If you want to maximize the cargo capacity of your pickup, a truck bed extender is the way to go.

There are two basic styles of pickup truck bed extender: those that mount in the bed, attaching on either side of the bed opening and forming a fence over the lowered tailgate, and those that mount to a trailer hitch receiver, providing a load-supporting horizontal beam some distance back from the lowered tailgate. Each style has its strengths and weaknesses.

Bed-mounted truck bed extenders are generally stronger, and are designed to resist your cargo’s desire to slide right off the back of the bed as soon as you start moving, but they impose stricter limits on how lengthy an item you can haul. Hitch-mounted options allow you to carry much longer loads, but ratchet straps or other restraints are essential because they typically have no provisions to keep your cargo from sliding rearward under acceleration.

Which style you should choose, then, is largely dependent upon the sort of payload you tend to haul, but that’s not all there is to consider; some pickup truck bed extender kits are simply better made than others, whether through superior design or construction. So how do you get the best bang for your buck on your truck bed extender purchase? We’re here to help. We’ve rounded up five of the best pickup truck bed extender options on the market today, in one single, convenient list.

AMP Research BedXTender HD Max

Amp Research Truck Bed Extender

The AMP Research BedXTender HD Max sets the standard in the truck bed extender market by being nearly unimpeachable with regard to durability, functionality, and fitment. Constructed from black-powdercoated T6 aluminum tubing with composite uprights, the BedXTender HD Max is made to hold heavy cargo and resist corrosion, and it ships with a three-year limited warranty for peace-of-mind. When in use, it forms a rectangular corral atop your tailgate with a total depth of about two feet; when you don’t need it, you can flip it 180 degrees so that it lays fully within the bed, forming a cargo divider that can help keep tool boxes and other items from sliding around in your bed. Best of all, AMP makes both “universal” kits that fit an array of different models, and model-specific kits that generally install easier, without any drilling. No matter what you drive, if it’s a truck, there’s probably an option for you.

Circle R Truck Bed Extender

Circle R Truck Bed Extender

The Circle R Truck Bed Extender is unique in the pickup truck bed extender space for several reasons. For one thing, it’s made of steel rather than aluminum, with a black powdercoat finish to protect it from the elements and prevent rust. That means it weighs more than a comparable aluminum bed extender, but it still only weighs a very manageable 40 pounds. For another, it’s designed completely different from most of its competitors, with a three-piece design that bolts together to form a perfect rectangle over the lowered tailgate. This means that, unlike AMP Research truck bed extenders, it can’t be flipped up out of the way when it’s not in use, but the tradeoff is that Circle R’s bed extender is able to have a drop-down cargo door at the rear for easier loading and unloading, and a clever design means that no cutting or drilling is typically required for installation.

Lund Hitch-Mounted Bed Extender

Lund Hitch-Mount Bed Extender

The overall best of the hitch-mounted truck bed extender options, this Lund hitch-mounted extender is as functional as it is well-built. Manufactured from high-quality steel tubing and made to fit a standard two-inch hitch receiver, this Lunch pickup truck bed extender is height, width, and length adjustable for accommodating all sorts of different loads, and it comes with a flag and reflective tape for safety. Better still, it can support up to 750 pounds of distributed load, and it makes for a great portable saw horse on the jobsite.

ECOTRIC Pickup Truck Bed Hitch Extension Rack

ECOTRIC Truck Bed Extender

If you’re looking to get up and running as cheaply as possible, we recommend this ECOTRIC hitch-mounted truck bed extender as an alternative to the Lund model featured above. It doesn’t come with Lund’s reputation for quality, but it offers the same basic features – minus the length adjustability – for less. Much less. It even offers the same 750-pound load rating, flag, and reflective tape, all at less than half the price.

Moto-Gate Nylon Net

Moto-Gate Net

While it’s not strictly a pickup truck bed extender, this Moto-Gate nylon net earns a spot on our list because it’s lightweight, simple, easy to install and deploy, and ready to fit just about anything with hooks. Look through the user reviews and you’ll find that owners have used it to haul kayaks, drywall, plywood, and plenty of other long items in their truck beds without having to bother with a proper truck bed extender. Obviously, it’s not going to be as strong as a steel or aluminum pickup truck bed extender, but for lighter items, it might just be all you need.

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