Best Roof Racks For 2nd Gen (2014-2021) & 3rd Gen (2022+) Toyota Tundra – Complete Overview + Everything You Need To Know Before Buying
When it comes to modifying your Tundra for off-roading, overlanding, and utility work, not much will be as helpful as a high-quality roof rack. Roof racks allow you to mount storage boxes, tools, and other accessories that you may find yourself needing at a moment’s notice.
This post will cover everything you need to know about them before buying one for your 2nd or 3rd Gen Tundra including what they are, their pros and cons, and the best options that we found on the market.
Tundra Roof Racks
Table of Contents
What Is A Roof Rack?
You have probably noticed pieces of metal mounted on the roofs of off-road trucks that look like trays. These roof racks are designed to provide you with secure, and convenient mounting locations for any gear or accessories you might have.
If you are an off-roader, this may be storage boxes, a hi-lift jack, extra fuel containers, or a multitude of other accessories. On the other hand, maybe you surf or mountain bike a lot and need a secure place to store your bike or board out of the way so that you can use the maximum amount of potential bed space. Either way, the point is these racks are very useful.
The most obvious benefit to installing a roof rack on your Tundra is the added mounting location. Roof racks, thanks to their sturdy metal structure, allow you to mount all of your gear up and out of the way. It will also be accessible as it will always be just on your roof and never buried in the back of your bed.
With a roof rack, now that you are storing gear on the roof, you will be able to fit more in your bed. This means you can bring all of your necessary camping gear and more on your next trip. Also, since your gear will be on the roof, you can mount longer items such as surfboards or kayaks that would generally take up all of your bed space.
The final benefit is that the majority of roof racks on the market come with integrated lighting locations, so you can mount off-road auxiliary lighting such as lightbars, LED pods, and scene lights. While this is not the main benefit, it definitely is a nice added bonus for those of you who adventure into the night.
CNC vs. Tray/Basket Style
If you are researching roof racks, you have probably come across two different styles: CNC/crossbars and tray/basket racks.
CNC + Crossbar Style
These style roof racks utilize a simple two-bar design. Mounted separately, and parallel to each other, this rack allows you to tie down longer items like gun cases, surfboards, etc. between the two bars. These systems, while not cheap, are more cost-efficient than the overland-style roof racks that we’ll discuss next.
Now for the tray, or overland style, roof rack. These come with several cross slats that are connected to each other with a border of metal (thus creating the tray). This style is more expensive than the simple crossbar designs, though it offers you a much more versatile rack since you can mount a variety of different-sized items thanks to the closely mounted cross slats.
If you won’t be using your roof rack for more than mounting skis for that annual family ski trip, the crossbars will serve you well. On the other hand, if you have a bunch of gear that you will have mounted on your truck almost always, an overland style roof rack may be best for you.
What Is A Wind Deflector?
On overland-style roof racks, above the windshield at the front edge of the rack, there is usually a slanted rectangular piece of metal meant to follow the contours of the vehicle. The idea behind this is that it would deflect the wind and keep it from flowing through your roof rack’s hardware at higher velocities.
The issue with wind entering the nooks and crannies of your roof rack is that as it enters and exits, it will typically create a whistling sound. The wind deflector is meant to mitigate that, though it does not completely eliminate the noise.
You probably did not purchase a full-size truck with the intention of getting groundbreaking fuel efficiency. However, when your MPGs are already lower, just a few extra miles can feel like a lot. Since you are installing your roof rack on top of your truck, it will create more drag and wind resistance. Stack on top of that all of your gear and you could be looking at a significant change in MPG.
Your mileage will most noticeably drop when you are traveling at higher speeds since the wind will play a larger role. Some roof racks owners have noted no change and some have mentioned a change of about 2-4MPG. Whether or not your fuel efficiency worsens a lot will depend on what you have mounted on your roof and the driving conditions that you most often experience.
The installation of overland roof racks, while tedious, is not particularly challenging. It will mostly require patience. The process involves removing the weather stripping from your roof channels that are located on the outside edges of the roof and drilling precisely measured holes. You can then assemble your rack on the ground and then lift it onto your roof and bolt it down.
