Installing a roof basket on a pickup truck can provide extra storage and carrying capacity. However, trucks with tonneau covers present some special considerations when adding a roof basket. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore whether it is possible to mount a roof basket on a truck with a tonneau cover and how to make it work.
Is It Possible To Mount A Roof Basket On A Truck With A Tonneau Cover?
The short answer is yes, it is possible to mount a roof basket on a truck that has a tonneau cover installed. However, there are a few important factors to consider:
Use A Tonneau Cover That Mounts Between The Bed Rails
The most important factor is to use a tonneau cover that mounts between the bed rails, rather than one that sits on top of the bed rails. Tonneau covers that mount inside the bed leave the stake pockets and side rails open for installing crossbars and roof racks.
Covers that sit on top of the bed rails can interfere with roof rack and basket mounting. So the first step is choosing the right tonneau cover design.
Pick A Compatible Tonneau Cover Design
Not all tonneau cover designs work well with roof basket mounting. The best options are:
- Folding covers like the BAKFlip that fold vertically against the cab.
- Hard roll-up covers like the Roll-N-Lock or Extang Revolution that store at the front of the bed.
- Soft roll-up covers like the Access Roll-Up that roll horizontally and store behind the cab.
- Retractable covers like the Retrax or Roll-N-Lock retractable that store canister-style at the front of the bed.
Avoid Covers That Sit On The Bed Rails
The most problematic tonneau covers are those that sit flush on top of the bed rails. These can block access to the stake pockets where roof racks and baskets mount. Examples include:
- Snap-style vinyl covers
- Hinged fiberglass lids
- One-piece hard covers
While mounting a basket on these isn’t impossible, it requires drilling into the cover itself in most cases.
Use A Bed Rack For More Compatibility
If directly mounting crossbars or a roof basket to your tonneau cover isn’t possible, you can use a bed rack instead. Bed racks install over the bed rails and provide a platform for mounting roof storage above the tonneau cover. This greatly expands compatibility.
Tonneau Cover And Roof Basket Compatibility Considerations
While roof basket mounting is possible with most tonneau covers, you need to ensure the specific products are compatible. Here are some factors to consider:
Truck Make And Model
The first consideration is your truck’s make and model. Roof racks, crossbars, and baskets are usually vehicle-specific. So the mounting system and hardware must match your truck.
Tonneau Cover Model And Style
As mentioned above, the tonneau cover style impacts compatibility. Covers that install inside the bed rails provide the most compatibility. Make sure to pick one designed for roof rack and basket mounting.
Roof Basket Style And Hardware
There are different roof basket and crossbar mounting styles. Some use clamps, others use threaded bolts into the stake pockets. Ensure your mounting system hardware is compatible with your tonneau cover.
Weight Capacity And Clearance
Factor in the basket weight, load capacity, and needed overhead clearance. Load bars and roof racks have weight limits. Make sure adding a basket doesn’t exceed those limits.
Manufacturer Instructions And Fit Guides
Consult manufacturer fit guides and installation instructions. They’ll have details on vehicle-specific fits and tonneau cover compatibility for both the basket and cover brands.
Tips For Mounting A Roof Basket On A Truck With A Tonneau Cover
If you’ve determined that mounting a roof basket on your tonneau cover-equipped truck is possible, here are some useful tips:
Use Protective Padding
Use protective rubber pads, strips, or sheets where the basket and mounting hardware contact the tonneau cover. This prevents scuffs, scratches, and damage.
Adjust The Crossbars And Hardware Carefully
Take time fitting the crossbars and roof basket hardware. Adjust them so weight is distributed evenly without stressing one area.
Seal Any Penetrations Properly
If you must drill into the tonneau cover for mounting, make sure to use proper sealants on the penetrations to prevent leaking.
Check Tonneau Cover Operation
Test that your tonneau cover still opens, closes, folds, rolls, and retracts properly without catching or binding after installing the roof basket.
Follow All Instructions And Specs
Carefully follow all manufacturer procedures and specs for your truck, tonneau cover, crossbars, and roof basket. Don’t exceed weight capacities.
Potential Issues To Keep In Mind
While roof basket mounting is definitely possible on a tonneau-equipped truck, there are some potential downsides to consider:
Reduced Tonneau Cover Life Span
The additional weight and hardware contact of a roof basket may put more wear on a tonneau cover, reducing its overall life span.
Scuffs And Damage To The Cover
Basket contact points may scuff or scratch the tonneau cover over time, even with protective pads.
Leaking Risk If Penetrating The Cover
Drilling into a tonneau cover carries a risk of water leaking if the penetrations aren’t completely sealed.
The basket could interfere with manually or power opening and closing the tonneau cover.
Exceeding Load Limits
Adding basket weight plus cargo on roof racks may exceed load limits, damaging your truck or cover.
Roof Basket Mounting Options For Different Tonneau Cover Types
The exact roof basket mounting method depends on your specific tonneau cover style:
Folding covers like BAKFlip models allow direct crossbar and basket mounting to the stake pockets, keeping all hardware above the cover.
Soft roll-up covers can allow basket mounting to the side rails or stake pockets in most cases without penetrating the vinyl cover.
Retractable covers don’t allow top access to side rails. But some allow stake pocket access for basket mounting when fully open.
Full snap or hinged lids need penetrating crossbar mounts through the cover itself. Use proper sealing to avoid leaks.
Bed racks provide universal basket mounting options. The rack installs over the bed rails and provides secure attachment points.
Is A Bed Rack A Better Option Than Mounting To The Tonneau Cover?
For some pickup trucks and tonneau cover combinations, using a bed rack instead of direct roof basket mounting is the better choice. Here are some benefits of picking a bed rack:
Provides More Mounting Versatility
Bed racks allow versatile basket, light bar, and accessory mounting above any tonneau cover.
Eliminates Drilling Into The Cover
A rack avoids needing to drill into the tonneau cover for mounting. No risk of leaks.
Keeps All Weight Off The Cover
With a rack, all roof storage weight transfers through the bed rack to the truck bed, not the tonneau cover.
Adds More Usable Storage Space
A bed rack maximizes above-bed storage, providing space for baskets and other carriers.
Rack installation is straightforward. No need to integrate with the tonneau mounting system.
Allows Full Cover Function
The cover can open, close, roll, fold without interference because the rack mounts separately.
Integrating A Bed Rack System With A Tonneau Cover
To maximize storage flexibility with a tonneau cover and roof carrier system, integrating a bed rack is the preferred solution. Here are some tips:
Choose The Right Rack Design
Opt for a rack with a vertical clearance that allows the cover to fully open and close without interference.
Adjust The Rack Height Properly
Many bed racks allow height adjustment. Set it so the tonneau can operate freely but items above sit securely.
Use Weather Stripping/Seals
Use weather stripping or seals to fill any gaps between the cover and rack to prevent water intrusion.
Check Operation With The Cover
After installing the rack, thoroughly test opening, closing, rolling, folding of the cover to check for any interference.
Load Test The Rack
Gradually load test the rack with cargo weight to ensure it handles loads properly when installed above the tonneau.
Adding a roof basket to increase a tonneau cover-equipped truck’s cargo capacity is certainly possible. But it requires using the right tonneau cover style, roof rack mounting method, and potentially integrating a bed rack.
With proper diligence, you can safely increase your truck’s cargo versatility and get the benefits of both bed protection and overhead roof storage when needed. Just take careful consideration of all factors outlined here first before mounting a basket to your truck and tonneau cover combination.