It is always a sad sight when you see a truck bed that never gets to live up to its full potential. While the versatility and storage options a truck bed has to offer are incredible, there are several accessories you can utilize to make it fit your lifestyle more seamlessly. Soft-toppers, truck bed toolboxes and tonneau covers are awesome, but the most robust option of them all is the bed rack. While some may feel they can be limiting when it comes to tall storage, a well-suited rack can open many doors to new activities. Whether you want to start overlanding with a rooftop tent, haul a kayak to the docks or even go to the trails for a family bike ride, a bed rack might be exactly what you need to head out on your next adventure with all the right equipment.
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What to Look for in Truck Bed Racks
Weight Capacity: When looking at the specs for a bed rack, you will often see two weight capacities, static and dynamic. Some brands even go as far as distinguishing between on-road and off-road limits. The static capacity measures how much weight it can hold when the vehicle is parked, and the dynamic is for when it is moving. Static weight matters mainly in the rooftop tent use case because additional weight will be added when you climb up top to turn in for the night.
Materials and Finishes: Bed racks are typically built out of steel or aluminum, each with perks. Aluminum will be a lot lighter but may not be able to hold quite as much weight. Steel will be heavy, which you may want to keep in mind regarding your truck's suspension. But the steel will last forever as long as you don't have any rust issues. Many of these options are powder-coated anyway, so you won't have to worry too much about corrosion.
Half-Height vs. Full-Height: A half-height rack is an ideal option if you are super concerned about your truck's aerodynamics and gas efficiency. The low-profile design will allow you to mount cargo without adding all sorts of wind resistance when you are speeding down the freeway. They also have a lower center of gravity for those who are concerned about rollovers on the more difficult off-roading trails out there. But, their downfall is that they will cover a good portion of your back window and tend to restrict access to the side of your bed. Full-height racks give you more use of your truck bed as you can still store taller items. They are also ideal when you a hauling something like a canoe that is much longer than your bed, as it can extend over the roof a bit.
Compatibility: First, you will want to make sure the rack you are looking at has a compatible option for your truck. Unfortunately, you may need to do some light digging as not every website makes it easy to find the exact rack for your model year and trim. There are adjustable options on the market if you see yourself switching out your truck soon or you just like the idea of flexibility. Some racks are compatible with tonneau covers, so if you are hoping to hold onto your dry storage, you will also want to keep that in mind.
Modularity: Some brands put a lot of effort into accessories for customization. Sometimes the rack will be pretty bare bones at the time of purchase, and then you snag whatever add-ons you need. Some examples are fork mounts for bikes, saddles for kayaks and molle panels for tools or off-road recovery equipment. If you plan on needing these items, I recommend buying the rack from a brand that already produces the necessary accessories, to guarantee design compatibility.