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    Resources — bed racks

    The Ultimate Guide To Toyota Tacoma Sport Racks

    The Ultimate Guide To Toyota Tacoma Sport Racks

    If you’re looking for a Toyota Tacoma or already have one, you probably want something that can haul stuff, pull stuff, carry stuff, and something that can do all that on any terrain with ease. Tacomas not only do that, but they look good while they do it. While they are great from the factory, sometimes you just might need that extra cargo space, and that is where sports racks come in. 

    What Is A Tacoma Sport Rack?

    A sports rack is a type of rack designed to mount on your vehicle to allow extra storage or mounting space. They can mount to your roof, bed, hitch, and come in a wide array of shapes, sizes, and heights. So many options! Which is right for you? Let’s find out.

    Different Types of Sports Racks For Tacoma

    • Roof Rack - A roof rack mounts to the roof/cab of your truck. It usually is just the length of your cab and holds little weight.
    • Bed Rack - A bed rack mounts to the side walls or inner rails of your bed and can match the height of your cab, extend slightly above to make use of the roof of the cab, or lay just above the height of the bed. In some cases, bed racks can have an extension that hangs over the cab/roof, but they generally don’t mount to the roof.
    • Hitch Rack - A hitch rack mounts to the hitch of your truck. They are great for low storage and can fold out of the way when not in use. These are also your most common rack for bicycle transportation.
    • Tailgate Rack - These either drape over your tailgate or replace it completely (generally converting your drop open tailgate to a side swinging one). The drape-over one is common for bike transportation, while the tailgate replacement is for those serious overlanders.
    • Headache Rack - These mount directly behind the cab to the bed. They are mostly used for protecting the rear window from an oversized load in the bed, but can also be used to hang gear from and mount light bars to.

    How To Mount Sport Racks On a Tacoma

    With so many different brands and types of rack, mounting is really up to what the manufacturer states. There are some generalities, so let’s focus on that. Toyota is pretty great when it comes to aftermarket friendliness. They expect people to modify their trucks and have some factory options that prep for. That lends well to roof racks. Back in the day, if you wanted a roof rack, you had to drill into your roof to bolt it in. Third generation Tacomas have them already drilled for you. Put the bolts in for your rack, and you’re good to go!

    Bed racks generally make use of the mounting locations in the bed. Simply slide the feet into the anchor points, bolt down where necessary, and you’re good to go. For this reason, bed racks are great for weekend use. While perhaps not the easiest to take on and off by yourself if they are full-sized and tall, they are easy in terms of simplistic installation and removal (no holes or drilling). Headache racks mount the same way, but only right behind the cab.

    Tailgates racks are not super common, but they generally either drape over your tailgate and have a couple mounting points or velcro, or they replace the entire tailgate. That can lead to a variety of different ways to install it.

    Hitch racks mount directly to your hitch. They are easy to take on and off and great for your weekend camping trips. They generally don’t hold excessive amounts of weight, but bikes and coolers are no problem!

    How Much Weight Can a Sport Rack Hold?

    How much weight one of these can take depends mostly on where it is located on your truck. Generally speaking, if it’s attached directly to your cab/roof only, the weight limit is about 100 pounds, and that number comes from Toyota. Something that is attached to your bed depends on the manufacturer's specifications, but they can be around 800 pounds. A hitch rack can hold around 300 to 750 pounds. It all depends on what the manufacturer says.

    Tacoma Sport Rack Uses

    Since a roof rack can only hold about 100 pounds, you’re limited to what you can put on there. While that may seem like a high number to the common folk, you can quickly surpass that if you’re not careful. A typical canoe is going to weigh around 65 pounds, so if you strap it down well, you’ll be good there! A few backpacks worth of camping gear would be great, though I would recommend putting them in a cargo shell (keep in mind the weight of that as well).

