REVIEW: Dowco Guardian Trailerable ATV Covers

ATVs are made to take a beating and we give that to them regularly on the trails and other venues. But we also try to keep them looking new, not only so they look good but because cleaning them helps them last longer and increases the resale value when it’s time to upgrade. If you’re lucky, you’re storing your toys in the garage, an enclosed trailer, or some other form of protection from the elements. But not everyone has that option and sitting outside in the rain and sun can age an ATV very quickly. This is the exact concern that Dowco was addressing when they introduced the Guardian ATV Covers years ago. Now they’ve improved the system and released Dowco Guardian Trailerable ATV Covers.

Dowco Guardian Trailerable ATV Covers

So ultimately, making an ATV cover doesn’t seem like a hard task. Take a quality material that is waterproof and blocks UV rays from fading your prized, off-road possession. Line it with something that doesn’t scratch and form it into the general shape of an ATV outline in a few different sizes. But if you want said cover to stay in place while you haul it down the interstate at 70 miles per hour, well that takes a little more creativity.

Dowco Guardian Trailerable ATV Covers

The Dowco Guardian Trailerable ATV Covers are made from heavy-duty polyester and are lined to protect your ride from scratching. It protects from all of the aforementioned elements and is easy to install. Once placed over the ATV, you tighten up a pull-rope around the bottom of the tires. Then, secure the strap around the middle of the ATV. To secure to a truck bed or trailer there are several velcro flaps that tiedowns can be run through. There is even a pocket designed for use with Dowco’s alarm system. A would-be thief risks setting off the alarm when removing the cover.

Dowco Guardian Trailerable ATV Covers

Dowco sent us the XL size cover to evaluate. It’s a bit roomy on the 2014 Honda Rancher DCT but it works well. Check the measurements on Dowco’s site to ensure the best fit. I would keep in mind any upgrades you plan to make. We hit interstate highway speeds of 80 MPH (all in the name of research!) and the cover stayed securely in place throughout the course. We ran tiedowns to each of the 4 corners. There is also a fifth tiedown slot on the lower front of the cover, near the brush guard/winch mounting area. With so many options we knew our Honda wasn’t going anywhere and nothing Mother Nature could reasonably send was getting inside.

Dowco Guardian Trailerable ATV Covers

The new Dowco Guardian Trailerable ATV Covers are available in 3 sizes to ensure a good fit on whatever model you have. They are also available for Side-by-Sides and UTVs in model specific fits. Dowco has been making powersports covers for over 30 years and has several different types to meet your needs. The covers have a 2 year warranty so you know you’re getting quality here. The Dowco Guardian Trailerable ATV Covers start at $189.99 and can be ordered directly from Dowco at

REVIEW: Lockstraps Tie-Down Straps

Like many of you, I frequent several large ATV communities and groups on Facebook and other sites, looking at pictures of your rides, great deals and various information. Unfortunately it’s rare to not see a post from someone about a missing ATV or UTV, stolen right out of their backyard. Powersports thefts are prevalent everywhere. Lockstraps creator Jeff Cranny had a similar experience in 2009 when his motorcycle and gear were taken right out of the back of his truck. It was following that experience that the idea of Lockstraps was born.


At a glance, Lockstraps are just tie-down straps with a combination lock carabiner replacing the normal hook. If that’s all you take away from them then you have sold yourself very short. They are much more than that.


Let’s start with the carabiners. Each end of the Lockstrap features a carabiner, allowing you to securely anchor each end of the strap and anything its be routed through. The carabiners are made of #64 hardened/heat-treated steel. The loops are big, 6 inches by 3.5 inches. A 3 digit combination lock means you don’t have to keep up with another set of keys, yet makes the lock quickly accessible when you need it. You can set your own combination and change it anytime.


The strap is 1.5 inch wide, heavy-duty nylon; and thicker than any other strap I’ve used. Galvanized steel rivets used have a working load of 500lbs and there is an extensions on one end of the cable to keep the carabiner from direct contact with your toys to prevent scratches to your paint of plastics. Now when I first showed Lockstraps to a friend of mine his reaction was “That’s cute” as he pulled out a pocket knife, threatening to make quick work of the nylon. That’s when I pointed out the steel cable embedded in the middle of the strap, from one end to the other! In our tests, we found that it took a set of steel snips to be able to cut through the braided steel cable. Despite the cable Lockstraps are very flexible and easy to manage.


