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offthebeatenpath
02-25-2012, 01:38 AM
So I've been exploring some of the options for mounting roof top tents for my 03 DC.

Here's what I've got and what I'm thinking:
-I have an ARE topper/shell over the bed, and I'd like to keep it there because of the security and weather protection it provides.
-The fam' includes my wife and I and our two little girls, so that makes four of us. No dog. Yet.
-Wifey likes the idea of sleeping off the ground. We live in griz and cat country (or Griz and Cat for the rest of you Montana folks that follow college sports :) ) so being a bit off the ground wouldn't be a bad idea in my opinion either. It never bothered me much on my own or with my buddies, but with my two kiddos along, it's a completely different ball game.
-Don't really want to go the direction of a trailer at this point in time, mostly because of cost. I like the idea of being able to park the trailer at a camp spot and leave the tent set up. On the other hand, I like the ease and flexibility of always having everything with you.

-I was initially planning on installing Thule tracks onto the topper roof and mounting a Thule rack and the RTT to that. However, I think we're going to be looking at a large RTT, so folded size will be closer to 54"x60", and weight closer to 150lbs. Not sure I'm comfortable with that up on top of a fiberglass topper, or comfortable with all of us sleeping up there. That would put us at about the 450lb limit I've heard thrown around.

-As I drove to work the other day, I sat at a stoplight next to a guy in a 1st gen Tundra with one of these:
http://www.kargomaster.com/products/truck-racks/trucks-with-caps/pro-iii-ladder-rack-all-mini-mid-size-trucks-with-camper-shell.html
It's a Kargomaster ladder or lumber rack that mounts around a camper shell.
I looked into the pricing on those and it's pretty high, especially considering it's not exactly what I'm looking for.

-I really dig the look and function of the rack shown in this thread, but with the ability of using the topper below it.
http://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/5767-Starting-Over-Taco-Style!/page7

This would allow me to mount the RTT over the shell and leave room in front of the RTT for some sort of windbreak or air deflector similar to what I've had on Thule racks before.

I guess what I'm wondering is if anyone has seen something along these lines in use or knows of anyone else aside from Kargomaster that makes something like that? I know I could check with a local fab shop, though they're pretty small. I could also probably purchase the steel, buy a welder and still come out ahead. The Kargomaster rack runs about $750 + shipping for what I was looking at, I'm pretty sure I could do better than that.

Finlay
02-25-2012, 02:19 AM
I made my own rack (http://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/73545-2012-Taco-slow-build-The-Escape-Pod?p=1045018#post1045018). I originally kicked around an idea like this (http://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/65226-Custom-over-the-canopy-bed-rack-for-a-2nd-gen-Tacoma?p=933388#post933388) - which I really like. I might do that with a later iteration - I only spent about 200 dollars on the rack I built, so I'm not opposed to taking another crack at it later on.

Anyway, I think it is doable to make one. I don't know of any place that makes them off the shelf - it will almost certainly be built to order. If you can find someplace local to do it, it might not cost too much.

WASURF63
02-25-2012, 05:39 PM
I you don't go the custom route, you might want to check this option out as well (Crosstread "Renegade").
Plenty stout and less expensive (1/2 $$$ ?) than Kargomaster. I modified one for my 1st gen Tundra and again on my '08 Tacoma for a similar purpose like you have in mind. Even though others have successfully mounted RTT's to the shell via Yakima/Thule, I didn't want all that weight on the shell either.

"http://www.pickupspecialties.com/Ladder_racks/Crosstread/universal_over_the_bed_truck_rack.htm"

offthebeatenpath
02-25-2012, 08:17 PM
Yeah! That's more like it! What did you do to modify it? Looks like you probably cut the height down from the advertized 27"?
Also looks like you've got the normal Yakima load bars over the cab for a basket, am I right?

I'd love to see a few more details of how you're set up if you have a chance to snap some pics. Have you ever taken the shell off and left the rack on? How tricky was it?

WASURF63
02-27-2012, 08:22 PM
Yeah! That's more like it! What did you do to modify it? Looks like you probably cut the height down from the advertized 27"?
Also looks like you've got the normal Yakima load bars over the cab for a basket, am I right?

I'd love to see a few more details of how you're set up if you have a chance to snap some pics. Have you ever taken the shell off and left the rack on? How tricky was it?

Yes, the legs were shortened about 2"-3" and the base mounting plates about 1"-1.5". I also cut/notched the canopy skirt for a tight fit with the rack base plates. I looked for more pics and notes/specs on this build but couldn't find them. This truck and setup has been gone 2 1/2+ years.

