The 5th Gen Toyota 4Runner makes every overlander’s day an adventure. Staying true to its slogan—“Keep it wild”—this best-selling SUV takes off-roading to the next level. To those who are curious what 4Runner stands for, it is simply a combination of the terms 4-wheel drive and off-road runner. This highly acclaimed mid-size SUV is a treasure for overlanding enthusiasts because of its cargo space, carrying capacity, high-reliability ratings, and strong resale value.One other prominent things overlanders find valuable in Toyota 4Runners is its aftermarket parts and accessories. These make the vehicle even more usable, convenient, safe, and attractive. The most common accessories found in the market are 4Runner roof racks. In this article, we will discuss different Toyota 4Runner roof rack options to see which one is best for you.
Roof Racks 101
What is a roof rack? This is probably one of the basic questions asked for starters. To answer, a roof rack—or sometimes known as an overland rack—is a modular framework attached to the roof of a truck or vehicle for the purpose of holding and carrying luggage, equipment, and all sorts of cargo. It comes in different styles, designs, brands, and sizes.
Why would you need a roof rack? Another query that would intrigue first-time roof rack buyers is what good a rack would give. Besides the additional storage benefit, 4runner racks amplify your car’s looks, keep your load secure, and enhance your overall trip. Roof platforms are best for safely transporting gear and equipment like kayaks, traction boards, tires, etc. They also serve as a great support system for roof top tents and awnings.
How is a roof rack different from roof boxes, roof rails, or roof bars? Often used interchangeably, these terms are mostly confused with one another. While they all mean structures mounted to the roof of your vehicle for the functionality of supporting cargo and dwellings, they have minor distinctions amongst themselves. To illustrate, let’s go through each of these one by one.
First is your car’s pair of roof rails. Roof rails usually come pre-installed in your vehicle. They sit along the length of your car—from the hood to the trunk. On the other hand, roof bars and roof racks are laid crossways on your car—that is from the driver's side to the front passenger's side. The main difference between roof racks and roof bars is that the latter typically comes in a pair while the former features more than two roof bars.
Now, when it comes to a roof box versus a roof rack, the main difference is that roof boxes or roof bags can be closed compared to a roof rack’s open structure. Because of this, roof boxes offer more security against bad weather, better aerodynamics, and quieter transport.
What to look for in a roof rack? One of the last and most vital steps in purchasing a new roof rack is to know the best qualities to look for in a Toyota 4Runner roof rack. Some of the factors to check include the following:
- Material(s) used
- Strength and durability
- Accessory lineup
- Low-profile design
- Ease of installation
- Product support
- Brand reputation
To further help you out, we have listed a comparison of the finest 4Runner roof racks below that check all these boxes. We are also including a couple of 4Runner roof rack reviews from our customers to share their experience and satisfaction with the products.
Top 4Runner Roof Racks
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Prinsu Toyota 5th Gen 4Runner Roof Rack Full Non-Drill | 2010-2022
As the product name suggests, this no-drill roof rack makes installation a breeze. One of the best-selling Prinsu roof racks to date, this product offers a modular, low-profile, and adjustable functionality. With an overall length of 92", this large rack makes plenty of space for things like rooftop tents, cargo boxes, recovery boards, and much more. The rack comes standard with 9 cross bars for cargo and 1 additional for mounting of a wind deflector, lightbar, or combination of the two. It works with all sunroof and non-sunroof 4Runner models. It is made of high-quality aluminum and powder-coated black that guarantee long-lasting durability.
The Prinsu Toyota 5th Gen 4Runner Roof Rack Full Non-Drill comes with a noise-reducing edge trim upon purchase of the rack. This trim working in conjunction with the included wind deflector makes the Prinsu rack one of the quietest on the road. Opt for the light bar cutout option when you plan to mount a light bar on the front of your rack.
Prinsu 5th Gen Toyota 4Runner Roof Rack 3/4 | 2010-2022
If you’re looking for a more affordable option with the same level of standard, then the Prinsu 3/4 roof rack is your best choice. Smaller than the first featured roof rack, this product still gets the job done. It comes standard with 6 cross bars for cargo and 1 additional for mounting of a wind deflector, lightbar, or both. While it may not be the ideal choice for supporting 4Runner roof top tents, it is perfect for those whose main purpose for buying a roof rack is to improve vehicle aesthetics.
