SnailArmor Aluminum Tailgate Panel Review

Aluminum Tacoma Tailgate Panel With Custom Trail Tacoma Etched Logo

Customize Your Tailgate Panel With Any Artwork

There are quite a few tailgate panels on the market by now, but one thing sets the SnailArmor flat tailgate panel apart from everything else.

To me, it came down to the custom etching. Being able to add your logo or whatever design you want sets this product apart from everything else on the market.

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Food Grade Safe?

Aluminum Tacoma Tailgate Panel With Custom Trail Tacoma Etched Logo

One of the first aftermarket panels on the market was the plastic food-grade option which acts as a cutting board – allowing you to cut food and prep your dinner – all on your tailgate. The idea is pretty cool in theory, however, after a hard day of wheeling, I don’t know about you, but my entire truck is filthy. The last thing I want to do is clean my tailgate so I can then cut some fresh fish. To some people, this is an amazing product and I’ve heard many people say good things about their food-grade panel, but it’s just not for me.

Sometime after that option circled the market, the first version of SnailArmor was introduced. The founder of SnailArmor; Jimmy Jet who runs the popular YouTube channel Snail Trail 4×4 wanted a lightweight, simple design, flat panel. That’s it, no elegant frills like food-grade safe cutting capabilities, no cup holders, and nothing other than a very simple flat tailgate panel.

Aluminum Vs. Plastic

They can withstand extreme temperatures so you don’t have to worry about putting hot pots/pans on the tailgate. Plastic can gouge when using the tailgate as a workbench, whereas metal will not.

The Founder

Aluminum Tacoma Tailgate Panel With Custom Trail Tacoma Etched Logo

Jimmy Jet comes from a background of pretty hardcore rock crawling, and at any given moment has at least three to five crawler builds going on.

This guy literally does the two-wheel drive to four-wheel drive conversions in his sleep. Okay, I’m kidding but he’s super into it. Jimmy has deep roots in the early model Toyota pickup world. From a young age, Jimmy was always interested in off-roading, beating the living daylights out of those trucks, and then putting those trucks back together again.

For Guys Who Wheel or Not…

Aluminum Tacoma Tailgate Panel With Custom Trail Tacoma Etched Logo

I’m telling you all of this because the product was designed with the off-roader in mind. You don’t need a food-grade safe tailgate panel to go have a good time. If you want a flat tailgate panel, here it is. It’s aluminum. It’s lightweight. It’s simple. it’s flat.

That’s Jimmy’s theory anyway – and I’m not going to lie, I bought into it. There’s something to be said about simplicity and the design. SnailArmor provides everything you need for a straight swap install.

Custom Artwork

Aluminum Tacoma Tailgate Panel With Custom Trail Tacoma Etched Logo

What I like most is the custom logo etching.

I’m a sucker for branding anything, and SnailArmor makes it easy. They do charge for additional logo etching services, however, it’s worth it. At the end of the day, when you open your tailgate and see your brand – that’s a feeling you don’t get with any other panel on the market.

It adds that “oh yeah, this is my build” feeling whenever you open the tailgate. We chose to run our Trail Tacoma full-length logo across the entire panel and couldn’t be more stoked with how it turned out. This is a pretty simple design but anything goes. Head over to Instagram and check out SnailArmor’s page to see all of the intricate custom designs they offer.

No Cup Holders?

Flat Aluminum Tailgate Panel for Toyota Tacoma

What about those other guys that offer cup holders? That’s a good question.

When’s the last time you parked on a 30% descent, hopped out, cracked a beer, and then needed a cup holder. Don’t worry, I’ll wait. Yeah, me neither.

Jimmy’s thought process in the cup holder theory of a tailgate panel is all so simple. You just don’t need one. And if you want one, buy the other panel.

When you’re parked on flat ground, you are finally at the end of the day where you can crack a beer set your beer on the tailgate panel. It’s very rare when you’re parked on an incline and need to set your beer down. If you need a cup holder in your panel, we’re not knocking it. We’re just saying it might not get used all that much in the real world.

Product Details

Flat Tailgate Panel For Toyota Tacoma

It’s laser cut from 5052 Aluminum. Then powder coated with black textured paint, however, it can be slippery when wet.

What makes SnailArmor stand out?

  • Flattest on the market
  • Makes for a flat work surface
  • Creates a table for camp cooking
  • Countersunk screws
  • Model-specific design
  • Sits lower than competitor plates
  • Prevents from slipping on grooves when jumping into the bed
  • No gaps, allowing the panel to sit flat
  • Personalize with custom laser etching
  • T30 Torx bit supplied
  • Free shipping to the Continental United States


  • SnailArmor: 9.70 lbs
  • Stock: 6.94 Lbs


Snailarmor Tailgate Panel - Aluminum Panel for Tacoma

The entire installation can be done in under an hour.

Step 1. Loosen Torx Screws

How to Remove Tailgate Panel on Tacoma

Using the T30 Torx bit, remove all 8 Torx screws (7 if it’s the 2nd Gen) along the top/outside of the tailgate liner. Leaving the tailgate in cap in place. Save the hardware as you will need them to reinstall later.

Remove the eight screws around the outside in the bottom/inside with a T-30 bit. You will not need these screws for installation. SnailArmor provides new screws for the bottom half of the tailgate panel.

Step 2. Remove Factory Liner

Snailarmor Tailgate Panel - Aluminum Panel for Tacoma

Remove the plastic OEM tailgate liner from the vehicle and place it to the side. Notice how the tailgate liner sits underneath the tailgate in the end cap. The factory tailgate insert will not be reused.

Step 3. Clean Sheet Metal

Clean Sheet Metal (Optional)

Optional: Clean the surface.

Step 4. Install Panel

Installing Tailgate Panel

Notice how the two different sides of the SnailArmor flat tailgate panel are different. One side has the countersunk holes for the flat head screws, this side should be facing upwards. Make sure the panel is underneath the end cap, just like the OEM tailgate liner.

Step 5. Hand Tighten Torx

Install Aluminum Tailgate Panel

Hand-tighten two of the large Torx screws along the top of the end cap.

Step 6. Hand Tighten Phillips

Installing Tailgate Panel

Using a screwdriver or ratchet driver, hand-tighten the provided flathead screws around the outside.

Do not over-tighten the screws as the plastic tabs on the backside can get stripped. The plastic tabs on the back can sit off which may cause the screws to sit above the recessed portion. This is normal. If this happens, loosen all of the screws, and hand-tighten them all slowly until each screw is perfectly flat.

Final Thoughts

Flat Tailgate Panel For Toyota Tacoma

To me, it comes down to the custom logo etching services that SnailArmor provides.

If I didn’t have a personal logo, I would probably opt for something like a TRD logo, maybe a topographic pattern, mountains, or something else.

Well done SnailArmor. Well done.

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