    One of the best uses would actually be a light bar! Without a roof rack, you probably will have to drill into your roof to add a light bar. That’s going to drop your truck’s value for anyone who doesn’t want that light bar, or if you take it off and keep all the lumens to yourself. Most people are not going to take a roof rack off when they sell, so attaching a light bar to that will be sturdy, yet temporary.

    It’s also a great place to mount a full-sized spare tire. It’s out of the way, and easy to access if you’re off-roading.

    Specialty Sports Racks

    If you use your truck to transport your special gear to and from home to your destination, you might find a benefit to having a specialty sports rack. These are designed specifically to hold your skis or snowboard, kayaks, paddleboards and surfboards, and more. If you need an extra “bed,” you can get what’s known as a basket. It’s exactly what it sounds like: a large metal basket that is perfect for throwing stuff in and strapping it down. The good thing about all of these is that they are usually universal and attach to an existing roof rack or another system.

    Sport Rack Options

    As always, here are some options that are popular on the forums and Facebook groups. Since I listed a bunch of different types, here’s a good option for each category.

    OEM is probably your best way to go for a roof rack. Being OEM, the value of the truck won’t hurt, if not go up. They will work, look good, and fit. You can find an OEM Toyota Tacoma roof rack on Amazon for about $300.

    Since hitch racks are more universal, a lot of companies make them, but one that comes up a lot is the Swagman Current Hitch Mount. For around $400, you can get a quality rack for your hitch. You can check it out here.

    While only the height of your bed, bed racks by KB Voodoo Fabrications come up over and over again on the forums as a great option for your truck for around $200, and allow you some serious mounting options with a minimalist approach.

    Tailgate racks are not very common but RaceFace makes one that you can find on Amazon for around $100. This is what I use for hauling around our mountain bikes. It's quick and easy to use and I highly recommend it! You can check it out here.

    A good headache rack comes from Magnum Truck Racks. From around $500 - 700, they have options with window cutouts, lights, and more.

    Image Credits

    Roof Rack by Toyota - Courtesy of Genuine Toyota on Amazon

    Hitch Rack by 1UP - Courtesy of The Loam Wolf

    Bed Rack by KB Voodoo - Courtesy of KB Voodoo Fabrications

    Tailgate Rack by RaceFace - Courtesy of TacomaWorld user ÜberToyota

    Headache Rack by Magnum - Courtesy of TacomaWorld user Whiteknight15

    * Please note that some of these links are Amazon affiliate links and we make a small commission if you purchase the product.

    Toyota Tacoma Bed Racks - What Are They Used For & Where To Buy

    Toyota Tacoma Bed Racks - What Are They Used For & Where To Buy

    If you’re doing some Overlanding, or a weekend camping trip, bed racks make a world of difference in storage and organization for your Toyota Tacoma. Bed racks are railed systems that bolt into the bed of your truck in minutes. They allow you to mount your gear to the sides and top of the unit keeping what you need organized, and within reach. 

    What Do You Need Them For?

    As I have said in many of my posts, the gear you need depends on what you do. Do you need the rack to support a rooftop tent (RTT)? Do you need to be able to hold gear to drive and survive for a day or a week? Do you want light-weight but more expensive aluminum or heavy but sturdy steel? Think about these questions as we take a look at some examples. The following are some of the most popular ones Taco owners have been talking about on forums. 

    RCI Off Road has been talked about on here and the forums for a few different aftermarket parts. That’s a good sign. It could be a one-stop shop, and people like them. People also like their bed racks. Standing at 12 inches, this lower rack can hold up around 700 pounds of gear and has the option to accept rooftop tents. Not tall enough? They have taller versions, and adjustable models as well. The base price of the 12-inch model is around $700. It installs quickly and looks good.

    Another fantastic option is the Cali Raised Overland Bed Rack System, which you can find right here at Emypre Off-Road. There are plenty of options with this rugged system to get the length and height that you want to fit your needs. With being mostly made out of aluminum, they are super light-weight but strong.  They will support your RTT and whatever else you need to get the job done.  At $850, you get free shipping and a lifetime warranty. 

