Best Tailgate Light Bars: Light Up the Trails
For better illumination on and off-road.
The Drive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Read more.
BY Ray Prince / LAST UPDATED ON October 15, 2021
The best tailgate light bars offer some of the most important functionality for the trails. Our favorite ones carry a minimum of five functions, working as strobe, reverse, flashing, brake, and turn signal lights, employing white, amber, and red colors that light up in sequential order to inform approaching drivers of what you are doing and where you are going. A minimum of 60- inch lengths and triple-row formations offer the best combination of utility and size. Other factors include ease of installation, construction, brightness, and color temperature for superior illumination over traditional stock halogen bulbs. Keep reading to find our top recommendations for tailgate light bars, key features to look for, top brands, and more.
Triple-row powerhouse for great trail vision, with protection from water and dust.
- Durable aluminum casing
- Three-row formation with a total of 1,200 LEDs
- Can be hard-wired to truck lights or plugged into a trailer adapter
- Steep learning curve for beginners to hardwire
- Warranty could be longer (only two years)
An easy-to-install, affordable option that still provides excellent overall illumination.
- Triple-row formation
- Can be used as running light, white reverse light, double flashing light, and red brake light
- No need for modifications
- Not compatible with select makes and model truck tailgates less than 60 inches wide
A quick-install option that should take no more than five minutes to mount, without sacrificing much in terms of feature set.
- Silicone-injected sealed ends for durability
- IP67 waterproof rated
- 4-way flat connector wire for an easy installation
- Not compatible with certain European makes/models
Why Trust Us
Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Best Tailgate Light Bars Reviews & Recommendations
How We Selected Tailgate Light Bars
Our product selections, rankings, and awards for this story are based on research. While we haven’t conducted real-world testing on all of these products yet, we’ve looked at consumer testimonials and data, tutorials, and general discussions on social media and in forums. We also consider price and specification in the context of the segment. And, of course, we rely on our institutional knowledge of the automotive landscape to weed out weak products.
For this review, we researched and evaluated more than 15 tailgate light bars, assessing them based on several factors. These include utility, color temperature, lumen count, construction, and ease of installation. Our preferred tailgate light bars offer triple row formation setups that can work a minimum of five critical functions as strobe, reverse, brake, turn signal, and running lights with white, red, and amber lighting. They should also be built to last with rugged IP67 dust and water ingress protection ratings, an in-line fuse for short circuit protection, and silicone sealing to prevent moisture build-up. This is especially critical in off-road environments.
Buying Guide/What to Look For
Here are some of the more important criteria to consider when buying tailgate light bars.
Our favorite tailgate light bars replicate all of the critical functions needed to alert oncoming drivers of what you are doing and where you are going. Go for tailgate light bars with strobe, reverse, brake, turn signal, and running light functionality that offers white, red, and amber lighting setups that light up in logical sequential order.
Tailgate light bars typically come in one of two color temperatures: 6,000K and 6,500K. 6,000K is classified as a day white color that offers excellent brightness for near and far-field applications. A 6,500K color temperature errs in the bluish tint side and offers a bit more flair. Plus, these color temperatures are easier and more cost-effective to manufacture due to less red/green phosphor coating needed to produce additional wavelengths for the blue and yellow side of the spectrum, which can extend to cost savings for your own unit.
Lumens are the measure of the total amount of visible light. The higher the lumen count, the greater the brightness. For areas with super low visibility and a heavy fog/rain concentration, opt for higher lumen count tailgate light bars.
We are big fans of tailgate light bars with one or more of the following features: IP67 waterproof rating, silicone sealing, and heatsinking. All work to limit/eliminate dust and water ingress, prevent moisture buildup, and allow heat to be transferred away from the device and into the atmosphere to cool the unit down.
Our recommendation is to go with tailgate light bars with a simple plug-and-play installation that requires no more than a four-way flat connector wire. Some tailgate light bars are even equipped with double-sided automotive-grade 3M tape for easy sticking. Avoid units that require tools or modifications.
Q: Do LED lights use a lot of electricity?
Compared to stock halogen bulbs and incandescent lighting, LEDs offer much more energy savings.
Q: How do I choose a light bar?
The five most important factors (in our opinion) for choosing a tailgate light bar include utility, color temperature, lumen count, construction, and ease of installation. Utility ranks above and beyond, with our preferred tailgate light bars offering all of the functions needed to let approaching drivers know what you are doing and where you are going. Look for tailgate light bars that offer strobe, reverse, brake, turn signal, and running light functionality with sequential operation of white, red, and amber lighting.
Q: What color temperature should a tailgate light bar offer?
Look for tailgate light bars with a 6,000K or 6,500K color temperature, which falls under the daylight white side of the spectrum. These are the most commonly used for automotive lighting applications thanks to the excellent visibility offered for near and far-field applications.
When it comes to choosing the best tailgate light bars, our Best Overall choice is the OPT7 60” Redline Triple LED Tailgate Light Bar. It offers greater functionality than standard lights with a monstrous LED count (1,200), size (60 inches), and one of the most rugged constructions we've seen with IP67-rated aluminum causing and an easy-to-install format using double-sided adhesive. It also allows drivers to hardwire directly to truck lights (as opposed to a trailer adapter) for more powerful illumination. Consider it a winner across the board.