Yes, two normal load bars for the cab basket. The third load bar was free floating (approx 1/2" gap) as an additional base support for the RTT when in use. It was not connected to the tent mounting track. As you might already know, connecting the cab and bed together in any fashion can have bad results when traveling over uneven road...
I never took the canopy off because of the balmy PacNW weather here, and frequently locked my surfboards inside. This was also where my daughter slept, above the custom storage platform, when we were camped.
I think if you wanted to make the canopy easily removable, the rack would need more clearance (outward/upward) between it and the canopy.

mountainpete
02-27-2012, 09:04 PM
88748

Range Rider canopy, three Yakima crossbars on a sliding track mount system, Eezi-Awn T-top 1600. No structural reinforcement.

Thousands of off-road miles, dozens of days with 500+ lbs of people/gear PLUS the tent (add more when the Eezi-Awn room is added).ZERO issues.

For years I have wanted to do an over the canopy exo style rack for the tent because of the load. I always put it off because I have had zero issues with this system. Maybe it will crack one day, but it's never even come close so far.

The key with any canopy is spreading out the load. Three crossbars does this perfectly. It's like fiberglass boat deck - if you hit it with a hammer it will crack. If you balance out the load, it will carry a huge amount of weight.

Rattler
02-28-2012, 01:26 AM
Since we have had an addition to our family, I have been trying to figure out how I am going to do things when he gets bigger in a few years. I have it down to 2:

A. A Flip-Pac (love the idea of one, not a fan of the $$ though). I beliieve tehy offer more room than an RTT for sleeping.
B. A commercial-style topper with my RTT mounted up top ( I think they shoudl handle the wieght. Plus the added availability of being able to order one with all sorts of storage and/or window configurations on the outside. It was @ $2200 for one priced out the way I wanted it a few months ago.

). I would be able to build a sleep platform and have other amneties too (kitchen area, dining, etc.) with either setup.

Luckily I have a couple years to figure out what I want to do.

WASURF63
02-28-2012, 03:24 AM
[QUOTE=mountainpete;1058885]88748

Range Rider canopy, three Yakima crossbars on a sliding track mount system, Eezi-Awn T-top 1600. No structural reinforcement.

Thousands of off-road miles, dozens of days with 500+ lbs of people/gear PLUS the tent (add more when the Eezi-Awn room is added).ZERO issues.

"offthebeatenpath",

This would definitely be a less expensive route for you to go.
If you are thinking about a traditional style RTT like this, a lumber-type rack will not allow your tent to deploy properly. I could be wrong, but IIRC the hinge portion at the bottom of the tent needs to be clear of any bar(s) to fully open to the side or rear.
The fact that "mountainpete" has heavy usage with this type of mounting and RTT with zero issues, is proof that a bed rack is not always needed.
In my particular case I intended to add a Hannibal Awning (stout cantilever when opened) and dual fuel cans/carriers.

Mrknowitall
02-28-2012, 03:26 PM
If you're concerned about the load carrying of your existing fiberglass cap, you could build some internal supports, too. 2 simple hoops (one front, one rear) that tuck inside the cap and mount to the bottom flange of the cap. Fill in the space above with some epoxy and just mount the cross-bars right above. If you have some minimal fab capability (access to a drill, grinder and small welder), I would skip the Thule/Yak rack alltogether. Get some 1x2" square tube for cross-bars and use 2x2 angle for the feet.

ecriv
02-29-2012, 05:48 PM
I have the Eezi Awn 1800 [big & heavy] & had it mounted via 4 Thule bars in tracks on a fiberglass SnugTop shell. It worked great for over a year with a family of 4 up top. We even used it as a 'Guest Room' for visiting friends in the driveway.
89032
That was on the Tundra & now I have a DCLB Tacoma & am toying with the options of remounting it... i have a softopper for now as i didn't want to commit to another expensive shell right away.
Always having the tent with me was great, but I really like the idea of being able to set up a 'Base camp' with a trailer & wander off with the truck.
The 'Bakkie' bed rail system might be cool too as it keeps the tent out of the wind, but cuts down on your storage space...
The exo rack seams like a good call for sure - A friend of mine had one made by the guys at Aluminess for over a hard shell...
Let me know - maybe too many options?:)

Rattler
02-29-2012, 08:58 PM
For now I am using a steel frame that comes about "2 above the bed and it gets strapped into place. Its big and heavy but works for now. My buddy and I made it. I am hoping to fab something a little lighter this spring.

offthebeatenpath
03-01-2012, 01:32 AM
Range Rider canopy, three Yakima crossbars on a sliding track mount system, Eezi-Awn T-top 1600. No structural reinforcement.

