A Jeep is pretty much a Lego set for adults; it can be easily customized to suit your needs and to reflect your individuality. It is a vehicle that you can make yours and yours alone.
I picked up the Smittybilt G.E.A.R. Tailgate Cover for my Jeep Wrangler last year. I had the cover installed in my 2011 Wrangler Unlimited and found it to be very useful. This year, I picked up a 2012 Call of Duty version of the Wrangler Unlimited, so I thought I’d share my experience with the tailgate cover since I’ve had plenty of time to put it through it’s paces.
The Smittybilt G.E.A.R. Tailgate Cover is essentially a sheet of waterproof coated 600 denier polyester with a PAL/MOLLE (Pouch Attachment Ladder System/Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) pattern cut into the shape of a Jeep Wrangler tailgate. It’s also completely UV stable and is available in 4 different colors: black, tan, OD Green and ACUI. I chose the black version to match the rest of my gear and the interior of my Jeep. It comes with 2 interchangeable PAL/MOLLE storage pouches, and I’ve picked up a few others along the way.
I picked up the G.E.A.R Tailgate Cover to add some storage space to my Jeep. This solved the problem of having gear bouncing around in the cargo area. It came with 2 MOLLE bags that have been very useful in housing my emergency gear as well as some things I find myself needing at the range on a regular basis.
Some of the gear I’ve housed in there includes:
- Emergency Tow Rope
- Basic Survival Kit
- Paracord (about 500ft of it)
- Foldable Shovel
- Emergency Rations
- Road Flares
- Small Tarp
- Emergency Blanket
- Field Medical Kit
Having the extra storage to house my emergency gear makes me much more comfortable venturing out on trips with my wife and young daughter. It provides extra safety and peace of mind when traveling during the occasionally rough New England winters. By utilizing an area that would otherwise go unused, it also frees up much-needed floor space in the cargo area.
The paracord, shovel and tow rope have come in especially handy during camping trips with the family. Having a place to keep emergency and survival supplies has made the entire thing an added convenience for any and all outdoor activities. Plus, it looks pretty sweet on my Jeep.
This was the first time I’ve ever owned anything with MOLLE on it, so the first time I wove the bags onto the MOLLE I had some trouble. The buttons can make it tricky to get the weave in and out before you get used to it. I used the punch that I had used to start the screw holes to just open up the weave. I’m pretty sure there’s better ways to do this, but since I dove right in and didn’t research methods for weaving MOLLE, this worked surprisingly well.
Installation is a breeze. As you can see in the pictures below, the easiest thing to do is to start on one corner, mark the drill hole with a punch, drill a small hole and use self-tapping metal screws to secure each of the eyelets into the cover. Pretty simple and straightforward.
When I installed this on my previous Jeep, I marked the hole locations, drilled them out and installed the tailgate cover, resulting in the cover not being as tight as I wanted. But with this new method, working down and over, the cover is as tight as a drum skin on the tailgate.
I also put a dab of liquid electrical tape on each screw before installing them, in order to prevent corrosion on the metal where the holes were drilled. It’s a quick step, but I think it’s simpler than putting paint on the inside of the holes and waiting for it to dry.
I’ve owned many many Jeep accessories over the years, all serving a variety of purposes. The Smittybilt G.E.A.R. Tailgate Cover has rapidly become one of my favorites. It saves a lot of space and is very affordable. I found mine on my favorite Jeep catalog store, Quadratec.com, for only $59.99. You can check this cover out on Smittybilt’s site here: http://www.smittybilt.com/product/index/86.htm