Yakima has just launched a new roof rack system for hardtop Jeep Wranglers. The Yakima RibCage track system uses the Wrangler’s own factory bracing for support, providing a flexible way to greatly increase the roof rack carrying capacity on a JK or JL Jeep Wrangler.
RibCage Supported From Inside
Like your own rib cage, the Yakima RibCage starts from the inside of the Jeep. Internal supports mount to the Jeep’s factory sport bar (no, it’s technically not a roll cage). Each side of the Jeep gets one support up front and another that attaches to the sport bar’s diagonal rear down tube.
Then, unlike your own rib cage, the rack has a pair of tracks that attach to the top of the Jeep Wrangler’s hardtop. To fit the tracks, you do need to drill some holes in your factory roof, but the extra utility will be worth it for plenty of Jeepers.
It will be worth it because of the two exterior tracks. The 48-inch-long track sections let you attach a wide range of rack accessories and crossbars — anything that uses a standard T-slot attachment.
Internally supporting your rack like this, using Jeep’s own sport bar, should give it much more strength than just adding tracking to the fiberglass hardtop. This is not just for more weight carrying, but also to help make sure that your cargo is securely held to the vehicle. Some other solutions to Jeep roof storage use less stable methods, including attaching to hinges on the Jeep’s rear hatch.
Yakima suggests using two- or three-bar crossbar setups. The company also says you can attach multiple towers for its LockNLoad configurable platform setup.
Roof Tent Ready, Even Off Road
The tracks are rated and tested for up to a 330-pound dynamic load, says Yakima. That testing includes off-road driving. This is a Jeep, after all. Your accessories need to be ready for the trail.
When you’re not moving, the rack can hold 825 pounds. That’s plenty for two or three occupants in a rooftop tent, a viewing platform, or anything else you want up there when you’re parked for a while.
Cleverly located internal supports don’t get in the way of passenger space. They’re located above and outside of where the driver or passenger’s heads would be. The supports in the back sit between the cage and the roof, again somewhere you’re probably not putting cargo.
Wrangler’s Removable Panels Still Removable
With the RibCage installed, Jeep’s Freedom Top panels can still be removed, so you can open up the front seat area with your roof rack and gear or tent in place. The doors can come off as well.
The whole hardtop can be removed, but you’ll need to take off a lot more hardware to do it. And you can’t leave your gear up there.
The RibCage system itself weighs just 12 pounds. So, it won’t cut into vehicle payload, and it shouldn’t make a big difference in vehicle stability, at least not compared with the cargo you’ll be loading.
Yakima says the RibCage will be available soon, though there wasn’t an exact date. The RibCage will be offered for JK and JL Jeep Wrangler Unlimited models, with an MSRP of $600.