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Old 07-07-2021, 12:02 AM   #1
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rear mount cargo box advice?

All,

Has anyone done a serious comparison between rear-mounted cargo boxes for Sprinter vans? I have a 2017 sprinter 4x4 low roof Sportsmobile.

I see three options (maybe there are more?)

1) Aluminess boxes mounted on Aluminess rear bumper

2) Aluminess boxes direct mounted to rear door rack.

3) Owl boxes mounted to owl carriers.

I'm interested in two cargo boxes as internal storage space gets tight. Modularity would be a plus, by which I mean the option to remove and reinstall boxes easily (not recommended for the Aluminess. Don't have any need for a bike rack at this point, but maybe someday I'll fire up the mtb passion again?

I'd welcome any comments, especially from those who have looked at these options in depth, and ideally seen them in person.

Thanks for any thoughts!
Mike
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Old 07-07-2021, 10:07 PM   #2
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I have the Aluminess rear bumper, 2 deluxe boxes and 2 bike racks on the top of one of them. They are awesome. I don't know how we would manage without them. They are one of the best features of my Sportsmobile Sprinter van.

They are very strong and overall of high quality. I have had probably as much as 75-100 lbs in each box at times with my tools, water jugs, firewood, 2 lawn chairs, grill, and at times 1-2 inflatable kayaks. I also frequently carry my 20 lb bike and my wife's 40 lb ebike on the top of the right side box. There simply isn't room inside my van for most of these things. They swing away easily allowing access to the rear doors. The locks work fine. I have one of the quick release fuel cans (2 or 3 gal as I recall) mounted to the back of one box to carry a little emergency diesel. They add about 12-18" to the overall length of the van.

The downsides include the cost. They were expensive. The extra length requires me to use a 12" hitch extender on the rare occasions that I tow with my van. This extender reduces the tongue weight capacity although this isn't important for me since I only tow a smaller ATV trailer.

After about 3 years of use, the swing arms started not to spin smoothly on the hinges. Finally I had to replace the 2 bearing on each side which are standard wheel bearing (same as on my ATV and boat trailers). This took me about 2-3 hours one day which was somewhat of a hassle to do myself. There is a top cap on the hinge assemblies which wasn't well sealed and allowed water to get into the bearings (not a great design). I have since sealed the edges of these caps with caulk which should reduce this problem in the future. They now swing out like new again. This was the only problem I have had with them so far.

I have no idea about your other mentioned options except that I would not be comfortable putting much weight on boxes that were only attached to the Sprinter's rear doors. The weight adds up quickly with the things I carry in my boxes. A 5 gal jug of water alone is 50 lbs.. I am much more comfortable having the weight on the rear bumper and the frame of the Sprinter.

Again, I would buy these again and will definitely get them again on my next van. They are a no-brainer for me despite the relatively high cost.
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Old 07-08-2021, 12:35 PM   #3
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Great review, thank you! As expected.

Curious to hear thoughts on the other two options as well...
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Old 07-14-2021, 02:48 PM   #4
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I have the Sherpa cargo carrier by Owl Vans, along with their large cargo box. I added a shelf to the cargo box to make the interior space more useable.

Itís been a great place to store my recovery gear, hoses, and power cable. I mounted the cargo box low enough to be able to mount a stacked set of Rotopax diesel fuel containers to the Sherpa cargo carrier above the box.

I like the fact that the Sherpa cargo carrier is articulated so that it moves out of the way as I open the rear van door. About the only issue Iíve noticed it the need to periodically check all the nuts to ensure that they arenít working loose, especially after driving on rough Jeep trails. Iíve added loc-tite to all the threads and that has mitigated most of the fastener loosening, but some of those trails can shake even your wheel lug bolts loose so I just make it a habit to periodically check all the fasteners on my van I can get to.

I like their product so much that I ordered their tire carrier; Iím just patiently waiting for that order to be shipped so that I can get my spare tire on the rear where itís more easily accessible.



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Old 07-14-2021, 03:00 PM   #5
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Thanks for these comments and pictures.
Did you do any comparison between the Owl system you have and the Aluminess rear door mount setup? I see that the Owl system has some sort of pegboard type material, no?

how has it been with the rear window partially blocked?
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Old 07-14-2021, 05:51 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikemikemike View Post
Thanks for these comments and pictures.
Did you do any comparison between the Owl system you have and the Aluminess rear door mount setup? I see that the Owl system has some sort of pegboard type material, no?

how has it been with the rear window partially blocked?
Yes, I did also consider the Aluminess bumper and swing arm system, but I opted for the Owl Vans Sherpa cargo carrier for a few reasons:

1. Much less expensive
2. Weighs less
3. Can open the rear door and the cargo carrier swings with the door. With the Aluminess you have to first swing open the bumper swing arms, pin them to lock them into place and then you can open the door.

If you intend to carry a huge amount of weight in your cargo boxes you may still want to consider the Aluminess bumper and swing arms system. I believe that Owl Vans says you should limit your load to 100-150 lbs on their carrier.

The Owl Vans Sherpa system is a peg board style aluminum board so it is pretty versatile. They also have a newer system (B2) which is a hybrid cargo box, bike rack, and mini Sherpa.

With my Sherpa, I still have good visibility out the back window because of the notch at the top of the Sherpa.

