How to Choose the Right Ladder Rack or Truck Rack

For the person who likes to maximize their pickup truck’s working potential, selecting the right ladder rack or truck rack will lead to easier loading, hauling, and unloading day in and day out. Here are some of the factors to consider when looking for the best rack option for your pickup:

Think about what you will be hauling
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Think about what you will be hauling

If you plan on loading up a mix of items that include long skinny objects like ladders, kayaks, pipes or lumber, then a half-width rack might be for you. Half-width racks will only take up about half the space of a full-width rack, and they are perfect for narrow cargo while still providing space for tall or large items like furniture, building supplies, ATVs, etc. A full-width rack can easily carry wide, larger items such as plywood, or multiple kayaks, while still giving you open access to your truck bed. For the best of both worlds, consider installing two half-width racks for narrow items which will leave enough room for taller items in the center of your bed.

Find the maximum total weight your truck can haul
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Find the maximum total weight your truck can haul

To make sure that your truck can handle the weight of a ladder rack and the additional load, find out your truck’s gross vehicle weight rating. This is usually located on a sticker inside your driver’s side door, or in your owner’s manual. If you have plans to transport larger, bulkier items, get a weight estimate on them and determine how much leeway you have on the weight of a truck rack. Ultimately, the combined weight of everything in or on your car, plus your car itself, should never exceed the gross vehicle weight rating. To find out more about vehicle weight ratings, click here. If you typically haul light items, such as PVC pipes and aluminum ladders, then maybe a simple over bed rack set up or truck bed extender will be enough for your needs without adding too much weight.

Weigh the advantages of steel versus aluminum
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Weigh the advantages of steel versus aluminum

Most truck racks are made from either steel or aluminum. Both materials have pros and cons, however one might make more sense that the other for your needs. Steel racks are extremely strong and durable, with greater resistance to fatigue and bending than aluminum. If you’re loading and unloading heavy materials multiple times a day, you definitely want a product that will hold up under the stress. Steel racks are generally less expensive than aluminum racks, and while many steel racks are powder-coated for a longer life, steel is still more susceptible to rust and corrosion than aluminum. This can especially become a concern if you travel in states that use salt on the roads in winter. On the other hand, rust-resistance is aluminum’s middle name! Aluminum is not as dense as steel, and aluminum racks typically weigh about one third less than their steel counterparts, which can contribute to better gas mileage.

Decide if you prefer universal or model-specific
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Decide if you prefer universal or model-specific

Do you splurge on a truck rack that’s tailored for your make and model or do you spend wisely and invest in a universal truck rack that you can use in multiple trucks for years to come? If you prefer to upgrade trucks every few years, or if your current truck is looking worse for wear, then a universal truck rack might be a better investment. You’ll be able to take it with you to your next truck, or use it on someone else’s truck if needed. Model-specific trucks racks are designed for a flawless, custom fit to your specific truck with only a few clean welded joints. They’re aesthetically pleasing, and usually more expensive than universal truck racks.

Think about additional accessories
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Think about additional accessories

As you deliberate on what rack is right for you, you can also look into additional features. Some over bed racks come with side rails and removable cross bars for hauling taller cargo. Integrated headache racks are another great feature included in some truck racks, and will protect your cab window from being broken by loose cargo. Whichever truck rack you decide to purchase, it is important to make sure that all of your cargo is safely secured on your truck rack and in your truck bed. Cargo bars, truck bed nets, anchors, and tie downs will all ensure you and your cargo safely reach your destination.