Ram 2500: FlipPac or A.R.E. DCU 36" for Alaska?

Which of the two is the most useful for an extended trip to Alaska, in your opinion?


  • Total voters
    62

alaska

Observer
Hello All...

I'll be taking an extended expedition trip of 60-80 days to Alaska in the summer 2012. In regard to a large domestic truck (I have a 1997 Dodge Ram 2500, Cummins, long bed), when it comes to choosing a camper for that type of harsh environment, what's the most useful choice as camper between these two: a FlipPac or an A.R.E. DCU 36" cap? In your opinion?

A.R.E. DCU 36" Cap
DCU_36-inch_Cap.jpg

FlipPac
FlipPac.jpg

As I see it, the pros and cons are as follows:

The FlipPac becomes a PITA when getting wet and one is always to play the guessing game whether it will rain or not, so as to decide whether to use the rain fly or not ... while the DCU cap is ready to go at all times with any kind of weather.

The FlipPac, when open, allows for standing height inside, while one can at best be seated in a straight position in a DCU cap. However, the DCU cap allows for more storage space (taller cabinets, etc.) to be built in it.

The DCU cap has a more secure closing mechanism on its doors and is therefore more secure when it comes to protection from thieves.

The FlipPac is a much better experience in dry, hot environments, but the DCU cap is way more useful in bad weather/strong winds and where there is the potential threat of dangerous animals being around while you are asleep (such as in the case of the Alaskan wilderness).

The DCU cap performs better than the (open) FlipPac when it comes to noise insulation.

The FlipPac is much more aerodynamic than a 36" DCU cap, given that the latter stands about 1 ft. over the cabin of a large truck. More fuel economy with the FlipPac.....

That's all I can think of right now as far as the differences involed ... and unfortunately I am equally divided between the two. Which one is better for this particular situation?

Looking forward to your knowledgeable input based on experience rather than hearsay.

Will
 
Last edited:

alaska

Observer
By all means, also feel free to share your personal experience in this context and/or contribute any ideas, advice, feedback, suggestions, etc, if you have any... :) THANKS!
 

zukrider

Explorer
disclaimer! i have no personal experience with any topper options.

that said, i think the flip pac is out for overall durability. if the weather were to get real extreme, and the tent ripped, you would be one very upset camper!

i feel the solid cap is a better fit. plus it opens up top storage options as well. even a platform and seat/table/umbrella for africa style wildlife viewing. also, the i would think the are would be that much more bear proof. i said more, not "proof" as in 100%. cause we all know a hungry grizzly will not be held down!

but..... i would like to throw in the Caravan Camper. i feel they are a much better design, and far more customizable.

when i finally get my Powerwagon, i plan to get one 8-10" higher than the cab, with an extended rack over the cab for storage and light mounting! that extra height will also provide some much needed head room.


good luck with your choice and have an excellent trip!
 

Chris Cordes

Expedition Leader
Staff member
Ok I have to admit I love the look of flip-pacs but I still would say that the DCU cap is the best choice in your situation. Camping for that long in alaska you are almost guranteed bad weather and or animals. Maybe its just me but ill trade a few comfortable nights to be in a solid camper when a bear decides he wants to get in.
 

greasyfingers

New member
I lived in AK for a few years and I can tell you that the weather is very inconsistent. My first summer there the weather was unbelievable! But the second summer it rained ALL THE TIME and would go from perfect to precipitation in a hurry. Saying that I would go with the DCU, it’s more rugged, and you’ll have extra room to dry things out while you’re on the go.
 

Rovertrader

Supporting Sponsor
have had both, and been to Alaska, the A.R.E. for sure- reduce as many potential problems (torsion spring, tent fabric, etc) as you can and don't take the wildlife lightly...
 

chasespeed

Explorer
I have a Leer utility cap. It has a taper in the front, that matches with the cab of the truck, though, it is taller than the cab. Has barn doors in the back, tool box curb side, and a just a windoor on the traffic side. Aluminum frame. Cap is light, and strong.





I didnt get a hit in mileage... if anything, putting a cap on, it maybe got a little better...

Chase
 

Every Miles A Memory

Expedition Leader
Hard sided cap all the way. I've read a few reviews of the FlipPac's and everyone says the same thing. They arent too fun in heavy winds or rain and when you want to set them up along a side of the road or in a rest area, plan on drawing LOTS of attention.

You could be sleeping right beside anyone inside that A.R.E. and no one would know unless you were snoring something awful.

The A.R.E. wont give you the headroom you're looking for, but if you built a sleeping platform close to the floor of the truck bed, you'd have plenty of room to move aorund comfortably.

When camped in a traditional spot, I'd have a awning mounted either off the back of the cap or off the side to act as a makeshift shelter when the weather allows, plus it'll give you an area to cook out under.