Thousands of off-road miles, dozens of days with 500+ lbs of people/gear PLUS the tent (add more when the Eezi-Awn room is added).ZERO issues.

For years I have wanted to do an over the canopy exo style rack for the tent because of the load. I always put it off because I have had zero issues with this system. Maybe it will crack one day, but it's never even come close so far.

The key with any canopy is spreading out the load. Three crossbars does this perfectly. It's like fiberglass boat deck - if you hit it with a hammer it will crack. If you balance out the load, it will carry a huge amount of weight.

Thanks! That's exactly what I wanted to hear! I didn't think anyone had tried this, but it sounds great.

I have a Thule system, complete with tracks, and I think 3 crossbars. Well, sort of. I had the track system mounted on my old 98 Jeep XJ, and after I sold the Jeep I went to the junk yard and pulled the factory tracks off of an XJ in their yard. Much cheaper than Thule tracks, but essentially the same setup.

The other features I like about an exo cage/rack around the topper is the option to mount some sort of windbreak/fairing, but with the weight savings and money savings, I think I can be okay with a bit of wind noise for awhile. Also, as WASURF63 mentioned, having a rack of some sort allows you much more versatility in mounting other accessories such as an awning or fuel, water, coolers, etc.

The excellent thing about this is that it opens up another option that may not be as costly as others. I know roof rack systems are not cheap, but many of us have parts or an entire rack stem from our other outdoor pursuits (mine - mountain biking), so simply repurposing that roof rack for a RTT mount will be nearly free of cost for me. I think I might need one more pair of feet, I'll have to check on that.

Rattler - From what I've seen, a Flippac may not actually offer more floor space, or at least more useable floor space. With our two kids, it doesn't do me any good to have a tent that is limited to 54" wide. I need the 72" so that we can sleep pointing the short way instead of the long direction. Because of that, we'll definitely be getting the larger tent :D

mountainpete
03-01-2012, 01:54 AM
Very old pics (like 7 years old), but the tracks are the same. Just have a third crossbar now. Used it with a basket from 2005 - 2008 and with a RTT since.

Oh, and I switched out the towers for the new Yakima style when they came up on Kijiji for cheap. These ones have a plastic base where the 2007ish and newer have metal tabs.

http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y123/mountainpete/2003%20Tacoma%20DoubleCab%20TRD/IMG_0554.jpg

http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y123/mountainpete/2003%20Tacoma%20DoubleCab%20TRD/IMG_0555.jpg

Uglyduck
03-05-2012, 01:47 AM
I went through the exact same thought process you have about 2 years ago and have a wife, 5 year old, and 1.25 dogs. I'm now setting up a trailer but here are some general thoughts after using a shell mounted RTT.

I used these brackets from Front Runner, purchased from Equipt for $70 http://www.equipt1.com/companies/Rack%20Accessories/product-fr/120098-tent-mounts

They turned out like this
http://i267.photobucket.com/albums/ii318/uglyfireduck/P1010002-4.jpg

http://i267.photobucket.com/albums/ii318/uglyfireduck/P1010001-4.jpg

http://i267.photobucket.com/albums/ii318/uglyfireduck/DSCN0061.jpg

I haven't had any issues with the shell cracking or being able to support the weight after roughly 50 nights of use and a few thousand miles. The tent is an Eezi 1600.

My truck does sway and bob when the tent is open, I'm a light sleeper so it bugs me. Jack stands would help but they're just one more thing to load, unload, and lug around.

Since the truck is a daily driver I prefer to take the tent off when I won't be using it for a while, it makes a noticeable change in gas mileage. With the tent on there is 1/2inch of clearance to get into my garage, forget about getting it in if I had a lift.

Getting the tent on and off requires two strong people and its a little awkward, didn't go so well with the wife...:)

A trailer better suits my needs (already loaded, can hitch up and go, doesn't affect daily driving) but if you aren't playing switcharoo like I am most of the issues can be negated. t-bolts would make installation and removal easier but they're kind of hard to find locally.

The shell/crossbar/bracket setup works fine and was the most budget friendly option I found at the time. Its now less convenient but works non the less.