Best Tailgate Pads (Evoc, Thule, Yakima)

Whether biking or surfing triggers your adrenaline rush, there is no excuse to disregarding the truck that carries your bikes and surfboards. After all, the truck brings you and your gears to your exciting location. Tailgate pads are a highly recommended investment, not just for your bike or surfboard, but even more so with your truck.

Traditionally, we transport mountain bikes or surfboards through racks, which may be mounted on a roof, trunk, or via trailer hitch. However, roof and strap-based trunk racks are aimed primarily for SUV’s. Truck owners only have hitch rack as an option.

This led to a lot of truck owners looking for other methods of hauling their 2-wheelers. They lay them in the bed of the truck secured and fastened down by handlebars or they mount them with customized wheel chocks in the bed.

Also, with the rising popularity of cycling, bikes have gone more expensive, making owners avoid throwing them in the bed of the truck as they are that precious. Such scenarios drove the engineers of car gears to design products that are specific to truck owners. This is to aid them in moving along their treasured bikes and surfboards.

Best Tailgate Pads

Considering the factors listed in getting the best tailgate pad, we reviewed the top 7 of what we think are quality models that may help you narrow down your choices.

  1. Evoc Tailgate Pad
  2. RaceFace Tailgate Pad
  3. Dakine Pickup Pad
  4. Thule Gate Mate Tailgate Pad
  5. Demon Tailgate Pad for Mountain Bikes
  6. Thule Surf Tailgate Pad
  7. Yakima GateKeeper Tailgate Pad

#1. Evoc Tailgate Pad – Well-engineered for the cost

Evoc Tailgate Pad

Not taking as much time as you do when loading and unloading your bike from a more complex bike rack, Evoc Tailgate Pad does the job of protecting your bikes and truck exceptionally well. Anyone who drives along rough trails knows that it causes persistent movement by the bikes. Repetitive shifting by the bikes may result in scratches.

Not with Evoc Tailgate Pads. It has straps positioned in between the toughened foam guides, which are optional, but ideal for long trips and rough roads. The straps could take a minute or two to mount or unmount the bike, but they guarantee to fasten the bike down securely with supportive pads.

They come in two sizes, M/L and L/XL. The regular-sized one fits well with Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier, Chevrolet Canyon, and Ford Ranger and some compact trucks. The L/XL is perfect for Toyota Tundra, Nissan Titan, Chevrolet Silverado, Ford-F150, Dodge Ram, and other full-size trucks.

Features and Specifications

  • Fixation for up to 6 bikes
  • Made of 600 Denier tarpaulin, coated with polyurethane
  • Velcro fold-up flap for easy access to tailgate handle
  • Dimensions:
    • M/L 53 x 33 x 1 inches 07 pounds
    • XL 63 x 39 x 1 , inches 5.07 pounds
  • Comes in black and olive
ProsCons
Release handle makes easy access to the tailgate
Huge EVOC logo
Unique pad attachment systemMore expensive than other brands
Well-designed straps and separators
May block backing-up camera
Durable and weatherproof
Polyurethane coated

What Customers Think

Customers claim that Evoc Tailgate Pad is not just your smart-looking tailgate pad. It works best on different truck sizes and models. Its nice thick and strong materials securely fasten to the tailgate.


#2. RaceFace Tailgate Pad – Your worry-free companion

RaceFace Tailgate Pad

Made of durable denier fabric (600D) + PVC (Polyvinyl chloride) with herringbone weave and DWR (Durable water repellent) treatment for water repellency, RaceFace Tailgate Pad is your all-weather protection for your bike and truck.

Best fitting Toyota Tacomas, it has raised bumpers along the edge and larger raised pads outward the tailgate to keep your forks stationary. This system makes the bumpers keep the down tubes in place and each bike separated. If the bumpers fail, there are Velcro straps that secure them to the pad.

RaceFace Tailgate Pad is one of the pricey options, but its lining is beefy enough to protect your tailgate perfectly.

