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Old 07-16-2013, 08:33 AM   #1
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Pop-top, vs extended roof?

I am currently driving a '95 regency e-150, with several "small issues." The van runs great, but rather than spend thousands of dollars to repair it, I'm thinking a sportsmobile 4x4 would be a better investment. My question is this, would it be better to go with the standard raised roof, or a pop-top, that can be lowered? I'm virtually brand new to these things, so feel free to throw information at me.
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Old 07-16-2013, 12:26 PM   #2
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Re: Pop-top, vs extended roof?

Quote:
Originally Posted by hippyman
I am currently driving a '95 regency e-150, with several "small issues." The van runs great, but rather than spend thousands of dollars to repair it, I'm thinking a sportsmobile 4x4 would be a better investment. My question is this, would it be better to go with the standard raised roof, or a pop-top, that can be lowered? I'm virtually brand new to these things, so feel free to throw information at me.
You can do a search using voyager or cruiser as the key words.
The most common answers are:
PH top is low profile and gets in to places the hard tops canít.
Itís easier to put stuff on top of a PH top.
There is more room to sleep on top of a PH top bed compared to the voyager.
PH offers a more open view and better cooling by allowing air flow.
Voyager and cruiser tops have overhead cabinets for storage.
Hard tops are generally better in cold and rain but itís possible they can leak as well.
Hard tops can hold humidity more but often have fan/vents in the roof.
Hard tops are less easily damaged than the canvas plastic windowed PH top.
PH tops are either manual push up or the much more expensive electric lift top.
I'm sure there is more.

You can see some pictures at my friends site of the different types if you
click here
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Old 07-16-2013, 05:08 PM   #3
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Re: Pop-top, vs extended roof?

The higher profile hard top will cost an extra 1 or 2 mpg to drive.
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Old 07-16-2013, 06:21 PM   #4
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Re: Pop-top, vs extended roof?

As a guy with a Sportsmobile Voyager top, I can verify that what is said above is true with respect to hard tops. We sleep in snow country, so the hardtop is important to me (because I believe that with interior heat) the canvas top would freeze up after a good storm making it difficult to raise or lower.

Yes, hard tops can leak. Sportsmobile was going to fix my leak under warranty but I never got around to it. So I have it on my rather long to-do-list.

Because I am not too bright, I like not having to remember whether or not the top is up before I stand up.

I have a rear bench seat which converts into a bed. And I don't think an adult could or would want to sleep on top with a Voyager top. Since the Crusier top has another 4-6 inches (?) sleeping on top is more feasible.

Yes, it is way up there to put stuff on the roof. But that said, I have had 6 kayaks on the roof rack and one on the roof side.

I have four 2'x4' solar panels on the roof secured by Thule tracks. I don't know how many you can fit on a PH top.

I let very few others drive it because I am afraid that they will pull up under an awning, drivethrough, or kiosk without thinking.

(In fact, I am afraid of doing that very thing without thinking...)
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Old 07-16-2013, 09:41 PM   #5
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Re: Pop-top, vs extended roof?

You can stealth camp with a fixed top. Not important to some but worth thinking about. Its why i would like one next. You can also add AC or a roof vent (Fantastic Fan) in the middle, which is next to impossible with an SMB pop top. Fixed tops might leak, but they are otherwise maintenance free. As in, totally. Pop tops have lots of moving parts and springs and can get out of whack, but I don't think it's common.
If mpg is important to you, don't buy an SMB, or any camper for that matter. They all stink at efficiency.
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Old 07-17-2013, 08:06 AM   #6
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Re: Pop-top, vs extended roof?

Who are your neighbors? My CC&Rs don't allow long term parking of RVs in driveways, but my SpoMo with the flop-top passes as a van.
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Old 07-17-2013, 09:11 AM   #7
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Re: Pop-top, vs extended roof?

Colorado camper van has tops that are a cross between penthouse and fixed tops. Worth looking at.
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Old 07-17-2013, 01:45 PM   #8
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Re: Pop-top, vs extended roof?

We like the fixed top (71" clear) because it is always "open" whenever we stop or just parked at home in the driveway. We also really like the shelf above the cab for hand luggage and the rear shelf for bedding storage.

We tested a penthouse and were surprised that the opening in the roof is quite a bit narrower than the opening for our fixed top. There wasn't really room to walk past each other. The headroom with the top down is pretty low under the bed storage area, maybe 3-4" less than the stock van.

The down sides of the fixed top are the sail effect while driving, and overhead clearance in the forest. We haven't found either of these to slow us down much yet.

OTOH we live in a small town with big yards, wide streets, and relaxed HOA rules. It might be a different equation if we lived in a big city.
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Old 07-17-2013, 02:47 PM   #9
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Re: Pop-top, vs extended roof?

Quote:
Originally Posted by hippyman
My question is this, would it be better to go with the standard raised roof, or a pop-top, that can be lowered? I'm virtually brand new to these things, so feel free to throw information at me.
The simple and probably best answer is that what is "better" is related to personal preference. Both have +/- issues.

I have never owned a hard top only the penthouse (4 years now) and we have no issues with it. It meets our needs. With the bed down you loose 1.5" of head room compared to the OEM van. That is what I had to cut off the top of our room divider when we installed the penthouse on lur Chev.
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Old 07-23-2013, 08:22 AM   #10
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Re: Pop-top, vs extended roof?

Quote:
The simple and probably best answer is that what is "better" is related to personal preference. Both have +/- issues.
I have driven a hardtop Regency E-150, for about 4 years now, so I'm fairly seasoned when it comes to hard tops, it's the penthouse tops, that I've been looking at for my next van though. Plus, I love the fact that you can go pretty much anywhere in an SMB, and have a home with you. And if you haven't guessed by now, mileage is not an issue for me
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