Ladder Rack

The Best Ladder Rack

Despite having a truck, certain items cannot fit and stay secure on a truck bed, especially when we have to carry coolers, a tent, and other things as well. Have you ever wanted to load a kayak, surfboard, or ladder but couldn’t due to logistics? I get it. A good ladder goes a long way to take that issue out of the way.

They are an essential accessory that you can bolt to your vehicle. Their use transcends outdoor activities; you can use them on a daily, especially if you deal with heavy-duty stuff. A ladder rack frees up your bed space for the smaller equipment while securing bigger items.

Our Pick!

TMS 800 Pickup Truck Ladder Rack

TMS 800 Pickup Truck Ladder Rack

If you are going to haul long and big items, like ladders, lumbers, or pipes, the TMS 800 Truck Pickup Rack might be right for you.

  • Best Overall – TMS 800 Pickup Truck Ladder Rack
  • If you are going to haul long and big items, like ladders, lumbers, or pipes, the TMS 800 pickup truck ladder rack might be right for you. An overall achiever and all-rounder.

The Best Ladder Rack

1. TMS 800 Pickup Truck Ladder Rack

TMS 800 Truck Pickup Rack

If you often haul long and oversized items, like ladders, lumbers, or pipes, the TMS 800 Truck Pickup Rack might be right for you.

The TMS 800 is two robust and adjustable steel racks that are lightweight but very sturdy. To fit your truck bed, you can slide the bars to a width of between 5 feet and 7 feet. This is a lot of space, so compact trucks may not be compatible.

Also, the frames are pretty strong; they can carry 800 pounds of heavyweight. Its design allows for moving long items as well.

Both the bars and the base are made of durable steel that is painted to prevent rust. Although the steel is a very sturdy heavy-duty, I wouldn’t rely so much on the paint. It is of poor quality and comes off quickly. You will need extra protection against rust if you decide to buy this ladder rack for your truck. You can paint the frames with good grade paint before installing it on your vehicle. Repainting is necessary at intervals.

That said, the TMS 800 Truck Pickup Rack is one of the most straightforward ladder racks to install. Although the overall weight of 50 pounds may not be easy for every person to lift, anyone with a drill and basic hand tools can fit it in a short time.

It is installed by drilling two holes in your truck and using two of the eight screws that come with the package to secure it in place on each side. Some users use clamps instead if you don’t want to drill holes; however, neither the manufacturer nor I recommend that. Just purchase another one of the truck ladder racks on this list instead.

On the downside, many users reported that some threaded frame parts on the adjustable crossbar weren’t appropriately chained. This can easily be taken care of with another screw through the crossbar.

The TMS 800 Truck Pickup Rack stands up to a maximum height of 30 inches (including the truck bed). It measures a dimension of 51 x 26.2 x 1.5 inches.

2. Erickson 07706 Steel Truck Rack

If you don’t want to carry hefty cargo or you prefer to stick with a straightforward design, the Erickson 07706 Steel Truck Rack might be perfect for you. It can easily hold up to 800 pounds with its heavy-duty steel frames and base. The Erickson 07706 is an excellent ladder rack for trucks whether you want to carry outdoor or construction equipment.

This is one rack that balances durability, performance, and price value; it is one of the most affordable on the market but still offers a sweet spot in performance. You can install it in 45 minutes or less, even if you are a novice. All you need do is drill holes on your bed rails and bolt them down. It might need two to install due to its 88 pounds.

This system comes as one of the most secure as drilling and bolting down remains the best way to secure the rack for a long ride with heavy cargo.

You should note that the nuts and bolts are not rust-resistant if you are bolting them down. The bolts seem to have missed out on proper treatment. You can either coat them yourself or get rust-resistant bolts to replace the ones that come in the package.

3. MaxxHaul 70423 Universal Truck Rack

MaxxHaul 70423 Universal Truck Rack

A lot of attention is paid on how much weight ladder racks, cargo carriers (and any other thing that is used to carry a load) can handle; the bigger, the better. However, not everyone needs a ladder rack that can carry 1000 pounds or above. So, I have also checked out a lesser capacity carrier and it qualifies to be on the best ladder carrier list.

