As useful as pick-up trucks are, they have one design flaw; the lack of a ladder to help you get in and out of the bed.
Sure, while you’re young and fit you can probably jump up and down fairly easily. However, all the jumping, landing, and climbing takes its toll on your joints. Your knees and your back tend to suffer worse than other areas from high impact movements and landings.
Then there are those, uh, vertically challenged people, like myself, who find clambering into the bed of a pick-up distinctly difficult and ungainly.
Seriously, it’s a catch 22. I’m too short to reach to the back which means I need to climb up. But, at 5’ 1” I’m too short to do this easily.
Thankfully, tailgate ladders exist. They are a blessing for people with weaker or painful joints, limited mobility, or simply a lack of height. To be perfectly honest, they’re a great bit of kit even if you can get up and down by your own means.
Tailgate ladders will save your joints, allow you to carry and move heavy or awkward items with ease, and they are ideal for helping kids on and off the bed.
We’ve gathered some of the best tailgate ladders on the market for you to peruse. Where possible, we have selected ladders with universal fittings. This means that you can pick any of these products without worrying about the make or model of your truck. ATVA Online has the scoop for you.
Ready to go? Hop in and take a look at our top pick:
Best Tailgate Ladders for Pick Up Trucks
OUR TOP PICK
Almost identical to the Traxion 5 ladder, this Beech Lane ladder takes a proven design and adds some great little details.
Folding away along your tailgate, this ladder is super easy to deploy. It is literally a case of unclipping it and flicking it out. The strap and buckle that hold it in place when not used, are thick in size and very sturdy. We don’t think this thing will pop free anytime soon.
Made from galvanized steel, this ladder has a load capacity of 300lbs. It has a maximum length of 42-inches. You can adjust this to match the height of your truck using sliding legs.
The feet of this ladder are coated in rubber making them non-slip. This means that you can safely use the ladder on wet days and slippery floors. It’s a small detail but it does make a big difference.
Another little detail is the aluminum-coated rungs. The aluminum has ridge grips to help provide a stable, slip-resistant surface. The size of the rung is no different to the Traxion ladder, but the aluminum makes them safer to use.
As with the Traxion, this ladder attaches to the side edge of your tailgate. It folds out fairly close to the bumper which may concern those of you who like to keep your truck pristine.
- 300lb load capacity.
- Lifetime warranty.
- Rigid aluminum rung covers.
- Non-slip feet.
- Secures easily and effectively.
- Easy to deploy.
- 42-inch maximum height.
- Reaches the ground.
- May scratch your bumper.
- Thin rungs.
This ladder is of excellent quality for a fairly low price point. It is similar to the Beech Lane ladder also featured in this list. However, it does have some small differences.
Designed to fold flat across your tailgate when not in use, this ladder has a maximum length of 48-inches. This should fit most trucks, but do measure your tailgate before you purchase.
The ladder is made from hollow, aluminum alloy poles and is extremely lightweight. Despite the lightweight nature, it is a strong ladder. It has a load capacity of 300lbs meaning it should be suitable for most users plus some load.
You’ll need to install the mounting plate on the side edge of your tailgate. Installation is fairly simple, though you may need some stronger screws. The supplied screws are aluminum which may not hold up to being screwed into the steel of your tailgate.
Because this ladder deploys to the side of your truck, you can use it even if you have a trailer or camper attached to the tow hitch.
One thing you will need to be mindful of is how close it gets to your bumper. You might want to add some foam to the bumper side to prevent scratches if you’re concerned about that kind of thing.
This is a great tailgate ladder for the price. It’s certainly not the most comfortable thing to stand on due to the thin rungs, but it does the job. It seems to be sturdy and durable and will likely last you a good few years.
- 300lb load capacity.
- 48-inch height.
- 15lb overall weight.
- Fairly easy installation.
- Easy to deploy.
- Reaches to the ground.
- Thin rungs.
- May scratch your bumper depending on the placement.
- Supplied screws may be too soft.
A beefy ladder with a small footprint, the Westin 10-3000 will see you safely into and out of your truck bed for years to come.
The company definitely stands behind their product, offering a 3-year warranty. It does make us feel a bit more confident in this product.
Made from T6 aluminum, it is a lightweight ladder that won’t unbalance your truck when stored or in use. It is not, however, flimsy. This ladder has a load capacity of 300lb making it equal to many others on this list.
Including the mounting hardware, this ladder stands at 38-inches tall. It should be more than adequate for most trucks but do check before buying.
