No matter if you prefer off-road or urban driving, having the best tailgate ladder for trucks on deck is the quality-of-life that you must get. Trucks come in all sizes, but one thing is certain – boarding on the back of the truck can be a cumbersome task. Even though some trucks come with an enhanced rear bumper to help you climb, a ladder is where it’s at.
With a solid and trustworthy ladder for your tailgate, climbing should go effortlessly. This particular truck accessory is aimed especially towards people who load and unload a lot. The tailgate can handle quite a lot of pressure, so why not upgrade it by attaching a fitting tailgate ladder. Now, I prepared all the essential info you need before you make the final decision and opt for a specific model (which you can also find below). Let’s dig in!
Who Needs a Tailgate Ladder?
If you ask me – every truck owner needs a tailgate ladder. “Why?” – you must ask. Well, even though a ladder is not entirely necessary, it is a helping tool that can help you in all sorts of situations. The tailgates get higher as the trucks get bigger, and sometimes it can be really risky to climb a tailgate.
For example, if you spend a lot of time off the road (camping and tailgating), a tailgate ladder can help you climb the truck. Another great example of a truck driver that needs a tailgate ladder on his four-wheeled friend are people who transport a lot of cargo. If you ever used your truck to help someone move, you surely know that the load/unload process is much harder if you have to climb the full height of the tailgate. Well, a tailgate ladder allows you to climb up and come down without putting too much strain on your legs or on your back.
Best Tailgate Ladders Comparison Chart
Traxion 5-100 Tailgate Ladder
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Beech Lane Pickup Truck Tailgate Ladder Universal Fit
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Great Day Truck N’ Buddy Tailgate Step TNB2000B
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Westin 10-3000 Truck-Pal Tailgate Ladder
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Top Line TS2000-01 Silver Bed-Hopper Tailgate Step
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Great Day TNB3000MB Truck N’ Buddy
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Heininger 4260 Black HitchMate Tire Step
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Best Tailgate Ladders for Pickup Trucks Reviews
1. Traxion 5-100 Tailgate Ladder
This Traxion tailgate ladder comes in the classic shape that should be mounted on the side of the tailgate itself. The color and the overall design are solid black, so it should fit in perfectly with any truck and tailgate color finish. This three-step tailgate ladder will be more than enough to cover all your loading needs, without making you do the extra effort of climbing the truck.
When it comes to the mounting proves, you will need a .14-inch drill to make the six holes necessary for the platform. Once you secure the platform the ladder is easily attached using the two holders on top. The weight capacity is ranked at 300 pounds, which is more than enough for most types of tasks. Lastly, the side-mounting design of the ladder enables you to use it even if you have a trailer attached in the back.
- A durable tailgate ladder for trucks that is mounted on the side and can handle up to 300 pounds of weight
- The mounting system allows you to use the tailgate ladder even if there is a trailer behind
- The ladder is easily stored against the tailgate once you are done with it
- Some truck models are not supported (like the Dodge Rab Box) so make sure to double-check the compatibility before you get this ladder model
2. Beech Lane Pickup Truck Tailgate Ladder Universal Fit
Here we have a tailgate ladder that fits almost every truck model out there. This Beech Lane tailgate ladder offers a nice and easy way to climb the back of the truck. The design is based on simplicity, both with color and the materials used – the ladder is lightweight so even the elderly can use it without the need for extra muscle.
The ladder isn’t foldable, but it does come with a Velcro system for easy storage when not in use. You can mount the ladder on either side of the tailgate, which also allows you to use it even if there is a trailer at the back. The weight capacity is rated at 300 pounds. Installing this tailgate ladder is easy – all you have to do is attach the stability platform to the tailgate, and connect the ladder. Make sure to use all the screws, despite the fact that the ladder can still be installed with less.
