The Tundra is the full sized workhorse of the Toyota family. It’s durable, reliable, and has most of the features that you need for success right from the factory. However, what comes from the factory still has to be what the overall customer wants so it’s financially feasible for Toyota to make the trucks the way they do. When you start wanting specialty equipment like roof racks, you’ll have to look to the aftermarket, and thankfully the aftermarket does not disappoint.
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 costly 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?
Unfortunately the Tundra is not as roof rack friendly as the little brother known as the Tacoma. The Tacoma has pre-drilled holes designed to make the install of most roof racks “plug and play.” Toyota left us Tundra owners in the dark on this one.
You will have to drill holes in the your roof to get your roof rack in place. Thankfully many manufactures include either a drill bit, easy instructions, installation videos, or all three to help make the process as easy as possible. Not all racks are the same though, so make sure you measure and drill carefully. Don’t measure for a different model or brand, and then be upset when the holes don’t line up with the rack you have!
Of course, if you don’t feel like doing something like this yourself, there are probably quite a few local shops near you that would be willing to help. The cost would probably be a couple hours of labor. That rate will vary depending on the shop, but look around for either some off-road or specialty truck shops. You’d be surprised that generally specialty shops like this can have lower rates for something like this since they do these types of installations all of the time.
Top Roof Racks for the Toyota Tundra
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 Tundra. 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.
We have talked about these guys in almost every article relating to stuff like this, and for good reason. Not only are you getting a top quality rack at a reasonable price, they have been making roof racks for Toyotas for years.
The Cab Rack model shown fits Crew Max models from 2007 to 2021. The wind deflector options allow cutouts for 40 or 50 inch lightbars, or no cutout at all. For a little extra, you can get light bar mounts included! Each rack is powder coated satin black, and includes noise reduction edge trim to help cut down on what you hear behind the wheel.
The rack comes with six crossbars, but it is completely up to you how many you install. Each kit start at around $860, and it comes with a lifetime warranty, which is pretty hard to beat.
Cali Raised has made all sort of products for Tundras as well as Tacomas and 4Runners over the years that focus around their main specialty: LED lighting. They offer two quality roof models. The Economy model is a low-profile, no frills roof rack that can be customized with LED lighting from the factory, or the ability to mount your own. The flush crossbars allow for great mounting options. It starts at $900.
The premium model starts at $950 and includes extras right our of the box, such as an adjustable LED wind deflector, rear fairing options, and side options for lighting builds. The adjustable LED wind deflector is designed to protect your light bar when you’re not using it, and increase aerodynamics which will keep your MPGs up. That’s always a plus these days. You of course have the option of three different LED light bars (or none), three different switch options for them if any, and if you want a side and back lighting kit for 360 degrees of illumination.
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 8-light Pro6 Light Bar, horizontal crossbars, and cargo track mounts. That’s going to blast out 18,400 lumens! Keep in mind that those “KC lights” are going to give your Tundra a very off-road feel. Nothing subtle about these!
The extremely lightweight, aluminum construction gives a total weight of around 25 pounds with only 2.75 inches in height. 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.
These guys are one of the few that makes kits for the Double Cab in addition to the more popular Crew Max. Beyond that, the only option is a cutout for a 40 inch light bar, but you get a well constructed, easy to put together, and slim rack that seems to glide along the curves of the Tundra. Starting at $809, they are one of the more affordable name-brand racks on this list.
What sets Victory apart with this rack is the amount of available accessories. They have accessory mounts, roof top tent mounts, awning mounts, tie down rings, tire mounts, jerry can carriers, and more! While each comes at an additional cost, you know they will work well with this rack as they are designed to do so!
Many of these manufactures are making roof racks for 2007 to 2021 models. I don’t know if you have noticed, but as of writing this, it’s 2022! UpTop realized that, and offers its Alpha Tundra CrewMax Roof Rack for 2022 plus Toyota Tundras. Starting at $1499, they are not the cheapest, but you get plenty of options.
While the options do increase the cost even more, you can have no lighting cutout, or eight different options! These racks come painted black, or you can choose between ten Tundra paint colors.
If you want less options, but still a quality product, the Bravo model starts at $860, which is much less of an attack on the wallet.
This lightweight, aluminum option from Front Runner is one of the flattest all around racks perfect for your utilitarian needs. 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. The rack itself will cost you $1345, but they do offer a number of other accessories you can add along to your purchase such as light bars, tie down rings, and more.
Most of these racks are around the same price, or much higher. That might induce some sticker shock for some of you. A more budget friendly version would be this rack from Hooke Road. This is for 2014-2021 Crew Max models. This is made of steel for durability, and the finish is said to be good for five years of corrosion protection. The kit also comes with four LED spotlight cube lights! All of this is just for $369.
The lower cost comes down to construction and features. Steel is strong, but heavy compared to aluminum. You’re not getting the expert aerodynamics you would with higher end models. While the addition lighting is a great feature, LED light bars will be more sleek, and generally brighter. However, if you are on a budget, this will be a great option considering it costs three times less compared to others on this list.
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!
Prinsu - Courtesy of Prinsu
Cali Raised - Courtesy of Cali Raised
KC M-Rack - Courtesy of KC
Victory 4x4 - Courtesy of Victory 4x4
UpTop Alpha and Bravo - Courtesy of UpTop
Front Runner Slimline II - Courtesy of Roof Top Overland
Hooke Road - Courtesy of Hooke Road Amazon Store Page