Ladder racks truly are an all-purpose truck rack system for work or recreation.

They’re great for a jobsite or getting you to that hunt camp on the weekend. And they can do a whole lot more than just haul ladders!

In this article, we’ll discuss some of the best features and options of the best ladder racks for trucks. This information will be key when it comes to buying the best type and model for you and your truck.

What is A Ladder Rack?

A ladder rack is a truck rack system made for carrying longer loads, not just ladders as the name implies. They are usually made out of a combination of metal tubing and rack system. The metal can be either aluminium or steel.

The rack will fit over the bed of your truck and sometimes over the cab as well. These racks can fit over the entire bed or over a small part of it. They are made to be tough and they can haul up to 800 pounds of gear, depending on the configuration.

A good rack can actually take more load than your truck bed can. You just need to be really careful you don’t crush your rails!

Types of Ladder Racks

If you’re shopping for a ladder rack, you should know about the features they offer and the styles that they come in.

Some racks will fit the entire truck bed, sometimes called a “full rack” while others will just be installed on one side of the bed.

They can also be made of different materials as well, for example, aluminium or steel. Both have their advantages.

Steel is cheaper, stronger and easier to work with.  However, there’s some real nice aluminum truck racks which are often quieter, lighter and non-corrosive.

Why You Should Purchase A Ladder Rack

One of the best things about having a ladder rack is that you can haul all sorts of long items whether it is an actual ladder, lumber for the home project or a kayak for the weekend.

The other nice thing about having a ladder rack? You can store things overhead and leave the truck bed open for other cargo. It really frees up your options.

Carry Longer Cargo Safely

Your truck is useful for hauling a lot of items, but when it comes to stuff that is longer, it can be awkward. No one wants a load of boards hanging out the back of their truck! Especially if you have a long way to go.

Also, hanging lumber out the back of your truck isn’t secure and can be really dangerous. Sure, you can tie it down but it still isn’t the best solution for hauling a longer piece of cargo.

Better Than Temproary Solutions

A ladder rack can make a huge difference, especially when compared to temporary solutions, like racking systems that fit into your hitch. For one, when you have a ladder rack that fits above your truck bed, you can still lower the tail gate and use the hitch.

Full Rack or “Over the Bed” Racks

A full ladder rack is attached at the corners of your truck bed behind the cab and just forward of the tail gate. These racks can consist of an open frame or be a full mesh rack above the bed of your truck.

Both options have the benefits. The open frame gives you more vertical room while the rack allows for use as a more traditional roof rack. This can work well for all kinds of cargo, not just the long stuff.

A full rack can be a commitment in terms of budget too. They’re a little more expensive and designed to be more industrial. Your truck will look more like a work vehicle than an off road one so take that into consideration

Half Rack or Side Racks

The great thing about ladder racks, you have options when it comes to picking the one you want. If you’re not sold on having a ladder rack or “headache rack” that covers the entire bed of your truck, you can opt for a smaller version.

The smaller ladder racks are designed to hold a single ladder. They are usually installed to the side of your bed or along one side of your bed.

These deck systems are one of the best options since you get an enclosed draw for smaller items but you can also still haul cargo on top of the deck itself. With this sort of truck bed organizer, you gain security but don’t have to sacrifice any cargo space.

Not Just for Ladders

Ladder racks are great because you can use them for a variety of cargo, not just ladders. If you’re a do-it-yourself kind of guy, they can be great for hauling boards or sheets of plywood.

Maybe you have a canoe or kayak? Ladder racks are great for those too. Your gear can be kept safe and out of the way of your truck bed.

Safety & Security

A ladder rack is by far the safest way to haul longer cargo.  Your load is able to sit right over your cab and across the entire length of your truck, while being supported by the rack itself.

You can attach the load at various points along the rack too. This makes it more secure and easier to transport no matter how far you’re going.

Buying The Right Ladder Rack

If you’re shopping for a ladder rack, you’ve probably already thought about the features or options you want, but which is the right one for you?

It is best to take a look at your truck and research some of the major installation instructions of a rack. If you have a tool box in your truck bed, how will a ladder rack fit around it? Is your bed a step-side or sport side? Does that make a difference in the rack’s installation?

Maybe your wife has specified that your new truck is to be a “Family Truck” (don’t worry – it happens!). In this case, you can still find a removable ladder rack that can be taken off when you’re not hauling gear. A nice compromise!

Just be aware that there are a lot of choices out there but you want it to work with your truck and also fit into your budget. With a little research, you’ll be on your way to finding a ladder rack that does more than you thought possible.