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Old 05-21-2018, 12:52 PM   #1
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Topper vs Tonneau

We just upgraded from a 23FB to a 25FB Twin. Our TV is a BMW X5 diesel that pulls great but we've decided to get a 1/2 ton Sierra that has more heft and a larger footprint.


What's up for discussion is whether to just have a tonneau cover for the truck bed or get a topper. The wife seems to want it to still look like a 'truck'. I don't care what it looks like but it seems to me that a topper would be more useful.
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Old 05-21-2018, 01:00 PM   #2
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We prefer a topper. We carry a Honda 3000 in the bed. I also have a tool box built into the left side of the topper. I would be lost without it.


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Old 05-21-2018, 01:01 PM   #3
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A high topper on a pickup limits visibility. I drive my truck everyday and like to see behind me. Ditto when we are unhooked on a trip. I opted for a low fiberglass clam shell. The shell seems reasonably secure and it is reasonably water tight. It is more important to me to have the space secure and dry than to have a whole lot of it. I had a truck with a tonneau on it at work and I did not like the cover. But the tonneau is good if you sometimes need to carry large stuff in an open bed. I could not pick up a refrigerator with my truck now, for instance.
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Old 05-21-2018, 01:18 PM   #4
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I've had 3 different versions.

Hard clamshell tonneau. Very secure, water tight and didn't hinder visibility. A bear to get stuff out of if it was towards the cab unless you get the type that goes up on all 4 sides or if you have a bed slide.

Multi panel hard tonneau. Reasonably secure and didn't hinder visibility. Not as water tight, but great if you wanted to load large or odd shaped items. I could take a fridge or bikes by just folding over the panels.

High topper. Reasonably secure. Water tight. I could take larger items with me. If you are agile you can get everything out pretty easy. I have a bed slide so that makes it very useful. I use it for work and am in some iffy areas so I put welded wire inside the windows and the back hatch area.

Personally I like the high topper with a bed slide but that's because I use it for work.
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Old 05-21-2018, 01:24 PM   #5
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The fiberglass toppers weight 150 to 200 lbs. The fiberglass tonneaus weigh 80 to 100 lbs. The BakFlip F1 weighs about 50 lbs. The roll-back toppers weigh less than 40 lbs. The weight of these options reduce your cargo carrying capacity.

The BakFlip and roll-back both give you full use of the pickup bed where the other two need to be removed to get full use.

The first three options provide more security.

Good luck with your decision.
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Old 05-21-2018, 02:50 PM   #6
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I have a roll up hard tonneau. Very easy to use and it is secure.
1) Visibility is better; especially when backing up. Although rear cameras are nice.
2) I can put things in the truck that might be higher than a topper.
3) Also getting things in and out are easier since I can approach the truck from the side.

But I could see a topper if you were going to regularly carry something higher than the top of the truck bed. Right now I don't.
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Old 05-21-2018, 03:00 PM   #7
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Cab high topper for me.
- No visibility problems.

- Can still enter parking garages
- carry all the gear for camping
- firewood stays dry
- bikes, tools and camping gear stay dry and "relatively" secure

- muddy dog can ride there if needed
- items in front accessible with side "win-doors"
- if I need to haul an appliance I can use my utility trailer or have the store deliver it.
- racks on top for hauling canoe, ladder, lumber, etc....
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Old 05-21-2018, 03:52 PM   #8
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I went with the hard tonneau.
Here's why.
1. Good security, no one can see inside and it locks.
2. I considered a topper for about five minutes, but couldn't get past the "old guy" look, even though I am one.
3. With the Leer 700, I still got the Honda 3000 inside easily.
4. It looks great!
5. Attached to existing "deck rail" system in Tundra, no holes drilled.
6. Water tight.

