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Old 02-13-2020, 10:52 AM   #11
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Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Santa Cruz, CA
Posts: 244
My experience with my CCV top has been great. You don't have to take gear off your rig to pop the top *depending on the top you use and exactly how much weight you've got of course. CCV makes a very strong top w/ their off the shelf actuators. Ive popped with around 200#'s with no issues. That consists of two 13' kayaks and 50#'s of surfboards. No issues. When making my decision that was an important consideration. Mark at CCV stated they have beefed up actuators that can hold perhaps twice that. I'd look into that if you are still considering a pop top.

The tops at CCV can be pretty tall and at 6' you can practically walk into them without having to bend down much (depending on thickness of floor). No concerns for stealth camping as i have a lower bed.

The lower profile of the pop top is a big consideration especially when heavy gear is up top or when winds are strong (Wyoming!). Also when the top is deployed you get a ton of space. I probably couldn't jump and touch my ceiling.

The pop top has allowed for two very spacious beds and camping in the top is a great experience in that in brings the outdoors in when you want too. Great for mild and warm days/nights.

Warmth shouldnt be an issue with a good diesel/propex heater unless you are *regularly getting into the low teens and below. Other than that the occassional cold trip isn't an issue and the heater cranks away keeping things toasty. You'll use a bit more fuel of course. No biggie.

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Old 02-13-2020, 11:38 AM   #12
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Join Date: Jun 2015
Posts: 4
When I purchased my 2015 MB Sportsmobile at SMB West I considered and looked at both the pop top and the fixed high roof. Every time I got into the pop top I hit my head (I'm only 5'10") so I went for the fixed high roof. However, if I was doing this again I think I would opt for the pop top. The wind, which we encounter frequently in the Southwest (California, Nevada, Arizona), really pushes the high roof van around.

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Old 02-13-2020, 11:57 AM   #13
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Join Date: Feb 2015
Posts: 112
I've had both went with a fixed top second time around. I like having full stand up height all the time. The top bunk is TIGHT, but my wife is petite and the kids are small so it works. I do miss the better ventilation with the pop top so we have to strategically orient the van for better air flow and use fans but it doesn't happen often.
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Old 02-13-2020, 07:12 PM   #14
Join Date: Nov 2014
Posts: 83
We have a pop-top which works quite well for us. Moreover the van fits under our standard 7 foot garage door.
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Old 02-13-2020, 08:41 PM   #15
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Join Date: Jan 2019
Location: Evergreen, CO
Posts: 443
I did notice that some places in grizzly country would only allow hard side campers, and specifically excluded pop tops.

I really like the idea of a pop top for a lower COG and smaller side wind profile. A note on aero - don't immediately assume that a high top has more drag/worse aero than a pop top. The Vanagon community has proven that inaccurate a few times. But a hard top does shine when the weather turns and for stealth camping.
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Old 02-13-2020, 11:30 PM   #16
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Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 1,057
I have had my pop top van for 16 years now. I am thinking future Van 2.0 may have a hard top - for stealth camping, and setup/teardown convenience.

-- Geoff
2004 Ford, SMB 4x4, RB-50
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Old 02-13-2020, 11:56 PM   #17
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Join Date: Feb 2018
Location: Old Colorado City
Posts: 67
My experience with Pop-tops is with an old VW Vanagon. My current van is an E-350 with a Wheel Chair Topper on it.

As everyone has already stated, there are Pros and Cons to both. I absolutely love my fixed top despite the high profile and sailboat like qualities in the wind.

I will say when I go camping with pop-top owners (VW's, a Honda element e-camper, a few SMB's) it's really nice to pull into camp and immediately be ready for a hike, swim or adventure while they are still rearranging their interior and getting things situated. Some are quicker than others, but none are ever ready as quickly as me
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Old 02-14-2020, 02:17 AM   #18
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Join Date: Jan 2019
Location: Reno, NV
Posts: 63
Having previously owned a Vanagon Adventurewagen with fixed top and currently own a 2006 4x4 E350 SMB with penthouse poptop I have a couple of additional observations. The upper bed of the Adventurewagen's fixed top made for a great storage shelf for for storing luggage, backpacks, duffel bags, sleeping bags, skis, etc. which kept the floor of the main cabin area clear.

On the other hand, I ran into problems with the Adventurewagens fixed top and my Homeowners Assoc's rules against RVs. The fixed top announces to the world that the Van's an RV. The SMB with pop top does a better job blending in.
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Old 02-14-2020, 05:52 AM   #19
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Join Date: Nov 2019
Posts: 9
Best hard top manufacturer and size? I’m assuming a fiberene 24” will allow for a bunk (tight squeeze). Will be installing one this summer, thanks.
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Old 02-14-2020, 08:54 AM   #20
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Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: San Francisco, CA
Posts: 2,960
Colorado Camper Van makes a high top pop top. It falls into a niche that provides benefits of both a fixed and pop top. It is about 18” above the gutter when down and provides around 5ft 8” or 9” clear when down. Accessible storage above the cab and bedding storage on the platform.

I think anyone who is on the fence between a fixed and a pop top should check that out to see if it fits their needs.

Re: Pop Tops and winter camping- this is our fourth ski trip in our E350 EB CCV mid height pop top. Prior trips have been four to seven weeks and this one is scheduled for two months plus. Almost every night is in our van. Fully insulated, Espar D4 heater. We have camped in sub zero temps many times. With proper planning and setup winter camping/ skiing out of the van is completely doable.

Moisture/condensation - we get frost on windows and some moisture on canvas. This is coming from two people breathing inside, wet or damp clothes after skiing, and cooking inside. Cooking with propane/butane has water vapor as a combustion by-product. Use one pound of fuel to cook and one pound of water vapor is created. Research how much water vapor we humans exhale while sleeping.

Camping in a van (or a tent) will have moisture and it will condense (freeze if cold enough) on the cold surfaces. Fuzzy or cloth like surfaces are more absorbent than metal surfaces.

Stealth - that is an issue with a pop top van. Top up = likely someone camping. Winter camping is more difficult since most campgrounds are closed. Stealthing in a pop top requires an alternate sleeping solution on the lower level and dealing w lower headroom. We have about 61” of headroom w top down and 5’11” for me it is still relatively comfortable for moving around. The CCV high top would be around 68” with top down and very comfortable.

Beastie 3: 2002 7.3 EB Cargo: Agile TTB, CCV High Top, Custom Walk Through, Lots of stuff added.
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