- A tailgate ladder that can be used even when you have a trailer attached
- The aluminum makes the ladder lightweight and accessible to the elderly
- Comes with a storage system that uses Velcro to secure the ladder when not in use
- The screws that come in are a bit tough to work with, so securing an extra set of screws is the safest way to go
3. Great Day Truck N’ Buddy Tailgate Step TNB2000B
The Tuck N’ Buddy is one of the most versatile tailgate ladders for trucks out there. Actually, it is a step that doubles as a ladder and as a seat. The overall design approach is prioritizing functionality, and the all-black design will match any truck color and design out there. Lastly, the weight of the ladder itself is only 14 pounds, so you don’t have to worry about mounting or using it.
If you are looking for a ladder that doesn’t take much space and doesn’t have to be mounted on the side of the tailgate, this model might do the trick. The Truck N’ Buddy is mounted on the longer side of the tailgate and it folds up into its designated place, thus saving a lot of storage space. With a simple movement, you can unfold it and get it ready in a few seconds.
- His particular tailgate ladder model doubles down as a seat and a ladder at the same time
- The ladder saves a lot of storage space when you are not using it since it folds up
- The cables that support the whole ladder are rated for 1700 pounds
- All of these features come with a heftier price, but the pay-off is there from the first time you use the ladder
4. Westin 10-3000 Truck-Pal Tailgate Ladder
The Truck-Pal is versatile, strong, and user-friendly. This tailgate ladder model is designed to help out truck drivers that don’t want to put the extra strain on their back while loading and unloading the truck. On top of that, you will be happy to hear that the ladder is made of aluminum, making it lightweight and durable at the same time. The color finish is metallic gray which can help you spot the ladder more easily in low-visibility conditions.
When it comes to the mounting system, we are talking about a rear mount for this tailgate ladder. It also comes with a foldable mechanism that helps you put the ladder away once you are done with it. Additionally, the ladder can be installed on trucks with bed covers, so you don’t have to worry about the storage space. The weight capacity is rated at 300 pounds, which is more than enough to help you with the loading and unloading.
- A sturdy tailgate ladder made of highly-durable, lightweight aluminum
- The whole ladder is foldable, making it easy to store once you are done using it
- This tailgate ladder model can be installed on trucks with bed covers.
- The ladder is installed on the back of the tailgate, so it can be hard to use it if you have a big trailer attached
5. Top Line TS2000-01 Silver Bed-Hopper Tailgate Step
Some drivers prefer the simplicity of a tailgate ladder step instead of installing and mounting a large ladder. If you recognized yourself, I recommend you take the minimalist approach too. The Top Line is something we call a “single-step” ladder or a “bed-hopper”. It does not give you the luxury of sitting on it. Instead, it is known for saving a lot of space, because it requires no platforms or separate storage boxes or systems. All you have to do is – install it. That’s it.
Now, the single step is small, yes, but it should not be underestimated. This tailgate bed-hopper is easy to mount and it can fit on both rounded and square tailgates. It even folds up on its own once you close the tailgate, making it virtually invisible. The tailgate step supports up to 400 pounds of weight, which is impressive since it’s above average when it comes to tailgate ladders for trucks.
- A tailgate bed-hopper that is easy to install, mount, and use
- Weight capacity rated at 400 pounds total
- The step is foldable and unnoticeable when folded against the tailgate
- Tailgate bed-hoppers are not as easy to use for the elderly since they require balance and some strength
6. Great Day TNB3000MB Truck N’ Buddy
This particular Truck N’ Buddy is one of the biggest and strongest tailgate ladders for trucks out there. It comes with grips on the side, and it doubles down as a seat as well. The all-black design makes it fit in with every truck color out there. If you are aiming for a long-term tailgate ladder solution, this might just be the one for you.
First of all, the size of the ladder step is quite spacious – it takes up the whole length of the tailgate, but it doesn’t impair the storage space at all. This is achieved with the folding system that makes the ladder fall neatly, thus saving storage space. The weight capacity of this ladder is rated at 400 pounds, which is more than enough to help you load and unload cargo. And, if tailgating is up your alley, this ladder can play the role of a bench.
