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Old 02-26-2021, 09:20 AM   #1
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Camper Topper verses Tonneau

I will be ordering a new TV soon and would appreciate opinions on using a camper top or flat truck bed (tonneau) cover. This will be my dedicated vehicle for towing an AS and we plan to be on the road a couple of months at a time. I like the idea of more room in the truck bed and being able to pack the truck in the rain with a camper top. Also we have paddle boards which can be strapped to cross bars on top of the camper. However, I'm sure a camper top hinders your view of the AS while driving. Opinions and experiences are appreciated as I am making the move from a class A to an AS for my retirement. Thanks in advance!
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Old 02-26-2021, 09:27 AM   #2
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The major disadvantage to a topper is the inability to use the bed to haul anything taller or other stuff like furniture, trash, tree cuttings, etc. If you do not need that capability than a topper is great for the reasons you mentioned. There really isn't anything to miss out the rear view mirror except when your not towing.
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Old 02-26-2021, 09:29 AM   #3
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Camper Topper verses Tonneau

I’ve had both, and I much prefer a camper topper because of easier loading and more volume for the stuff I carry.

My current TV has a tonneau cover that’s nice, but makes it hard to carry stuff when I need the truck for a grocery run or whatever.

The biggest issue is my Champion 3500 watt inverter dual fuel generator is too tall to fully close the tonneau. That’s a total PITA on trips when I need the generator aboard. I have to use bungee cords to hold down one corner of the tonneau. It looks stupid and makes it hard to keep stuff dry.

I found the topper visibility of the Airstream to be ‘just fine’. The only time I actually need to see the front of the Airstream is when I’m backing toward it to hitch up. The rest of the time I use my mirrors to keep an eye on it.
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Old 02-26-2021, 09:46 AM   #4
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Have both, tonneau in the shed!! Once the topper was put on, I will never go back to tonneau. I have a cab height topper, because of garage door height. I also installed a Traxion 5-100 Tailgate Ladder from Amazon to make it easier to get into the box. A 5 foot steel rod with a hook on the end to pull things from the front is also a "Must" with a topper!! JMHO
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Old 02-26-2021, 09:49 AM   #5
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We have a LEER cap. It keeps stuff dry. Including our bicycles. Grill, ladder, propane, firewood, tools, picnic canopy, dehumidifier, chairs, camp rug, and who knows what else is in there...all sorts of stuff. It serves as a portable garage. If it doesn't fit in my truck, I don't want to be moving it anyway.
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Old 02-26-2021, 09:52 AM   #6
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We have a topper with a rack on top to carry our kayak's, also a bedslide to get to things we store in plastic storage bins in back of truck bed. Things stay nice and dry. When you are towing you are only using side mirrors anyway.
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Old 02-26-2021, 10:03 AM   #7
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I'd never had either on my previous truck, always would just tarp things... but when I got my current truck, thought about it, decided to get a tonneau to 'upgrade' from tarping things. And, it's been really nice to have. But then, I think maybe a topper would have been even better... But... since I already have the tonneau, I have been making do with it. Mine is a soft tri-fold kind, which works well, flip it back out of the way and I can haul things, or have it down and keep stuff from blowing out... it works really well for most of my needs. If I had it to do over, I might have gotten a topper, but, I don't know that I'm going to change from a tonneau to a topper....
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Old 02-26-2021, 10:12 AM   #8
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I’ve never had a tonneau, but love my top. I’ve got the kind that rises toward the back to add about 5” to the opening. Anything under 41” will go in, and the interior height is 48”. I also like the way the lines on this topper flow into the camper behind, and there may be a tiny bit of deflector effect.
With glass all around, visibility is only affected by the addition of some narrow blind spots at the truck’s rear corners. I added a small decal at the bottom of the rear glass to help with lining up the trailer, but the rear view mirror on my latest truck addresses that.
With a sheet of plywood cut to about 60”, maneuvered in between the sidewalls, and then put on supports, the enclosed space is like having two separate pickup beds.
Happy camping!
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Old 02-26-2021, 10:20 AM   #9
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I had a tonneau on my 1500 because my payload would not support a topper. Kept things dry but there were things I could not fit in. After getting a 2500 I went to an ARE topper...wonderful! Everything I need is in there and dry. My only dumb stunt was backing into the garage to load up with the rear window flipped up. The garage entry is not tall enough and it cost me some bucks to have the whole window replaced.
The topper is a better tool for the job.
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Old 02-26-2021, 10:24 AM   #10
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I took my camper shell off. It was in a big part due to weight. I have a f250 and it’s capacity is 2000 pounds including people meat. So 1000lbs on the ball. 4 people at about 500 lbs. left me with 500 lbs to work with. Add the camper shell the rack for a canoe and a canoe and 3 bikes and generator a little motorcycle some firewood a case of water a cooler of beer...... the camper shell and lumber rack were probably 500 lbs. so it sits in the yard and my stuff gets wet. But I’m in so cal.
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Old 02-26-2021, 10:26 AM   #11
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We have a Leer high rise topper that keeps everything not necessary inside the AS safe and secure. Can also be used as a remote camper when you want to get into some deep backcountry camping. I think it is worth the multi purpose uses that come with it.
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Old 02-26-2021, 10:27 AM   #12
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Do you need to fit in a garage?

