SUV 4x4 Cargo Rack
Custom made rack system for Toyota Tacoma
there is any one SUV, Jeep or truck accessory that
makes your adventure recreation lifestyle go smooth,
it's a good cargo or sport rack.
Big SUV or small Jeep, the day
will come when you will run out of cargo space. A trailer or larger
vehicle might be your solution, but most people need to use what
they have. How? Add a cargo rack to your vehicle and you'll be
Often the best cargo racks are
custom built for specific vehicles, with pylons, brackets, cargo
boxes and other add-ons provided by rack makers
such as Yakima
or Thule. Good fabricators can make
such racks for little more cost than buying a comparable retail
rack system. Your custom rack will be stronger, lower profile (better
appearance and gas mileage), and fit your vehicle exactly. Check
out this custom rack system we had fabricated for our Toyota Tacoma
trailhead approach vehicle (TAV). CODE 4x4 can easily build such
a rack for any vehicle.
|Leer topper custom cargo rack, with
help from CODE 4x4.
We bought our Leer topper with
rack mounts installed, as drilling your own mounting holes may
void the topper warranty. We removed the stock mounting pylons,
and built custom pylons with integrated bars. CODE 4x4 frabricated
the custom platform to fit both our Jeep Cherokee
and the Tacoma -- it's perfect! We prefer rack platforms without
sides. Such racks yield less wind noise and better gas mileage,
cost less to build, and they're better for odd sized loads and
low branches. Click the images below for details!
Pylon top view
SUV, Jeep and 4X4 Rack Definitions,
Tips and Details:
A "luggage rack" is what
you sometimes find on stock vehicles. These engineering afterthoughts
are designed for minimal weight. Stock luggage racks sometimes
have side rails, sometimes they're nothing more than strips of
plastic glued to the vehicle roof. For car camping and loads of
backcountry gear, luggage racks are next to useless because they
can only carry minimal weight, and the constant vibration and movement
of your load will likely damage your vehicle's paint or dent your
A "cargo rack" or "sport
rack" is the beefy version of a luggage rack, is the type
of rack covered in this article, and is what you need for car camping
and trailhead access. Cargo racks most often consist of pylons
that attach to the top of the vehicle in various ways. The pylons
usually support "rack bars" which then support all manner
of accessories, including platforms and baskets used to carry luggage
without damaging the vehicle roof. Racks consisting of several
lighter weight bars are sometimes referred to as "ladder racks." "Lumber
racks" are the massive structures frequently installed on
pickup trucks, designed to carry super heavy loads. CODE 4x4 can
build those as well.
Remember that you can't exceed
the rack weight rating for your topper. (In our case 350 lbs.)
To carry more you have to fabricate a sub-frame or external frame
that supports your rack -- thus taking the load off your topper.
Soon we'll be fabricating a clean lightweight "factory" looking
subframe inside our topper -- stay tuned!
When installing a pair of bicycle
fork holders, take care they are wide enough apart so the handle
bars of the bicycles have room. More, be sure to install the fork
holders so they are easy to remove if you need them out of the
way for lumber or a cargo box. I considered installing our fork
holders facing forward on the end of the rack, so the top of the
holder was level with the rack platform, that way I'd never have
to remove them. But installing them such makes it possible to drop
the bicycle forks down on your vehicle roof if you slip. On an
older truck I'd have installed them that way, but on our new truck
the paint is still sacrosanct.
If you custom build a sport rack,
remember to use steel pipe rather than tubing for the cross bars,
as the 1 1/16 inch diameter of the pipe is more compatible with
Yakima rack accessories than the 1 inch outside diameter of tubing.
If necessary, stiffen the pipe with a chunk of steel tube forced
into the bore of the pipe. Also consider the width of your rack
bars. If you're a do-it-yourselfer and buy much plywood and other
building materials with the 4-foot form factor, consider making
your bars a hair over 48 inches wide. Otherwise, shorter bars may
look better and have a trimmer side profile. The bars on our Tacoma
rack are 45 inches wide, they'll still carry a sheet of plywood
by hanging it slightly over one side, but have a trim side profile
for trail driving and general appearance.
For more about this customized
Toyota Tacoma please click here.
Dawson is our CODE4x4 webmaster and a well known Colorado
outdoor writer who's first drive was his dad's flatfender Jeep.
Article copyright Louis Dawson, WildSnow.com )