There is no question that the Jeep Wrangler is one of the most capable off-road vehicles ever built. Tough, sturdy, and dependable, the Wrangler rolls off the assembly line pretty much ready to go just about anywhere. These attributes have made it a popular vehicle for overlanders and outdoor enthusiasts alike, but if it the compact 4×4 does have one drawback, it’s limited cargo space, which can be a major one when planning prolonged off-road adventures.
Fortunately, the Wrangler’s deficiency in carrying capacity can be addressed fairly easily by adding a roof rack to the vehicle. This expands its ability to haul gear by converting the roof of the Jeep into usable cargo space, something that is addressed nicely by the Backbone and Pioneer platform systems from Rhino-Rack.
Australian-based Rhino-Rack knows a thing or two about designing accessories for off-road vehicles. After all, the overlanding movement traces its origins to the Outback, that wild, remote, and rugged landscape that dominates the interior of Australia. For nearly 25, years the company has been designing roof racks, rooftop tents, and other gear to support adventurous drivers who venture off-road and away from civilization for days at a time, and over the years Rhino-Rack products have built a reputation for being some of the most durable and dependable around.
Now, the company has launched a versatile roof rack system specifically designed for the Jeep Wrangler. That system begins with the Backbone Platform, which consists of cast aluminum point-mounted pads that are affixed to the roof of the vehicle by adding a simple – yet durable – steel frame to its interior, which not only adds security but limits the impact of the platform on the Wrangler’s iconic design.
Best of all, this frame is modular in design, allowing it to connect with other products from the Rhino-Rack catalog, including the Pioneer Platform. This roof-mounted tray expands the Jeep’s capabilities by allowing it to carry more gear in a safe and secure manner. The Pioneer adds 800 pounds of dynamic load rating to the vehicle, and gives it 264 pounds of extra carrying capacity, too. That weight is distributed evenly across the roof of the Wrangler, creating stability even when traveling across uneven terrain. The Pioneer accomplishes all of this while still maintaining a low profile that actually manages to complement the Wrangler’s style, rather than looking like something that doesn’t belong on top of the 4×4.
The Pioneer also works with a variety of other accessories from Rhino-Rack. For instance, the company offers specially designed add-ons for carrying luggage, jerry cans filled with extra fuel, spare tires, tools, and more. This modular design is part of what makes the entire system so versatile and attractive to the overlanding crowd.
Obviously, there are a number of other options available when it comes to roof racks for our vehicles, including those made by Thule and Yakima. But what separates Rhino-Rack from the competition is that its gear has been designed for use off-road, and as such it has been thoroughly tested in extreme environments. That isn’t to say that other racks won’t perform well in those environments as well, just that the team at Rhino has gone to great lengths to ensure that its products are built to survive in places where others aren’t. That’s why the overlanding and off road community tends to gravitate towards these products.
The Backbone and Pioneer Platforms are dependable and well made, but they don’t come cheap. A package designed for use on a two-door Wrangler will set you back $1,345, while the four-door model runs $1,572. If you’re serious about your off-road adventures, that’s probably a small price to pay for the extra capacity. For others, it might be overkill for your needs.