The MaxxHaul 70423 can only carry up to 400 pounds of cargo weight. However, do not be deceived by its lighter weight capacity. It may be the lightest in weight capacity on this list, but it tops a lot of the other carriers here in terms of durability. Before I get into that, let’s look at the installation process.

It is easy to mount. You can also choose how you want to install it. If you wish to drill holes, you can. It can also be fixed without drilling holes in your truck bed rails, because of adjustable mounting brackets.

You need access to pickup bed sides to install it, so cleats, railings, and liners cannot be on the pickup bed if you want to use this truck ladder rack. Either you take them out, or you cut slots in your bed cover. All this information is also provided on the user manual; good thing it is very easy to read.

When have the racks fixed on your truck, you can use them for years without rust or corrosion. That is because they are made of aluminum that is powder-coated with a durable finish to resist rust and years of heavy use and wear.

Although it is aluminum, the inner chamber of the crossbars is reinforced for increased structural strength. As a result, it doesn’t bend or change shape when a load within its capacity is evenly placed on it. Also, the base brackets are made from heavy-duty steel with powder coat finish. This sturdy design is the reason for its higher weight than most aluminum ladder racks; it weighs 55 pounds.

On both sides of each rack, there are adjustable cargo bumpers. You can adjust these anywhere along the length of the crossbars to fit the width of what you are carrying. They prevent cargo from sliding off the side of the racks during transit. Like every other ladder rack, you will still need to tie down your load with bungee cords or any other strong material.

The MaxxHaul 70423 is 26 inches tall for upright support. Its crossbars are adjustable. They are on a sliding rack that extends up to 71 inches. This should fit most trucks.

4. AA-Racks APX25 Ladder Rack

AA-Racks Model APX25

If you don’t deal with construction equipment, or you don’t need the ladder rack to carry cumbersome items like lumber, then purchase the AA-Racks APX25. Although it is made to carry up to 800 pounds of weight, its installation/mounting process decreases that capacity. This is because it doesn’t use bolts or need drilling at all.

The lack of bolts in this design is an advantage in the sense that there are no holes to your truck and you don’t have to leave the ladder rack mounted on your truck permanently. However, clamps are not as secure as bolts and nuts. If you want it tighter than the average clamp, ensure you have direct access to your truck bed.

This design is excellent for us – outdoor enthusiast. Your surfboards, canoe, and most outdoor equipment can stay on top of your truck bed during the trip. These items can be held secure with the four stops on the rack. You can use the stops as tie them points. That said, the rack is made of durable reinforced heavy-duty aluminum construction that is powder-coated with weather resistant paint. Both materials will help you enjoy this product for a long time.

One boost of this model is the upgraded accessory option. There is a headache rack provided in that option for both standard-sized trucks and Toyota Tacoma. With that, your rear window is protected from damage when transporting cargo. This is an investment you shouldn’t let go of.

Many racks use the slide-in method to adjust the crossbars for increased width; this is not the case here. The width is fixed and the inches you get depends on the size you choose during purchase. However, you can lessen it through the post slides. The post rails can be slid backward or forward to adjust for bed width.

Types of Ladder Racks

Over-Bed Racks

AA-Racks Model APX25 Extendable Aluminum Pick-Up Truck Ladder Rack (No Drilling Required) - Silver - Best Overall

Over-bed racks are the common types you would see for trucks. They provide an easy solution to lift weight right above your truck with some of them exceeding 1000 lbs in weight capacity. You can either mount them using bolts in drilled holes or clamps.

Over-Cab Racks

Over-Cab Rack

Over-cab racks provide ample space and protection for your truck. With them, you can carry multiple long items without contact with your vehicle. However, they bring certain issues in terms of flexibility.

Although a few of them come as extensions that can be removed, most of them come fixed. That also affects adjusting the rack bars in most models. Assembling them also takes more time than the average over-bed rack

Side-Mount Racks

Side-Mount Racks

Side-mount ladder racks are great for carrying long items. Your items perch on one end or both ends if you prefer. However, you can’t use them to carry much due to their build. Some items cannot be fixed on them as well. The things you can carry with them are carpet rolls, ladders, and pipes. Few accept lumber. They can shoulder up to 500 pounds of that weight.

Van Racks

Van Racks

Van racks are for vans. If the inner space of your van isn’t sufficient, you can fit them on your rain-gutter and be on your way. Your wagon supports the weight of your load with roof strength. Like truck racks, you can tie-down your luggage. Most models are adjustable to fit the width of your van.

