If you own a Jeep or a Samurai, you know the problems that arise when you try and pack for an extended excursion. Jeeps are notorious for their lack of storage space, especially for the larger bulkier items like sleeping bags, ice chests and tents. This can make for some very interesting and frustrating experiences, when trying to get your camping gear or other essentials to a site well off the beaten path.
Various manufacturers offer a variety of solutions to try and deal with the lack of storage or cargo carrying capacity issue. Some offer racks that mount in the rear receiver bracket. Of course, they are assuming that you have a rear receiver installed. The receiver racks provide additional carrying capacity, but severely hamper any serious off-road capability of the vehicle. This is due to the long overhang in the rear and the low ground clearance typical of these types of racks.
Another solution being offered, is a rack that mounts above the spare tire usually called a trail rack. These racks are substantially smaller than the trail racks and therefore are limited in the size and weight they can support. Another consideration that must be made is that the objects being carried are now located at chest or head height. This means, if you are carrying an ice chest or cooler and need to get into the chest, you cannot see what you are reaching for, without removing the chest from the rack. This can be a real pain.
The other option that has been available for a few years now, is the Safari style rack. These are full-length overhead roof racks. Again, these offer a tremendous carrying capacity, but again at a sacrifice of accessibility.
The trail racks and safari racks, while offering carrying capacity increase the overall height of the vehicle. Carrying heavy items in an overhead rack can also decrease the off-camber capability and handling, as well subject the cargo to damage from any low hanging tree limbs or rock ledges. Enter the new “MaxRack” from RF Technologies.
The MaxRack is a cargo carrying system designed to fit inside the body pan and rollbar assembly on Jeep Wranglers, both YJ and TJ. Future designs are in the works for CJ and Scrambler models, as well as the Suzuki Samurai. This keeps the load at the right height for accessibility and without detracting from the normal handling and clearance of the vehicle. The MaxRack has a cargo rating in excess of 400 pounds. That’s more than enough to carry virtually any type of camping gear you think of, or the carcass of just about any game animal you might be hunting.
I installed a MaxRack on my own ’97 TJ and used it during my trip to the Southwest 4×4 run in Clayton, OK. This run involved some serious rock climbing, negotiating very narrow trails in both woods and rocks. I carried three ice chests, a Hi-Lift jack and other gear in the rack. This left the area under the dust cover for those items I did not want left out in the elements, or simply wanted to be able to keep in an “out of sight” area, such as tools, sleeping bags and clothing. My wife traveled with me and we were able not only to carry all of our gear, but also some gear of other trail riders as well.
The MaxRack is designed for use with the backseat either folded down, or removed altogether. The current design also cannot be used with the standard soft top installed. The rack can be used with the factory or an after-market hard top in place, however, as well as with the bikini or safari style soft-tops. The manufacturer says that a design is in the works that will allow for use with a full soft top in place, but no date has been forthcoming as to the availability of the new design. The fact that the rack design precludes the use of the rear seat and the full soft-top may be a deterrent to some, but since I usually wheel solo or with just my wife, this was no problem. Also, I use a Bestop safari top, windjammer and dust cover system, so I already have my rear seat removed and do not use the factory soft-top.
The MaxRack is made out of 1″ square steel tubing, with 6″ walls, an expanded metal floor and a black powder-coat finish. I found the workmanship to be first class and the overall design seems to be well thought-out. The expanded metal flooring provides for virtual infinite tie-down configurations. I mounted my Hi-Lift jack, using ½”x2″ bolts, and never had to worry about it moving, coming loose, or being inaccessible. This is always important, as we had to use our jack to assist another trail rider. This arrangement also allowed me to move the jack carrying from the rear bumper to a higher location, eliminating the occasional scrapping of the jack foot on the rocks.
On the TJ models, the MaxRack utilizes the factory soft-top rib arm attachment brackets as mounting points and, also bolts to the body and frame at the rear rollbar attach points. This rack is not going to move or come loose, no matter what the trail throws at it, but best of all, it only takes about 20 minutes to install or remove from the vehicle. Of course, this does not account for the time to remove a soft-top or hard top and replace after the rack is installed.
Installation of the MaxRack was very easy. The kit included all of the required hardware and a full set of instructions. The only tools required are a T-55 TORX socket bit, a 3/8″ drive ratchet (or larger), a 4″ extension (or longer) and a ½” socket. Imagine, a trail kit that does not require the use of a drill or a hammer!
The first step is the removal of any factory or after market full tops, either hard or soft. Bikini and safari type tops do not require removal, but it is advisable to remove any dust covers or tonneau covers.
The next step is to place the rack in position and loosely attach the mounting brackets to the rack itself. Remove the T-55 screw that is located at the base of each rear down-tube member of the rollbar. This will be used to secure the MaxRack in place against vertical movement. If you ordered the rack model for a hard top TJ, you will need to attach the front mounting points to the center cross-member of the rollbar assembly. The rollbar is pre-drilled from the factory for these brackets and the instructions are very clear on how to mount these.
Now simply tighten all the bolts and reinstall any covers or tops that were removed at the beginning and you’re done!
The MaxRack design has been copyrighted and a patent is pending. For more information on the MaxRack, please contact,
PO Box 69
Pinehurst, TX 77362