Many overland shops will likely do this install for you if you don’t want to go through the hassle yourself. But, even if you have minimal mechanical experience and trust yourself to drill a hole in your truck, you should be able to complete this one on your own.
As we discussed, installing a large bulky roof rack can have a negative impact on your truck’s fuel efficiency. You do receive added functionality, but if you don’t need extra storage space, you might want to skip the rack and save your fuel.
As with most modifications available for your truck, roof racks can be expensive. Especially if you include aftermarket off-road lighting, the prices can get pretty out of hand. But, that cost could be worth it if you find a good use for your rack or feel that you absolutely need it for your next trip.
The final downside we’ll discuss is wind noise. If you will be constantly bothered and annoyed by a slight whistle every time you get on the highway, you might want to check out a low-profile bed rack instead for added storage. Since the bed rack sits behind the cab, it is much less prone to highway whistles.
Top Roof Racks For 2nd & 3rd Gen Tundra
Now that you know all of the important information, let’s go over the best options out there on the market for your 2nd and 3rd Gen Tundra. Each rack will have a similar, yet different styling with other features that the manufacturer claims set them apart in the crowded market. It will be up to you to decide what you value most.
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Prinsu specializes in 100% American-made, high-performance off-road accessories and is most known for its roof rack. Their Cab Racks for the 2nd and 3rd Gen Tundra will instantly boost the functionality of your rig. Prinsu offers a version for 2007-2021 models, and a separate version for 2022+ Tundras, but they have a similar design and construction.
Made from aluminum and powder-coated black, this rack is durable and will last for many years to come. Included in your package are 2 laser-cut side rails, 6 crossbars with slotted mounting channels, a 5052 aluminum wind deflector, and all hardware needed for installation.
When it comes to the wind deflector, you can choose from a standard option or an option with a cutout for a lightbar. It features a sleek profile and a simple, modular design. There are numerous options for mounting accessories and securing your gear, thanks to the T-slot channels on the crossbars and the slotted channels on the side rails.
Prices for both the 2nd Gen and 3rd Gen racks run about $800-1,000, which is a relatively affordable price when compared to some of the other options on our list.
2. Front Runner
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- Front Runner Slimline II Roof Rack Kit For (2007-2021) 2nd Gen Tundra CrewMax
- Front Runner Slimline II Roof Rack Kit For (2022-Current) 3rd Gen Tundra CrewMax
Front Runner Slimline II Roof Rack is constructed from aluminum and coated with black epoxy powder. It is compatible with both 2nd and 3rd Gen models. Included in each Slimline II cargo roof rack kit is a tray with 6 crossbars, a wind deflector, and 2 low-profile foot rails for mounting.
Front runner also offers a range of accessories that you can purchase separately to enhance the rack’s functionality. All necessary hardware is included in the kit and as with the other options, drilling will be required.
This will set you back around $1,200-1,300 – depending on the generation.
3. Sherpa Equipment Co.
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Sherpa has a wide range of racks for the Tundra, both 2nd & 3rd Gen. They even have racks for those running campers.
Their racks are solid, durable, and made from aluminum. It is tough enough to support a range of items mounted on it, including kayaks and bikes.
According to Sherpa, theirs racks have a 300 lbs dynamic load rating and a 600 lbs static rating. When it comes to design customization, you have a few options between powder coat and bare aluminum, full height wind fairing or one with a lightbar cutout, and black or silver anodized finish for the crossbars.
Included in each package are seven crossbars, two side plates, mounting brackets, rivet attachments, and a wind fairing.
These racks start at $950 and go upwards of $1,400.
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Currently only available for the 2nd Gen, the Westcott Designs roof rack features a sleek, low-profile design constructed from aluminum and powder-coated black for added durability.
It comes with steel mounting brackets that maximize the rigidity of the roof rack when installed. This high-performance rack is built strong to provide maximum support for a range of cargo mounted on it – from camping gear to sporting equipment to fuel packs and recovery boards.
