The short answer is yes, you can mount roof rack crossbars on trucks that have tonneau covers installed. However, choosing the right truck rack system and tonneau cover combination is key to ensuring proper fit and function.
There are roof rack systems designed specifically to work with certain tonneau cover models. There are also universal racks that can accommodate most tonneau cover designs as long as they mount between the bed rails. The tonneau cover style and mounting method are the most important factors when figuring out crossbar compatibility.
What truck tonneau covers are compatible with roof racks?
The tonneau covers that are most crossbar-friendly are ones that mount entirely between the bed rails of the truck. These allow access to the stake pockets in the bed rails so clamp-on roof rack feet can be installed. Some examples of rails-mounted covers include:
- Soft foldable covers
- Hard folding covers
- Roll-up covers
These all attach at the top of the bed rails with clamps or rails so they fold or roll up toward the cab, leaving the bed rails accessible.
- Roll-up retractable covers
- Canister retractable covers
Retractable covers also mount between the rails so when fully open, the stake pockets are open for roof rack installation.
- Low-profile hard covers
- Canvas covers
These seamlessly sit inside the bed rails, maintaining complete access to the stake pockets.
As long as the cover you choose mounts entirely between the bed rails, it should be compatible with most roof rack systems.
What truck tonneau covers are NOT compatible with roof racks?
Full-size, top-mounting covers that sit on top of the bed rails are generally not roof rack-friendly. Since these covers utilize the full top surface of the rails, they block access to the stake pockets. Types of tonneau covers that usually don’t work with roof racks include:
These are heavy-duty aluminum covers that sit on top of the bed rails and tailgate. They are not easily removable and would block rack installation.
Covers that are one solid panel covering the entire truck bed attach to the top of the bed rails, obstructing the stake pockets.
You may be able to drill through these types of covers to access the stake pockets, but that could impact the cover’s weatherproofing and structural integrity.
What are the best roof racks to use with a tonneau cover?
There are certain truck roof rack systems designed specifically to work seamlessly with tonneau covers installed.
Access ADARAC Truck Racks
These racks feature feet that clamp onto the inside walls and underside of the bed rails so stake pocket access isn’t needed. Specific models like the ADARAC and ADARAC Aluminum mounts work with almost any tonneau cover.
Stake Pocket Mount Racks
Many universal crossbar systems like the Front Runner Slimline II and Sherpa Equipment Eiger mount using the stake pockets, so they are tonneau cover-friendly. Just ensure the cover you choose gives access to the pockets.
Between the Rails Racks
Racks like the Yakima BedRock and Thule Tracker II install between the bed rails instead of on top, sitting right underneath the tonneau cover. No drilling is required.
Tips for choosing a truck rack and tonneau cover
If you want to equip your truck with both a tonneau cover and a roof rack, follow this advice:
- Pick a low-profile tonneau that sits inside or between the rails to allow crossbar installation. Hard covers typically work best.
- Look for a roof rack designed specifically for tonneau cover trucks or ones that mount using the stake pockets.
- For retractable covers, make sure the crossbars can be installed with the cover partially open. Measure to ensure proper clearance.
- Keep in mind roof rack weight limits and budget. Aluminum crossbars are lightweight but costly. Steel is affordable but heavy.
- Test fit the rack and cover before permanently installing. Pre-drill holes in the bed rails if needed.
With the right combination, you can have the versatility of a truck bed cover and the cargo capacity of a roof rack on your truck. Careful selection of products that are designed to work together is the key to success.
Will a toolbox work with a roof rack and tonneau cover?
Many truck owners want to maximize their cargo options by adding a toolbox, tonneau cover, and roof rack. The good news is you can often get all three to coexist nicely.
The key factors when adding a toolbox to the mix are position and size. Here are some tips:
- Opt for a low-profile crossover-style toolbox that mounts against the front of the truck bed instead of a full-length traditional toolbox. This leaves room for the tonneau cover and crossbar installation.
- Make sure the toolbox is not so wide that it impedes access to the stake pockets for the crossbar feet. Measure first before installing.
- A smaller low-profile toolbox generally works better than a big bulky one when adding a rack and cover. Prioritize necessity over size.
- Use a folding or retractable tonneau cover rather than a hinged lid cover. This allows access to the toolbox even with the cover closed.
