Pickup truck owners often look for ways to increase the versatility and functionality of their vehicles. Two popular truck accessories are ladder racks and roll-up tonneau covers. But can you use both of these items together? The short answer is yes, you can mount a ladder rack with a roll-up tonneau cover in many cases. However, there are some important factors to consider regarding compatibility and proper installation.
What are the key points to know about combining a ladder rack and tonneau cover?
When exploring whether a particular ladder rack and tonneau cover are compatible, there are a few key factors to keep in mind:
Do the rack and cover use the same mounting points?
- If the ladder rack and tonneau cover do not use the same mounting points on the truck bed rails, they may be compatible.
- For example, if the rack attaches via the stake pocket holes while the cover uses a clamping system on the top of the rails, they can co-exist.
- But if they both need to use the same stake pockets or clamping points, they may interfere with each other’s installation.
What type of tonneau cover is it?
- Covers that mount between the bed rails, like folding covers, retractable covers, or roll-up designs, are often compatible with racks.
- Covers that sit on top of the bed rails and cover the stake pockets may get in the way of installing a rack.
- Look for a tonneau that can be mounted low profile within the bed itself.
Is the ladder rack designed for tonneau compatibility?
- Some ladder racks are engineered specifically work with certain tonneau covers.
- For example, the Elevate Rack has kits available to integrate with covers like the BakFlip G2.
- Choosing rack and cover systems designed to work together can ensure compatibility.
Do the manufacturers indicate compatibility?
- Check the website or packaging of both accessories for any compatibility charts or guides.
- Reputable manufacturers will often provide details on which of their products can be installed together.
- This can give you definitive confirmation if a rack and cover will work together on your truck.
So in summary, with the right combination of mounting designs, strategic selection of accessories, and guidance from manufacturers, many ladder racks and roll-up tonneau covers can be used together successfully. But be sure to do your homework first!
What types of tonneau covers allow for ladder rack installation?
The most ladder rack-friendly tonneau cover designs are those that mount within the bed itself and don’t cover the full width or length of the bed rails. Here are some examples of covers that often work with ladder racks:
Covers like the BakFlip, Extang Fold, and Gator Fold mount inside the bed and fold open for full bed access. Their low-profile design avoids interfering with racks.
Retractable roll-up covers
Retrax, Roll-N-Lock, and similar retractable covers roll up into a canister at the cab end of the bed. This leaves the sides open for ladder rack legs.
Low-profile roll-up covers
Roll-up vinyl covers from manufacturers like Access, Truxedo, and Lund mount almost flush with the bed rails to avoid contact with rack mount points.
Combination fold-up and roll-up covers like the BakFlip MX4 provide versatility for rack installation while covering the bed.
Soft roll-up covers
Vinyl roll-ups like the Extang EnCore and Roll-N-Lock A-Series have flexible designs that contour around ladder rack legs.
So if you have a ladder rack in mind, look for truck bed covers that use under-rail mounting and have versatile roll-up, fold-up, or retractable opening designs. This will provide the best chance of compatible installation.
What problems can arise with incompatible ladder racks and tonneau covers?
If you choose a ladder rack and tonneau cover that aren’t designed to work together, you may run into fitment and functionality issues:
If the rack and cover both need to use the same mounting points on the bed rails, they will physically block each other from proper installation.
Poor bed access
A fully rigid cover that gets in the way of the ladder rack may prevent you from being able to load tall cargo on the rack or access the bed area.
An incompatible cover that sits too high on the bed may not look proportional or pleasing with the rack legs extending above it.
Trying to force incompatible mounted accessories to work together may lead to cracking or warping of the cover or bent rack legs.
If the rack and cover truly don’t work together, you’ll have to remove one and eat the cost of the wasted accessory.
Performing thorough compatibility research prior to purchase and installation can help avoid these headaches and ensure your truck bed accessories work smoothly together.
What are some example ladder rack and tonneau combinations that work well together?
Here are a few tested truck setups that demonstrate successfully combining a ladder rack with a roll-up tonneau cover:
AMP Research PowerStep Running Boards + UnderCover Flex Hard Folding Cover + Adrian Steel Ladder Rack
The low-profile UnderCover Flex cover mounts inside the bed rails while the Adrian Steel rack uses the stake pockets, allowing conflict-free installation.
BakFlip G2 Folding Cover + Yakima OverHaul HD Rack
The BakFlip G2 works seamlessly with Yakima racks that use clamps at the front of the bed rather than the sides.
RetraxPRO XR Retractable Cover + Frontier Truck Gear Lopro Lo-Pro Rack
This combo takes advantage of the retracting cover along with Frontier’s rack designed specifically for tonneau compatibility.
Extang Solid Fold Cover + TracRac SR Sliding Rack
The Extang cover folds conveniently out of the way while the SR rack legs slide along tracks for adjustable bed access.
UnderCover SwingCase Truck Bed Storage + Ultra-Lite Truck Rack System
The Ultra-Lite rack attaches via the bed floor rather than rails, avoiding conflict with the UnderCover storage case.
