Canopy/Campershell on Tow Truck-advice, please - Escape Trailer Owners Community

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Old 06-13-2018, 08:10 PM   #1
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Thumbs down Canopy/Campershell on Tow Truck-advice, please

If your tow vehicle is a truck with a canopy, could you tell me about your experience in driving with it, and particularly in backing up the trailer with it?

I have just bought a 2015 Toyota Tundra Crewmax 5.7 L V8 to tow our soon-to-arrive Escape 19'. The truck bed is uncovered and I now need to decide on a cover so that we can lock the area when we are storing things in it.

I would prefer a hard cap/canopy but worry about the weight and about being able to see through the three (!) windows (truck window, cap front window, cap back window).

Our Tundra has a back-up camera, and I understand that I can lower/drop/lift the truck and cap windows when I am hitching up, and when I am backing up with the trailer, but what about just driving down the road without the trailer attached?

Thank you for any suggestions or recommendations.
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Old 06-13-2018, 08:51 PM   #2
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I had several trucks with my last bumper pull, all had caps. I looked for caps that had close to full length side windows but don't recall the trailer having anything to do with it, I could just see better out the rear window of the truck.


I used the side mirrors to see when backing. Had a spotter for hooking up when she was along.
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Old 06-13-2018, 09:38 PM   #3
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I have a hard bed cover and cap and I use the cap for towing the trailer to help with air flow around the trailer. My cap is level with the truck top and after towing in the rain I could see the turbulence around the front of the trailer. I am now looking for a rear high rise trailer towing cap to help kick the air up over the trailer front and A/C. It also keeps the bugs off the front of the trailer. Which ever cap you get, get one with at least one hinge top side opening window.
I use the back up camera to hook up and aid with backing. I have driven large trucks so using mirrors for backing is not an issue for me. My guess is the cap weighs about 100#-125# more than a hard cover.

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Old 06-13-2018, 10:38 PM   #4
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We have a cap on our GMC Canyon, towing and Escape 21. In our setup, the narrow rear window on the cap combined with the tinted windows makes the view out the rear window of the truck of somewhat limited utility with or without the trailer. And of course when towing all you see out the back is the front of the trailer anyway. I've long since gotten accustomed to using my side mirrors almost exclusively both for normal driving and backing with or without the trailer.

For hitching, I just use the backup camera. That works quite well once you get acclimated to the extreme wide angle view.

As to weight, a fiberglass cap will be around 150-200 lbs depending on the particular style and accessories you get.
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Old 06-13-2018, 11:11 PM   #5
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Why is it important to have at least one hinge-top side-opening window?

(And thank you for your response)
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Old 06-13-2018, 11:39 PM   #6
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We put a Leer 180XL mid-rise on the back of our F-150. The slight rise gives us a little more capacity and a little extra "head room" when inside as well as making it easier to load and unload our bikes when carrying upright inside using a front fork mount. As another noted, it also helps reduce frontal cross-section on the camper when under tow. I use the back-up camera to guide me when hitching, and when the camper is not hitched, I can see well enough rearward out through the series of three windows to know if someone is behind me. Otherwise, the side mirrors are all I need. I couldn't find any specs on weight, but the installers thought it weighed under 200 lb (5' 6" bed).
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Old 06-14-2018, 12:19 AM   #7
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Have to ask. Why not buy an Expedition or Suburban or other SUV? Why buy a pickup and turn it into a sorta-SUV?
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Old 06-14-2018, 02:13 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by gbaglo View Post
Have to ask. Why not buy an Expedition or Suburban or other SUV? Why buy a pickup and turn it into a sorta-SUV?
Well, Glenn for just one thing, I carry spare gas because my driving range might not be long enough while out exploring / camping … has not been a great issue yet but I do like to boon dock in very remote areas. I carry typically an extra 10 gallons in Jerry jugs. I don't want that in the same space that I am driving.

Several years ago I lost a couple good friends who were out firewood gathering one fall. They weren't in a Suburban but in a Ford Econoline. On the way home after filling the van, the driver lost control on some black ice and ran off the road and down a hill. When they hit bottom, the firewood load shifted and trapped the wife inside. Sparks from the accident ignited the chain saw gas stored and splashed around inside. The husband and best friend frantically tried to dig Peggy out as she screamed for help …. they dug until her cries stopped and they knew she was gone as the heat by then was so intense they couldn't even be near the van. Husband started climbing up to the road to get help. He didn't see that they had clipped a power pole and just about when he was about to crest to the road, he walked into a live wire and was electrocuted. The best friend lived to tell the so very sad story. I miss those guys as they were good friends.

Since that happened, I NEVER carry gas inside my cab and neither should YOU!

When I carry spare gas, its strapped down in the bed of the truck (with canopy). Hopefully, in a accident the truck box and canopy area will contain the splash and give me a slight chance to get away. A better idea might be to have a second chasis gas tank mounted …. if there is room.

