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Thule Ladder Racks Review - 2021 Toyota Tacoma

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Review of the Thule Ladder Racks on a 2021 Toyota Tacoma


A.J.: What's up everybody, it's A.J. with etrailer.com. Today, we're going to be checking out the Thule Xsporter Pro on our 2021 Toyota Tacoma. It's going to be a ladder rack, so good for carrying ladders up out of the bed, but not strictly just for ladders. You can throw some kayaks up there, some paddle boards, maybe maximizing what you can bring on your truck, so that way, you can put more stuff in the bed, have stuff off here on the rails, and you can get on your adventure. Let's check it out.

Looking at how it attaches, it attaches much like the other ones with these clamps here, that apply pressure to the top of the bed, holding the ladder rack in place. Now, what's going to be different is, if your Tacoma has this track in here. Not everyone has it, but if you do, you have to get a special clamp that slides in there and utilizes that track to tighten it down.And if you don't have that track, you can use the ones that it came with it, and then still get it tightened down, and it's not going to go anywhere. A unique feature this ladder rack has is this knob, you can loosen it and then adjust the height of the ladder rack without having to take these clamps off or anything. You can just easily loosen this on both sides, and then you can slide it down to where you need it.

It's also numbered, so that way you can get it even on both sides, you don't have to do any guesswork or anything like that. You just match the numbers up and then you know it's going to be even. Now let's get some measurements. We got this set up to kind of show you how low the lowest setting would be and how high the highest setting would be. I'm going to measure it with our tape measure.Looks like it's going to be about 39 and a half there, and then about 48 inches at the highest it can go.

Now, something that's going to happen with your Tacoma is, the inner part here, the plastic sticks out, so this can't fully go down to the bed of your truck. It's going to stop there and catch, so that's unfortunately as low as you can go in your Tacoma. This is where the weather strip would go. That usually plugs in the gap, that way there's not very loud whistling or anything when you're driving down the road with this gap open, when the wind hits it. Now, it's kind of confusing because they have this and you're supposed to cut it to length so you can put your load stops in.

