10 Best Bed Stiffeners For 2nd & 3rd Gen Tacoma

Total Chaos Bed Stiffeners Installed on 3rd Gen (2016+) Tacoma - Bed Stiffener Buyer's Guide

Industry Proven Brands Such as Total Chaos, DRT Fab, and More!

When you are building your Tacoma out for off-road, camping, or utility use, the weight of your truck can quickly add up – and so can the stress your bed experiences. Whether it be a bed rack and tent, a camper shell, or even regular off-road use, we place a lot of extra demand on our bedsides.

To avoid any damage from long-term use, many Tacoma owners install bed stiffeners to support the structure of our bedsides. This post will cover everything you need to know about bed stiffeners and the 10 best options on the market.

What Are They?

What Are Bed Stiffeners? - DRT Fabrication Bed Stiffeners for 2nd & 3rd Gen (2005-Current) Tacoma

Bed stiffeners are essentially reinforced metal L-brackets that bolt into the rear corners of your Tacoma to improve bedside strength. This becomes especially important when you add gear or a rooftop tent to the back.

All of this weight can cause the bedsides to flex, and over time they have the potential to crack and deform. The support you gain from the steel bed stiffeners will limit this flex and prevent damage with repeated abuse. Think of it as protection of your investment in your Tacoma.

Do You Need Them?

Total Chaos Bed Stiffeners On White 2nd Gen Toyota Tacoma

These will be important if you have a rooftop tent or any weight on the back of your truck. It can be easy not to spend money on products that don’t immediately impact the looks of your truck.

But, think of bed stiffeners as a preventative measure. Spending around $150 on them can save you hundreds in repairs if your bed cracks under pressure. If you never have weight over the bed of your Tacoma, then you may not find a need for them unless you wheel your truck hard and see a lot of rear-end flexing.

If you consistently load heavy-weight items onto your bed or leave items like a camper shell on your Tacoma, this is one of those must-have accessories.

When To Buy?

Total Chaos Bed Stiffeners Installed on Grey 3rd Gen (2016+) Tacoma

You might be asking yourself… At what point should I pull the trigger on bed stiffeners? Maybe you only have a little bit of weight on your bed, or remove your camper/RTT when you aren’t on a trip.

In general, if you have any dead weight that rests on your bedside and you often off-road, you will want stiffeners. Camper shells and rooftop tent setups will often weigh a couple of hundred pounds (or more). The more weight you have and the more you flex your truck off-road, the more you will find value in bed stiffeners.

If you only use your truck for daily commutes and never put weight on your bedsides, you may not need them. But if you currently or at any point plan on supporting a camper or bed rack, these are a must-have modification.

Pros

DRT Fabrication Steel Powder-Coated Bed Stiffener Installed on 3rd Gen (2016+) Tacoma Overland Build

Prevent Cracking

The most important reason to buy a set of bed stiffeners is to prevent cracking your bed. Further down the line, your bedsides will weaken and may break, which will be too late for bed stiffeners. Purchasing a set now will prevent the headache and cost of that damage.

Especially if you take your truck off-roading, every time you flex your truck over an obstacle, you are putting more stress on the bedsides, and they will need the added support of bed stiffeners.

Tie Down Points + Accessory Attachment

Bed stiffener manufacturers have made it standard to integrate tie-down points into the design of their stiffeners. This can be super handy to have a sturdy anchor point at the rear corners of the bed if you find yourself hauling gear and strapping stuff down often.

Many options also have a spot to install your accessories. That can be something like a rear-facing LED light or a flag pole. Maybe even a radio antenna.

Cost-Efficient

Considering how overpriced some accessories for your Tacoma can be, bed stiffeners are very budget-friendly for their benefits – especially compared to the potential cost of replacing a cracked bedside. This makes it a great first modification if you plan on installing gear or a rooftop tent in the future.

Cons

4WP Bed Stiffener for 2nd Gen (2005-2015) & 3rd Gen (2016+) Tacoma

In terms of downsides to installing bed stiffeners, there are very few. For the price, they offer a ton of advantages. The only potential downside occurs if you run a drawer system such as the Decked or MobileStrong storage systems.

Depending on the design of the bed stiffener and how much they protrude from the bedside, they may get in the way of your drawers and block you from pulling them out. If you have a drawer system or plan on installing one in the future, look into which stiffeners are compatible with your drawers.

Install Overview

Installing Bed Stiffeners On 3rd Gen Toyota Tacoma

The installation process for all the stiffeners on the market is mostly the same. It involves unbolting and removing the tail light, drilling holes inside the bed through the tail light housing, and then bolting the stiffener into the side of the bed with new and existing hardware. The base of the “L” will utilize the holes for the factory tie-down points.

Overall, it can be done at home with basic tools in about an hour.

Top Brands

Bed Stiffeners for 2nd & 3rd Gen (2005+) Tacoma

Now that we have the “what” and “why” of bed stiffeners let’s get into the ten best options on the market. While all of them serve the same purpose, some will have stand-out features or slight differences that might help you decide on a set for your Tacoma.

1. Cali Raised

Cali Raised LED Bed Stiffeners with Tie Downs for 2nd and 3rd Gen (2005+) Tacoma

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These are compatible with all 2005-2023 Tacomas. They are the one of the cheapest options on this list – without cutting performance.

The option has durable construction, powder coat finish and easy to use tie downs. Everything you need is included and you can hit YouTube to see their install videos.

2. All-Pro Off-Road

All Pro Heavy Duty Bed Stiffeners for 2nd & 3rd Gen (2005+) Tacoma

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All-Pro’s are extremely strong, constructed from 3/16” thick steel. Like the Total Chaos’ bed option, they are tall and designed to go all the way up and over the contours of the inside of your truck bed.