Then there is the roof top storage which would be impossible with the FlipPac


Plus, with the A.R.E., you know all your stuff inside is pretty safe. They're built very stout and the locks will keep out anyone honest. Windows can also be reinforced with wire/cage straight from the factory

No affiliation, just been using one to live out of for over 5 years
 

Dale

Adventurer
Have you thought about a used Alaskan Camper? Its nice to be able to stand after a while when the weather is nasty. If you go with a DCU try and get one with a Full Hatchback. I hate getting slammed with the barn doors when the wind picks up, it will also keep your stuff dry when cooking in the rain, getting in and out etc. You can also set up tarps from the hatchback for wind blocks or if you want to take a sponge bath. Whatever you decide, have a great trip.
 

Every Miles A Memory

Expedition Leader
I agree with Dale. I see used Slide-In's on Craigslist all the time. It would give you lots more room, running water, inside cooking if you needed it because of the rain and as long as you didnt get the bug and start outfitting it with everything under the sun (Next to impossible), you could turn around and sell it as soon as you get back home

FlipPac or A.R.E., you're going to dump in some serious money, be stuck with it once you have it and both have serious limitations.

Just another option to think about
 

alaska

Observer
Thanks all for your input...it's been very helpful!

Have you thought about a used Alaskan Camper? Its nice to be able to stand after a while when the weather is nasty. If you go with a DCU try and get one with a Full Hatchback. I hate getting slammed with the barn doors when the wind picks up, it will also keep your stuff dry when cooking in the rain, getting in and out etc. You can also set up tarps from the hatchback for wind blocks or if you want to take a sponge bath. Whatever you decide, have a great trip.
I've considered using a slide-in, pop-up camper, but I'd rather not. I like the idea of stealthy parking and being low key, which in my opinion can be nicely achieved with either the A.R.E. DCU cap or the FlipPac (when closed). I'd like to get it new but also keep the purchasing expense down. Everyone here so far seems to favor the A.R.E. DCU cap for extended travel in Alaska, and I'm now pretty much convinced to go in that direction, which will also enable me to use it in the context of work tasks outside of expedition travel, which is an added plus.

Dale, the Full Hatchback seems to be a very good idea for the reasons you have stated, but wouldn't the door be in too high a position when open to be practical in that sense? I've given it some thought, and my vehicle's bed's floor stands at about 40" from the ground. Add to that another 19 inches to account for the height of the box and another 36 inches, which is the height of the cap, and you can readily see that both the top of the cap and the hatchback door, when the latter is open, would stand at about 95" from the ground...... Do you think the full hatchback would still be practical, useful at that height?
 

chasespeed

Explorer
I have the barn doors on my cap. I have a piece of plywood, that rests on top of the doors(it holds them both at a 90 from the cap), that gives a little shelter, and also keeps them from getting blown by the wind. Also, GOOD door catches to keep the doors open helps a lot too.

You COULD go with a hatchback, and use a lanyard to pull the hatch back down..... but, remember, you would need to work with the tailgate down, at that point, the hatch isnt going to do you much good....

Chase
 

Colby Jack

Traveler
Commercial Topper-- all the way!!!

In my opinion, the ARE is the only way to go-- weather,security, weather, brown/black fuzzy protection, weather, ease of use, did I mention weather??? Seriously, we just broke a record last summer for 37 days of straight rain. Not fun.

There is a reason you won't see many flip pacs up here, or popup slide ins, for that matter. Unless you can dry that fabric out, you will have mold, mildew, and accelerated wear on your mobile home. If you want to stand up, mount a nice awning on the side, throw down some indoor/outdoor, and have a bawl.

The question of price has come up-- Craigslist is a beautiful thing. If you're willing to travel to get it, you have plenty of time to shop. Chase already mentioned Leer as another option, Gemtop is another. If you want some more feedback regarding gear selection, or trip planning, come on over to the Alaska Region Section. Lots of nice peeps there, but some don't drive full-size.

Best of luck!!!
Colby Jack
 

alaska

Observer
I have the barn doors on my cap. I have a piece of plywood, that rests on top of the doors(it holds them both at a 90 from the cap), that gives a little shelter, and also keeps them from getting blown by the wind. Also, GOOD door catches to keep the doors open helps a lot too.

You COULD go with a hatchback, and use a lanyard to pull the hatch back down..... but, remember, you would need to work with the tailgate down, at that point, the hatch isnt going to do you much good....

Chase
We are talking about a FULL hatchback lift here, so there would be no tailgate as it would be removed upon installation. Here's a drawing of it:

Full_Hatchback_Lift_With_Window.jpg

And yours are excellent suggestions for those with the barn doors....thanks!
 

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