Cons:
1. More expensive than folders.
2. Hard to remove.
3. Can't drive with the lid up. (at least not far.)
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Old 05-21-2018, 04:19 PM   #9
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Had a cab high leer with a bed slide on the last truck. The slide lessens the useful capacity of the truck box. Crawling under the cap to access things stored for and aft of the wheel wells, was a real pain in the knees. It was also impossible to fully extend the slide while the truck was hooked to the trailer. I went the other direction with the new rig. Backflip tonneau without the bedslide. I find it much easier to be able to stand in the truck bed to access stored items.
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Old 05-21-2018, 04:35 PM   #10
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We have a standard length bed with a Retrax Pro MX. It’s a hard style roll-up tonneau cover. I absolutely loved it ... until ... we went to an A/S rally and saw what others had ... long-bed, with a cap, and a bed slide. If only I had a do-over. I can’t justify changing to a cap given the sunk cost of aborting the tonneau cover, coupled with the cost of a cap and bed slide, knowing that it’s only the standard bed instead of a long-bed ... I’ll have to live with what I have. That said, I’d recommend going to a rally or two and check out other setups and then make a well-informed decision on what suits your needs. Best wishes, Rich

BTW, the RetraxPro looks FANTASTIC but I give up some space in the bed for the roll. It hasn’t killed me but it’s been a nuissance a couple of times. The fantastic look overrides the loss of space ... and worst case, I can simply remove the tonneau cover for full bed access—it’s not hard or heavy (would need two people).
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Old 05-21-2018, 06:00 PM   #11
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We have an ARE fiberglass tonneau cover on our 03 SCrew which I loved since day one. With the 03 in Retirement we opted for a Diamondback aluminum tonneau on the 16 long bed. We splurged for the Line-X coating. Love it! The big thing for me is that I can can easily fold over half of the cover in seconds to accommodate funky loads, or remove part or the entire cover in minutes. Plus I can load up to 400 lbs on top of the cover with no worries about caving it in.
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Old 05-21-2018, 06:12 PM   #12
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I have a lightweight fabric tonneau cover. It keeps thinks in the bed dry, easily removes, and looks decent enough. Last truck I owned had a fiberglass hightopper which was also nice, but it limited what I could haul and getting at things at the front of the bed was difficult. But it was more secure and had racks on the top for a canoe or kayaks. But getting the boats up there was not easy.
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Old 05-21-2018, 07:17 PM   #13
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Fiberglass cab high LEER topper with windows on an 8 foot bed. On my Ford F350 for years. Keeps things dry and somewhat safe but visible due to windows. Easy to see around when driving as it had full size side, front and rear windows. Limits tall items. Weathertite when new however began to leak at rear window after 15 years. New seals solved that problem. Not easily removed due to weight (heavy and bulky) if you need to haul a tall item and need an open bed. Great place to sleep in a pinch.

Coverlay Brand solid bed topper on short bed crew cab Dodge. Very nice unit that you can stand on or sit on top of in lawn chairs. Great for watching firework's displays in the summer or at the local Drive In Movie. Molded composite plastic bed cover. Light. lockable and easily removable when you need use of full open bed due to unique mounting system. I have purchased 3 different Coverlay bed covers USED for my trucks off CL. These are $1000-$1200 new. Most I have ever paid is $250 used off CL. Due to the light weight, lockable security, ease of removal/re-installation and the ability to stand on top of the bed cover makes this is the only brand of solid bed cover I would ever purchase. Normally black in color due to composite plastic however they now offered a paint to match option in the same great bed cover. All of my used Coverlay bed cover's are black.

Soft folding bed cover. Had one for a week. Did not care for it. Looked OK and would keep your stuff dry however no security so what's the point.

Power retracting solid panel bed cover. Had 1. That was enough. Took up room at the cab end of the bed for the power mechanism and bed cover when "rolled" up. The side rails/track were a pain to keep aligned. Had to wire the damn thing to work. EXPENSIVE to purchase! Good security however the worst option of the bunch in my opinion. Hard to install/remove if needed and HEAVY!

Folding panel bed cover. Had 1. Better than soft fabric or retracting bed cover. It Leaked. Lockable. Paint the butt to fold sometimes and blocked rear view if needing full open bed unless your removed the cover which was heavy and PITA to remove.

A BED SLIDE is a GREAT Addition to any of the above.

My ranking based upon my experience and use if you must have some type of bed covering:

1. Coverlay Solid Composite Bed Cover.
2. Fiberglass cab height topper.
3. Folding Bed Cover.
4. Power retracting bed cover.
5. Soft fabric bed cover.
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Old 05-21-2018, 08:20 PM   #14
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I have had ARE fiberglass toppers on each of the last 5 trucks I have owned.
There are pros and cons for both topper and cover. I looked at both originally. For me, it's a personal choice based on my needs.
The main issue that led me to choose toppers is the volume of interior, being able to carry things that are taller than the truck bed inside, and being able to keep them dry and secure while moving.
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