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As mountain biking has boomed in popularity as both a sport and a recreational pastime, so too have ways to get your mountain bike to the trailhead, be it a few miles away or a thousand miles away. Historically, the main way of transporting a mountain bike has been a bike rack, which mounted on the roof of a vehicle, via straps to the trunk/tailgate of a vehicle, or via a trailer hitch.

Roof racks and strap based trunk racks are aimed primarily at those driving cars or SUVs, with the hitch rack as the only real option for those who drove pickup trucks. Many truck owners have opted for other methods of transporting their bikes, from simply laying them in the bed of the truck to strapping them down by the handlebars moto style, or even mounting custom wheel chocks in the bed.

However, as bikes become more expensive, no one in their right mind just throws their bike in the bed of their truck, and the rise of carbon handlebars meant the end of the moto style strap. Because of this, more and more companies are making products specifically to help truck owners transport their beloved mountain bikes to and from the trailhead. The most affordable, easiest to use, and most widespread of these methods is the tailgate pad.

Tailgate pads are thick, foam-filled pads that fold over the tailgate of a pickup truck. Your bike sits with the front wheel and fork outside the tailgate, resting on the top tube. Many of these pads offer additional straps to hold bikes in place, and some oven offers bumpers to keep bikes from banging into one another.

Tailgate pads are especially useful for people who shuttle their bikes for gravity runs, as throwing your bike on one is much easier than securing it in a bike rack. Furthermore, they solve a recent problem with many traditional bike racks. As mountain bike wheels and tires have gotten bigger, frames have gotten longer, and full suspension has caused radical changes to top tubes, many bike racks no longer securely hold the newest crop of mountain bikes. For those with a pickup truck, this makes a tailgate pad an even more attractive option.

Finally, tailgate pads are much cheaper than traditional bike racks. Most bike racks hold one or two bikes and cost in the neighborhood of $300. Those that carry four or more often cost  $600 or more, and this is for a rack that will likely require the purchase of an additional adapter or jury-rigging before it will carry your full suspension 29er.

So, for the pickup truck drivers among us, we have reviewed the best mountain bike tailgate pads on the market, to help you protect your truck, your bike, and your wallet, while getting you to the trails as quickly and effortlessly as possible.

A Word On Sizing

Most tailgate pads come in two sizes, standard (or small) and large. Typically, large pads fit full-sized trucks such as Dodge Rams, Chevy Silverado, Toyota Tundras, etc. Small or standard pads meanwhile fit mid-sized trucks like the Toyota Tacoma, Ford Ranger, GMC Canyons, etc. If you want to be sure how a tailgate pad will fit on your pickup truck, just measure the width of your tailgate and compare it to the width of the tailgate pads you are considering.

The Best Mountain Biking Tailgate Pads of 2020

Top Picks

Dakine Pickup Pad DLX: Best Tailgate Pad for Mountain Biking

Race Face T2 Tailgate Pad

Backcountry Getaway Tailgate Pad

Evoc Tailgate Pad: Best Mountain Bike Tailgate Pad For Ease of Attachment and Removal

Yakima Gatekeeper

 

Dakine Pickup Pad DLX

Buy Now at Backcountry.com

Bike Capacity: Small 5, Large 7

Material: 1000D Polyester with UV/Weather-Resistant Coating, Microfleece Inside Liner

Width: Small 54,” Large 62”

Price: $139.95

Best Tailgate Pad for Mountain Biking: Race Face T2 Tailgate Pad - Gear Hacker

Race Face T2 Tailgate Pad

Buy Now at Backcountry.com

Bike Capacity: S/M 5,  X/XL 6

Material: PVC Tarpaulin with Micro-Brushed Inner Lining

Width: S/M 57,” L/XL 61”

Price: $171.99-$183.99

Best Tailgate Pad for Mountain Biking: Backcountry Getaway Tailgate Pad - Gear Hacker

