There’s nothing like going on an outdoor adventure in your 4Runner. To go on a road trip though you need a reliable way to carry all your stuff. A roof rack is a great way to transport all your stuff without worrying about weather or where to put everything. The great thing is, there are a number of roof racks made specifically for the 4Runner. We’ve made a list of the best roof racks, baskets, car top carriers and other systems specifically for 4runners to help you with your next purchase.
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The KC Pro6 M-Rack: Full Length is our top pick for a 4runner roof rack because it offers a great combination of features that are useful to anyone wanting to haul a lot of gear all at once without worrying about how to tie it down or whether it will all fit. It includes 5 roof rails as well as lights to help light up the road or your campsite while you’re unloading all of your gear. It’s a durable and long lasting option that is well worth the investment.
Now we’ll break down the types of 4runner racks so you have some idea of what you’re buying.
Best 4Runner Roof Racks In 2023
1. KC Pro6 M-Rack – Top Pick
Not just a set of crossbars or rails, this rack comes with lights that light of the road as well as side rails that have lights also. You can rest assured that anything you strap down to this system isn’t going anywhere. The system itself has 5 roof rails that span the length of your 4runner roof. It also features a powder coat finish to protect the rack from nature and the elements.
This 4runner roof rack system is designed to be useful as both a carrier and a utility roof rack, the large size and lighting on both the front and sides makes it the perfect option for long expeditions or short trips tin the outdoors. The overall function and versatility of this roof rack make it our top pick.
Multiple light kits, side rails with lights, 5 rails, weather resistant finish
- Solid construction
- Comes with lights
- 5 Bar system
- One of the more expensive options (but with the extra features it’s well worth it)
2. Yakima Loadwarrior – Best Basket Rack
Another great item by Yakima, the Loadwarrior is a basket rack for your 4runner that combines the security and stability of a basket with the functionality of a cargo box. With a 140 carrying capacity you’ve got the support to carry all your gear. The basket has quite a bit of interior space to hold cargo and it even has an optional extension that increases the storage space another 40%. Thanks to the universal design, this item also fits most standard crossbars and most Yakima gear mounts for special equipment like skis and kayaks. A great option for your vehicle.
One of the best benefits of owning this system is that it is compatible with other Yakima products and is backed by the same quality and standards that Yakima provides to all of their other items. If you’ve ever owned another Yakima piece, then you know the quality that they bring to anything they make.
All-weather steel construction, large cargo capacity, optional expansion, fits other Yakima products and accessories
- Weatherproof construction
- Large capacity
- Fits other Yakima accessories for kayaks, skis and other equipment
- Maybe some wind noise depending on what all is mounted (but it’s less than with some other products)
3. Genuine Toyota Roof Rack – Best Crossbar System
These genuine crossbars are made specifically for a 4runner and are not a knock-off or after market part. This means that they fit on your factory roof rails to form a roof rack with the front and rear crossbars. This is a simple and easy installation kit that allows you to tie down cargo to your roof without a lot of hassle or extra equipment. When evenly distributed the bars support 132 lbs of weight and are suitable for all types of cargo. Additionally the crossbars allow for tie down space for other carrier types, cargo bags, boxes, and special attachments.
The bars are backed by Toyota’s guarantee and are universally mountable to all 4 runner roof systems within the year models specified. These are the generic set, they make a wide range of 4runner specific carriers for all year models and versions of the 4runner.
Solid construction rails specific for the 4runner, easy installation, universal fit
- Easy to install
- Crossbars hold 132 lbs even distributed
- No extra equipment needed
- Universal fit
- We got nothing, no seriously there’s nothing wrong with these…
4. N-Fab Roof Rack – Best Railed Rack
N Fab makes a variety of parts and accessories and this roof rack with side walls is a great option when you want more than just a set of crossbars to hold your gear. It is made from aluminum making it extremely light weight and it is also a piece of cake to install. It is designed in such a way as to have nearly limitless tie down points and is load rated to support up to 150 lbs. The black powder finish helps to make the it weatherproof and the aerodynamic fin helps to reduce noise and drag. N fab is known for their quality after market parts and accessories to fit any vehicle
N-fab makes a variety of different parts and accessories besides the 4runner roof rack and are your go to place for additional equipment. You can even find specific n fab pieces made to fit your specific year model and type of 4 runner.
All aluminum construction, easy to install, fits a variety of gear, high load capacity
- Bolts directly to factory rails
- All aluminum construction for light weight and durability
- Holds up to 150 lbs
- 5 year warranty on the finish, Lifetime warranty on the workmanship
- Requires overhead bolting to vehicle (but once you bolt it down it’s not going anywhere)
5. Rhino-Rack Pioneer Roof Rack – Best Heavy Duty System
This one is a great option when you need to haul some serious weight or cargo and want it to be secure. Designed as a multiple part system including the base, a backbone system and other optional accessories. There are two options, the 3/4 length and full length versions. The 3/4 version can accommodate a full size tire and other gear, while the full length option can fit an entire rooftop tent plus other equipment. The full length version is considered a full expedition style system.
The optional accessories include brackets and cradles for holding particular gear, lighting options including light bars and pod lights as well as awning and antenna brackets. The system is nearly infinitely customizable for any of your outdoor adventure needs.
Heavy duty base and backbone, very high capacity, incredible customization
- Large size
- Factory mounts for both base and backbone requires no drilling
- Very low profile
- Lightweight aluminum design
- Large array of accessories allowing customization
- May require after market mounting brackets (they are readily available though so it’s not much of an issue)
6. ROLA V TEX Basket Rack – Best Multipurpose Basket
This one by ROLA may seem like a typical basket, however it is actually one of the most versatile racks out there. With only a 4″ tall profile, this basket is slim lined and offers solid steel construction and a compact size. It offers a number of great features specifically for an off road vehicle.
