Truck Headache Racks. Do you really need them? All Types Reviewed


Transporting heavy and large cargo in your truck bed is riddled with dangers. You may think the danger is only to other road users but you overlook the exposed cab rear. When you slam on your brakes the inertial will carry that load only to hit the cab rear. If the cargo is really heavy, it can pierce through making it lethal to the driver as well as the passenger. The easiest to protect is with a headache rack. It is especially necessary for the trucks with a rear glass window.

Do you really need truck headache racks for your pickup truck? Yes, if you frequently carry large cargo such as lumber and piping on the truck bed you would want to protect your rear glass window from getting smashed. It will also protect you and your passenger from potential danger.

Installing a headache rack will not only give you more cargo hauling capacity but will change your truck’s looks. Manufacturers design headache racks keeping in mind that it should make your truck cab look cool, as well as sturdy enough to protect your rear glass and cab. It can also be custom made or fabricated from metal parts to enhance the look of your truck.

Why Do You Need a Headache Rack?

Protect your Cab: Headache racks prevent your cargo from hitting the cab. This is especially useful when you are carrying larger items such as lumber, furniture, chairs, etc. Your cargo can lean on the headache rack, thereby protecting the back of the cab and preventing your cargo to scratch off your cab’s paint. Moreover, you will not have to worry about the back glass getting damaged.

Rollover Protection: Headache racks will protect the cab of your truck in case it rolls over. High-quality racks are made from sturdy metal that can take the force of a rollover.

Increases Truck Value: More than being functional it has some aesthetic aspect as well. A headache rack will give a tough rugged look to your truck. Plus, if you ever decide to resale it, you can do it at a higher price.

Protects Passenger: Headache racks are made from industrial grade metal which protects the driver and the passengers from accidents in the rear. It also prevents the cab from getting direct sunlight making the cab a cooler place to travel. Some racks keep the glare down, thereby improving the visibility of the driver.

Increased Cargo Hauling Capacity: With a headache rack you will be able to carry large items easily which otherwise would not fit in your truck bed. It gives you more cargo space as well as enables you to carry loads on top of the cab.

Compatible with other truck bed accessories: Almost all headache racks are compatible and will work with other truck bed accessories. You can install lights and other accessories, install a tonneau cover, bed rail racks, tool boxes, etc. Plus, most racks feature no-drill installation and can be done at home.

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Common styles of headache racks available in the market

  • Aluminum Headache Racks
  • Stainless Steel Headache Racks
  • Headache Racks with Lights
  • Headache Racks with Storage
  • Mesh Backed Headache Racks
  • Louvred Headache Racks
  • Honeycomb Backed Headache Racks
  • Custom Plasma Cut Backed Headache Racks
  • Headache Racks with a Winch

However, headache racks can be broadly classified into three groups:

Commercial grades – These racks are made from thick steel component and are typically powder-coated instead of painted to make it corrosion resistant and weather resistant. They also come in louvred horizontal slats which protects the rear window as well as provides shading to the cab, leaving a cooler interior. Many of these racks provide upright posts to haul additional cargo such as lumber, piping, ladder etc.

Stainless Steel – These type of headache racks come in tubular steel structure which are polished to give a piano finish surface. Truck owner chooses these racks to make their truck stand-out in the crowd and it really does. These racks are comparatively wider and are waterproof. Plus, it will accommodate various other truck accessories such as toolboxes, light bars, and other bed rack kits.

Painted – Some truck owners just want the added protection and don’t care much for the aesthetics. For them, the painted rack is the best bet. They don’t have matte black or chrome finish but do their job well. These racks are typically painted with UV resistant paint which provides weather protection, still manages to look good.

Here are Some of the Best Headache Racks in the Industry

Price: $300 to $600


  • Made from 2.75 inches octagonal aluminum tubes
  • Corrosion resistant
  • Easily installs to stake pocket holes
  • Heavy-duty mesh provides better rear visibility and protection
  • It comes with 2 removable ties down mounts
  • Facilitates adding other accessories
  • Available in silver, gloss black and textured black powder coat finishes
  • Welded mounting feet makes for easy installation
  • Limited Lifetime Warranty
  • Made in the USA

Price: $500 to $700


  • Lightweight and all aluminum construction
  • That withstand harsh weather and elements
  • Removable grid sections
  • Octagonal mesh design adds durability
  • Black carbide powder coat gives complete corrosion resistance
  • Comes with a customizable track which is compatible with other accessories such as LED light bars, off-road lights, tie-down anchors, etc.
  • It uses a patent-pending stake pocket mounting system
  • It is compatible with tonneau covers and fuel tanks
  • Comes with a 5-year warranty
  • Made in the USA