    All-Pro Off-Road offers one of the most expensive and one of the most affordable options. From $430 to $900, there is probably a version that works for you. These are great to make what you want if you’re not happy with something out of the box. You can get a kit that is unwelded, and you can get these unfinished (bare metal). They also offer a bunch of different bolt-on accessories to really customize your bed rack the way you want. If you’re looking to make something custom without having to go to a shop to have one fabricated, this could be your option. Don’t worry: they make “plug and play” versions too!

    Front Runner Outfitters offers something different. With most of these racks offering storage on the sides, Front Runner focuses more on the top of the rack. The lightweight aluminum design is to allow you to have two levels to your truck’s bed. While expensive at around $860, they do offer the surface area of a second bed. It’s a more streamlined design over having side storage. They also make matching roof racks of the same design, in the event you need more surface area.

    Hauling your gear is something you need to take special attention to. A weekend warrior will have different needs compared to an Overlanding pro. Do you want the reduced weight of aluminum, or do you want the age-old proven durability of steel? Now that you have some idea on what’s out there, the next step is hooking one up to your Taco! Get out there, haul your stuff, and have fun. 

    Image Credits

    RCI - Courtesy of Bilstein Lifts

    Empyre - My Site :)

    All-Pro - Courtesy of All-Pro Off-Road

    Front Runner - Courtesy of Off Road Tents

    Everything You Need to Know & Buy For Overlanding In Your Tacoma

    Everything You Need to Know & Buy For Overlanding In Your Tacoma

    Toyota Tacomas are very reliable trucks, but if you want to do some serious overlanding, you may need a few upgrades to have the best experience. This guide will tell you all about overlanding in your Tacoma, why we love it, and what you need to get it done and love it too.

    What is Overlanding?

    Overlanding is a journey to remote destinations across the open land. This isn’t your typical weekend rock crawling. This is a journey where you are one with your vehicle, your lodging is typically camping, and nature is all around you. The destination is the journey. It is one heck of an experience!

    Why do Tacoma Owners Love Overlanding?

    Ask them! If they are using their trucks for their intended purpose (no, it’s not to get groceries), then they realize how good these trucks can be at braving the wilderness. The guys at Decked mentioned the proven 300,000 mile plus lifespan, inexpensive ownership, durability, and reliability. Others talk about safety, good looks, and the vast amount of selection of aftermarket parts. The Taco, with a little help, is beyond capable for an overlanding expedition. Let’s find out what you need.

    What Overlanding Equipment Do You Need?

    The Tacoma is a great truck, but if you’re going to be out on the open land for days or maybe weeks at a time, there are a few things that you need to do. What you get will depend on the terrain and how long you will be gone for. Will it be rocky, snowy, sandy, muddy, or flat? Do you have to worry about rivers? Will you be driving at night? There are a few key things to get dependant on the answers to those questions.

    Suspension is huge as it’s usually always good to have a little extra clearance. You’ll also want to protect your vehicle, especially if you’re in rocky conditions. Rock sliders, push bars, and cages are excellent additions for that. Snorkels help for river crossing and aggressive tires help for the terrain, but don’t forget about you! Where are you going to sleep and eat? What about gas for your truck and lights? These are all things to consider.

    Suspension

    There are tons of suspension options available for the Toyota Tacoma, but it’s important to remember that when overlanding, you’re generally not attending a SuperCrawl event. Clearance is always a good option if you have some bumps or rivers to get through.

    I cover this topic heavily in my Ultimate Tacoma Lift Kit Guide, but it would be a good idea to start out with a basic lift kit. A coilover kit would be your best option overall for overlanding.

    Coilover kits are one unit (piston and spring) that are plug and play. Simply take your stock spring and piston out, and place the new one in. While these are more expensive over spacer lift kits, which simply stretch your stock spring and piston, coilover kits are far more durable. Durability is what you are after for overlanding, hands down.