- Make sure the cover you choose is toolbox-compatible. Some covers won’t seal properly with a toolbox installed.
With good planning and compact toolbox selection, it is certainly possible to use all three upgrades on your truck. Always test components together before permanent installation.
Do roof racks damage tonneau covers?
A common concern truck owners have is whether adding a roof rack system could put excess pressure on the tonneau cover and damage it over time. However, with the proper precautions, you can use a rack and cover without harming either.
Here are some tips to prevent roof rack damage to a tonneau cover:
- Use foam blocks or rubber pads between the crossbar feet and the truck bed rails. This distributes weight evenly and prevents concentrated pressure points.
- Tighten crossbar clamps just enough to secure the bars, not so tight that it dents or warps the bed rails. Only use hand tools, not power tools.
- Opt for aluminum crossbars if possible, as they exert less downward force than steel crossbars.
- Periodically check all connections to make sure vibrations on the road have not caused any loosening or shifting.
- When loading cargo onto the roof rack, distribute weight evenly across all crossbars and over the wheel wells. No single point should bear too much weight.
- For retractable covers, take extra care not to let cargo fall onto the cover during loading/unloading.
With careful installation and loading practices, the roof rack shouldn’t put undue strain on the tonneau cover. It also helps greatly to use premium rack and cover products designed to work together.
Can I install a roof basket on my truck with a tonneau cover?
Roof baskets add even more cargo space on top of roof rack crossbars. But does installing a basket on your truck bed cover still allow full tonneau cover functionality? The short answer is yes, you can often use a basket with a tonneau cover. However, there are some important considerations:
- Make sure to measure the height of the basket plus crossbars combined. Will the tonneau cover still be able to open and close properly without interference?
- Allow adequate front-to-rear clearance between the cab and the basket so the cover can roll or fold up all the way.
- For hard folding covers, check to ensure the panels will not strike the basket when opening.
- Use foam blocks between the basket and crossbars to prevent the weight of cargo in the basket from excessively straining the bars.
- Cargo weight should be distributed evenly inside the basket, not concentrated in one area.
- Be very careful loading cargo into the basket with a retractable cover open underneath – use spotters if needed.
With good planning, measurements, and loading practices, a roof basket can increase your truck’s cargo capacity while still allowing the tonneau cover to function normally. Just take precautionary steps to prevent interference or damage.
What are the best tonneau covers to use with a roof rack?
If you want to equip your truck with both a tonneau cover and roof rack, choosing the right cover model is key. Here are some of the best options:
Retractable Tonneau Covers
Retractable covers roll up or slide into a canister at the front of the bed, leaving the entire bed open for cargo when retracted. Popular retractable models like the Roll-N-Lock, RetraxPRO XR, and BakFlip G2 work great with roof racks.
Low-Profile Tonneau Covers
Slim, low-profile covers like the UnderCover Flex, Truxedo Sentry CT, and Extang Solid Fold sit flush inside the bed rails. This allows full access for roof rack installation and use.
Folding Tonneau Covers
Folding covers like the BakFlip MX4, Gator FX3, and Tyger Auto T3 tri-fold are typically roof rack-friendly as long as you measure for clearance. The panels fold so they don’t obstruct cargo access.
Soft Roll-Up Covers
Vinyl roll-up covers from companies like Lund, Truxedo, and ColorBond mount entirely between the rails. Just roll up the cover to load the roof rack. Condensation and sagging can be issues long-term.
The key is finding a low-profile cover that mounts between the bed rails, not on top of them. And always test components for fit before permanently installing both rack and cover.
The ability to add cargo crossbars on top of your truck bed cover can greatly increase your truck’s maximum gear capacity. With all the rack and tonneau options on the market, you can find the right components to safely and effectively combine both upgrades.
The critical considerations are selecting a tonneau cover that mounts between the bed rails, choosing roof rack feet that don’t obstruct cover operation, and properly installing and loading the rack. With good planning and smart product selection, you can unlock the versatility of using both upgrades together.
So if you own a truck with a tonneau cover and need extra cargo capacity up top, go ahead and look into adding a well-matched roof rack system. Follow the tips covered here, do your homework on product fit, and you can confidently carry more gear both inside and on top of your truck bed.