5 aftermarket truck accessories to improve capability and practicality


Some items have been naturally paired with each other since approximately the dawn of time. Bacon and eggs. Whole Foods and Birkenstocks. Government agencies and endless plodding. And, as most of rural Canada knows, trucks and accessories.

Adding these times to a pickup is more than just insufferable posturing. Well, OK, maybe oversized tires on a truck that never leaves the pavement can be argued as such. There are, however, plenty of accessories which add a dose of capability and practicality.

It’s the latter items on which we’ll focus today. As a bonus, these products can all be ordered online, and installed solo.

Tonneau covers

An aftermarket tonneau cover on Matthew Guy’s personal GMC Sierra.

Matthew Guy /


The signature characteristic of a pickup truck is the open box residing astern of the passenger cab. Unfortunately, the key word there is ‘open’, leaving one’s cargo completely at the mercy of unpredictable weather and impish thieves. That open box — whether it’s five-and-a-half, six, or eight feet long) is the indisputable king of cargo.

As their name implies, tonneau covers are designed to cover up the box of your truck, essentially sealing it from the climate and prying eyes. The buying demographic can be split between those who want a cover for security purposes, and those who install one simply for looks. Do as you wish — we won’t judge. Much.

Soft surface tonneaus generally occupy the entry-level space of this realm both in terms of price and security. Essentially a piece of material stretched over the open box, it certainly tidies up the rear of a truck, but it’s the most susceptible to thievery as it can be defeated simply with a sharp knife. The generally roll up like a tarp against the truck’s back window when not in use.

Solid tonneau covers, however, are many leagues more expensive but offer acres more protection for your cargo. Many varieties are available, with some opening on a hinge while others flip-and-fold like an abnormally large Niagara Falls brochure. These are generally secured with robust clamps and hasps, some of which require the patience of Job to operate. Shop around to find a unit to your liking.

Under-seat storage

Under-seat storage

An under-seat storage solution by Husky Liners

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Husky Liners

An unintended consequence of truck makers building cabs with completely flat rear floors is the loss of contained storage under the back seat. Sure, some manufacturers offer solutions to this vexing problem, notably Ram which builds a flip-out thingamabobber (that is actually the technical term) designed to hold a few slim items in place. Fortunately, the aftermarket can supply some better answers.

Try to find an under-seat storage box specifically designed for your pickup. Stay away from the one-size-fits-all solutions, as they generally end up being one-size-fits-none. These plastic wonders do a great job of holding the various detritus that inevitably washes up in the cab of a pickup, such as jumper cables and draw bars. They are generally installed using fabric straps that connect to the seat structure with no drilling required.

If your cargo frequently includes a copy of the National Post or other items too shameful to mention, look for lockable under-seat boxes. These are generally made of metal or some other stout material, and are considered a great deterrent to larceny.

Aftermarket lights

LED lighting

LED grille lighting for Ford pickups

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Action Truck Accessories


No, we aren’t talking about the brodozer-grade LED light bars that span two metres in width and are capable of simulating the brightness of a collapsed sun. There are plenty of illuminators that add to the functionality of a truck without running afoul of one’s roadmates — or the law, for that matter.

With the grilles of modern pickups approaching the size of roadside billboards, options abound for discreetly embedding a couple of bright-when-ya-need-em lights right in the expansive chrome maw of your truck. Since most of Ford’s lineup has a grille that looks like an equals sign bookended by a pair of brackets, it’s easy to find aftermarket peepers designed to slot neatly in the negative space between those large strips of chrome.

Some owners choose to install lights in the blank spots where factory fog lamps should reside had they not cheaped out and bought the base model. This is fine but, for the love of all that’s holy, don’t simply stick a couple of sad-sack reflectors in there and call it a day. And, as with all accessories that require wiring into an electrical system, make sure to follow your pride and RTFM.

Running boards

Running boards

Running boards on a 2020 Ram 1500.

Handout /


Sure, these things first appeared in pre-war cars as an assist for the newly mobile to heave themselves into their horseless carriage. While they evaporated from cars (save for the best-left-unmentioned Chrysler PT Cruiser and Chevy HHR), running boards have remained a popular items in truck circles.

Most running boards (the good ones, anyway) are secured to a pickup by way of stout bolts that utilize existing mounting points on a truck’s chassis. If the set you’re considering recommends any drilling of new holes, walk away and find another set. Styles run the gamut from gaudy chrome and plastic things, to rough-and-tumble units that are coated in bedliner and protect from impacts with rocks during hyperactive off-road sessions.

Installing these by one’s lonesome will require laying prostrate on the ground, effecting a delicate balance between holding up one end of the running board with your knee while massaging the other end into place with you two (now calloused) hands. If you can, phone a friend. Or balance it in place with a floor jack.

Air intakes and snorkels

2020 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison

2020 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison

Handout /


When poet Robert Frost wrote of two roads diverging in a wood, he was not likely thinking about air intake accessories for the Canadian truck market. However, unlike the subject of that prose, buyers of these particular frills can indeed take both paths.

The majority of air intake systems purport to permit an engine to make more power thanks to its ability to force-feed more air into the power mill. These kits generally result in a less restrictive path of airflow from intake to engine, permitting the truck to breathe more freely and create (a few) more horsepower. The verdict on an attendant increase in noise will depend on your level of extroversion. Installation often requires not much more than a couple of screwdrivers and an afternoon’s work.

What’s the other path? Why, installing a snorkel, of course. First used by off-roaders who wanted to forge paths through deep water without hydrolocking their engine, these accessories have grown in popularity to the point where some truck owners install them without the slightest intention of wading through anything deeper than that big pothole by the mall. Note: these installations require sawing a volleyball-sized hole in the fender of one’s pickup. With its engine hoovering in atmosphere from several inches above the heads of driver and passenger, your truck will look like it’s ready for the Serengeti. Sounds like a pretty good pairing to us.

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