Headache racks received their name because they keep tools and materials from breaking into the cab through the rear window or even crushing the truck cabin. By preventing items from coming through the rear window, they also protect passengers in the cab from being struck in the back of the head, which would cause a massive headache.
With some workers in industries, headache racks are vital. They have saved many lives and will save many more. They can be the first accessory bought for some trucks. Their utility also extends to storage, mounting for additional lights, radios, or signaling equipment. I break down what exactly is a headache rack, if you need one, and how to buy one.
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What Is A Headache Rack?
A headache rack, cab protector, or cab guard is a rack or grill that sits just behind your truck cabin in the truck bed. They design it to protect the truck cabin from cargo sliding forward from the cab. Also, you can attach and load things to the rack for storage or secure cargo to the truck bed.
Commonly used with tow trucks or repossession (repo) trucks to protect the driver and passenger from the towed vehicle. vehicles are attached with straps and chains, but they are not 100% failsafe. There have been instances where the straps came loose, failed, or were simply not attached and the vehicle being towed has crashed into the truck cabin.
With a headache rack, there is an added protection from serious injury. No one wants to get a car bumper to the back of the head when slamming on the breaks. Talk about a real headache.
Backrack’s is a brand that offers similar units that mount above the truck bed that gives you more room if you have a truck toolbox or a Tonneau cover.
Do I Need A Headache Rack?
You need a headache rack if you commonly carry large and heavy cargo in your truck bed. Cargo is never 100% safe and it can shift when in motion. There is not a lot of protection between the truck bed and the truck cabin so a headache rack can really protect the driver and passengers.
When dealing with a potential injury a headache rack can be very cheap insurance. A worst-case scenario could be a piece of cargo jostling loose while driving and then applying the brakes the cargo shifts quickly and hits the driver in the head and then losing control of the vehicle. That is not a scenario anyone sane would appreciate.
Headache racks also provide an additional source of support to attach and secure cargo. You can store items frequently used tools in convenient locations that otherwise need to be stored loose in the bed, inside the truck, or forgotten at home.
Are Headache Racks Universal?
There are headache racks that can fit a wide range of trucks. With some modifications, you can get a generic headache rack to fit any truck. You can find many options that are designed for your specific truck. But there are universal options available that will fit most if not all trucks. The best option is a custom option that fits all your needs but you should look for a headache rack to fit your specific truck. This will provide the best function and look.
Headache racks are generally the same style. They feature horizontal support bars that attach to the front of your truck bed. The biggest differences are the material used, weld quality, and design.
The materials used are steel and aluminum. They use (stainless) steel for the more economical models and for higher-end models they use aluminum.
Weld quality will obviously vary depending on price. More economical models will have less than ideal welds which will contribute to bending and cracking around seals and intersections.
Design can vary more than the other previously mentioned features of the headache racks. Some have lights, some have bars or punch plates, some extend down into the truck bed, and some rest above the truck bed if you want to use a truck bed cover or a truck toolbox.
Can You Use A Tonneau Cover With A Backrack?
Yes, you can. Backrack is a brand that makes headache racks that are compatible with Tonneau covers. These racks do not reach into the truck bed. The Backrack headache rack installs on the back of the truck’s cabin and site above the bed giving room to install some Tonneau covers.
Fit is not perfect and compatibility is not 100%. Backrack has a page to spec out each model with all the major truck models. But Backrack will offer an option for each truck with a Tonneau cover or toolbox.
For example, Backrack offers a “low profile” installation kit that will work on the Safety Rack 10500 model with a 31-inch toolbox for the 2014 Ford F-150 with a 6.5-foot bed. You should be able to find an option that works with your setup.
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Are Headache Racks Required?
There are no federal or state laws that dictate the public use of a headache rack though it is a common and wise option. I have stated before that it is cheap insurance as you can spend a few hundred dollars on one and never have to use it at all.
Or, possibly you can skip buying a headache rack and have a large object come and give you an unhealthy concussion while driving your truck at freeway speeds. It is your life and you are in control of it. Decide on what is the best option for your daily use.
There are many options for headache racks on the market. They all can offer a lot more safety and protection from outside objects. Most people do opt for them. But what is a headache rack? Maybe the name is just a warning. Without one, you may get a very bad headache, and with one, you can easily avoid a headache.
Thanks for reading and stay dirty