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Front Runner Roof Rack – Long Term Review

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We’ve been using a Front Runner Roof Rack since 2017 and well over 60,000 miles. The majority of those miles were either off-road or on roads in very bad condition. We really found out what the Slimline II can endure.

If you are into overlanding or camping, you must have probably considered or compared different brands of roof racks. One of the products that are getting a lot of attention lately is the aforementioned Front Runner roof racks specifically the Slimline II model.

The Slimline II roof rack kit is a well-made modular kit with a lot of functionality and versatility. In this guide, we will discuss the features, durability and usability of the Slimline II so that you can get an idea of whether it is for you or not.

Budapest - Bamako Rally

About the Manufacturer

Front Runner Outfitters is behind the famous Slimline II. It is a South African company that is founded by a team of designers, engineers, off-road drivers, and outdoor enthusiasts. Established more than 10 years ago, this brand has already created a name as a premier expedition outfitter not just in Africa but also in Europe, Australia, and the USA.

Who Is It For

If you are looking to add more versatility to your rig, the Slimline II is a perfect choice. They can be found on vehicles of campers, outdoor enthusiasts, overlanders, NGOs, and even the UN.

The cargo capacity is perhaps the first headache you need to contend if you are a camping enthusiast or overlander. A versatile roof rack that can carry a lot of your gear will solve that problem. However, be careful to only use it as your last resort as overloading the roof can affect the stability of your rig.

This Front Runner rack is available in 55 variations for different types of utility vehicles including Toyota’s 4Runner, Tacoma, Tundra, Rav4 and Land Cruiser. You can also get a Slimline II for your Dodge Ram, Ford Ranger, Jeep Wrangler, Subaru and Chevy among others.

with offthepath on Colle Del Sommeiler - Frontrunner Roofracks

At the peak of the Col del Sommeiller with Offthepath – both of us using Slimeline II roofracks.

Review Of The Front Runner Roof Rack

To give you an idea of the overall design and performance of the Slimline II, we’ve rounded up some of its important features.

Setup

The modular design of the Front Runner rack allows for complete flexibility and ease in setting up.

Assembly is straightforward using easy-to-understand installation instructions. Out of the box, you can simply slot and bold together the rack to your roof using the provided fasteners and attachments.

When setting up, you can choose a low-profile position to achieve optimal aerodynamics or a high profile setting for under-rack accessibility.

Frontrunner roof rack review

Style and Build

The Front Runner rack is specifically designed to have a better strength to weight ratio.

Constructed using high-density T6 aluminum, it can carry up to 300 kgs or 660 lbs. of load and can withstand strenuous situations. And it is weather resistant and rust-free too!

Additionally, it comes with support slats that fit into double-walled aluminum extrusion channels and are secured by locking nuts.

No other rack has this patented design.

It has the advantage of creating joint support that is stronger than most roof racks.

Moreover, the Front Runner rack comes with a wind deflector to reduce wind noise. This is a great feature because we all know how wind noise gets annoying especially with long-distance trips.

The entire rack has a weather-resistant powder coating which is more durable than regular paint. This type of finish can withstand extreme weather conditions and a lot of abuse.

As you can see on the images, ours show wear and tear, but that’s all natural after such an intense use over three continents.

Modularity and Versatility

The Slimline II serves as a base layer for many of the company’s products. Its modular design allows for many benefits. In particular, it offers versatility on what you can carry on this rack. It supports Front Runner’s 50 rack accessories and non-native add-ons including a rooftop tent.

We’ve been using a non-Front Runner rooftop tent and we could fit it without any difficulties.

The versatility of this Front Runner rack is partly attributed to its use of support slats that you can remove or move to the different holes depending on your needs.

The Front Runner rack is also convertible to a shorter or longer rack by getting shorter or longer side rails.

