By: Brian Bilderback
It seems as if more and more people are starting to like the idea of sled decks over a trailer. I believe it is because sled decks make it a lot easier to get to the early and late season rides. With that being said, I will share with you my experience and my suggestions when it comes to selecting the best sled deck to suit your needs.
When selecting a sled deck there are a few questions you should ask yourself. Will the deck be on my daily commuter? Will the sled deck stay in year round? Will I just be hauling one sled sometimes? Do I plan on keeping my sled deck for a long time?
If the sled deck is going to be in your daily commuter or the deck will remain in all year, you will definitely want to look at getting expandable/retractable sides. Most newer decks come with this option. Its as easy as pulling two pins and sliding it out and replacing the pins. When the sides are in your truck width varies very little from its original width. With my sled deck collapsed, the deck is 6’6” wide. When I expand it for two sleds, it sits at 8’6”. A lot of people leave their decks expanded all winter, but when riding season comes to an end, they collapse it in and don’t even notice it all summer. If you do get a collapsible deck and will be hauling one sled on occasion, you might want to consider putting Super glides down the center so you can haul the sled in the middle of your deck.
I would have to say the biggest question you have to ask your self is if you plan on keeping your deck for a long time. When I bought my first deck I bought a used sled deck off Craigslist. It was for a short bed truck and came with a removable beavertail(sled deck extension). It also had the collapsible sides which I wanted since this was the truck I drove on a regular basis. The wood decking on it was starting to show signs of need wear. As a summer project I decided I would clean up the sled deck. I stripped all the wood off, and had the frame powder coated. Decided I would do a marine grade plywood coated with a bed liner. The deck turned out great and I used it for a whopping one season. That was when I upgraded to a long bed and decided I really needed to make sure I got what I wanted.
I already knew I wanted the collapsible sides. I would no longer need a deck extension since I had a long bed. The main thing I knew I wanted was some kind of decking that would not need to be replaced. There are a few different options out there that you could go with. After researching sleds all summer, and already knowing pro and cons of the sled decks my friends carry, I decided to go with the new Marlon Xplore Pro: http://www.marlonproducts.com/page.asp?PageID=truckdecks.
The Marlon Xplore Pro came with everything I needed, and MORE! The sides are very easy to expand and collapse. It came set up with Superglides in the middle for one sled and on the outside for two sleds. It is an all Aluminum deck so I will never need to replace it. It comes with Superclamps for the front and for the rear. Also another nice feature which was something I have not seen on any other deck, is the Supertrac system. Supertrac runs along the side of the deck to give you unlimited tie down points. The lighting on this deck is also beyond my expectation. They placed LED lighting on the headache rack, along with a strip of LED lights underneath the deck. Another thing I love about my deck is how it hugs my truck bed. The sides actually come down past the bed rails leaving very little room for road grime to get in there.
Well I hope that I my experience with purchasing a deck will help you purchase the right on that fits your needs. I highly recommend Marlon Recreational Products sled decks. Brett was very easy to work with and made sure I got exactly what I wanted. It doesn’t matter if you have a short bed or a long bed. They will have a deck that will work for you. Good luck in your Sled Deck Selection.