Thinking about upping your expedition game by adding a roof rack to your rig? Check out Front Runner’s Slimline II.
The low-profile, all aluminum Slimline II makes a strong first impression. It's highly adjustable, easy to modify, and built to last. Rated to saddle nearly 700 pounds but unobtrusive and sleek, it strikes an impressive balance between off road swagger and all-purpose adaptability.
The Backstory: Founded in Johannesburg, Front Runner takes pride in its African heritage—they've been designing, testing, and beating up overlanding gear in the African bush for over 15 years.
Unlike many players in the roof rack field, Front Runner has legitimate overlanding experience. Their gear has been battle-tested in some of the world's most unforgiving terrain. It's fair to say that their R&D department has earned some backroad cachet.
Adaptability: The Slimline comes in a multitude of sizes and configurations to fit just about any vehicle. Our favorite feature is the Slimline's slat system--slats can be added to create a solid platform (for sleeping or watching sunsets) or removed to accomodate T-tops or sunroofs.
Low Profile: The rack, as the name suggests, is slim, with a lower profile than most racks on the market. Many buyers are drawn to the Slimline for this reason alone. Less wind noise. Better fuel efficiency. We get it. But we're also glad that Front Runner offers the option to add "basket-style" expedition side rails (After all, not everyone worries about fitting into a parking garage). Again, the emphasis with the Slimline II is adaptability.
Easily Secured Loads: Loads are independently secured anywhere on the top, sides, or bottom of the rack using a bolt on system. Over 50 accessories mounts are available (bikes, fuel tanks, kayaks, recovery racks...you name it) and a "stratchit" connector allows for further adaptations.
Smart Design: The Slimline is a thoughtfully-designed system that minimizes the need to un-net the contents of your entire roof rack. Yes, you'll need to be willing to pony up for a selection of Front Runner's mounting components, but the end result is efficient and easily balanced.
Durable: Manufactured with high density aluminum, the Slimline tray won't rust and is considerably lighter than racks made of steel. In the past, we've owned more than a few steel racks and they've served us well enough (Heck, the rust even looked good on some of our more "vintage" rigs). But our newer rigs deserve a rack that lasts as long they do, so we're all for the high-density powder coated aluminum featured on the Slimline II.
Competitive Pricing: The cost of the Slimline II is dependent on vehicle type and accessories. A basic set up for a 4th generation Four Runner, for example, costs a little over $1,000 while a Jeep Wrangler JKU 4-door rings up at $1,500.
Smaller vehicles, of course, cost less to set up, but it's fair to say that the price conversation typically starts around $1000 and increases as accessories are added. Good news: Now that Front Runner has opened up shop in California, the decreased shipping cost makes the Slimline II a competitive option in the US market.
The Final Verdict: As with any vehicle accessory, much depends on personal taste. The Slimline II has a distinctive look that will play well with the expanding roof rack market. Though its lines might seem more "modern" compared to more traditional racks, it looks surprisingly good on older vehicles. Yes, the price point is higher than on a comparable steel rack, but a well-made aluminum rack like this one is worth the extra up-front cost. Ultimately, the versatility and bullet-proof construction make the Slimline II a top choice in the crowded roof rack market.
Photo Credits: Front Runner