Out of the box, the Toyota Tacoma is an impressive adventure vehicle. It has all of the qualities of an overland mule: superior reliability, off-road cred, plus creature comforts. One thing it’s lacking though, is utility. Even with the longer wheelbase model, such as the ’17 Tacoma we are outfitting for overlanding, we’ve run out of room to carry essential gear. With a family of four and a dog in tow, the storage capacity of the Taco shrinks in a matter of a lab-sized dog crate.
The solution to our dilemma was BajaRack’s bed and cab rack system. BajaRack is based in San Diego, California, with its sole manufacturing plant located in Ensenada, Mexico. BajaRack’s testbed is the Baja peninsula, home of the Baja 1000, where the company flogs its products on a daily basis through the toughest terrain Baja can dish out.
Bed storage is crucial for multi-day camping trips, and the BajaRack bed and cab rack system solves that problem. Try stowing your camp shovel, Hi-Lift jack, Powertank CO2 tank, propane tank, MaxTrax recovery device, water, fuel, rooftop tent, along with your general camping gear, and you end up requiring a trailer!
The new BajaRack bed rack system for the third-gen Tacoma offers an abundance of mounting locations for overlanding accessories and opens up precious cargo space in the bed for portable refrigerators, cooking stove, camp gear, and the like. And, when you’ve maxed out your bed and bed rack with gear for a weeklong trip, BajaRack offers up a fully functional cab rack system for the ’05-’17 Tacoma. The BajaRack Utility (flat) Rack (with satellite antenna cutout) system we installed can accommodate a rooftop tent, bike rack, kayaks, fuel and water tanks, and the kitchen sink. The cab rack system is manufactured with 1.5-inch steel tubing and can handle up to 300 pounds of gear.
Loaded for bear, we headed out to Utah for a weeklong trip, with family in tow. Follow along as we install BajaRack’s storage solutions, and a few other functional mods, on our ’17 Toyota Tacoma.
BajaRack’s modular bed rack system has five main structural pieces—two side frames and three upper support braces. The rear brace offers an integrated third brake light.
Utilizing the factory Toyota adjustable bed anchor points, the BajaRack bed rack’s side frames are secured by sliding a 1x6-inch steel sleeve into the C-channel. When the steel sleeves are lined up, the bolts can be torqued.
Once the upper support braces are placed according to the instructions and torqued to spec, the bed rack system is complete and ready for accessorizing.
The BajaRack Utility (flat) Rack (with satellite antenna cutout) system install begins by removing the rubber rain gutter rail and then cutting out the hidden roof rack mounting holes in the track. The holes are covered by a strip of tape and trimmed out with a blade. The supplied bolts can be threaded into the inserts. Reinstall the rain gutter and tap with a mallet to pinpoint the holes that will be drilled through the rubber strip.
With the factory rubber trim marked by the bolts, proceed to drill a 5/16-inch hole in the rubber trim.
Once the holes are established, mark the edges of the mounting feet and remove the first layer of rubber. Be careful in this step, because you don’t want to cut completely through the rubber trim piece, only the cab side. There is a thin piece of metal that runs parallel along the trim piece, so we used a Dremel tool and pliers to help cut out this section, enabling the rubber strip to rest evenly along the rain gutter.
The BajaRack Tacoma cab rack system ships as a single unit, along with the four mounting feet, which bolt into the factory rain gutter rail.
The mounting feet are well labeled and require removing the in-gutter strip and marking the two holes on each foot. Make sure to grease the holes on the threads on each of the bolts before inserting them into the holes. It’s important not to overtighten the bolts.
When the mounting feet are set, it’s time to place the rack deck and torque to spec. There’s no drilling required and the slim rack profile only adds 4.5 inches to the roofline.
The BajaRack bed and roof rack system are now ready for accessorizing. The sky is the limit on how many products you can bolt up providing you don’t exceed the 300-pound maximum weight rating.
Up top, we mounted our Maggiolina AirLand Plus rooftop tent. On the driver side, we mounted RotoPax fuel and water tanks, along with axe and shovel attachments. On the rear, we mounted Powertank’s matte-black PT10-5240 CO2 tank with Super Bracket and a Manchester 5-pound propane tank with Powertank aluminum tank bracket. ARB’s 6-foot awning mounts up conveniently to the BajaRack bed rack and puts out ample shade in sunny locales.
BajaRack offers optional accessory mounts for all sorts of overland tools. For example, the MaxTrax recovery device easily bolts up to the BajaRack and can be secured with standard locks.
Attachment points for the Hi-Lift jack are stout and use 3M cushion tape to reduce rattling. Each accessory mount allows the use of a locking bolt to prevent theft.
Rounding out the package, we installed a set of SOTA Offroad’s new 17-inch D.R.T. 5 simulated beadlock wheels and Mickey Thompson’s new Baja ATZP3 all-terrain tires in a LT265/70R17 size. The Powertank makes quick work of refilling tires after being aired down for off-road adventure.
All loaded up, the BajaRack bed and cab rack system organizes gear and opens up much more utility space for our ’17 Toyota Tacoma.
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