When you want to mount the rod tube, solar panels and swags on the roof, sometimes a set of roof racks just isn’t enough…
Words and Images by Wes Whitworth
As you’d probably well know, when we review things at Unsealed 4X4, we like to put them through their paces. Showing off shiny new gear is great and all, but the biggest question is how well the gear lasts after being mistreated and left in the elements for 12 months without a second look in. We thought we’d give the Rhino-Rack Pioneer Tradie rack a go to see how it would fare living on the coast in the elements for a year. The short version: perfectly.
The rack I got from Rhino-Rack is the Pioneer Tradie rack. It comes in a kit, for just shy of fifteen-hundred clams, which includes the gutter-mount feet to match my old 80 Series, and a set of height spacers cause the ‘Cruiser’s gutters aren’t exactly straight or level. The feet are a reinforced nylon affair with a steel grab cap underneath, which just screams quality. No casting marks or dags, and they’re held on with security hex keys to stop them going walk-about. These then bolt up to the bottom of the platform rack. The rack itself is the epitome of quality. It’s made from extruded aluminium, with nylon corner caps, so it won’t rust, corrode, or fade. The side rails are fully welded to the rack, so you’ve got something to wedge gear and the swag against.
Each of the five length-way planks are alloy, and feature channels where you can add the accessories available from Rhino-Rack. I’ve got a set of eyelets bolted in to tie the swag down to, and I’ve got my eyes on a set of light-bar mounts for the front. The rack itself is rated to 100kg, so it’s bang-on the load rating for the ‘Cruisers gutters that it’s mounted to. The rack itself weighs in at just 35kg, so you’ve got 65kg of weight you can throw up there. More than enough for a couple of swags and the solar panel I run. The external dimensions of the one I have to suit the 80 Series are 2128mm long x 1426mm wide x 135mm high. That said, depending on which 4X4 you have, will depend on how big your rack will be – they’ve got the right size for just about every vehicle on the road … except maybe a Lada Niva.
The beautiful thing of the Tradie Rack over, say, a flat rack or fully enclosed rack, is that I’ve got the side bars to wedge stuff against and tie down, but the front and rear are open, so I can fit the kayak up there without having to tie it down against the end bars. As for assembly and installation, most places you can buy them will offer you installation fairly cheaply, however if you’ve got a couple of tall mates, it’s easy enough to add the cross bars on the bottom, bolt the feet on, and throw it up on to the roof … I’d call it about a three-beer job.
WHAT’S IT LIKE AFTER 12 MONTHS?
In a word, perfect. It’s just as good as the day I bought it. You’ll see in the photos here, it looks like the washers have corroded a touch, but that’s just salt spray and grime, with the rest of the rack covered in dust, dirt, and crap. The old ‘Cruiser lives across the road from a sugar mill, so in crush season there’s no end to the dust and rubbish that gets spewed all over it (and the rack). As most would know, my ‘Cruiser gets its yearly bath, and then I argue with myself as to whether it really needs it or not, so I wasn’t going to go out of my way for a rack that should cop the same abuse happily. But as for longevity, I would easily expect to see this rack lasting longer than my old ‘Cruiser.
I think the gutters will let go long before the feet or rack show any signs of falling apart. Is it worth buying a relatively expensive aluminium rack (at nearly 1500 dollarydoos) over an el cheapo rack for $300? Absolutely. I don’t foresee an issue with this for the next 20 years, and the last cheapy steel rack I had left rust stains on the paint, and the guts fell out of it after just 18 months. I also had to cut the bloody thing off, as the bolts rusted up and seized to the mounts. I really think you’d struggle to find a better option for a rack, whether aluminium or steel, especially with the harsh climate we live in, and that we’re out among the salt air every chance we get.
Hot tip: Autobarn often has 25% off deals for the Rhino-Rack gear, so if you can get yourself a rack when one of these sales are on, you’ll pick one up for around $1100 with the lot.
External Dimensions (LxWxH): 2128 x 1426 x 135mm
Internal Dimensions (LxWxH): 2128 x 1336 x 95mm
Product Weight: 35kg
Warranty: 5 years
Load Rating: 100kg
Price: $1485 RRP
*Disclaimer: InB4 ‘Cash for comment’ – Rhino-Rack don’t advertise with us. I actually love these bloody things that much, plus I’ve had some sh!t racks over the years and appreciate a good bit of kit when I see it.