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Old 10-04-2017, 12:52 AM   #31
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Sorry IPT, I don't mean to hijack your thread.... My wife & I are getting ready to pull the trigger this week on ordering a 144" 4X4 Sprinter as well and are on the fence again with high top vs penthouse.
Paul
No worries Paul, it is all in the context of the thread and learning about the Pros and Cons. I know I have read threads were apparently High tops were very prevalent in Moab.

Since you can't drive with the Penthouse up I would guess the Screens on the rear and sides would be comparable to the penthouse. I imagine the insulation goes some distance in keeping the hot out, but your technique may be different than keeping the warm in (more heat reflective material?). I will be curious to see what others with actual real world experience have to say.

It's not an easy choice, at least for me and apparently not you either . Though it sounds to me like you liked the high top up here in the cooler climate? Would you still be on the fence if you were just using it 90% of the time in a cool climate like AK?
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Old 10-04-2017, 11:16 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by akfiredude View Post
Sorry IPT, I don't mean to hijack your thread.... My wife & I are getting ready to pull the trigger this week on ordering a 144" 4X4 Sprinter as well and are on the fence again with high top vs penthouse. We had lived full time in Alaska until I retired last year and moved down to HOT Sedona AZ. However, we still spend summers in the cooler climes of Alaska.

I've been going back and forth between high top vs penthouse for well over a year. I was originally set on the penthouse for ventilation, openness, lower profile, better maneuvering in tight off road areas, etc (we rented a SMB E350 penthouse in CO and traveled around Moab UT in the past). This past summer we borrowed a 144" 4X4 Sprinter high top from a friend in Alaska and traveled up to the Yukon for 10 days and loved the handling of the Sprinter (we had limited off road except some basic dirt roads). The weather was cool & mild so the high top worked out great. We were impressed with the build and the ample overhead storage the high top provided. In our future van we plan on bringing bikes and a fair amount of stuff so that we can be on the road for a month or more at a time. It will only be my wife & I along with our 70 lb lab.

I was all set on ordering a high top this coming week. Even though we are not going to have any AC in the rear (as we plan on being off the grid quite a bit), we do plan on having 2 roof top fantastic fans for airflow. After reading Fitz's and others comments about the penthouse and ventilation I am back on the fence again.

Since I do not have any experience with traveling in a high top in hot weather my question is this:

What are other folks experiences with the high top Sprinter in the hot weather of the desert SW? It was still in the 100's after we returned down here in mid August and will be in the low 90's to 100's in places around here still in Oct. I know my truck and car gets hotter than hell down here and I can only imagine the Sprinters would be similar or worse. Yes, I know we can open (and screen) the rear & side doors while stopped and camping but while traveling and just being parked it seems like the van would turn into an oven. Do others find that the high top Sprinters are ungodly hot while traveling or parked around town and if so, do they cool down reasonably well with 2 roof top fans? Are there other types of solutions besides rear AC?

Typically while traveling around down here in our truck or Jeep, my Alaskan dog needs the AC on or the ability to stick her head out the window (which does not seem possible in the back of a Sprinter). Any insight on the high top in the heat
of the desert would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Paul
I would think twice of having no a/c!!! Iím really familiar with desert camping in heat and my advice is get it installed (120 volt unit)and get a few small Honda eu generators/patch cable with an external portable gas tank they can run off all night .also give that dog a buzzer cut or heíll be miserable,being bald ainít so bad? If you decide to just have fans you can get front door screens to keep any bugs out,keep us posted
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Old 10-04-2017, 11:21 AM   #33
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Plus you can plug in at any koa type campground etc, specifically you should look at the Coleman Mach 8(pretty sure going from memory) it is designed for desert up to 110 degrees other units just can’t keep up! Plus it has dual motors so you can use one at night and not so noisey! If you don’t sleep good doesn’t matter how beautiful your surroundings are plus can lead to a divorce if not by your wife the dog may retain an attorney!
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Old 10-04-2017, 12:12 PM   #34
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Hereís a few examples,hope it helps
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Old 10-04-2017, 12:17 PM   #35
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Thereís no shame in being non solar sometimes and I have a dog that boils over that is short haired and is a total desert pup
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Old 10-04-2017, 04:13 PM   #36
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Can't you add a pop top on a high roof Sprinter? I feel like I've seen that before. You could get the best of both worlds.
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Old 10-04-2017, 04:58 PM   #37
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I have two toddlers myself (18 months and just over 3 years old), sold my EB E350 4x4 for a new Sprinter 2500 170" 4x4. Brian Wilson[/url], on Flickr
Brian....I checked out your Flickr photos. The new Sprinter van looks pretty awesome. Does it have a lift kit or is that the factory lift? And what size tires?
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Old 10-04-2017, 05:17 PM   #38
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Can't you add a pop top on a high roof Sprinter? I feel like I've seen that before. You could get the best of both worlds.
Most upfitters (including SMB) won't do it. That roof is narrower and IDK if it will fit. It is also weaker. I am pretty sure you wouldn't be able to mount upper cabinets.
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Old 10-04-2017, 05:26 PM   #39
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IPT, YES, I would have a high top if we were going to be primarily in Alaska. All of the major advantages we see in a penthouse would not be quite as necessary for us up there. We have traveled extensively throughout Alaska and the limited road system does not usually pose a problem with a high vs low profile roof nor is extreme heat a problem. I do agree with another member that posted concerns about snow and ice on top of the penthouse in the winter months as that could be a real issue for you.

All of that being said, it is only my wife and myself so we really only need one bed (vs 2 with the penthouse for the kiddos). The convenience of not lifting the top (and potential problems that go with a penthouse) along with the additional storage and cubbies that you can have with the high top would be a no brainer for our situation if we lived up there full time still.

You should go by https://www.alaskacampervanconversions.com (as TomH pointed out) and talk to Charlie the owner. He usually has several vans in mid conversion to look at plus he can give you some ideas. He's a former boat builder and has produced some great work on Sprinters for friends of mine in Anchorage. He's not cheap by any means but all of his work is custom and built out of aluminum.

Zappo- I really appreciate the input regarding the dual generators along with the AC but we are hoping to not have to lug all of that stuff around with us if possible. 2 generators, gas cans, plus the AC unit itself all takes up lots of precious space on a 144" (not to mention the additional expense). We're also concerned about set up and generator noise. We will already have lots of "stuff" for longer trips including bikes. My wife & I are not KOA or any other type of formal campground people if we can avoid it at all costs. We enjoy being completely off the grid whenever we are traveling in my Jeep or Tacoma and have been known to travel great distances to make this happen. I am going to try and avoid the AC option if we can.
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Old 10-04-2017, 05:58 PM   #40
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What about a high-roof and a roof-top tent?

I do agree that the 144" body sure sounds small for the intended uses.

My trailer has A/C. I've used it once, in the driveway when we had guests during a heat wave. I've never needed it boondocking. I have needed A/C when camping with just the van, when it was over 115F, and I just ran van's A/C. I wouldn't make a regular habit of it in a diesel, but occasional use with high-idle should be fine.
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