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Rack 'Em Up: Truck Rack Buyer's Guide

Finding the right rack for work and play

Don Weberg
Jul 14, 2003
Photographers: The Manufacturer
Hard work is rarely fun, and it can be even more frustrating learning that all the ladders, concrete bags, tools, and other gear won't fit in the truck to make that hard work pay off. Likewise, when bikes, skis, surfboards, and other cargo won't fit in your SUV, it only proves you're not the master of your domain. Your truck has a lot to say about how much work or fun you have. However, brains can conquer brawn, and organization is the key to maximizing your truck or SUV's potential, making work and play better business. Here are a few storage solutions.
While we offer a variety of racks and storage systems here, often it's a tie-down system that's needed. If that's the case, Keeper Corporation offers its Bull Ring retractable tie-down anchor points. Made of 300 Series stainless steel, the Bull Rings are rated at a 1000-lb capacity. Installed directly to the truck bed frame through the pocket hole and secured with an oversize screw, the pair takes less than two minutes to install and stores out of sight when not in use. Keeper Corporation, 6 Industrial Park Dr., Dept. TT12, N. Windham, CT 06256; 860/456-4151. www.keepercorp.com
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A complete line of van and truck ladder racks is available through Amer-Rac. Made of steel, aluminum, and stainless steel, the pickup racks are offered in camper or non-camper styles, while van racks are available with locks to ensure security. All products come in standard and heavy-duty forms. Amer-Rac; P.O. Box 26785, Elkins Park, PA 19027; 800/411-8932. www.amer-rac.com
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Using the back of a Jeep CJ is a great idea, and that's exactly what Tomken Machine has done with its new rack. The Rocky Rack becomes the rear bumper, keeping weight off the body and in the rear. Designed to swing out, it allows full access to the interior and is able to carry a tire, jack, and one or two Gerry cans and comes with a Class-3 receiver. Tomken Machine, 752 N. Highway 24, Dept. TT12, Buena Vista, CO 81211; 719/395-2526. www.tomken.com.
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Perrycraft, Inc. and Jac Products recently announced a partnership for exclusive distribution of Mont Blanc's System 2700 Locking Load Bars. Available for most SUVs and minivans, Mont Blanc provides a 220-lb capacity when attached to factory roof rails. Many accessories are available for the Mont Blanc to match different lifestyles. Perrycraft, Inc., 2804 Griffith Road, Dept. TT12, Winston-Salem, NC 27103; 800/777-7081.
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Warrior Products makes versatile and fun Jeep vehicles even more so with its 1-in. tube steel, powder-coated Safari Sport Rack System. The basket is enormous at 45x55 in., making excellent use of roof surface area, and can hold up to 400 lb of cargo, according to Warrior. Warrior Products, Inc., 11100 S.W. Industrial Way, Dept. TT12, Tualatin, OR 97062; 503/691-8915; warriorproducts.com.
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The Chevrolet Avalanche and Cadillac Escalade EXT do many things, but they have yet to eliminate the need to crawl when retrieving something from the back. IFW, Inc. introduces the BedSlide XL. Designed exclusively for the Avalanche and EXT, the XL uses existing bolts for a 15-minute installation. Fully extended, the XL can hold up to 1000 lb and allows full cargo access. IFW/BedSlide, Inc., 6451 Crater Lake Hwy., Dept. TT12, Central Point, OR 97502; 888/807-0099. www.bedslide.com
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Mounted on the roof, a bike can sit up so high the vehicle can't safely clear many parking structures, and when the bike is laid down in the back of the SUV, chains, gears, rims, and seats can suffer. Save-A-Load offers the SUV-Bike solution. A simple bar that uses compression strength to avoid sliding can hold a bike upright in the back of most SUVs. When not in bike use, the bar can hold other loads as well. Save-A-Load, 327-A West Tremont Ave., Dept. TT12, Charlotte, NC 28203; 704/334-9062. www.saveaload.com
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Vanguard Manufacturing offers a variety of racks for a variety of trucks and purposes. The Caddy Rack is available with or without an over-the-cab extension and is capable of holding 1000 lb. It comes with a rear bar that swings open 180° and a window protector. The Caddy Rack is also available in service body form. Vanguard Manufacturing, Inc., P.O. Box 247, Dept. TT12, New Ipswitch, NH 03071-0247; 800/624-5000. www.vanguardtruckracks.com
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When it comes to transporting bicycles with pickups, options are limited. REC-RAC introduces a new way in thinking for bike transport with the new clamp-style bike rack. The REC-RAC bike clamp grips the side of the bed and the bike, require no tools to install, and holds the bike upright, against the side bed wall with the front wheel in place. REC-RAC, 1130 Elkton Dr., Dept. TT12, Colorado Springs, CO 80907; 877/536-4282. www.recrac.com
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The ability to put a ladder on a rack above the cab and bed is a great thing. Husky Liners has taken the idea one step further by adding a sunshade at the cab end of its Ladder Rack System, providing interior protection from the sun. The rack is designed for no-drill mounting, using the stake pockets on the side of the bed. The black, tempered, powder-coated, aircraft-type aluminum won't rust, even if the rack is scratched, and is capable of holding up to 400 lb when in place. Available for Chevy HD Series/GMC C3, Dodge Ram, Ford F-Series, and Toyota Tacoma/Tundra. Husky Liners, P.O. Box 839, 22425 D St. Strother Field, Dept. TT12, Winfield, KS 67156; 620/221-2268; 800/344-8759. www.huskyliners.com
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For the biking enthusiast, JAC Products introduces its Barracuda. Designed to fit most any vehicle roof, the Barracuda Bike Rack System makes single-person loading safe and easy. Tire rails that grip the tires position the bicycle upright while the straps and frame locking-jaw mechanism are being placed. Key locked, the bicycle is secure and ready for transport when in place. JAC Products, Inc., 225 S. Industrial Dr., Dept. TT12, Saline, MI 48176; 734/944-8844. www.jacproducts.com
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Long the mainstay of the American workhorse, the pickup is frequently seen sporting an over-cab contractor's rack. Hauler Racks introduces the new 200 Series all-anodized aluminum rack. Designed to fit any type of truck (small, full-size, short or long bed), it's made with galvanized nuts and bolts. Featuring a wider frame rail, the 2000 Series is not only strong, but also acts as sign space. Hauler Racks, Inc., 27616 Tyler Ave., Dept. TT12, Romoland, CA 92585; 800/843-5445; www.haulerracks.com.
