BajaRack Rear Hatch Ladder Review

BajaRack Rear Hatch Ladder For 5th Gen 4Runner - Install & Review

Manufacturer: BajaRack MSRP: $400+
Average Score
  • Build Quality 6.5
  • Fitment 5.0
  • Customer Support 9.0
  • Ease of Install & Instructions 6.0
  • Value - Is it worth it? 6.0
Installation, Product Review, And Comparison To The GOBI Ladder

It’s no surprise that the rear hatch ladder is among the first mods many 4Runner owners make to their rigs. They’re straightforward to install, relatively affordable, and cater to a variety of use cases– from easily loading skis on your roof rack, to getting into a rooftop tent, to simply having an exterior place to mount recovery gear.

After deciding to purchase a rear hatch ladder for my 2023 TRD Pro, I went down the rabbit hole of options: mounting, construction, and of course, looks. Then, I came across Jon Gangolff’s comparison of five rear ladder options, which helped me narrow down my selection. I wanted a ladder that was a welded one-piece construction, so bolt-together options were out of the question. Realistically, this left me with two options – GOBI and BajaRack.

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BajaRack Vs. GOBI

5th Gen 4Runner GOBI Rear Hatch Ladder vs. BajaRack

Pictured above: the GOBI Rear Hatch Ladder for the 5th Gen Toyota 4Runner

The GOBI is very popular, and it is easy to see why. It has a straightforward non-drill installation and a reasonable price of $395 (at the time of writing) shipped. It has a clean look with no visible nuts or bolts and a similar installation method to the BajaRack option. Both ladders use a hanger bracket at the top of the rear lift gate as a mounting point and attach to the lift gate lip on the bottom.

Personally, I did not choose GOBI for three reasons:

  • The BajaRack option has only two bolts (half as many as the GOBI).
  • I’m not a fan of double-sided tape for durability reasons (and it can be unforgiving during installation).
  • It cuts off the appearance of the 4Runner logo on the back hatch.

The BajaRack ladder was the best option for me; the welded construction was what I was looking for as well as easy installation. The design is very attractive, curving just out of the way of the 4Runner logo on the back hatch. With this offset, there is more room to use the sliding rear window and access your cargo area.

BajaRack Sent The Wrong Product

BajaRack 5th Gen 4Runner Rear Hatch Ladder Installation

When my ladder arrived, I had no reason to believe it was not the part I ordered. However, after I spent an hour reading the directions, ensuring the correct measurements, and installing it, the ladder just did not seem to be set correctly.

It was rubbing in places it shouldn’t be and the hatch was getting stuck while opening and closing. I then realized the top plate was rubbing against the vehicle’s main body and scratching the paint along the way.

BajaRack Driver Side Ladder 5th Gen 4Runner Upper Mount

Under the rear hatch – the adhesive peeled back from the lack of clearance.

The instructions do tell you to use a paperclip that is 5mm wide to check the thickness of the rear hatch’s adhesive. I find this measurement instruction to be juvenile and unacceptable. I am all for keeping things simple, but this method is not accurate. The more you pull on a paperclip in this situation, the more it will deflect, causing a false reading.

Finally, I called BajaRack for help. They requested I send pictures, so I did. They got back to me pretty quickly and wanted to know where I got the ladder. I let them know I ordered through their website. The support staffer was surprised this part was sent and informed me it was not a production model.

Hearing this was a bit of mixed emotions. On the one hand, the ladder did not look or fit exactly as expected so I was happy to learn that the problem was not the install or installer. On the other hand, I was upset I was sent the wrong part, burned another week, messed up the adhesive on the rear hatch, and scratched the paint. Obviously, BajaRack sent me a replacement.

BajaRack Sent The Correct Product

BajaRack Rear Hatch Ladder Installation On 5th Gen Toyota 4Runner

This time, the installation was fairly smooth. I was very careful not to damage or scratch my vehicle further. A friendly neighbor stood on the ladder while I tightened the two bolts. I must have opened and closed the rear hatch 50 times to make sure there was no contact with the vehicle body.

How To Install BajaRack Rear Hatch Ladder On Toyota 4Runner

The clearance between the ladder and the vehicle body is about 1/16th of an inch. I’m not thrilled with that, but it is what it is.

I have not yet upgraded the struts on the rear hatch but could see how that would be necessary. As for clearance from the ladder to the OEM TRD roof rack, there is none. The hatch seems to open all the way, however, the ladder does contact the roof rack ever so slightly. I assume your results will vary.

Final Thoughts

2023 Toyota 4Runner TRD Pro with BajaRack Driver Side Ladder

After having this ladder on my rig for a few months, I haven’t had any problems. It looks great and the offset to the driver’s side makes the sliding rear window more accessible. The only downside is that when washing your 4Runner, extra crud builds up at the bottom bracket and you have to take extra time to get behind each ladder rung which could make waxing this area a challenge.

Other than that, the BajaRack rear hatch ladder serves its purpose well, and aside from my shipment woes, It’s a solid option.

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