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Best Drawer Slides For Campervans | Choosing Drawer Slides For Vanlife

Drawer Slides For Campervans

Now let’s discuss everyone’s favorite topic, drawer slides!  Just kidding.

But however mundane, drawer slides are an important part of making functional drawers to store your stuff.  Drawer slides are used in campervans for everything from ordinary cabinet furniture drawers, to slide-out kitchenettes, to even putting your entire garage (area under the bed) on slides.  For any situation, this post shares the best drawer slides for campervans.

In the small space of a camper van, drawer slides can make it much easier to access all your gear tucked away in tight spaces.  They can really improve your use of space and access to your stuff.

Some drawer slides may work better than others depending on the application.  And they come in many sizes, weight limits, and brands to accommodate endless configurations.  But generally, you need to build your drawers and cabinets with a specific drawer slide chosen out so that they fit perfectly together. It’s good to have your slides in hand before building, so you can be 100% sure of their measurements.

The main thing to keep in mind about installing your own drawer slides is that they require careful precision. In some cases, being off by even 1/16 of an inch can ruin an installation.

We are huge proponents of saving money during the van build. But drawer slides are an area where you don’t want to cut corners. Choosing a budget brand often ends up being more expensive in the long run, when you find yourself replacing malfunctioning slides. So in our opinion, it’s not really a risk worth taking. We narrowed your search down to only the best drawer slides on the market.

This post may contain affiliate links. Disclosure policy.

Quick Recommendations | Best Drawer Slides By Type

What To Consider When Choosing Drawer Slides?

  • Drawer Slide Type (Side Mount, Undermount, or Centermount)
  • Weight rating
  • Drawer Slide Length
  • Length of extension (Partial, Full, or Over-Extension)
  • Clearance needed
  • Soft close / Self Close
  • Mounting hardware needed

Choosing The Right Drawer Slide Type

When it comes to drawer slides, there are really just three main types:

  • Side mount
  • Under mount
  • Center mount

These naming conventions make it pretty easy to understand each type.

An illustration of the 3 main drawer slides types for campervans; side mount, under mount, and center mount.

Side mount drawer slides are, well, mounted on either side of your drawer.

Undermount drawer slides come with a pair of slides mounted underneath your drawer.  And center mount is just a single drawer slide mounted underneath your drawer in the center.

Side Mount Drawer Slides

Probably the most popular type of drawer slide used are side mounted drawer slides.  As it sounds, two slides are mounted on either side of your drawer box.  The slides will be visible when the drawer is open, so the finished product is a little more utilitarian.

Side mount drawer slides require EXACT clearance on either side of the drawer.  The most common thickness is  ½” slides, thus your drawer box should be a total of 1” narrower than the cabinet opening.

The height clearance of your drawer is less important, but usually ½” shorter than the cabinet face frame opening is typical.  If you have no face frame, then leaving ¼” clearance between drawers or the cabinet itself is a good margin. I find videos like this to be a much more helpful format for understanding the installation process.

Side mount drawer slides come in ball-bearing versions and epoxy/Euro versions.  For campervans, only buy the ball-bearing versions.  The epoxy/euro versions will rattle too much because the tracks rely on gravity to “sit” on the rollers.

For short (shallow) drawer boxes, you can mount the slides anywhere along the sides of the drawer, bottom, middle, or top.

Pro Tip: For very tall drawers (8″ or more), you should aim to mount the drawer slides about halfway up the drawer, and also position the handle to be closely in line with the slides. This helps balance the weight better and reduces unnecessary tension on the slides.

Undermount Drawer Slides

Under mount drawer slides are attached to the bottom of the drawer box.  Therefore, no hardware is visible when the drawer is pulled out.  If you have nice woodwork that you want to show off, then under mount drawer slides are the obvious choice.  Many people appreciate them simply for the cleaner-looking finished product.

They usually have levers to micro-adjust the vertical and/or horizontal alignment after they are installed.  This will help you get that perfect alignment without changing any screws.

However, many DIY’ers find them a little less intuitive to install than side mount slides.  They require that your drawer box has a special 1/2″ ridge around the bottom edge.  And the thickness of your wood must be accounted for when calculating the size of your drawer.

Here’s a quick cheat sheet for how to adjust for wood thickness.

¾” thick sides = entire drawer ⅜” smaller than opening

⅝” thick sides = entire drawer ½” smaller that opening

½” thick sides = entire drawer ⅝” smaller than opening

And you must build your drawer depth to match the exact length of the slides (otherwise the pin won’t interface with the back of the drawer).

Honestly, this is all pretty hard to understand in writing, so I highly suggest you check out this installation video that does a much better job of explaining the process.

