Many pickup truck owners find themselves wondering if they can combine the practicality of a ladder rack with the security of a tonneau cover. Good news: it’s not only possible, but with the right approach, it can enhance your truck’s functionality significantly.
Understanding the Basics
What is a Ladder Rack?
A ladder rack is an accessory commonly used on trucks or cargo vans to transport loads like lumber, ladders, or other long and heavy items. The key feature of a ladder rack is its ability to extend the carrying capacity of a vehicle, allowing items to be carried over the truck’s cab, thus avoiding extending out of the truck into traffic.
What is a Tonneau Cover?
A tonneau cover, on the other hand, is designed to cover the bed of a truck. It serves several purposes, including improving gas mileage, protecting cargo from the elements, and enhancing the overall look of the vehicle. Tonneau covers come in various styles and mounting options, including those that mount inside the bed rails and others that sit on top.
Can They Work Together?
The simple answer is yes, ladder racks and tonneau covers can be compatible. However, the key to this compatibility lies in ensuring that they do not use the same mounting points on the truck bed rails. For instance, a tonneau cover that mounts inside the bed rails can often be paired with a ladder rack that mounts on top or vice versa.
Factors to Consider
- Mounting Points: Ensure that the tonneau cover and ladder rack have different mounting points to avoid installation difficulties.
- Profile and Design: The design and profile of both accessories should complement each other. For example, a low-profile tonneau cover might be more suitable with certain types of racks.
- Material and Durability: Consider the material and durability of both the ladder rack and the tonneau cover. They should be robust enough to withstand regular use and environmental factors.
The compatibility of a ladder rack with a tonneau cover hinges on two main factors: the mounting location of each component and the style of the tonneau cover.
- Mounting Location: Tonneau covers generally mount to the inside bed rails or over the top of them, while ladder racks typically use the outer bed walls and stake pockets for mounting. As long as the tonneau cover mounts inside the bed rails, it shouldn’t interfere with a ladder rack that uses the outer walls.
- Tonneau Cover Style: Roll-up covers, folding covers, and low-profile tonneaus are usually compatible with ladder racks. However, tonneau covers that sit flush with the top of the bed rails might block access to essential mounting points for the ladder rack.
Recommended Tonneau Covers for Use with Ladder Racks
Several tonneau cover models are particularly well-suited for use with ladder racks, such as:
- Roll-Up Tonneau Covers: These covers, both soft and hard roll-up versions, are generally compatible with ladder racks.
- Folding Tonneau Covers: Like roll-ups, these fold up toward the cab and typically work well with ladder racks.
- Low Profile Tonneau Covers: Designed to maintain compatibility with truck racks and attachments, sitting below the bed rails.
Integrated Ladder Rack Systems
Some ladder racks are specifically designed for trucks with tonneau covers, ensuring seamless compatibility. Brands like BakFlip and Retrax offer systems that fit perfectly with their respective tonneau covers.
If your tonneau cover mounts across the top of the bed rails, adding a ladder rack becomes more complex. You might need to remove the tonneau cover or modify its mounts, which requires additional work and potential compromises in convenience and functionality.
Equipping your truck with both a ladder rack and a tonneau cover doesn’t have to be a headache. By understanding the compatibility factors and considering some of the suggested combinations, you can enhance your truck’s functionality without sacrificing its appearance. Remember, the key is to ensure they complement each other in terms of mounting, design, and purpose.