Best Headache Racks For Trucks [Top Picks For 2020]

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headache racks for trucks

Welcome to our ultimate guide about best headache racks! In this article we will introduce our best picks, shed some light on the origin of the term, elaborate on what headache racks are used for and much, much more!

What Is a Headache Rack?

Headache rack is a colloquial term used to refer to truck racks, also known as cab guards.

They are very useful tools that can allow you to maximize the efficiency of your pickup truck and ensure that your cargo remains intact. A lot of truckers swear by headache racks and claim that they are essential to any truck’s overall apparel.

They are very useful tools that can allow you to maximize the efficiency of your pickup truck and ensure that your cargo remains intact. A lot of truckers swear by headache racks and claim that they are essential to any truck’s overall apparel.

However, there is some mystery behind the origin of the term. Why are innocuous truck racks referred to as such? What is the origin of this term and does it hold any meaning to the overall use of this truck accessory mainly used for window protection?

ARIES 111000

Aries 111000  has a solid frame with heavy duty 1″ x 2″ steel tube construction

Best Headache Racks 2020

Since a headache rack is also a visual enhancement to your truck, it’s pretty much useless for us to get too down to the nitty gritty. Without further ado, here are our best headache rack picks!

ARIES Switchback – Best Headache Rack For Offroad

  • Lightweight aluminum
  • Carbide black powder coat finish
  • Easy to add LED lights and light bars
  • Weight: 51.5 lbs
ARIES 1110111 Switchback Black Aluminum Truck Headache Rack Cab Protector, Select Dodge, Ram 1500, 2500, 3500
  • AGGRESSIVE STYLE. This offroad style truck headache rack adds an aggressive, aftermarket look to your pickup truck, featuring an angular design, custom contours for each application and a stamped grid center section
  • LIGHTWEIGHT. Switchback pickup truck racks are constructed from aluminum to weigh less than steel models and keep your truck fuel-efficient and agile on the trail
  • OFFROAD READY. This aluminum headache rack is shielded in a sleek carbide black powder coat finish for maximum resistance to the elements
  • LED-COMPATIBLE. Switchback headache racks for pickups accept LED lights and light bars, featuring a slotted top edge. You can add a custom, aftermarket look and functional lighting for the trail. Three ARIES 10-inch light bars #1501260 recommended
  • EASY INSTALLATION. This pickup truck headache rack is installs fast and easily, and it fits select model years of the Ram 1500, 2500 or 3500 and Dodge Ram 1500, 2500 or 3500

DEE ZEE Hex Cab Rack – Best Value

DEE ZEE DZ 95251TB Hex Cab Rack
  • Extruded hexagonal aluminum construction
  • Six bolts for various accessory options like tie downs and additional lights
  • 301 lbs weight limit
  • Weight: 34 lbs
DEE ZEE DZ 95251TB Hex Cab Rack
  • Integrated Channel Allows for Adjusting the Bars Vertically for Perfect Placement
  • Installs into Existing Stake Pocket Holes
  • 301 lb. Weight Limit
  • Made of Extruded Hexagonal Aluminum
  • Includes Six (6) Bolts for Endless Accessory Options, such as Lights and Tie Downs

Steelcraft 90001 Headache Rack – Best Choice

Steelcraft 90001 headache rack
  • Sturdy steel construction
  • Stylish black powder-coat finish
  • Louvered design
  • Weight: 55 lbs
Steelcraft 90001 Headache Rack Black Headache Rack
  • Steelcraft 90001 Headache Rack; Black;

Dee Zee Silver Aluminum Mesh Cab Rack

  • Aluminum tubing for rugged construction
  • Ultra mesh provides more visibility through rear window
  • Set of two removable tie down mounts included
  • Weight capacity: 300 pounds
  • Weight: 34 pounds
Dee Zee DZ95050R Silver Aluminum Mesh Cab Rack
  • Weight Capacity - 300 pounds. Limit with Two-500 pounds
  • Rugged Protection From 2.75" Octagonal Aluminum Tubing for Rugged Construction
  • Heavy-Duty Aluminum Ultra Mesh Offers More Visibility and Protection Depending on Your Needs
  • Protective Silver Powder Coat Finish
  • Includes Set of 2 Removable Tie Down Mounts

