Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 02-11-2008   #1
Loveland, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 118
OT: Truck Toppers

Hey Buzzers,
Just bought a new pick up truck and I want to get a shell for it. I was wondering what you all thought were the salient points to selecting a truck topper. Which options are must haves and which are really nice to have. Any brands out there that tend to hold up better than others-any to definitely steer clear of. Also need to install a rack to carry skis, bikes, kayaks, and raft frames when the back is full of gear and dogs. I was thinking of one of those wrap around contractor type racks. Any advice on that. Thanks for the help.

Paul B is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-12-2008   #2
raftus's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 1,128
3 basic kinds of toppers:

Fiberglass - most common and generally most expensive. You can get standard ones or ones that are designed to have weight bearing racks added. I don't know what the weight limits are for the weight bearing ones. If I remember right these start around $1100.

Aluminum - much cheaper- but usually made out of corrugated aluminum, not weight bearing and not that good looking.

Plastic - less common, but mid priced. I got one for $700 new from AAA Toppers in Denver. Not weight bearing. I've had it for 8 years and aside for re-sealing the windows with silicone caulk it has held up great.

Some toppers have side windows that pop up for easier access, I don't have them but I have been envious of them more than once. Not sure how much they cost.

There was a thread not to long ago about contractor type racks - you might try searching for it. If I remember there was a fair bit of discussion about about weight, aerodynamic drag and fuel mileage decreases, and features.

raftus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-12-2008   #3
El Flaco's Avatar
Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1984
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 1,879
  1. Opt for something a little more that cab height if you're not buying a rail-mounted ladder rack. That extra room is nice to have- Think about climbing over coolers to get towards the front. DO NOT buy a topper with one of those silly little roof windows above where the cap and the cab meet- one rock from the highways can crack that window & it costs $$ to replace.
  2. If you're camping / sleeping in the back of it, you might want to consider getting a felt liner put in. It adds some thermal & sound insulation, and it prevents that annoying condensation drip. You can also make some easy sunshades with velcro that sick around the outside of each window so you can sleep past 6am.
  3. I know a few people that have that pop-up style window, and I think it's critical to have. But save yourself some money by ordering a topper with one side as a pop-up and the other a slider- that's all you need.
El Flaco is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-12-2008   #4
rhm's Avatar
steamboat springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 93
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 199
i bought a fiberglass topper for my truck. then i called the manufacturer and replaced the sliding windows with hatch style ones that open like the rear hatch. these are great for accessing things in the front of the bed. you can reach anything in the truck bed without crawling through from the back. it was under $200 bucks for each side access hatch, but well worth it. if you buy a new topper i would try to find a manufacturer that has this option. if you get a good deal on a used topper, then you can afford to upgrade later.
rhm is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-12-2008   #5
skibuminwyo's Avatar
the zoo, Montucky
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 137
When I was roadtripping around in my dodge diesel I had a topper put on that I bought in Butte, MT. It was fiberglass, with a honeycomb pattern inside, supposedly to strengthen it more for a rack on top. I never needed to use a rack. I built a platform even with the wheel wells, out of 2x4 and plywood, to use as a base. This left me enough room that I could get the big rubbermaid containers and put all of my gear into them, and slide them under the platform. I used some small diameter accessory cord to pull the containers out from underneath the platform. I mounted a couple NRS straps to the side of the thing, which allowed me to hang paddles, and it left me with enough room for 5 playboats, and four big creekers. Sure, the hatch didn't close when the creekers got slid in, but it worked if you tied it down to the hitch. There was enough room in there I could have flopped a queen mattress down, but I just opted to get a good sleeping pad. It worked like a dream, definitely the best road tripping rig I ever owned.
skibuminwyo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-12-2008   #6
Dave Frank's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,727
What did you get for a truck? If you have a micro truck you might want to get the tallest thing available so there is a bit of room. Tall is key if you want to build anything to sleep on, and still have space under it.

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly a full size truck fills up.

here is a recent thread on racks:

Your Dream Truck Rack?

(seven two 0)-298-2242
Dave Frank is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-13-2008   #7
DanOrion's Avatar
Indian Hills, Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 1,448
Originally Posted by Dave Frank View Post
It never ceases to amaze me how quickly a full size truck fills up.
True, as much space as you have, you'll use it.

I've got a snugtop and have not been really impressed with the quality, lots of little stuff has broken. My wife has a raven by Glasstite (different than a Raven) and it seems more sturdy.

Getting a topper that is raised above the top of your truck is key if you plan to sleep in the back. It will give you room to build a platform for storing gear and to seperate your dogs (if you have 'em) from your stuff.

Felt lined fiberglass seems pretty standard. I can't say the felt offers any insulation. Folding out side windows would be a nice feature. The sliding ones don't work well on any of the toppers I've seen.

Shop around, negotiate. Prices are flexible. The cost difference between an OK topper and a great topper is about $300...worth it.

Suburban Toppers on Colfax have a great reputation for good customer service. If I could do it again; i'd get my topper there.
DanOrion is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2008   #8
Snowhere's Avatar
Buena Vista, Colorado
Paddling Since: 93
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 844
I have had small trucks, big trucks, lumber racks, light duty racks (yakama). On all, I went with a Raven fiberglass topper. The first one was a even with the roof height, but as people say, it was cramped. I then sold that and went with one higher then the truck. Fiberglass is nice, since it is strong enough to stand on, which come in handy when I am tying things on to the roof. when I had the lumber rack, it had the most capacity, but how often do you need or even want to put close to 1000+ lbs that high on the roof. I have switched back to a Yakama rack on top mount brackets and can carry just about the same as I did with the lumber rack, as long as you are smart about how you drive when you do load it up heavy.

When I drove my truck to Alaska in 94 and 98, I loaded the fiberglass topper up, on the rack with, two kayaks stuffed full of gear, two mountain bikes, 15 gallons of gas, 6 gallons of water and 100 lbs of dog food. I never had a problem with the topper holding all that weight, even on some real rough roads. But I suggest staying away from the side mount brackets for the roof rack, I have had the sides fold flat from the pounding on the rough roads. The top mount brackets will not do that.

Snowhere is offline   Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Similar Threads
Topic Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Your Dream Truck Rack? Warren Whitewater Kayaking 11 12-27-2007 04:27 PM
Truck Platform Uncle B Whitewater Kayaking 7 05-27-2007 06:22 PM
Looking for a truck rack 2ball Whitewater Kayaking 5 01-08-2005 11:29 PM
15' Truck going to SoCal dregina Whitewater Kayaking 2 12-23-2004 03:16 AM
Truck Topper Sleeper david23 Whitewater Kayaking 6 07-22-2004 01:34 AM

» Classified Ads
2016 Blue 16' NRS River...

posted by Ripple

2016 Blue NRS River Cataraft Tubes - only used on one river...

Sawyer 10' counter...

posted by rrrlotus

Sawyer 10' counter balanced oars - fiberglass...

Pyranha Rebel Rapid

posted by Rendezvous River Sports

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3

Our Communities

Our communities encompass many different hobbies and interests, but each one is built on friendly, intelligent membership.

» More about our Communities

Automotive Communities

Our Automotive communities encompass many different makes and models. From U.S. domestics to European Saloons.

» More about our Automotive Communities

Marine Communities

Our Marine websites focus on Cruising and Sailing Vessels, including forums and the largest cruising Wiki project on the web today.

» More about our Marine Communities

Copyright 2002-2012 Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 12:01 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2016, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.