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Types of Truck Racks

Jun 4 2024

If you own a truck, you know how versatile it is as a work vehicle and also for all those weekend trips. But you can increase the functionality of your truck even more by installing a truck rack.

However, there are several different types of truck racks available, and some of them have very specific uses. To help you decide, we've compiled a list of popular truck rack types and what they're used for.

Why should you install a rack on your truck? You might think of truck racks as mainly for trades like construction or landscaping, but the truth is that truck racks help you optimize your truck for many different uses.

Whether you want to transport bikes, a rooftop tent, or work materials, there's a truck rack to make things easier.

Ladder Rack/Contractor Rack

Types of Truck Racks

Ladder racks and contractor racks are the same thing. This type of rack is typically constructed of sturdy steel and offers a high weight capacity.

One upright support extends from each corner of the bed, and then cross bars and lateral bars form the platform for ladders and other items. The bars might extend over the cab of your truck.

What is it used for: These racks are commonly used to transport oversized building materials, such as PVC pipe and lumber. As indicated by the name, they're also popular for transporting ladders.

Who needs it: If you work in the construction industry, a ladder rack is indispensable for transporting oversized items and ladders.

Headache Rack/Cab Racks

Types of Truck Racks

Headache racks, sometimes known as cab racks, are another type of truck rack commonly used in the trades. These racks consist of two upright supports next to the cab and are connected to an upper and lower crossbar.

Like ladder racks, headache racks are constructed from durable materials like steel or aluminum. Headache racks also come in various designs, including louvered and mesh.

What is it used for: Headache racks are also used for hauling oversized cargo. This rack design protects the rear window from impacts and abrasions as well.

Who needs it: If you haul a lot of oversized cargo, a headache rack is a good choice. It allows you to prop up oversized cargo against the cab, instead of having it hang out past the tailgate.

Overland Rack/Truck Bed Rack

Types of Truck Racks

Overland racks are also often called truck bed racks or adventure racks. These racks are shorter than truck racks used for the trades.

They usually extend only partially up to or over the cab. Overland racks are constructed of sturdy materials and feature multiple mounting locations for different types of gear.

What is it used for: Overland or truck bed racks are typically used for mounting rooftop tents as well as carrying overlanding gear.

Who needs it: If you're planning to use your truck for overlanding, a truck bed rack is an indispensable piece of equipment. These racks are specifically designed to mount a roof tent, plus carry supplies.

Truck Bed Bike Rack

Types of Truck Racks

Truck bed bike racks come in a few different styles, but all are designed to hold your bikes securely in the bed of your truck. Some racks require you to remove the front wheel of your bike, others securely hold both wheels.

The purpose of this type of rack is to keep your bikes securely in place in the truck bed as you haul them to your favorite biking spot.

What is it used for: As the name suggests, truck bed bike racks are used to secure bikes. Usually constructed of sturdy metal, truck bed bike racks might hold between two and four bikes.

Who needs it: Not everyone has the luxury of simply walking out their door with their bikes to start riding. Many people will need to haul their bikes to a trail or bike path to ride. If that's you, and you have a truck, a truck bed bike rack is a great way to do this.

Cross Bars/Cross Rails

Types of Truck Racks

Truck bed cross bars or cross rails are exactly what they sound like--bars installed across the width of your bed. These are typically installed in pairs to form a platform for carrying cargo.

What is it used for: Truck bed cross bars can be used similarly to roof racks to carry things like skis, kayaks, snowboards, fishing poles, and other items. You can usually install these with a tonneau cover too, depending on the type.

Who needs it: If you want something simple to give your truck bed extra capacity, or you have a roll-type tonneau cover and want something to install over it, cross bars or cross rails are a good choice.

Side Mount Rack

Types of Truck Racks

Side mount truck racks are simple structures that feature two upright supports that mount to the side of the truck bed. Short crossbars and diagonal braces provide additional support for whatever's being carried.

What is it used for: Side mount truck racks are typically used for ladders, but they can also be used for lumber and other oversized items. The purpose of this type of rack is to carry a moderate amount of overhead cargo while preserving most of the bed's overhead space for tall cargo.

Who needs it: If you don't need the higher capacity of a contractor's rack and just need to haul something like a ladder around regularly, the side mount rack serves that purpose and keeps your bed mostly clear for other things.

Platform Racks/Roof Racks

Types of Truck Racks

Platform racks and roof racks are similar in that they're both types of racks installed on the vehicle, creating a large platform for storing gear. Since most trucks these days feature four-door, crew cab layouts, roof racks can be installed on many trucks and platform bed racks are made for all truck bed sizes.

It may seem obvious but platform racks are platforms rather than rails. This keeps the height down and enables more weight to be distributed across the rack.

What is it used for: Both platform and roof racks can be used to carry cargo boxes, skis, snowboards, luggage, a roof top tent and other bulky items. A platform rack can also be used with cross rails as a type of bed rack.

Who needs it: Anyone can potentially use a roof rack or platform rack. It's a good way to keep certain types of cargo secure rather than floating around in your truck bed. If you're camping or overlanding, it provides an extra place to store gear and it's easier to access.

Rely on Action Car and Truck Accessories to find the type of truck rack you need. We stock a wide variety of racks, including roof racks, ladder racks, bike racks, and accessories. Enter your vehicle information to get started.