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

@Rickck - If that topper was available for my truck , it'd be tempting despite the absurd price tag, but it's not available for my truck. So I either have to run a contractor topper (~$3500US with the accessories I want) or some sort of modified system like I have now (Vantech P3000 topper bars over a simple topper).

@OCD Overland, are the gearpods pretty tough? It's hard to tell from the pictures on their website...are they worth the money? That's my biggest fear, because the usability of the system for me is going to be largely dependent on the toughness of the gearpods.

Also, the comment about the 'yaks is pretty important...I'm pretty sure either a flycraft or a Native Watercraft Slayer are in my future, so being able to load up watercraft is going to be pretty important too.

I've been running a modified M1101 with my RTT mounted on it as an adventure trailer for the last few months and it's been awesome (except for the fact that it's 7' wide). I love being able to crawl along the bedrails and deploy the RTT and being able to climb under the rails to install it. It feels like the ACS would take everything I like about the M1101, move it to the truck, and add gear storage and super cool overland-y accessories.

Here is one thing I DON'T like about the ACS at first look; right now, I run a stealth adventure truck. I drive a blue F-150 with 2.5" of lift and 285's with boring flat black rims and stock bumpers. I run a hidden winch plate for my winch and the fairlead isn't really noticeable. I run a topper, so my drawers, traction mats, and gear are all hidden. I live in the midwest, so nothing about my truck stands out, and I love that. No one gives my truck a second look. Getting an ACS will make my truck stand out like crazy, and I really don't like the idea of a drawing unwanted attention. It's definitely something I have to consider as far as security and visibility is concerned. Locking stuff down is good, but also not looking like you have anything worth stealing is a great first line of defense.
The boxes are heavy duty rotomolded plastic. I would say they're thicker and maybe use a bit stiffer plastic than my Hardigg cases, which are indestructible. The attachment tabs are actually plates that are bent back to support the boxes both top and bottom. The top pretty much covers the entire top of the box and the same plate is used on the bottom, so it supports maybe a bit more than half the box. There are three bolts that hold the boxes to each plate and there are three extra holes in each plate if you want to add more bolts for any reason. The hardware is nice too - there's no play in the handles or hinges and the locks are good quality. The boxes were both keyed the same. There's a strut that you have to manually put in place to hold the lid open. It's solid but I wish they'd have used a little pneumatic strut. But that's nitpicking.

I think if you drive around with max tracks, rotopacks and an axe attached to the truck, you'll stand out, but otherwise I don't think the rack itself is that obvious.

Rickc - they're designed to attach to the outside of the rack, but I'm sure you could bolt them to the inside. The only potential problem would be that the top rail is 2" wide and the bottom is 1", so if you bolted them from the rear they would lean back a bit unless you used a spacer at the bottom.

Speaking of spacers, I'm going to wait to install mine until I decide on a roof rack for the cab, if and which one. Then I'll try to shim the ACS so that they're both at least close to the same height.
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I have an ARE. I had a frame made out of 2 inch square aluminum that fits inside the topper like a skeleton. have a Tepui Grand Sabana and 3 people sleep in it. No issues at all. The frame sits on the bedrails like the topper.
I have had the ACS for about 10 months now. Thankfully I live about 40 min from his shop and stopped by and picked one up. He was great to deal with and a nice guy willing to listen to his customers and get ideas. I stopped up a second time to get more gear pods and he was looking at my set-up and we talked for like 20 min.

comments on putting it on. assembly of the rack itself was easy. the 6 holes you had to drill sucked the pop-nuts or whatever they are called sucked. If you have a spray bed-liner make sure you clear a large enough area around nut otherwise it will not cinch correctly. He said he was going to update the instructions to add that.

Gear pods are nice and weather sealed. depending on what you want to store they may be on the smallish side. A fullface motorcycle helmet is about the size you can fit in there. They are pricy , so I'm slowly adding.

I have mounted a 13 ft kayak on top with no problems nad part of the reason I went with leitner. Thule racks fit without modification. I also picked up a Tepui RTT and have slept on it quite a few nights with wife and son. No problems. At no time did it feel unstable.

Off-roading with a RTT was no problem except one of the Pop-nuts slipped out (see above about making sure they are clamped tightly.

I added locking nuts to prevent theft (for what it is worth)

Its my daily driver. I leave the rotopax plates on (no accessories) and the gear pods on all the time. A s for standing out. If you remove the gear pods it will look almost like a work truck rack. start adding pods and plates and accessories and it looks more "offroad"
@Grendel Kahn, That's a valid point, stripped down it would just look like a ladder rack. I would probably keep the gear pod(s) on it, because I think my recovery gear is going to live in there and I don't like NOT having that in the truck, but those lock anyway, so who cares? Even then, those don't look THAT different than a work truck tool box.