Features and Specifications

  • Outer pad is constructed of 600 Denier + PVC with micro-brushed inner lining.
  • Can hold up to 6 bikes
  • Velcro-backed webbing loop and strap system if bumpers are not enough
  • Dimensions
    • Small/Medium 57″ Width
    • Large/X-Large 61″ Width
  • Comes in black and inferno
ProsCons
Available in sizes that fit small, medium and large trucksMay fit poorly on newer model trucks
Extra security provided by raised square pads
Fabric tends to fade
Has inner lining that protects the tailgate
Easy to put on a tailgate
Easy to clean

What Customers Think

Putting it on and taking it down effortlessly is something to love about this tailgate pad. As if the pads and bumpers aren’t enough to hold down the bikes, they’ve thrown in some Velcro straps for more security.


#3. Dakine Pickup Pad – Your fastest on-the-go bike setup

Dakine Pickup Pad

Dakine Pickup Pad allows a quick and secure transport of up to 7 bikes, thanks to the mountain bike shuttling solution pioneered by Dakine. Made from Nylon material, it is heavy-duty at its 2cm of plush padding. This will leave you worrying less about the scratches and enjoying your drive more.

The number of bikes it can hold makes it an ideal gear for families and larger groups. The secure fasteners and heavy padding on your tailgate assure you that no paint gets scratched when passengers are taking their bikes off.

The long-lasting construction is sturdy and durable. It is confident to survive tough outdoor conditions and rough wear and tear. While it adds up to the looks of your truck, you can easily go back to how it originally looks by simply lifting it off from the tailgate.

Features and Specifications

  • Made of Nylon material, polyester cover & padding
  • Can hold up to 7 bikes
  • It has a Velcro flap that allows easy access to tailgate handle
  • Dimensions
    • Small 54” Width
    • Large 62” Width
  • Comes in black
ProsCons
Individual frame anchor straps that hold the bike in place across the top of the padNo bumpers/separation pads
Features a wider width compared to other models.
Hangs high on the tailgate
Handle flap can be secured in an open position
Reflective logo for improved visibility
Sturdy construction

What Customers Think

One customer claims to have recently purchased his second from this brand. It is by far his cheapest choice to carry a lot of bikes as it works well with any kind of frame. Many agree with him when he says, this is safer than hanging off the bikes on a trailer hitch.


#4. Thule Gate Mate Tailgate Pad – Simplifies your bike transporting needs

Thule Gate Mate Tailgate Pad

Your economical choice in transporting a bike with your truck is the Thule Gate Mate Tailgate Pad. No, it won’t take up most of your bed space, but it allows you to drape your bike right over the tailgate. With this pad in place, you can easily sit your bike right over, leaving so much space from your bed.

The pad that’s made of heavy-duty vinyl protects your bike and truck from any scuffs, scratches, and abrasions. It is 62” wide and is roomy enough for up to 7 bikes. Utilize the nylon straps located on top to fasten the bikes to the tie-down points.

Thule Gate Mate Tailgate Pad introduces a knock lock on each side. This is to prevent any of your hauls from sliding off the side. You can also gain easy access for your tailgate latch with its flap, so you won’t have to take the whole thing off.

Features and Specifications

  • Allows you to transport up to 7 bikes on your compact truck’s tailgate
  • Soft rubber pads have anchor straps to keep your bikes separated and secured on rack
  • Constructed with heavy-duty vinyl with interior foam padding
  • Dimensions
    • Small 53” Width
    • Large 62” Width
  • Comes in black and has limited lifetime warranty
ProsCons
Can carry as many as 7 bikes on full-sized truck
No straps to secure bikes in place
Molded foam blocks keep the bike from sliding
Poorly positioned tailgate handle flap
Ultra-soft underside prevents scratches
May need up to two people to install it
More affordable than other brands
Durable construction

What Customers Think

Even without straps to fasten down the bikes, customers still think this works best for them. Especially with one customer who drives a Ridgeline. To him, it was quick and easy to throw your bikes at and he trusts it to keep his bikes stable.


