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    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.


    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.


    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. 


    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 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.


    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!


    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

    Which Grille Is Right For Your Toyota Tundra?

    Which Grille Is Right For Your Toyota Tundra?

    For years I have been in the aftermarket industry for Toyota Tacomas, but recently I have branched out into the market for the Tacoma’s bigger brother: the Tundra. While I ramp up on products for your Tundras, we need to talk about one of the most important aftermarket parts for your Tundra. 

    The grille is one of the first things people see on your truck. It shows your personality and style. Like the Tacoma, the Tundra has plenty of options to fit your style and budget. How do you find the right one? Let’s take a look at some possible options from some well-respected companies to see if I can help. 

    TRD Pro Front Grille ($343)

    The TRD package is a great addition to your Tundra, but if you don’t want to spend the extra money, or you just want to add a little extra styling to your truck, Toyota offers the grille separately. You can’t go wrong with higher end OEM style upgrade.

    Rigid Industries Light Grille ($840)

    This more expensive option offers style and function with a built-in area for a light bar. They offer different lighting options, so I covered everything you need to know about light bars in a previous post to help you make the right choice. This grille is made out of high-quality material but does require modification to your grille shell.

    300 Industries Grilles ($400 - $900)

    If you want something specific to your style, 300 Industries offers many options from the US flag, skulls, to plenty of light up options. All grilles are sleek, but add that extra style you are looking for. 

    Enve Grilles ($350 - $1000)

    Like 300, these guys offer a wide selection of custom grilles from a mid to high budget. With loads of LED, Toyota and Tundra logo, and Enve logo options, you are sure to find something that fits your needs. They are not shy about putting their logo front and center. 


    T-Rex Grilles ($200 - $1000)

    Every price range is covered here, and so is every part. Not only do they offer aftermarket grilles, but you can find tons of lighting options, bumper overlays, and more. The styles range from conservative to aggressive, as do the lighting options. The grilles also come with LED lights, so no need to look elsewhere. It could be your one-stop shop.

    There are so many things that you can do to your Tundra to make it yours. The aftermarket and even OEM options are nearly limitless for these trucks. Do some looking around and find out what works best for the style you want, and the budget that you have in mind. I hope I was able to open your eyes to some new options. Stay tuned, because I am coming out with one as well, and if you like to the grilles we have for Tacomas, wait until you see the ones for the Tundras.

    Image Credits 

    TRD Grille - Collingwood Toyota

    Rigid LED Grille - Motoroso

    300 Industries Collection - 300 Industries

    Enve 40” LED Style 2 - Enve Grilles

    T-Rex Grille Collection - T-Rex Grilles

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

    Which Grille Is Right For Your 3rd Gen Toyota Tacoma?

    Which Grille Is Right For Your 3rd Gen Toyota Tacoma?

    If you’re reading this, I can only assume that you own a 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 or 2020 Toyota Tacoma. I can also assume that you hate the stock grille that came with your truck and you want to give your rig a bit of a facelift. If that's true, read on.

    Whenever I create posts that feature direct competitors, I'm always asked... why? I believe we live in a world of abundance and there's plenty of business to go around. Also, at the end of the day, I talk with and sell my product to a different set of people than the folks who sell custom, high end grilles. That's just the way business goes and it makes me sad when people/competitors/haters/etc. get nasty.

    In this post, I highlight the brand and one of their grilles that I think is pretty cool. Most of these companies sell several different models, so don't get scared off by the high price tags just yet. So if you're looking for a Toyota Tacoma aftermarket grille, read on.

    Empyre Off Road

    Guess I'll start with our grille first. The Empyre Off Road grille is a minimalist option if you're looking to keep the cost low and quality high. Our customers really love the removable stainless steel backer that makes the "TACOMA" or “TOYOTA” text pop and stand out on the road. 

    Another selling point is that there are two different materials to choose from, cold rolled steel and aluminum. The great thing about aluminum is that it's lightweight and won't rust if the powder coating scratches or chips from rocks. Aluminum is definitely a customer favorite.

    Make: Empyre Off Road

    Model: Tacoma Grille Insert 

  • 2016 - 2017 Tacoma Grille
  • 2018 - 2019 TSS Tacoma Grille

    Non-TSS Price: $325 - Aluminum / $250 - Steel

    TSS Price: $350.00 - Aluminum / $280.00 - Steel

    Pros: Solid construction, two text options (Tacoma and Toyota), TSS option, inexpensive. We offer a 60-day money back guarantee. If you don't love it, you can return it for a full refund.

    Cons: One design

    Cali Raised Faux TRD Pro Grille

    The Cali Raised Faux TRD Pro Grille, which we sell here at Empyre Off Road is another great option for Tacoma enthusiasts. Cali Raised has spent a ton of time perfecting this grille and is a step above any of the Chinese knock-offs you can find on eBay. This grille gives you the look of an expensive TRD Pro Tacoma without having to spend the big bucks.

    Make: Cali Raised

    Price: $279.99

    Pros: Made out of high-quality ABS plastic and works with the TSS sensor

    Cons: No customization

    300 Industries

    300 Industries covers the gambit of selection and price range. You have forty-nine options to choose from, and prices that range from $400 to $1,050. The level of customization drops as the price goes down, but with that amount to choose from, you’re bound to find something you like, but at a price.

    Make: 300 Industries

    Model: X-Lite

    Price: $1,050

    Pros: Highly Unique, lights up

    Cons: Expensive, no customization


    Custom Car Grills

    The guys at Custom Car Grills also have a few options to choose from, but some of their more popular models would be their mesh grill, and their mesh grill with letters. Both are pretty plain, but in a stylish way. If you decide to go with the “TACOMA” or “TOYOTA” lettering, you'll get a nice subtle black finish layered on with aggressive lettering.