@OCD Overland, Glad to hear that the gear-pods are beefy. Do you know if they all come key'ed alike? In other words, would I have to order all of them at the same time to have them all key'ed alike or is that just how they come? The security nut in me doesn't like the idea of knowing that everyone with an ACS could get in to everyone else's gear pods...


Bravo1782: "absurd" is a pretty good adjective for the cost of the ARE HD cap but bear in mind that the cost of HD cross bars (and they are really good ones that came from ARE) would have set me back $500ish so maybe CAN$3500ish for the cap including installation. Still a lot of money but I'm not load limited; I don't see me ever hitting 550lbs dynamic. The internal ally frame is also full of "T" slots, convenient for my tool box plans and other projects.

I would also like to stress that Bernhard Leitner has been good to work with; he responded to questions I had regarding the ACS really quickly. It will be interesting to see how this product develops.
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Expedition Leader
Just curious if anyone considered a typical contractor cap? Granted it's not an open rack for easier boat loading. I was just curious. We spent 9 days in YellowStone the week before the 4th. I noticed the long term road warrior types all leaned in the direction of keeping he gear and long term aspect understated. One our camp neighbors said they did 3-4 months every yr for the last several yrs. he had a very nothing special looking Ford passenger van with windows blacked out. But the interior was completely tricked out and full of gear. Another neighbor had a simple travel trailer 18ft, and a pickup with a contractor cap no windows, the truck was his toy garage he had some really cool stuff. He said he did about 4 months a yr on the road. But he did more base camp longer stays vs the couple in the van who said 2-3 days in one campsite was maxumum stay and fairly rare for them. But they rarely ever actually reserved sites so they were the random open site for a night type.
Just curious if anyone considered a typical contractor cap? ...
I considered it but none of the manufacturers that I could find would rate the roof load capacity for the weight of a tent plus two people. Some of the caps that looked like they could handle the load would have cost 2-3x as much as the ACS rack.


I specified my cap with a left solid "window" and front, right and rear tinted glass; I can still see pretty well through my rear window and through the canopy windows when reversing; a big deal for me as my truck is over 6m long. Conventional, all solid window or no window at all contractors caps wouldn't work for my purposes. You will see many of the contractors caps with ladders on top use discreet exo-skeleton frames around and over the caps.

Comparing just the ACS frame with a canopy is not fair; as stated earlier, a loaded ACS is CAN$3500 before taxes and shipping. I doubt that there are many ACS owners that have not included pods and mounting plates; it all adds up really quickly.
You can find better deals if you look around. Mine came out to $2150 shipped, or about CAN$2700, which included the rack, two boxes, four mounting plates and two light mounts.


OCD Overland: when I did the math it was for 4 pods; this really cranks-up the numbers. The Leitner site price of your setup for my truck (long-box Colorado) is US$2424 so about CAN$3033 before taxes and shipping. It's the life-in-Canada taxes that make everything so much more expensive for me. I saw a good YouTube vid last night that showed a Leitner system being set up on a big truck:
I've looked into the contractor toppers as well, and they can get pretty pricey too, depending on how you outfit them. THe new ARE DCU MAX toppers offer a .065 skin, so they're a lot tougher than the industry standard .035. Again, depending on how you outfit them and what kind of rack you get, you're back in to the 2500-3500 range for a system that was INTENDED to be used with a roof-top tent.

The more I do the research, the more I talk to you guys, the more I think I'm going to go with the Leitner ACS. Some of the plates and brackets I can probably fabricate myself (assuming I can source some of those T-nuts...I've seen those for other products, so they're not specific to Leitner. The gear pods are really what makes the system SUPER expensive, BUT, if they're as tough as it sounds like they are, it'll be a worthwhile investment. I'll probably wait until the full-length boxes roll out then go ahead and purchase a system. I like the idea of a system that is designed with the specific thing I want to do in mind, built for that purpose. Light-weight and over-engineered by people as obsessive as I am.
I have been running the ACS on my F150 for over a year now... Love it. My only complaint is that all my gear gets caked in dirt when out on the trails but that's not the ACS problem.. that's the open bed issue...

@RickC...I was just looking into the Wilco System...because it attaches to the tie-down points, I don't know that it'll play nice with my decked drawers...and I'm really not willing to give those up. The ACS system is nice because (as Raul can attest to) it'll play nice with Decked Drawers. Also, the ADV rack itself is $1800, and it looks like (from watching that video) I'd have to add those upper and lower bars before I could mount up my RTT.