#5. Demon Tailgate Pad for Mountain Bikes – Fits like a glove

Demon Tailgate Pad for Mountain Bikes

Demon Tailgate Pad has Tool Pocket adding to its design that is secure and plush. It is ideal for keeping the bikes in place while driving on a pickup. With safety and security in consideration, it provides multiple slots for bikes, pockets for tools, bike frame Velcro straps, and reflectorized graphics for improved visibility.

It can hold as many as 7 bikes on a full-sized truck with its 62” width. Built with ¾ ‘ foam pad with heavy-duty vinyl cover, the protection of the bike as well as the truck is well-guaranteed.

Aside from the tool pocket, Demon Tailgate Pad includes in its design an access flap that allows you to get into the tailgate handle in the need to open the tailgate. This approach reduces the need to uninstall the pad off the tailgate just to open it.

Features and Specifications

  • Made from heavy-duty vinyl, with ¾” foam
  • Dimensions
    • Small 54”
    • Large 62”
  • Velcro flap allows for access to tailgate handle
  • Tool pockets for trail gears
  • Comes in black color with reflective logo
ProsCons
Vinyl cover that is sturdy enough to protect the bike and truckBlocks off view for backing-up cameras of some trucks
Reflective logo improves visibility when driving at night
Securing straps is not easy
Flap allows for tailgate handle’s easy accessPoorly fits on some trucks
Allows for easy loading of bikes
Fits a wide variety of bikes

#6. Thule Surf Tailgate Pad – Great for Standup boards

Thule Surf Tailgate Pad

Sure, you drive your truck to haul all the stuff you need, including your surfboard. Your boards, on the other hand, require some care. You can rest the board in the bed of the truck and risk damage to it and the truck itself. Or, get the Thule Surf Tailgate pad for the convenient and safe transport of your surfboards. Stand-up paddles boards fit, too!

Considering that surfboards may always be in sun, sand, and salt, its construction is with no-fade UV resistant fabrics. This is so the colors won’t fade, and the pads won’t wrinkle and go brittle with extended exposure to such harmful elements.

A sturdy strap is which is 1” x 4” long is helpful to attach the boards and keep them in place. You may add straps for the other end but note that they are sold separately.

Features and Specifications

  • Holds 1 board at a time
  • Keeps board from moving around in truck bed – keeps scratches and dings away
  • Long-lasting UV-resistant fabric
  • Strap system secures pad to tailgate
  • Dimension: 18″
ProsCons
Durable and fade-resistant UV fabrics
Can hold only one board
Quick installation
Built-in straps for easy use

#7. Yakima GateKeeper Tailgate Pad – Good alternative to hitch mount

Yakima GateKeeper Tailgate Pad

Convert your tailgate to an easy-to-use 6-bike rack. Yakima GateKeeper Pad is designed with integrated bike cradles and closure ties that fasten down your bikes to keep it stable and secure.

With tailgate pads, you can simply tuck in your bike on the tailgate, leaving you some room in the bed for other stuff needed. Allowing the pads to rest on the tailgate gives the trucks and the bikes the protection they need on bumpy roads. The pads are made soft enough to not cause damage to the paint jobs but stiff enough to hold the bikes still.

Therefore, rough roads won’t leave you stressing about straining your bike frames and scratching your car paint.

What you will really like about the Yakima GateKeeper is the large flap/opening. You can pull that up to gain access to the tailgate handle and you can keep it in that position to gain a view from your backup cameras. Especially helpful if we need to see where we are going behind, right?

