Topper or Ladder Rack with Tool Boxes for Full Size Pickup?

Just bought a 2006 Ford F-150 with the 8-Ft bed. Doing mainly residential window cleaning right now. Going to branch out into gutter cleaning and pressure washing in the near future. Am planning on carrying up to 2 to 3 extension ladders. Just wondering if anyone had any suggestions on how to set up the bed for maximum effectiveness.

The options I am considering are:

  1. Single side ladder rack with High Side Tool Boxes. I like the ability to easily remove the ladder rack in this case.

  2. Full ladder rack with High Side Tool Boxes. Easier to carry multiple ladders.

  3. Topper with ladder rack on top. All equipment secure and out of the weather. I am thinking about a topper with rear and side access.

Any advice would be appreciated.

I have a shell on my Jeep J20 8’ truck (backup vehicle) with Yakima crossbars for ladders. When I remove the shell, I reinstall a Yakima Outdoorsman 300 fullsize rack.

My primary vehicle is a Ford E350 cargo van with WeatherGuard ladder racks.

I’ve had several setups, but have come to prefer a contractors truck cap with no tool boxes-just full side doors. This allows full use of the bed for bulky items, but we hang harnesses, rope, etc down the sides. Lighter items can be clipped onto flip up doors. It’s secure and weather proof. We usually carry at least two extension ladders, and a basic aluminum that bolts onto the cap holds up just fine.

Nice setup, Steve

Thanks for the replies so far. I was doing some more research today. I think I have to agree with Steve. The contractors truck cap looks like a pretty good option. A few questions for Steve and whoever.

  1. Any idea on a ballpark price for one of those contractor caps? Looks like Leer makes some nice ones.

  2. Do you think it would be a total mistake to get the built in tool boxes in the side of the cap? I was thinking it would be nice to have my commonly used tools and buckets readily available at the side of the cap.

  3. What extension ladders do you commonly carry on the rack? I was thinking a 16-Ft and a 24-Ft each with leg levelers. I have access to a 32-Ft when I need it.

  4. Does anyone think it would be possible to set two extension ladders on top of each other on a rack. Would this be a safety issue or could they be strapped down tight enough so the top one wouldn’t slide off?

I was thinking about something like this for a short term solution. I kind of like that I can still remove the rack so my truck will fit in the garage.

Adjustable Ladder Rack for Trucks - JCWhitney


Century caps are about $1,300.00, A.R.E. (IMO, a slightly better cap: hardware, locks, ladder racks) about $1,700.00. I’ve had both. Don’t know about Leer. I’ve got used 8’ ARE for sale; just PM me if your interested. We always carry a 24’, usually a 32’, and yes, you can safely stack 'em. I have some WC friends with the side tool boxes, and they’ve come to hate em for what we do. I mount a gun rack on one side, and you can access the extension poles you set in it from inside OR outside the bed. Small spring clips mounted to the doors, or just inside, at the roofline, seem to be able to hold most handtools. Hope that helps.

Check out Lifetime Shells.

In addition, you should be able to find various tool bin configurations from a truck/shell supply dealer.

On occasion, I stack two sets of extension ladders two tall on my WeatherGuard rack, including a 40-footer. I use both the stock WeatherGuard hook-and-loop strap and buckled straps without issue. As with any safety concern, check things often.

Re: JCWhitney – in the distant past, I found their products to be below (my) standard.

Steve - I sent you a PM.

Thanks to everyone for their help. I will check into those other manufacturers too.

Topper with ladder rack on top. Only way to go in my opinion, I have two trucks set up that way and I bought both toppers (made by A.R.E.) used and I only paid $300 bucks each. Many fleet vehicles have these toppers and when the company is done with them, they sell the toppers cheap. Here’s a link to an older thread with one of my trucks:

Invest in a sectional ladder. Easier to transport and lighter. They sell them here. Best ladder you will ever buy!

Thanks everyone, I am going to patiently start shopping for toppers and ladders to see if I can find some good deals.

Mike - thanks for the suggestion on the sectional ladder. I am definitely going to do some more research before I buy any ladders. I saw a good impromptu demonstration at MWCC. I wish I could remember the guys name. He was good. I think there’s a video on here of him doing one of his demonstrations.

Ask the guys at WCR about the sectional ladders.

Jason Hatch owner of the Window Genie of Des Moines