Photos & Video by Dusten Ryen

Tailgate pads are a quintessential piece of gear for any truck owning mountain biker. Sure, you could just use a big ol’ moving blanket to get the job done, but tailgate pads can offer better protection and security, especially on long road trips or shuttle runs up bumpy fire roads. We teamed up with the fine folks at CompetitiveCyclist.com to put together a little tailgate pad shootout, to determine which pad reigns supreme. Out of the 8 pads we got together, seven of them are readily available at Competitive Cyclist. While there are still quite a few pads on the market that are not in this round up, we felt that these eight were some of the most popular at this moment. For this series, we will be releasing a new tailgate pad video every Tuesday for the next few weeks, leading up to a little round table discussion that will provide our recommendations and crown our favorite pad.

What makes a tailgate pad great you might ask? Well, there are a few things that we look for in no particular order:

  1. Bike Retention
    * Bonus points for those that are eBike friendly right away
  2. a) Bike Protection
    b) Vehicle Paint Protection
  3. How well the pad fits the tailgate of various trucks (overall width / amount of straps used)
  4. Whether the pads actually fit the amount of bikes that they claim will fit.
  5. Accessibility / Usability (Is the handle easily accessed? Can the backup camera be used easily?)

Disclosure: Our team selects all of the products we review and do so with honesty and objectivity in mind. Some of the products we receive come directly from Competitive Cyclist, who also value our readers and have offered them a 15% discount (exclusions apply) on their first purchase by using LOAMWOLF15. Through this program we may also receive a small commission at no cost to you. Thanks for your support, TLW.

Backcountry Getaway Goat Tailgate Pad


Backcountry’s Getaway Goat is a feature packed tailgate pad that is available in two sizes. The mid-size option measures in a 54-inches wide and claims to hold 5 bikes, with the full-size option measuring in at 58.5-inches wide and claiming to hold 6 bikes. Instead of designing two pads to fit flat and curved tailgates, Backcountry opted to design a compression fit system that can be adjusted to the array of tailgate sizes. Securing the pad to the tailgate are four cinch straps – a much better option than the standard three found on most other pads. The Getaway Goat’s outer shell is constructed out of the commonly used 600D polyester, coated in a DWR finish. The pad protects your vehicles paint with a polyester polar fleece on the inside of the pad. On the topic of protection, Backcountry outfitted the downtube straps with an additional carbon-friendly liner to help protect the bikes finish. An adjustable rear flap works to accomodate a range of tailgate handles and backup cameras. A unique feature to the Getaway Goat tailgate pad is the large rear storage pocket, designed to hold a number of parts, tools and/or dirty gear.

Price: $169.95

Dakine Pickup Pad DLX Tailgate Pad


Dakine’s Pickup Pad DLX is available in two sizes, a mid and full size option, and two cuts, one for standard tailgates and one for curved tailgates. The mid-size option measures in at 54-inches (standard) and 55-inches (curved) wide and claims to hold 5 bikes. The full-size option measures in at 60-inches (standard) and 59-inches (curved) wide and claims to hold 7 bikes. Securing the pad to the tailgate are four cinch straps – a much better option than the standard three found on most other pads. The Pickup Pad DLX outer shell is constructed out of 1000D recycled polyester that is both tough and eco-friendly, with a UV and weather-resistant coating. The pad protects your vehicles paint with a fleece lining on the inside of the pad. The two-wheeled cargo is fastened to the tailgate pad using three-quarter inch wide velcro straps. Dakine uses a flip-up flap that can be secured away using a clip, for easy backup camera use and handle access.

Price: $175 – $195 (Normal) / $185 – $205 (Curved)

EVOC Tailgate Pad


EVOC put a different spin on their tailgate pad with an overall thin construction that has padding added where it counts. 1-inch thick EVA foam blocks keep your bikes downtube off the corner of the tailgate. EVOC also offset taller foam blocks to create downtube dividers which help prevent bikes from sliding and rotating, in addition to the velcro downtube straps. The EVOC Tailgate Pad is available in a M/L option for mid-size trucks measuring at 54 inches across, and a L/XL option for full-size trucks measuring at a wide 63 inches. The outer shell of the tailgate pad is made of 600D Polyester with a PU coating, with a less desirable woven-like tarpaulin interior. The pad is secured to the truck using three hook-and-loop straps. EVOC decided on a large velcro flap for easy tailgate access which can also be folded away for use with a backup camera. For those that have e-bikes, the standard downtube straps will be too small, instead, EVOC offers eBike straps which are sold seperately for $20 a pair. It’s also worth mentioning, EVOC suggests wrapping your tailgate with a protective vinyl to help prevent any unwanted scratches, and the same goes for the downtube on your bike.

