ARB BASE RackSeptember 287 minute read
The ARB BASE Rack is one of the newest entrants to the aluminium platform rack market. How does it stack up? We mount one to our 76 Series LandCruiser to find out.
The Benefits of Platform Racks
I always recommend investing in quality, and regardless of the brand you choose, platform racks are a great choice.
With modern aluminium extrusion, it’s now possible to have strength while saving weight. Saving weight, in general, is essential to meet GVM limits. Still, it’s even more important to reduce weight up high due to the roof load limits of most vehicles and the negative impact a high centre of gravity has on vehicle stability when driving off-road.
As well as being lighter than steel alternatives, they sit much lower than most of them too. They sit lower partly due to the side free design, but it’s also due to newer methods exploring how close racks can safely sit to the roof.
There are a few benefits of lower racks. Off-road, there is a slight improvement in the centre of gravity; every bit helps! On the highway, there is a slight improvement in aerodynamics. Finally, with a low rack in the city, your 4×4 makes a much better daily driver and is much easier to fit in your garage or an underground car park.
How Does the ARB BASE Rack Differ?
The ARB BASE Rack comes as one main fully welded structural piece. For off-road travellers, the critical advantage of welded racks over bolted together alternatives is that there are significantly fewer nuts and bolts that can rattle loose over corrugations.
The ARB BASE Rack is also particularly stiff. This stiffness means the rack can sit closer to the roof without fear of flexing and striking the vehicle’s top.
The slats on the vehicle run across the car rather than lengthwise. When tying down canoes, kayaks, surfboards, SUPs or even long timber, slats orientated like this act like traditional cross-bars which means these items can be quickly secured with tie down straps.
As a bonus ARB BASE Rack is also entirely flat, whereas some platform racks have a small perimiter lip. The problem I’ve found with the perimiter lip is that when tying down the long gear mentioned above the pressure is loaded on that narrow lip and can damage gear.
Like most platform racks, the ARB BASE Rack has a plethora of accessories from specific light bars, wind deflectors and awning mounts to gas bottle, jerry can and spare wheel holders.
The ARB BASE Rack Recovery board holder is a simple design that is compatible with both MAXTRAX and TREDs by utilising different mounting holes and the respective mount kits.
The accessories attach to the rack at almost any point using a unique dovetail system. Either side of the ARB BASE Racks slats, as well as the outer edge of the main rack, has an extruded dove tail designed to receive the accessories.
As well as the ARB accessories, the ARB BASE Rack is compatible with other T slot accessories by using an adapter. I have been using this option to mount the cradles for my carbon fibre sea kayak.
It’s allowed me to position the cradles far apart (best for stability) and then quickly tie it down with straps. When I don’t need the cradles I can quickly pull them out while leaving the adapters discretely in position ready for the next time.
While I don’t run anything electrical on my roof rack, the ARB BASE Rack has removable corners to allow cables for lighhting and solar to be run discretely inside the rack.
I fitted the ARB BASE Rack in May, just prior to heading on our month long Kimberley trip. The roof road for the trip was relatively light, but the rack carried our canoe and recovery boards from Perth to Purnululu National Park and across the Gibb River Road. From the road trains attempting to yank the canoe clean off the roof to the corrugations, the rack and mounts didn’t miss a beat.
The ARB BASE Rack is a solid option from a brand with a reputation for quality and a large support network. Whichever rack you choose, be sure to pack thoughtfully and keep below the roof rack and roof load limits for a lower centre of gravity and to lessen the chance of rough track damage.