Camper Shells: your experiences and suggestions

I have a Leer and I have had no problems with it.... so far. The only thing I wish I had are windoors. It is strong enough to carry two sea kayaks off road and no leaks.

Here is a pic two days after getting the truck and canopy. Yeah the truck looks much different now:wings:


I don't have any better pics of it.

EDIT: I have started getting leaks around the windows.
 
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articulate

Expedition Leader
I'm continuously impressed with all the responses, and different angles here. Thanks for sharing. Those who don't have the windoors all express that they wish they had 'em. Noted.

That home built canopy/camper is intense, and quite beyond what I care to do. What a cool project, though.
 

NorCalBronco

Observer
I have a SnugTop on my Ranger. It came with the truck. Heres a pick...


I love it. Its usually the home for my dog or tools, and keeps those secure. The top is extra thick and it seems to help keep inside cool when its hot and warm when its cold. I have slept in it and stayed nice and warm when it was super cold outside. I like to have the structured sides as opposed to a tent. I've never had a problem with it leaking, it has some sort of built in gasket fastened to the bottom of the sides which is nice.

The problems that I have with it is the side windows dont open very wide at all, although it seemed to have decent air flow with both sides open and the front slider open. Also, one side window has fallen off before, but when it hit the ground it didn't even crack. Oh, and the worst thing about it is the fact that it blocks vision but it looks like that isn't going to matter to you.
 

articulate

Expedition Leader
elcoyote said:
The Snugtop I have now is a bit sexier as it has some nice contours to it. I have carried heavy loads on it such as fuel, RTT and even my Hobie 14. It does however tend to splay out at the rear door under load making closing of the rear door sometimes difficult.
I'm putting ARE and Snugtop at the top of my list to take a look at. I happened to get a PM about a black ARE for sale for $550 in Georgia. What a bummer that the logistics just don't work out.

I thought I had a photo of your truck from the past Trophy, because I remember making a mental note that I liked your whole set up.

Alas, here it is. The Mario MJ, "300k+ of dust and joy", sporting a nice Snugtop, RTT, and Chaser while perched on a rock slab in the middle of Arizona. A little overexposed, and I wish I would have shot the other side; but the subject matter sure is nice:
 

Chucaro

Adventurer
I used a FG shell to make a camping trailer using the back of a ute, and I am very happy with the performance considering the vibration that have in the trailer without shocks.
I am planning to fit a roof rack for a tent and extra cargo.
I am not kin in supporting the rack directly in the roof of the shell (also it is not recommended by the manufacturer).
I going to make a roll cage to support the rack and also support a side awing and the brackets for the solar panel. In the same roll cage you can hold the rear frame for supporting the spare wheel and a jerry can.
With the roll cage you do a lot of improvements, safety & protection, solid mounting and support for accessories.
Cheers
 

Kilroy

Adventurer
Picture?

Chucaro said:
I used a FG shell to make a camping trailer using the back of a ute, and I am very happy with the performance considering the vibration that have in the trailer without shocks.
/QUOTE]
 

Chucaro

Adventurer
I am posting an image of the trailer without the roof rack but at least is giving you an idea of the shells available here
Cheers
 

snipecatcher

Adventurer
softopper

Does anyone have any experience with Softopper products? I like the idea of a soft top (less weight, easily removed) and these are about half the price of a Can-back. Another case of "you get what you pay for" or are they decent? I just saw them in 4WD Toyota Owner and am interested.
-Dan
 

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Kilroy

Adventurer
Chucaro
What do you think the weight of your trailer is? You are hauling around body panels you don't need for a trailer. Did you remove the gears from your axle?
Looks like a pretty handy rig without a lot of cost.

Chucaro said:
I am posting an image of the trailer without the roof rack but at least is giving you an idea of the shells available here
Cheers
 

Chucaro

Adventurer
Chucaro
What do you think the weight of your trailer is? You are hauling around body panels you don't need for a trailer. Did you remove the gears from your axle?
Looks like a pretty handy rig without a lot of cost.[end of Quote]

Hi Kilroy
The only part that I used from the original vehicle is the box. I made a chassis using 100x50x2.5 mm (4"x2") gal tube and purchased a standard 1.5 kg capacity axle with Land Rover hubs.
The trailer carry legally 750 kg because I did not fitted brakes. I fitted short heavy duty leaf springs on it and if I fit electric brakes the trailer is strong enough to carry 1.5 kg on road and 1 ton off road.
After my return from the trip to Tasmania next month I will fit the leaf springs above the axle to gain 3" clearance, a pair of shocks and electric brakes.
This type of trailer is very handy as a camping trailer because in extreme weather you can sleep inside in a 7' x 5' bed.
Is like towing the back of a Tacoma behind the Discovery.
As I mentioned in the roof rack you can fit a roof tent and carry massive amount of gear for extensive expedition or the kids can sleep down below.
It is a very hard to beat trailer in flexibility and cost. Here in Oz about U$A 2000 as is.
Cheers
 

theMec

Adventurer
Do any companies still make vertical side shells? Commerical or otherwise?
We sleep in the back of our Leer and it's way too sloped for a good camp setup. Thanks.
 

Bulldawg

New member
snipecatcher said:
Does anyone have any experience with Softopper products? I like the idea of a soft top (less weight, easily removed) and these are about half the price of a Can-back. Another case of "you get what you pay for" or are they decent? I just saw them in 4WD Toyota Owner and am interested.
-Dan
No experience with Softopper, but I have a Bestop Supertop, and I'm loving it so far. I paid $1600 for an ARE Z-series top for a Dodge I once had, and I decided I won't do that again. It was a great top, but it spent more time off the truck than on.

 
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buldyourown

Observer
I bought my '07 Taco with the full intent of buying a shell and building a sleeping platform. I did my homework, and on the advice of many, I bought an ARE. I went with the commercial unit. ARE calls it their DCU. Since I couldn't find any reviews on them, I'll add my 2c.
Buying all the options ala cart was awesome. I got an exact price for every option, figured out if it was worth it, and then decided if I could do it myself for cheaper. Things like lights and racks, I did myself and saves lots of money.
The canopy was reasonably priced: Something like $1100.
Side doors are a requirement. After owning a canopy with and without, I will never own one without again. Make sure your has them. I got a slider on the pass side and the door on the drivers. If I did it again, I would do doors all around. They can be opened 1" at night for vents and are more secure than the slider.
The best thing about this canopy is the security. With solid metal doors and real latches, it would much less tempting than a standard fiberglass canopy.
The con was the build quality. The construction was far inferior to what I was expecting, especially with the rep ARE has. There was cutting oil and alum chips all over the interior from them drilling/riveting the skin on. The welds looked horrible and the trim is poorly designed and installed.

If I had to buy another one, I would definitely get a commercial one, but it wouldn't be made by ARE. A gemtop or other highend commercial would be worth my money.
 
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