The Lockstrap tie-down is 8.5 feet long. The also have a 24ft version and a 2ft version each with only one carabiner. The 2ft version is perfect for locking your helmet to your ATV. You can also purchase the carabiner alone for endless other security uses, like securing your existing straps.


Sure, with the right tools, someone could still make off with your prized possession, but ultimately there are few things you can do about a determined thief. Lockstraps will thwart the opportunistic theft and delay a fast getaway for the more prepared thief. Very few items will have a better return-on-investment. We use Lockstraps religiously now as one of our tie downs. It offers peace of mind for meal and hotel stops as well as just being at home. The Lockstrap tie-down is $39.95. The 2ft model can save your $200 helmet for only $24.95.The 24ft Universal strap runs $44.95 and a stand alone carabiner is $15.95. To see more applications for Lockstraps and to order your own check out

REVIEW: Bull Ring Retractable Tie Downs

There have been brief times in my life where I thought I could get by without a truck. Times when I thought that an SUV and a trailer would be sufficient. I have come back full circle and its a mistake I won’t make again. The usefulness and convenience of a truck bed are unmatched. But that’s not to say that there aren’t improvements that can be made to your toy hauler. Something I had noticed was a need for more tie down locations. Most trucks have a set of down locations in the corners of the bed as well as the stake pockets on top of the bed. I wanted a cleaner and more secure location than the stake pockets as they come so I picked up a couple of sets of Bull Ring Retractable Tie Downs. Bull Ring is not new to the market. They have been producing tie downs for over 30 years and have sold over 1 million pairs of tie downs.

Bull Ring Retractable Tie Down

Bull Ring Retractable Tie Downs mount in the existing stake pockets and secure by clamping against the top and bottom of the bed rail. No drilling or special tools are required, only a Phillips head screwdriver. The installation takes only a couple of minutes each.

Bull Ring Retractable Tie Down

To install, start by removing both screws from the top. Insert the tie down into the bed rail pocket and center it. Pull up on the ring until it clicks into the up position. Now put both screws back in and tighten them down snug.

Bull Ring Retractable Tie Down

The rings snap into place in the upward position and snap back down flush to a smooth, clean look. The base plate is available in the black plastic finish shown in our samples or in a smooth stainless steel finish.

Bull Ring Retractable Tie Down

Bull Ring Retractable Tie Downs are made of stainless steel to last as long as your truck does. They are rated at 1,000 lbs. each and are sized to accommodate two ‘S’ hooks. They are also covered by a lifetime warranty. A pair to Bull Ring Retractable Tie Downs will cost you a very reasonable $29.95 in the black base finish or $32.95 in the stainless steel base finish. Bull Ring also offers many other tie down anchor points for Most Ford, Chevy/GMC, Dodge and Toyota trucks. To order you own pair (including free shipping!) check out

Bull Ring Retractable Tie Down

REVIEW: RAM Mounts X-Grip

Chances are you have some type of device mounted on your windshield or dash. GPS, radar detectors, performance tuners and mobile phones are common, as are the rings left on the windshield from the suction cups. Some of these devices don’t include a mount requiring you to pay $30+ for $3 worth of molded plastic and suction cup. Others come with a mount that is difficult to replace or you end up trying some imported knock-off that breaks a week later. There just never has been a perfect solution for everything. At least that was my impression before RAM Mounts sent us their X-Grip.

Image courtesy of RAM Mounts

The X-Grip may be universal, but don’t say it in the same breath as any other mount. Out of the box you can feel it’s quality, by its weight alone. There is as much, if not more, metal in the X-Grip as there is plastic. If you accidentally drop it it won’t shatter into a dozen pieces. If anything it might chip the asphalt where it landed. These are the people who make nearly bomb-proof center consoles for police cars after all. Don’t let the heavy-weight quality worry you though, the suction cup and other mounts don’t fail, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

The X-Grip has two spring-loaded arms that are joined in the center to make an X shape. You can easily put in your device and it is held tightly by the rubber pads on each end of the X’s “feet”. The minimalism of the feet mean you’ll easily be able to access buttons and plugs around the device. The X-Grip’s size is perfect for smart phones in the Apple iPhone range, we also tested it with a TomTom One GPS and SCT Livewire, though the Livewire fit was snug. It was also a good size for our Garmin eTrex GPS. The feet can go as small as 0.875 inches and as large as 3.25 inches. The depth measures 0.875 inches as well.

