What in the World is a Headache Rack

I'm going on the assumption that you know what a headache rack is. Let me explain though for the few who may not even know what it is. A headache rack is a steel, or sometimes aluminum rack that mounts on the bed rails just behind the cab of a pickup truck. There are some made for semi trucks though which are used to hang items from like tire chains. But like the pickup truck headache rack the semi truck application mounts behind the cab as well. In the pickup truck application they are also called back racks or cab protectors because that is the intention of their design.

Most guys will add a rear half hoop so they can throw a ladder up on top as well. The question is why do tons of people call them headache racks A popular article circulating throughout the internet claims they can be used to keep a surfboard from crashing through the rear of the cab and severely injuring the driver. Excuse me? That doesn't make much sense. I've driven the Pacific Coast highway several times and have yet to see anybody transporting surfboards in the bed of their truck in such a way that would put them at risk of the surf board crashing through the rear glass. I've seen them loaded in the bed of the truck or loaded on top of a ladder rack or custom surfboard rack. So I don't know why that article gets tossed around as the definitive answer to the question of why headache racks are called "headache rack!" True, a headache rack prevents cargo from crashing through the back window of a pickup truck. And true, if something does crash through the back cab hitting you in the head, it may give you a nasty "headache."

Some common items that end up making the journey from the bed into the cab through the back window are tools such as hammers, vice grips, and even skill saws. But any semi truck driver or contractor will tell you that the most common source of headaches from these truck mounted racks is due to negligence! That's right, they get their fitting name from the countless folks who have knocked their head on them while standing up in the bed of the truck or climbing around the back of the cab on a semi truck! It explains the golf ball sized bump on my grandfather's head when he knocked it on the rack jumping out of the pickup bed. That's when I realized the real reason it's called a headache rack!

With that being said, many of the new designs will reduce the risk of bumping into the thick steel. So headaches have likely been reduced in recent years. The bottom line is that these custom accessories are as functional as they are cool looking. For example, they provide a great place to mount rear facing cargo lights or even emergency light signals too. If you find yourself in need of one, make sure you don't skimp on the cost. As with everything else important to your vehicle, you get what you pay for.