How can you define what the best truck bed extender is? Should it be lightweight or heavy-duty? Should it fit just to the tailgate or run from the tow hitch receiver? Plastic or steel? There are many questions like these, so we’ve reviewed six different extenders to help you decide.
First, I’d like to point out that this isn’t necessarily about just trucks. A bed extender that fits in your receiver hitch will work just as well for a car as it will a truck. This means that hauling around those longer items (like lumber for example) could still be possible in a regular car. You don’t need a truck.
What do Consider
There are a few things to think about when it comes to bed extenders. Will it work with your tonneau cover? You have to choose whether you want an extender that mounts in the trailer hitch receiver or not. These are particularly useful for extended loads that require more than just a couple feet that you’d get with an extender that allows you to have the tailgate open for example.
Or how about the ability to swap the extender around to make it upright, allowing you to support something at roof height? That’s a really neat feature. You also need to think about how much weight you want to place on the extender. If it’s not the tailgate variety, some of the extenders that fit to the hitch are capable of accepting a heavyweight – hundreds of pounds in fact. But, can your vehicle take that extra weight?
Adding some seriously heavy weight at the rear will have an effect on the ride. Of course, lowering the rear suspension may be raising the front. But, when you add that weight 3 or 4 feet further back from the rear of the vehicle, it will act like a pivot (simple physics.) This could have an even greater effect. You really need to understand the weights & lengths involved before just going ahead and strapping it up.
These are some of the most popular truck bed extenders. You’re really only getting a couple of extra feet in length; basically the size of the tailgate when it’s opened out. All it’s really doing is allowing you to open up the tailgate and fencing it in to stop things just rolling out the back.
They can be a useful addition, however, they aren’t structural. If you want to haul an ATV or something, you’d still need to strap the ATV down because one of these truck extenders won’t hold it in. You’d certainly be at risk of it not holding, that’s for sure.
The other neat thing about these extenders is that they can be used in reverse. They effectively separate a smaller amount of the truck bed off if you want to carry smaller items without them rattling around.
The other type of bed extender is the towing hitch receiver mounted extender. These offer a much great extension length – usually around four feet from the receiver.
These are great if you’re needing to haul something like a kayak (which seems to be a popular option for extenders.) Or perhaps you’re a contractor that needs to lug larger pipes or lumber.
These extenders work great for that sort of use. They can take some weight and are usually fully adjustable. Also, when you’re done, you can store them easily. Some even pack flat and can be stored behind the vehicle seats.
The other great feature of some of these extenders is that instead of sticking out from the receiver backward, they can be made to fit upwards. Should you find yourself wanting to haul something at roof level, they’ll work for that too, as long as you don’t need the tailgate open.
The Best Truck Bed Extender
This is a tailgate-mounted extender. It flips out with the tailgate, which gives you around 2 feet of extra space. When you close the tailgate back up, it can act as a smaller section of the bed for putting those odd things into.
It’s a U-shape design, so there are no sharp corners. The design offers greater strength. However, the weakest point (in terms of load capacity) is the fixings used to attach it to the tailgate.
It’s a torque resistant clamshell, which uses composite uprights to hold the 6063 T6 aluminum alloy tubes (which are like a round rectangle design – excellent strength.) They have been powder coated for greater durability and corrosion resistance. Depending on the vehicle, you may find that the bed area has pre-marked (or even pre-drilled) holes for the extender.
It’s entirely designed and made in the USA. It comes with a 3-year limited warranty and all hardware and fixings are included in the kit.
Overall, the AMP Research 74813-01A offers great value, nice design, and an impressive warranty. If you’re looking for a tailgate bed extender, this is definitely worth considering.
This impressive hitch mounted extender has been rated safe with loads of up to 750 lbs. (if it’s distributed properly.) It can extend to around 56″ from the receiver hitch opening, which is around 4′ 8″ in total. This gives you around another 2′ from just opening the tailgate out.
The mounting platform has wings on the side of it to hold any cargo in place, and these can be adjusted from 27″ right out to 49″ (just over 4′). It even comes with foldable side support to give an added dimension of rigidity.
This should mean you can safely carry the weight without fear of it moving around, or collapsing. As mentioned, any weight placed at the end of the extender will act as a pivot on the vehicle. Just be careful with how much weight you place on it.
The whole setup has been DOT approved, and the square section steel tubing frame will fit any standard 2″ receiver hitch. There’s also an adaptor included for a 1″ hitch, just in case.
The only thing going against this extender from Lund is the inability to offer rooftop hauling height. If that’s your thing, you need to look at the others on the list.
This will extend the length of a truck bed by approximately 4′ and can hold up to 350 lbs. in weight. It’s not the most heavy-duty extender on the market, but it’s well designed and features neat little touches like welded on tie-down loops for your straps.
It’s got a powder-coated black steel frame that can be reversed for rooftop hauling. However, using it this way means that you can’t open the tailgate. Not a big deal, but it’s worth knowing. There are lots of different adjustments available such as bed height. So, you’ll never get stuck with something that’s too tall or too low – even if you switch trucks.
Fits the standard 2″ receiver, and is easily removable. It can sway a little when attached to the vehicle without a load, but as soon as the load is on and strapped down, it’s unmovable, totally solid. If you want something that can offer both length and height options, this is a great extension that gives you all you need – solid, well designed and reasonable cost.
Another great ‘dual’ extender. It extends the length of your truck bed or reverses for rooftop carrying. It can be adjusted between 55 – 62.5″ for height settings (4′ 6″ to 5′ 2.5″), or it will reach an extra 53″ from the hitch (4′ 5″). It’s also adjustable at hitch height (for the bed height) for between 15.5″ to 23″ above the hitch. You’ll never find yourself with an incorrectly angled extension or load again.
The support part (where the load sits) is 4′ wide, giving you an excellent wide base for spreading the load across the platform. The square section steel tubing (which has been powder coated black for durability) can be broken down so that it all stores flat behind the seating in the vehicle. It’s simple, quick, and easy.
It’s got everything you need in the kit, including the red safety flag. The Darby Industries extender offers a great mixture of adjustability, with easy removal or breaking down for storage, and the price is unbelievably cheap. It’s definitely high on the list of best truck extenders.
OK, this is very model specific by Mopar, so it’s original equipment standard and status. I know that some of you don’t like aftermarket gear.
It’s a tailgate-mounted extension. It has straps that latch on to the tailgate catches to ensure that the extension is securely mounted. Once it has been properly fitted, you’ll find the ability to pivot in and out makes for a great idea. It’s also able to split, which means you can easily have full access to the complete bed when needed.
Everything is included in the kit; all mounting hardware and fixings. Because it’s factory-made, you should find that all holes are pre-drilled or at least pre-marked for drilling. It makes mounting the extension just that little bit easier. The factory supply rivets in the kit so you’ll need a rivet gun. Or you could also just swap out the rivets for fixing screws should you so wish.
This is another OEM or genuine part where the price may not offer you the most value for your money. A few hundred bucks is a lot of money for what is essentially a plastic construction. Another slightly minor fault – once attached, it can make accessing the bed light switch difficult, which seems like a poor design fault.
It will extend the bed length by around 2′ (the length/height of the tailgate.) It’s quite secure – the design and fitting mean that it cannot be removed when the tailgate is up. It’s effectively locked into place. Adjustable strap latches on the extender make sure that it’s properly secured.
Once fitted, you’re not stuck with it separating the bed area. It can be split and tucked away for full access to the bed. So, really it’s three positions – tailgate open with the extension, tailgate closed and splitting the loading area, or tailgate closed and the extender opened up to offer normal cargo space.