Friday, January 08, 2010

Caps and Tops and Flares

and I'm not talking about fashion...

We're getting ready to move in a few months, and as part of that we were planning on picking up a truck cap.

Of course, there's advantages and disadvantages to a cap. The big advantage is weather protection, the big disadvantage is having to take it off for anything particularly tall or oddly shaped etc... especially given that said cap would be 7ft long 5ft wide 2+ feet high and weighs about 150 lbs.

Then, a few months back, the wife and I saw the Softopper on spike TV or vs. or somesuch (one of the "guys" networks), and got very interested.

Basically, it's a boats bimini top with camper curtains, for your pickup truck (The company that makes it started off as a custom boat top manufacturer). The sides can even be rolled up so you can use the thing as a safari top, for riding in the bed.

Here are some photos. One should note, the older models of softopper had side windows, but the new models are smooth sided (for pickup trucks at least. For SUVs they still do); because it is more durable.

I actually rather like that concept, because not only will it be nice to camp in; in states where it's legal to shoot from your bed, it can be used as a covered blind, or varmint shooting station.

The most important part though, is that it is easily folded up in the front of the bed, giving you the full capacity of your bed (minus the small amount of room the folded to takes) in about a minute.

Also, the top detaches and lifts off in just a couple minutes for storage. Theres even an optional screen window for the back, and a carry bag.

Heres a couple videos of the process.

Seems like a great compromise to me. Sure it wont have all the protection or security (what little there is anyway) of a full hard cap, but it doesnt have any of the disadvantages either.

Oh, and it's about 1/3 the cost... A not insignificant factor. The leer cap that we wanted, with the options we wanted, was well over $2k installed. This thing costs just $660 shipped (plus $100 for the scen window, and the storage bag).

Every review I can find of the thing (there aren't too many unfortunately) is very good; so unless we hear different from somone who has personal experience with them, I think we're going to order one this paycheck.

Continuing in the truck prep vein, I need to replace my batteries (yes, batteries. It's a dual battery system). Actually, they aren't dead, but they are thre years old, and in this desert, unless its an optima or something similar, three years is about the limit. I want to put that worry behind me.

So, as with my car, I'm picking up a pair of yellowtops for the truck. I think I'll take the other two batteries, put them in some front of wheel well in-bed battery boxes, and stick them on a charge/isolator circuit. That way when I get the winch, onboard air compressor, and ham rig set up (all coming later), I'll have all that extra juice available to me.

before I put the soft topper on, I need to replace my bedrail and tailgate caps. They're totally knackered, cracked and peeling up off the rails.

Also, the new tires we got for the truck a couple months back are just wide enough that they're throwing rocks and sand off the road up onto the bodywork. I dont care about the diet, but they're dinging and scratching the paint, and that means rust.

So it looks like I need some fender flares.

I figure I'll kill two birds with one stone, and grab the flares and caps from Bushwacker.

I like the plain smooth style for the bed caps:

But I think I want the "pocket" style fender flares:

I think they go will with the overall look of the truck, especially in the no-gloss (not exactly satin or matte) black. It matches the nerf bars.

I think they'll be enough extention to provide proper protection at the least. My truck is wide enough as it is, I dont think I need the extra... I dunno that must be 8" total counting both sides... that something like the "extendaflare" or "cutout" flares:

Anyon have any experience with these bolt on aftermarket fender flares as a whole, and bushwacker in particular?

I'm looking for reviews, and for recommendations, so chime in.

Now I just need to start saving for a set of Reunel bumpers...