Rocky Road Outfitters Off-Road Low Profile Roof Rack Option + Spare Tire Mount: Install Overview For the 5th Gen 4Runner
The 5th Gen 4Runner oﬀers tremendous versatility as a family-friendly all-around expedition/exploration platform.
One of the best ways to increase that versatility is to upgrade the 4Runner’s roof rack. The first thing I purchased to improve my 2013 Trail Edition was a set of off-road tires, but also a quality roof rack was on my list.
There are a lot of options for roof racks out there, enough that it can be downright overwhelming. I wanted to keep it simple, so I tried to establish a couple of ground rules for what I was looking for.
What I was looking for in a Roof Rack
First off, I didn’t want to have to drill holes – I’m kind of in love with that Salsa Red Pearl paint, and don’t want to jeopardize it – so I was fine with something that either used the stock rails, or that used the same mounting points.
I also wanted something low profile. I split my time between Kansas and Alaska, and so between hailstorms and blizzards, I wanted something that would still allow garage accessibility without undue fuss.
Finally, I’m not a rooftop tent guy – as a rule, I refuse to camp where my dog can’t go, so it didn’t have to be something that would support a tent.
Mostly, I foresaw using it for hauling the spare tire and some tools on longer trips, or perhaps a canoe or kayaks or such. Finally, it had to be something that would work with early 5th Gens (2010-2013) without extensive modifications.
Why Chose the Rocky Road Outfitters Roof Rack?
My search eventually took me to the Rocky Road Outfitters website.
Rocky Road is a Heber, Utah, based company that manufactures accessories like roof racks, rock sliders and skid plates. All accessories are available for a wide variety of vehicles in-house, as well as selling pretty much the entire catalog of ARB, Old Man Emu, and other quality aftermarket products.
I had previously purchased a roof rack from Rocky Road for my 2007 Jeep Liberty and was pleased with the high quality is provided at a reasonable price point.
Roof Rack Options
- 2010-13 Trail Edition 2 CROSSBAR kit – $199
- 2010-13 Trail Edition 3 CROSSBAR kit – $269: Check Price
- 2014+ 2 Crossbar- 119
- 2014+ 3 Crossbar – 269
- 2014+ Trail Edition & SR5, 2 CROSSBAR kit – $199
- 2014+ Trail Edition & SR5, 3 CROSSBAR kit – $269
Roof Rack Accessory Mounts
- Fuel/Water Can carrier kit – $98
- HiLift Mount – $69
- Double Axe and Shovel Mount – $39
- Forward 3- light bar – $39
- Forward 4- light bar – $47
- Tire Carrier handle – $38
After reading through the thorough description of the 5th gen 4Runner roof rack they offer, I was convinced this would be the right option for my 4Runner as well.
RRO Roof Rack Upgraded Features
This roof rack is a robust, low profile design constructed of 1.25” powder-coated tubing in a simple grid pattern.
It mounts to the factory roof rails using sturdy but simple sliding brackets. A variety of accessories are offered, including light bars, a spare tire mount, Hi-Lift Jack mount, ax and shovel mount, and gas can/water container mount.
All of the roof racks come with the threaded doughnut socket for the spare tire mount, even if you don’t order the mount with your rack.
In short, it met the criteria I listed above.
One important factor to take into account – especially if you’re on a budget when ordering an accessory of this size, is shipping cost.
This item ships via UPS, and it did not ship for free. You can get an estimate on shipping by adding items to the basket on the website.
To help save on future shipping, I ordered a spare tire mount and Hi-Lift mount with my rack, as I thought I would likely be making use of these down the line. I am including a description of the spare tire mount below; I will save the Hi-Lift for a different post, as I am looking at ways of modifying it to better suit my needs.
My Experience With Rocky Road Outfitters
I received my rack and accessories five weeks after placing my order.
They arrived in two boxes, with everything but part of the Hi-Lift mount arriving in the first shipment.
Altogether, the two shipments weighed about 42 pounds, with the rack itself accounting for the majority of that weight. Everything in the shipment had been carefully packaged.
My only complaint was that the hardware for the rack and the accessory mounts were mixed together, and it was somewhat time-consuming to figure out what went with what as I went through the installation process.
What’s Included With the Roof Rack Kit?
The rack is an expertly welded grid, with three crossbars and six total attachment points.
