Truck bed racks have become more popular than ever thanks to the increasingly mainstream interest in Overlanding and off-road camping. No matter what size of truck you have, the problem always remains that you can only fit so much gear in the truck bed and still be able to access it during your journey. This is where Overland racks come in to solve that problem.
An Overland rack creates space for more cargo while also being able to be used to mount a roof top tent and other Overlanding essentials. Truck bed racks serve an aesthetic purpose as well by giving your vehicle a rugged expedition appearance. Pickup trucks have a benefit over SUVs in that a bed rack adds even more versatility and storage area over what’s naturally already there in the truck bed.
Keep reading to find out what features to consider when buying an Overland truck rack for your pickup bed.
What Is An Overland Bed Rack?
An Overland bed rack, also called a truck bed rack or simply a bed rack, is an aftermarket truck bed accessory designed for pickup trucks to provide additional storage options. It’s typically a sturdy steel or aluminum framework that mounts onto the bed of the truck, extending upwards.
Most Overland racks are even with the top of the truck cab but there are also models whose height is about mid-cab level and some that are even lower. These rack systems create a platform for mounting various types of cargo, such as outdoor gear, camping equipment, tools, spare tires, kayaks, bicycles, and more. Manufacturers offer a variety of “mounts” to attach your gear to the bed rack itself.
What is the Best Overland Bed Rack?
The best Overland rack for your truck is the one that makes the most efficient use of your truck’s bed, while also fitting your budget and your plans to use it. There are a wide variety of different bed rack systems. Choosing one specific rack as “the best” would be an impossible task. However, we do have recommendations below.
Some are made for hauling large items such as ladders and construction materials. However, let’s assume you’re looking for a rack primarily to accommodate your Overlanding adventures. In that case, it’s a good idea to look for one that’s specifically built to carry off-road trail tools, roof top tents, and other Overlanding gear.
Why Do You Need An Overland Bed Rack?
Your truck might have some form of built-in cargo-carrying features, but typically those are not enough to provide the stable base needed for the extra cargo needed for Overlanding. An aftermarket Overlanding truck bed rack is much stronger and more versatile.
How To Choose An Overland Bed Rack
When it comes to deciding on the type of Overland bed rack to buy, the first thing to consider is what gear you’ll be carrying. Make a list of what you currently have and what you plan to get in the future. This will help you determine the size, style, and type of bed rack that you will need. Once you know what you plan to carry, it’s also important to add up the estimated weight of these items to determine the load rating of the rack you need.
High-quality Overland racks are engineered by off-road professionals to withstand the weight of heavy gear as well as the jostling and jolting movements when traveling off-road. This is definitely a product where “you get what you pay for” so this is not the time to find the cheapest rack on Amazon and hope for the best.
Some Overland bed racks are vehicle-specific, while others offer a universal fit that can be adjusted to any truck bed size. An Overland bed rack is also a great option for mounting a roof top tent as it allows the weight to settle on the rear of your truck for better traction. It also results in less noise and wind resistance than if the tent were mounted on a roof rack.
Different Styles of Overland Bed Racks
There are a few different styles of Overland bed racks, and some may work better than others for your needs. It’s also important to remember that an Overland or off-road bed rack is generally a bit different from a typical contractor’s bed rack. But some types can also work for multiple purposes.
Cage or Frame Style
A cage-style bed rack forms a cage-like structure over your truck bed, which provides a mounting spot for a roof top tent as well as multiple mounting points and room below for cargo.
The cage style is the most common type of off-road truck rack and most models are built to fit specific trucks, such as the Addictive Desert Designs ADD-Lander bed rack for the 2020-2023 Jeep Gladiator and the Fab Fours Overland rack for the 2016-2022 Toyota Tacoma.
Platform or Tray Style
The platform or tray style of truck bed rack is mainly designed to provide a sturdy raised platform for various cargo, including bikes, off-road recovery gear, or a roof top tent. An example of this type is the 2007-2023 Chevrolet Silverado Crew Cab Slimline II bed rack by Front Runner. Like the cage style, it frees up space in your bed for other things.
Universal Crossbar Style
The universal crossbar style of the Overland truck rack is a simple system that offers adjustable heights for custom set-ups. These can usually be installed on any truck bed and the weight capacity is generally fairly high. For example, the OVS Freedom Overland bed rack features 450 pounds of dynamic weight capacity and up to 1350 pounds of static weight capacity.
Installing Truck Bed Racks
The installation procedure varies for different types of bed racks. Some have clamps that attach the rack to the truck’s sides, while others are installed into the truck’s bed track. Some bed racks may require drilling as well. You can generally check out installation instructions for a bed rack you’re interested in by clicking on the Product Video tab or the Product Info tab on any of our Overland rack product pages. If you need any help don’t hesitate to contact us for assistance.
There is a wide variety of different companies that make Overland truck bed racks, and most of the big names also make other Overlanding and expedition gear. Let’s take a look at four top brands for off-road truck bed racks.
Front Runner Outfitters makes the Slimline II Load Bed Rack for several different makes and models of pickup trucks, including the Ford F-150, Toyota Tacoma, Jeep Gladiator, and Ram 1500 among many others.
This sleek profile bed rack is constructed with powder-coated T6 aluminum and high-strength steel for superior durability. This is a platform-style bed rack where you can place gear on top and store gear in the bed below.
The price for this bed rack varies depending on the truck model, but most generally start around $1,200 and go up from there. Please note, there are many more available than what we have on our site so please reach out if you can’t find the one that fits your particular vehicle.
Addictive Desert Designs
Addictive Desert Designs makes the ADD-Lander Overland Rack, which is made from a combination of tube and plate steel for a rugged look. The rack’s clamp system ensures that you won’t need to cut or drill during installation.
This rack model starts at a higher price point than the other brands on this list at about $2,400. You can add a third brake light and a tent when you buy the rack for an additional cost. Bed racks from Addictive Desert Designs are available for several truck brands and models, including Jeep, Ford, Chevy, Toyota, and GMC.
CBI Offroad makes the Overland Bed Rack, which is a cage-style rack and comes in various sizes to accommodate trucks with short or long beds. Some of the truck models that work with the CBI Offroad racks include the Chevy Colorado, Ford F-150, Toyota Tundra, Ford Ranger, Jeep Gladiator, and Toyota Tacoma. CBI also makes the very popular line of Prinsu roof racks.
Cab-height bed racks are also available for select models. Most models start around $1,200 for bare metal and go up to around $1,600 for black powder-coat models. CBI Offroad also makes bumpers, body armor, and roof racks to fully outfit your truck.
Wilco Offroad delivers options for off-road bed racks like low-profile and full-height models for five and six-foot beds. The Wilco ADV bed rack line offers aluminum construction and a powder-coated textured finish.
Some additional features include integrated rear lighting brackets, removable and adjustable crossbars, and mounting points for extra accessories. You can use a rooftop tent with the ADV bed rack, and Wilco Offroad also sells roof top tent mounting hardware compatible with most bed racks and Overland roof racks.
Investing in an Overland bed rack is a must for anyone seriously getting into the Overlanding lifestyle. A bed rack makes your cargo and Overland gear much more accessible, plus it allows you to use a roof top tent in your truck bed rather than on your roof.