By: Randy Wheeler
|The Raingler Full Rack utilizes 2-inch military grade webbing and steel anchor rings.|
You've got that big trip planned. Days or weeks beforehand, you start organizing all your gear that you plan to take with you - tent, sleeping bag, clothes, pad, tools, cooler, food, fishing pole, chairs... the list goes on and on. When it comes time to pack all that stuff in your Jeep, you realize there's not enough space to pack all your gear. You can either scale down on the equipment you'll need, or find an alternate storage system for your gear. That's where the Raingler Full Rack system comes into play. This rack system utilizes 2-inch military grade webbing and steel anchor rings for securing your gear with straps, rope or bungee cords. This rack system installs across the front and back portions of the roll bar, similar to what a bikini top would look like, and is secured with large cam buckles to adjust the tension and fit of the rack between the roll bars, and two large rings for the rear portion.
The military grade webbing is strong and is offered in several custom colors. For my application, I chose the standard black to match the color scheme of my Jeep Wrangler. Installing this rack system is fairly straightforward and can be accomplished by one person. The first part of the installation calls for the removal of the rear seat belt Torx bolt and removing the seatbelt swivel. The Raingler rack comes with two bolt snaps that will be mounted to the rear seatbelt swivel. Run the Torx bolt through the bolt snap and reinstall the seatbelt swivel and tighten securely. For my application, I don't have any rear seatbelts so I purchased a couple 1/2-inch bolts to fit the mounting location of the seatbelt swivel. Once these are in place, secure the anchor rings to the bolt snaps and pull the rack up and over the roll bar. Starting at the rear, attach each cam buckle by wrapping the webbing under and around the roll bar and back through the cam buckle. Keeping the webbing loose, work forward until all the webbing straps are secured on the roll bars. For the front portion of the rack, the kit comes with two 1-inch straps that are used to secure the rack to the front footman loop. In my case, however, I've got an overhead CBrack that doesn't use a footman loop. I simply used the visor mounting brackets to secure the 1-inch webbing.
The rear of the rack mounts to the seatbelt swivel
bracket, while the front
Once the rack is in place and all the cam buckles are secured, evenly tighten each cam buckle until there is enough tension on the webbing to keep it taut. Adjust the front 1-inch straps to cinch up the tension and you're finished.
For my application, however, the design of the cam buckles coupled with the fact that I do not have any roll bar padding, made getting enough tension of the webbing almost impossible. Since the webbing is routed under then over the roll bar, the cam buckle had a tendency to slip and release some of the tension, thus letting the webbing hang down too far. A quick phone call to Raingler and a set of grip tape strips were on the way. These grip strips are placed on the roll bar at each cam buckle location to prevent the buckle from rotating and allowing the webbing to sag.
Once the Raingler Full rack was in place, I adjusted each webbing strap to get the most tension on the rack. At the rear of the rack system where it mounts to the seatbelt swivel, I noticed that it was sitting farther up on the roll bar than what was pictured in the installation instructions. A quick comparison of a TJ and YJ roll bar indicated that on a TJ, the seatbelt swivel is actually mounted a couple of inches lower on the roll bar. While this may not seem that important, this difference in placement makes the rack mount farther forward on a YJ than on a TJ. This affects the fit of the rack in that the front 1-inch tension straps cannot be cinched tight enough to take up as much webbing slack as needed. The front of the rack ends up being almost right up against the windshield frame. A simple design change could solve this problem if the rear anchor ring straps were a bit shorter to accommodate the placement of the seatbelt swivel on a YJ. The longer anchor ring strap works well on a TJ however.
While the grip tape strips generally solved the problem of getting enough tension of the webbing, the fact that the webbing is routed under then over the rack allows the rack to want to align itself with the bottom of the roll bar, thus decreasing headroom. I'm only 5'8" and my head just barley clears the bottom of the rack, even when it's not loaded with gear. If the webbing was routed over the roll bar, it would provide about 2-inches more headroom.
Overall the quality of the rack is exceptional. The anchor rings are solid and provide enough anchor points to lash down your gear using bungee cords or cinch straps. On the road, the rack didn't whip around in the wind and stayed in place. The rack provides plenty of space for light gear such as sleeping bags, pads, blankets and other bulky items. The unique feature of this rack is that it can be left in place when installing either a bikini top, soft top, or even a hard top. If you want or need to remove it, the rack can be removed in about 2 minutes, thanks to the quick release cam buckles and bolt snaps, and can be neatly stored under or behind your seat. Raingler also offers several other rack options, such as side nets, cargo nets, half back racks, and the complete Raingler System (full rack, side nets and cargo back net) that should satisfy just about all your cargo storage needs.
If you're looking for an alternative rack solution for your lightweight items, then give the Raingler Full Rack a try.