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Old 05-11-2018, 01:55 PM   #21
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I have one observation. I hated "living" in a pop top SMB, especially in a cold climate. It also makes stealth camping very uncomfortable if you're tall and have to sit inside with the top down.

So my new van is a high roof Transit. Love that for living, but I miss the pop top for views and light when camping.

If I was only going camping on weekends I think I would prefer the pop-top.

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Old 05-16-2018, 01:12 PM   #22
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I echo what Ranchero said.
I had a pop top and purposely chose to do a hard top on my latest build. It's insulated, quiet and simple. No springs, actuators, pivot points or wiring to deal with. I can get up out of my seat and stand up.

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Old 05-16-2018, 03:13 PM   #23
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I have a poptop and I would do a hardtop if I did it again. They are super loud off-road.
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Old 05-16-2018, 03:29 PM   #24
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We had a VW Eurovan Camper for 17 years for just the 2 of us. The move to SMB was driven by more room, including headroom. I'm 5'8" and my wife is 5'7".

We chose a regular roof Sprinter with the Penthouse. At our height, we can easily walk around with the top down and not worry about hitting our heads, but if I was another inch taller it would be a different story. We did not get the optional bed, but got the Penthouse for headroom, light, and ventilation. A high roof would have added more wind resistance (and side wind considerations) in addition to having no real ventilation without adding vents and fans.

We've been very pleased with our SMB Penthouse. The only thing I would change is to have SMB install a manual switch for the rear lights instead of the switch which engages when the top comes down (something I intend to rectify).
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Old 05-16-2018, 05:33 PM   #25
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Penthouse FOR SURE! I know we all have our opinions, BUT, it's one of the MAIN reasons for letting Sportsmobile do your sets you apart from all the others (converters)and gives you the
sleep upstairs" wife's FAVORITE part of the van...opening the windows and sleeping in to a nice gentle breeze (additional sleeping too), allows you to stand up (I own a E350) TAKE PICS from your window, better views, and (again) you could have just about any other converter do it if you don't do a penthouse...GET IT MAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have never driven one w/o so I couldn't speak on decibels, but we are more than fine (volume wise that is)....I just don't see why you wouldn't (go electric for SURE)....and you are ALREADY spending 9/10 of a BUNCH of $ on the rest, go the full tilt and blame it on RE-SALE!!! LOL! Good luck!

Ps We have a furnace, but if it temp drops below 40 degrees we still use alligator clips to hang blankets around the top(5 min process and we have the extra blankets) and drop the back half of the penthouse bed to create a smaller area to heat...never had a problem of being cold...hope this helps and helps future members using the "search" button for this very question!!
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Old 05-16-2018, 07:46 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by Nrobert10 View Post
I have a poptop and I would do a hardtop if I did it again. They are super loud off-road.
Mine was insanely loud for years even on a bumpy interstate because the penthouse springs were slapping the insides of the metal frame. I zip tied short strips of carpet to the chain ends (the sliding, traveling end) of the springs. Springs and top are completely quiet even on a washboard road. I don't remember where I saw something similar, most likely here. Not sure if your springs are what's loud but there is a solution to that. Now it's all my cabinets and junkthat's in them that drives me crazy on a bad road.

Regarding pop top or not. I would be happy either way as there are advantages I would be happy with on either. But, I would only do tin top OEM or ELECTRIC penthouse. I feel my manual penthouse is kind of the least desirable configuration. I have all the disadvantages of the the PH, not overloading with weight being the biggest, and, because it's manual, I don't put it up as much as I could because of lifting it. Mine is pretty well balanced but still a chore to lift compared to pushing a button. This will hopefully be my forever van so I'm fine the way it is but the question was what I would do different if I had the choice.

- Eric
2005 SMB RB 4x4 6.0 PSD
A rocket on the pad is safe,
but it's not what rockets are built for.
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Old 05-16-2018, 08:28 PM   #27
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.....This is **forever** going to be a question that truly has no definitive answer. And that will have equal amounts of both "I made the right choice!" confidence and also "the grass does look kinda greener...." sentiments in both camps.

The "grass is greener" sentiments are worth pondering for sure. Which set of regrets would bother you the most? To wit:

People with penthouse roofs (which includes myself) will always have a bit of secret "fixed-roof envy":

- "Man, I wish I had the sheer volume of awesome cupboards and storage like those fixed-roof guys all seem to have..."
- "Jeez, I wish our penthouse van was better at keeping outside noises out...."
- "It must be nice to be able to camp/boondock so stealthily....without drawing attention like we do whenever we pop the penthouse top up...."
- "Dude! Your fixed roof van stays SO nice and warm when it's cold out!!!"
- "Dang! Your fixed roof doesn't make noises every time the van hits a big bump?? Wow...yeah, we just kinda get used to hearing the penthouse roof frequently shift around....yep, it "talks to us" a lot when the van is off-road for sure...."

And of course I imagine that the fixed-roof guys have their own secret "penthouse roof envy" thoughts.....

- "Man, every time I tell someone I have a Sportsmobile, they ALWAYS look bummed when I tell them it's not a pop-top...."
- "Holy crap....that penthouse roof van stays SUPER comfortable even on a hot day in direct sun!!! Amazing how opening all those zipper windows makes it perfect temperature, I wish we could get that amount of flow-through breezes on our fixed-roof...."
- "Yeah, we're not going to be able to drive up that trail and follow you under those tree branches...."
- "Jeez, for just a little bit more sunlight inside this cave of a van...."
- "Okay, yeah, for sure....sleeping up top in that penthouse just looks freakin' rad...."

Clearly the only solution is to own more than one Sportsmobile.
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Old 05-16-2018, 08:53 PM   #28
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This is almost like a Ford vs. Chevy question, or dare I say, a gas vs. diesel question.

There isn't single answer to this question, it all depends on your preferences, your intended uses, and frankly where you're going to use it.

Personally I loved the penthouse in my SMB, and I'd go that route again, especially if I traveled in heavily wooded areas due to improved clearance through the trees. If I frequented very rainy or very cold regions a hardtop might make more sense.

SMB-less as of 02/04/2012. Our savings account is richer, but our adventures are poorer.
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Old 06-01-2018, 12:00 AM   #29
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Colorado Camper Can puts a penthouse on a medium roof van, unlike SMB, and when it's in the up position, it offers more headroom than SMB's. They will also put a fan in the pop up, unlike SMB. Best of both worlds.
My new van goes into SMB production this Nov. 148LR T350 EcoBoost 3.73LS w/ Quigley 4x4. Late lesson learned.
I'll love it, regardless!

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