Note the threaded doughnut hole for the spare tire mount. The rack can be mounted with this forward, or to the back.
Hardware & Parts Included
The metal bar will slide inside the inner channel of the stock roof rail.
Do note that it’s critical to only tighten the bolts 1-2 turns before installation.
Now, for actually installing the rack on the vehicle, you’ll need:
- A step stool is helpful if you aren’t seven feet tall.
- Extra set of hands (or two) can really help but is not critical
- Thin flat point screwdriver
- T40 Torx head (or T40 Torx Sockets)
- 15mm socket or ratcheting wrench
- 11mm socket or ratcheting wrench
- Padding to protect the paint on your roof
One quick note about the instructions included with the rack. They note that they are written for the 100 Series Landcruiser but that “installation to the 4Runner will be essentially the same.”
I will highlight a couple of differences I experienced in the process below, as well as some tips that might make installation easier if you are by yourself.
Step 1. Assemble (x6) Mounting Brackets
First, I recommend assembling the six mounting brackets as shown above.
Only tighten the bolts 1-2 turns each, as this will allow for more play when sliding these into place on the stock roof rails.
Step 2. Remove End Caps On Stock Roof Rails
Next, you will remove the end caps from the stock roof rails.
Note: The end caps on the 4Runner roof rails are easier to remove than the installation instructions indicate. The provided instructions describe this as a process of squeezing in on the sides and pulling upward “pretty hard,” with possible wiggling and knocking involved.
On my 4Runner, all that was needed was some gentle upward pressure a flat point screwdriver placed in the slot at the rear of the end cap, and the cap popped right off.
Step 3. Loosen & Remove Stock Crossbars
After the end caps are removed, loosen the stock crossbars if you have any, and slide them to the rear and out of the roof rails.
Note: Loosening these fasteners in the roof rails made the installation of the rack much easier.
Next, mount brackets on ends of the roof rack
From here, place the mounting brackets on the ends of the roof rack, lift the rack into position at the rear of the vehicle, and slide the whole assembly forward, with the brackets slipping into place in the roof rail channels as you push forward.
This works if you have one or two others helping you.
If you are by yourself, there’s a lot working against you—the rack is a tight fit between the rails, and the brackets tend to flop around when you most need them to flop into place.
Use T40 Torx Head Socket To Remove Roof Rail
If you are experiencing difficulty at this point, the following steps may help.
Using a T40 Torx head socket, I loosened the four fasteners that hold the driver’s side roof rail on the vehicle. I backed them out about halfway, which allowed some side to side play in the roof rail.
On the passenger side, I backed these fasteners out fully and removed the roof rail.
Step 4. Reinstall & Replace All Removed Parts
At this point, I had one roof rail off of the vehicle, and the opposite rail loosened.
I then slipped three of the mounting brackets into their estimated final position on the loosened rail. They slide in much easier this way.
Next, I used a blanket and some of the cardboard boxes that the roof rack arrived in as padding, and set the roof rack into place on the roof.
On the loosened side, I adjusted the brackets into place and slipped the ends of the roof rack cross members into the brackets.
Next, I slipped the remaining mounting brackets into the removed roof rail. I lined these up with the free ends of the roof rack cross members, and carefully slipped these into place.
From this point, it is a simple matter of lining up the roof rail mounting holes and replacing the Torx head fasteners.
Tighten up the bolts in the mounting brackets, replace the end caps (they should pop right back into place), and you are all done.
The instructions (and photos on the manufacturer’s website) show the mounting brackets with the point facing up.
This places the roof rack above the rails, much like the stock cross rails would be, and is how I installed mine.
However, it is possible to mount them with the point facing down, which sets the rack lower. It would still provide plenty of clearance over the roof but might cause some difficulty with aftermarket accessories.
Finally, a quick note about the spare tire mount. Rocky Road Outfitters describes this as “a cool Prerunner style mount.”
It consists of a threaded large-diameter bolt that mates with the doughnut hole in the rack, and a bracket that tightens down to hold the tire in place. I have not put it to use as of yet.
After approximately 7000 miles, the rack is holding up well.
There are a few minor scratches, and a little bit of rust in the threads of the doughnut socket, all of which can be easily remedied. I have not seen any impact on fuel economy, just an increase in wind noise, which was not unexpected.
All things considered, if you are looking for a quality roof rack that makes use of the stock roof rails, consider giving Rocky Road Outfitters a look.