Backcountry Getaway Tailgate Pad

Buy Now at Backcountry.com

Bike Capacity: 5

Material: 64% PVC, 36% Polyester

Width: 54” x 17” x 6″ Medium, 61” x 25” x 8″ Large

Price: $149.95

Evoc Tailgate Pad

Buy Now at Aventuron.com

Bike Capacity: 6

Material: 600D Tarpaulin, Microfleece Inner Liner

Width: M/L 53.15” XL 63.4”

Price: $144-$180

Yakima Gatekeeper

Buy Now at Backcountry.com

Bike Capacity: Medium 5, Large 6

Material: Nylon, Felt Inner Lining

Width: Medium 53” Large 62”

Price: $159-$169

Dakine Pickup Pad DLX

Best Tailgate Pad for Mountain Biking

Bike Capacity: Small 5, Large 7

Material: 1000D Polyester with UV/Weather-Resistant Coating, Microfleece Inside Liner

Width: Small 54,” Large 62”

Price: $139.95

Dakine was one of the first brands to make a tailgate pad for mountain bikes, and they are still making some of the best. The Dakine Pickup Pad DLX is Dakine’s top of the line tailgate pad. Like the standard Dakine Pickup Pad, the Pickup Pad DLX is secured to your tailgate with four nylon straps and ladder lock style buckles. It also includes metal grommets for locking up all of your bikes to keep them safe while you are hitting the local scene after a long day on the trails.

The Pickup Pad DLX also uses an individual velcro strap for each bike that it holds, located on the back side of the pad to easily reach your bike’s downtube. These straps keep your bikes from bouncing around or bouncing into one another if you are hauling a few at a time. The large pad features seven straps and carries seven bikes, while the small uses five straps and carries five bikes.

Unlike the straps on some pads, the straps on the Dakine Pickup Pad DLX are sewn to the pad itself, keeping them secure. This is helpful because those that only velcro to pads are prone to getting lost in the wind. These straps also take the place of any bumpers to separate bikes from one another. As long as you use them, the straps do keep bikes from bumping into one another, and we would still recommend using the straps on pads that do feature bumpers, rather than just relying on the bumpers to keep your bike safe.

As an upgrade over the standard Dakine Pickup Pad, the Pickup Pad DLX uses a soft, microfleece liner on the underside of the pad to better protect your truck’s tailgate. On the outside, it features the same 1000D UV and weather protected polyester finish as the original.

Finally, the Pickup Pad DLX is designed with the newer, thicker breed of tailgates in mind, and features an oversized velcro handle flap, which can be secured in the open position, to take advantage of newer trucks’ backup cameras.

Late-model, full-sized Ford and Dodge truck owners now have the option to choose a pad that follows the contour of their tailgates and the location of their backup cameras with the addition of the Pickup Pad DLX Curve. It has seven individual anchor straps, but if you want to use the backup camera, you can leave the access flap open and comfortably strap down four bikes.

Best Tailgate Pad for Mountain Biking: Dakine Pickup Pad DLX - Gear Hacker

Most of the features of the curved version are similar to those of the DLX Pad so it all comes down to fit, sizing, and truck model when you’re torn between the Pickup Pad DLX and the Pickup Pad DLX Curve. Although the Curve was specifically designed for later models of Ford and Dodge trucks, it’s important to always check Dakine’s Pickup Pad Fit Guide so you’re sure that you’re making the right choice.

The Dakine Pickup Pad has long been the standard for mountain bike tailgate pads, and the Pickup Pad DLX carries along in that tradition. If you have a newer truck with a thicker tailgate and backup camera, we would recommend it over the original. However, if you drive an older truck or one with a thinner tailgate, you can save yourself a few dollars by purchasing the standard Dakine Pickup Pad.

