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All Hands on Deck!


Words by Byran Milne and Andrew Mowat Pictures by Bryan Milne

After inviting a friend, Andrew Mowat, to join me on the Nossob Eco Trail in the Kgalagadi, I had a choice to make: either carry a lot of extra camping gear in my Prado, or help Andrew convert his Jimny into a self-sufficient overlander. I chose the latter.

 With just 113-litres of boot space, the Jimny is by no means a conventional overland 4×4. But, once we’d removed the rear seats, we found a flat, usable cargo area that we could use.

After conducting some experimental packing, we discovered that the Jimny’s boot could comfortably house a 50-litre water tank, as well as a stack of ammo boxes, tent, gas bottle and cooker, and a large thermo cooler. But, in order to pack these items neatly, and secure them, we had to make a packing deck first.

We started the build process with a paper template. This allowed us to design the contours of the packing deck easily, before cutting any wood. Once we had the general shape in mind, we placed the template on top of a large piece of 18 mm shutterply board. We then cut around the template, using a jigsaw.

We also cut clearance holes for the cup holders, and access holes for the Jimny’s four anchor points. A strip of wood was attached to the underside of the deck to create a support beam that rests on the Jimny’s stepped load bay. We used wide ratchet-strap webbing for the tie-down points. These straps were heat-treated on their edges and bolted to the deck using oversized washers. A red-hot nail proved the best way to create a hole in each strap. A strip of cargo rail was attached to the deck, for a variety of tie-down options along the centre of the deck..

To finalise the project, we used carpet tiles to cover the deck to deaden sound, and to stop objects sliding about. We also unbolted the rear seatbelts and cable-tied them to the upper mounts. The packing deck did a great job of increasing the Jimny’s load space, ergonomics and functionality. Here’s what Andrew had to say….

“My experience with the packing deck was great, all round; and it proved essential in terms of space! The deck also offers excellent ease of use, and effortless installation and removal when either is needed..

The total cost of building the deck was in the region of R250 – a minor price to pay for a modification that fully utilises the Jimny’s packing area. A comprehensive drawer system may be a great mod for the future, but it would also complicate an otherwise elegant and simple design.”