($390 from Spitzlift Inc. at www.spitzlift.com)
O.K., so you’ll also need to spend $185 on the hitch receiver adapter,
but the payoff is that this 30-pound portable lift let’s you pick
up 700 pounds and stuff and deposit it into the bed of your pickup.
The Spitzlift is made from structural aluminum, and when not in use folds
to fit under the rear seat or in a bed-spanning toolbox. The winch mechanism
has a load-control disc brake that prevents backlash and freewheeling,
and a 360-degree swivel makes loading and unloading easy, whether you’re
picking up an ATV, an outboard boat motor, a tree at the garden center,
a 20-point buck or a palette of building materials.
Creator Michael Spitzbergen is a 30-something construction contractor
from Texas who not only saw the need for a portable crane, but also created
one. Actually, he created two, because there’s one version with
a three-foot span and another (for $460) with a four-foot reach
By the way, while those are the suggested retail prices; the Spitzlift
website sometimes offers the units at sale prices.
($99 from Darby Industries Inc. at www.darbyindustries.com)
Extend-A-Truck II lives up to its name: It’s an L-shaped metal
device that plugs into the standard two-inch hitch receiver. Plug in the
long end into the receiver and you lengthen the cargo carrying capacity
of you pickup truck’s bed. Plug in the short end and the vertical
arm is high enough to support the back of a boat (or other long item)
attached to the top of your truck’s cab.
A 49-inch long “T” bar attaches to the extender’s vertical
arm to secure your load.
Extend-A-Truck II is a simple but ingenious device developed by Larry
“My father was taking his boat to the river,” Darby says,
explaining that his father had put down the tailgate of his pickup truck
and slid his rowboat into the bed. But the boat was too long for the tailgate
to close and it slide out as Ken Darby was driving to the boat launch.
“As the cabins of trucks have gotten larger, the beds have gotten
shorter,” Larry Darby realized. So he went to work, designed and
built a prototype and launched Darby Industries Inc.
In addition to the extender, Darby manufacturers Ramp-Rite, a hitch-mounted
ramp support so an ATV or motorcycle can be driven into a pickup bed,
and Truckhoe, a truck-mounted backhoe.
($499 from Thule Inc., at www.thuleracks.com)
There are times when even your extended cab pickup truck doesn’t
have enough room for all your stuff, especially stuff that you’ve
gotten wet and dirty while playing in sand or snow. The Thule Terrapin
is a storage box that mounts into the trailer hitch.
The Terrapin, which goes on sale in May 2004, is made by Thule, Inc.,
the world leader in roof racks and storage boxes. Thule is a more than
50-year-old Swedish company, but some 90 percent of what it sells in the
United States is made in Chicago or Connecticut.
Terrapin can carry 150 pounds of gear in 15 cubic feet of covered and
locked storage made from heavy-duty plastic. The hitch mount features
a swing-away function so you can access the pickup’s bed without
removing the clamshell cargo carrier.