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Old 04-25-2017, 08:42 PM   #1
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Sprinter Pop top

Hello,
I am in the process of working toward purchasing a 4x4 sprint, low top with the mind set of of adding the pop top. I like the low profile and feel the lower profile would be more useful for me. Does any one have any thoughts, Pros and/or Cons with having the pop top conversion verses buy the high top model?
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Old 04-26-2017, 07:12 AM   #2
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Plenty of threads here to help you out: here's a good start...

http://www.sportsmobileforum.com/for...ild-16293.html
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Old 04-26-2017, 11:28 AM   #3
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The pop top is great for rustic camping, but a poor choice for stealth camping or staying in crowded campgrounds right next to other people.

The other thing I've realized is that it's awful for winter camping. The top bunk has no insulation unless you wrap all the windows in Reflectix. Then you get the added chill of all the cold air underneath your mattress. Even if you run a furnace downstairs, the heat doesn't distribute evenly to the penthouse.

We do mostly summer touring to campgrounds, and the penthouse has been great for that "outdoor" feel and is always conversation starter. But if you're wanting to fulltime or try to sneak in places as a generic van, go with the high top.
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Old 06-22-2017, 06:01 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Ned5555 View Post
The pop top is great for rustic camping, but a poor choice for stealth camping or staying in crowded campgrounds right next to other people.

The other thing I've realized is that it's awful for winter camping. The top bunk has no insulation unless you wrap all the windows in Reflectix. Then you get the added chill of all the cold air underneath your mattress. Even if you run a furnace downstairs, the heat doesn't distribute evenly to the penthouse.

We do mostly summer touring to campgrounds, and the penthouse has been great for that "outdoor" feel and is always conversation starter. But if you're wanting to fulltime or try to sneak in places as a generic van, go with the high top.
I've both stealth camped and cold weather camped in my low-topped Sprinter with the penthouse. Not a problem. If it's really cold I just lower the top and sleep down below.
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Old 06-22-2017, 07:38 PM   #5
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I've both stealth camped and cold weather camped in my low-topped Sprinter with the penthouse. Not a problem. If it's really cold I just lower the top and sleep down below.
Ditto to both points, I am in complete agreement with JBDuck's comment.
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Old 06-22-2017, 11:00 PM   #6
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JBDuck, I assume when you stealth camp, the penthouse stays down? It's pretty obvious what's going on once the roof is up. I agree the van stays stealthy while the penthouse is stowed because it just looks like a high-top vehicle.

It may just be the way I designed my 144'' Sprinter to cram in a bathroom, but the rear bench had to get pretty small. When it's folded out, it barely sleeps one adult diagonally. My point was if you want an SMB that will do a lot of stealth and cold weather camping, go for a fixed top that guarantees you storage and standing height regardless of the conditions.
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Old 06-23-2017, 08:36 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ned5555 View Post
The pop top is great for rustic camping, but a poor choice for stealth camping or staying in crowded campgrounds right next to other people.

The other thing I've realized is that it's awful for winter camping. The top bunk has no insulation unless you wrap all the windows in Reflectix. Then you get the added chill of all the cold air underneath your mattress. Even if you run a furnace downstairs, the heat doesn't distribute evenly to the penthouse.

We do mostly summer touring to campgrounds, and the penthouse has been great for that "outdoor" feel and is always conversation starter. But if you're wanting to fulltime or try to sneak in places as a generic van, go with the high top.
I agree with this completely. I love pop tops in fair weather and for quick deployment for a inside picnic stop or whatever, but they don't keep noise out or heat in at all. Even with a good furnace we found that heat didn't rise to the PH as you might think. Partly lack of insulation up there, partly floor plan and placement of furnace and partly just the physics of the whole scenario.

This isn't mentioned much but anyone who plans a PH van for cold climates should definitely place their furnace where it's under the large opening going up to the top, meaning towards the front of the van, and that's not always easy given all the other layout concerns.
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Old 06-23-2017, 02:14 PM   #8
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We tour in summers for two months.

--With pop-top one can sleep later in the morning than the other. One can stay up later and read without the light bothering spouse. One can heat the upstairs while the downstairs windows can be left open in cool weather. Husband/Wife temperature thing!

--With top down can park under shade trees while shopping. Can get under low hanging branches to park near streams. Can get better gas milage and not get blown around by cross winds while crossing plains states. Can park in many city parking garages. Nobody notices it with top down. It's just another custom van.

--When raining zipping window only half down allows ventilation. The roof extends past canvass side walls and act like house eves.

-- Wonderful ventilation and view of mountains and trees.

-- Can hear Owls and Coyotes at night while sleeping upstairs. Much more like camping than a hard-top unit.

-- Can hang wet towels etc. in window and they dry Very fast.

-- Big windows let steam out when cooking inside.

We love the versatility and convenience our RB 30 pop-top provides Terry/Nancy
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Old 06-23-2017, 05:48 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ned5555 View Post
The other thing I've realized is that it's awful for winter camping. The top bunk has no insulation unless you wrap all the windows in Reflectix. Then you get the added chill of all the cold air underneath your mattress. Even if you run a furnace downstairs, the heat doesn't distribute evenly to the penthouse.
Quote:
Originally Posted by 86Scotty View Post
I agree with this completely. I love pop tops in fair weather and for quick deployment for a inside picnic stop or whatever, but they don't keep noise out or heat in at all. Even with a good furnace we found that heat didn't rise to the PH as you might think. Partly lack of insulation up there, partly floor plan and placement of furnace and partly just the physics of the whole scenario.

This isn't mentioned much but anyone who plans a PH van for cold climates should definitely place their furnace where it's under the large opening going up to the top, meaning towards the front of the van, and that's not always easy given all the other layout concerns.
As a parallel to what 86Scotty just mentioned about furnace placement ----

I must mention that if the furnace for your van can be located in the extreme *rear* of your van (somewhere just inside the rear doors), then you can slide your penthouse bed to the front of the van....and you'll get a TON of the heat rising naturally straight up through the opening into your bunk space.

This is the furnace location in our RB30-layout penthouse SMB.
(*the RB30 layout is a long center aisle-way through the entire van, front-to-rear...kitchen stuff on one side of the aisle, sideways-facing gaucho couch on the other.)

In the summers here in SoCal we put the bunk in the usual location (biased towards the rear of the van...), but when we are altitude/mountain-camping in fall/winter (and it DOES get cold! plenty of sub-freezing temps to be found at altitude....) ------ we reverse the bed's location...slide it to the front of the van....(have to climb up into it from the rear of the van) --- and we get PLENTY warm up there.

No complaints
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Old 06-23-2017, 08:37 PM   #10
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That's a great point Mike. We tried that once but it didn't work for our floor plan. This was when we were trying to sleep 4 in an RB van and we just couldn't make it work, but it certainly will for some. I think my ultimate rig will have a Propex, and it would be cool to just duct a heat vent up top, possibly with a flapper valve for when the furnace isn't on.

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