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Old 06-14-2018, 06:04 AM   #9
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We have an SUV, and there are things I haul in the back of our truck that I would never haul in the back of our SUV due to: smell, hazard, potential for staining, hard to clean up afterward, etc., etc., etc. In fact, you can see the remnants of hauling bails of wheat straw in the second photo above. Not easy to clean up after in the back of a carpeted SUV.
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Old 06-14-2018, 06:08 AM   #10
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While towing your rear view mirror is worthless and you are using both side view mirrors. While unhitched, you end up doing the same. I do not think the cap impacts viewing little if at all since both side view mirrors will give you what the rear view mirror does. You are reducing your carrying capacity of the bed though.
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Old 06-14-2018, 09:10 AM   #11
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Topper vs. SUV

I agree with War Eagle and Tom regarding the reasons to prefer a pickup truck with a topper over an SUV. I've pulled with both a Suburban and now with a Tundra 5.7 with a 6.5' box and an ARE MX Series canopy. Overall I prefer the latter, for the reasons discussed above. The ARE specs say it weighs 280 pounds, so it will reduce your overall payload capacity by that amount. Add approximately 500 pounds for the tongue weight, and 2 to 400 for passengers and you don't have much left for gear. Info available here:

https://4are.com/product/mx/

One point in the Suburban's favor however is easy access to the gear in the back. Side doors on each side and the rear give you three access points instead of a single one in the back. And that gets to elongest's advice to get a hinged-top side-opening window -- it allows additional access to gear in the bed of the truck. Mine doesn't have it so you have to get inside the shell to retrieve things from the front of the bed (or use a hook or get some sort of bed slide). I built a shelf across the front of the bed, which very much helps organize the load -- but it was very difficult to get into the bed. Required removing the screen from a side window and very carefully sliding it through with a quarter inch to spare.

Anyway, I very much like the pickup with topper as a tow vehicle. Given the payload issues mentioned above, if and when I replace the Tundra I will look closely at the F150 with higher payload options.

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Old 06-14-2018, 09:38 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by egraham View Post
Why is it important to have at least one hinge-top side-opening window?

(And thank you for your response)
You can get to things in front of the bed without crawling over stuff packed in the rear. I have a 2Ft. wide shelf laying on the cap inner rails just behind the cab. I store light flat items on the shelf like a portable solar collector and an aluminum folding table. I carry a two step, step ladder and a 6ft broom handle with a hook to get stuff out of the bed. With the newer full size P/U's with the high bed sides it is hard to get stuff out of the bed unless items are next to the tailgate. Also unless you get a removable jack it will be unlikely you will be able to open the tailgate while hitched to the trailer. (Note I have an E-21)

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Old 06-14-2018, 10:52 AM   #13
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The opening side windows make it much easier to get at things in the front of the bed. I have an ARE MX Series with top hinged windows on both sides on the Tacoma. While I like the easy access, I have always had a problem with small leaks during heavy rain or going through a car wash.

I keep most of the stuff inside in plastic boxes, so the leak isn't a major problem, but since the new F 150 sides are high enough that my portable solar panel will fin inside on edge, I opted for a flat folding cover on the new truck. The increased rear visibility will be appreciated.
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Old 06-14-2018, 11:41 AM   #14
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Hated my canopy

I use my trucks as everyday drivers. Got fed up with limited visibility of a canopy (even with full length windows, which make them really heavy on a big truck.) Backing up for parking lots sucked, parallel parking even worse.

I've used a hard molded (UnderCover brand) topper on Tacomas for about 12 years now. Has locks and can have carrier rails for bikes mounted on top of it if desired. Simple to remove in 30 seconds when I need to haul a load of stuff (gravel, chips.)

High enough to hide everything when closed (including a Honda generator, which I use now & then with the cover closed and tailgate down to lessen noise.)
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Old 06-14-2018, 01:09 PM   #15
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Good thread …. lots of options and much to think about. To address the access issue with a canopy, I'd like to have a "bed sled" of some fashion. I'm concerned of the additional weight and cost. Thus thinking of building my own ….. but then …. I'd rather go camping. So many options …. so little time.

Have a great summer all and don't forget to write 'home'


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Old 06-14-2018, 01:18 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by StarvingHyena View Post
Good thread . lots of options and much to think about. To address the access issue with a canopy, I'd like to have a "bed sled" of some fashion. I'm concerned of the additional weight and cost. Thus thinking of building my own .. but then . I'd rather go camping. So many options . so little time.

Have a great summer all and don't forget to write 'home'


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Old 06-14-2018, 02:05 PM   #17
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We went a different direction, which we like. No visual obstructions, everything is hidden under the hard tonneau cover, and it locks up. I've had trucks with toppers before, and ended up with this. We also have a hard mounted secure system in the bed for a Honda generator, and I can run it with the tailgait down, out of the weather.
I can also stand in the bed to utilize the rack, making it much more accessible and easier to use. It's another option you might consider...








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Old 06-14-2018, 03:24 PM   #18
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We had a fiberglass topper on our truck with opening windows on two sides
It provides safe secure storage You could not give me an SUV
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Old 06-14-2018, 03:54 PM   #19
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We had a fiberglass topper on our truck with opening windows on two sides
It provides safe secure storage You could not give me an SUV
the bottom side windows on my unlifted Ford 4x4 are 4' 9" from the ground, I'm 6' tall and I think I'd have to stand on my toes for that to be below my armpit... the bed is 2' below the window sill, so opening side windows would only be useful if there were storage shelves inside of them.
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Old 06-14-2018, 04:06 PM   #20
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The issue may be if you have something at the front of the bed you have to crawl in to get it. I had always thought a hook of some sort would be worth making, but never did.
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