Pickup Bed Rack Buyer’s Guide
Feb 2, 12 | by: By Peter D. DuPre
Pickup Bed Rack Buyer’s Guide: Pickup bed racks have long been a necessity for just about every contracting and landscape business, but these days racks are used for more than carrying just ladder and pipe
By Peter D. DuPre
Bed rack. Ladder rack. Pipe rack. No matter what you call it, the aftermarket bed rack is one of the most valuable and useful accessories an owner can install on a pickup. Carpenter, landscapers, contractors and plumbers use racks for hauling tools, cargo and equipment to and from the jobsite.
But like any piece of modern job equipment, the bed rack has to be able to do the required job and its design evolve with the times or it’s consigned to the scrap heap.
Over the past few years, a tough business climate, rising expenses and shaved profit margins have dictated that business owners re-examine the vehicle they drive, the accessories they purchase and the way they use their vehicles.
Trucks are no longer purchased with just load hauling in mind. Fuel economy is now a vital part of the equation, as is expanded utility.
Greater utility value
Today’s pickups are often used for business and personal use, which means that on the weekends, the tools and equipment are put away and the kayaks, dirt bikes and ATVs are put on board. This means that the bed racks being sold today must also be multi-purpose.
This may sound pretty obvious, but the fact is a ladder rack with permanent anti-slide bars installed may not be suitable for hauling a canoe or kayak as the vertical bars can damage boats and other toys.
Likewise, a bed rack with non-removable crossbars can make it difficult to load ATVs and dirt bikes.
Luckily, racks are changing. Over the past couple of years the bed rack has evolved so that it is more flexible for both work and play. A rack is no longer just a rack; it is now part of a cargo management system that helps make your work (and play) truck more practical and useable.
For example, on Protech’s Rear Goal Post rack, the front part of the carrier is also an aluminum mesh cab protector while US Rack’s Hawaiian Sawhorse acts as a load rack and when removed from the truck can be used as a storage rack for holding boats and functioning as jobsite sawhorses.
Backbone and Spyder Inudstries innovative truck racks act as cab protectors and can be accessorized with LED lighting for safety and improved visibility.
And if you don’t always need a rack but want the flexibility of having one whenever and whereever you might need one, the Invis-A-Rack clamps onto the bed rails and pops up to provide 500 pounds of load carrying ability whenever you need it and folds away again when the job is done.
Other racks are designed to be directly loaded by forklift, quickly install or un-install, carry integral tool bins/boxes, or even convert to carry boats, bikes and recreational equipment.
Fit & Finish
Another trend to hit the bed rack industry over the past couple of years is improved finishing.
It used to be that most racks came painted with a thin coat of semi-gloss black to protect the steel conduit construction – a finish that almost never looked good for more than a few short months before the unit started to rust.
Today, many steel and aluminum racks come with a durable powder-coat finish, and some companies offer their finishes in matched or coordinated colors to go with your truck’s finish. Box aluminum racks are also available with a mirror-like polished finish.
So whether you need a versatile bed rack that is forklift loadable, portable, multi-functional, easily removable, adaptable and even folds out of the way when not in use, odds are a bed rack manufacturer makes it.
And if they don’t, you can probably order what you need as a custom made unit that is specifically tailored to your business and personal needs. Here’s an overview of the market covering many of the major manufacturers: