Jeep Wrangler JL Rhino Rack Backbone Roof Rack (w/Platform) Review



If you’ve been following my channel for some time, you might remember that I did an initial install video of the Rhino Rack Backbone on my JK Wrangler a little over three years ago, and I have been running this setup on my rigs ever since.


Currently on my diesel JL Wrangler I have basically the same setup that I initially started with, and I am still very pleased with the support and durability of this roof rack. It has (almost) never let me down through all the beatings I have given it.


Whether you are camping, hiking, overlanding, or anything in between, this roof rack provides you with extra carrying capacity and it's extremely useful if you are planning on mounting a roof top tent.


Roof racks are not a necessity but, if you are able to fit one into your budget, having a roof rack will expand your possibilities when it comes to setting up your vehicle for whatever adventure you seek.


Overview


This Rhino Rack runs at about $1588 for the standard edition and $1760 for the quick release version, which is no small chunk of change, but you are absolutely getting what you’ve paid for. I've been using mine for years and it's been worth every penny.


The entire roof rack is made from reinforced nylon and aluminum, and is coated with black powder, giving it a really nice finish. The style itself blends in with the look of the Jeep, meaning it looks good while not being overly flashy.



If you get the standard version (no quick release), it has a height of 3.25”. But if you opt for the quick release legs you'll be adding an addition 2” to the total height, which you'll definitely want to take into consideration when thinking about what you will be using this roof rack for.


The dynamic weight capacity of this roof rack comes in at 264lbs. Dynamic weight capacity is the load that the roof rack can handle while the vehicle is in motion. You may exceed this when the vehicle is stationary, but make sure to reduce that total before hitting the trail.


The static weight capacity of the roof rack is around 800lbs. Static weight capacity is the amount the roof rack can support while the vehicle is stationary. This is something to consider if you’re throwing a roof top tent on top of this.


Out of the box, the roof rack comes in quite a few pieces come but the directions are good and help you figure out where all the pieces go. The install itself is pretty easy and you should be able to do this in your garage with some basic hand tools.



4 Main Components


1. Internal Structure



This is the backbone of it all and it's what gets installed inside the hardtop—this is what will support everything on top. The structure includes a set of internal plates that are installed around the rear windows.


2. Mounting System


The mounting system is technically part of the internal structure, according to Rhino Rack’s website, but for the sake of simplicity I thought I would break talk about it separately.



This system includes 6 total plates, for 3 on each side to be connected to the internal structure. This is done by drilling into the hardtop roof of the Wrangler. While this may seem daunting, the roof is made of fiberglass so any mistakes should be easy to patch up...not that I made any.


3. Legs


As I've already mentioned, you can either get the standard or the quick release legs. The quick release legs come in a set of 6, while the quick release legs come in sets of 4 or 2.


The quick release legs do add 2” of height but they also make it easy to remove the roof rack. These come with red levers in the back that you need to lock into place for you to remove. This is a useful feature if you don’t plan to leave the roof rack on all the time.



The standard legs are shorter but are much more difficult to take off, not only because you need to unscrew each leg with an Allen wrench, but also because you have less space underneath to work with. This is ideal if you plan on just keeping the roof rack on.


4. Platform


The platform itself is 72”x56”, giving you more than enough room for just about any roof top tent as well as providing ample storage space for your equipment. The slats that make this up are nice and wide, giving you a really solid base. These come with cross-bracing for added support.


I will say that it can be difficult to get the right fit with some roof top tents due to the spacing between the slates and I have had to drill into the slats to get certain tents to fit, but this was not usually the case.


If your sole purpose for getting a roof rack is to for a roof top tent, I honestly think it might be a better to get the crossbars over the platform as they will make it easier to fit a wider variety of tents and it's a less expensive option.



My Critique


I absolutely do not like the fact that the legs themselves are mounted to the platform by only a single bolt. Why? Because once, during a a multi-day excursion, three of the legs came loose and my roof top tent started shaking.


This is problematic because the motion of such a heavy piece of gear can put some strain on the roof rack, potentially pushing it past its dynamic weight capacity.


Luckily, I noticed this early on in my trip but it still required me to stop and tighten each of the three bolts down and then put some Loctite in there to make sure it didn’t happen again.


I should also mention that the roof rack does cover up part of the antenna, which has led to the occasional loss of signal, but only for satellite radio (it bothers my wife more than it does me).



Final Thoughts



I will start by saying that I definitely think you get what you pay for when it comes this Rhino Rack. It is made from high quality material and is very tough and durable. Aside from the onetime incident with the bolts, I’ve never had any structural issues.


I also feel it's important to mention that I didn’t really notice any increase in wind noise, which is always a plus when for those long drives on the freeway.


As far as the different types of legs for this setup go, I've tried both and I have to say, I prefer the standard edition. Even though the quick release makes it easier to gain access underneath the platform, I don’t ever remove my roof rack so I don't really have a need for this version. The shorter height of the standard edition makes it easier to fit into my garage and I honestly prefer how it looks.


When it comes to picking the right piece of gear and equipment for your rig, the most important consideration is how you'll be using it because it should fit your needs, not the other way around. All in all, this is an outstanding roof rack that has held up well over the years and handled everything I've needed it to do.


Rhino Rack with Backbone system install video on a Jeep Wrangler JK: https://youtu.be/SGGxxPg3avM




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