Center Mount Drawer Slides

Center-mount drawer slides are sold as just a single slide that goes underneath the drawer in the center. Like undermount slides, they are not visible (from above) when the drawer is pulled out.

A center mount drawer slide goes down the middle underneath a drawer box.
A center mount drawer slide goes down the middle underneath a drawer box.

However, they have a smaller weight rating than the other slides listed above. And they are usually only available in 3/4 extension, and lack features such as soft-close and self-close.  The clearance required will be equal to the thickness of the slide, plus whatever clearance above is desired.

Felt pads or bumpers are commonly installed on either side of the cabinet opening that act as runners to prevent side-to-side wobble.

Center mount drawer slides are a good affordable option for campervan drawers, but only recommended for light-duty applications.

Solid Wood Drawer Slides

Before fancy metal drawer slides we invented, drawer slides were simply made of wood.  Either with a drawer box that fits snugly in the cabinet or an actual slide made out of wood.  But solid wood drawer slides aren’t ideal for campervans because they will rattle.  And they are also just rather inferior to the features of metal slides.

The “No Drawer Slides” Drawer Slide

If you are intimidated by the process of building furniture with drawer slides, it is possible to create drawers without any slides at all.  A popular method for this is building cubbies, and simply filling them with soft bins or milk crates.

Don’t forget to incorporate some way to keep the bins from sliding out.  Using bungee cords (or similar) is a common method.

Rear Mounting Brackets

Some drawer slides may include rear mounting brackets. This allows you to mount your drawer slides to the back wall of your cabinet.

A rear mounted drawer slide attaches to the back of your cabinet.
A rear mounted drawer slide attaches to the back of your cabinet.

This may be a helpful configuration if you want to install a “floating” drawer in a place without side walls or shelves. This is only recommended for light-duty and medium-duty applications otherwise the drawer slide may “sag” in the middle.

Rear mounting brackets are most commonly found with center mount, followed by under mount, and only rarely an option with side mount.

Weight Rating | Best Drawer Slides For Campervans

It’s important to choose drawer slides with a suitable weight rating for your application.  Consider what items this drawer slide will be holding.

Obviously, the drawer slides carrying bikes in your “garage” need to be much beefier than the drawer holding your toiletries.

Most common slides today have weight ratings between 35lbs up to 500lbs.

Drawer Slide Length

Drawer slides are typically sold in 2-inch increments (14”, 16”, 18” etc.)

The length of your drawer slides will largely depend on how much space you have.  But especially in a campervan, you want to make sure you are maximizing your available storage space.  So measure the depth of whatever space you have, and get drawer slides that can completely fill that space.

You want to choose drawer slides that are nearly the same length as your cabinet cavity. You typically only need about 1/4″ of extra depth clearance. This will allow you to mount the slide about 1/8″ inset back from the cabinet frame.

Length of Extension (Full, Partial, or Over-Extension)

Center-mount slides are typically only offered in 3/4 extension because they cannot handle the weight of full extension.   Side-mount ball-bearing slides are typically available in all three options: 3/4, full and over-travel. Undermount slides are typically only offered in full-extension.

For regular cabinet drawers, full extension is the best choice.  It allows you to see everything in the drawer.

Full Extension Drawer Slides reveal the entire contents of the drawer.

Three-quarter extension drawers are less desirable because things in the back of the drawer will always seem to be hiding.

Over-travel (or over-extension) drawer slides are useful for times when you might want a little extra clearance.

For example, a campervan design might incorporate a toilet on drawer slides.  You may want the toilet to pull out extra far to give more clearance for the lid.  Or it gives more space for the user to sit without their back pressed up against a wall.

Clearance Needed For Installation

Each type of drawer slide will require specific clearances for installation.  For example, side-mounted drawer slides typically require ½” of clearance on the left and right of the drawer box.

Side Mount Drawer Slide

Under mount and center mount drawer slides require more precise clearance above and below the drawer box.

Bonus Features Like Soft Close, Self Close, Etc.

More premium drawer slides offer high-end features like soft-close, self-close, and more.  “Soft Close” means there is a mechanism that prevents the drawers from slamming closed.  “Self Close” means that the drawer will close automatically once it reaches a certain point.  These subtle features really give your drawers that premium feel when they are done.

Mounting Hardware

The last thing to pay attention to is what kind of mounting hardware is needed (screws or pilot hole bits).

Mounting screws are included with many of the best drawer slides for vanlife recommended below. However, they are usually not even the correct type of screw and they are often low quality (stripping and broken heads).

