A roof top tent is no good without a strong foundation, and for ours we chose the Slimline II platform roof rack from South African bush equipment manufacturer Front Runner. Here’s how the Front Runner rack performed on our road trip around Australia.
The Slimline II Roof Rack System from Front Runner is well proven and well regarded, having been used on many different vehicles through all manner of terrain and weather conditions.
So how did ours fare in the remote Australian bush? Read on to find out.
About Slimline II Roof Rack Kit
The Slimline II Roof Rack from Front Runner consists of the platform rack, wind deflector and foot rails to mount to our 2006 Land Rover Discovery 3. It easily installs using the existing factory mounting points and no drilling is required. The material is made out of black epoxy powder-coated T6 aluminium and 3CR12 Stainless Steel. Read more about the specs here.
Cost & Installation
We purchased the rack brand new through a local independent vendor at a cost of roughly $1200. This included the platform rack itself, an Aluminium perimeter frame with transverse slat supports, as well as the Land Rover specific Steel fitting rails. Oh and shipping to our home town of Perth, only one of the most isolated cities on earth!
Assembly and fitment was straight forward and simple. The contents were delivered in flat pack form and simply slot and bolt together with the provided fasteners and easy to understand instructions. A nice personal touch are the hand signed notes from the FR staff member who has checked and packed the contents.
The rack fastens to the Land Rovers roof via the 8 factory mounting points, 4 each side of the roof and located under the weather stripping. These mounting points are raised cylinders integral to the roof structure with an internal 6mm female thread. The underside of the rack has tabs that sit atop the roof mounts, and are held to the roof with supplied 6mm bolts.
Whilst this mounting arrangement has given no trouble, I would have preferred the Front Runner mounting rails to affix more positively to the roof. The flat tabs have a slightly oversize (7mm or so) hole and the weight of the rack is supported by only the few mm of steel in contact with the raised cylindrical mount. If the tab had a 6mm hole and slight recess of the same diameter as the cylindrical mount on it’s underside, this would be a sturdier solution.
Platform roof racks offer an excellent storage solution with a minimal cross section, and the Slimline II is no exception here. Eleven transverse slats offer nearly full coverage and minimise gaps, enabling good distribution of load across the entire rack. It is also possible to buy and fit additional slats, though significant disassembly of the rack would be required for this as they must be slid into the end of the rack and cannot just bolt in from the top.
Front Runner rate the Slimline II to carry up to 300Kg static load, with no dynamic load given. The manufacturer of you vehicle will provide a dynamic load rating, usually in the range of 75-100Kg for a full size 4WD wagon. Remember to also account for the weight of the rack itself, which in this case is 36Kg.
Given the testing and data Front Runner have conducted, their load rating seems to be conservative and has taken into account a wide range of possible circumstances. Check out some of the images here as testament.
There are a plethora of Front Runner accessories available to suit the Slimline II, and it’s modular design lends it to using accessories and equipment from other manufacturers as well. On our Discovery we have fitted the roof top tent mount kit, shovel mount and double Jerry can mount, all of which have bolted up easily and worked flawlessly.
Having covered our fair share of rough roads and dusty corrugations, we have found the durability of this roof rack to be excellent. There have been no loosening bolts, no fatigued metal and even the accessories have proved reliable and hard wearing.
Perhaps the only gripe would be some faint corrosion now evident on the steel mounting tracks, though after all the salty beaches we’ve ploughed through this may be inevitable. We have noticed a similar situation with our Front Runner rear ladder, so perhaps the powdercoat on steel components leaves some room for improvement.
The Slimline II roof rack system was the glue that held our gear together, and the grand overland roadtrip would not have been possible without it. Our verdict is in and we think it offers a great roof storage solution for those who require it, with high quality of construction and excellent functionality. Add in the great range of accessories and bolt on equipment and you have a real winner as far as we are concerned.
While the price will be a sticking point for some, it is competitive with similar systems such as the Rhino Backbone and far lighter than the cheap generic steel platforms you find on eBay. Those aforementioned steel platforms also need seperate cross bars to mount up to the vehicle, which increases the cost and height of installed setup as well, so remember to account for these things when shopping around.
Have you already bought, or are considering buying the Front Runner Roof Rack for your vehicle? Agree or disagree with my opinion? Let us know in the comments below.