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10 Must-Have Upgrades to Order With Your New F-150

10 Must-Have Upgrades to Order With Your New F-150

From bedliners to lights, consider these upgrades when ordering your new truck

Trying to decide what optional upgrades to add when purchasing a new pickup can be a lot of fun, but it can be a bit daunting, too, simply because there are so many great features to choose from.  The best advice is to think about how you're going to use your new truck. Is its primary function going to be a fun vehicle to go off-roading with every weekend or will it be used more for hauling kids and bulky sports gear to the field, but also for towing your boat or travel trailer away on vacation. All of those decisions will drive what you choose to accessorize your truck's exterior.

For example, the Ford 2018 F-150 is a powerful, capable and comfortable pickup truck right off the showroom floor. But it's also, in a way, a blank canvas. While the truck's foundation — its powertrain, chassis and interior — has been engineered to suit a wide variety of buyers, the F-150 can also be customized, tailoring it to an individual buyer's specific needs.

Nowhere is that more evident than in the range of products available for the bed of an F-150.. It may come off the assembly line as a big, empty box, but components available from Ford (as well as the aftermarket) can configure the bed to accommodate cargo ranging from grocery bags to ATVs.

Here is a list of 10 exterior optional upgrades that we believe anglers, hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts will find worth ordering. There's no bling here, nothing pretty for pretty's sake. This is solid equipment to make your truck work even harder.

The 2018 Ford F-150 is loaded with exterior features to make accessing the bed and gear storage even easier.

1. Truck Bedliner

Anyone who hauls cargo in their truck bed can benefit from the protection that comes from a bedliner. It not only adds a barrier layer between the cargo and the truck's bed floor and walls, but the surface helps to keep gear from sliding around.

Bedliners are available in two types: spray-in and drop-in. Spray-in liners are permanent and offered in a choice of thicknesses and colors from many aftermarket vendors, so they can be custom-matched to the truck's paint. Drop-in liners are typically available only in basic black, but as a bolt-in item are not a permanent fixture in the truck. Most drop-in liners feature thick ribs in their construction, which offer extra padding for heavy items (and your knees). Drop-in liners usually cost less than spray-ins. Ford offers both as an option for the 2018 F-150.

2. Cargo Tie-Downs

Tie-downs are a must no matter what you use your truck for. The standard tie-downs for the bed of an F-150 can be augmented by a number of  optional upgrades to secure cargo of all shapes and sizes. BoxLink™ is a Ford-exclusive system of plates that bolt to reinforced areas of the bed. These plates are designed to hold a cleat, or can be used with other cargo management  upgrades. Cargo can be secured to the cleat or to the plate by itself, and the cleats can be removed so as to not interfere with large cargo. The Box Link system is optional on F-150 XL and XLT models, standard on higher trim levels.

3. More Cargo Management Systems

Bed dividers are another popular accessory for sportsmen to consider to efficiently use all of the space in your truck's bed. Made from weather-resistant reinforced plastic and nylon composite, the Ford Bed Divider can be attached to the BoxLink plates to, as its name implies, divide the bed into zones to keep small cargo items from shifting along the length of the bed.

Traditional cross-box and side-box tool boxes that are common on contractor's trucks are available in configurations to hold hunting and fishing gear. Ford offers an innovative Pivot Storage Box that utilizes the area between the wheel well and the back of the bed to hold a weather-resistant, lockable container with 1.5 cubic feet of storage space. These boxes swing away from the bed wall almost 180 degrees, and are available to mount on either side of the bed.

4. Truck-Bed Access

It's not your imagination. Trucks are getting taller, and as they do, it gets harder to reach into the bed from the ground. A number of aftermarket companies make steps to ease bed access, as does Ford. One is a retractable bed step that attaches to the frame just behind the cab and pops open when you press the release with your foot. Another is an available Ford-exclusive Tailgate Step. Built into the top of the tailgate, it deploys when the 'gate is down, providing a step and a handle to assist with the climb up. Both fold back into the tailgate when it's ready to close. Ford also offers an available remote tailgate release to help ease loading your gear when your arms are full.

An available Ford-exclusive Tailgate Step makes stepping up into the cargo bed simple. The step stows away in the tailgate when not in use.

5. Truck-Bed Tonneau Cover

A truck-bed tonneau cover will protect gear from the elements and keep it out of sight. Tonneau covers typically attach to the bed side rails and are available from Ford (and aftermarket manufacturers) in three types: hard, soft and retractable. Many hard tonneaus are lockable and can be painted to match the truck's color. Some are hinged at the front; others are made from several panels that can be removed individually or together. Soft tonneaus are usually made from vinyl or canvas and stretch over a frame to maintain their shape. They aren't as secure as a hard tonneau, but they are easily removed when cargo is taller than the bed sides. A retractable tonneau offers the best of both hard and soft types: the security of a lockable cover and the versatility of a tonneau that rolls up out of the way when not in use.

6. Truck-Bed Lights

Truck-bed lights are a godsend when you need to rummage around in your pickup's bed after dark. To improve visibility at night (or under a tonneau), Ford offers available LED box lighting. On/off switches are located in the cab and in the bed. This lighting is optional on XL and XLT models of the F-150, standard on higher trim levels.

Ford offers available LED box lighting and LED Side-Mirror Spotlights to light up the ground around the doors to make nighttime tasks easier to perform.

7. Auxiliary Lights

The F-150's headlights are designed to offer bright, sharply defined illumination to light up the road without blinding oncoming traffic. Some driving situations, though, require lighting of a more specialized nature. Fog lights project a low, flat beam that is designed to penetrate fog without reflecting the light back in the driver's eyes. The fog lights that Ford integrated into the F-150's front bumper are standard equipment on all but XL and Raptor models.

While the Outfitters team didn't need them on a recent moose hunt, fog lights integrated into the front bumper on the F-150 are great to have. Ford offers them as standard equipment on all but XL and Raptor models.

8. Exterior Lights

Not to be confused with fog lights, these are lights that shine around the truck when it's stationary, making nighttime tasks easier to see. They also light up the ground around the front doors so there are no surprises — puddles, mud — to step into. Ford offers LED Side-Mirror Spotlights as standard equipment on King Ranch, Platinum and Limited models of the F-150, and as options on lower trim levels.

9. Truck-Bed Extender

Cargo that won't quite fit with the tailgate up — like an ATV or motorcycle — can be better accommodated with a bed extender. A fiberglass-reinforced polycarbonate cage flips out over the tailgate to provide 18 added inches of carrying space. When it's inside the bed with the tailgate closed it acts as a bed divider or folds up for easy storage.

Ford also offers an available remote tailgate release to help ease loading your gear when your arms are full.

10. Stowable Bed Ramps

We've seen too much gear fall out of truck boxes due to the use of makeshift ramps — sometimes just boards precariously balanced on the edge of the tailgate. Ford offers ramps that securely slip into place through slots that fit on  the tailgate lip. They also lock into mounts on the inside bed walls when not in use.

To see the new  2018 Ford F-150 in the field on action-packed fishing and hunting adventures, visit

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