DIY Overlanding Pickup Truck Bed Rack for our Ford F-150

I’m not going to go into the WHY of a bed rack like this. I think it’s a concept that isn’t super obvious since you can’t really carry lumber or big ladders on it. If you get it, awesome. There are a lot of off-the-shelf options to make a bed rack like this. The best designs I’ve seen are low over the bed, not high like a lumber rack so that what gear you mount up there isn’t sticking up above the cab dragging wind and getting snagged on trees.


I wanted one to make loading gear into and out of our Ford F-150 easier and more efficient for road trips and overlanding. This rack gets the roof boxes up off the deck so I can load things over the side of the bed, which is the most efficient way to get mud all over the front of your puffy jacket. I can also see under them out the rear-view mirror.



We took this from Reno up to Northern California Redwoods National Park for fall break. It performed great both on the road and holding and loading our gear. I really like it. If you’re wondering why we use the roof boxes on a pickup truck, I have a whole video on that:

This build uses No Weld Trailer Rack Towers from Compact Camping Concepts. These are a steel rack upright/tower designed by Scott Chaney of Compact Camping Concepts, who also runs the Dinoot Off-Road Trailer company and the only part that you’ll need to order for this build. The rest you can get at Home Depot.

The build is fairly self-explanitory, so below is an annotated build list.

Total Cost: $262

No Weld Trailer Rack Towers: $79 (4)
Compact Camping Concepts: https://compact-camping-concepts-2.myshopify.com/collections/trailer-racks/products/no-weld-trailer-rack-towers
These come ready to go, they just need to be painted.



10 Foot 14-gage Silver Electro-Galvanized Strut Channel: $19.65
This you can get at Home Depot or any hardware store. It comes in 12-Gage that is deeper that you could also use. I used 3 pieces for this build. The variation I discuss at the end you would want 2 more.



You can cut this with an angle grinder, saws all, or chop saw. I like the chop saw even though mine is a wood saw and cutting metal melts all the plastic...

7/16" x 6” J-Bolts: $14
I lied, I couldn’t find these at Home Depot. I got them at a local commercial parts store called Western Industrial Products Inc. in Reno. You can get something similar from McMaster or Grainger, or just find some place where you live that has them. Be sure to get good washers and nuts. These are the 4 bolts that hold everything onto the truck.

These hook into the stake pockets in your pickup truck. Be sure to measure where the holes are to make sure you get the right J-bolts.



1.5” Steel Angle 1/8 Thick, 48” long: $12
These are the angle brackets that let you mount the towers to the strut channel. You’ll need to cut and drill these. I recommend you cut them a little long and place the mounting bolts outside the towers for easier access to the bolts.

3/8 Spring Nut 5-pack: $4.48
These are the nuts for the strut channel. They are made for the deeper 12-gage strut so you have to cut off half of the spring to make them work. You’ll need 2 packs.

3/8" Bolts & Washers: $6 (ish)
These bolt through the angle bracket to the strut. You’ll need 8, assuming you aren’t stupid and run them in with an impact driver and blow out the threads. If you predicted that from the video, congrats to you.

5/16 Bolts, Nuts, Washers: $6 (ish)
I used Nylocks and Lock Washers. Better safe than sorry. Same thing with the impact. Buy extras. Honestly, you should have these in your parts bins already.

Yakima Bed Rock: $199
I already had one of these. Like I mention in the video, you could use strut for the cross pieces and get around using the Bed Rock entirely. Or you could use a Yakima Control Towers like I used for our Trailer rack.



Flat Black Spray Paint: $5
This really is the most important part of this build. If you mess this up and get GLOSS black you’ll look like a complete newb overlander who eats MREs and sleeps in a hammock.

Wire Rope + Hardware: $15 (ish)
You need the following pieces:
Wire Rope Thimble: 4
Aluminum Ferrule & Stop Set: 2
Turnbuckle: 2
Screw-gate link: 2



I had this just lying around waiting for this project for about 7 years. Don’t ever throw hardware away people. That and trucker hats. You never know when this stuff becomes critical and can save you yet another trip to Home Depot.

BFH
If you don’t know what this is you probably either know what you’re doing or have the proper tools. Either way, you know better and shouldn’t be watching me hack things together.

Blue Locktite
Everything should have blue locktite. Duh.

With everything I do, this is a work-in-progress and/or a first draft. I may build something new or modify this if necessary. Let me know if you have and ideas!

-Mike
 
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