Each stiffener bracket has seven tie-down spots that allow you to secure your gear. It also includes a mount on top for attaching a CB antenna or accessory lights.

Installation is simple and straightforward. All mounting hardware is included. For step-by-step instructions, check out their YouTube.

3. Runnin4Tacos (R4T)

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If you’ve spent any time in the Tacoma or 4Runner community, you’re probably familiar with R4T. What start out as a series of rad videos and social presence has grown into one of the most trusted retailers, and now manufacturers, in our space.

These bed stiffeners attached the same way the others do on this list, with drilling required. They come powder coated satin black and have an integrated bottle opener. Made in the USA!

4. DRT Fabrication

DRT Fabrication Bed Stiffeners for 2nd and 3rd Gen (2005+) Tacoma

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A newer business, these guys have a crazy good attention to detail and refining products.

Like most bed stiffeners on the market today, these feature several mounting points for tying down and securing your cargo. They also include a mount for auxiliary lighting and an antenna.

Check out our install and review.

Note: These stiffeners are 100% compatible with the Decked Storage System.

5. Total Chaos

Total Chaos Fabrication Full Height Bed Stiffeners for Toyota Tacoma

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    These are very popular with owners thanks to their high-quality construction and unique design.

    Integrated tie-down points allow you to strap down and safely secure your tools and equipment, which is incredibly convenient for campers and off-roaders. Installation is pretty straightforward, with some drilling required. All mounting hardware will be included in the kit.

    They are extremely sturdy and vertically extend the full length of the bedside, following the contours of your bed for maximum support. Not many bed stiffeners are built with this design/height advantage that adds extra stability to the bedsides.

    6. Bell Fabrication

    Bell Fabrication Steel Bed Stiffeners for 2nd and 3rd gen (2005+) Tacoma

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    Bell Fabrication specializes in affordable overland products for Toyota vehicles. They feature a one-piece, CNC cut and formed steel construction with a durable, textured black powder coat.

    They are competitively priced. Included in your purchase are left and right bed braces and all relevant hardware needed for installation.

    7. Westcott Designs

    Westcott Designs Bed Stiffeners for (2005-Current) 2nd 3rd Gen Tacoma

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    These are 100% made in the USA. They are laser cut and hand welded for sturdy, high-performance construction and are built to withstand substantial weights placed on top of the truck bed. For added durability, they are powder coated with a black finish.

    All mounting hardware is included. Installation should take you no more than 60 minutes or so.

      8. ATH Fabrication

      ATH Fabrication Bed Stiffeners for 3rd Gen (2016+) Tacoma

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      They come in bare steel, so you must do the coating yourself, with whatever color you feel like.

      The brackets come with integrated tie-downs, five on each, perfect for securing your off-road essentials or any other cargo you need to strap down. If you need to mount an antenna or auxiliary lights, the top plate has holes that allow you to do so. Also, each bracket has an integrated bottle opener, a convenient feature for tailgating and camping trips.

      9. Victory 4×4

      Victory 4x4 Powder Coated Bed Stiffeners for 3rd Gen Tacoma

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      Constructed from 3/16″ steel with a resilient black powder coat, these will strengthen your truck bed and prevent damage due to the force of heavy loads pressing down on the bed rails over time. They are designed to be compatible with both 2nd and 3rd Gen Tacoma models.

      Tie-down points are included in the design, perfect for securing your cargo. Keep in mind that they will not accommodate a Decked Drawer System setup. They are also not compatible with OEM bed extenders.

      Some drilling is required. If you need visual, step-by-step instructions, check out the YouTube installation video on their website.

      10. Leitner Designs

      Leitner Designs Low Profile Bed Stiffeners for 2nd and 3rd Gen (2005-Current) Tacoma

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      Each bracket is dual-stage powder coated for added durability and features an integrated tie-down loop for securing your gear. Although, compared to the rest of the market, the single tie-down point makes them much less versatile if you strap down gear often.

      Installation is straightforward, and all the required hardware is included in the package.

      Note: These stiffeners are only compatible with rigs outfitted with Leitner Designs’ Active Cargo System. It will not fit vehicles that don’t have the system installed.

      Final Thoughts

      DRT Fabrication Bed Stiffeners on 3rd Gen (2016+) Tacoma with Alu-Cab Explore Canopy & AreaBFE RTT

      When deciding which bed stiffener to go with, the differences between manufacturers are relatively marginal since the product idea is so simple. The most significant things to consider will be price and compatibility with drawer systems, if applicable, and if you want a lot of tie-down points. The aesthetics of certain designs may pull you towards a particular manufacturer.

      Overall, bed stiffeners are a great, cost-efficient way to protect the bedsides of your Tacoma. If nothing else, they will give you peace of mind knowing that your truck can support whatever you decide to mount or haul on/in the bed.

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      Peter
      Peter
      1 year ago

      I installed bed stiffeners in my ’09 Tacoma when I got it because I heard it was a necessity, but now I’m wondering … is it? Is bed cracking and breakage so common, it’s needed? I have a 200 Lbs fiberglass topper, and a 160 Lbs drawer system in the bed and use the truck for off-road trips only … am I really going to see the bed cracking and then breaking if I don’t put a stiffener on? Further, my bed stiffeners came with bolts that have something like a 104 kN tensile strength going through the 18-22 gauge… Read more »

      N0M4D
      N0M4D
      1 year ago

      Would have ben hand if this info was part of the article…

      “If you have a drawer system or plan on installing one in the future, look into which stiffeners are compatible with your drawers.”

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