Price: $400 to $700


  • Comes in steel or aluminum frame options
  • Each includes 14 gauge louvres
  • It is available in ARMOR-TUF® clearcoat, white powder-coat, or black powder-coat finishes
  • Prevents chipping and scratches
  • Mounting brackets are sold separately
  • Protects cab and its passengers from shifting heavy loads
  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • Made in the USA

Price: $900 to $1500


  • The mesh and tubes are made from T6 billet aluminum
  • Built using a 4 ¾” x 2 ¾” wide profile tubing
  • Diamond mesh design for sturdiness and corrosion resistance
  • It comes with 2 13” Vision X Halo Series LED light bars to light up your truck bed
  • It comes in a satin black powder coat finish
  • Features TIG welded reinforced mesh
  • Flexing mesh resists dents and damage
  • It’s 24″ mounting plates are compatible with crossover truck toolboxes
  • It’s rectangular, octagon shape creates a heavy-duty, double framed construction, making it extremely durable
  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • Made in the USA

Price: $370 to $400


  • Heavy-duty mesh design protects against flying debris and shifting cargo
  • Made from anodized and bright dipped aluminum
  • Features a polished finish which is corrosion resistant
  • Bright dipped aluminum provides additional durability and makes it lightweight
  • It can be adjusted to fit many different truck bed sizes
  • Protects cab rear as well as facilitates hauling longer items such as lumber and pipes
  • Made in the USA

Price: $360 to $400


  • It features a 2 inches square tubing and flat ¼ inch bar
  • Comes with 3 crossbar member design for added protection
  • Built-in tonneau cover lift kit
  • Gunmetal powder-coat finish
  • Constructed from durable aluminum
  • No drilling required for installation
  • 5-year warranty
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Price: $300 to $600


  • Louvres keep your cab cooler
  • Unique finish prevents rust, even after scratches
  • Made from aircraft grade aluminum
  • It is toolbox friendly due to the width of support feet
  • The rack is easy to install on full-size trucks
  • Made in the USA

Price: $500 to $700


  • Features unique beefed up octagonal tubes construction
  • The rack is available in a carbide black or silver chrome finish
  • It is made from extruded aluminum which is 5.5″ wide
  • It easily mounts using your stake pocket holes, no-drill installation
  • A track system enables a mounting solution for adding lights or tie-downs
  • Compatible with fuel tanks and tonneau covers
  • Backed by a 5-year warranty

Price: $600 to $900


  • It is made from 1/8″ 5052 Marine Grade Aluminum
  • Features a hefty 750 lbs load capacity
  • Available in smooth black, diamond plate black and Tankbrite silver finish
  • Has a punched honeycomb mesh design
  • Racks feature a tapered design to match the contour of your truck
  • It can be custom fit and comes with adjustable uprights and insert
  • Lifetime Transferable Warranty
  • Made in the USA

Price:$100 to $500


  • It is made from 2.75″aluminum octagonal tubing
  • The rack features 300 lbs weight capacity
  • Available in black, textured black or silver powder-coat finish
  • Installs to existing stake pocket holes, no-drill installation
  • Protects your rear cab area as well as increases hauling capacity
  • Includes a set of removable tie down mounts
  • It can also be used as a ladder rack
  • Backed by a limited lifetime warranty
  • Made in the USA

Price:$500 to $550


  • Made from industrial grade aluminum making it corrosion resistant
  • It mounts directly to DiamondBack HD and SE tonneau covers
  • They are available in black spray-on finish or aluminum finish
  • Hardware is made from stainless steel
  • Backed by the Limited lifetime warranty
  • Made in the USA

Price:$950 to $1040


  • One of the strongest headache racks in the market
  • It is made from 3/16” and 1/4″ military grade aluminum
  • The rack has a 1,000 lbs load capacity
  • Comes in the solid smooth black finish
  • Features a punched mesh design
  • It can be custom fit with its adjustable uprights and insert
  • It has a tapered design that matches the contour of your truck
  • Lifetime Transferable Warranty
  • Made in the USA

Price:$1020 to $1050


  • The tubing and mesh are made from T6 billet aluminum, giving it a sturdy and corrosion resistant design
  • It is built using a 4 ¾” x 2 ¾” wide profile tubing
  • It employs a unique rectangular, octagon shape to create a heavy-duty, double framed construction
  • Uses custom studs to hold a removable center mesh insert for slider window access
  • The studs are made from T304 SS and triple chrome plated
  • It’s available in a satin black powder coat finish
  • Features TIG welded reinforced mesh
  • The mesh is flexible which resists dents
  • 24″ mounting plates are compatible with toolboxes
  • Included stainless mounting hardware
  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • Handmade in the USA

