Leitner Designs ACS - Topper killer? Whose got one and what do you think?

#1
Hey Guys,

Short version: Whose got a Leitner Designs ACS and what do you think of it? How do you use it and how is it holding up?


Long Version: I've got an '11 Ford F-150 Crew Cab Short bed that's been my all around adventure truck for the last few years, but the topper that it came with is junk. I want to run my ~180lb CVT Mt. Rainier RTT on the truck. My current topper doesn't have a rack, so to mitigate that, I got a Vantech P3000 Topper Rack, which works well enough for now, but I had to fabricate a custom install and the rack has some disadvantages that I don't want to go in to (mainly, it's super, super wide...7' to be exact). I've been looking into replacement toppers for my truck with racks installed, and the obvious candidates aren't available for my truck (ARE CX-HD, for example) or are crazy expensive. I've been looking into the new ARE DCU MAX toppers, and while they'd be a hardcore option, they're going to be super, super expensive ($3500+ depending on feature loadout). I stumbled upon the Leitner Designs ACS and while I don't like the fact that it opens up my truck bed (security issue) it might be the cure to many of my problems at a fraction of the cost of a new topper. PLUS it'll be highly modular and I can add all the accessories I want however I want and change it whenever I want. Pretty sweet. BUT, it'll still be a steep investment, so I want to make sure this is the way I want to go.

So what do you guys think? What have your experiences been?
 
#2
I guess it just depends on whether or not you want/need a topper. I couldn't imagine not having one now that I have one. Its probably been the handiest thing for a truck that I never knew I was missing until I bit the bullet and bought one.
 
#3
I have one on my 8ft bed F150.

Been very happy with it. Every shell that I could find, even brand new, would only certify a weight capacity of around 200lb max, if anything at all - which would be fine for the tent, but not once I'm sleeping in it. Letiner certifies his rack for 1000lb static. I share(d) your concern about leaving the bed open though. Before i went to overland expo this year I bought a couple 2x4s, some pipe and connectors, and a few polycarbonate roofing panels and bolted all of that to the sides and rear of the frame.



The rear panels use the pipe for a frame and a hinge to open up the bed like a hatchback. The panels increased my gas mileage at 70mph by about 15% compared to the same setup without them. I used an opaque panel on the driver's side and clear(ish) panels on the rear and passenger's side. They're clear enough to see if a car is behind or beside me, but not clear enough to identify the make and model. I wouldn't call it perfectly secure, as rain and dust and such can get in through the gaps, but a thief can't just send their arm in and pick something up. You could cut through the panels with a knife, but it's going to be noisy and a pain in the *** and take a few minutes to cut a hole big enough to nab something that's tied down.

It's a cheap hack of a solution, but barring spending a lot more time and money or an official solution from Leitner it works surprisingly well. Combined with a bedrug, the semi-enclosed bed is tall enough to set up a short lawn chair (like an Adirondack) or a backpacker's tent, comfortable enough to want to hang out in, and sheltered from both sun and rain without feeling stifling like a proper shell.
 
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#6
I talked to Leer and ARE (the only guys I can get in my area) and I asked them about their weight ratings and they ALWAYS gave me shifty answers. I talked to different people at their company and would get different answers. As soon as I mentioned running a rooftop tent, they would almost always tell me that their toppers won't support that and it would void the warranty. I reallllly don't want to spend $3500 on a topper and have the primary thing I want to do with it (run an RTT) void the warranty. Some people say you can run an RTT on a fiberglass cap and it's fine, some guys have reported cracks, some guys say reinforce...I just really don't want to mess with it at this point. I really just want a good, permanent solution.

For what it's worth in the security department, here's my thoughts; I've ALREADY got a set of decked drawers (Which I absolutely love, BTW) that is inaccessible when the tailgate is locked (I've got a pop n lock system, so my tailgate locks with the rest of the truck...a great upgrade!) I've got the crew cab, and I'm working on maximizing the storage space in there. The gear pods are lockable and weather proof, PLUS leitner is rolling out a "full size" gear pod for storing larger stuff. If, at that point, I STILL need more storage space, I've got a big Action Packer Chest (The big 48 gallon one) that I could throw stuff in and lock down with a padlock and security cable.
 