    Coilovers can be ordered in various heights including adjustable heights, and there are plenty of name brand options to choose from. You can expect to spend anywhere from $1200 to $4000 for a complete kit, but it’s worth it.

    Protection

    Your ride will get beat up and get dirty as your overlanding life continues, but there are steps you can take to cut down on serious damage, especially if you’re dealing with rocky and hilly conditions. Rock sliders, push bars, and cages take the impacts so your body panels don’t have to.

    Rock sliders bolt to your frame and are designed for protection. The average cost is going to be around $250 to $550 depending on brand and material. Some sliders offer built-in steps as well, which will aid you in getting in and out of your lifted ride. Keep in mind that when you’re shopping you’re getting sliders and not steps. Steps are usually just meant for your feet and don’t offer the same protection that sliders do.

    Push bars/grill guards go on the front of your truck and can be as simple as a small trapezoidal tube in the middle, or a complete network of tubing and mesh designed to protect all your lights and grille. These range from $250 to over $1000, but you’re generally looking around $400.

    If you’re at risk of rolling, you may want to look at a cage for your truck. This is most likely a rare occurrence for overlanding, but know your environment. This generally has to be custom made, so do a search around your area for someone who offers that kind of service. 

    Snorkels

    If you think you might be crossing some rivers, a snorkel might be a wise investment. Snorkels move your engine’s air intake closer to your roof. While you will need to cut holes in your truck’s body to make the modification, it’s better than hydro locking your engine (seizing your engine because water gets sucked in). These will run you about $300 to $700.

    Tires

    Tires and the amount of air in them depend on where you are going. Mud, snow, sand, and dirt might all need different tires. A while back, I did a post called The Ultimate Toyota Tacoma Wheel and Tire Guide that covers all this in depth. Know where you’re going, and plan accordingly. A typical set of off-road tires will run you around $600.

    Lights

    There will be no streetlights where you are going. Stock headlights and high beams work well, but you’ll need more in the pitch black darkness you’ll experience. I cover lighting terms and options in my Guide to Tacoma Light Bars, but in short, it would be wise to invest in an LED light bar. LED light bars are extremely efficient, durable, and bright. They will flood the area in front of you with bright and clean light, which is terribly important if your overlanding trip requires you to drive at night.

    Carrying Your Gear

    If you’re going to be gone for a long time, you need supplies: spare truck parts, food, water, first aid, survival gear, and extra fuel. While our trucks can hold a lot, space runs out fast when you’re getting all of your supplies together.

    Bed Racks

    Bed racks are one of the best options for carrying more gear. These mount onto your bed and either give you a full length “roof rack”, sidewall storage, or both. Prices range from $250 to over $1000, but you’ll be able to pick the one you need for the amount of storage that you require. Some come with modular panels and containers designed to attached to the side. They are great ways to store spare water and fuel. If you're looking for a great bed rack for your Tacoma, we carry a great one from Cali Raised.

    Bed Drawers

    While these take up more room in your bed, they are a good way to organize your gear, and keep it out of the way. These install in your bed, and raise the floor of your bed by adding a row of drawers underneath the new bed floor. The price range is the same as the bed racks.

    Headrest Pouch Kit

    These don’t hold much but are a great way to keep small things in a place you know they will be. A great option is a first aid kit. Blue Ridge Overland Gear actually makes a complete headrest first aid kit. Prices range from $30 to $80 depending on what you get: empty, first aid kit, size, attachment, and so on.

    Keeping Yourself Comfortable

    When overlanding, there are no resorts, no hotels, and no cabins. You are on your own, so you want to be comfortable. Regular old tents are an inexpensive and easy option. They are tried and true, and they don’t take up much space. However, if you want to be fancy and camp in style, there are options made specifically for our Tacomas.

    Bed Tents

    If your trips are short and your bed isn’t loaded down with equipment, a bed tent can be a good option. These are designed to fold out in your bed to give you a, well, a bed. Compared to other options, these are relatively inexpensive. Prices range from $150 to $500.