Price: $160 – $180

Fox Racing tailgate Cover


The Fox Racing Tailgate Cover is as bare bones as a tailgate pad can be – no fancy features here. The Tailgate Cover is available in either small or large to fit mid and full-size trucks accordingly, which are capable of carrying 5 or 6 bikes respectively. The small pad sizes in at 54-inches across while the large pad measures in at 62-inches wide. The Tailgate Cover is fastened to the vehicle using three cinch straps. Velcro straps attempt to keep the bikes secured to the pad, however, they are poorly designed and do not fit most modern bikes, analog or electric. There is a simple velcro flap for easy access to the handle, but it is only designed for just that, and meant to be closed after, without provisions to keep it open for use with a back-up camera. The Tailgate cover is made up of a PU-coated polyester tarpaulin outer shell, similar to what is found on the EVOC pad.

Price: $119.95 – $129.95

Race Face T2 Tailgate Pad


The Race Face T2 Tailgate Pad has been a favorite in our stable of tailgate pads for a while now. The T2 is another pad that offers plenty of adjustability to fit an array of tailgate sizes and styles. The full-length pad options are available in size S/M for mid-size trucks, and L/XL for full-size trucks, capable of hauling 5 and 6 bikes respectively. Race Face also has a 2-bike option that only covers a portion of the tailgate but retains many of the same features. A durable, tear resistant PVC tarpaulin fabric covers the exterior of the pad while a micro-brushed fleece-lined interior protects your vehicles paint. There is a fair bit of padding that helps protects your bikes downtube, in addition to the long, thick stanchion pads. The pads also help put the bikes in an ideal location to achieve the claimed capacity. Keeping the cargo in place are hook-and-loop downtube straps which fit analog bikes with ease, and Race Face includes a pair of velcro extensions to help secure ebikes. The T2 tailgate pad is secured to the tailgate with four straps that have been upgraded from plastic strap adjusters to metal adjusters. The handle/backup camera access area has also been updated from a single removable cover to a two-piece removable cover to allow for more adjustability for those that wish to keep the cover in use.

Price: $209 – $219

Sensus Bachelor Pad V2


Although Competitive Cyclist does not sell the Sensus Bachelor Pad (pretty sure its out of stock too), we know we will get asked about it and figured we should include it anyway. The Bachelor Pad V2 is the second iteration of Sensus’s full-size tailgate pad, and as such its undergone a couple changes. The V2 is about as bare bones as a tailgate pad gets, and surprisingly its one of the reasons we like it. There are no downtube straps on the new Bachelor Pad. Instead, it relies on gravity and the ultra thick foam to keep bikes in place, which works fine unless your bike has a thin round downtube. With the lack of downtube straps, you just throw the bikes in where ever you want – no need to line them up or mess with straps…perfect for expediting shuttle runs. A pair of raised bumpers on the ends of the pad help to keep bikes from sliding off and into the side of the bed. Keeping the pad secured to the tailgate are four wide velcro straps and when using Sensus’s quick clips, the pad does not slide around or bunch up. In addition to the features listed above, the pad itself uses a PVC coated canvas material they claim to be “swordproof” instead of tarpaulin on the exterior, and a microfiber interior protects your vehicles paint. The tailgate handle and rear view camera are easily access and used thanks to the backup buddy magnetic flap. Sensus added a pair of velcro enclosed “stash pockets” to use however you see fit. The pad was also designed with modularity in mind, however alot of those accessories Sensus designed to use with the pad have yet to see the light of day.

Price: $210

Swagman Paramount Tailgate Pad


The Paramount from Swagman is the most expensive tailgate pad in the shootout and it is kind of hard to see why…but we will dive into that in the standalone review. The Paramount comes in two sizes, the 54-inch wide mid-size option and the 61-inch wide full-size option. The mid-size pad is capable of carrying four bikes while the full-size option has a claimed carrying capacity of seven. The Paramount is constructed out of a high-density foam that is encased in a tarpaulin outer shell, with a fleece inner shell for paint protection. Bikes are held in place by the industry standard hook-and-loop downtube straps and the forks stanchions are further protected thanks to protruding exterior pads. Swagman outfitted the Paramount with a large flap that can be clipped out of the way for use with a backup camera and access to the tailgate handle. A pair of mesh pockets can be found on the back of the pad to stow away a half shell helmet, dirty gear or everything in between. Three straps with plastic adjustable clips keep the pad secured to the tailgate.

Price: $235

Yakima Gatekeeper Tailgate Pad


Yakima’s Gatekeeper is another offering that takes a different approach when it comes to tailgate pads. The most unique aspect of the Gatekeeper is the SitTight Cradle system. The SitTight Cradle system uses a raised pad for downtube protection and uses a G-hook strap for bike retention. The G-hook strap Yakima uses is just long enough to work with a wide array of bicycles, inlcuding ebikes that have a similar downtube profile as the Specialized Levo. In addition to the SitTight Cradle, the Gatekeeper is the only pad that uses a vinyl-coated nylon exterior shell and uses a felt inner shell for paint protection. The Gatekeeper stays tight on the tailgate using three adjustable straps while also using the width of the pad to prevent any unwanted side-to-side movement. There are two size options available for the Gatekeeper, the 62-inch wide large option and the 53-inch wide medium option. The large pad will carry six bikes while the medium pad is designed for five bikes. The Hindsight flap can be tucked away to use your trucks rear view camera and provide easy access to the tailgate handle.

Price: $199


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