However, the load stops are supposed to be able to loosen and slide along this railing, which you can't do with the weather strip in there, without cutting it to pieces.That part's a little confusing on this ladder rack, I don't know why the design is that way. I would rather have it to where, like some of the roof bars have that split in the middle of the rubber and when you slide this through, it's already split, so it just slides along that split and it's still covered everywhere you go. That way, you're not limited to one spot, because I don't know why you would cut the weather strip for these specific spots. You're never going to have these loads, tie-downs in the same spot every time. The load stops are going to be somewhere different every time you need it because, depending on your load. The ladder rack itself is made out of aluminum with a black powder-coated finish, and that's this version of it. You can get a silver one too, if that fits your truck better than this one does. Also, it can handle a weight capacity of 450 pounds, so keep that in mind when you're loading stuff up on the ladder rack. Don't overload it and you don't want to cause any problems with that.Last, but not least, you got the locking portion of each assembly. There's one on each of them that where nobody can mess with it or move it when you're not around. They're keyed alike, so you only need one of the keys. You just unlock it. That's what you install to be able to lock it so people can't get to it. And you slide the cover back on there, and nobody can mess with it. Now, how easy it is to install, it didn't take me very long. Let's check out how I did it. One thing I wanted to point out before we set our rails on our bed is, the uniqueness of the Tacoma.It's got the nice track here that you can use for accessories. We can't use the normal clamp because this would interfere. It usually clamps here and that bolt would need to go and push against the bottom of this track and the normal one doesn't work, so we got the special adapter for it. This is going to slide in the track and tighten down underneath. We're just going to push down on our endcap here till the end pops up a little bit, then you can kind of pry it out and we can slide our clamps in. That way, it fits in the rails and can still grip here, and then our bolt is going to go through here to apply pressure. Now, when I set the ladder rack down on the rails, on the pads that we already placed before this, you can see there's going to be a little bit of adjustment I have to do, that's why you leave it loose.When you go to put it up there, make sure the feet sit against the rails. It's got this nice overlap here, so you can just push in on it, make sure it's snug against there. Now we're going to slide our clamps on. It's pretty tight, so I kind of had to push down on this foot just to get this edge on here, to get it started. And you can push it along, like I said, it's really tight, so if you have to, don't be afraid to get like a mallet, and just kind of tap on it a little bit and it'll get it in better space. It's not scratching anything or anything. You can see, I can wipe it right off, not an issue. It's just really tight with this spacer in here to help it sit flat.And with this track, there's not a lot of room for it to go, but it will go and you can get it in position pretty easily that way. Now we're going to run the screw up here through the bottom, but I'm going to slide this foot in now, right over that hole so it lines up, because you're not going to be able to get it in there once you get the screw started. Now, this does take quite a bit of time, so just be patient. You can only get half turns with a wrench because this is spilled in here. If this was hollow or concaved in, I'd be able to get the wrench in there a little bit more, but I can only get this much of a turn. So you just kind of got to start with your hands, look at it, hard to turn. The screw is very close to the plastic here on the side, but it doesn't look like it's actually making contact. Super close, but it's not touching it, so you don't have to worry about it scratching as you tighten it down.And then we'll just get started on screwing it in. Like I said, it's going to be a lot of half turns like that, it's going to take me a little bit, but it'll get there. One thing that I would like somebody to tell me before I did this, was go ahead and pre-thread your screws and the clamps when it's not on your truck. That way, you can use a ratchet and get some turns on there, run the screw through there, brack it back out. That'll break up any paint that's in there that's causing it to be hard to turn it sometimes. Because I did get at points where I had to push pretty hard to get it passed and through that paint, but it gets it in there. But that's just something I should have done before we did this, so that you guys can do it so you don't have to mess with it. Now we have two plates for each side of these, which are going to be able to add your lock horns, so you can lock the ladder rack to your truck.We're just going to put the screw through the hole here. This half-open one goes towards the screw there, see how it fits in there nice and neat And then we're going to, by hand, get this screw started in the hole closest to the inside of the truck bed. And now, just like before, you want to slowly tighten it down, this time with a bigger hex head tool. Now, with our plate installed, we can slide over our locking mechanism. It's going to be a cover there. And now, it's keyed alike with the other one, so you can just come back with the keys, they're included, turn it, lock it, and then nobody can remove this. And that means no one can remove your ladder rack. Now we're going to install our locking cap on the base here, on the ladder rack. Another way to keep people from messing with it, since you can adjust the height, you get it where you want it, lock it up, and then people can't mess with this, they can't move it up and down.Now we have our other cap for the driver's side. Now, it doesn't have a lock on it, but it does have this. Then you can turn and then it locks in place. Now we're going to go ahead and tighten down our bars, and we slid them through the channels and kind of left them loose so that once we got the feet installed, we could go back and look and kind of eye it and see, make sure it was even on both sides. Now, we used a tape measure to make sure this one was even, about six inches on each side is what we went with. Now I'm going to tighten it down to keep it in place, much like before. I'm just going to use the Allen tee, I'm sorry, the Allen tool, and just tighten it down. There's more room up here though, so you can get more turns. It's not going to take as long as the clamps did.Now that it's installed, I'm going to give it the old shake test. You see it's in place. You got a little movement here, but I can tighten these knobs down and get rid of that. But the important part is that the ladder rack, the bar on the top, isn't shaking separately from this arm. It's nice and tight, there's no rattling or any noise there. And if I come down to the base, I can shake the entire truck and this isn't moving, these clamps aren't moving, there's no sound for any movement looking at it, so it's good to go. And that does it for the install. It was pretty easy. The most time-consuming part was probably just tightening down these clamps, just because there wasn't enough room to get full turns. It's a little tedious, but if that's the worst part, it's not so bad. Well, I think that about does it. Thanks for hanging out and I hope this helped.


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