    Make: Custom Car Grills

    Model: Mesh

    Price: $279

    Pros: Subtle look, inexpensive

    Cons: Few options


    Grillcraft makes one of the most minimalist grilles on the market, which isn't a bad thing at all. If you are looking for something subtle and different, the MX model could be the one. It is a simple black mesh. No Toyota or Tacoma logo of any kind.

    The MX is a nice, clean way to dress up your truck.

    Make: Grillcraft

    Model: MX

    Price: $287

    Pros: Subtle look, inexpensive, lifetime warranty

    Cons: No options, company branded

    Bullet Proof Fabricating

    BPF is one of few grille manufacturers who provide an aluminum option. This grille is a nice lightweight option, and the design is a great improvement over what comes stock on 3rd gens. I would say it's a marriage of a bezel, mesh, and logo that go well together.

    The one thing that I don't love about this grille is that you have to pay extra to remove their company logo in lieu of the Toyota logo.

    Make: Bullet Proof Fabricating

    Model: BPF

    Price: $370

    Pros: Good triple look design, lightweight, free shipping

    Cons: Extra cost for “TOYOTA”, brand name too prevalent

    Bay Area Metal Fabrication

    Last but not least is a company called Bay Area Metal Fabrication. The folks at BAMF offer two different types of grilles, the Eco Insert ($284) and the hugely popular Recessed grille ($600). 

    I absolutely love the recessed grille as it gives the Tacoma an extremely aggressive look. Both options also allow you to order a color matched backplate that slides behind the “TOYOTA” or “TACOMA” logo.


    Make: Bay Area Metal Fabrication

    Model: Recessed

    Price: $600

    Pros: Good design, customizable

    Cons: High priced

    So, there you have it. I hope that this post has been helpful and has given you a few other options to consider when looking to replace your stock grille. Please let us know if you have any questions.

    What's The Difference Between Rock Sliders & Steps / Nerf Bars For Your Tacoma?

    What's The Difference Between Rock Sliders & Steps / Nerf Bars For Your Tacoma?

    A common upgrade that Tacoma owners absolutely love to put on their trucks are rock sliders or side steps. Because of this, many Tacoma owners have the question... what’s the difference? The difference is HUGE, and which one you decide to go with really depends on your needs.

    In short, steps generally bolt to your body of the truck and provide easier access to getting into your truck. Sliders generally bolt to your frame and offer protection to the body panels of your truck when doing some serious off-roading. Let's dive in a bit deeper.


    Steps are just that: steps. If you've added a decent lift to your Tacoma and need a little extra help getting in, these give you that extra bump you need. There are plenty of options to choose from depending on your budget and needs. Here are some of those options:

    Single Hoop and Nerf Bars

    Hoop steps and Nerf bars may come as a single, or a double set attached to a tube. Single steps can be an affordable option (around $50), but you may have to drill to get the to fit properly. 

    A set that will fit for sure would be an OEM Predator Tube step.  I'm seeing a lot of dealerships installing these before selling the truck to the public. These are about $548 on Amazon. A cheaper aftermarket Nerf bar can also be had for around $180.

    Running Boards

    Running board are usually one long step that run from your front door to the back of your rear door. Running boards can have hoop steps like nerf bars. Some companies interchange the names, but there are different styles. An average price would be like these iBoard Tacoma running boards for around $220.


    Retractable running boards or side steps are very expensive, but add a very luxurious feel and style to your truck. These stay tucked flush against or under your truck until you’re ready to get in, then they will lower electronically. AMP Research makes a set for around $1500, and that is a typical price.


    As mentioned before, rock sliders bolt to your frame and are designed for protection. If you do some rock crawling or extreme off roading, you run the risk of the rock slamming into the bottom of your truck near the edges. If that happens, you can seriously damage your side panels, and it could even lead to your doors being misaligned. If you play hard, you need to have protection. 

    Note: Some rock sliders have steps, but if they do, they resemble running boards. Hoop and Nerf type steps would snag on rocks and potentially get you stuck.

    The average cost for rock sliders is going to be around $250 to $550 depending on brand and material. Remember that while they may look good, the are supposed to be able to take a beating so you don’t need to get body work done later. Here are a few that you might consider as you're doing your research:

    First, let's start with the Cali Raised rock sliders that we carry here at Empyre Offroad. These things are amazing. They are build extremely well and look so good installed on your Tacoma. The cost on these is $500 without any customization such as powder coating, the ability to bolt them on vs welding etc.

    Bay Area Metal Fabrication (BAMF) makes a set of sliders for around $450. A lot of people talk about these on the forums, so they must be really solid and do their job well.

    Another popular choice is from SOS Off Road Concepts. These are a little on the higher end at around $580, but people are happy with them. Both these and the ones from BAMF offer running board-style steps. 

    4x Innovations makes a cheaper solution at $245, but you do have to get them welded on. So unless you have a welder laying around your garage or a neighbor who welds, it could end up costing you a bit more. 

    As you can see, there are plenty of options out there, and this guide should help point you in the correct direction to help you understand the difference between sliders and steps, and what to get for your truck.

    Image Credits

    Single/Nerf “Predator” Step - Tacoma World user HardCase

    Running Boards - Aries Automotive

    Retractable - Truck Access Plus

    BAMF Sliders - Bay Area Metal Fab

    SOS Off Road Concepts Sliders - SOS Off Road

    4x Industries - TTORA user Scuba

    Cali Rasied Slider - Cali Raised

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