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  • Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best Tacoma Bed Rack for Your Truck

    by Ryan Horton April 26, 2024 12 min read



    Sherpa PAK System Bed Rack on Tacoma

    Overview of Tacoma Bed Racks and Why a Tacoma Bed Rack Might be a Good Option for You

    Tacoma Bed Racks are essential for overland travelers and outdoor enthusiasts who utilize their trucks for adventurous trips and need to maximize their vehicle’s carrying capacity. These racks are designed to enhance the versatility and functionality of your Tacoma, transforming the truck bed into a more efficient cargo area that can keep your gear organized and easy to access. Tacoma bed racks are modular, allowing for various customizations such as mounting roof top tents, bikes, kayaks, and more.

    The modularity of Tacoma bed racks is particularly beneficial. They can be configured based on your specific needs. Furthermore, bed racks can be customized for the trip ahead given accessories can easily be added or removed within minutes. Whether you’re hauling camping gear for a weekend getaway or transporting heavier equipment for an off-road adventure, a Tacoma bed rack can get it done.

    Additionally, many bed racks are designed to accommodate roof top tents, making them an ideal choice for campers who prefer elevated sleeping setups away from ground-level threats and discomforts. This compatibility with different types of RTTs not only improves gas mileage but also enhances access and visibility, offering a comprehensive solution for installing rooftop tents on a Toyota Tacoma.

    Tacoma Bed Racks vs. Tacoma Bed Bars

    While both bed racks and bed bars enhance the functionality of your Tacoma, they serve slightly different purposes and suit different needs. Tacoma bed racks are typically available in mid-height or full-height options, allowing the sides of the rack to be used for mounting accessories. This setup is geared towards those who desire a full system that can support various attachments and equipment.

    Tacoma bed bars can also be used to support attachments and equipment, but not to the same extent. Tacoma bed bars are generally low-profile and are not ideal for side mounting. However, they are excellent for mounting roof top tents, bikes, and other gear specifically on top of the bed bars as opposed to the side. Bed bars offer a streamlined, minimalistic approach and are perfect for users who prioritize a lower vehicle profile and simpler setup.

    Key Considerations when Shopping for a Bed Rack

    When selecting a bed rack for your Tacoma, several key factors should be considered to ensure you get the most out of your purchase:

    • Height: Bed racks come in different configurations including low-profile (bed bars), mid-height, and full-height. Your choice should be based on what you plan to carry and your accessibility preferences.
    • Accessories Considerations: Think about what accessories you plan to mount. Choose a rack with flexible mounting options to accommodate your gear. The optimal bed rack might look a lot different if you have a need to mount accessories like MAXTRAX or need secure lockable storage.
    • Bed Length: The Toyota Tacoma comes in a short bed and long bed variation. Tacoma bed racks are built accordingly. Ensure you know your bed size before making a final decision.
    • Compatibility with Tonneau Covers: Some racks are compatible with tonneau covers, offering the best of both worlds in terms of security and functionality.

    Top Tacoma Bed Racks

    Leitner Designs ACS FORGED Tacoma Bed Racks

    Leitner Designs offers one of the most modular bed rack systems available and is the same rack we have run on our personal vehicles for many years. The ACS FORGED rack is not just robust but also highly adaptable, featuring a patent-pending sliding load bar that allows you to carry oversized items such as kayaks or dirt bikes without removing the rack.

    Leitner Tacoma Bed Rack
    I used to have to remove my bed rack completely whenever I wanted to load my dirt bike. With the Leitner ACS, I simply loosen two knobs and slide the rear load bar toward the front of the rack allowing for total access.

    A key component of the Leitner Designs Tacoma bed rack is the expansive accessories that have been developed to work exclusively with the Leitner ACS. This ranges from the ultra-popular Leitner Designs Gear Pods to simple Universal Mounting Plates that can be adapted to fit things like shovels, axes, and more. The Hydro Pod is another great accessory from Leitner Designs that affords the ability to have on-the-go ready-to-use pressurized water great for cleaning off camp dishes or taking a washup.