Features and Specifications

  • Carrying capacity of 6 bikes
  • SitTight Technology cradles secure your bikes and keeps them from shifting or sliding as you drive
  • HindSight flap lets you use the tailgate handle as well as a backup camera without removing the pad
  • Tough and durable nylon outer surface is abrasion and weather-resistant
  • Dimensions
    • Small 53” Width
    • Large 62” Width
ProsCons
Built to resist harsh weather conditions
Needs better stitching
Provision for rear/backup camera
Thick foam protection
Extremely durable

Top Pick Tailgate Pad

Engineered with a thoughtful design and useful features, combined with long-lasting materials, Dakine surely did their research with their Dakine PickUp Pad. The different sizes of pads and bumpers are there for a reason. Each, on its own different size, serves the purpose of cradling bike frames and preventing additional movement.

This system keeps the fork legs in place for added security. Unlike other models, the straps for Dakine PickUp Pad are sewn to the pad itself and not through Velcro. This is ideal as Velcro straps can easily get lost in the wind. The tailgate flap, although is present with the other models we featured, is designed with the newer and thicker materials and can be secured in both open and closed position.

Looking at it, Dakine PickUp may be similar to RaceFace – the tailgate flaps, bumpers, and pads. But, what makes it the top pick is its durability. The materials used – 1000D finish stands up to elements way better than the others on the list. Not to mention the microfleece liner on its underside for better protection of your truck’s tailgate.


What to Consider Before Getting a Tailgate Pad

Carrying your bikes on your vehicle these days leaves you with a lot of options. There are roof, hitch, and trunk racks to name a few. But, if you have a pickup truck, it adds you one more option of using tailgate pads.

It would be clever to just hang on a blanket or a towel to pad your tailgate, but if you do that, you can say goodbye to your nice paint job. Good thing the market has many of these to choose from. But, how do you know it is the best tailgate pad that will do its job more effectively? Consider the following points before spending out on a protective blankie for your truck.

Fit

The most obvious consideration should be at the top of your mind when looking for a tailgate pad. If the pad is too loose or too fit, it may not be possible to carry your bike smoothly. Most tailgate pads come in two sizes, standard (or small) and large.

The large-sized tailgate pads generally fit full-sized pickup trucks like Dodge Ram, Toyota Tundra, and Ford F-150. Standard sized pads are appropriate for small to mid-size trucks such as Ford Ranger, Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier, and GMC Canyons.

If you want to make sure the pad fits your truck, simply measure the width of your tailgate and compare it with the width of the tailgate pads. On the other hand, you may also check with your vehicle’s manufacturer for recommended tailgate pads.

Safety and Protection

Above all, we want to make sure we have that pad that firmly holds our bikes in place. A pad that lets your bikes knock around at the back of your truck leaves you no reason to buy them. Make sure that the pad you get to keep your bikes from falling off or causing damage.

Such pads utilize securing straps that hold them while traversing on rough roads or climbing up a trek. Some manufacturers find it unnecessary to have massive pads to cover the whole length of the tailgate. Instead, they integrate individual bike mounts that have padded bases. Strapped around the tailgate, they do not block the rear-view camera of the pickup truck.

Nevertheless, having full and heavy pads offer good protection for both the bike and the truck. You won’t get it wrong choosing either one.

Durability

If your truck is used for biking on weekends and hauling loads on weekdays, a heavy-duty tailgate pad is what you need. It adds up to its value especially if you need to leave them on withstanding the soaking rain, glaring sun, and high temperatures.

For occasional use, you won’t have to worry about not getting the most expensive one. Pricey tailgate pads don’t always mean they are the most durable for you. It all depends on your situation and how you use it.

Installation and Usability

Tailgate pads ideally are supposed to be taken on or off every time you use it. A lot of people prefer taking them off after use since they can be easily stolen. They also block the backing-up camera, so it’s understandable they shouldn’t be there all the time.

With this in mind, the one you should get is that that can be easily put on and taken off – perhaps all by yourself. They should be easy to use, comfortable, and not time-consuming.

You may also check out those pads that have tailgate handle flap. This helps you to easily open your truck tailgate even when the pad is in place.

Color, Style, and Price

Most tailgate pads are styled to look rugged and dark, so there isn’t a lot of choices in color and style. Some, who are for the purpose of adding aesthetics to their pickup for those that look good than are durable.

