You love your Tacoma. Why wouldn’t you? Everyone else does. But if you’re a Tacoma owner who wants even more out of the truck, then an aftermarket bed rack might be the thing for you. Offering additional storage space, a multitude of tie-downs, and options for organizing what you carry in your truck bed, overland roof racks can significantly improve your experience with your truck.
Several companies make quality bed racks, and the one you choose will depend mainly on how you plan to use yours. Budget and appearance will play their roles, too, but to be honest, almost every bed rack looks pretty cool, so maybe just budget.
What Is a Bed Rack For?
The short answer is that a bed rack for Toyota Tacoma increases the real estate your truck bed offers. Installing one is analogous to building a second story onto your garage. How you use that second story is up to you— maybe it’s an apartment, a storage space, or even a game room.
While you probably won’t have Pac-Man loaded in your truck bed, the comparison still works. A bed rack can provide storage on its side rails, and it can extend the surface area of the roof (and roof rack, if you have one). Some rooftop tents might be too long to use on your Toyota Tacoma, but a bed rack can extend the space you need for the tent’s rooftop footprint.
A bed rack will increase the already impressive resale value of your Tacoma, but more importantly, it will serve you well as you use the truck for work or play, which is why you bought it in the first place.
Roof Racks and Generations of Tacomas
Depending on what year your Tacoma is, some roof racks will work better than others, and some won’t work at all, so you’ll need to know what generation your truck is. To date, Toyota has manufactured three generations of the Tacoma.
- First Generation. Toyota first offered the Tacoma in 1995 and produced it until 2004. It was a compact pickup back then.
- Second Generation. Picking up where the first generation left off, the second generation Tacomas were larger, offered additional transmission configurations, and had more powerful engines. Some rust issues with second-generation Tacomas have resulted in a class-action suit and settlement in 2016.
- Third Generation. Released in 2015, the third generation of Tacomas offered a revamped exterior and an upgraded interior layout complete with touchscreen controls. This iteration of the Tacoma consistently ranks in the top ten most popular trucks.
Due to these changes in sizes and shapes, the generation of your Tacoma will dictate the best bed rack for you.
Bed Rack for Toyota Tacoma
Because there are so many rack makers out there, not to mention varieties of both truck and rack configurations, it is difficult to designate one rack as the best. We all know that using the right tool for the job is of tantamount importance, so what’s best for one Tacoma owner might be somewhat useless for another.
In light of that, we’ll take a look at some quality bed racks for Toyota Tacoma— no matter what generation— and let you decide which one would best serve your specific needs. After all, pickup drivers all require different things from their vehicles.
This handsome, sturdy rack from Thule looks good while doing its job. While it’s designed to fit myriad truck beds, it comes with attachments specifically designed for the Tacoma and comes in several configurations. As a result, this Thule rack will work on any generation truck with no drilling required.
Designed not just to hold stuff but also to minimize wind resistance, the Xsporter Pro features a profile that sits below the truck’s roofline, and the side panels reduce wind noise.
Thule manufactures a host of accessories for your bed rack, but one of our favorites comes included with the rack: adjustable load stops that allow for holding all shapes and sizes of loads securely in place. The rack’s adjustability is a huge plus and adds to its impressive versatility.
Aluminum construction promises a rust-free life for the rack. Also, you get a lot of strength without a great deal of added weight.
- Dimensions: 71” x 16” x 16”
- Weight: 42 lbs.
- Max load: 600 lbs.
Tuff Stuff offers this adjustable rack in two sizes (the link is to the 40” rack; a 51” rack is available). Like the Thule rack, this Tuff Stuff made a rack designed to work with many different trucks, but the company went to the trouble of creating with the Tacoma’s cargo rail system in mind, so it will line up perfectly.
Unlike any other rack on this list, the Tuff Stuff rack employs a center rail that slides back and forth to accommodate different bed widths. It won’t augment the already large amount of increased storage capacity the rack imparts to your pickup, but the sliding rail adds to the rack’s versatility across truck models. On the off chance that you sell your Tacoma for something else, you could take the rack with you.
Depending on the year and other factors, a Tacoma can carry at least 1,000 lbs. capacity and this rack approaches that figure without exceeding it, so you won’t have to worry about overloading your pickup.
One caveat you should know is that if you’ve already installed accessories that change the profile of the bed rails’ inner walls, this rack won’t work for you. On the plus side, though, is that this is a no-drill mounting system, so you’ll have some options when installing or reconfiguring it.
- Dimensions: 40” x 48” x 14 ½”, adjustable to 68” wide
- Max load: 800 lbs.
Explicitly designed for Toyota trucks, Leitner’s bed racks are overbuilt and overengineered. That’s not an insult. In fact, it’s what the company itself says about its products. What that means to you is that you can expect to have few issues as far as durability goes.
Leitner has a line of racks specifically for Toyotas, so not only will you get something with a stellar reputation in the quality department, you know it will be compatible with your second- and third-generation Toyota Tacoma.
Another big draw to this one is its nearly overwhelming list of additional accessories that allow you to tailor the rack to your specific needs. The rack does require drilling when mounting it to your truck, but the end result is a terrific-looking bed rack. Made for Tacomas and Tundras, the ACS comes in sizes to accommodate short and long beds.
- Dimensions: 23” tall
- Weight: 85 lbs.
- Max load: 1400 lbs.
Earlier, we briefly discussed how not every rack will work for every truck owner. This rack from AA-Rack is a perfect example, as it works best for contractors. Hence the “ladder” in the name of the product.
However, it’s not just a ladder rack. You could also carry lumber and other things on it. After all, its 800-lb. weight capacity would seem like a bit of overkill if this were only intended for transporting ladders. We should also mention that just because this rack is labeled as universal, that doesn’t mean it will automatically fit your truck.
A universal rack should fit all trucks in theory, but we all know that one size doesn’t always fit all, and not every universal product is universal. Check your truck’s measurements and those of the bed rack before you start spending money.
AA-Rack has executed a design featuring tie-downs, and because it’s a two-piece unit, you’ve got some leeway on how far apart you space the two ends of your rack. This feature can allow for a truck bed toolbox or other attachments without interfering with the rack’s mounting system.
Speaking of, this rack requires drilling, and it won’t work on your Toyota Tacoma if you already have inner track systems on your truck’s bed walls.
You’ll want to check the bed racks out before you purchase one and slap it on your Tacoma, which is why you’re here. Researching these products will allow for an informed choice of a bed rack. Knowing as much as you can about your truck’s trim package and other specifications will help you choose a rack that fits best.
Bed racks are for pickup drivers of all stripes. They can act as luggage racks, cargo bays, equipment storage units, even as floors of rooftop tents. However you use your Toyota Tacoma, a bed rack will make it look great and allow it to serve you better on your overland adventures.