    RCI Offroad Tacoma Bed Racks

    RCI Offroad is another popular name in the space. You might have heard of them for their industry-leading skid plates, but their bed racks for the Tacoma are not short of impressive. RCI Offroad’s bed racks come in 12-inch and 18-inch heights, catering to different use cases and preferences.

    RCI designs its racks for durability and versatility, supporting various off-road and overland accessories. The RCI 12-inch rack measures 12 inches from the top of the bed rail to the top of the rack. This is considered a mid-size rack and can be a great option for those looking to mount a roof top tent without any potential wind drag. RCI also offers an aluminum version of the rack that weighs nearly 30 lbs. less than the steel version (95 lbs. vs 68 lbs.

    RCI Tacoma Bed Rack

    RCI's 18-inch bed rack is considered a full-height bed rack and features to same overall design as the 12-inch rack with the only main difference being the height. The full-height design is desirable for some as you can load longer items on the truck by virtue of it sitting above the roof line. This rack also affords a lot of real estate under the rack and can be beneficial for those who need to maximize the storage space under their rack for taller items.

    Regardless of whether the mid-height or full-height rack will suit your lifestyle best, rest assured that RCI bed racks are constructed from the highest quality materials, have an impressive weight capacity, and work flawlessly with RCI's bed rack accessories.

    RCI Offroad Tacoma Bed Bars

    RCI's Tacoma bed bars are their lowest profile offering at only 9 inches tall. Unlike their traditional bed racks, the bed bars do not include side plates so the accessory mounting capabilities are reduced to smaller lower profile items. However, these can still work perfectly for mounting a roof top tent or bikes directly on top of the bed bars. The slotted design on the top of the cross members allows many accessories to be installed seamlessly.

    Sherpa PAK System Tacoma Bed Racks

    Sherpa makes some of the most impressive roof racks in the game and their new PAK System bed racks don't disappoint. In fact, the Sherpa roof rack height bed racks will align with their roof racks flawlessly making for a long platform ready to haul. In Sherp's own words, these bed racks are "durable, adaptable, and crafted for adventure."

    Sherpa Bed Rack Tacoma

    In addition to Sherp's roof rack height bed rack, they also offer a mid-height variation that is roughly 13 inches in height measured from the top of the bed rail to the top of the rack. Both options come with towers (2 for the mid-size and 3 for the full-size), cross bars (2 for the mid-size and 3 for the full-size), (2) accessory braces, and bed rack mounting brackets (4 for the mid-size and 6 for the full-size).

    Sherpa's PAK System accessory braces which are pre-drilled and slotted are adaptable to numerous accessories. Additionally, the slots on the cross bars are an optimal solution for mounting roof top tents, bikes, and more. Sherpa's mid-size rack weighs 45-55 lbs and their full-size rack weighs 65 lbs. Both can support an impressive 400 lbs. of dynamic weight and 1,000 lbs. of static weight.

    Xtrusion Overland XTR1 and XTR3 Tacoma Bed Racks

    Xtrusion Overland is a newer name, but a name that shouldn't be taken lightly. Their XTR1 and XTR3 bed racks have turned heads and their recently announced XO.SKLTN has taken us all by storm. The XO.Skeleton is an innovative camper, topper, and bed rack system that can be configured to your specific liking.

    The XO.Skeleton though is not what helped Xtrusion Overland become a well-known name in this space. It was their XTR1 bed rack that jump-started their growth. According to Xtrusion Overland,

    Our XTR1 bed racks are made out of the strongest, lightest, and most modular materials on the market, without sacrificing any features!

    We can in fact confirm that the XTR1 bed racks are extremely modular and made out of high-quality materials. They also come in three different heights: low (10 inches), mid (15 inches), and full (21 inches). These different heights allow you to configure the XTR1 to fit your specific needs. Every XTR1 rack will come with 2 crossbars, 4 uprights, 2 top braces, 2 side braces, 4 top corner brackets, and all the necessary screws and hardware.

