
  • Weight capacity: 65 lbs.
  • Storage space: 10.5 gals. (1.4 cu. ft.)

Currently, my single GearPOD holds a Leitner x MyMedic Collaboration First Aid Kit, which comes in a Leitner GearBAG. Some outdoor activities I engage in are inherently dangerous, so having an easily accessible first-aid kit is key. As a wilderness first responder, it gives me a bit of comfort knowing I can grab what I need without digging if the occasion arises.

The kit itself comes with just about everything you need. I’ve customized it with some activity-specific products, like chest seals in the event of an accidental gun incident (every hunter should carry them), additional foot care items, the NOLS Wilderness Medicine Field Guide, a water filter, and a host of different medications for whatever might arise in the field.

This is the only GearPOD I leave unlocked. I would rather risk losing a lot of medical supplies than risk someone not having access when seconds count most. I’ve considered labeling it from the outside in the event that it might just save a life when I’m not around.

GearPOD Dual

GearPOD Dual
The GearPOD Dual acts as a ‘Chuck Box’ mobile camp kitchen; (photos/Rachelle Schrute, Leitner Designs)
  • Weight: 42 lbs.
  • Weight capacity: 110 lbs.
  • Storage space: 24 gals. (96 qts.)

The ol’ Truck Chuck Box is dreamy. The GearPOD Dual has plenty of space for all your travel kitchen gadgets. Currently, I have a Primus Kochuma grill, a Primus Profile Stove, a propane-bottle-top single burner, an MSR Backpacking Stove, a Planetary Designs OVRLNDER french press, a full set of camp pots and pans, my camp seasonings, UCO mess kit, and camp culinary knife set, camp dishes, spare UCO camp utensils, mugs, and a few lighters.

It holds a heap and a half. That is far more than I actually use, but I love to have it handy if I want it.

I tend to keep all of my food products either in my cooler or in the cab.


The GearPOD XL pulling serious gear storage duty; (photos/Rachelle Schrute)
  • Weight: 50 lbs.
  • Weight capacity: 150 lbs.
  • Storage space: 40 gals. (160 qts.)

The 50-inch-wide GearPOD XL holds the bulk of my gear. My fishing waders, boots, backpack, lumbar pack, and a host of other gadgets and gizmos fit in this thing. For the most part, I find that using it as a makeshift outdoor closet is what works best for me. This is where my wearables live.

To be honest, this has become my “dump” pod. When I’m hunting, my outer layers get shed and tossed in here with my pack. When I’m fishing, my waders and boots end up haphazardly thrown in here. It’s big enough to accommodate just being a junk pod. Sometimes, we just need to toss stuff and go, but still keep it secure.

Where the Leitner GearPODS Get It Right

Leitner FORGED
(Photo/Rachelle Schrute)

The Leitner FORGED Active Cargo System and GearPODS shine by utilizing unused airspace to keep your gear organized and easily accessible. I can quickly grab what I need and drop what I don’t without filling my backseat with a pile of unorganized crap. I guess what it gets down to is this: the system does exactly what it says it does.

Depending on the season, my truck ends up being a complete disaster. This system has changed that for me.

In addition, the security gives me incredible peace of mind. I have a lot of quality gear that I love. The ability to have it stored securely allows me not to have to stress about whether or not my gear is disappearing when I’m away from my rig.

Where the GearPODS Could Improve

Water From Rain
Water making its way into the GearPOD XL; (photo/Rachelle Schrute)

Water, Water, Everywhere …

When it rains, it pours. Unfortunately, this extends to the GearPODS. To the brand’s credit, it does have this warning pasted all over the website on the installation manuals and all over the GearPODS themselves:

“Every effort has been made to make the GearPOD as watertight as possible.  However, due to manufacturing tolerance, driving conditions, and weather, we do not recommend storing items that can be damaged by water before placing them in their own airtight container.”

The long and the short is that these are not watertight. I found this out the hard way while on the river. After a solid rainstorm, I opened the GearPOD XL to find that water had come in both during the storm and through the upper hinge upon opening. I think this will be a relatively easy fix for me with a strip of weatherproofing material along that top edge.

It’s certainly a quirk worth noting.

Using Airspace, Losing Bed Space

This isn’t a flaw. It’s just a word of caution: You lose bed space. This should be a given, but when I went to load up my Yeti Tundra 110 Cooler, I realized I was now a few inches too narrow for the cooler to sit up next to my cab. Granted, I can always load it lengthwise, but it isn’t ideal.

This is one of those get-a-lot, give-a-little circumstances. Not a deal breaker. I’ll just swap for a different cooler to accommodate.

Accessory Ideas

MOLLE panels, internal attachment points, and lighting options would be rad little additions. There isn’t much additional space once you get your gear loaded, but I will likely add some aftermarket lid accessories.

I’m considering using the same rechargeable, motion-activated light bars I use in my gun cabinet. That way, when attached to the lid, you’ll have overhead lighting. Or, you could always go with the solar lantern route.

Leitner FORGED Active Cargo System Review: Final Thoughts

View from above Leitner Rack System
View from above Leitner Forged system installed above Decked Drawer Platform; (photo/Rachelle Schrute)

For my lifestyle, I don’t know how it gets better than this setup. The water issues and loss of bed width can’t possibly deter me from recommending this to everyone with a ton of gear to tote around and still needs the truck bed to haul a wide range of things of all sizes. The Leitner Designs FORGED Active Cargo System keeps your stuff secure, organized, and cleaner than pretty much any other truck option I’ve tried.

In areas where theft is a concern, it allows you to feel a little better about walking away from your rig and wandering for a while.

If you have the budget and a truck with the oomph to haul it around, the Leitner FORGED Active Cargo System is a solid choice for those who want to spend more time outdoors without having to run home for a gear swap.

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