We have a BAKFlip folding tonneau cover on a RAM 2500 that fits in our garage. Last fall we got the DW a folding recumbent trike that doesn’t fit under the cover. Our Campion Dual Fuel 3400 does fit...

We looked at all the top brand caps but none would fit in the garage due to the rake on the truck (higher in the rear) so we held off on the cap. I prefer the folding hard tonneau for everyday but would like the security of the cap for items that don’t fit under the cover.

Not fitting in the garage is a tough one for me since the truck is just a TV for us and we do see our share of hail storms (roof and house siding both replaced because of hail damage). We say a lot of prayers for the trailer parked outside next to the garage.

Just depends! Good luck on your decision.
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Old 02-26-2021, 10:38 AM   #13
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As most of replies indicate, a cap/ topper.
I don't tow Airstream, but the Leer cap on older F-150 I just got is great.Everything always dry, and taller for hauling anything.
Basically doubles storage,hauling ability, and that's what pickup is for.
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Old 02-26-2021, 10:42 AM   #14
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Utility and towing visibility

Quote:
Originally Posted by JosephRu View Post
I will be ordering a new TV soon and would appreciate opinions on using a camper top or flat truck bed (tonneau) cover. This will be my dedicated vehicle for towing an AS and we plan to be on the road a couple of months at a time. I like the idea of more room in the truck bed and being able to pack the truck in the rain with a camper top. Also we have paddle boards which can be strapped to cross bars on top of the camper. However, I'm sure a camper top hinders your view of the AS while driving. Opinions and experiences are appreciated as I am making the move from a class A to an AS for my retirement. Thanks in advance!
You've already seen and I will confirm the utility of dry, secure space under the topper. We can also run the remote start Champion genny in the rain by porting the exhaust extension out the back and providing cooling air through the sliding windows. Nice and quiet.

Visibility while towing - you can't see the very front of the trailer, but unless you have something aftermarket mounted there or are about to lose a window guard, you won't need that view. Make sure you have tow mirrors for viewing how the trailer is tracking and traffic.

Backing up or hitching is another story. Tow mirrors and a helpful assistant on the cell phone is priceless, practice makes those less and less necessary in time. Except for spotting low branches and big rocks. Don't ask.

Get a TV with a backup camera to solve the hitching issue.
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Old 02-26-2021, 10:46 AM   #15
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I have had a shell on the truck for over ten years now. I suppose both have their advantages and disadvantages. One thing that has always bothered me was that the shell seems like a display case for thieves. I do my best to cover and lock up valuable items such as the generator. Also, it is getting harder each year for me to crawl around and move things in the bed.
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Old 02-26-2021, 11:07 AM   #16
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I have had both and I currently have a tonneau cover. The Lear Topper was great when we were pulling the trailer. However we use the TV to do a lot of other tasks around our property and really like the ability to roll the tonneau cover up and use the bed. I did take time to seal around the tonneau with foam to keep things dry in the bed when it is closed.
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Old 02-26-2021, 11:17 AM   #17
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Replacing my Rollnlock with a Leer 180 extended height, bedslide and drawers for the extra storage.

Current cover is great but we have filled up the bed as we’re full time. Generators (2 x 2200), grill, solo stove, fishing gear, cycling stuff, hiking stuff, tools etc. Figure effectively doubling or slightly more than doubling useable space.

Luckily payload is not a concern as an F350
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Old 02-26-2021, 11:27 AM   #18
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I have an F250 with a BakFlip tonneau cover and I also have an ARE topper. I much prefer the ARE topper to the tonneau cover. Cons of the ARE topper: cannot carry anything tall like a refrigerator. Cons of the BakFlip: cannot carry anything taller than side rails with it closed. The BakFlip makes it easier to reach things in the front of the pickup bed by just folding up the cover, however it's kind of heavy and unwieldy to do so.

I can see just fine out the rear through the ARE topper, whether I'm towing or not. Visibility has never been an issue.

Good luck.
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Old 02-26-2021, 11:34 AM   #19
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We have had both and prefer the tonneau for the same reasons others have said—

1. Less weight. A topper pretty much rules out a 1/2 ton truck.

2. Much better visibility.

3. Easy for people to see your gold bullion with a topper.

4. Perhaps less wind resistance to save fuel.

5. Harder to remove and reinstall if you use the truck for tall things on occasion.

6. Because people tend to overload trucks and trailers, there is less room to do that with a tonneau.

The locks on both can be pretty flimsy—check that out carefully.
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Old 02-26-2021, 11:34 AM   #20
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By the way, if you are old or getting old, like me, and you go with a topper, you will really enjoy a bedslide, as well(cost not withstanding). Crawling into the front of the bed gets old quickly and the bed slide makes almost everything accessible standing at the rear. I thought the slide would diminish my total storage, but not really.

Larry
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