- A large and sturdy tailgate step ladder that doubles up as a bench or a seat
- Total weight capacity rated at 400 pounds
- The tailgate ladder’s folding mechanism allows you to set up the ladder in seconds
- This type of ladder is for serious truckers only, it offers a lot, but it also costs a lot
7. Heininger 4260 Black HitchMate Tire Step
Somewhere between a tailgate ladder for trucks and step ladders, we have the tire step. This particular tire step, the HitchMate, brings all the versatility of a tailgate ladder, combined with the portability of a single-step type. The finish is black, and the stepping surface is covered with an anti-slip pattern that helps with the overall grip in wet conditions.
The whole tire step weighs about 2 pounds, but it can hold up to 400 pounds (rated weight capacity). One of the biggest features here is that it doesn’t require any assembly – it is ready to use out of the box. As the name suggests, you hitch the tire step to a tire and use it to reach around the hood or the back of your truck with ease.
- A super-lightweight, portable tire step which fits easily in a toolbox in your truck
- Ready to use out of the box – requires no assembly and folds back when you’re done
- Despite its small frame, the tire step is rated to hold up to 400 pounds
- This is not a fixed ladder, so it may not be a good fit for people that look for a more traditional ladder approach
Tailgate Ladders for Pickup Trucks – Buying Guide
Now that we’ve seen the pure basics of what tailgate ladders for trucks have to offer, let’s dive a bit into the details. There isn’t much we can talk about, right? A ladder is a ladder – one of the oldest tools man used even in ancient times. But if you read The Car Picks guides, you’d know that I always insist on the good old the devil is in the details.
1. Weight Capacity
This tailgate ladder spec is pretty much straightforward – the weight capacity represents how much weight you can put on the ladder before it loses its integrity and breaks. Past experiences tell me that this weight limit is actually quite a bit higher, but I can understand the manufacturers wanting to put a number on the product.
Past the weight limit point, they can’t (and shouldn’t) guarantee that the ladder will hold. The best advice I can give you regarding the weight limit of the ladder, besides learning where the limit is – try to feel the ladder beneath your feet. If you are approaching the limit, you should feel the bend, or in some cases, hear the cracking of the connectors. If this happens, ease of the cargo and try again.
The weight limit also heavily relies on how well you install the ladder on your tailgate. This is why you need to pay extra attention when screwing in the necessary screws the manufacturer provides you with.
Some truck drivers might argue that this is the most important spec of tailgate ladders – its dimensions. Height, to be exact. Now, the reason behind this is – the fit. Every truck is similar in height, yes, but if the tailgate doesn’t fit tightly, you risk creating a lever that can break it.
So, all you have to do before you decide on a ladder model is – measure the height of your tailgate and account for the space needed to mount the ladder. Foldable models and step ladders are easier to install, and if you do get such a ladder, you don’t have to worry about length.
Every ladder material out there is strong enough to hold you, yes, but there is a slightly hidden aspect to tailgate ladder materials. I am talking, of course, about the weight of the ladder itself. Lightweight materials, like aluminum, will always make a lighter ladder (try saying that 10 times fast).
Keep in mind that some tailgate ladder models can weigh over 40 lbs. Older drivers may not want to spare the extra muscle grease just to unfold a tailgate ladder, so plan ahead.
4. Ladder Type
Whether it is a step ladder, a standard ladder, or simply a helping step, you should pick according to your habits.
A standard ladder is just what you think it is – a short ladder, usually on the side of the tailgate, with three or four steps to help you climb. Typically, a standard ladder will have some sort of folding system or an attaching mechanism to help you store it when you don’t need it.
A step tailgate ladder might not be what you think. It is a raised surface, fixed to the back of the tailgate, that halves the distance from the ground to the back of the truck. In most cases, this type of tailgate ladder is the biggest surface-wise and can double as a chair.
A single or dual step is a type of tailgate ladder that is the most resilient, but on the other hand, it is the least versatile. It is just a helping step that shortens the distance between the tailgate and the ground. Keep in mind that this type can be hard to use or spot in the dark or if you get caught in extremely bad weather.
Lastly, we have the tire step. This type of accessory is mounted on the tire instead of the tailgate. However, you get a sturdy step that can help you reach better under the hood, thus helping you out with maintenance. A tire step is one of the most compact types of helping ladders, and people often use them in combination with their tailgate ladders.
