After doing a bit a research I decided to give the Softopper brand camper shell a try because of the versatility. Another great alternative is the Bestop SuperTop truck topper which goes for around the same price. Below is a list of my Pros & Cons followed by more detail about this soft-sided truck shell.
- Related: Gazelle T4 Tent Review — The easiest tent I’ve ever setup
For Overlanding: Tire Table Review
It’s easy to show someone why the Softopper truck shell is so awesome but not so easy to explain. When I got my truck and decided to outfit it for camping (and overlanding) I realized fairly quickly I needed some sort of truck shell to cover our gear.
Soft topper shell for truck: Pros and Cons
- Keeps gear covered and out of the rain, eyes off your stuff
- Retracts down in less than a minute to haul taller items
- Can be removed in a few minutes to easily store in garage
- Great for sleeping under, stays cool in summer
- Sides can be rolled up for traveling with dogs while keeping them shaded
- Lighter and cheaper than hard shell
- Looks badass
- Not secure
- Limited color options
- Not 100% waterproof
- Not well insulated for cold weather camping
- Can’t mount roof rack on top
- Hard to attach buttons when it’s cold outside
As you can see my list is very lopsided. Hope that helps if you’re debating a hard shell topper vs. soft topper for your truck. Read on to learn more about the durability and how I use the softopper.
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As you can see my list is very lopsided. Being an owner of the softopper for 3 years I can honestly say this company makes a great product. The topper is “up” 99% of the time in the southern California sun — so you know the durability is up to par.
It’s been rained on, snowed on, and through strong gusts of wind driving home from Joshua Tree. I was a little worried about it there, but it held up great! And if something goes wrong parts can be replaced by the manufacturer.
Softopper usage scenarios
From camping to grocery runs to hockey games. We use the softopper for everything.
Our daily driver
We use my Toyota Tacoma as our family’s daily driver so it keeps our stroller and kid gear covered and the cab is free of clutter. Most people that drive a pickup around down have a tonneau cover to protect their items. While are more secure, you are limited to items no taller than the height of the bedside.
Keeping that pickup truck “toss it in the bed” feel
One of the great things about having a pickup truck is being able to toss something into the bed and go. No fuss about where it lands or how dirty it is. During the summer dry months I often keep the rear window rolled up to allow easy access to the bed. We toss my son’s hockey sticks and bags over the tailgate with ease. Same goes for my work boots and gloves after a dirty shift at the steel dock. Makes it feel like a pickup truck!
Softopper for hauling big items and camping
I’ll talk about two things here: Loading up the truck for with big items and sleeping under the softopper during camping (or overlanding) trips.
Loading the truck for a trip to the wilderness or Home Depot
One of the big knocks of a hard shell topper is getting on your knees and crawling all the way to the back to load up your gear. Trying to shuffle things around is even more fun when you’re hunched over and hot. Softopper eliminates this issue. Folding it forward gives you full access to the bed with no height restrictions. Toss stuff over the sides and then jump in and organize as if you don’t have a shell on at all. When everything looks good fold the softopper to covered position and you’re good to go.
Sleeping under the softopper instead of a tent
When my son and I go solo camping I don’t even bother with a tent. Just lay down a few backpacking mattresses, sleeping bags, and you’re good to go. We spent a few nights in Anza Borrego last year and it was super comfy. I recently picked up the Exped Duo camping mattress that fits perfectly between the wheel wells in the Tacoma. (Update: We didn’t like that mattress after-all, and got this one instead.) My wife and I will sleep soundly on trips without the kids! When we’re not sleeping in our awesome Gazelle T4 Tent Hub, two of this can sleep under the softopper.
Sleeping in the back of the truck is similar to how the cool overlanders have a roof top tent for quick setup. This is even easier and faster since there is nothing to deploy.
Softopper and rain
What about rain? Water does seep in from the corners closest to the cab so I put a few dabs of silicone right there to push the water away. And if I know rain is in the forecast it’s easy to throw a tarp over the softopper and hook it down to the truck or spike it into the floor. You have to get creative if bad weather is expected.
Where to buy the Softopper
Softopper takes pride in the fact they it’s made in the USA and is only available to buy directly from them. If you’re in Colorado I believe you can go to their facility in Denver and pick one up. I myself ordered from their website directly and had it shipped. I got it for just below $800 shipped to my door! Not bad for a quality product. Get one at www.softopper.com or check out the Bestop Softopper at Amazon for a second option.
More Softopper Photos
Do you have experience with the Softopper? Are you thinking about getting one? Let us know in the comments below!
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