There are any number of good reasons why you’d want to buy a Toyota Tacoma bed rack, and precisely none of them have to do with their good looks. By and large, these are strictly functional units, designed for the sole purpose of hauling more cargo. Think of them as adding an extra level to the bed area of your pickup.
The laws of physics still apply, of course, as do payload ratings. Never exceed the maximum recommended amount of weight permitted to be loaded aboard your truck; for the 2021 Toyota Tacoma, that sum generally ranges from under 1100 lbs. to nearly 1700 lbs. depending on drivetrain and body style. Check your application to be sure. Remember that your trucks payload rating also includes passengers in the cabin in addition to a trailer’s tongue weight pressing down on the hitch.
Note, by the way, that these are cargo racks, not the so-called headache racks that mount flush against the back window of a pickup truck (though we will probably look at those soon). In case you’re wondering, that rack style has earned its nickname for a very good reason. As for these accessories, they’re sure to ramp up the cargo capacity of your Toyota Tacoma.
Lead photo courtesy Zane Vergara / Shutterstock
Table of contents
- 1. Editors Choice - Thule Xsporter Pro Aluminum Truck Rack
- 2. Best Overland Style Rack - Body Armor Overland Rack
- 3. Best Rack for Builders/Contractors - AA-Racks X31 Truck Rack
- 4. Yakima Overhaul HD Truck Bed Rack
- 5. TMS Adjustable-Fit Pickup Truck Rack
- How do I install one of these racks?
- Can these be used with tonneau covers?
- So, they're not just for contractors, eh?
- Additional Resources
1. Editors Choice - Thule Xsporter Pro Aluminum Truck Rack
It’s tough to go wrong with this brand name, since the Swedish-based company has been selling cargo accessories for nearly 80 years. In typical Thule form, this Toyota Tacoma truck bed rack is one of the best-looking units of its type – or at least as attractive as these things can get. Its bars can be adjusted to different heights, providing good carrying versatility depending on your needs. Its reinforced aluminum design is rated to carry 450 pounds. A special locking system secures the track to your truck, using a single key to pop open each lock.
A bonus with buying a product from big companies like Thule is they have likely been imbued with a modicum of research and development, not just copied from the designs of another company. Thule says its Air Trip technology is integrated into the bar to redirect airflow for superior aerodynamics, while the Wind Diffuser technology uses a raised textured strip to focus the airflow and create a quiet on-road experience at speed.
2. Best Overland Style Rack - Body Armor Overland Rack
Here’s an option that goes for the gold in terms of versatility, permitting the use of factory bed rails and providing more than a pair of simple parallel bars. This nifty Tacoma bed rack system is designed for overlanding, they type of self-reliant camping in which many enthusiasts use a rooftop tent in which to sleep. The crew at Body Armor are targeting this demographic, making their bed racking compatible with a wide array of universal-style rooftop tents.
You and your bunk mate will be supported by a heavy-duty rack that’s two-stage powder coated and intended to carry plenty of gear, tools, and cargo – as well as the roof top tent itself. The rack is highly praised on various internet forums and by feedback given by real-world buyers. In fact, it earned a perfect five-star rating from a handful of buyers at 4WheelParts. Images of the rack loaded up with a tent and other kit prove the thing can look cool when loaded creatively.
3. Best Rack for Builders/Contractors - AA-Racks X31 Truck Rack
Occupying the function-over-form end of the spectrum is this Toyota Tacoma bed rack that seeks to get the job done and doesn’t worry about being pretty. The X31 features a tested loading capacity of 800 lbs., far more than anything else on our list, and is powder coated in the color of matte black. The hook located on the side of all four uprights is said to provide the security for tying down tools or loads.
Watch your specific application, as this unit doesn’t play well with trucks that have utility track systems. This may eliminate newer models of the Toyota Tacoma but older trucks without that feature should be just fine. Contact the seller if you’re unsure. The rack’s top section is built with a pair of T-shaped sleeve bars plus a middle cross bar. Those double-barred middle sections are promoted as not easily denting or bending, stronger than a one-bar design and able to accept abuse thrown at it during the run of a workday.
4. Yakima Overhaul HD Truck Bed Rack
At the front of the class with Thule is a company called Yakima. In fact, products from this group are so highly regarded that OEMs sometimes include them in their own accessory catalogs. This particular Tacoma bed rack system has a 500-pound rating on-road but, with an eye on physics and driver exuberance, reduces that number to 300 pounds in off-road settings. Yakima says it is compatible with all their mounts to carry lifestyle toys like kayaks and surfboards, or other items like rooftop tents or lumber.
Note that owners of a Toyota Tacoma will need to pair this rack with the Yakima Bed Track Kit 1 accessory. While this may add to the cost, at least it is reassuring to know the company isn’t trying to pass this off as a ‘one-size-fits-most’ type of application. It has an adjustable height from 19″ all the way up to 30″ tall, and its engineered aluminum construction has a durable powder coat finish. Integrated tie-down points help to easily secure a load, while T-slot attachments make adding gear mounts and accessories fast and simple. Here’s a plus: there’s also a built-in bottle opener. Party on, Garth.
5. TMS Adjustable-Fit Pickup Truck Rack
This thing is built for work. It can hold up to 800 pounds of gear, making it a good choice for people who are pressing their Toyota Tacoma pickups into service as beasts of burden. In fact, the seller states this multi-functional rack is designed to haul bigger and longer items that the average pick-up truck bed cannot accommodate such as lumber or pool equipment.
Its sturdy frame can be adjusted to a variety of widths from 5 to 7 feet, and its height can tower up to 30 inches. By the way, users of these racks need to remember they’re carrying a tall load and be mindful of height restrictions lest they become the subject of a viral YouTube video. Real world pictures show this rack being used to carry kayaks, so it’s not all dour work duties in this rack’s future.
How do I install one of these racks?
At the risk of being saucy – carefully, and by the book. After all, you’re about to mount an accessory onto which more items will be placed, so a secure installation is of paramount importance. Most of these racks are clamped on in some manner, though there are a few that require drilling holes into your pickup. This isn’t a great solution for those in the audience still making payments on the thing.
Can these be used with tonneau covers?
Not generally. The mounting points for most bed racks of this type need to have access to the side of a truck’s bed; a tonneau cover would scupper access to this area, rendering installation difficult if not impossible. You’ll likely have to choose between slick tonneau style and the overlanding (or work) look.
So, they're not just for contractors, eh?
Not anymore, particularly the overlanding option from Body Armor. Besides being the best-looking of the bunch, that bed rack is super functional but for a very specific purpose. The others will work for their intended purpose but have a much for functional appearance.
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