Despite having a truck, certain items cannot fit and stay secure on a truck bed, especially when carrying coolers, a tent, and other things. 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.
A ladder rack is an accessory designed to securely transport ladders on the roof or bed of a vehicle. Its primary purpose is to provide a safe and convenient way of transporting ladders to job sites, construction sites, or any other place where ladders are needed. A ladder rack typically consists of one or more horizontal bars mounted on top of the vehicle or the sides of the bed. The bars support the ladder’s weight and prevent it from shifting or falling off during transportation. Some ladder racks also feature adjustable or extendable arms to accommodate different sizes of ladders. Overall, a ladder rack makes it easier and safer to transport ladders, which is essential for workers who rely on ladders to perform their job duties.
TMS 800 Pickup Truck Ladder Rack
If you will haul long and big items, like ladders, lumbers, or pipes, the TMS 800 Truck Pickup Rack might be right for you.
The Best Ladder Rack
1. TMS 800 Pickup Truck Ladder 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.
The bars and the base are made of durable steel 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. Before installing them on your vehicle, you can paint the frames with good-grade paint. Repainting is necessary at intervals.
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 with the package to secure it on each side. Some users use clamps instead if they don’t want to drill holes; 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 quickly 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 prefer a straightforward design, the Erickson 07706 Steel Truck Rack might be perfect. Its heavy-duty steel frames and base can easily hold up to 800 pounds. The Erickson 07706 is an excellent ladder rack for outdoor or construction equipment trucks.
This rack 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 in your bed rails and bolt them down. It might require two to install due to its 88 pounds.
This system is 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 in the package.
3. MaxxHaul 70423 Universal Truck Rack
Much attention is paid to how much weight ladder racks and cargo carriers (and any other thing used to carry a load) can handle; the bigger, the better. However, not everyone needs a ladder rack carrying 1000 pounds or above. So, I have also checked out a lesser capacity carrier, which 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 weakest in weight capacity on this list, but it tops many other carriers 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 the 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. You take them out or cut slots in your bed cover. All this information is also provided in the user manual; good thing it is straightforward to read.
When your truck has the racks fixed, you can use them without rust or corrosion for years. They are made of powder-coated aluminum with a durable finish to resist rust and years of heavy use and wear.
Although aluminum, the crossbars’ inner chamber 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 a 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 must still 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
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 because there are no holes in your truck, and you don’t have to leave the ladder rack mounted on your vehicle 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 enthusiasts. Your surfboards, canoe, and most outdoor equipment can stay on top of your truck bed during the trip. These items can be held securely with the four stops on the rack. You can use the stops to tie their 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. A headache rack is 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 depend 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.
Having a Good Ladder Rack Is Essential for Several Reasons
A good ladder rack is crucial for anyone needing to transport ladders regularly. It provides a safe, convenient, and efficient way to transport ladders while protecting them from damage.
- Safety: A high-quality ladder rack provides a secure way to transport ladders, reducing the risk of accidents and injuries. A poorly designed or improperly installed ladder rack can lead to ladders falling off the vehicle, causing damage to the vehicle and potentially injuring people or other motorists.
- Convenience: A ladder rack makes transporting ladders to job sites or other locations easier. Workers can quickly load and unload ladders from the rack, saving time and effort.
- Efficiency: A ladder rack allows workers to transport multiple ladders simultaneously, increasing productivity and efficiency. This is especially important for contractors and other professionals who need to transport ladders frequently.
- Protection: A good ladder rack can protect ladders from damage during transportation. Ladders placed in the bed of a truck or on the roof of a vehicle without a proper rack can shift during transit, potentially causing scratches, dents, or other damage.
Types of Ladder Racks
Choosing the right ladder rack depends on your vehicle type and the items you need to transport. Each type of rack has advantages and limitations, so selecting the one that best fits your needs is essential.
The over-bed rack is the most frequently observed type of ladder rack for trucks. These racks offer a straightforward solution for hoisting heavy loads directly above the truck, with some models boasting weight capacities of over 1000 lbs. They can be mounted onto the truck using either bolt secured in drilled holes or clamps.
Over-cab racks offer significant benefits for your truck, including ample storage space and protection. They allow you to transport multiple long items without contact with the vehicle, ensuring their safety during transit. However, these racks can pose some flexibility issues. While some models come with removable extensions, most are fixed, making adjusting the rack bars difficult. Additionally, assembling an over-cab rack typically takes longer than assembling an average over-bed rack.
Side-mount ladder racks are an excellent choice for transporting long items. These racks allow you to place items on one or both ends as needed. However, their design limits their ability to carry heavy loads, and certain items may not be compatible. Side-mount racks are best suited for transporting items such as carpet rolls, ladders, and pipes, with only a few models capable of accommodating lumber. They typically have a weight capacity of up to 500 pounds.
Van racks are specifically designed for vans. If the interior space of your van is not enough, you can easily install a van rack onto the rain gutter and transport your load safely. These racks rely on the strength of the van’s roof to support the weight of the load, and similar to truck racks, you can secure your cargo with tie-downs. Most van rack models are adjustable to fit the width of your van, providing a secure and customizable solution for transporting your goods.
Ladder Racks for Trailers
These racks are designed to be mounted on trailers and accommodate multiple ladders and other long items. They provide a secure way to transport items while towing a trailer.
Ladder Rack Buyers Guide
Ladder racks, like every other product, are not designed equally. Some are more suitable for particular 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 that fits your car. I have put together a guide with factors you need to consider before purchasing any.
If you will transport cargo weighing about 800 pounds at once, buying a ladder rack that can only take 600 pounds makes no sense. Consider the weight of the items you plan on transporting and 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 their class. 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. You can choose your truck/van from the car list on your rack product pages 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, and comments on the user manual or the manual itself if you can access it.
Secondly, you need to consider whether you want to drill holes in your truck bed rails. 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 with every necessary accessory. Bypassing accessories is dangerous. That leads us to the next point.
Even if the rack can handle above 1000 lbs and looks good on a truck, stay away if it’s unsafe. It would be best if you looked out for stops or anything similar. Secondly, check online reviews to ensure the rack doesn’t lead to injuries from sharp edges or broken parts that bend or come off.
Other essential features include attachment style, how well it secures to trucks (without rattling or shaking), locking mechanism, and sturdiness.
Steel and aluminum are the typical choices for ladder rack materials. If you want something 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.
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 essential. 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 excellent. 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 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; some cheaper models last longer than more expensive ones. Regardless, I believe this factor comes 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 warranties on most of their products. You may not get this from other manufacturers, but a one-year and above warranty is good. That way, you are covered if you face an issue with the rack during the warranty period.
Now that you know the essential factors that should guide your purchase decision, you need to know the types of ladder racks in the market.
Your van and truck tick good boxes for cargo carrying already, but we both know they are insufficient in every case. Fitting them with the right ladder rack makes our trips more manageable. I have explained the factors you should look out for and why. You also know the best racks on the market and the types.
Timo is an outdoor enthusiast and gear specialist who is constantly exploring. As an avid hiker, he has completed the ADK 46ers, South Beyond 6000, GA4000, and the Colorado 14ers. He's ice climbed Mt. Hood, hiked up half a dozen mountains in the Alps, and spent three consecutive summers constructing a sustainable trail through the Colorado high country.