Unlike the Traxion and the Beech Lane, this ladder mounts to the longer edge of your tailgate. This means it is not at risk of scratching your bumper. It also means that if you are towing something, you may not be able to use the ladder.
Most users find that this ladder is easy to install and is very sturdy. The material choice gives it strength and stability which you definitely want to feel under your feet.
- 300lb load capacity.
- 38-inch height.
- Made from sturdy aluminum.
- Wider, textured rungs for stability.
- Rubber, non-slip feet.
- Easy to deploy and fold away.
- Double the price of other ladders.
- Fairly soft mounting screws supplied.
This is a heavy-duty floating step with a maximum load capacity of 300lbs. It would make an ideal addition to any pick-up and will give you the boost you need to get in and out with ease.
This step has quite a large footprint on the tailgate and the handle will stick out into the bed when the tailgate is shut. If you’re looking for something less intrusive, you’ll probably want to stay away from this step.
That being said, it is a solid bit of kit that works well. It has an 18-inch grab rail which offers some extra support and stability for users. We think that this rail is a really neat addition. It goes the extra mile to remove the strain of climbing in and out of the truck bed.
An aircraft-grade aluminum base attaches to your tailgate with screws and bolts. The step folds out and hangs down below the tailgate. The step is supported by two 1700lb test cables. These are incredibly sturdy and remove the issue of swinging steps which is all too common with floating steps.
The step has grooves to help you keep your footing. You may wish to add some rubber for added security on wet days. The ridges alone are not enough to provide a non-slip surface.
- 300lbs load capacity.
- Strong and sturdy construction.
- 18-inch grab rail.
- Test cables prevent swinging.
- Made in the USA.
- Large footprint and presence in the truck.
- The floating step design is not helpful for all users.
This is a basic, no-nonsense step. It takes up very little space when folded up and will fit pretty much every pick-up truck.
Unlike most of the other steps and ladders on our list, this is a floating step. It hangs about 13 inches below the level of the tailgate. Depending on the height of your truck, the step should be about midway between the ground and the bed.
Made of aluminum alloy, this step is lightweight but strong enough to support up to 400lbs. This is an enormous load capacity and one of the standout features of this step.
The exterior of the ladder is anodized to make it more weather resistant. It also features a rubber-coated step and a rubber-coated handle. These provide slip-resistant surfaces which make it much safer in wet conditions.
This step seems to be designed to attach to the long edge of your tailgate. Depending on the configuration of your tailgate, you may be able to fit it to the shorter sides if you would prefer.
Customers seem to agree that this step is very easy to install. The mounting bracket and screws are included in the package so all you’ll need to supply is a drill.
If you have a bed liner or a cover, you are still able to use this step. You may need to drill through the bed liner but it will stay in place once installed.
The major downside is that it seems to be free-hanging, possibly. This means that when you step on it it seems to swing a bit. This is less than ideal and could cause injury if you get your foot stuck on it.
It’s important to note that there is some discrepancy about the amount of swing. Some reviews claim that it does not swing, others are adamant that it does swing.
- Easy to install.
- Small footprint.
- Folds in and out easily.
- Can support up to 400lbs.
- Has a rubberized step and handle.
- Seems to be free-hanging which makes it a bit difficult to use.
- Only one step.
It’s not only humans who need a little help getting in and out of the truck bed. If you have pets who like to tag along for a ride, you’ll want to consider some steps to reduce the stress on their joints. This is especially important for older dogs who suffer from joint issues.
These steps are not permanently attached to your truck. Instead, you fold them out and rest them on your tailgate. The stairs have foam coated poles that rest on the tailgate and two horizontal foam coated poles that rest perpendicular to the tailgate.
The foam coating helps to protect your truck and provides a non-slip contact surface to keep the steps in place.
The metal frame uses a scissor design which allows you to make the stairs longer but lower for trucks with a lower bed height. When extended past 90 degrees the height of the stairs is slightly reduced making it super easy for older or arthritic dogs.
This design also means that you can adjust the height of the stairs to suit your truck. At their tallest, these steps are 40” high. At the lower angle, they are 30” high. That’s 10 inches of range to play with meaning these steps should fit most cars and trucks.
The steps themselves are fabric with a plastic board insert to give them a bit more rigidity. The fabric has a rubber or gel non-slip design to help wet paws get some traction.
With a load capacity of 150lbs, these stairs should be able to accommodate most dogs. If you have a pack, you’ll want them to go up one at a time.
- Adjustable height and steepness.
- Packs away to be stored in your trunk.
- No tools are needed.
- Non-slip handles and steps.
