Roof Top Real Estate w/ options. . . . . Worth the price tag?

#1
Hello ExPo

Curiosity has led my research to whether or not adding the Frontrunner Slimline II rack system to my vehicle is worth the cost.

Background

So I have a proven method for securing my RTT (and awning) to my Jeep; Thule Aeroblade load bars. For the price and quality they have served me well. However with my current arrangement I am not able to carry recovery boards externally on the Jeep.

Goal

When exploring the path least travelled without others or a winch. I want to have the ability to self recover without compromising valuable real estate inside the vehicle.

Solutions

The TRED Pros I do have use their own mounting brackets but won't attach to the load bars directly. Alternatively Frontrunner offering could replace my current setup. The tent, awning and the recovery boards could be mounted onto this modular rack kit as long as all the gear is under the weight capacity of the Jeep's roof.

Pros

Better load distribution with the Slimline II versus the Thule load bars. The new rack is modular making it more dynamic when loading other tools and gear.

Cons

The additional cost of the Slimline II system over my existing setup. Going to a more expensive route can lead to a more complicated situation. Moving away from simplicity. Additional weight being carried on-top can change your centre of gravity and vehicle dynamics.

Summary

If possible I would like to keep my current setup for budgetary reasons but if an upgrade would prove to be beneficial and a good investment for future travels then I would move down that path. Tell me what is your experience with frontrunner products or how you have organized for your own travelling.

Marietta Rnegade.jpg
 
#4
If I had more clearance I would store them under the tent.
So increase the height of the towers holding the bars.

Or make slide in trays. How much clearance do you need for one of those boards? I’ve never seen one in person.

Or attach the boards to the bottom of the tent on both sides of the ladder and store them under the travel cover. You should RARELY need boards. If you’re depending on them for daily trips off road, you probably need to spend time in classes.
 

robert

Expedition Leader
#6
Will the boards fit side by side under the tent? If so make some brackets to slide them in that way instead of stacked on top of each other. I can't recall if those little Jeeps have spare tires on the back but that could be another option, or a hitch rack. If you're worried about "budgetary reasons" racks like Frontrunner, Baja and ARB are going to be on the upper end of things. If you can weld you can build your own rack a lot cheaper.

I don't suppose the Treds will fit on edge between the tent and the awning? What about a vertical bracket like the kayak stacker bars?

I can't tell from the pictures if yours is lifted, but I know there's a small lift kit available for those Rengades which would give you some extra wheel travel. It looks like you already have all terrain tires. No idea what's available for mechanical traction aid i.e. lockers, limited slip, etc. A shovel, or even easier, a hoe, will allow you to pull muck from around the tires.

ETA- Holy crap, there's a rain shower in the back of that Tacoma. LOL Talk about being prepared, a string trimmer, a pole saw and two chain saws. I don't see any spikes but I also don't see cams, hexes, or stoppers so- arborist maybe?
 
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robert

Expedition Leader
#8
Yeah I kinda figured. My former climbing partner worked for a tree service on the side for a while and the back of his Ford Ranger looked like the back of your Tacoma. He usually had like three saws in the back as well.
 
#9
The problem with FRO racks and RTTs is that the racks have a raised lip all around the perimeter. This means the tent cannot sit flush, so you have to get FRO's RTT brackets. But then those brackets provide a very small surface area for the tent to rest on, so you have to get two more FRO cross/load bars to sit on the brackets, and then attach the tent to those. It works, bet gets expensive, heavy, and raises the tent quite a bit higher than the rack itself.

I'd get the RhinoRack. It's a very well built product, sits lower, and is completely flat, so the tent will fit lower and with less hardware, too.
 
