Introducing Snail Armor: A Light Weight Aluminum Tailgate Panel for the 2nd Generation Toyota Tundra
A few years back, I remember seeing a Tacoma on Instagram that had a flat, aftermarket tailgate panel. While it made so much sense, it didn’t make sense that nobody was making one (at the time) for the Tundra platform. Since then, I continue to see many new aluminum tailgate panels on the market but the one that caught my eye was this review on the Snail Armor tailgate panel on Trail Tacoma.
First and foremost, why would you not want a flat workspace at the part of the bed that is perhaps the most used? It’s brilliant!
- Cooking? Easier.
- Sitting? Cozier.
- Sliding stuff in and out of your bed? More comfortable.
- Cleaning fish or game? Cleaner.
Again I ask, why wouldn’t you want a flat tail-gate? When I bought my Tundra, I knew I was going to have to get my hands on one. Well here we are, I finally stumbled upon my favorite iteration for the 2nd Gen Tundra; the Snail Armor Tailgate Panel.
Find it online
- Snail Armor Tundra Tailgate Panel: Check Price
- Coupon Code (10%): trailtundra
Why a Flat Tailgate?
Let’s face it, the Tundra sits up pretty high (and I am by no means a tall guy). Whenever I’m jumping up into the bed, my knees are usually the first thing that typically makes contact on the gate surface. The abrasive and ribbed bed-lined surface is not comfortable on the knees and is awkward to climb upon.
On my first hunting trip with the Tundra, I finished a 10-mile stalk and came back to the truck to fix a Mountain House meal. This was the first time I was working off of and living out of the truck. Getting my camp stove positioned in a way that was level, but also not in the direct wind, was taxing with the bed full of gear and random equipment. It’s times like this that proved the need for a flat panel.
Having a flat spot to live off of, eat off of, work off of, and sit on is a luxury I always wanted but never quite realized how much I needed.
What’s in the Box?
Let me first start by saying that Jimmy from Snail Armor is the GOAT! Upon opening your package you should receive instructions, some stickers, some new screws, a T30 drill bit, and of course, your panel. The Koozie is additional but can be purchased on the site.
Features and Finish
Perhaps my favorite feature is that this panel is 100%, made in America. While shopping for anything, I try my best to support American small businesses whenever possible.
The fit and finish of this panel are immaculate. If you didn’t know any better, you would have no reason to think it was not OEM. The textured powder coated aluminum is tough while the etched emblems and American flag I opted for are subtle but strong details that make this piece of equipment pop once that tailgate drops.
From the TRD logo to the old-school TEQ logo, you can choose whatever you want. On top of that, Snail Armor offers custom laser etching!
Thick or Thin?
One thing I never really understood when looking at these panels was how they were able to retain a flat and relatively level surface with the rest of the bed. I now know after installing this how that and other features are achieved, and yet I still find myself blown away with how flush this is.
If done correctly, the installation on this should take 10-minutes at best. If you have followed my other posts, you know I am a huge fan of quick and easy mods that make a big difference in function and performance.
Tools and Materials
- Cordless drill
- Philips bit
- Included T30 drill bit
- Included hardware
I LOVE products that come with extra stuff, and this panel was one of them. I’ll explain more why I was so thrilled later on, but having done this install the hard way (out of excitement), I can say the attention to detail goes a long way.
Install is as easy as removing some screws and installing new screws. So, let’s get started!
Step 1. Remove Factory Screws
To start your installation, remove the eight (8) T30 screws holding the access panel to your tailgate handle. This is where the provided T30 drill bit head comes into play. Do not remove the panel as it will actually stay.
Once those screws are removed, set them aside as we will not be reusing them.
Step 2. Drop the Panel onto the Tailgate
Set your panel on and get the top right screw in “finger tight”, followed by the bottom left screw. I think this step is helpful just to keep your panel aligned as it is long and easy to tweak out of place. If you just start hammering the screws down with no plan for alignment, this easy install can get complicated really fast.
Step 3. Tighten Screws
Once your top right and bottom left screws are fingers tight, work on the middle four (4) screws in a star pattern and screw them down.
After that, come back to your outer sides and zip the screws you started with down, finishing the last two off as well.
After all the screws are tightened down, confirm your fitment is squared and nothing is tweaked or bound. Be sure not to over-tighten; it is not going to go anywhere.
Boom – installation is now complete!
Snail Armor Screws
The first thing I noticed about the panel right out of the box was the countersunk holes. This was really impressive to me and if you have ever caught your knee on the stock bolts while maneuvering stuff around your bed, you know why the idea of never feeling that again is… blissful.
The countersunk holes mate perfectly with the countersunk screws allowing for a truly flat, clean, and snag-free workspace.
This feature was one of the biggest things that set it ahead when compared to other tailgate panels on the market. Concave bolts, protruding bolts, and protruding screws that allow for gaps are just as concerning to me. Flush screws allow for more space, fewer snags, and a cleaner look.
This Snail Armor solution is everything I could ask for in a flat panel. No unnecessary frills; it comes with flush mounts, clean logos, an easy-to-clean surface, and it’s paper-thin (yet durable).
All of this provides the ability to do the things I need and want to do on the tailgate of my truck in a comfortable and efficient manner. Whether that be cooking a Mountain House meal in a field somewhere, skinning small game on a hunting trip, loading up Christmas presents, or just sitting comfortably watching my dogs run around a field. This panel allows me to do all the things I did before with comfort and convenience that are unmatched by the stock setup.
If you are in the market, this is the panel you need and Snail Armor is ready to deliver the product you deserve!