Ladder Rack Buyers Guide

Ladder racks, like every other product, are not designed equally. Some are more suitable for certain needs and trucks than others. Looking at the numerous models on the market may leave you overwhelmed and unsure of which to go for. It’s more than knowing a dimension fits your car. I have put together a guide with factors that you need to consider before you decide to purchase any.

Your Cargo/Load

If you will transport cargoes weighing about 800 pounds at once, it makes no sense to buy a ladder rack that can only take 600 pounds. Consider the weight of the items you plan on transporting as well as their width. Also, the frequency of load movement is very important. Some racks can carry a heavy load but are not built for frequent long-term use.

Your Truck/Van Type

Truck ladder racks and van ladder racks are designed differently. Also, not all racks in both categories fit vehicles in the category they fall in. Some trucks need smaller racks; other trucks need something bigger.

For some trucks/vans, manufacturers have made specialized racks. Amazon has also helped with that. On your rack product pages, you can choose your truck/van from the car list to find out if it is compatible with the ladder rack.

Ease of Installation

No one loves to install equipment for hours. That is frustrating. Go for a ladder rack that is easy to install. You can know that from the review above, reviews from verified purchases on Amazon, as well as comments on the user manual or the manual itself if you can access it.

Secondly, you need to consider if you want to drill holes in your truck bed rails or not. If you don’t, go for racks that come with clamps or are verified by manufacturers to be used with clamps.

Also, some racks require additional accessories and equipment to set up, if you don’t have them or don’t want to buy them, please purchase a model that comes with every necessary accessory. Bypassing accessories is dangerous. That leads us to the next point.

Safety

Even if the rack can handle above 1000 lbs, and it looks good on a truck, stay away if it’s not safe. It would be best if you looked out for stops or anything similar. Secondly, check online reviews to ensure that the rack doesn’t lead to injuries from sharp edges or unsteady parts that bend or come off.

Other essential features to look out for include attachment style, how well it secures to trucks (without rattling or shaking), locking mechanism, and sturdiness.

Material

Steel and aluminum are the common choices for ladder rack materials. If you want something very light, easy to lift, and rustproof, go for aluminum racks. They are lightweight, except for a few that are strengthened with steel. A mix of aluminum and steel is also great; these are strong to carry a heavy load and still keep their rust and corrosion-proof capacity, for most.

If your priority is strength, steel racks may suit you. Few steel racks are not strong, the majority of them are. Good ones are coated with black powder to protect against rust. Nevertheless, they will rust over time. If you prefer them, get paint in hand to re-coat frequently.

Durability

Every ladder rack is exposed to the elements when in use. You get rain, snow, wind, dirt, and all sort of things coming in contact with them. Therefore, durability is important. The most efficient racks are weather resistant, sturdy, and durable.

Aluminum racks are better for water/rain; steel is better for strength. A mix of both is great. Also, check out bar strength. Any rack that bends under well-distributed and manufacturer-recommended weight is a no-no.

Product Price and Warranty

Always buy a ladder rack that you can afford. Although a higher price may indicate better materials and construction, there’s no use salivating if you can’t afford it. A cheaper model may not last longer than two to three years due to rusting and heavy corrosion, but you should get some good time out of them before that.

There are exceptions though; some cheaper models end up lasting longer than more expensive ones. Regardless, I believe this factor comes first in things to consider before choosing a ladder rack.

Product warranty is another feature. Most people ignore it, but you know this now, so don’t. Rola offers up to five years warranty on most of their products. You may not get this from other manufacturers, but a warranty of one year and above is good to have. That way, if you face an issue with the rack during the warranty period, you are covered.

Now that you know the important factors that should guide your purchase decision, you need to know the types of ladder racks in the market.

Conclusion

Your van and truck tick good boxes for cargo carrying already, but we both know that they are not sufficient in every case. Fitting them with the right ladder rack makes our trips easier. I have explained the factors you should look out for and why. You also know the best racks on the market as well as the types.

As you get and install them, pay attention to laws in your country; for example, in Australia, you can’t have them on your vehicle when you’re not using them. Check out what your government says about that.

If you have any questions, let me know.

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