The base basket comes with a built in wind deflector to reduce noise and vehicle drag so that fuel economy is not impacted as drastically. One of the options this basket has available is an optional extension to increase capacity. It also has attachments available for a box, net, cargo bag, and even a bike carrier. This makes the simple basket a great choice for carrying all your gear, despite its compact size.
Steel construction, Easily mounts to factory mounting points, multiple accessories
- Easy to mount
- Wide variety of accessories
- Slimline with built in wind deflector
- Decreased fuel economy (though not as much as other models)
7. Curt Cargo Carrier – Best Affordable Option
The most budget friendly option on our list is also one of the best. The Curt basket carrier is not only a great 4runner roof rack, it has a number of features built into it that make it more useful than it first appears.
Made of high grade tubular steel, the carrier is built to last. It has a large capacity and even has an optional extension to improve the load capacity further. It also has a built in wind deflector to reduce drag and noise like other options on the list. It supports uses of a net or cargo bag and has 4″ side bars to hold everything securely in place. It also features a universal fit to most existing roof systems and attaches without the need for drilling into your vehicle roof.
Slimline design, all steel tubular construction, expandable base, wind deflector, 4″ side bars
- Uses factory mounting parts
- Steel tubular design for durability and functionality
- Powder finish for weatherproofing
- Very affordable
- Decreased fuel economy (though this is true for any 4runner roof rack and this one does its best to minimize fuel usage)
4runner Roof Rack Types
We’ll detail the rack types from the starting point to the more specific rack types for specific sports gear.
Basics of the Roof Rack
This is not actually a roof rack type, just the foundation for all your other roof systems. These are the primary components or ingredients of your carrier system if you will. It starts with the load bars or cross bars. These bars run from one side of your vehicle to the other. In other words from the driver’s side to the passenger’s side. These are attached to items called towers or feet which are themselves attached to the bare roof of your 4runner. Most of the time the feet or towers are vehicle specific and come in a kit that allows you to attach them to your vehicle. Once you have these mounted to your bare roof, you can install crossbars.
Once you have all the components installed, the most basic roof rack is your crossbars, you can use straps or tie downs to attach cargo to crossbars and transport it down the road. Some basic racks come with bolt on hardware that allows you to transport gear like kayaks, boats, snowboards and other gear. However, crossbars are the foundation for most any other carrying system you can think of. If you don’t have crossbars on your 4runner for some reason, you can often buy aftermarket bars from other retails to fit your vehicle. You may also like our guide on which Toyota Tacoma roof rack or Honda Element roof rack to buy. We also have a post on the best roof-mounted bike racks that may interest you if you’re a cyclist.
Roof Cargo Baskets
The difference between a standard rack and a cargo basket is that you have the same availability of tie down points along with a more supportive frame to sit your items in. They are usually able to hold large loads, are durable and weather resistant and allow for a variety of storage options for all of your cargo.
Roof Cargo Boxes
Cargo boxes are just like they sound, large box like objects for holding lots of items. They range in size from about 9 cubic feet to around 22 cubic feet or more. They often feature an aerodynamic design that helps to reduce the extra fuel consumption of a roof carrier and to cut down on extra wind noise. They are also lockable and most of them are weatherproof and highly durable. They attach to crossbars like any other system and are one of the best options to not only protect your gear from the outside, but to prevent theft as well, since they lock, any potential criminal would need to steal the entire box, a feat that no ordinary thief is likely to pull off. This added security makes them well worth the investment.
Rooftop Cargo Bags
Cargo bags offer all the storage space of large boxes without the bulk and inconvenience of having to load and unload them. Bags are lighter, easier to dismount and store away when not in use. This makes them a great alternative to boxes when you don’t need a permanent storage solution. Additionally, cargo bags do not require a roof rack or base, they can be tied down to the roof themselves without the need for crossbars to attach to. Also, for off roaders, installing a hitch mounted winch on your vehicle is a must to help your vehicle get off of a muddy situation you might encounter. Check out our reviews on the best rooftop cargo carriers.
Kayak and Canoe Racks
There are a tremendous variety of specialty carriers designed specifically to carry kayaks and canoes. Check out our review of the best kayak roof racks. From simple rubber or foam pads, to saddles, cradles, hooks, and straps. They come with many features like automatic lifters and rollers to help you get the equipment up on the rack. We won’t focus on these specifically, but know that these are an option for your 4runner and often mount easily to any crossbars you already have.
Ski and Snowboard Roof Racks
Another subset of rack systems that has more options than we could possibly hope to fit on one list. This type ranges from simple straps to locking clamps, and arms that literally grab your skis. They even make specific boxes tailored to hold your snowboards and skis as well as some type of carrier for every other type of gear imaginable like bikes, sleds, and boats. Just like kayak and canoe systems, they mount to your existing crossbars. Having the best cargo box is a must have for every aspiring outdoorsman. Our guide to Thule vs Yakima is a good read for you. Also, if you want a guide about the best low profile floor jack, you can check our recent blog. And no matter where you go, a car sun visor is a necessity to protect your eyes from sunlight. Our post about sun visor extenders will give an idea on what to purchase for a more comfortable driving position.
There you have it. Our guide to the best 4runner rack systems to haul all your gear around on your next outdoor adventure. From baskets, to bags, to rail systems, there is almost no end to the number of possibilities and configurations for carrying all your sporting goods. Our top pick KC Pro 6 M-Rack has all the features you need in a cargo carrier and then some. Hopefully the inspiration you gain from this guide will help you pick the cargo carrier that is right for you and your 4 runner the next time you’re ready for an outing.
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