We all know by now that the Toyota Tacoma is built for almost anything that you can throw at it: the highway, off-road, work, and more. However, not everyone needs everything, and to appeal to the masses, modern day truck manufacturers leave off some stuff that could make your dream off-road truck a reality. Thankfully the aftermarket is to the rescue, and if you want a roof rack for your Tacoma, here is the guide to get you started!
What is a Roof Rack?
In the event you need some knowledge, let’s take a moment to learn about roof racks. It’s a rack that goes on your roof. No really! It’s as simple as that. A roof rack allows you to add extra storage space to an otherwise useless area (for storage). Some can connect to a bed rack and be the full length of your truck, and others simply sit above the cab.
Why do you need a Roof Rack?
“Need” is definitely a relative word. Roof racks do have plenty of benefits that could suit your needs. If you do a lot of off-roading or overlanding, a roof rack is a great place to put the stuff you don’t always need direct access to. Since it’s higher compared to your bed and generally full of points to tie gear down, it’s perfect for your spare tire, extra gas, your tent, and so on.
You don’t need to be a weekend warrior to make use out of a roof rack. If you use your truck for work and make a lot of trips to the hardware store, a roof rack will give you extra places to tie down your wood and PVC pipes. An extra bonus is that it will keep the materials off your paint, which can be a costy fix, especially if rust develops.
While they can definitely be used to carry stuff around, you can also mount plenty of lights to them: front light bars, surround lights, flood lights, and so on. Since the design of a roof rack allows it to sit flat, you can potentially have the ability for a perfect 360 degrees of lighting, should you want. No extra drilling into or leveling of your roof required!
Important factors to keep in mind!
While a roof rack is helpful, there are some things you do need to keep in mind. The roof is not designed to hold massive amounts of weight, so you’re not going to be hauling an engine up there. Check the specifications with the rack and vehicle you get to find out the limit. You are also increasing the overall height of your truck. While you’re not driving an 18-wheeler, you do want to be mindful about anything tall you might have strapped down there. Low tunnels and even tree branches could become a pain.
How are Roof Racks Installed?
The installation of a roof rack depends on what type of rack you get, and what type of vehicle you have. Thankfully Toyota made this easy for us Tacoma owners. While some people have to mount racks with awkward attachments or even drill into their roof, Tacoma owners simply need to pull back some covers, and the pre-drilled mounting points will appear!
Take a look at this section of a video showing where the mounting holes are on this third generation Tacoma: https://youtu.be/MvRHo8CyDNc?t=77
Top 10 Roof Racks for the Toyota Tacoma
Now that we got all of the boring stuff out of the way, let’s get on to the stars of the article! Here are some of the top roof racks for your Toyota Tacoma. These top ones are what is popular on the Facebook groups, forums, and our customers. Keep in mind that not all of these may work for you. As I say with all our top product articles, take a look at each one to find out what works for your needs and your budget. Enough talk… Let’s “rack and roll.”
Let’s start off with one of our favorites. Cali Raised LED makes some great products featured on many Tacomas in the wild. Their roof racks are no exception! Their premium roof rack allows the addition of some of their industry leading LED light bars! They also have a cover that you can lower over the LED light bar when you’re not using them to improve aerodynamics and help protect the lights from flying rocks. Fully decked out, this kit can cost you over $1070, but it can start at around $750.
If you don’t need all the flair, but still want the same great quality, you can go for their economy version. Don’t let the name fool you. You’re still getting greatness. You can get these with or without an LED light bar, and these will run from $650 to about $940. No drilling is required.
KC is a name that has been associated with all types of off-road trucks, and much like Cali Raised, they are known for their lighting. The KC M-Rack comes with an integrated 50" KC Gravity LED Pro6 Light Bar and four Side Blackout Plates. That’s going to blast out 18,400 lumens! The extremely lightweight, aluminum construction gives a total weight of around 25 pounds. The horizontal cross bars can be adjusted to meet your needs for what you are carrying. While impressive, this kit will set you back about $2600, making it the most expensive on our list.
Many of you may be on the lookout for a roof rack that is tent friendly. For that, you’ll want something strong and something with a stable and firm base. Warrior Products has you covered. This rack makes it easy to be compatible with their other products such as their different mounts, and are friendly to aftermarket lighting as well.
While the multiple crossbars are not adjustable, there are plenty to give you multiple tie down and mounting points for whatever you are carrying. They also help give you a more comfortable and supportive base for a rooftop tent. For just under $740, it is a great option!
Another sleek option comes from TMT 4X4 with their Skyline roof rack for Toyota Tacomas. The rack kit comes with a wind deflector, two side-beams and five crossbars. Unlike some of the other racks that have the crossbars fixed in place, this rack has lateral slots that allow you to place the bars where you need. The steel construction of the rack ensures long term durability, despite the extra weight.