With a little research, you can find the ideal ladder rack and tonneau pair that will upgrade your truck while avoiding installation headaches.
What special considerations should you make when installing a ladder rack with a tonneau cover?
Once you’ve selected compatible ladder rack and tonneau cover models, the actual process of installing them on your truck bed requires some careful planning:
Which order should they be installed?
- In most cases, it is easier to mount the ladder rack first before installing the tonneau cover.
- This allows you to access the full bed area without the cover in the way during rack installation.
Leave sufficient clearance
- When setting the rack leg positions, ensure adequate clearance between the legs and the edges of the planned tonneau cover installation.
- This will prevent the cover from rubbing against or catching on the rack supports when opening/closing.
Adjust cover brackets
- If needed, use shims or spacers to adjust the tonneau cover mounting brackets around the ladder rack legs.
- This will help the cover sit properly once installed after the rack is already in place.
- Use additional weather seal tape if there are any gaps between the cover and rack components that could allow water intrusion.
- Try to maintain the cover’s factory weather sealing ability.
Allow for bed access
- Install the ladder rack high enough above the bed rails to allow sufficient clearance to roll up the tonneau cover fully.
- This will preserve ability to access the full bed area when needed.
With good prep work and taking the needed adjustments into account, a little extra care during installation can ensure your ladder rack and tonneau cover fit and function together perfectly.
What are some alternative solutions if your ladder rack and tonneau cover aren’t compatible?
If your existing ladder rack and tonneau cover turn out to not work well together despite your best efforts, you still have some options:
Use rail caps
- For certain tonneau cover designs, you may be able to install side rail caps to provide clearance around the ladder rack legs.
- These can act as spacers to prevent the cover from contacting the rack.
Try bed rail adapters
- Adapters that modify or extend the bed rails outward can potentially provide extra room for rack and cover mounting.
- But adapters may not work with all truck beds and modifications.
Replace the cover
- If the rack is the permanent fixture, look for a replacement low-profile roll-up or folding tonneau that will be compatible.
- Selling the original cover can help offset the cost of the new one.
Remove the ladder rack
- If retaining the tonneau cover is the priority, removing the ladder rack may be required.
- A headache rack that attaches via the bed floor could be an alternative rack option.
While not always ideal, making use of ladder rack-tonneau adapters or replacing one accessory or the other can ultimately provide you with a functional truck bed setup.
Can I install a toolbox with a ladder rack and tonneau cover?
Adding a toolbox is another popular truck bed accessory. Can you install a toolbox with both a ladder rack and tonneau cover already in place? Here is some guidance:
Measure carefully for fit
- Take precise measurements of the remaining free space between the ladder rack legs and tonneau rails.
- Match those measurements as closely as possible when selecting a toolbox size.
Consider a low-profile style
- A toolbox that sits as low in the bed as possible will minimize fitment issues.
- Look for a toolbox designed specifically for low-clearance applications.
Mind the rear hatch clearance
- Ensure the toolbox will not block access to any fold-down hatch at the rear of the tonneau cover.
- A toolbox placed against the front of the bed is less likely to interfere.
Check toolbox door clearance
- The toolbox door needs to be able to fully open without contacting the tonneau cover framework or ladder rack legs.
- Some tonneaus like the BakFlip allow you to flip up a rear section separately for toolbox access.
With careful size selection and placement, adding a toolbox to an existing ladder rack and tonneau combination is certainly achievable in many truck beds.
What are some alternatives to a ladder rack when using a tonneau cover?
For truck owners who need above-bed hauling capacity in addition to a tonneau cover, but don’t want a permanent ladder rack, here are some other options to consider:
Hitch hauler cargo carrier
- A cargo carrier basket that mounts to your trailer hitch is useful for transporting ladders, pipes, and other long items.
- Items are kept separate from the bed area covered by your tonneau.
Removable hoop rack
- Temporary hoop rack systems install and remove quickly when needed for extra cargo capacity.
- Hoop racks tend to interfere less with tonneau covers vs. fixed ladder racks.
- For ad-hoc situations, you can secure items directly to your truck bed using ratchet straps connected to the tie-down points.
- Allows you to haul longer cargo without a permanent rack installed.
Bed rack extension
- Some tonneaus like the Roll-N-Lock Retractable Truck Bed Cover offer optional removable rack extensions.
- These provide temporary extra space when required, typically for 4×8 sheets.
With some creativity using additions like hitch carriers or temporary rack extensions, you can maximize your truck’s hauling abilities without a permanent ladder rack getting in the way.
Adding a ladder rack and a roll-up tonneau cover are great ways to enhance your pickup. Determining compatibility, choosing strategic mounting designs, proper installation, and use of adapters or alternative solutions will allow you to successfully combine these two popular truck accessories. With the right truck bed configuration for your needs, you’ll be able to securely haul cargo big and small for work or play.