No matter what you decide to get be aware that most things are still back ordered a bit so youíll likely have to wait for delivery.
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Old 07-14-2021, 09:40 PM   #7
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I'm in agreement with jrobe's comments above, especially: "I would not be comfortable putting much weight on boxes that were only attached to the Sprinter's rear doors."

My van is a 2016 and it has had Aluminess on the back since day one. The new hinge-mounted carriers were not available when I had the full Aluminess bumper with swing arms installed (deluxe box on one side, tire carrier on the other). I really like the look of the new carriers, but I recall that MB only rates the rear door hinges for 100 lbs., including the weight of the carrier, box, attachments and etc., all exclusive of the load itself. As most of us know, the weight adds up fast... My current spare is a 285/70/17 mounted on a Method wheel, the combination weighs 86 lbs., plus I have a loaded Trasharoo strapped to it in addition to the carrier itself. Ditto the other (heavier) side with a fully loaded Aluminess Deluxe box that sometimes carries 10 gallons (70 lbs.) of diesel on top of it in addition to the weight of the normal contents of the box.

Would I decide differently were I to make the decision now? No, not with our use case of taking the van off the pavement and bouncing things around as much as we do. I have not weighed all of the components in our typical loaded case, but I know it is well in excess of a combined load of 200 lbs. Experience has taught me that it is hard to keep the weight down (hold your comments please!) and I will wait to see how the MB hinges hold up over time in a loaded case that often sees off road use.
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Old 07-15-2021, 08:56 AM   #8
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I'm in agreement with jrobe's comments above, especially: "I would not be comfortable putting much weight on boxes that were only attached to the Sprinter's rear doors."
Yes, if you choose to use the Owl Vans products that attach to the rear door hinges, you definitely will want to stay within the product load limits. I even mentioned that if you are someone who is going to want to carry more weight, then the Aluminess bumper and swing arms may be a better choice. Although, since I posted I checked the Aluminess website and see that their swing arms are only rated for 100 pounds as well (200 lbs for their bike rack swing arm) so maybe you don't really gain any load capacity with an Aluminess rear bumper and swing arms.

That being said, I find the Owl Vans Sherpa cargo carrier and cargo box to be perfect for my needs. It carries all the things that get dirty and wet so I don't have to bring them into my van. I've got 60,000 miles on my 2018 Sprinter 4x4 and do try to get it off road as much as I can, but in reality probably 95% of those miles are on pavement. I haven't personally experienced any issues with the rear hinges nor have I ever read of an account where someone has (short of collision damage).

Owl Vans has a statement on their site that talks about the strength of the rear hinges, though admittedly they don't give any engineering data to bolster their opinion. They do say they will stand behind their product and if their product causes damage that they will take care of it.

https://owlvans.com/pages/faq

They also provide a video showing them completely lifting the rear of a Sprinter van off the ground by the rear hinges. Granted this doesn't match the sort of stresses that you may put on overloaded hinges with the dynamic impacts from off road travel, but it is still impressive.



I think that so long as one doesn't overload the rear hinges by placing too much in the cargo box or attaching too much to the Sherpa cargo carrier, then the Owl Vans products perform extremely well while making a smaller dent in your wallet and adding less weight to your van than a full Aluminess bumper with swing arms will. Staying within GVWR is also someone that people should do and the lighter weight of the Owl Vans system helps me to do that.
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Old 07-15-2021, 10:02 AM   #9
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The swing hinges on my Aluminess rear bumper / storage boxes have a heavy steel rod (about 1” diameter) pointing upward on the two corners. Then they have 2 heavy donut shaped wheel bearing ( standard auto/ trailer wheel bearings) on the top and bottom to create the hinge system. If you glanced at this sturdy hinge system and compared it to the simple Sprinter door hinges with the 1/4” small hinge pins, you would quickly conclude that the wheel bearing system has a much higher practical weight capacity. It seems like a night and day difference just looking at them. I am sure I could put 200-300 lbs in my boxes and they would still swing fine and be safe.

I know this because as I mentioned above, I had to replace these wheel bearing because water got into them from the unsealed top caps and the bearings started to rust. I have since sealed the top edges of the caps which should correct the problem. They were a pain to replace as they were rusted enough that I had to pound them off. I am not thrilled with the sealing that they did with installation but it is definitely a very strong and sturdy system.
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Old 07-15-2021, 12:36 PM   #10
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The swing hinges on my Aluminess rear bumper / storage boxes have a heavy steel rod (about 1Ē diameter) pointing upward on the two corners. Then they have 2 heavy donut shaped wheel bearing ( standard auto/ trailer wheel bearings) on the top and bottom to create the hinge system. If you glanced at this sturdy hinge system and compared it to the simple Sprinter door hinges with the 1/4Ē small hinge pins, you would quickly conclude that the wheel bearing system has a much higher practical weight capacity. It seems like a night and day difference just looking at them. I am sure I could put 200-300 lbs in my boxes and they would still swing fine and be safe.
Oh yes, I have no doubt that the Aluminess system is quite strong and should have a higher load capacity than the Owl Vanís systems. Thatís why I mentioned that anyone looking to carry heavier loads on the rear of their van should consider them. I was very surprised to see that Aluminess themselves only rate their standard swing arms for 100 lbs. They must have a reason for that
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