The back of the X-Grip features the RAM Mounts ball mount. This attaches to an included arm with sockets on both ends. This gives you an endless amount of articulating to place your devices exactly where you want it to be. This arm has a handle in the middle that tightens the grip on both ends. Once you tighten it down it’s not going to move at all. Not even if you try a one-handed adjustment while heading down the road so make sure it’s where you want it in your pre-flight check.

The final piece of the X-Grip depends on your needs. Our unit came with a suction cup mount, but there are mounts for rails, handlebars, cup holders, adhesive mounts, clamp mounts, screw-in mounts and even a mount for your motorcycle’s brake/clutch reservoir. While suction cups are often known the fail the secure clamp on this mount never had us worrying despite some abusive roads on our road trips. The RAM ball mounts make it easy to move the X-Grip (or other RAM Mounts products) between settings. Our X-Grip moved easily from our truck windshield to our ATV handlebars in place of our RAM Mounts Aqua Box allowing us to swap a handle bar mounted iPhone for a handheld GPS.

If you have already bought into how incredible RAM Mounts systems are then adding the X-Grip will only set you back another $22.84 (Part number RAM-HOL-UN7BU). If you don’t have any mounts then a X-Grip set starts at $30.41 with an adhesive mount and goes as high as $65.13 with a cup holder mount. Considering the replacement mount for my busted TomTom One is $24.95 the X-Grip is a deal. And chances are it will work on the next device you get too. Interested in carrying a tablet or Apple iPad? They have an X-Grip for that too!

For more details or to order a Made in America X-Grip for yourself check out RAM Mounts at

REVIEW: Moto-Gate Original and Mini

There is no doubt about it, truck beds have been getting smaller. Many trucks are becoming less about hauling capacity and more about being a family vehicle. The increase in cab length has led manufacturers to shorten many truck beds. Closing your tailgate after loading your ATV is becoming nearly impossible with many trucks. This is especially a concern if you need to secure other gear in the bed, like fuel packs, ramps and gear bags. Professional freestyle motocross rider Lance Coury felt the same concerns when he started hauling dirtbikes in his truck. That’s when he developed the Moto-Gate.

The design is really quite simple. It’s based on a net made of nylon webbing stretched between two tie-down straps. The Moto-Gate Original measures 17 inches by 54 inches. It is secured by straps on each side that adjust from 10 inches to 39 inches long allowing you to reach most any tie point in your truck bed. For smaller trucks the Moto-Gate Mini measures 12 inches by 36 inches with the same 10 to 39 inches of strap adjustment. The end of the straps have rubber coated hooks and the straps are adjusted by weather resistant, spring-loaded cam locks. The Moto-Gate takes less than a minute to install.

The Moto-Gate takes all the worry out of losing your gear on a haul. In particular, we found it to be a great way to keep ramps in place rather than trying to awkwardly tie them down. It also removes any fear of losing fuel cans or other gear.

If you aren’t sold on the Moto-Gate yet, consider that the possible uses expand well beyond hauling your ATV, side by side or dirtbike. Stretched between the four corners of your truck bed, the Moto-Gate can help keep loads from blowing out. The Mini even makes a good tie down system for the bed of a side-by-side.

Moto-Gate Tie Downs. Moto-Gate Stock Photo.

While testing out the Moto-Gate we also had a chance to try out the Moto-Gate Tie-Down straps. The six foot straps are great, especially if you are hooking up alone because one end has a carabiner instead of a traditional hook. The other end is specially designed with the offroader in mind giving you the choice of a nylon loop or a hook. The tie-downs feature the same spring loaded cam locks found on the Moto-Gate.

The Moto-Gate is one of those items you look at and say “why didn’t I think of that?”. To that we say thank you to Lance for creating this must-have accessory. The Moto-Gate Original and Mini carry an MSRP of $59.95 each. The Moto-Gate Tie-Downs can be had for $29.95 a pair. Both products have found a permanent place on our toolbox. For more details about Moto-Gate products or to make a purchase, check them out at KTM fans can find a KTM branded version of the Moto-Gate through their product line.