There isn’t a big difference in price tags between an average cover and a high-end one. Maybe just about a hundred dollars or so. Considering what the pad will be protecting will help you get your best buy.

Tailgate Pads’ Benefits and Uses

Throwing your bike on tailgate pads is much simpler than attaching it in a bike rack. This makes it especially useful for truck drivers with their bikes for gravity runs. Moreover, with mountain bike wheels getting bigger, frames getting longer, and full suspension causing drastic changes to top tubes, it became a problem with most traditional bike racks.

Tailgate pads are the attractive option as it not just add aesthetic to your truck, but using it creates a barrier between your truck and your bike. This leaves no direct contact between the bike and your truck, hence no damage done. It could be helpful if you are concerned about the paint job or if you are thinking of the resale value of your truck or bike.

Tailgate Pads or Bike and Hitch Mounts. Which is Better?

Hitch mount bike racks, as used traditionally can sure transport a lot of bikes. However, utilizing one may require you to use hitch installation. Although they are made to be attached with a bike or surf racks, doing so may block the access to the tailgate. The additional length bike racks add to the vehicle itself makes maneuvering a tad challenging.

Tailgate Pads are simple to use. No tools and drilling required. Just lay them on the tailgate, and you’re good to go. As perfect as it sounds, there are still bits of it that we don’t find helpful. For instance, the probability of the pad blocking the rear-view camera.

Both are helpful and effective in carrying bikes and surfboards. But, as we laid down the good and the bad, it’s up to you to decide which one you think will work for you.

Are Tailgate Pads Necessary?

This large rectangular pad made from stiff foam is a great way to transform your truck from a simple hauling vehicle to a nice and rugged-looking bike rack. It gives you the freedom from other tasks you might need to do such as, installing a bike rack, drilling holes here and there, and removing wheels from your bike.

The modern rack technology has made it easier for truck owners to carry a bike with no compromises. Combine the pads and the tailgate and you’ve got yourself an effective bike rack.

Conclusion

As straightforward as they look, the search for the best tailgate pads can be hard. The features make it difficult to pick the one you need. Hopefully, the reviews we made will stop you from throwing an old rug on your tailgate and pretend it’s a tailgate pad.

Read and research. Learn from other users’ experiences and let your data be the judge. Surely, the best tailgate pad will give you nothing but an exciting ride with your gears.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: What do you get from buying a tailgate pad?

A: Tailgate pads are way cheaper than getting a new paint job from your truck, or your bike for that matter. While you can throw the bikes in bed and just let them lay around the bed, the constant bouncing and moving will cause damage not just to your bike but to your truck as well. Tailgate pads keep them fixed firmly at the back of your pickup truck, so they don’t fly out as you drive.

Q: How should I know which size fits my truck?

A: Tailgate pads commonly come in two sizes, large and small. The larger ones range from 59” to 62” while the smaller from 50” to 53”. Measure the width of your tailgate and then do the math. You may also refer to manufacturers to see if the model they offer fits your truck. The same way you can check with your car dealership if they can recommend what fits your vehicle.

Q: What makes a quality truck pad?

A: A quality truck pad is that is gentle enough to keep scuffs and scratches away but firm to keep the bikes still and durable to withstand all weather conditions is the way to go. Go with tailgate pads that are made with at least 600D fabric. It wouldn’t hurt to find those brands that weatherproof their products too!

Q: Any useful tips using tailgate pad for mountain bike?

A: Tailgate pads do an outstanding job of keeping your truck and bikes safe. However, sometimes their heavy-duty finish is a bit hard on your bike’s paint job. Some bikers use foam pipe covers on the fork and downtube for that additional protection. Also, if you need to bolster your tailgate’s padding, especially if it doesn’t fit well with the width of your tailgate, you can use a foam pipe to cover across the width of it to improve the fit.

Relevant Resources

Leave a Comment