Tacoma Bed Bars for Better Gear Stashing
If you want to get more use out of your Toyota Tacoma's bed, one of the simplest ways to do that is with a set of bed bars.
Bed bars make an easy spot to mount bikes, kayaks, and roof top tents.
Let's take a look at some bed bars for Tacomas so you can find a set that works for you.
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What are bed bars?
We're only looking at bed bars, not bed racks.
What's the difference?
It's a little iffy, but we like to think there are three kinds of structure you can put on your Tacoma's bed:
- Bed bars
- A bed rack
- A utility rack
Bed bars are short and easily removable.
A bed rack is similar to bed bars, except that the bars are connected front to back.
A utility rack is a rack that extends a little above your cab roof in height.
A set of bed bars is usually two or three bars that cross your Taco's bed side to side. They are lower than the roof of your cab and they are not connected.
Bed bars are lightweight and easy to remove. A bed rack might be more of a two person job to remove and the rack is heavier and more awkward than bars. When you take bars off, they're easy to store since they're short and not connected to each other.
If you use your Tacoma's bed frequently for taller items (meaning you need to take off the bad bars often) you might prefer bed bars to a bed rack.
Most bed bars are plenty strong to support a roof top tent. However, there are probably fewer ways to mount things to them than with a bad rack, just due to the lack of surface area.
Bed racks are like bed bars, except they're tied together front to back.
They're going to be a little stronger than bed bars, plus you'll usually get some more attachment options for gear.
The extra load carrying ability of a bed rack comes at a cost though: They weigh more, cost more to ship to you, and are more difficult to put on and take off.
If you expect to need the full capacity of your bed on a regular basis, it might get pretty tedious to keep installing and removing your Tacoma's bed rack unless you have a willing helper.
Utility racks may just look like really tall bed bars, but they have some pretty big differences.
They mount everything very high, which means a higher center of gravity for your rig (and maybe decreased trail clearance on tight trails).
They are suitable for longer kayaks and canoes (Note! Lots of manufacturers sell bed bars that mount kayaks, but you'll need short boats for them to fit!).
They probably have a greater effect on your gas mileage than bed bars. Bed bars are pretty small and contained behind your Taco's cab, but a rack on your Tacoma extends out past the body. This is typically very bad for gas mileage.
Bed Bars We Like, Just for Tacomas
There are a few different styles of bed bars out there, so we'll take a look at three. You might not choose one of these, but take a look at what we say about the features so you can make a good choice.
RuffStuff Specialties Low Profile Overland Bed Bars
If you're more of a builder than a buyer, this is a great set of extremely heavy-duty bars. Why a builder?
- They come unfinished.
- They come longer than you need. Cut them if you want a narrower setup, or keep them long to have the bars stick out past your bed (be careful with this!).
- Bars and brackets are mild steel, so you can easily weld to them.
Do you want low profile bed bars?
These bars are very low profile - the bottoms will sit just above the top of your bed. There are a few low profile bars out there. Some are flush with the top of your bed, these bars sit slightly above your bed.
In the case of these RuffStuff bed bars, the fact that they sit above the bed means you have more flexibility with the length of the bars themselves.
The brackets that mount to the factory '05 and up Taco bed rails are 1/4" steel - super thick.
The bars themselves are 1.5" diameter 0.120" wall DOM tubing. This is a pretty typical diameter and wall thickness for roll cages, so you know these bars will stand up to some abuse!
The bars come 70" long. RuffStuff says to trim them to 63" to match your Tacoma bed width if you want, but you have a whole 7" to mess with if you need a longer bar.
- Heavy duty
- Extra long width can be cut down
- May require extra work to fit accessories
Front Runner Outfitters Tacoma Bed Bar Kit
Let's start with the obvious:
These bars are taller than the RuffStuff bars. From the top of your bed to the top of the bars, the height is about 8 1/4". This gives you a little more room for gear under the bars, about 7 inches.
These bars also angle in a little, so they won't fit as wide a load as the RuffStuff bars.
Lighweight bars are easy to handle
These bed bars are much lighter and ready-to-go than the RuffStuff bars. They're made from T6 aluminum, so a set of two only ends up weighing an ultra light 15 lbs.
These should be a cinch for anyone to put on or take off their Taco anytime.
They also have slotted tracks on both the top and the bottom with sliding nuts that take an 8mm bolt. This means that you have very flexible mounting options for any gear you want to carry.
But lightness has it's price...
You'll probably want to add one more bar if you're using a roof top tent with these bed bars. While a couple of bikes aren't going to stress them, a tent plus a couple of bodies could definitely strain them.
The bars themselves are 22mm thick (around 7/8") and the aluminum is a strong alloy, but these bars need a little help with greater weights.
- Very light
- Won't rust because of aluminum/stainless steel construction
- Tons of mounting options with the top and bottom t-slots
- May require an extra bar for heavy accessories like roof top tents
Yakima Outpost HD Bed Bars
Yakima makes these heavy duty bed bars that will fit any of their mounts and rack accessories.
These bars are powdercoated aluminum - they'll never rust.
These bars are very expensive, but you are buying into the ecosystem of using a bunch of Yakima accessories. No fabrication required and no clever solution-finding in your garage getting things to work!
Yakima says they're rated for 300 lbs. off road and 500 lbs. on road. This is plenty of strength for a roof top tent.
You need 3 separate parts!
Yakima makes it so you can mix and match a bunch of their components.
The install and the cost of these bars is a little more involved than
the other bed bars we've looked at, partly because this is a
"universal" product - Yakima designed it to work on a number of
Because of this, you do need an adapter kit to fit it to your Taco's bed rail tracks.
Plus, you need to buy the bed bars!
For an '05+ Toyota Tacoma, you need:
If you already own a bunch of Yakima products, like what they have to offer, and like simple solutions, this is a great rack.
It's strong, bolts on, and you'll be able to fit any Yakima product to it that you want. Yakima even offers crossbars that you can use to strengthen the rack and give you a few more mounting positions.
- Strong and lightweight
- Huge number of bolt-on accessories and mounting options
- Can be locked
- Won't rust
Tacomapocalypse Tacoma Bed Rack
These bed bars come in a set of two OR three, so you can figure out what kind of mounting works for you.
They're shipped out in bare steel unless you order the black powdercoat option. (If you do the powdercoat, it'll add 2-3 weeks to your delivery time.)
You've also got the option of adding some accessory tabs to your bars.
These bars will take a ton of weight, they look good, and they are very configurable.
- Strong steel construction
- Comes in a 2 or 3 pack
- Can customize with lighting and accessory tabs
- May have some lead time for delivery (the price for cottage work!)
Last updated: October 4, 2019