#7
Wtf? Guess I can't edit posts, it automatically deletes them when I go to edit lol.

- with Snugtop and ARE I could find some options for an rtt, however the cost was insane. Leer denied making anything that would support such.

I opted to go with a Softtopper and a bed rack, combined for less $$$ than a cap that should hold the weight, plus they are fairly easy to remove.
 
#8
@LordThunderBum - That's kinda where I'm at too. If nothing Else, most toppers are ~200lbs...the ACS is ~70lbs. The leitner designs ACS is one of the more expensive systems on the market, but it's modularity really sells it to me.

I was pretty seriously considering the DCU Max, especially after talked to a local rep, who was very helpful. Problem was, i would have to modify it to mount my RTT, modify it to mount an awning, modify it to hold my traction matts, modify it to mount lights and tools. The leitner system has brackets to SPECIFICALLY mount ALL those things. It definitely seems like a good idea, but I just wanted to talk to some people who have one and see what they thing before I pull the trigger.
 
#9
Interesting setup. I cant tell for sure, but it looks like a bunch of pinstriping on your truck?
Oh god yes, loads of pinstriping. The local offroading club (NM4W) is basically a jeep club. They've told me that when I'm attending a run with them it sounds like a bunch of jeeps are being chased by a moose through the forest. The paint job lasted about a day before I took on a light trail, and about six months before my first official run with the club that set the pinstriping in stone. Or rather set it in primer. I could stay in the lowlands and save the paint, but I like trees. I love the paint color on the truck, but I didn't buy it to be pretty. I took this about a week after I brought it home:

 
#11
An ACS landed on my front porch on Friday. Do some shopping around before you buy as most places will charge an arm and a leg for shipping. I got free shipping and a discount from OK Auto, so be sure to check them out.

I'll be interested to see the larger boxes. One that's double sized would be perfect for me - not sure if I'd really need one the full length of the bed. One suggestion would be that he have the boxes made with a removable mid shelf.

If they would make load bars that attach to the bottom rail, then you'd have an extra layer of storage, or you could even cover it with a sheet of plywood to give some security for whatever is stowed underneath.
 
#12
I also had difficulty getting hard answers on dynamic and static loading for canopies. I ended up with an ARE CX HD cap; extremely expensive around CAN$4k but its internal aluminum frame is good for 550lb dynamic; the frame connects directly to two big load bars so there is no load on the shell. I also looked at the Leitner system but decided I'd like the option of being able to sleep in my canopy and security of my stuff is important. I also had a real issue paying over CAN$400 (each) for the relatively tiny plastic pods. A Leitner system with 4 pods, one more load bar and a universal mounting plate would set me back CAN$3472 before taxes and shipping; about CAN$3900.
 
#13
Yeah, they get you on the accessory pricing but then that's part of overlanding. FWIW, when my wife saw the storage boxes she was like 'oh, I see why they cost so much'. She wasn't as impressed with the metal plates. FWIW, the quality IMO matches the price, and I don't know of any other rack that offers the same level of adaptability.
 
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#14
OCD Overland: I'm sure you are going to get great use out of your system. My needs are RTT base or two big sea kayaks and/or sleeping in the bed and as mentioned earlier, security of my stuff. I'm very interested to know how the pods attach to the frame; bolt from the outside or the inside? As commented by you earlier, single longer boxes/box would be a great option. Please post pictures once you have your truck set-up.

Another system I was interested in, that is only very recently available, is the Wilco Offroad ADV Rack System with the side bars; it extends over the cab roof.
 
#15
It's interesting that you mention Kayaks - one of the things I'm looking forward to with the Leitner rack is being able to stand in the bed to strap down a surf ski or access our skybox. But if you want shelter and security, there's really no other choice but a topper.