AA-Racks Aluminum Headache Rack

AA-Racks APX25-WG-E Aluminum Headache Rack
  • Fits a variety of full-sized pickup trucks
  • Reinforced heavy duty aluminum construction for maximum durability
  • Easy installation with unique mounting clamps
  • Loading capacity: 800 lbs
AA-Racks APX25-WG-E Aluminum Headache Rack Pickup Truck Rack w/Cantilever Extension Back Rack - Sandy Black
  • Universal design to fit a variety of full-size pickup trucks, NOT COMPATIBLE with trucks with Utility Track Systems
  • Durable, reinforced heavy duty aluminum construction 71" wide x 28" high
  • The crossbar adjustable from 47" to 70"; The Cantilever mounts to the crossbars and provides 38 inches of additional carrying capacity
  • The tested loading capacity of 800 lbs when evenly distributed across both racks and installed correctly
  • No drilling required, easy installation with unique mounting clamps (set of 8 clamps included)

ARIES AdvantEDGE Aluminum – Best Headache Rack For LEDs

ARIES 1110104 AdvantEDGE Black Aluminum Truck Headache Rack Cab Protector
  • Perfect headache rack for adding LED lights, light bars, tie-down anchors and other accessories
  • Extruded aluminum construction with tough black powder coat finish for corrosion resistancy
  • Lightweight – no unnecessary added weight
  • Easy installation
  • Weight: 32 pounds
ARIES 1110104 AdvantEDGE Black Aluminum Truck Headache Rack Cab Protector, Select Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra 1500, 2500, 3500 HD
  • EDGY LOOK. This truck headache rack is a highly unique truck accessory to add an aggressive, customized look to your pickup. It features an eight-sided tube profile, angular vertical accents and a stamped grid center section
  • CUSTOMIZABLE. AdvantEDGE headache racks for pickups are perfect for adding LED lights, light bars, tie-down anchors and more to your truck bed. The integrated top track accepts LED light studs, as well as ARIES tie-downs #1110310
  • CORROSION-RESISTANT. To ensure long-lasting resistance to the outdoor, offroad elements, this pickup truck headache rack is constructed from extruded aluminum and features a tough black powder coat finish
  • LIGHTWEIGHT. This black aluminum headache rack is very lightweight compared to steel models. This keeps unnecessary weight off your truck, promoting better fuel efficiency and enhanced agility on the trails
  • EASY INSTALLATION. This pickup truck rack installs with a patented stake pocket anchoring system and fits select model years of the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra 1500, 2500 HD, 2500 HD Classic, 3500 HD and 3500 Classic

Westin Headache Rack

Westin 57-8025 HDX Headache Rack
  • Angled design of louvers provide shade and protection for rear window
  • Welded tie-off hooks
  • Four mounting tabs for lights and other accessories
  • Compatible with most major brand pickup truck tool boxes
Sale

Backrack 145TL Truck Bed Headache Rack

Backrack 145TL Truck Bed Headache Rack
  • Reinforced steel frame tubing for maximum strength rigidity
  • Black powder coat finish for durability
  • Provides protection for your truck cab and rear window
  • Weight: 48 pounds
Sale
Backrack 145TL Truck Bed Headache Rack
  • Country of Origin: CANADA
  • Model Number : 145TL
  • Item Package Weight : 48 pounds
  • Package Dimension : 72.5 " L x 2.5 " W x 26 " H

Backrack 10200 Safety Headache Rack – Best Deal

Backrack 10200 Safety Rack
  • Mesh design for good visibility
  • Fits a great variety of trucks
  • Installation kit sold separately
  • Weight: 35 pounds
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Backrack 10200 Safety Rack
  • Less flexibility to mount accessory light brackets than the BACKRACK
  • Wider carrying capacity above the cab
  • Sits higher above the cab than the BACKRACK
  • Mounting hardware (required for installation) is sold separately.
  • Fits: 2004-2014 Colorado / Canyon, 1987-2017 Dakota, 1987-2017 Nissan, 1997-2017 Tacoma, 1985-2005 S10, S15, 1993-2014 Mazda, 1993-2014 Ford Ranger

AA-Racks Model HX-501 – Best Extendable Headache Rack

AA-Racks Model HX-501 Extendable Steel Pickup Truck Headache Rack
  • Protection for cab rear window during transportation of cargo in the truck bed
  • Mesh window guard
  • Weight: 37.9 pounds
  • Grade steel tube construction with sandy black finish
AA-Racks Model HX-501 Extendable Steel Pickup Truck Headache Rack, Sandy Black
  • Protect the Pickup Cab window while transporting cargo in the truck bed
  • Universal design to fit a variety of full-size pickup trucks
  • Mesh window guard with Cab access opening
  • Grade steel tube construction with a Sandy Black finish
  • The direct bolt-on, c-clamp mounting & stake pocket mounting are the available instalation options to select as desired

Why Is It Called a Headache Rack?

Our research found out two possible explanations on why truck racks are called headache racks:

1. It saves passengers from headache by preventing cargo from smashing through the rear window.
2. Truck racks are large and hard – truckers who have recently installed one often bang their heads on them while securing their cargo and end up with a headache.