You do have some options with TMT as well. You can get the rack powder coated in black, or bare metal so you can finish it in the color you want! You have the option of three different aerodynamic deflectors: one for no light bars, one with cutouts for two 10’’ LED bars, or one cutout for a 40’’ LED light bar. All this will be one fixed price of $670, and no extra drilling is required!
This lightweight, aluminum option from Front Runner will leave you getting more and more from their site. While their rack is good, they have plenty of mounting and other toys built to work well with the Slimline II, such as tables. Where can you store those? Well, these racks come with vehicle specific foot rails that allow for storage under the rack! While these are a little more on the bulky side compared to others, it does come with a deflector for improved aerodynamics.
The wide and flat crossbars offer plenty of mounting real estate, and can be very supportive for a rooftop tent. All of their racks are backed by a lifetime warranty. Their accessories carry a three year warranty. The rack itself will cost you $1025, and of course, no extra drilling is required. No other accessories can be added as options though. You will have to buy them separately.
While not generally as sleek and aerodynamic as some of the other racks on the market, ARB delivers a true utilitarian and off-road rack. They offer four different models to fit your needs, most of which include a basket or cage of some sort. A unique feature is that while the mounting rails are designed to be “permanently” attached to the factory Toyota Tacoma mounting locations, the rack itself is built to be quickly detached from the ARB mounting rails. This allows you to easily take the roof rack off when you don’t need it.
Most of the rack is constructed out of zinc-plated steel, then powder-coated millennium grey. The fittings are stainless steel for added protection. While this kit won’t win for aerodynamics or slim appearance, if you need that “safari style” utilitarian roof rack, ARB could be your choice. The kits range in price from $179 to $700, so you’re not breaking the bank.
Slim, sleek, and light: that is the DV8 roof rack. While only for 2016+ Tacomas, this rack offers some flexibility to allow you to mount what you need. The kit comes ready to mount lighting almost anywhere you can think of. The sides can accommodate up to four 6 inch slim led lights, while the front is ready for a 45 inch light bar, with brackets available for a 40 inch bar. There are multiple mounting locations for the cross bars to make mounting what you need easier.
Of course no drilling is required, and the added air deflector and lightweight construction help keep the drag low and MPGs high. The cost is $500, which makes it one of the lower priced options on the list.
Uptop Overland realizes that everyone has different prices and needs, so they offer a few different models to get you what you need. Each model comes with even more options to choose from. For example, the Alpha model allows for eight different light bar cutouts depending on the size and brand you want to go with. You can also color match the rack to the factory Toyota color of your truck! The Alpha model can be up to about $1350.
The Bravo options are a bit more limited, but still give you the same great construction and durability. They start at $599 and can go beyond that. Uptop also carries plenty of bed rack options as well that can be integrated with the killer roof racks!
The aluminium construction and stainless steel hardware allow for the best combination of lightweight and durability. All are built to order and do take some time to get to you.
This is definitely a sleek rack made specifically for your Toyota Tacoma. They have different models for different year trucks and cab sizes, so make sure you’re getting the right one! The black powder coated aluminum makes these lightweight and durable, and they market themselves as the “most versatile and modular full rack on the market.”
The planks, as they call them, are flat, wide, and can be placed wherever you want! This allows them to mount whatever you want, and the flat design is perfect as a supportive base for a rooftop tent. They are sleek and low profile, and backed by a five year warranty. It will set you back just under $1300, but that depends on the model and options.
I’m going to end this one with another one of my personal favorites from Prinsu Design Studios. It is a basics, no-frills design that is durable and gets the job done, and done well! The modular design of the rack allows you to set it up as you want, and the lightweight aluminum construction keeps the overall weight down. The aggressive deflector up front will help keep the wind drag down so you don’t sacrifice your MPGs. However, you can get the deflector cut for a 40 inch light bar. This rack will cost you about $675, making it very competitively priced.
A roof rack may be something that you need in your life! Be it overlanding, weekend camping, or work truck necessities, there is a roof rack for you. This is by no means a complete list, but it is one that I have found to be of some of the more popular models to help you keep you on top of things. Find one that works for you and your budget!
Cali Raised - Courtesy of Cali Raised
KC M-Rack - Courtesy of Slick Auto
Warrior Products - Courtesy of Warrior Products
TMT Skyline - Courtesy of TMT
Front Runner Slimline II - Courtesy of Front Runner Outfitters
ARB - Courtesy of ARB
DV8 - Courtesy of DV8 Off-Road
Uptop Overland - Courtesy of Uptop Overland
Rhino Rack - Courtesy of TacomaWorld user Hstone556
Prinsu Design Studios - Courtesy of TacomaWorld user RebelliousOne