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Old 02-04-2020, 11:14 AM   #1
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Join Date: Feb 2020
Posts: 21
Smile pop top Vs hard top

Trying to decide between the 2 looking for feed back from people who have one or the other. Im leaning towards the hard top tall enough to stand up in(im 6'). Areas of concern for the pop top.
1) Have to take everything off the top to pop over 200 lbs
2)condensation build up on the canvas
3) less insulation if doing winter camping
Are these concerns an issue for people with the pop top?

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Old 02-04-2020, 11:26 AM   #2
Join Date: May 2017
Location: Flagstaff, AZ
Posts: 85
We have a penthouse on our 2016 Sprinter. We chose this because we wanted the lower profile compared to a high-roof. The Sprinter is tall enough in the wind that we did not want to add more side surface.

I'm 5'8" and I can walk around inside the lowered penthouse without hitting my head, but if I was 5'9" I'd have to be more careful. When it is raised, we have 8' of headroom. We do not have the optional bed.

We have never experienced any kind of condensation issue with the canvas.

We have camped in some very cold situations, but never in "winter conditions" (snowing). We have a small oil-filled heater for when we have hookups and a small propane heater for when we don't. Our approach is to be comfortable when we're not sleeping, then let the van cool down for good sleeping temperatures. We find that the inside temp in the van overnight is 10 degrees F above the outside temp. If it is really cold, we will lower the top at night for sleeping and it does make a difference, but not as much as one might expect.
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Old 02-04-2020, 11:57 AM   #3
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Location: Montana
Posts: 313
We have a fiberglass top on a Ford E350. I am 6 ft.

This is what I like:
1. I can stand up without hitting my head, which is great.
2. It is "ready" all the time... whereas you may not always want to go through the hassle of popping up a popup for short stops.
3. I can have our sea kayaks up there all the time without having to remove them before popping up a pop up.
4. We use it for winter camping a bunch. Compared to a popup, we don't need to worry about snow and ice when lowering popup when breaking up camp in the morning.

This is what I don't like:
1. It makes us about 2 ft taller all the time. More susceptible to wind, look out for tree branches, perhaps more "tippy" on slopes.
2. Compared to a metal tall van, a fiberglass top is less durable.

In summary, I think there are pros and cons to a popup vs. permanent standing space...
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Old 02-04-2020, 03:39 PM   #4
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Location: San Clemente, CA
Posts: 1,381
I say it depends on your location and whether you need to sleep people in the top. If you are somewhere mild and want to sleep people, pop top all the way. I am in SoCal and need both. However, if you are somewhere cold or don't need to sleep people, hardtop all the way. I think the hard top is more stealthy as well, since you don't know if someone is in it or not.
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Old 02-04-2020, 04:09 PM   #5
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Location: San Luis Obispo, CA
Posts: 2,555
I've owned both. If it is just you or you and 1 partner, I would go with a high top. It's so much more convenient to just be able to walk to the back at full standing height.

The pop top is necessary if you have more than 2 people sleeping in the van.

You could have the best of both worlds if you go with a the high top pop top from Colorado Camper van. You would have to stack the bed panels to the rear of the van, but standing height would be over 6' with the to down.
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Old 02-04-2020, 10:27 PM   #6
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Posts: 634
Consider any RV parking regulations where you live, before making a choice. A pop-top can often sneak in under height limits for residential street parking, while a hard-top won't.

I haven't had any major condensation issues on the canvas, but you definitely notice the lack of insulation when the temperature dips into the 40s and below.
1990 E-250 Sportsmobile w/ penthouse top, converted when new by SMB Texas.
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Old 02-09-2020, 07:55 PM   #7
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Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: San Diego, ca
Posts: 24
Totally agree with klompen. We have a sprinter with the poptop. I have not had any issues with condensation. Slept in the penthouse down to 38. Agree a little cold, but good sleeping bag and good to go.
I too like the lower profile. Last couple of years been going up to Idaho and Montana, the speed limit Is 75 and that includes semi speed, I was following a high top and when a big boy passed he swayed a little, we did not.

As he stated a when it gets any colder just leave the top down.

No regrets here.

Good luck. They both have pluses and minuses .
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Old 02-09-2020, 11:34 PM   #8
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Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: Sonoma County
Posts: 813
I had a poptop long ago. I did a lot of winter camping in the Pacific Northwest, popping the top in both rain and very dewy weather. My top mildewed from both.

Admittedly operator error played a role. I would close the top when it was wet or damp and then not air it out soon enough (or ever). And I never used the heater to help keep things dry in the first place.

But all of this makes me want a hardtop next time. They win in more categories than poptops for my use. Plus the categories they win in - like being able to stand up, being watertight, and being more stealthy - are more important for me.

Just my two cents and of course your needs and priorities might make a poptop better for you. That’s the thing, both have their advantages and drawbacks. It’s just which fits your needs better.
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Old 02-11-2020, 10:28 AM   #9
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Thanks for the reply's still leaning towards high top
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Old 02-13-2020, 10:29 AM   #10
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Posts: 1,720
1) Have to take everything off the top to pop over 200 lbs - true
2)condensation build up on the canvas - not a big deal with zipper cracked open
3) less insulation if doing winter camping - true but you can add reflectix
Are these concerns an issue for people with the pop top? Not really. I hardly ever packed stuff on top.

Had both fixed and pop. Like the always available standing room and fixed storage of the fixed. Plus no one knows you’re comparing. With a pop top it’s a flag announcing you’re camping. Only a concern if you’re stealth camping in parking lots/streets.

I like the aesthetics and more accessible areas (garage, canopy, drive thru) you can access with the poptop when it’s lowered.
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