Well, actually there are three  but the third one seems a bit of a stretch. Anyways, let’s dive into the number 2 and the third one in a bit more detail.

The second possible explanation for the origin of this term is slightly more comical and, thus, provides a more lighthearted premise for the term.

Truck headache racks can be rather ungainly and large. Truckers who have recently had one installed might not be used to its presence and might end up banging their heads on their headache rack while they are getting back up after securing their cargo.

Naturally, since they have just hit their heads, these truckers would end up getting a headache. It is highly possible that this is the true origin of the term, as truckers tend to have a jovial and congenial attitude and approach most things with a lighthearted sense of sarcasm.

Backrack 30108

Backrack 30108  safety rack kit combined with bed rails (sold separately).

The third explanation speaks to the usefulness of these racks.

Transporting cargo on a truck can be rather bothersome, particularly if the object or cargo you are transporting is large or cumbersome. You would have to tie your cargo down in order to ensure that you do not end up dropping and, thus, damaging it in any way.

Additionally, people who are sitting in the back of your truck might feel a little uneasy, particularly if you are driving over rough terrain. This is because they might feel like they could fall off at any moment since they do not have anything they can hold onto in order to keep themselves stable.

Steelcraft 90001 headache rack

Steelcraft 90001  fits various trucks ranging from GM, Ram, Toyota Tundra to Ford F150 for example.

A headache rack can save you from a lot of this headache.

They provide a frame on which you can store your cargo and secure it with ease. Transporting cargo with a truck rack is a lot easier because you would have a more solid support system on which to tie it down, thus enabling you to ensure that you do not damage or drop it on your journey.

People traveling in the back of your pick up truck would also feel a lot safer if they were traveling with a truck rack since they would have something to hold onto. They would be less likely to fall off, even if you are driving on some bumpy terrain, and you can attach harnesses and the like to your rack in order to make your backseat passengers feel even more secure.

What Are Headache Racks Used For?

Headache racks serve multiple purposes. They prevent damage to your pickup, they can provide extra room or storage possibilities, they can be used for mounting big things such as ladders, they provide safety in case of a rollover and lastly: they can improve the looks of your truck

Now let’s dive into each of these in a bit more detail.

Prevents Damage to Your Pickup

Dee Zee DZ95058B

If you have owned a truck for any meaningful length of time, you would know that long journeys or regular use can result in your truck getting damaged a great deal. The size of most pickup trucks makes them easy to damage and since you would be encased within the shock-proofed bosoms of the truck, you would not even notice that the damage is being incurred. These metal beauties can help prevent this damage from occurring. The name cab guard might be a bit more telling as it literally protects your trucks cab.

MaxxHaul 70234
MaxxHaul 70234 

They form a chassis of sorts, a casing in which your truck remains secure. The larger varieties of truck racks can actually provide a great deal of protection for your vehicle. This is useful in the long run because you would end up spending far less money on maintenance and the like than you would have otherwise, and this can help you gain a huge advantage over terrains that might have otherwise caused you some serious financial loss.

Without a doubt, truck accessories like a headache rack is a long-term investment, and this is just one of the reasons why they are worth it from a financial point of view.

Headache Rack Can Provide Extra Room

Backrack 10519TB with extra storage space

If you own a work truck, the chances are that you are the kind of person who has to transport a great deal of cargo on a regular basis. Whether you do this for business or personal purposes, a truck is used primarily for its space. Some truck racks come equipped with a tool box and they are specifically designed to help capitalize on this need for room.

Without a truck rack, you would only have the room that your cargo space provides and not much else. Stacking cargo up too high can be dangerous and might end up causing damage to your cargo or to people surrounding your vehicle while it is being driven. By using a headache rack, you can double or sometimes even triple the amount of cargo you would be able to carry at any given time.

Apex AHAR

Apex AHAR  utilized for cargo management.

This is really important to the overall usage of your vehicle, and an added bonus is that you would not have to face any accusations of illegality if you are transporting more cargo than your truck would have otherwise been able to carry. Overloading your truck can result in some hefty fines, so having a truck rack can help you save money by preventing such fines from being incurred in the first place.

Safety from Rollovers

Trucks are rather ungainly vehicles, so in the case of an accident, there is a strong possibility that you might suffer from some type of rollover. A headache rack can prevent this from happening. It can secure your car and pretty much stop it dead in its tracks in a situation that could have resulted in a rollover. This can save lives and prevent your car from getting damaged in the case of an accident. The amount of money this can save is difficult to calculate, but suffice it to say that you are certainly going to end up saving a great deal.

Hence, using a headache rack can be a sound investment in your future.