How to Mount a Tailgate Ladder for Pickup Truck?
Since there are a lot of types and shapes of tailgate ladders for trucks, there isn’t a universally efficient way to mount the ladder. However, one thing all these ladders have in common, they need to be installed carefully. The whole integrity and durability of the tailgate ladder depend on the way you mount it. If it’s flimsy from the start, it only gets worse. Not to mention the consequences a loose ladder can cause it breaks off while you are driving.
So, you will need some tools to mount the tailgate ladder onto your truck. The tools are mainly there to help you stabilize and screw in the ladder into its platform. Now, regular and step tailgate ladders for trucks usually need more work compared to a single-step or even a tire step.
A lot of tailgate ladder models come with self-screwing screws, so you will need a screwdriver, and in some cases a drill. Here’s a couple of tips to keep in mind:
- Always fill in all the screw spots – even though a ladder can hold onto 4 screws, most models go with 6 or more. Make sure to cover them all, despite the ladder looking stable at only four screws.
- Clean the tailgate before you mount the ladder. Small particles like dust, dirt, and sand can get into the wholes and loosen or damage the screw over time.
- Make sure to follow through with the locking mechanism. Whether it’s a Velcro lock or a separate box to store the ladder, it is extremely important to tighten it while you ride. A loose ladder can cause a lot of trouble to you and people around you on the road.
- The instruction manual is your best guide. Every ladder comes with enough screws and a manual. Don’t hesitate to use it.
FAQ About Tailgate Ladders for Pickup Trucks
1. Where should I mount my tailgate ladder?
While the name does tell you that it is a TAILGATE ladder, mounting and installing it is not that simple. The tailgate of your truck will usually allow you for two main positions to mount the ladder – left and right side. Some models, like the single or dual step accessories, can be mounted virtually anywhere around the tailgate.
The thing is, if you can fit the ladder, you can probably mount it, as long as factor in the screws and the mounting mechanism. Also, I’d like to encourage you to check the owner’s manual of your truck. Some manufacturers leave interesting notes, including the best positions for the ladder. They know their vehicles’ soft spots and strong spots, so why not give it a go?
2. Can a tailgate ladder damage the tailgate of my truck?
The short answer is – it depends. The biggest chances of damaging the back of your truck, or the tailgate side, is while mounting the ladder. For stability reasons, ladders require you to drill holes in the tailgate, or at a spot nearby. This is why I urge people to pay extra attention while installing the tailgate ladder – one screw too far can make a lever out of the ladder itself, resulting in material damage.
If you are unsure how to approach this whole mounting thing, all you have to do is check with the ladder instruction manual (Bonus points if you check out my tutorial above).
3. Can I fold or hide the tailgate ladder on my truck?
In most cases, the answer is – yes, you absolutely can. The most popular tailgate ladder models will come with some sort of mechanism that allows you to lock the ladder when you are not using it. Just imagine how much damage a loose ladder can do while you are off-road, riding, and conquering the dirt.
Besides being foldable, some tailgate ladder models have a locking mechanism. Sometimes, it is a piece of fabric covered in thigh-grip Velcro that’s strong enough to hold the ladder locked. Some people simply skip the locking mechanism while installing the ladder. I strongly advise against that. Even though it is just a piece of Velcro, it can prevent so much damage, not only to you and your truck but other traffic participants as well.
And there you have it – everything you need to know about the best tailgate ladder for trucks out there. There are different models of ladders, but I’m sure that each and every one of them will do the job. The choice is on you, though. A little knowledge on the subject can go a long way. Also, as you can see, there is absolutely no need to make the extra effort to climb the tailgate every time. It’s not all about the actual physical activity, you also get to climb your truck’s backside in a safer manner.
Before you make up your mind on the ladder model you want to install to your truck’s tailgate, make sure to measure it first. I promise you one thing – you will be surprised by how much a simple tailgate ladder can help you out there, on the road (and off-road as well).