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Extra Length When You Need It the Most

Sometimes a long bed just isn’t enough…

Jul 27, 2020
It seems that truck beds these days are like ice cream: There's a flavor for everyone. From short and narrow to long and wide, there are many different sizes of pickup bed. Even within classes there a varying bed sizes, from Ram's 5-foot-4-inch short bed to Chevrolet's 5-foot-10-inch short bed. Even the "standard" 8-foot bed isn't so standard these days, with Chevy offering an 8-foot-2-inch bed.
All that to say, what is one to do when a little extra length is needed? Buying a long-bed pickup when you only use it to haul lumber once a year doesn't make sense. And what is a person to do when they need to carry 12-foot-long sections of pipe? When a few extra inches, or feet, are needed from time to time there's no better option than using a bed extender. There are several different types of bed extender, however, so which one is right for you?
Read on to see the different types of truck bed extenders and find which one is best for your pickup!

Tailgate Truck Bed Extender

Probably the most popular type of truck bed extender, and the one you think of when you hear those words, is the tailgate extender. This type is so popular, in fact, that many manufacturers offer them as factory options. This type of bed extender typically mounts to brackets that are affixed to the truck's bedsides just inside the tailgate. They also often reside in the truck for storage and flip out for use. Some styles even fold over to the side of the bed, then connect for use.
Photo 2/4   |   002 Best Truck Bed Extender Tailgate
Some of these extenders cover the entire tailgate, while others leave the corners open for placing feet. There are even tailgate extenders that transform into ramps for loading motorcycles. For the real crafty, some folks have even been known to build their own out of PVC pipe.
Expect to pay between $200 and $300 for this type of bed extenders, with the more extravagant ones costing more, naturally.

Hitch Truck Bed Extender

More popular with those who use their trucks for work is the hitch-mounted bed extender. This type of bed extender uses a steel tube that mounts in the truck's trailer hitch receiver. An arm extends rearward and holds a U-shaped saddle at the same height as the bed floor (or slightly above). These are most useful for hauling large pieces of lumber, pipes, rebar, etc.
Photo 3/4   |   003 Best Truck Bed Extender Hitch Mount
Like the tailgate extenders, there are plenty of options for hitch bed extenders. There are fixed ones along with adjustable models, which can raise, lower, extend, or retract. Depending on what you need to haul, different models offer different weight ratings as well.
Expect to pay between $50 and $250 for this type of bed extender. Larger and more robust adjustable units will cost more, while the lower-capacity fixed units are the least expensive.

Truck Bed Extender for Kayaks

Much like the hitch-mounted bed extenders, there are custom extenders geared just for those who enjoy getting outdoors in a kayak (or other large floatation device). While these typically look and act just like a hitch-mounted rack, they have features such as a softer cradle that are more geared toward protecting the plastic boats. Of course, you could use an inexpensive hitch-mounted rack with a pool noodle taped to it to hold your kayak, but what's the sense in protecting an expensive boat with a $1 child's toy.
Photo 4/4   |   004 Best Truck Bed Extender Kayak
There are also hitch-mounted extenders for kayaks that extend upward, holding the boat above the truck. These types of racks are typically used for extra-long boats.
For a dedicated kayak extender or rack, you can expect to pay about $250. Your boat will definitely thank you.

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