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Heavy Lifting Tacomas: Roof Racks, Chase Racks, and Roll Bars

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Shop Tacoma Exterior Storage

Despite having a pickup truck bed, there are certain items that you don't want to just throw back there. Kayaks, tents, coolers, all the pieces of a great camping trip might not even fit in the bed, and having beer cans roll around is no way to start a good adventure. Investing in a roof rack and a properly mounted bed box is great way to keep everything going smoothly.

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The bed of a Toyota Tacoma is a beautiful place. You can store stuff, haul stuff, and even hang out back there. It might sound redundant to add large accessories to the bed of the truck or add additional storage areas to something like a pickup truck. Regardless of form or function, the storage capabilities of the bed alone may not cut it. Luckily for those with the demand, the aftermarket has this area covered.

Macho Man

Tacoma trucks with bulky or excessive cargo are subjected to being fitted with a few modes of storage; some of which serve a utility purpose along with adding a level of safety. Deciding on which to use for your truck comes down to understanding the intended purpose of your truck and what cargo that means you will need to bring along. Are you overlanding and need an area to store essentials, outside the bed of the truck? Or are you off-roading and need to lug along some spare tires? Perhaps a combination of both? Here’s what you can use. 

Roof Rack: Roof racks are super effective and very common in the aftermarket. Roof racks offer additional storage for all sorts of cargo from bags to coolers to tools, you can store just about anything you want in the roof rack on a Tacoma. These units are great for overlanding or other long haulers off-road who may have the bed preoccupied with other cargo or set up for camping. 

Chase Rack: Chase racks make a Tacoma look amazing. They are also perfect for lugging around full-sized spares in the bed of your truck while blasting around off-road. They function much like a roll bar and are perfect for adding auxiliary lighting. With that said, these units can be used in conjunction with a roof rack which makes them extremely versatile. 

Roll Bar: The added safety of a roll bar is its primary function. They also allow one to mount lighting and may even be used to anchor some cargo to them. They are limited in doing so as they aren’t designed for holding cargo. 

Pushing the Limit

When it comes to loading cargo onto a roof rack or any other type of storage system, you need to know the weight limits so you don’t destroy anything on the truck itself. The fact is that regardless of how well built a rack is or how tough it looks, it’s still attached to the roof of the Tacoma meaning there are some preset limitations. 

Roof Rack Weight Limits: On a Tacoma, the roof rack best serves its purpose for storage of light materials. We’ve all witnessed guys with a full-sized spare strapped to the roof, but if you were to do so with a tire typical to a Tacoma, you’d have little to no room for any other luggage or cargo. This is because the standard weight capacity of even the beefiest roof racks is around 60 pounds. 

Chase Rack Limits: Chase racks don’t generally arrive with weight limits or maximum capacities. This is because they still let the bed do the work when cargo is anchored. With that said, the most common pieces of equipment attached to chase racks are full-sized spare tires. Some are designed to house one full-sized spare while others simply stack the tires between the downward rails. On a truck like a Tacoma, the bed may limit its owner to stacking two full-sized tires reasonably within the confines of the bed. As far as lighting goes, this comes down to what the particular chase rack you’ve purchased can support.

Faceoff: Roof Rack vs Chase Rack:

If you’re stuck trying to decide between a roof rack or a chase rack, consider the intended purpose of the truck. As mentioned, chase racks are more sport utility friendly. They welcome owners to rely on them for light storage needs while providing a sporty look and room for lighting. Roof racks can also support lighting but are designed more for loading cargo. 

If you’re traveling, camping, or overlanding, a roof rack is the obvious choice. For those headed off-road for short but rigorous trips, the chase rack is the way to go. If you opt to go for a combination of the two, the truck is still going to be set up more appropriately for the pure off-roaders. 

Roof racks offer additional space in combination with the bed. To eliminate room for use of a chase rack still means a large amount of usable cargo space is gone.

Defense: Roll Bar vs Chase Rack

Roll bars and chase racks may look very similar, but that isn’t to say they are similar in function. Roll bars are designed to keep the cabin safe in the event that the truck flips on its top. Chase racks may have a similar design but are not designed to take the impact that roll bars can. This means that if you are worried about toppling over, go for the roll bar.

Fitment includes: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, Pre-Runner, X-Runner, SR, SR-5, TRD-Sport, TRD-Off-Road, Limited, TRD-Pro