Each order comes with eight crossbars. You have the option of choosing between a valance with a cutout for auxiliary lighting, or no cutout. Keep in mind that these do not come with the actual lights. You have to get those yourself.
A set of stainless steel Westcott Designs bottle openers is included in your purchase which is a perfect addition for those days or nights out on the trail when you want to enjoy a drink or two with friends and family.
Once installed, it will fit nicely and snugly across the windshield and sides of your truck’s roof. It costs just over $900.
5. upTOP Overland
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upTOP Overland racks for 2nd and 3rd Gen Tundra models are high-quality racks that provide multiple mounting possibilities. upTOP offers two types: Alpha and Bravo Series racks.
The Alpha Series Roof Rack for the 2nd Gen Tundra CrewMax is lightweight but strong and durable enough to support the weight of your offroad essentials.
A cool feature that comes standard with this rack, which we haven’t seen a lot on other brands, is the grab handles on the sides. These are convenient for when you need a handle to access the top of the rack.
As for the Bravo Series meant for the 3rd Gen Tundra, the biggest difference is that it is a one-piece construction rather than the two-piece construction of the Alpha Series and it does not come with grab handles.
Adding a cutout to the wind fairing for either version will cost you a bit more, depending on the type you get. Although one cool feature is that you can select a style of the cutout to perfectly fit your chosen light setup.
The price ranges from $1,000-1,600 depending on your particular setup.
6. KC HiLites
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If you are ready to spend a bit of cash for a top-quality roof rack with integrated, high-performance auxiliary lighting, KC HiLites M-Rack is a good option to consider. We could not find a relevant photo for this option (Tacoma option pictured above). That means you could potentially be on of the few running this setup!
Compatible with 2007-2021 Tundra CrewMax models, it features lightweight aluminum construction with an integrated 50″ Gravity LED 8-light Pro6 light bar. This roof rack not only boosts the functionality of your truck but also ups the aesthetic.
The light bar system features 8 horizontal lights, with a combined lumens rating of 18,400 lm and a beam distance of 1,637m. It emits bright, clear white light that ensures optimal visibility while you’re off-roading at night.
This rack has been specially designed to meet your truck’s OE-rated load capacity. There are multiple accessory mounting options for your fuel packs and other off-road essentials. Always use discretion when loading up the rack with cargo so you don’t go overboard.
The M-Rack will set you back around $2,800. But keep in mind, you are buying a complete lighting/rack package.
7. Victory 4×4
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The Victory 4×4 Roof Rack is built extremely lightweight, but still strong enough to support a range of tools, equipment, and off-road essentials secured on it. This versatile rack features a CNC cut and formed aluminum construction with extruded aluminum rails. They make racks for both the 2nd & 3rd Gen.
A two-stage satin textured black powder coat helps protect the underlying metal. Its mounting brackets are made from steel for strength and added durability. When you buy this rack, you get six crossbars, front and rear deflectors, two side panels with tie-down slots, mounting brackets, and edge trim to protect your paint job from the deflectors.
To boost its functionality, you can opt to add a 40″ lightbar cutout to the front fairing. This cutout fairing can accommodate a single-row LED light bar and will cost you a little bit extra. Victory 4×4 also offers a range of mounting accessories you can purchase to enhance the rack’s capabilities including accessory mounting panels which can accommodate traction boards, RotopaX, universal tire mounts, and more.
This well-built, dependable rack with its simple, yet highly functional, design, can be yours for about $1,000.
Hopefully, this post has helped you come to a conclusion about which roof rack to go with, or at least act as a foundation for your research. With so many options on the market, the decision will likely come down to your budget and design preferences.
Looking for a rack with tons of auxiliary lighting? Go with KC or upTOP. Looking for a more stripped-down, classic design? Go with Prinsu or Sherpa. All of these options offer you tons of mounting possibilities, so consider your budget and personal style preferences first, before deciding on the right one for you. Let us know if you have any questions down below!