    Xtrusion XTR1 Tacoma Bed Rack

    Continue reading to hear about the impressive lineup of accessories that Xtrusion Overland offers.

    In addition to the XTR1 bed rack, Xtrusion Overland also offers the XTR3 bed rack. This particular model comes with additional uprights (front, middle, and rear as opposed to just front and rear) essentially giving you 4 equal quadrants. This allows you to have independently adjustable side braces giving you unlimited flexibility.

    Regardless of whether you go with the XTR1 or XTR3, one thing is for certain. Xtrusion Overland has some of the most impressive bed rack accessories. Their unique molle panels and slide-outs allow you to configure your specific bed rack to hold whatever you need wherever you need it.

    upTOP Overland TRUSS Tacoma Bed Racks

    upTOP Overland is another name you might recognize. Their innovative roof racks stand out, but we can't dismiss their Tacoma TRUSS Bed Racks. In fact, the folks at upTOP have an overland bed rack for just about every situation. From low-profile bed racks to full-size bed racks all the way to bed racks that work with a Soft topper, upTOP has a solution for all your needs. To expand even more, upTOP offers Tacoma bed racks designed to work with Diamondback covers and has recently launched a new Baja Bed Rack.

    upTOP Overland Tacoma Bed Rack

    upTOP TRUSS bed racks feature a robust design with their mid-height racks coming in at 11.75 inches while their full-height bed rack stands at 21.25 inches. These two variations work perfectly for a slew of use cases and are roof top tent and accessory-ready. Each rack comes with three uprights per side and modular, interlocking side load panels with slots and holes ready to accept different accessories.

    As previously mentioned, upTOP offers a version of their TRUSS bed racks that work with a Diamondback cover and Soft Top. These options can be great for those looking for secure storage, but the ability to still outfit their Tacoma with a bed rack.

    Regardless of the upTOP bed rack that you go with, upTOP completes the package with an impressive offering of TRUSS bed rack accessories allowing you to mount everything under the sun.

    Rock Slide Engineering Tacoma Bed Racks

    Rock Slide Engineering is another name in the industry that offers an impressive Toyota Tacoma overland rack. Rock Slide offers their Tacoma racks in a basic kit and deluxe kit. The basic kit includes 2 fixed sides, 2 cross members, and necessary mounting hardware. Their deluxe kit comes with similar components with the exception of the sides having flip-up functionality. With the sides flipping up you have uninterrupted access to the front of the bed which is often a pain point on some other racks.

    Rock Slide Engineering Tacoma Bed Rack

    Rock Slide Engineering also offers unique accessories designed for their bed racks. This includes their propane tank holders perfect for 5 lb. propane tanks and a small cargo box which is designed to attach to their sides rails which attach to the bed rack, but extend down the rear quarter panel for accessory mounting purposes.

    Chassis Unlimited Thorax Tacoma Bed Racks

    Chassis Unlimited manufactures some extremely impressive full-size bumpers including rear swing out bumpers. However, we are here to discuss bed racks which is something Chassis Unlimited also does well with their Thorax Overland Bed Rack System.

    Chassis Unlimited Tacoma Bed Rack

    The Chassis Unlimited Thorax bed racks come in a 12-inch and 18-inch variation and work perfectly for mounting a roof top tent and attaching accessories. Both options feature an impressive weight capacity of 1,500 lbs (static).

    Westcott Designs Tacoma Bed Racks

    Westcott Designs is another name that is continually pumping out impressive products including some great options for the 2024+ Toyota Tacoma. If you are curious about the quality of their products just take a look at their TIG welded rock sliders. Their Tacoma bed rack is actually also TIG welded and not something we can say about any of the other racks featured in this article.

    Westcott Designs Tacoma Bed Rack

    Now that we can all agree on the quality let's dive into some specifics of the Westcott Tacoma bed rack. Westcott designed their bed rack to be low-profile with it sitting up 12 inches total. This is a perfect height for mounting a roof top tent and can also accommodate things like a Hi-Lift Jack, fuel/water cans, shovels, etc with the optional side panels that come pre-drilled.