#10
I have had the FR rack on the Rover since I got it. I use Marston mat type traction boards as the MaxTrax would not fit under (made slides for them). I do use the entire top for gear, OZ tent, water cans, petrol cans, propane tanks and shovel/ax, with Campfire in can. and gear in a surplus medical box. Things that cannot get wet go inside the Rover. DSC04856.JPG
 
#11
I have had the FR rack on the Rover since I got it. I use Marston mat type traction boards as the MaxTrax would not fit under (made slides for them). I do use the entire top for gear, OZ tent, water cans, petrol cans, propane tanks and shovel/ax, with Campfire in can. and gear in a surplus medical box. Things that cannot get wet go inside the Rover. View attachment 499339
I like that setup. Do you have any additional info or photos on how the recovery board slides are made, and how the boards are secured under there? Thanks.
 

skygear

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#12
The problem with FRO racks and RTTs is that the racks have a raised lip all around the perimeter. This means the tent cannot sit flush, so you have to get FRO's RTT brackets. But then those brackets provide a very small surface area for the tent to rest on, so you have to get two more FRO cross/load bars to sit on the brackets, and then attach the tent to those. It works, bet gets expensive, heavy, and raises the tent quite a bit higher than the rack itself.

I'd get the RhinoRack. It's a very well built product, sits lower, and is completely flat, so the tent will fit lower and with less hardware, too.
Not necessarily true. You could just use some M8 bolts, and a few 7/8" spacers and you are level with the top lip of the rack. Simple solution. Get a foot or two of 3/4" or 1" Schedule 80 Aluminum pipe and cut 7/8" sections for as many supports/ spacers as you want. 12" piece is $4.95 . thats ~12+ spacers. Make it a little more interesting, grab some .75" round by 1" tall rubber bushings to help dampen the vibrations. Shove those inside the 7/8" bushings and tighten everything down. Problem solved and made it better than anything currently offered.

https://www.onlinemetals.com/merchant.cfm?pid=6885&step=4&showunits=inches&id=74&top_cat=0
 
#13
Not necessarily true. You could just use some M8 bolts, and a few 7/8" spacers and you are level with the top lip of the rack. Simple solution. Get a foot or two of 3/4" or 1" Schedule 80 Aluminum pipe and cut 7/8" sections for as many supports/ spacers as you want. 12" piece is $4.95 . thats ~12+ spacers. Make it a little more interesting, grab some .75" round by 1" tall rubber bushings to help dampen the vibrations. Shove those inside the 7/8" bushings and tighten everything down. Problem solved and made it better than anything currently offered.

https://www.onlinemetals.com/merchant.cfm?pid=6885&step=4&showunits=inches&id=74&top_cat=0
I'm not understanding your solution.

All of the RTTs I've seen have channels on the bottom which accept hardware that protrudes down and wraps around (secures to) cross bars (whether it's an OEM rack, Thule, FrontRunner rack, etc.).

Putting spacers on that hardware would not rase the tent - it would still sit on the raised lip of the rack.

Putting M8 bolts into the top channels of FRO load bars, and spacers on top (?) of them would raise the tent, but it would then be supported by a tiny surface area (of the spacers) and would undoubtably damage the tent in short order.
 
#14
Conclusion

Thank you for your input and thoughts guys. I have decided against new rack system and even a set of custom brackets to side mount. Less gear is more adventure for me.

Reflection

Preparing for a trip is important, keeping organized and researching are necessary to help assure a smooth adventure. But you can't prepare for every situation and that also goes for gear, you don't need everything. I have a new perspective to adventuring and it's one that involves less stuff and more experiences. Having quality materials to keep you alive and moving on your travels is important but don't let it become the focus and distract from what you are experiencing on this planet.
 

skygear

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#15
@eatSleepWoof You mentioned the LIP that FRO has. Having to put more tracks on top to level it. Costing more $$$.

If the goal was to just level the rack for mounting. You could use the proposed solution above. Mentioned M8 hardware since thats what the tracks take. Depending on the tracks on the bottom of the RTT, or other mounting hardware some brands have, they would be compatible. Again though, orientation is a factor too. Leveling is a non issue. Use some Square AL Tube or Rectangle AL tube in 3/4" etc. to level it off. https://www.onlinemetals.com/merchant.cfm?pid=18011&step=4&showunits=inches&id=1270&top_cat=60

Put a piece of rubber on top between the 2 mounting surfaces and you now have a vibration dampener and your ~22mm or 7/8" total height for the lip of the FRO rack. Drill an oversized holes the bottom of the tube for the RTT bolts and space out the mounting holes for the FRO channel bolts.


Another method would be to Drill a hole all the way through the center mounting channel of the FRO slats so you can access a nut from the bottom and whatever material you feel comfortable as a spacer.

Long and short of this is - the lip of 7/8" on the FRO rack is manageable .
 
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