A couple of hundreds cheaper, the Prinsu 5th Gen Toyota 4Runner Roof Rack 3/4 is a cost-effective premium roof rack that still offers plenty of room for overlanding gear, while giving you an unobstructed view from your sunroof.
Cali Raised LED 2010 - 2022 Toyota 4Runner Premium Roof Rack
The Cali Raised LED 4Runner Premium Roof Rack is the top choice for those who are looking to get value in both looks and functionality. American-made, this 4Runner roof rack highlights its sleek and perfect fit profile that ensures little to no wind noise or vibration. With 9 black extrusion bars included, it is lightweight yet totally sturdy. It is easy to assemble as it is designed to be 100% bolt-on. This Cali Raised premium roof rack may also include the 4Runner Complete Lighting package which consists of (4) 20W Pods and Toyota 4Runner 16pc Interior LED Bulb Replacement Kit.
The Cali Raised LED 4Runner Premium Roof Rack comes with an adjustable LED wind deflector (ALWD). The ALWD protects your LED lightbars when off-trail or not in use.
Cali Raised LED 2010-2022 Toyota 4Runner Economy Roof Rack
Coming at a lower price than its premium counterpart, the Cali Raised LED 4Runner Economy Roof Rack is a simplified version of the premium rack. Including 9 powder-coated black extrusion bars, this product does not come second when it comes to strength and reliability. It is available with or without a single-row LED cutout.
Apart from the quality structure of the Cali Raised LED 4Runner Economy Roof Rack, it also takes enormous pride in its LED lightbar that promises 50,000+ hours lifespan. You will have the option to add either an amber or white 42” lightbar. Other significant lighting features it offers include integrated thermal management, over/under voltage protection, durable polycarbonate lens, and GORE pressure equalizing vent among others.
Front Runner Toyota 4Runner (5th Gen) Slimline II Roof Rack Kit
The Front Runner Toyota 4Runner (5th Gen) Slimline II Roof Rack Kit is one of the top-tier roof racks available in the market. Featuring the Slimline II Tray, wind deflector, and a set of foot rails, this product is a complete package. The kit allows permanent rack installation or a drill-free mounting for easier removal. The 85.3” full-size rack is made out of black epoxy powder-coated T6 aluminum and high-strength steel that is rated to hold up to 660 lbs of weight capacity.
The vehicle-specific foot rails have openings that create a storage space for compatible gear under the rack. This gives more room to stow camping or overlanding essentials. Front Runner also offers tons of accessories, making it easy to attach all types of gear, from kayaks, to skis, to cargo boxes.
Front Runner Toyota 4Runner (5th Gen) 3/4 Slimline II Roof Rack Kit
Containing everything that the Full Slimline II Roof Rack Kit has, Front Runner’s 3/4 Slimline II Roof Rack Kit is available at a cheaper price. While it is relatively smaller at 61.4", it provides the same storing capability under the rack. It also has a black epoxy powder finish and is made up of 3CR12 stainless steel. Enjoy the ability to carry gear, and see out of your sunroof with this ¾ rack length model.
Other than the price, the other notable advantage the 3/4 Slimline II Roof Rack Kit has over the Full-length Slimline II Roof Rack Kit above is that it does not require any drilling at all. This kit is easily installed using the existing factory mounting points on your vehicle.
Front Runner Toyota 4runner (2010-Current) Slimsport Roof Rack Kit
The newest member of the Front Runner roof rack collection, the Slimsport Roof Rack Kit is a robust, low-profile flat deck rack with a load-carrying area of 81.88" x 46.25". Its sleek build creates less drag and noise, and at the same time, easing access to low-clearance garages. Its high-strength aluminum slats have top and bottom T-slots that allow the use of most of Front Runner’s top mount accessories for added modularity.
The Front Runner Toyota 4runner (2010-Current) Slimsport Roof Rack Kit makes it very easy for you to build up your ideal look. Being compatible with a bunch of accessories, this roof rack model makes your vehicle versatile and always ready to go. Some of the accessories available for the Slimsport roof rack kit include handle or light slimsport bracket, side mount accessory bracket, etc.