Most companies just throw in the cheapest possible wood screws to accomplish the job. You will notice that flathead wood screws sit proud (raised) once they are installed. In my experience, it doesn’t affect the operation of the slides, but it sure looks janky.

At the very least, you should pick up a pack of common mounting screws.  These #8 x ½” truss head screws are a much better choice for most drawer slide installations.

Do you need to drill pilot holes? It depends.

Generally, if you are screwing into plywood or softwood, pilot holes are not required. But if your cabinets are made of hardwood, MDF, or particle board, then you really should be drilling pilot holes to either prevent splitting, and/or increase thread holding power.

If you really want to install like the pros, they all swear by these 5mm euro screws paired with a 5mm self-centering drill bit for making your pilot holes.  This removes the chance of human error and will ensure that your screw holes are precisely in the right place.

Best Side Mount Drawer Slides For Campervans

Best Overall

LONTAN 1 Pair 18 inch Soft Close Drawer Slides Heavy Duty Drawer Slides, Full Extension Ball Bearing Side Mount Drawer Slides for Dresser, Kicthen 100lb Capacity Drawer Runners

LONTAN Side Mount, Full Extension Drawer Slides, Soft Close, Self Close (100 lbs) – $$

Runner-Up Side Mount Slides (Not Soft Close)

 AOLISHENG 1 Pair Full Extension Drawer Slides Rails 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 Inch 100 LB Load Capacity Side Mount Ball Bearing Metal Dresser Runners File Cabinet Trash Can Slider Kitchen Glides Black

AOLISHENG Side Mount, Full Extension Drawer Slides (100 lbs) – $$

Medium-Light Duty Value Slides

 Liberty Hardware 941805 Soft-Close Ball Bearing Drawer Slide, 18-Inch, Zinc Plated, Set of 2

Liberty Hardware – Side Mount, Full Extension, Soft/Self Close (50 lbs) – $

Best Undermount Mount Drawer Slides For Campervans

Best Overall

Without a doubt, the most well-respected undermounted drawer slides are made by BLUM.  (They also make some of the best hinges for van conversions).  Their high-quality soft-close drawer slides come at a premium price, but they provide impeccable operation for years to come.

BLUM Tandem – Under Mount, Full Extension, Soft/Self Close (100 lbs) – $$$


 TOUCH Undermount Drawer Slides, Self-Soft Close (3 Pair, 18 Inch 457mm) for 1/2 and 5/8 Inch Side Panel, Kitchen Concealed Drawer Track Guide, Bottom Mount, 75 LB Capacity 3D Adjustable Lock Device.

Touch – Under Mount, Full Extension, Soft/Self Close (75 lbs) – $$

Best Center Mount Drawer Slides For Campervans

Accuride – Center Mount, ¾ Extension (35 lbs) – $

 Accuride 1029 Center Mount Slide 23"

13-Inch | 15-Inch | 17-Inch

19-Inch | 21-Inch | 23-Inch

Heavy Duty Slides

Photo by Dominic Howlett on Unsplash

For heavier jobs like bikes, garage storage, pull-out kitchenettes, etc, you need more robust drawer slides that are up to the task.  These heavy-duty drawer slides can accommodate more weight.  And they come in longer lengths, up to 40 inches.

But keep in mind that weight rating decreases with longer versions.

Heavy-duty slides often include a locking mechanism for the fully closed and fully open positions.  However, heavy-duty slides rarely include things like soft close or self close.

All three of these brands below make pretty comparable heavy duty drawer slides.

VANDANIA – Heavy Duty Side Mount, Locking Drawer Slides  – $$$-$$$$

YENUO – Heavy Duty Side Mount, Locking Drawer Slides – $$$-$$$$

AOLISHENG – Heavy-Duty Side Mount, Locking Drawer Slides (150lbs) – $$$-$$$$

Conclusion | Best Drawer Slides For Campervans

Choosing the best drawer slides for your van conversions can be quite overwhelming.  But it’s one area where good planning and precision are rewarded.  Measure twice, cut once!

Full Extension Side Mount Drawer Slides

Also, Pro-Tip: you can never really trust the wood you buy to be the exact dimensions that it claims to be. So you should always take precise measurements of your wood, rather than assuming the nominal thickness is accurate. I explain this conundrum and many other helpful insights in my post: woodworking tips for campervan builds.

And it’s best to have the drawer slides on hand before you make your drawer boxes.  That way you get to be absolutely sure your measurements are accurate.

I hope this guide helps simplify the process of choosing the best type of drawer slides for your application.

The next step after finishing your drawers is choosing perfect latches for vanlife so that your drawers stay closed when you hit the road!

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Choosing the best drawers slides for vanlife