- Won’t damage your truck.
- Load capacity of 150lbs.
- Not designed for human use.
- Doesn’t secure permanently.
Best Tailgate Ladders for Pick Up Trucks Buying Guide
When looking for a pick-up truck tailgate ladder, you’ll want to consider a few different things.
The load capacity is essentially how much weight the ladder can hold. You’ll obviously need one that can support your weight. You’ll also want to consider what kind of things you usually carry up and down the ladder.
If you’re going to use the ladder for loading then you’ll need to factor the weight of whatever you’re carrying into your load capacity calculations.
The load capacity is usually listed quite prominently in the product description. If you can’t find a load capacity then stay away. You don’t want to find the ladder’s breaking point through trial and error!
There are a couple of different designs for tailgate ladders. Which one you go for will be a matter of personal choice. We do suggest that you look for a ladder that is fairly easy to install.
You don’t want to be spending ages trying to affix your ladder. It will cause frustration and more than likely some tears and cursing.
Ideally, you’ll want to look for a ladder that comes mostly pre-assembled. In these cases, it’s usually just a case of screwing the top of the ladder to the tailgate.
You have some choices here too. Some ladders collapse when not in use and can be expanded when you want them.
Other ladders work on a hinge or pivot meaning you can fold them out when you need them.
Again, the key thing is that the ladder is easy to access and use. You don’t want to have to basically assemble a ladder every time you want to use it.
You should also be careful about how the ladder fastens when not in use. If you have a fold-up or collapsible ladder attached to your tailgate, you do not want it springing out every time you open the tailgate. Make sure it has a good quality latch or some form of restraint.
You need to tread the fine line between sturdiness and weight. You don’t want a heavy ladder that will weigh down your back end and unbalance your truck.
Equally, a ladder made from lightweight but weak material will be next to useless.
Mostly, tailgate ladders tend to be made from aluminum or aluminum alloys. These materials are fairly lightweight but have a good weight-bearing capacity.
Things to look out for are non-slip feet. These will keep the ladder in place as you use it. Without non-slip feet, the ladder may move out from underneath you and you might end up chinning the truck. Not a good outcome.
A grab handle is always a nice feature to see. This may be near the top of the ladder or a separate handle that can be installed on the truck. It helps you maintain your balance on the ladder and is particularly useful for people with mobility issues.
The final thing to consider is the tread width. The majority of tailgate ladders have very narrow trades so that they don’t take up a lot of room in the truck. This is fine, but you do need to be careful when using them.
If you find a ladder with larger treads, we’d recommend choosing it. Larger treads mean you’re less likely to miss them as you go up and down. Larger treads also tend to have non-slip coatings which can help you stay in place.
Frequently Asked Questions
What side should I mount my ladder on?
Ladders may be listed as suitable for fitting to either side but really, you should only mount your ladder to the passenger side.
If you pull over and need to use the ladder, a passenger-side ladder will be away from the road and much safer.
If your ladder is on the driver’s side and therefore the roadside, you put yourself at risk by using the ladder. It only takes one bad driver or a second of distraction for a roadside accident to happen. It’s not worth the risk.
Will any ladder fit my truck?
As we mentioned earlier, we have tried to choose ladders that have a universal fit. Mostly, this refers to the way they are mounted. There are a few other things you should think about when it comes to choosing a ladder that fits.
Firstly, you need to make sure that it is the right height. Most tailgate ladders tend to be in the 38-40 inch range. These seem to fit most trucks but if yours is especially tall then you might have some issues.
It’s best to measure the height between the ground and your tailgate when it’s open. You’ll need to add a few inches to account for the mounting hardware too. This will give you a decent range to work within.
The other thing you’ll want to check is the configuration of your tailgate. Most of the time you’ll need to drill into the tailgate. If there is a lot of shaping and ridges on your tailgate, this might make for a poor surface to attach your ladder to.
The final thing that might affect the fit is any wires or cables that are attached between the tailgate and the bed of the truck. If, for example, you have a hydraulic assist cable, this might get in the way of your ladder.
Is a step the same as a tailgate ladder?
Ah, the age-old question. When is a ladder not a ladder? Well, we decided that as long as there was more than one step, or it folds out of the truck bed then it was a ladder.
Some of our ‘ladders’ are more step-like than ladder-like. But, the key thing is they attach to the tailgate and not the bumper.
You can buy steps that attach to the bumper of your truck. These give you a bit of a boost when climbing into the truck bed but don’t offer you much help when getting down.
Bumper steps are good in their way, but they’re not quite what we were looking for in this article.