REVIEW: Dee Zee Specialty Series Narrow Tool Box

Truck tool boxes are a way of life for many truck owners. Having secured storage for tools, straps, tow ropes and other items is often more necessity than desire. Unfortunately a tool box can take up valuable bed space. For several years manufacturers have worked to overcome this issue with specialty boxes that limit the amount of space they take up. One such example is the Specialty Series Narrow Tool Box by Dee Zee. The box is only 12 inches wide compared to the 20 inch average width of other commonly found tool boxes.

Time to move up the logo!

Most of the remaining features are standard. Construction is made from .056 brite-tread aluminum and can also be ordered in black powder-coat. The .056 is a little on the thin side and may not hold up well to heavy abuse. The front, bottom and back of the unit are bent from a single piece of aluminum like heavy-duty origami. Closed cell foam across the lid keeps the 5 to 5.75 cubic feet of storage space dry. The locking lid is controlled by a single gas strut to add to the longevity of the unit. But the real seller is the price tag. The MSRP is $301.95 but you can find it online for under $250 shipped.

I ordered the DZ6170NB through an online retailer and in two days it was delivered. At only 35 pounds the package was easily maneuvered. I noticed a couple marks on the shipping box but nothing of concern. Once I opened the box I realized there was no padding whatsoever and my new toolbox had suffered some small dings and scratches from the shipping process. A higher end tool box with thicker metal and without the black painted finish would probably have held up better, but a budget unit like this should really be packaged a bit better. I also noticed that one of the latch rivets was poorly done. The latch is firm and it’s really only a blemish close up.

Shipping damage.

Weak rivet.

Installation is simple. The box comes with a pair of J-hooks used to catch the lip of the bed and hold it tight. Once you have the box centered between the bed rails a pair of holes need to be drilled to insert the bolts through. Overall installation is only about a 10 minute process. The provided instructions are weak. They appear to have been photocopied several times and are very blurry. There were duplicated pages and some instructions were apparently in error. It recommends drilling 1/4″ holes to insert the blunt 3/8″ J-hooks into.

A tool box with room to spare.

Overall this is a prime example of “you get what you pay for.” If you have a smaller budget or don’t expect heavy abuse to the tool box, this unit is probably enough for you. If money isn’t an issue or you plan to really push the durability of your tool box there are thicker units on the market that will probably hold up much better.

REVIEW: DU-HA Truck Storage Systems

Several months ago I switched from an SUV to my Ford F250 Crew Cab truck. The transition has been very well enjoyed but I was quickly reminded of the vast difference in enclosed storage space between an SUV and a truck. I have room for six passengers and as a primary family transportation system I need to keep the seating space available. Sure, you can add a toolbox but that exterior storage isn’t always appropriate. Plus you can lose valuable ATV space in the truck bed by adding a toolbox.

DU-HA stock before photo.

During my search for an alternative I came across DU-HA Inc. and their storage solutions for pickup trucks. DU-HA offers storage systems to fit behind and/or under the seats of most full size trucks. The DU-HA storage boxes are significant upgrades to the stock storage options (or lack thereof) and provide a great deal

DU-HA stock after photo.

of hidden space. The units are even capable of safely carrying rifles and are considered legal gun cases in most states.

The factory behind-the-seat storage versus the DU-HA. DU-HA stock photo.

I picked up both the Underseat and Behind-the-seat models for my Ford F250 Crew Cab. The amount of space added was incredible. The space is secure and out of the sight of prying eyes, removing any temptation that toolboxes and bed covers often give. Peering through the windows the boxes aren’t noticable at all. They do not interfere with the functions of the seats or the passengers in them.

The storage boxes come in several colors to match most interiors. The boxes average about $199 for understeat models and $179 for behind-the-seat models. Boxes are available for full-size trucks from Ford, Chevrolet/GMC, Dodge, Nissan, Toyota and the Honda Ridgeline. They come with a 30 day money-back gurantee and a lifetime warranty. Installation is easy and takes only moments using a couple of tools and existing hardware. Accessories include anti-theft locks and subwoofer boxes for some models. Since my own purchase I have recommended these to others who have bought them and been equally pleased. For more information see

The storage systems make a great place for my first responder gear. My radio and lighting controls are mounted in the box to keep them safe.