Thule Racks and Accessories Install: Roof-Top Tent & Mounted with 65″ Square Bar on the 5th Gen 4Runner
There are plenty of opinions when it comes to which roof rack mounting system is the best for carrying bikes, canoes, and other adventure gear.
Many go the route of the Gobi, Front Runner or many other common roof rack options for the 5th Gen 4Runner because of their full-size, full length, and great as a base of a roof-top tent sometimes.
But are these the most practical options?
My first 4×4 was a 1986 Isuzu Trooper to which I added Thule racks for carrying bikes and canoes.
Over time I’ve tried other racks including twice buying and then selling the coveted Safety Devices roof rack for the Land Rover Discovery and even purchased a Front Runner rack for another Discovery as well.
While these racks look cool, they were noisy, especially the Front Runner, and I still needed to modify them to carry my mountain bikes and canoe.
All three times I went back to the Thule setup and I’ve been quite happy with it.
Autohome Maggiolina Roof-Top Tent Mounted to Thule Load Bars
The Thule bars did just fine also when for five or six years we used an Autohome Maggolina roof-top tent for our travels.
Makes sense as Autohome designs their mounting brackets based on the Thule square bar.
Unfortunately, every vehicle seems to have a different mounting system for their roofs; from nothing being provided to attach a rack foot, to channels in the roof needing adapters and right up to factory bars.
In the majority of cases, most use a basic foot design and then a fit kit is purchased which mates the Thule foot to the top of the vehicle.
Ask me how I know? Pretty much every vehicle I’ve owned over the years has needed a different foot or fit kit. Frustrating yes, but safety is the top priority.
Imagine how exciting it was to discover when I purchased my 4Runner that the complete foot package and rack I had used on my previous vehicle was an exact fit for the new wheels! After thirty years of different 4×4’s, there would be no additional expense this time to mount my rack!
Thule offers a number of load bar choices, the Square Bar, an idea for mounting items such as roof-top tents, Wing Bar and Aero Blade which are more streamlined and the Pro Bar with a tri-slot system for accessories, a great idea but not compatible with the 4Runner.
As I’ve always used the square bar, all my accessories are designed to work with it so, at this point, I see no reason to change.
Thule 450 Crossroads Foot w/Square Load Bar
Regardless of which bar you choose, the Crossroads 450, for the square bar, or the Crossroads 450R for the Wing Bar and Aero Blade are the foot options for the 4Runner.
These have a thick rubber strap which wraps around the factory roof rail to securely hold the rack to the truck.
Products on Amazon:
The Crossroads feet do not come with locks but for the relatively low cost, they are a worthwhile addition.
Does it make them theft-proof?
Unfortunately, from experience, I have to say no. I had a Specialized full suspension mountain bike with the front fork locked to the bike carrier which was locked to the Thule foot which was locked to the roof-rail on the Ford Explorer I was driving.
I even had a chain and lock around the frame. I came home at five in the morning for a couple of hours of sleep before heading out again and in that short time, my bike was stolen.
I know they had cased’ the place and knew what they were doing, unscrewing the bulb from the security motion sensor light so they could work in the dark.
As they say, if thieves are planning to steal something, they’ll get it but for general deterrence, the Thule locks will help immensely.
Thule Mount Bike Rack & Canoe Brackets
On my Thule racks, I run a pair of fork mount bike racks along with a set of gunnel brackets (discontinued now by Thule and replaced with the Thule Portage) on my roof but there are a number of bike rack options.
These include units where both wheels are left on the bike and it is supported with a bracket to the down bar on the bike frame.
Products on Amazon:
- Thule Fork Mount Bike Rack: Check Price
- Thule Portage Canoe Brackets: Check Price
- Thule Load Straps: Check Price
Mount for Wind Deflector to Cut Down Noise While Traveling
To help with wind noise, which isn’t really all that bad, I installed an air screen which conveniently attaches in four locations along the front of the forward rack bar.
Thule makes these in four different sizes to suit any and all vehicles.
They offer plenty of other accessories for the roof racks depending on your lifestyle and adventure choices.
- Thule Wind Fairing: Check Today’s Price
Winter warriors will find ski racks and snowboard racks while those into water sports will find kayak, surfboard and SUP racks.
The Thule Hullavator Pro actually slides and tilts to make loading a kayak very easy.
Kayak Rack System:
- Thule Hullavator Kayak Rack: Check Price
If you are looking to add storage to your roof, then check out the Thule roof box cargo carriers.
Their selection of half-width, full-width and cargo bags allow plenty of storage with most units on double duty: a space to haul gear on summer adventures and a place to carry skis away from road salt during the winter.
The half-width cargo boxes allow for storage while you can still add a canoe, SUP or bike racks on the opposite side of the rack.
There are plenty of options; it just depends on your needs.
Roof Basket w/Spare Tire Carrier
If you have bulky cargo, Thule has two types of roof baskets which mount to the roof bars.
The Trail comes in large and medium while the Canyon comes in one size, XL. While they look good, if you want to add a basket, the best bet is the Yakima Loadwarrior series.
Thule roof baskets allow items to be strapped to them but have no accessories; Yakima, on the other hand, offers high-lift jack brackets, spare tire carriers and shovel, and spade brackets.
Much more useful and while I added Thule roof racks to my off-road trailer, I chose a Yakima rack so I could mount a spare tire to it.
Loaded Up and Ready to Go!
For me, the Thule rack set-up works perfectly for taking my 4Runner down a back road to find a spot to drop my canoe into a quiet lake or a single track trail to shred on my mountain bike.
They even work great to pick up lumber from the local Home Depot or Lowes when necessary.
With all the options available, you can get outfitted to best suit your adventure requirements. Just figure out what you need and get out there!