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Bed rack vs Roof rack vs Truck cap

Bed rack vs Roof rack vs Truck cap

Ahhh the decisions to make after you purchase a truck! From the tires, to the wheels, to the lights, to the grill - the choices are endless, literally.  In terms of hauling, there are multiple ways to enhance your build, including adding a bed rack, a roof rack, or a truck cap. 

In this article, we'll try to offer our 2 cents on the benefits and drawbacks of all three, so you can purchase your next aftermarket accessory with confidence. Some things that we're going to focus on include:

  • The types of things that you can carry
  • Ease of Installation
  • Cost
  • Aerodynamics/Center of Gravity
  • Cargo Space and Placement
  • Load Ease 

Truck Caps 

Lets start with a simple truck cap. They're some trendy caps outside of the Leer flagship caps we've seen on the road forever - including SmartCap, Tune Outdoor, and a handful others. They were historically made via fiberglass but SmartCap and Tune, for example, manufacture their cap with stainless steel. 

Either way, they provide a rigid enclosure for the bed of your truck ,protecting your belongings from a security and weather proofing standpoint. Caps are also a great option if you want to haul kayaks, canoes, or fishing quivers (our favorite is from Riversmith) - you'll just need to install some aftermarket crossbar system on the cap itself, which generally requires some sort of drilling into the truck cap. 

The costs vary depending on the brand, but you're likely going to be spending somewhere between $1500 and $4000, depending on what brand you land on. As far as installation - you'll probably need a hand getting the cap onto the bed, once you have it pieced together. Unless you went with Flated - who makes a super awesome, easy to install, easy to remove truck cap - which are actually crazy durable. The Sharks on Shark tank even love this one! 

Shameless plug: kneeling on your factory tailgate to grab belongings from the truck bed with a cap installed can be painful. BillieBars Tailgate replaces your factory tailgate with a close celled marine grade foam, over aluminum. The result? A soft surface that leaves your knees thanking you. 

Roof Racks 

There are a lot of options on the market for aftermarket roof racks. Prinsu, Victory 4x4, Sherpa and Rhino are popular options. 

As far as cost goes, they most likely lead the race in the 3 options that are mentioned in the article. You could get one in the $600 range, that should provide some utilitarian functionality for your truck.

Regarding mounting options - you could get away with mounting a smaller/lightweight Roof Top Tent but in doing so, you will increase the drag (expect a 2-4 MPG drop if you went this route). You'll also throw off the center of gravity for your truck, so if you plan on doing some serious off roading, mounting an RTT on your roof rack probably isn't the greatest idea.

They are great for mounting cargo boxes, RotoPax, awnings, road showers, and lights. Plus they give your truck a little bit of attitude, without breaking the bank.

Unless you're driving a unibody truck (example: Honda Ridgeline, Ford Maverick, or Hyundai Santa Cruz), we would caution mounting a kayak, canoe, or anything for that matter, to the roof rack and then tying it to a bed rack. Since the cab and bed on most trucks are 2 different entities, you could cause the items you're hauling to warp. Which is exactly why you see ladder racks cantilever over the cab, without actually touching the cab. 

Installation of a roof rack is definitely achievable by one person, if you have the right tools. Loading items will be more difficult, just due to the height of the roof rack.

Bed Racks 

There a ton of options for bed racks on the market - you could go every which way, depending on what you're looking to accomplish. 

Starting with cost -  compared to Roof Racks or Truck Caps - Bed Racks have a wider range of cost, ranging from the cheaper options listed on Amazon, all the way up to the custom fab job from a mom and pop shop that could cost you thousands. 

Re: ease of installation - if you're going with a traditional cab height rack (like something from Uptop Overland, or CBI), you're committing to having that rack on there pretty much full time, unless you've got a fleet of buddies ready to drop their hat on a moments notice, to remove the bed rack. Which for a lot of people, may not matter at all. 

Traditional bed racks require you to remove your tonneau cover, or limit the functionality of the tonneau cover itself. Again if you need full bed access to haul something like a mattress or basically anything with substantial height, a traditional bed rack may limit your ability to convert your truck back into a truck. 

There are low profile bed racks on the market, but not all are created equal. You could go onto Amazon and purchase something but consider warranty and support should something go wrong a year after purchase. Another thing to consider is where it's made - as you know oversees products can look good out of the box, but how are they going to look in a few years? American Made products, with warranty and support, are a worthwhile consideration when purchasing anything for your truck. 

As mentioned previously, you historically have to remove your tonneau cover to run a bed rack, unless you went with something from Yakima or Thule that bolts into the Retrax XR cover (or something similar). The drawback for this tonneau cover is that you lose bed space (cover retracts back into a canister) - but if you have a longer bed, or limited plans to haul stuff in the bed, this may not matter to you.

BillieBars has helped solve this problem, offering bed racks that work will virtually ever tonneau cover on the market - including bed racks for trifolds covers, retractable covers, rollup covers, and retractable covers with integrated t slots along the bed rail (example Retrax XR).

Our 5" and 8" bed racks - primarily for people without a tonneau cover, a trifold cover, rollup cover, or retractable cover help keep the center of gravity low, reducing the dynamic load on the bed side. This would also help with aerodynamics as we've even seen gas mileage improve with the addition of an RTT on our 8" BillieBars - think a tractor trailer on the highway with the rear tail fairings. We're not promising this will happen for you, but the chances are higher if your cargo or RTT is below the cab. 

Low profile bed racks, such as BillieBars, offer ease of installation, achievable by one person - so when you need full bed access for the rogue pickup of the 8' statue you bought 3 hours away, you can easily turn your truck back into a truck. 

Loading items on a low profile bed rack system can also be easier - picture placing an RTT on a system that is 5" off the bed rail, vs a cab height bed rack. Obviously the lower it is, the easier it will be to add and remove items. 

Molle panels are also a common feature on bed racks, as they offer mounting options (popular for shovels, high lift jacks, RotoPax, and more). Traditional bed racks require fixed mounting points for the molle panels (lack modularity)  - at BillieBars we patented our side molle panels, so you can adjust the brackets to where you want them, and the molle panels would accordingly!


If you just purchased a truck, it can be daunting trying to figure out what the best option is. With the 3 options outlined above you could potentially combine 2 - a roof rack and a bed rack is a popular combination. Running a bed rack and a truck cap together isn't possible, so you're going to have to chose.

The best way to approach the selection is to determine your end goal, and work backwards. 

BillieBars is here to answer you have any questions you have, so please reach out!