    Roof Top Tents

    When you want the ultimate amount of personal space, luxury, and room in your truck’s bed for storage, roof top tents are the best option. While they can be pricey ($250 - $2000), they are amazing options if you’re serious about overlanding. You sleep up high, which not only gives you better views, but it keeps you safer from any lurking creatures. Some come with an annex room that goes from the ground to the sleeping section. They are great for a multi-person party, or a “living room” if you want it. Some of these annex rooms have “backdoors” that allow you to access the inside of your truck (through your side doors) giving you an incredible setup.

    A good note: many roof top tents also have supports that can double as bed racks.

    Overlanding Trailers

    If you are going on a long trip on flat land, you might need a trailer. Trailers are a great option to carry a bunch of other gear for an extended journey, but only on flatter land. You can get a specific overlanding trailer, and while more expensive, they are designed for harsh off-road environments.

    Trailers can be your tent, leaving your bed available for more storage, or they can hold all of your extra gear and leave your bed available. A good overlanding trailer will cost you over $2000 and can be as high as $12000. If you’re all about the overlanding life, it could be a wise investment, but most weekend warriors won’t have a need for the extra space.

    While fuel mileage isn’t the main concern while overlanding (beyond making sure you have enough), pulling a heavy trailer will result in the use of more fuel. You will also limit where you can go.

    Where To Find Overlanding Groups

    Going out on your own or with people that you can fit in your truck can be a lot of fun, but sometimes hanging out and going on an adventure with a convoy of like-minded people is a lot of fun. Not only can you form bonds with people who share your passion, but someone could save you or your truck with if you’re in trouble. If you’re a novice, or this is your first time, I would highly recommend going with other people.

    Facebook is a great way to find like-minded people/groups. There are many overlanding groups, and some Tacoma/Toyota specific ones for New Jersey and Pennsylvania (USA). Forums like Overland Bound, Tacoma World, and even Reddit have diehard fans when it comes to overlanding with Tacomas. Reach out to these people through these mediums and find out what’s happening next and where. Go out and have some fun with some like-minded people!

    Conclusion

    While an incredible experience and lots of fun, overlanding is a serious and potentially dangerous adventure. However, rest assured knowing your Toyota Tacoma can be up to the challenge with some light modifications. Remember, a good overall, mid-range priced package to get your truck ready would consist of the following:

    • Moderate height coilover lift kit ($1200)
    • Tires ($600)
    • Rock sliders ($350)
    • Push bar/grill guard ($350)
    • LED light bar ($200)
    • Bed rack/tent ($500)
    • Fuel cans, water cans, and other incidentals/extras ($250)

    All in all, you could be looking around $7500 for a complete kit. Keep in mind that this is mid-range. You can get much more expensive gear, or cheaper. Most of these things are one time investments as well. The only things you would need to replace are your tires. Anything else just needs to be replaced if it gets damaged.

    You also have to determine what you need. If you’re driving through the Sahara, you probably don’t need a push bar or rock sliders. That’s $700 taken off right there. If you are only going on weekend trips, you probably can get away with an inexpensive tent set up independently from your truck, and you won’t need a bed rack. That’s $500 gone.

    There is no this-is-how-you-have-to-do-it way for overlanding. There are two rules to overlanding: get from Point A to Point B, and have fun doing it. How you accomplish it depends on how much money, time, and effort you want to put into it. Determine where you want to go, find out the best way to do it, and build and plan accordingly.

    The Toyota Tacoma is a safe, durable, and reliable truck. Use it, be safe, and have fun.

    Image Credits

    Cover Picture - TRD USA

    Lift Kit - Defcon Brix

    Sliders and Bumper - C4 Fabrication

    Tires Snorkels and Lights - Rigd Supply

    Bed Rack - Leitner Designs

    Roof Tent - Offroading HQ

    Trailer - Defcon Brix