It’s worth noting also that if any individual component of your rack becomes cracked or damaged, you don’t have to replace the entire Slimline II tray. You could simply swap the part out or purchase that damaged component only.

broken Frontrunner roofrack
welded frontrunner roofrack

Alternatively, you can just fix the part that broke. This is exactly what happened in our case. One of the heavier items on the rack, an aluminum box holding spare parts was strapped to the roof-rack in an incorrect, unbalanced way, putting pressure to only a weaker point, therefore, making the side rail break.

broken frontrunner roofrack

The permanent and better solution was to simply drill three holes through the side rails and the top component and simply bolt them together.

It’s been welded in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, however, the weld did not hold, and eventually it’s been fixed by simply bolting the side rails and the horizontal component together. It’s been holding it steadily for over two years now, without further issues.

Accessories

It’s really fascinating how the Slimline II can accommodate more than 50 accessories including tiedown rings, storage, Expedition rails, water tank mount and more importantly, a bottle opener.

frontrunner bottle opener

It allows you to carry a wide range of loads including camping gear, surfboard, kayak, overlanding gear and even a roof top tent.

And the best thing about the Front Runner Slimline II is that it allows you to independently secure your loads on the rack. No more untying, un-netting or unstrapping is needed.

As a sidenote, Front Runner also offers an SUV doorstep to give you lift and easy access to your rack.

Warranty Information

The Front Runner Outfitters provides a limited lifetime warranty for the Slimline II. This is effective as long as you are the original purchaser of the product and subject to certain conditions.

Pros and Cons

The Front Runner rack has many great features but what stands out are its overall modular design, versatility to support more than 50 types of accessories, and durability.

One thing to watch out for in this Front Runner rack is its raised edges. Although it is great for keeping your things secure, if you would like to carry ultra-wide accessories like a rooftop tent, you need to modify the edges a bit.

Pros:

  • Modular design
  • Versatility to support more than 50 types of accessories (including a bottle opener)
  • Durability (even though ours cracked)
  • Fits most type of vehicles
  • Several different sizes
  • Wind deflector
  • Lightweight (relative to size)

Cons:

  • Pricey
  • Raised edges (could get in the way of some cargo or non-Front Runner accessories)

Alternatives

There are a few similar options on the market, such as Rhino Rack’s Pioneer platform. The advantage of this one is that it doesn’t have a raise edge. So while it’s modular, it’s completely flat. It can be a good alternative option, however, since this is very similar to the Front Runner rack, we’d like to show you two very different types below:

Rhino Rack Pioneer Platform

If you don’t need a full rack, the Pioneer Platform is modular, lightweight, and is strong and durable. It has a fiberglass reinforced nylon finish on the corners and a powder-coat finish overall, which makes it extremely durable even in harsh situations.

This rack has an award-winning design as it was awarded the Good Design Award 2020| Reddot Winner 2020.

However, compared to Front Runner with a lifetime warranty, this one has only 5 years of warranty. Plus its range of supported accessories is not as many as what Front Runner has.

YAKIMA – OffGrid Roof Cargo Basket, Large

If you are looking for a cheaper roof rack and are not particular about all the bells and whistles that the Front Runner rack can offer, this product is a good choice. It comes with a lifetime warranty and it’s easy and quick to install too.

However, the main drawback of this roof rack is its basket design which allows for limited customization and accessory support.

Conclusion

The Front Runner Slimline II roof rack is the best roof rack one can buy for kitting out an overland rig. It is lightweight, strong, modular and supports lots of accessories.

Not to mention its lifetime warranty. Plus this rack is easily customizable. You can make it shorter or longer by adding the right type or rail.

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AUTHOR
Ferenc
Ferenc Elekes has been a devout Overlanding enthusiast for many years. During that time, Ferenc has explored 75 countries on six continents, with overland travel involved in 40 countries on three continents. From his trusty 2006 Toyota Land Cruiser Prado with a roof-top tent, he’s blogged about experiences that can only be found in the remotest regions on Earth. Along the way, he's gained in-depth knowledge of the novel challenges overlanders encounter and practical ways to meet them. On his website, he shares informed opinions about everything from the best overland gear to how to get a vehicle unstuck. Ferenc has also written for Ih8mud, the Expedition Portal, the Overland Journal, and he is often invited as a guest to outdoors-related podcasts.
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