Price:$800 to $850


  • The rack is made from 1/8″ 5052 Marine Grade Aluminum
  • It can support 750 lbs load capacity
  • It can be custom fit with adjustable uprights and post insert
  • Features a tapered design to match the contour of your truck
  • Available in diamond plate black, smooth black, and tankbrite silver finish
  • Lifetime Transferable Warranty
  • Made in the USA

Price:$100 to $400


  • Gives all around protection to the truck’s rear glass
  • It provides tie-down points, light mounts, and facilitates installing other accessories
  • Features a low-profile design
  • Truck owners can use window guard with 21″ or 31″ toolboxes and bed liners with no modification
  • Easy no-drill installation for trucks with stake pockets
  • Lifetime Structural Warranty

Price:$380 to $420


  • Available in Full or Half Rack varieties
  • Keeps direct sunlight off your rear window and keep the cab cool
  • Each slat is die-cut and robotically welded
  • Features E Coated Under Powder Coat finish, making it corrosion resistant
  • Has a low-profile design
  • No-drill installation
  • Made from heavy gauge 2-inch sturdy HRPO square tube frame
  • Mounts lights and other accessories using Backtrack Brackets
  • Lifetime Structural Warranty
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Price:$100 to $500


  • Available in Full Rack or Half Rack models
  • Gives complete coverage for truck cab rear view windows
  • The rear is fully visible via 2″ widescreen
  • Made from welded, 3/16″ cold-rolled wire
  • Provides tie-down points and ladder braces
  • Mount lights and other accessories
  • Compatible with bed liners and bed caps
  • Works with 21″ & 31″ toolboxes
  • Features no-drill bolt-on installation for trucks with stake pockets
  • Lifetime Structural Warranty

Price:$750 to $800


  • Add extra rear lighting with the Go Industries Lighted Headache Rack
  • Made from heavy-duty steel construction
  • Includes brake lights and reverse lights and plugs into the existing lighting rig
  • Made from 14-gauge steel square/rectangular tubes with a rust-resistant powder-coated finish.
  • Prevents your rear window from cargo damages
  • Louvres prevent glare and keep your cab cool
  • Features 4″ x 2″ top tube and 2″ x 2″ bottom tube
  • Mount toolbox on top of the 24″ x 3″ foot
  • Designed for heavy-duty use
  • makes easy hauling of pipes, ladders, and other long cargo
  • Easy DIY installation
  • Comes in black or white powder coated finish
  • Comes with a 3-year warranty on materials, 6-month warranty on finish

Price:$210 to $250


  • Made from tough T304 Stainless Steel
  • The rack comes with a black coat finish
  • Corrosion resistant
  • Louvred shade blocks out glade and direct sunlight
  • Uprights extend beyond crossbar to handle larger cargo
  • Features a simple bolt-on installation
  • Includes all mounting hardware
  • Backed by a 2-Year Warranty

Price:$100 to $500


  • Made from heavy-duty T304 Stainless Steel
  • Comes with an attractive Black finish
  • Uprights extend beyond crossbar to handle oversized cargo
  • The louvred design gives added protection and shade
  • Features simple bolt-on installation
  • All necessary hardware is included
  • Comes with 2-Year Warranty


Aluminum vs Steel Headache Rack? Which is Best?

Answer: Steel Headache Racks

Most truck owners prefer steel and have been a favorite choice for a long time among American truckers. It provides extreme strength and handles heavy weight loads. You can install and steel headache rack and be confident that it will stand up to its reputation.

However, some grade of steel corrodes and shows visible rust within a few months. Therefore, manufacturers either galvanize the steel they use or powder-coat it. If you prefer steel racks, you have to consider routine maintenance to keep it in mint condition.

Aluminum Headache Racks

Aluminum headache racks are great and are corrosion resistant but they are naturally too soft. Natural aluminum cannot handle the cargo load in extreme condition. However, manufacturers combine it with other material to create a sturdy alloy, which is as strong steel. On the other hand, many companies use special industrial grade aluminum that is as good as steel. Aluminum alloys are even stronger than its steel counterpart.

A majority of headache racks are made from high-strength aluminum which is capable to withstand heavy cargo loads. Most importantly it is corrosion resistant. Another great advantage is that it’s easy to maintain.


Installing a headache rack with literally save you from a lot of cargo and safety-related headaches. It has become a standard accessory among American trucker; many even add it more for the aesthetics than its use. However, it does improve your cargo hauling capacity, protects your cab and facilitates using a number of other accessories to make your truck work like a tank.

Jackson Reid
Jackson Reid
With a wrench in one hand and a trucker's hat on my head, I've been knee-deep in the world of trucks for over a decade. From tinkering in greasy garages to cruising down open highways, my life has been one big trucking adventure. I've hauled, repaired, and revved up more rigs than I can count, and now I'm revving up your truck knowledge with articles that'll steer you right.

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