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Race Face T2 Tailgate Pad

Best Tailgate Pad for Mountain Biking: Race Face T2 Tailgate Pad - Gear Hacker

Bike Capacity: S/M 5,  X/XL 6

Material: PVC Tarpaulin with Micro-Brushed Inner Lining

Width: S/M 57,” L/XL 61”

Price: $171.99-$183.99

The Race Face Tailgate Pad has long been one of the most commonly used mountain bike tailgate pads on the market. Recently, major changes to its design were made, and the Race Face T2 Tailgate Pad was introduced.

Just like its predecessor, the Tailgate Pad T2 has a six-bike capacity (for the L/XL). It features velcro frame straps as well as molded foam bumpers on the inside to protect your downtube and on the outside to protect your fork stanchion. These pads will help keep your bikes secure and make sure that they don’t bump into each other as you bounce along bumpy fire roads for shuttle runs. They are a welcome addition from the previous Race Face Tailgate Pad, which left them out on the L/XL version.

There are four bottom straps to fasten the pad to the tailgate. Six adjustment straps were added in between the hook-and-loop frame fasteners on the top edge. These features ensure that the fit is tailored, but some places could bunch up depending on the truck model you have.

Best Tailgate Pad for Mountain Biking: Race Face T2 Tailgate Pad - Gear Hacker

The flap for the rear camera was replaced with a removable velcro panel that allows for better backup camera visibility and easier access to your tailgate latch.

All of the things that we liked about the original Race Face Tailgate Pad seem to have been made even better. Meanwhile, the T2 addresses the main issue that we felt held the original pad back: its durability. The Race Face T2 uses a new PVC tarpaulin outer fabric, which promises to be more durable than the 600D cover for the original Tailgate Pad. Only time will tell how well the T2 holds up over time, but our initial impression of the new fabric makes us very hopeful.

Overall, the Race Face T2 Tailgate Pad  took what was a solid, feature-rich tailgate pad, improved the things it did well and fixed the things that it did poorly. In fact, we were so happy with this pad that we chose it as the runner up for our 2020 tailgate pad review. And if it proves its durability over the course of this year, it might well be in the top spot for 2021, despite its ~$170 price tag.

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Backcountry Getaway Tailgate Pad

Best Tailgate Pad for Mountain Biking: Backcountry Getaway Tailgate Pad - Gear Hacker

Bike Capacity: 5

Material: 64% PVC, 36% Polyester

Width: 54” x 17” x 6″ Medium, 61” x 25” x 8″ Large

Price: $149.95

We have long been fans of backcountry.com due to its liberal return policy, which some of our members have used to the fullest, living in areas where trying things on before purchase is impossible. Recently, Backcountry has come out with its own line of branded products. The first of those for us to review is the Backcountry Getaway Tailgate Pad, and it did not disappoint.

The Getaway Tailgate Pad is Backcountry’s own creation and is exclusively sold on backcountry.com and competetivecyclist.com. It is very similar to the Race Face T2, but comes in at a slightly lower price point, at ~$150. The outside of the pad uses raised pads, which hold the forks of the bikes in place, and it uses bumpers on the top of the pad to secure the downtubes. Together, the bumpers and straps prevent bikes from bouncing around and bumping into each other when the trailhead lies at the end of long off road tracks.

Finally, the Backcountry Getaway Tailgate Pad also features a tool pocket on the backside of the pad. While we are not sure how comfortable we would be leaving anything of value in it, it is hidden from view and is a useful feature that helps set the Getaway apart from other tailgate pads in our review.

Best Tailgate Pad for Mountain Biking: Backcountry Getaway Tailgate Pad - Gear Hacker

Overall, the Backcountry Getaway Tailgate Pad is an extremely solid offering from Backcountry on their first try. Presumably, they have a great deal of data on what features mountain bikers are looking for in a tailgate pad, and they delivered one that hit all of the marks for us. It might not have quite the adjustability of the Race Face T2, nor multiple versions for different tailgates like the Dakine Pickup Pads. However, if you drive a truck with a pretty standard tailgate and you want a tailgate pad with all of the bells and whistles, the Backcountry Getaway Tailgate pad is tough to pass up.

