Truck with rack at construction site

Selecting the Right Truck Rack for the Job

When you’re looking for the perfect truck rack to meet your equipment hauling needs, you want to find a reliable rack that works as hard as you do. There are a number of truck racks available, and it can be overwhelming to decide which one is right for you. Our product experts have highlighted some important considerations necessary for you to get the right ladder rack for the jobs you’ll throw at it.

Bed Extenders vs. Over Bed Racks

truck bed extender vs truck bed rack

Both bed extenders and over bed racks significantly increase the carrying capacity of your vehicle, and choosing which one is right for you depends on not only personal preference, but also how much you’re hauling, and whether you want to be able to move your racks from one vehicle to another.

Truck bed extenders are extremely easy to install, don’t require any drilling, and typically attach to your truck hitch. Many models are adjustable to various heights, and some can be flipped vertically for roof rack loads. Bed extenders are easy to store when not in use, and can be quickly transferred from one vehicle to another. This is perfect if you want to be able to transfer the extender between vehicles. Bed extenders make it easy to load and unload drywall, lumber, ladders, piping, kayaks, canoes and other materials without having to lift anything over your head. Check out the Apex Truck Bed Extender for a great example of this type of rack.

There are a few disadvantages to truck bed extenders. While convenient, using a truck bed extender means you’re still taking up valuable cargo space in the bed of your truck. Because the extender is hitch mounted, you won’t be able to pull a trailer to make up for the lost storage room. Truck bed extenders also add length to already long vehicles, something to keep in mind if you’re going to be parking in a tight area.

If both parking space and cargo space are at a premium, you might want to look into an over bed rack. With an over bed rack you are able to add an extra level of storage to your truck for building materials or small boats, all while leaving space for coolers, tool boxes, gas cans and more in the bed of the truck.

Unfortunately, over bed racks have some downsides of their own. Over bed racks don’t have the flexibility of being moved from one vehicle to another as easily as bed extenders as most of them require drilling or some form of mounting hardware to be installed. In addition, over bed racks are typically more expensive and do require overhead lifting for loading and unloading.

Half Width Racks vs. Full Width Racks

Half vs full width truck racks

For the most part, what you’re carrying will determine whether you need a half width or full width truck rack. Half width racks will only take up about half the space that a full width rack would. Attaching to one cab wall, half racks allow you to carry narrow cargo like a ladder, kayak, or a few pieces of lumber while allowing taller items, like ATVs, furniture, or oversized building supplies to remain in the truck bed. Half width racks also weigh less than their full width counterparts, something to take into consideration if you’re concerned about weight.

Dual half width truck racks

While half width racks can be extremely convenient, allowing for additional storage of taller items in the truck bed, sometimes a full width rack is necessary. Full width racks are ideal for carrying multiple kayaks, sheets of drywall, plywood, and other wide items. Full width racks will still let you make use of cargo space in your truck bed, but won’t allow for any extra tall items to be carried. For the best of both worlds, try using two half width racks with enough space in between to still allow for taller items in the truck bed.

Aluminum vs. Steel

Most truck racks are made from either steel or aluminum. Both materials have their advantages and disadvantages, depending on what you’re going to be using the rack for. Steel racks are extremely strong and durable, and are often cheaper in price than aluminum racks. Because of the density of the material, steel racks have a greater resistance to fatigue and bending than aluminum, and will work well if you’re loading and unloading heavy materials multiple times a day. While many steel racks are powder coated to make them last longer, steel is still more susceptible to rust and corrosion than aluminum. Keep this in mind if you will be traveling in areas that use salt on the roads during the winter. If weight is a concern when choosing your truck rack, aluminum might be your best choice. Aluminum is not as dense as steel, and aluminum racks typically will weigh about 1/3 less than their steel counterparts, giving your truck better gas mileage.

Universal Racks vs. Model Specific Styles

Universal vs model specific truck racks

If there is a truck rack specific to your make and model of truck, you may find yourself wondering if you should splurge on the model specific truck rack, or invest in a universal rack. Model specific truck racks, like these RyderRacks, are more expensive than universal racks, as they’re designed for a perfect custom fit in your specific truck. On model specific racks most, if not all, of the joints are welded together to provide a cleaner look with a minimal amount of exposed nuts and bolts. If you want the guarantee that the truck rack you purchase is going to fit absolutely perfectly and look great, a model specific truck rack is the way to go.

Universal truck racks have adjustable widths to ensure that they will fit on any truck model. Because they’re universal you can easily transfer them from one truck to another. If you have a universal rack, and happen to upgrade your truck for a different make and model, you will still be able to use that same truck rack without buying a new one. Clearly this wouldn’t be the case if you had a model-specific truck rack. Whichever way you go, both model specific and universal racks will offer you large-load capacity, and the ability to take your materials from point A to point B with ease.

Other Things to Consider

Many truck racks come with extra features to consider. 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.

Happy Hauling

Once you know exactly what you will be using your truck rack for, and what conditions you will be using it in, you’ll be able to pick out the perfect rack to suit your needs. Ready to start shopping? Check out Discount Ramps for a great selection of over bed racks, universal racks, truck bed extenders and more.

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