Eezi-Awn Toyota 4Runner 5th Gen K9 Roof Rack Kit
One of the toughest and most heavy-duty roof racks there is in the offroading market is the Eezi-Awn K9 Roof Rack Kit. The Eezi-Awn brand is known for making thin, light, quiet, more functional, aerodynamic, and aesthetically complimentary roof racks like this one. The K9 systems for the 5th Gen 2010-2020 4Runner come in 3 different widths, and 5 different lengths, allowing you to choose the perfect size rack for your needs. It has a dynamic capacity anywhere in the range of 500 pounds and a static capacity of up to 1,000 pounds.
The Eezi-Awn K9 Roof Rack Kit is the only overlanding rack on the market that is easily compatible with your existing Thule or Yakima sports bar mounts. This is great news if you are looking for the best 4Runner roof rack for mounting kayaks, bikes, boards, etc.
LFD Off Road 2010-2020 Toyota 5th Gen 4Runner - Full Roof Rack - All Steel
If flexibility and maximum added capacity are your top priorities, then the LFD Off Road Full Roof Rack - All Steel is perfect for you. Its unique ruggedized crossbar design comes in carbon steel or stainless steel options, although both are finished in a black powder coat. It also comes with a wind fairing that makes noise from the crossbars mildly noticeable. Additionally, you have the choice of selecting a light combo, where you’ll receive the light compatible curved fairing.
The LFD Off Road 2010-2020 Toyota 5th Gen 4Runner - Full Roof Rack - All Steel is available in 6 or 10 crossbar configurations—making it completely versatile and optimal. LFD Off Road crossbars don’t have to be purchased in sets or pairs. This means that you can buy any quantity that you need.
4Runner Roof Rack Installation
Now that your choices are laid out, the next thing that may come to your mind is whether or not it is easy to install a 4Runner roof rack and how exactly do you fit it into your SUV? Don’t fret because most of the 5th Gen 4runner overland racks feature a bolt-on installation. This means that adding a roof rack to your vehicle will not require any drilling. However, some brands and models may need you to make a few holes into your vehicle to fit the rack. Nevertheless, they are easy to assemble and do not involve major modifications to your vehicle.
Mounting a rack system to a car can even be done by a single person in an hour or so. Each roof rack product comes with installation components, instructions, and hardware. There are also tons of resources and videos available on the step-by-step process of installing a roof rack. You may check our blog section to read our guide on how a Toyota roof rack is installed.
4Runner Roof Rack FAQs
Can I use a car wash with a roof rack?
Yes, you can take your car with a roof rack to a car wash. However, just a precaution, it is worth noting that brushes and cleaning equipment in car washes can sometimes be very harsh and abrasive. This can lead to damage to your roof rack and even to your car in general. Some of these cleaners can also get tangled in the racks and even pull them off of your car. On the brighter side, other options like brushless, touchless, and hand wash offered in car cleaning stations can be ideal alternatives. Moreover, removing and thoroughly cleaning your roof rack periodically is also a good practice.
Are roof racks permanent?
The answer to this depends on your roof rack set-up. Most modern vehicles, like the Toyota 4Runner, are designed to have roof bars that are fitted via permanent and removable mount designs. In most cases, roof racks are detachable. How to remove a 4Runner roof rack is just the reverse step of installing it.
What size of roof rack do I need?
How roof rack sizing works depends on a couple of factors, such as your 4Runner’s roof dimensions, desired use case, and vehicle’s weight or load capacity. 5th Gen Toyota 4Runners are said to have 52” x 48” x 6.5” dimensions and up to 5,000 lbs towing capability, as well as a payload capability anywhere between 1,495 lbs. These figures should be helpful in guiding you on what size of the roof rack to get.
Whether you’re looking for a roof rack system that gives you dependable quality, optimal storage capacity, or unmatched aesthetics, the quest for the best 4runner roof rack is surely just as wild as the tracks and terrains 4Runners venture. Each of the products featured in our top roof rack list is best on its own. From the best-selling Prinsu racks to the toughest African Eezi-Awn and Front Runner brands, you can never go wrong with these options. Still undecided? Talk to one of our experts to find the right 4Runner roof rack for you.