Like many divers I used to store my dive gear in a large plastic bin. The bins are cheap and keep any salt water out of the car trunk. Eventually I dropped my bin the wrong way and cracked it one too many times. I started searching for a better system.
Over on scubaboard a fair number of people were using large plastic tool chests or carts as portable dive lockers, with good results. I headed over to Lowe’s and picked up a Stanley 24 Gallon Mobile Job Chest. The chest is cheap ($50) and just large enough to fit all of my gear, including the drysuit & undergarment. I’ve used the box for about 6 months and other than some surface rust on the latches, it seems to have held up well. It is great for dragging gear over longer distances, like marinas or walking from the ferry to casino point in Avalon. Another benefit is the metal latches – I was able to use a padlock & cable to lock it to a bench while diving Casino Point.
The one thing the box didn’t help much with was my tank. On a trip to Catalina I tried using a ratchet tie down to strap the tank to the back of the box. It mostly worked, but felt a bit wobbly. I was constantly worried the tank was going to slip out.
A form member posted some photos of an interesting modification to the tool box. He cut holes in the top of the box and added cam bands for attaching the tanks. This looked like a great idea and I wanted to try it out myself. I bought some cam bands from Deep Sea Supply and borrowed tools (a dremel & saw) from Pete & Paul.
As you can see from the photos, we cut the cam band holes near the back of the box. I have a steel 80 tank in the photo, but a steel 100 or AL80 would hang off the back even more. This might seem a bit strange, but it was done for a good reason. With the weight of the tank extended over the back, it balances the weight of box over the back wheel. In fact, if the heavy items are loaded at the back of the box, pulling the whole package is quite easy.
Cutting the holes for the cam bands was more work than I was expecting, but the results are worth it. I hauled my gear and tank around Avalon a week ago, and walked a couple blocks back from the Shores to the car this weekend with little effort. The long term durability of the axle, lid and hinge remain to be seen, but there are no signs of stress or warping thus far. I’m hoping I get get a couple years of use out of it.
Update 2014: The dive box is still going strong. The latches and other bits of meta show some rust, but everything is holding together well!