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Design Automotive Group has an idea that takes bike racks to the sidewalls. The Streetrack is composed of two rails that mount across the pickup beds, holds bicycles up off bed floors by keeping them upright, allowing for safe hauling, as well as more storage underneath the bike. Design Automotive Group also offers packages for surfboards and skis. Design Automotive Group, 590 Bond St., Dept. TT12, Lincolnshire, Il 60069; 800/323-6147. www.designautogroup.com
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Garvin Industries introduces the new Expedition Rack from its Wilderness Rack collection. The Expedition is designed for the CJ-7 and Wrangler and is built for both hard- and softtops. The tilt-up feature allows the softtop to be lowered while in place. Garvin Industries, 316 Millar Ave., Dept. TT12, El Cajon, CA 92020; 619/440-7415. www.wildernessracks.com
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Maxum, by Premier Molded Products, Inc., currently distributes two OEM- styled steel roof racks for SUVs and minivans. The Activa and Premium brand names follow loosely the latest OEM design trends, are fully adjustable, and carry up to 100 lb. Premier Molded Products, 3106 South Ave., Dept. TT12, Toledo, OH 43609; 800/227-3126. www.maxum.org
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Slide Systems' Rollerbox Utility allows secure storage of toys and tools in a pickup bed with the ability to reconfigure how the box sits in the bed. With the "3-in-1" design, by repositioning the mounting bracket, the box can be flush mounted, high mounted, or turned 90° for a top-opening box. However you configure the mounting bracket, the box allows easy access by sliding out of the bed. Several applications available. Slide Systems, LLC, P.O. Box 3226, Dept. TT12, Syracuse, NY 13210; 315/655-2068. www.slidesystems.com
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Let's Go Aero has an alternative to the roof-rack system with its Triple-Play carrier. A three-in-one idea, the Triple-Play mounts to the hitch receiver, offering three options of carry: open-platform, bicycle, and enclosed. Made of polyethylene, it weighs only 10 lb, but is capable of supporting 400 lb. Let's Go Aero; 3116 Century St., Dept. TT12, Colorado Springs, CO 80907; 877/GO-4-AERO. www.letsgoaero.com
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Often referred to as the king of cargo, Yakima offers a solution to many hauling situations with its Loadwarrior roof systems. Made of heavy-duty steel, the Loadwarrior fits most wagons, SUVs, minivans, and midsize cars, and allows for bike, ski, and boat mounting directly to the basket. Another nifty feature is its uncanny ability to grow. An accessory center extension can increase the capacity by up to 40 percent. Yakima, 1385 8th St., Dept. TT12, Arcata, CA 95521; 707/826-8000. www.yakima.com
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A simple but effective and durable way to add storage to any vehicle is with Ruff Racks. Made of powder-coated aluminum pipe, the UV-resistant, textured finish is set off by brilliant, aluminum magnesium fittings that won't oxidize. The racks can be prewired for lights and fitted with a quick-release, waterproof plug. Ruff Racks, P.O. Box 99696, Dept. TT12, San Diego, CA 92169; 619/850-2742. www.ruffracks.com
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Racks can lug items longer than the truck, act as tie-downs in some cases, and enable us to haul more things. But a rack that can do all this and be removed in a few minutes, leaving just the truck without drill holes, is a welcome invention. Trac-Rac's T-Rac offers just that. Made of powder-coated aluminum, the T-Rac weighs 35 lb. Trac-Rac claims the T-Rac is capable of supporting 750 lb and uses compression mounts, making drilling and bolting a thing of the past. Trac-Rac, Inc., 994 Jefferson St., Dept. TT12, Fall River, MA 02721-4893; 508/677-4130; 800/501-1587; www.tracrac.com
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