If you use your truck mostly as a way to get from point A to point B, you’re probably okay with it just as it comes from the factory. But for many of us, it’s our work vehicle, too, and we spend a lot of time schlepping heavy, awkward stuff around, and clambering in and out of the bed. Fortunately, there are a lot of folks out there coming up with truck accessories to make our truck-related work much more enjoyable. Well, okay, at least a helluva lot more tolerable. Here are four of our favorite truck accessories.
Step Right Up with a Tailgate Ladder!
When I was in my 20’s (which I vaguely remember), I would have thrown-down with anyone who suggested I use a ladder to climb into the bed of my pickup. Now that I’m a decade or so older, after many years of stepping on the rear tires and swinging over the side, or jumping in over the tailgate, I have re-thought my position, and concluded “A tailgate ladder—genius!”
I’m almost 6’2”, and the height of many pickup beds makes it awkward even for me to get up and in. My spouse, at 5’1”, had issues getting into the back of my old F150, on the rare occasions she had to. When I recently went looking for a new truck, her sole instruction was “get one with a tailgate step.” My motto being “happy wife, happy life,” my new truck came complete with, you got it, a tailgate step! With the distance from the unfolded tailgate to the ground being 36”, I have to say it makes a HUGE difference in how easy it is to get in and out of the bed.
There are several aftermarket alternatives for adding a ladder to your rig. The Traxion 5-100 Tailgate Ladder is easy to install on pretty much any truck. It provides a nearly universal fit, deploys in a couple of seconds and greatly reduces the strain of getting into the back of a truck. When not in use the tailgate ladder folds and secures neatly against the tailgate out of the way of valuable cargo space. This ladder got pretty good reviews, with the major complaint being that it rattled a bit, a complaint that was easily resolved with bungee cords or adding a little foam padding.
Another ladder that got good reviews is the Westin 10-3000 Truck Pal tailgate ladder. This product has universal application for trucks up to and including one-ton 4-wheel drive. The maximum open tailgate height for the Truck Pal is 38 inches, and it can be mounted on trucks that have a pickup bed cover. Westin’s Truck Pal mounts securely to the inside of the truck tailgate with four self-tapping screws, and slides to clear the edge of the tailgate so it will not hit and damage it.
For anyone with bad knees, arthritis, the horizontally challenged, or anyone who’s just tired of awkwardly flinging themselves into the back of their truck, I say get a tailgate ladder! And if anyone calls you a wussie, climb back down and tell ‘em it’s HomeFixated approved! Both ladders are available from Amazon; get the Traxion Tailgate Ladder 5-100 for under $40, or the Westin 10-3000 Truck-Pal Tailgate Ladder for around $100.
Get This Stuff Outta My Truck with the Loadhandler!
Our next entrant in the “Make my life easier” roundup is the Loadhandler. We took a look at the Loadhandler last year, and as truck accessories go, it definitely qualifies as a product that will save both your time AND your back. The Loadhandler units have adjustable brackets that clamp onto the top of your tailgate; no drilling is required. The first “fitting” will take 3 to 5 minutes. After that it takes about 30 seconds to install or detach. Bed length and type of cab are not important in determining which Loadhandler model to purchase; just measure the WIDTH of your tailgate to determine the right one.
The Loadhandler is basically a one-way conveyor belt that attaches to a truck tailgate and, by manual cranking, will convey whatever’s in your truck bed to the rear of the truck (or drop it off the end of the tailgate if so desired). Just load up your material; sand, gravel, firewood, mulch, or whatever atop the Loadhandler “dragsheet” that covers the truck bed. When you’re ready to unload, drop the tailgate, crank the handle and the load comes off. According to the manufacturer, with care, the dragsheet will last many years, or up to 500 unloadings, and small rips can be patched with duct tape. If you end up destroying it, replacement sheets are available.
The Loadhandler is available in 2,000 and 3,000 pound models, and brackets are adjustable to fit any tailgate. Buy directly from the Loadhandler folks for $99—169.
Size Matters – Bed Extenders for When A Longer Bed Is Your Goal
Most trucks are great for hauling sheet goods like drywall and plywood, studs, and so forth; even with a shorter bed, once the tailgate is down, the load will extend past the tailgate a few inches at most. Without a truck rack, though, hauling longer material or other items can be a challenge. If you’re trying to transport a 24’ ladder (roughly 12’ long collapsed), pipes, joist material, a canoe, or anything that sticks out past the tailgate, a hitch-mounted bed extender can provide the extra support you need.
The TMS Hitch Bed Extender extends 53 ½” from the center of a ½” hitch pin hole to the end of the extension, or 52″ from the center of a ¾” hitch pin hole. The width of the support bar is adjustable from 28.25″ – 48.75″. The Truck Bed Extender is constructed of heavy-duty steel tubing, giving it a distributed weight capacity of up to 750 lbs. with a class 3 hitch, or 300 lbs. with a class 1 or 2 hitch. Reflective strips for added visibility are on the sides and front of the truck bed extender, along with an included bright orange safety flag to attach to the end of your load. The support arm can be adjusted width wise and height wise, allowing you to use the Truck Bed Extender for many different applications. The Hitch Extender comes standard to fit into 2″ square hitch receivers, but can be used on 1-1/4″ receivers with a hitch adaptor. The TMS bed extender is held together with four quick release clevis pins, and breaks down for easy storage behind your seat or in your truck toolbox.
The TMS Hitch Bed Extender had average reviews of 4.6 out of 5 on Amazon, with one reviewer giving it five stars after using it to carry a 14″ x 16′ aluminum plank and two 14′ ladders. Get set for YOUR long haul with a TMS T-NS-HITCH-Bed-Extender Heavy Duty Pickup Truck Bed Hitch Mounted Extender Rack for around $40 + another $35-ish shipping via Amazon.
Anchors Away – Truck Accessories to Keep Your Stuff Together
Ever had a big load of construction debris, or a bunch of boxes or whatever, to haul? Ever gotten the bed all loaded up, and then found that you can’t get at your tie-down points? Ever muttered some words that might get your mouth washed out with soap? Me too. Then I discovered retractable anchor points that fit into the recesses on top of your truck’s sidewalls. They install quickly, require no drilling or alteration of your truck body, and unless you’ve got crap hanging off the sides of your truck, are always accessible.
I bought four of them for my old F150, and wished I had discovered them a long time ago. They’re very sturdy; pop ’em up when you need them, and just smack ‘em back down when you’re finished, so they sit relatively flush with the top of your side rail. They work great either instead of, or in conjunction with, the tie-down points inside the bed. One brand that got great reviews is the ProGrip 850760 Black Stainless Steel Retractable Anchor Point Bull Ring – Pair, available at around $19 for a pair on Amazon.
Hopefully, some of these products will help you get more out of YOUR truck! If we missed any of your favorite truck accessories, please let us know in the comments below.