BAKFlip CS Review: The Working Man's BAKFlip with a Rack
The Contractor Series with a Rack
Find out if this all-in-one rack system with tonneau cover is for you in this Midwest Aftermarket Review of the BAKFlip CS & CS/F1 Pro.
What is CS? And How do I use it?
The BAKFlip CS or Contractor Series is designed for--you guessed it already, didn't ya?--the contractor in each and every one of us. It comes in two signature systems: the CS and the CS/F1 Pro. The CS is paired with a BAKFlip G2 All Aluminum tonneau cover, while the CS/F1 as the name implies has an F1 Fiberglass cover. Besides the difference in warranty (CS: 2 year regular; CS/F1: Extended 3 year warranty) and the tonneau cover differences, the two racks appear to be fairly comparable. The system is designed for those who need a tonneau cover to hide and protect certain equipment and valuables but also need a rack to haul around items too large to stow below. BAK describes the CS & CS Pro as ideal for "contractors, sports enthusiasts, and anyone looking to utilize a tonneau cover and rack simultaneously." We'll cover the benefits of buying the system together and the possible shortcomings as we decide who this system is truly for in this Midwest Aftermarket discussion of the BAKFlip CS & CS/F1 Pro systems.
One of the most important reasons to get the rack and tonneau cover together is that if they aren't compatible, then you're going to run into issues. For instance, let's consider what might happen if you have a tri-folding cover with a rack that has slanted poles or brackets? Chances are pretty good that you wouldn't be able to fold up your tonneau with the rack installed. Whoopsies! So here's one reason to consider buying the package: BAK has taken all the compatibility concerns out of the equation by packaging it all together in their CS system. Their rack has mounting bars that are perpendicular and mount on cargo rails that attach along the outer edge of the tonneau cover. No worries about these two not working together seamlessly.
The downside of it all might be the weight rating: up to 500 lbs. While the Rack can support more than enough for most amateur jobs such as those I'm likely to tackle myself, a true contractor may need something with a little more weight capacity. I can easily get a ladder or two up there on the rack or, as some of BAK's own photos show, a kayak or surfboard, but I wouldn't throw too much lumber or something of more substantial weight, like say four or five pieces of metal scaffolding, up there and expect to arrive safely at the job site. So when they say "contractor" assume its more of your everyday DIY guy. Of course, the other descriptor rings perfectly true: this rack is perfect for your outdoor enthusiasts.
Upgrading to the CS/F1 Pro
Again the key difference between the CS and CS/F1 Pro is in the BAKFlip tonneau cover, going from the All Aluminum G2 to the FRP Fiberglass F1, so top skin material may be your number one consideration. Aluminum tends to be more UV Resistant, for instance, so if you live in a particularly sunny area (Texas, where you at?!) or if you leave your truck out in the sun all the time whether while on the job or sitting out at home, then the G2 may actually make more sense. If dings and scratches are more of your concern, as they very well may be if you are going to be loading ladders and lumber on your rack on the regular, then the Fiberglass F1 is better prepared to weather any potential thrashing. Both tonneaux have a rigid aluminum core, but the F1 comes with a premium density not provided in the G2. As you can see the upgrade question becomes more complex as we discuss the differences between the premium line (the F1) and the standard (G2). The F1 comes with a 400 lbs. evenly distributed weight rating, so if you are planning on stowing nearly 500 lbs. above it on that rack, the F1 will give you more peace of mind. You should also consider that tailgate cover seal--the F1 comes with the Universal seal--so your tailgate can be closed with the tonneau closed. No worries about bending the tailgate seal if you forget and close the tailgate first. The G2 has that more traditional seal, so you would want to have the tonneau flipped up before you close the tailgate. If that isn't much of a worry for you, then you might also want to consider the finish: the G2 comes in a semi-gloss powder coat, while the F1 has a high gloss fiberglass hair cell finish, shown below/right. If you are considering the CS system, unless if you really need that aluminum top skin, we'd recommend the CS/F1 Pro.
A Solid Ladder Rack and Tonneau Cover System
At the end of the day, I've gotta state the truth: the BAKFlip Contractor Series and Series Pro are probably not for your true contractor, but rather your sports enthusiasts and do-it-yourselfers. In fact, the most apt description would be to call the rack what it is--a ladder rack. If you are a handyman who needs to haul around nearly 1,000 lbs. of equipment and construction material on your rack, you need to look elsewhere. However, if you just need to haul around a ladder or two and a bit of lumber, and are looking for an all-in-one tonneau cover and ladder rack solution, both of these packages should serve you well. A chief concern (and where customers sometimes get burned) is compatibility. Too often consumers who already have a folding tonneau cover start looking to purchase a rack to complement it, only to find that so many of the descriptions claim that this particular rack works great with most covers because it mounts using the pocket holes, etc. However, many of those descriptions fail to mention that folding covers need a certain amount of clearance to be flipped up. Just look at that picture above, the rear view of the CS/F1 installed on a Ford F-150. See how those rack uprights are straight up and down? You need that kind of design if you want to be able to actually fold up your tri- or quad-folding tonneau covers, like the BAKFlip line. So buyer beware. When a product description claims that it is compatible with tonneau covers, they may mean roll-up covers or vinyls, not folding ones. And that perhaps is one of the best features of the CS system. Because it is all-in-one, you don't have to worry about compatibility. The system works with all its parts, allowing for complete truck bed access when you want it and a sealed bed when you need it. Whether you are looking to haul your kayak or snowboard to a weekend get away destination, or your ladder over to your mother's house so you can clean out her gutters, the BAKFlip CS & CS/F1 Pro will help you get the job done with ease.