Your cargo will also be protected in case of a rollover, which is always something to appreciate. If you use your truck to regularly transport cargo that costs a great deal of money, investing in a truck rack can, to use the more lighthearted origin of the term, prevent a lot of headache for you, which makes it worth the money you would be spending to get it installed.

Style Points

NorthWest Steel Crafters American Flag Truck Rack
NorthWest Steel Crafters American flag headache rack 

Nowadays, truck racks have become so common that not having one can end up looking downright odd. A truck without a headache rack almost looks naked! Hence, if you eye for truck beauty, you can actually make your vehicle look stylish.

This may seem like a superfluous advantage, but if you are a enthusiastic about pickups, you would know that looks matter. Even if you don’t currently drive one you probably can appreciate the sight of a sturdy headache rack combined with a tonneau cover.

Headache rack with tonneau cover

Backrack 144TL  has tail lights (bed cover is not included)

The same applies to all accessories: bed rails, bed caps, running boards, bull bars, roof racks, side rails, ladder racks, grille guards, mud flaps, off road lights, even car amplifiers and car speakers – what’s not to like? The beauty is in the details.

People want to stand out in the crowd, and trucks are designed to help them do just that. With a good looking headache rack, you can amplify the looks of your vehicle and help yourself stand out even more in traffic. Coupled with the added storage space you are getting along with the enormous boost in safety, this means that these relatively simple pieces of metal are a superb choice for pimping your vehicle.

Fab Fours HR20091

Fab Fours HR2009-1  comes with utility lights.

The bonus style points certainly sweeten the deal and make it one that you wouldn’t even consider refusing unless you wan’t to hide in the shadows – but then again you would not drive a truck then would you?

What Makes a Good Headache Rack?

Aries 111001

There are a number of different choices available on the market, and which one you get depends on your aesthetic choices as well as what kind of result you are trying to achieve. With all of the variety out there, it might get difficult to find one that’s right for you, but there are a number of different factors that you should consider to make your purchasing decision easier. These factors are as follows:

  • Durability and Weight: This is a tradeoff much like every other truck accessory. If you want durability, you will have to get a heavier truck rack. However, this will obviously reduce the speed at which your truck would be able to travel, which is unacceptable for a lot of truckers.
  • Price: The heavier racks are generally more expensive, so if you don’t need so much protection, it doesn’t make sense to spend that much money on it. Additionally, big name brands tend to overcharge when it comes to racks, so you might end up spending extra money on something you might have gotten for far less.
  • Material: Truck racks usually come in two different materials: aluminum and steel.
  • Aluminum is a light but sturdy material and is perfect for truckers who want some protection but speed as well. Steel is for those truckers who want the maximum amount of protection for their cargo and have a truck large enough to handle that much weight.
  • Steel can be dangerous for smaller trucks because it can make the weight of the truck uneven, which can potentially cause accidents. Additionally, steel does not look as good as aluminum.

Once again, you are going to have to decide which benefits outweigh which disadvantages, so it is important that you keep in mind what you actually need from your headache rack in order to make sure that you get it.​

Which Type Should I Choose?

Now that you know the factors that go into choosing a truck rack, you need to know what types of racks are out there. There are three main types, and these types are as follows:

Bed Mounted Headache Rack

Backrack 12500
Backrack 12500 

These are mounted on the truck bed. They are perfect for situations where you would need to optimize the space of your truck bed. If you generally transport a lot of cargo and need some extra room, bed mounted racks can double or even triple the room of your truck and allow you to store a great deal more cargo back there while keeping it safe. These can only be used on smaller trucks, however, and they should ideally be made of steel because you are going to need a strong metal to support all of the cargo you are storing. Hence, your truck needs to be powerful in order to maintain speed with such a heavy metal in the rear. This headache rack is perhaps the most stylish of the three options.

Roof Mounted Headache Rack

These are mounted quite unsurprisingly on the roof of your vehicle. There are a number of situations where a roof rack could come in handy. If you generally transport lighter materials, these racks can be really useful. Additionally, if you do not have a truck bed but want extra storage space, getting a roof mounted truck rack can get you that extra room for cargo. The roof mounted versions are meant for smaller cars, so they are generally made of aluminum. However, it should be kept in mind that they are not quite as stylish as bed mounted racks tend to be.

Cab Mounted Headache Rack

Dee Zee DZ95050RB cab mounted
Dee Zee DZ95050RB 

These racks are the best if you want something that can handle a lot of weight. They don’t provide as much square footage as bed mounted racks, but they can handle a great deal more weight because of where they are positioned. While these truck racks are the least stylish of the three, they are the only ones that can come in fiberglass. This is a great option because it can allow you to carry a great deal of weight without the rack adding to that weight, therefore allowing you to travel with a lot of cargo without compromising on speed.

Last update on 2020-09-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API