For 45 years, ARB 4×4 Accessories has innovated products for vehicle-based adventures over rough terrain. Now, for the first time in more than 26 years, ARB releases a new roof rack system.
ARB’s very first product was a roof rack. And while the new ARB BASE Rack is just another platform-style roof rack, it’s one that thoroughly impresses.
ARB says that BASE stands for “Build, Attach, Set, and Explore.” Sure, that isn’t a very exciting name, but it does make sense. Although Australian off-road companies aren’t known for their quality branding or marketing, they are luckily renowned for innovative and top-quality off-road products.
Just Another Roof Rack?
Why should you care about another platform roof rack hitting the market? It’s a valid question, as there are a ton of options out there. Some of the top players in this space are Front Runner, Rhino-Rack, K-9, Yakima, and, of course, ARB. But the all-new ARB BASE Rack stands out from the crowd in a few key ways.
First, its thin profile and completely flat top surface offer a new take. The beam structure of the BASE Rack allows it to be extremely low-profile, aerodynamic, and strong.
The aluminum beams run across the vehicle and are fully welded together. This ensures optimal strength and the lowest weight possible. No welds or hardware protrude from the top of the rack, which maximizes the usable load surface and ensures loaded gear isn’t damaged by the rack.
Each beam can hold about 50 pounds, but accessory mounts work to spread the load across multiple beams. As with most top-quality platform roof racks, the vehicle roof is likely to fail before the rack in most cases.
ARB will offer vehicle-specific mounts for the BASE Rack and is sure to have some universal fit-style mounts on offer soon. Vehicle-specific air dams for the BASE Rack ensure aerodynamic efficiency and low wind noise.
Another cool feature of the BASE Rack is the ability to internally route any cables. When mounting electrical accessories, like solar panels and lighting, all you need to do is remove one screw in the corner cap of the rack to access the interior of the beams. This provides the tidiest install possible.
BASE Rack Accessory Attachment System
The all-new ARB BASE Rack system has a ton of unique little features, but the side-rail’s dovetail-style attachment system truly stands out from the crowd. Instead of the traditional t-slot, the BASE Rack has slots on the edges of the rail, both top and bottom. This dovetail-style mounting point allows for easy mounting and unmounting of all accessories and infinite adjustability.
Most platform-style roof racks use a t-slot attachment system for mounting accessories. The big drawbacks to the t-slot system are that it tends to collect grit and grime and requires the attachment mounts to be slid into the t-slot from the ends.
The disadvantage of this is that, many times, you have to remove other mounts to add new mounts. The BASE Rack dovetail-style attachment points mitigate all these issues. It’s easier to use, more configurable, and more versatile.
ARB BASE Rack Accessory Mounts
As with any good roof rack system, it’s the quality, convenient, and secure ways the rack can hold your bulky gear that is key. The BASE Rack not only works with a ton of rack accessories from market leaders like Thule and Yakima, but ARB has also developed a full line of quality mounts themselves.
Especially impressive are ARB’s slick, low-profile light bar mount — which can mount in front of or below the rack — and the Hi-Lift mount. The Hi-Lift mount is secure, rattle-free, lockable, and easy to use. There are also quality mounts on offer for traction boards, propane tanks, gas cans, and, of course, some high-quality universal tie-down points.
Another unique feature of the ARB BASE Rack is the ability to set up the brand’s platform rack with a variety of guard rail styles. On offer are full rail, three-quarter rail, trade rail, and one-quarter rail offerings. These guard rails are easy to install and remove, allowing you to quickly configure your rack for the task ahead.
BASE Rack Drawbacks
ARB will initially only offer two widths and five lengths for the BASE Rack. This should cover most applications but doesn’t allow the flexibility and custom fitment that some modular platform racks offer. Initially, the vehicle-specific rack mounts and air dams will be offered only for top Australian vehicles. This means your vehicle might not be able to get the most out of this rack system just yet.
My only real concern with this rack and mount system is that I’d think the clamp-style mounts could loosen up and come off when bouncing down rough roads, and especially when traveling over corrugations. That said, Australia is covered in highly corrugated dirt roads, and the brand tested this rack in that environment.
Shipping costs for this one-piece welded design rack also are sure to be more expensive than modular racks. While probably not a big deal, this will add a few dollars to the final price of these racks for many.
How Much and When?
We reached out to ARB USA to get pricing and availability details. We found out that the BASE Racks will hit U.S. shores in late summer. But pricing is still a bit of a mystery. We were told that it would be in “the middle of the road compared to competitors like Yakima, Rhino-Rack, and Front Runner.”
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