If you want to maximize the cargo-hauling capacity of your rugged Toyota 4Runner, you can’t go wrong with a good 4Runner roof rack.
A mainstay of off-road enthusiasts and road-trippers alike, a roof rack expands the cargo capacity of your 4Runner by providing a secure, easy-to-access roof-top platform for carrying things like tools, jerry cans, weatherproof bags, enclosed cargo boxes, and basically anything else that won’t fit in your trunk. For the seasoned off-roader, a 4Runner roof rack is virtually a necessity; there are some things that you just don’t want to have tossing about inside the trunk. Gas-covered cans and shovels caked in mud come to mind. But a roof rack is a godsend even for those who strictly stick to paved roads, as the current 4Runner offers just 9 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row. Folding those seats down provides roughly five times the storage space, but of course, that won’t always be an option.
Fortunately, most every Toyota 4Runner roof rack is strong, durable, and easy to install, securing right to the SUV’s existing roof rails and requiring zero modifications to the vehicle’s sheet metal. Moreover, there is a ton of options available, from basic, inexpensive roof-top baskets to sophisticated, brilliantly engineered options for those with a bit more money to spare.
Here, we’ve rounded up our favorite Toyota 4Runner roof rack options on the market today, covering a range of different model generations and price points.
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1. Editor's Choice: N-Fab T102MRF Aluminum Modular Roof Rack
One of the most common go-to 5th gen 4Runner roof rack options, the N-Fab T102MRF modular roof rack is reasonably priced and light in weight, thanks to its aluminum-alloy construction. Weight is especially important any time you’re contemplating a vehicle add-on that mounts high up on the body, as it has the potential to raise the center of gravity appreciably, which has an adverse effect on vehicle handling. But apart from that, N-Fab’s T102MRF also boasts an aerodynamic design, with wind-deflecting sheets and flat center rails that help minimize wind noise at speed, and a 150-pound weight capacity rating. A front and rear Multi-Mount system expands the roof rack’s usefulness even further, allowing owners to fit LED auxiliary lights up to 36 inches across. All-in-all, it’s a well-designed, versatile roof rack that leaves very little to be desired.
2. Best Roof Rack That Doesn't Use Factory Roof Rails: Karpal Roof Rack Basket
Another popular 5th gen 4Runner roof rack, the Karpal Roof Rack Basket is a TRD-style aftermarket roof rack that’s somewhat unique in that it mounts directly to the 4Runner’s roof channels – no roof rails necessary. It’s also not a full-length unit, which makes it ideal for drivers who want the flexibility of roof-top storage, but aren’t necessarily keen on forfeiting their ability to use the sunroof. Manufactured from lightweight, corrosion-resistant aluminum alloy with a good-looking protective black powder coat, the Karpal Roof Rack Basket for the 4Runner is a direct bolt-on unit that can hold up to 250 pounds and look great doing it, with a sleek, OE-like design that belies its perfectly reasonable price tag.
3. Best Platform Style Rack: Rhino Rack Pioneer Roof Rack Platform
A well-known Australian roof rack manufacturer with a devoted following in the off-road community, Rhino Rack offers what is easily one of the best, highest-quality 4Runner roof rack systems on the market: the Rhino Rack Pioneer. Rhino has an entire ecosystem of Pioneer-compatible products available to make your life easier, from luggage bags to jerry can holders, to spare wheel holders and more. All that time you might have spent jerry-rigging together some questionable solution to secure your cargo to the rack can now instead be spent on more fruitful tasks, like plotting out your next off-road adventure. The Pioneer is manufactured from lightweight aluminum with fiberglass-reinforced nylon joints and a durable, attractive black powder coat finish, and a 4Runner-specific Rhino Rack Backbone Mounting System means you can get up and running with the Pioneer in no time.
4. Slimline II Roof Rack Kit
Far and away the most premium option on this list, the Front Runner Slimline II Roof Rack Kit is an all-in-one 5th gen 4Runner roof rack solution that mounts directly to the roof – no roof rails required. It’s also the quickest way to maximize your use of space on the 5th gen 4Runner, with a massive platform that can carry loads of cargo. At more than 90 pounds, it’s heavy, but that’s to be expect for such a large, versatile cargo-hauling platform, and its high-density aluminum construction means the Slimline II is a full 30% lighter than a comparable steel design would be. Moreover, Front Runner offers a full line of 50+ accessories so you can really customize the Slimline II to your exact needs, and a limited lifetime warranty means you’ll never have to worry about ponying up the cash for a new 4Runner roof rack.
5. Tyger Heavy-Duty Roof-Mounted Cargo Basket
An affordable roof-mounted cargo basket with plenty of happy customers, the Tyger Heavy-Duty Roof-Mounted Cargo Basket is another very popular 3rd gen 4Runner cargo rack. Featuring steel construction and a low, 33-pound weight, this 4Runner roof rack won’t substantially affect your vehicle’s ride and handling. What it will do is provide you with up to 150 pounds of extra cargo-hauling capacity, with great looks, a wind deflector to cut down on wind noise, and a durable black E-coating to protect the steel tubing from the elements. Despite its low price, this Tyger roof rack ships with a hassle-free 3-year quality warranty that delivers substantial peace-of-mind, and many owners are thrilled with the company’s customer service.
Do I need to have roof rails on my 4Runner to use a roof rack?
While they’re not a necessity, they’ll definitely give you more options. If you use a cargo rack like the Karpal rack listed above, it secures to the vehicle with the roof channels. If you have a factory or aftermarket roof rail, many cargo baskets will either attach to the rails or require cross bars to mount making them more universal.
What is the maximum amount of cargo I can carry on a roof mounted cargo rack?
Each cargo rack will have their own maximum recommendation for weight. We suggest that you find one that suits your needs. Also take into consideration how your cargo rack will be mounted. If you use crossbars and factory roof rails, they may be rated for 150 lbs. If your new cargo rack may have a weight rating of 150 pounds as well but weigh 50 pounds on its own. This means you shouldn’t put more than 100 pounds of cargo in that rack because if you do, you’ll exceed the rating for the roof rails and crossbars.
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Updated 8/25/2021: Updated product descriptions, product links, ranked product, added FAQ and additional resources