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Evoc Tailgate Pad

Best Mountain Bike Tailgate Pad For Ease of Attachment and Removal

Bike Capacity: 6

Material: 600D Tarpaulin, Microfleece Inner Liner

Width: M/L 53.15” XL 63.4”

Price: $144-$180

The Evoc Tailgate Pad is an extremely well-made tailgate pad for mountain bikes. It would also be our top recommendation for those who don’t plan to leave the pad on their truck full time. Most tailgate pads use a hook and loop closure on the straps that hold the pad securely in place on your truck. These work well enough, but they can be a pain to take on and off. Instead, the Evoc Tailgate Pad uses metal hooks, which can be much more easily removed. The Evoc Tailgate Pad also folds better than most pads, making it easier to store when not in use, in addition to being easier to remove and reattach.

The Evoc Tailgate Pad uses a combination of velcro straps and bumpers to hold your bikes securely in place, and both do a very good job. However, we have two complaints regarding the straps. First, they are a bit small and not suited to beefy, carbon bikes with thick downtubes. Furthermore, unlike the straps found on the Dakine Pickup Pad DLX, they are not securely fastened to the pad itself, and can easily be lost while driving, or just by misplacing them.

The Evoc Tailgate Pad is extremely well made and features a 600D tarpaulin finish, which has proven itself on many a road trip and shuttle lap. The inside of the pad uses a microfleece liner to help protect your tailgate. The Evoc Tailgate Pad does feature a large flap to reach the tailgate latch, but there is no way of keeping it in the open position while using your backup camera.

Finally, a constant point of criticism for the pad is that the XL is marginally too wide for most full-size trucks, causing the pad to pucker a bit and making for a slightly less secure fit.

Overall, the Evoc Tailgate Pad is very well made and extremely functional, and it should be a top choice for anyone who plans to frequently remove and reattach their tailgate pad. And although it is a bit more expensive than other tailgate pads on our list, it can currently be found on sale for $144 at Backcountry and Competitive Cyclist.

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Yakima Gatekeeper

Bike Capacity: Medium 5, Large 6

Material: Nylon, Felt Inner Lining

Width: Medium 53” Large 62”

Price: $159-$169

The Yakima Gatekeeper tailgate pad is just what you would expect from a company with Yakima’s reputation. It is durable, well made, and incredibly functional. It utilizes the standard method of nylon straps and ladder hooks to secure itself to your truck bed, and its durable nylon fabric will hold up to sun, rain, and countless road trips for just about as long as you leave it there. Furthermore, a microfleece liner on the backside of the pad makes sure that your tailgate is protected during use.

The Yakima Gatekeeper features velcro straps as well as cushioned cradles that help hold your bikes in place. The latch flap of the Yakima Gatekeeper is large and easily stows away for use with backup cameras.

There is not too much to say about the Yakima Gatekeeper, and that is because there are very few cons to balance its pros against. The only thing holding the Gatekeeper back is the fact that at $180 for a large, it is on the more expensive end of the tailgate pads on our list.

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Pro Tips for Mountain Bike Tailgate Pad Users

While tailgate pads generally do an excellent job of protecting your bike, their durable finish can make them a bit hard on your bike’s paint job. For this reason, we like to use foam pipe covers on both our fork and downtube, to further protect our bikes on long rides.

If you are looking to bolster your tailgate pads padding, or if it is not a perfect fit with the width of your tailgate, a foam pipe cover across the width of your tailgate can help improve both the fit and padding of your tailgate pad.

We participate in affiliate programs to help us fund Gear Hacker. Some of the links in this website are affiliate links, which means that if you purchase a product using our link, we will earn a small commission. Don’t worry! This comes at no additional cost to you, and we will never base our reviews on whether or not we earn a commission off of a product. With that said, if you find our review helpful and decide to purchase an item we review, we would be very appreciative if you use our links to do so. It will help us bring you more awesome content in the future!