A “Headache Rack” is made of steel, stainless steel or aluminum. It is mounted directly behind a truck’s cab in order to protect you and your truck, and prevent loose objects from flying through the back glass. They are also known as “cab guards.”
Headache racks fit directly behind the back window; so they also absorb and reflect sunlight which keeps the cab cooler on hot sunny days.
There are four main reasons why these racks will make a difference to you and your truck.
1. Protection and Safety – These racks are made to ensure the safety of the truck driver. They involve a wire mesh screen pattern that will prevent even the smallest objects from reaching the back glass. The wire mesh covers the entire window area of the truck cab; however, the you can easily see through the mesh pattern.
2. Haul tools – Headache Racks enable the driver to securely haul tools. Some safety racks sit higher and are a good choice if your hauling ladders. Headache racks are used to haul long tools like leaf rakes, shovels, axes, and brooms.
3. Mounting lights– One of the most popular reasons why individuals choose these racks is it’s easy to mount lights and antennas without adversely affecting the truck. Utility lights, sport lights, light bars, off-road lights, and different types of antennas can all be mounted to headache racks.
4. Mounting a toolbox – Toolboxes can also be mounted directly to the headache rack without having to drill into the truck bed.
Headache Rack Materials
Headache racks are available in powder coated steel, aluminum, and stainless steel. You can also get composites (steel & aluminum).
On the surface of things, aluminum does have several advantages over steel. It’s lighter and prevents corrosion better. A big plus when the DOT get a bit zealous salting the highways. However, must truck owners prefer steel racks.
The reason for preferring steel is that it usually costs less than aluminum, has a higher tensile strength (i.e aluminum is easier to bend and break) and it’s easier to weld. This last point can help you if you want to weld on lights or something on to protect the windows for example.
Many truck owners add a protective paint coating like Rust-olem to their steel racks to help prevent corrosion.
Headache Rack Manufacturers
There are a variety of manufacturers and different designs to choose from. Some of the more popular manufacturers are: BackRack, Weather Guard, Cargo Ease, Aries, Dee Zee, Spyder, and Husky Liners. Let’s take a look at their best headache racks.
Dee Zee’s headache racks are extremely popular with truck owners.
It is specially designed for use with their rear racks that are placed further towards the back of the truck bed to aid in carrying ladders and lumber.
This product is all-aluminum and is powder coated to resist chips and scratches. It has a cut-out section to easily see out the back window when looking through your rear-view mirror. It also has a stylish diamond tread aluminum strip at the bottom of the rack.
Dee-Zee’s also sell a Steel Louvered Cab Rack which comes in either white or black.
It’s interesting to note that prices are usually quite a bit cheaper on Amazon when compared to the Dee-Zee website.
However, I definitely recommend comparing for yourself and checking out the official installation instructions before purchase to check it fits.
BackRack has a good selection of racks which include a “Mesh Headache Rack”, “Louvered Headache Rack”, “Safety Rack Cab Guard”, “Three Lights Headache Rack” (pictured), “BackRack Cab Guard”, and their basic “Headache Rack”.
All of BackRack’s products are made of black powdered coated steel which prevents chipping and corrosion.
Weather Guard has both black powdered coated steel racks and aluminum racks.
Their products include:
“Heavy Duty Cab Protector” which is black steel and protected with their patented Armor-Tuf clear coat finish.
“Aluminum Louvered Cab Protector” which has an aluminum lightweight frame and 14 gauge steel louver, a
“Mesh Cab Protector” that comes in either white or black steel mesh and mounts in the truck bed.
“Steel Louvered Cab Protector” that has a steel frame and 14 gauge louvers.
Aries makes a high-quality “Headache Racks System” that is rather inexpensive. It features heavy-duty carbon steel, is fully louvered, it works well with toolboxes that cross the truck bed, and it is painted with a high-gloss black powder coated finish.
They also supply a more expensive model – the “AdvantEDGE Headache Rack”.
The AdvantEDGE Headache Rack is all-aluminum and is available in either a chrome powder coat finish or a carbide black finish. What is unique about the AdvantEDGE rack is that the grids are octagonal which give it a rugged look. You can also purchase many accessories specifically made for this safety rack.
Cargo Ease is yet another manufacturer of good headache racks. Their racks are easy to install with little or no drilling involved.
Their “Full Mesh Cab Guard” is made of lightweight aluminum with heavy-duty reinforced aluminum mesh that has a black powder coated finish.
Cargo Ease also makes a basic “Cab Guard” that is made of steel and allows for full visibility out of the rear window. The Cab Guard is matte black with a powder coated finish and it has a built-in tonneau cover lift kit.
Spyder Industries is another manufacturer of headache racks. They make standard racks or you can have yours custom made.
Spyder is known for headache racks that appear to have spider webs for their mesh grid pattern.
They also make them with window openings for such things as whitetail deer, elk, and European mount patterns.
Husky Liners Sunshade
Many people buy headache racks for safety and for carrying tools. However; if you are looking for a rack that will really keep your cab cool, Husky Liners makes an excellent product for this purpose.
Their “Contractor Rack Sunshade” is specifically designed to keep the interior of your truck’s cab cool and protect it from harmful ultra-violet radiation. It also protects your rear window and cab from flying or shifting objects.
The Contractor Rack Sunshade is made from high-quality aircraft grade aluminum. However it is not designed for the addition of light bars or other types of lights.
Why You Should Buy A Headache Rack
There are numerous headache racks to choose from that can serve different purposes.
The main reason is safety. You can protect your cab from flying or moving objects as you hurtle down the highway.
A headache rack also makes the installation of other truck accessories possible. You can easily mount lights, antennas or a a side to side toolbox.
Lastly, they are great for comfort and keeping the summer sun out of your cab. All in all, there’s many reason why buying a headache rack is a great idea!