    CBI Offroad Tacoma Bed Racks

    CBI Offroad is a staple with its ever-expanding lineup of bumpers, skid plates, accessories, and more. Their bed racks including their Overland Tacoma bed rack and full-height options are designed to enhance the adventure and are built in Idaho Falls, ID.

    CBI Roof Rack Height Bed Rack Tacoma

    CBI's Toyota Tacoma overland rack features a tube design with mounting capabilities on top and on the side thanks to the pre-drilled side panels. CBI also offers their roof rack height and cab height options which are plate-designed and as the name indicates align nicely with a Prinsu roof rack or the cab on your Tacoma. Both CBI's plate Tacoma bed racks come with pre-drilled side plates with additional mounting options across most of the rack. CBI offers a slew of bed rack accessories for easily accessible mounting.

    CBI Offroad Tacoma Bed Bars

    CBI Offroad's Tacoma Bed Bars are another stand-out product at a more affordable price. These newly designed bed bars have an increased tower angle providing a greater load capacity and have an optional side panel that provides accessory mounting options.

    CBI Tacoma Bed Bars

    CBI also constructs its bed bars, which can support 400 lbs, with mounting slots in the top of the cross bars designed to accommodate many different tents. These mounting slots also work perfectly for other accessories such as bike racks or snowboard/ski racks.

    Bed Rack Accessories

    Bed rack accessories are a key component to ensuring your bed rack is best suited for your lifestyle and the adventure ahead. Nearly every manufacturer offers their own line of bed rack accessories with many of them being exclusive to the brand. Therefore, it is a good idea to review accessories prior to deciding on a bed rack. The last thing you want to do is order a bed rack and then find it does not accommodate all the accessories you imagined.

    Tacoma Bed Rack Accessories

    Rest assured that most of the brands mentioned here have a well-developed accessory offering for their bed racks.

    Tacoma Bed Racks with Tonneau Cover

    Some years ago, we were regularly asked if there were any bed racks that would work with a tonneau cover. We used to have to say no. However, today there are a handful of brands offering bed racks that will work with tonneau covers.

    Bed Rack with Tonneau Cover

    Leitner Designs has an option that works with Retrax Powertrax Pro XR models. Similarly, RCI offers tonneau cover adapters for their bed racks and bed bars allowing them to be compatible with many hard or soft roll-up covers and retractable covers that do not have integrated T-Slot rails. Other manufacturers offer similar solutions so the goal of having a bed rack with a tonneau cover is now finally a reality.

    Installing a Tacoma Bed Rack

    Installing a bed rack on your Tacoma is straightforward and does not require any vehicle modification. Each bed rack will come with all the necessary hardware and most racks can be installed within a few hours at most. Many manufacturers also provide instructions with every order and there are also helpful video resources available. If you have any questions about an installation our team of experts is always happy to help.

    Summary

    Hopefully, this guide has helped you understand what to look for when shopping for a bed rack and also helped you identify some of the top choices. The team at Truck Brigade has experience with all of these bed racks and is a resource for those who might need some guidance or suggestions.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Q: Can I install a bed rack on my Tacoma by myself?A: Yes, most bed racks are designed for DIY installation, but it's important to follow the installation guide or video resources. It can be helpful to have another set of hands or reach out to an install shop if desired.

    Q: How do I choose the right height for my bed rack? A: Consider what you'll be carrying and your ease of access needs. Low-profile racks limit the amount of space under the rack for storage. Mid-height racks allow you to mount a roof top tent without the tent sitting above the roof line. Full-height racks provide the most usable space under the rack and also allow you to haul longer items over the roof, but can result in wind drag if you mount larger items on top of the rack.

    Q: Can I use a bed rack with a tonneau cover?A: Yes, there are specific bed rack designs allowing you to install a bed rack with a tonneau cover.

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