Adventure Wagon’s Ox Box storage system is a set of sturdy metal stacking trunks. They are lightweight, weather-sealed, and look like they’d stand up well to van life.
We just got sent a medium sized Ox Box to test out, so this is an initial review and we’ll post an update after we’ve had a chance to use it for a while.
I have to say, the box is a really nice piece of kit. It’s been thoughtfully designed with van life in mind. It’s like an old-fashioned steamer trunk or foot locker but with the right combination of strength, light weight, and features for van storage. It doesn’t hurt that it looks good too!
Sized right for van storage
Here are the specs:
- Small: 49 Liter capacity – 14.25” L x 16.75” W x 13”H – $260
- Medium: 98 Liter capacity – 29.5” L x 16.75” W x 13”H – $355
- Large: 147 Liter capacity – 44.25” L x 16.75” W x 13”H – $485
Size-wise, the Medium is slightly larger than two milk crates. It stores way more than two crates would though, because you can make use of the entire volume, whereas milk crates have a lip around them. In fact, we’ve managed to fill the Medium size box up to the point where it’s hard for just one person to carry.
Adventure Wagon also sell slide-out trays, which would be ideal for this type of box. We chose not to use one in our van because we often haul random stuff when we’re not traveling so we prefer being able to use the whole floor in the back of the van. Pulling the box in and out isn’t an issue, so long as you don’t seriously overload it.
Our bikes still fit either side of the box in the back of our van. It’s easiest to take the box out when we put the bikes in, but it’s still possible with the box in place.
Strong enough to use as a bench
The cost of these boxes is obviously higher than plastic tubs or milk crates, but we seem to destroy plastic boxes on a regular basis, and they aren’t really strong enough to use as a bench seat. Really, you should be comparing the Ox Box to road/flight cases or metal foot lockers. These 1 mm thick aluminum boxes are the right combination of weight to strength and feel like they’ll last a long time.
The box is sturdy enough for one person to sit on, but would probably dent if you tried tap dancing on it. We’re already thinking of routing a piece of 1/2″ thick plywood to size for the top of this box. That would provide a much more rigid seating/standing surface, which then increases the utility of the box when you set up camp as well.
The stainless latches have a padlock hole, which is good to prevent curious people from rummaging around in your stuff. However, given the lightweight construction of the whole box I wouldn’t consider leaving valuables locked in it outside the van. It’s strong, but not THAT strong.
The handles have a really nice touch – they’re spring loaded so they stay against the side of the box when not in use, and most importantly they don’t rattle when you’re driving. They have a thick rubber coating, which makes the box much easier to carry when it’s full.
The top lip of the box has a rubber strip that should help keep out water and dust. The box probably isn’t waterproof, but it’s undoubtedly more weather resistant than a plastic tub with a clip-on lid.
The corners of the box have cast aluminum lugs that protect the box and also index with the base of the box above them so they “lock in” when you stack them.
Questions we still have
One downside compared to plastic tubs is that the lid is hinged, so you need space above it in order to open it. Often, we’ll just rummage in a plastic tub while it’s still in the van by lifting the lid a little. That’s still possible with these boxes if they’re only stacked one deep but could be an issue if you’re stacking them higher.
Other than the handles, there are no lashing points on the box. We like to keep things well strapped down when we’re traveling. What’s good though is that so far we’re noticing that the raised corners mean that ratchet straps stay put rather than slipping off.
It’s way below freezing as I write this, and the box is cold to the touch. I’d want some insulation between it and my butt if I was using it as a seat. We’ll probably make a plywood top for the box, and see if that helps out.
Overall, it looks like some serious thought went into the design of this Ox Box. We’ll be testing it out over the next couple of months to see how well it holds up to everyday use on road trips.
Disclosure: As I mentioned above, we got sent this box by Adventure Wagon to test out. We maintain complete editorial control over what we say about it though!