Modular telescopic truck rack/shell is as versatile as a pickup itself
Küat is best known for the work it's done around the vehicle hitch, offering a well-known lineup of bike racks. This year, it's stepped up a little higher, designing one of the most innovative and versatile pickup racks on the market. In fact, its Ibex isn't merely a skeletal rack capable of carrying bikes, boards, cargo boxes, traction boards and other accessories – it doubles as a truck cap, concealing and protecting cargo behind lock and key. Already the flexible, do-anything Swiss Army knife of vehicles, the pickup truck gets exponentially more versatile with an Ibex in back.
We first spotted the Küat Ibex at Overland Expo West earlier this year, and despite the fact that there were similar pickup racks about every 15 feet or so, something about this one drew us in. The basic frame is about as simple as you can get, but it's a clean, attractive design that feels almost out of place on a market full of jagged accessories that look like they're made to cripple the enemy.
One fact that surprised us on our initial product tour was that the low and high Ibex models on show weren't actually two separate model sizes but the very same rack. The design uses extending vertical side tubes to adjust between roughly half-cab height and full-cab height, allowing users to raise or lower depending on what they're carrying (or not carrying).
The other aspect of the Ibex design that kept us milling around the booth for a good 25 minutes was the sheer modularity of the system. The rack is designed to work with a growing ecosystem of plug-and-play components and accessories that includes full-size MOLLE panels to fill out the open space in the rack sides, whether in full-height or half-height form.
From there, mounting options explode, and you can use Küat's compatible mounts for things like jacks, traction boards and shovels. The MOLLE panels are also made to work with third-party mounting hardware, and the side frames and upper crossbars include T-channel for more mounting capability.
The Ibex is also designed for side-mounting Küat's Piston SR bike rack, which installs on the lower bars with or without the MOLLE panel attached. This delivers a mid-level way of transporting a mountain bike that sits between roof rack and hitch rack height. Owners can install just one Piston SR or one on each side.
Up top, the Ibex's two telescoping crossbars are ready to carry anything from rooftop tents, to gear-specific racks and cargo boxes, to luggage. Owners can also buy additional cross bars for added capacity.
Küat didn't build the Ibex just to shuttle bicycles between downtown and the local park, either. It developed it specifically for overlanding and gear-heavy adventures that require traveling the rugged path. The black-powder-coated aluminum rack is rated for up to 1,200 lb (544 kg) of static weight – a veritable rooftop tent party, 600 lb (272 kg) of dynamic weight on the highway, and 300 lb (136 kg) of dynamic weight through the bumps, drops and rattles of off-roading.
That latter figure might seem low after seeing the initial 1,200-lb static load, but think about a rooftop tent at roughly 150 lb (23 kg), each Piston SR rack at 27 lb (12 kg), maybe 30 lb (13.6 kg) per mountain bike, and you can get plenty up there pretty while keeping within the 300-lb maximum. And if you need more capacity, you can always put a separate rack over the truck cab ... or use that big, open pickup bed below.
Throw in other available accessories like an antenna mount, slim MOLLE panel, rear grab handle, and, of course, bottle opener, and the Ibex has been a pretty comprehensive offering since its introduction. Küat cranked it up further at this month's SEMA Show, where it introduced a solid panel kit that transforms the open Ibex rack into a weather-resistant pickup cap.
We've heard tell of some smaller rack fabricators working on this type of product, but Küat is the first one we've seen to actually combine the functions of an above-bed rack with a cap. Each panel mounts directly to the rack, and all three side panels are designed as openable hatches with gas-strut assist. They also include locks for full truck shell security. The roof panels mount below the cross bars, ensuring that owners can still carry cargo on top without any extra hardware.
Küat has designed the Ibex base rack in six different sizes to accommodate the majority of pickup trucks on the US market, with base prices ranging between US$1,489 and $1,589. The panel kit, which will launch in 2024 initially only for the Toyota Tacoma short bed but later in additional sizes, doubles that price with a $1,489 price tag of its own. But even at roughly $3,000, the Ibex cap is competitive with other premium truck caps and brings loads more flexibility with its convertible rack/cap design and modular ecosystem.
Of course, while modular systems enhance function multifold, they do the same for price. Each Piston SR bike rack goes for $498, plus another $98 for each SR-to-Ibex mount; the full-height MOLLE panels are $300+ each depending on rack size; and other available accessories range between $29 and $189. The cooler your personal rack becomes, the more likely it is to rip the pockets clean out of your pants.