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
Thanks Colby Jack, it's great to hear from someone who actually lives in Alaska!
I wasn't aware of the Alaska Region Section...appreciate your pointing it out...I'll follow your suggestion and post there too later tonight.
 

chasespeed

Explorer
Yeah, sweet, havent seen any of those. IN that case, do it... take a piece of nylon web strapping, and make a lanyard, put a magnet(small one should work), on the end, put down the hatch, and put the end up to a small piece of metal(rivet a small piece of steel?), and viola.... can pull the hatch down, and put the handle up out of the way... AND, its nylon, so, if you forget to put it up, it wont bugger anything up....

Chase
 

alaska

Observer
Great idea.....thanks.

I was reading in the Alaska regional section something to the extent that the Tundra soil tends to be soft and a heavy truck will sink into it easily, which immediately brought up the question of what tire would be appropriate for this expedition. I initially had in mind a good set of E-rated BFG KM2 255-85R16's, which generally do pretty well off-road and are still not too bad for highway travel (they don't do so well on ice/hard snow, though). What's attractive to me is that they are relatively very thin and pretty light and therefore conducive to bearable fuel economy, which is important when it comes to long distance expedition travel. However, given the soft Tundra soil (whatever that practically means, as I do not plan on any heavy - not even medium - off-roading), would these thin tires be suggestible, taking into account the substantial weight of my truck (with the Cummins diesel engine and the rest of the stuff that will be on it), or should I shoot for the less economical but wider 285-75R16's? Anyone? I tried posting in the Alaskan chapter about it, but it does not seem to have much activity. I know Scott Brady heartily endorses the 255-85's for lengthy expedition travel when it comes to the much lighter Tacoma truck, but perhaps the weight of my Dodge Ram, the nature of the Tundra soil and those thin tires are not such a good combination...
 
Last edited:

Outback

Explorer
The A.R.E. are complete crap. The roof racks are held on with self taps and are made of cheap aluminum. If you carry anything on rough roads or hit some low branches it will be damaged. The doors after about a year of constant use will have problems. There a good design but poorly executed with the cheapest materials. I've had two and each one had a short life. These were the units my company picked. Never again.

My next topper for my newest work truck is made by Caravan Campers. Same cost but so much nicer. In fact I've had this One for over two years and it has gone every 40 square miles from The Mexican border to the Canadian Border all the way east to MI IL ect. No issues and nothing has worn out! These units are so superior to A.R.E. Units. It's like comparing a Yugo to a G Wagon. Sorry ARE owners but it's the truth. If you lived in it half the year and used it every day for over 320 days a year like I do you will see how quickly the AREs wear out.

Flip pacs. All I can say is "Amazing"! I had one on my 2008 Dodge 3500. I'm buying another one for my 2011 Dodge 2500. There is nothing like being able to set up your camp in 30 seconds! If your 6'8" you'll be a happy man. Head room head room head room! As far as rain you can water proof your flip PAC and or buy the rain fly. Do a search for AT Flip PAC and you will find a silver Tacoma that has a flip PAC. He water proofed his and does a quick write up on it. If I could I would have one on my work truck.

Keep in mind that all of these units all cost pretty much the same. Also Keep in mind a bear can get into any of them In about 10 seconds. where you cook and store your food is the main thing. You will need "real" bear protection no matter what you buy. Good luck!
 
Last edited:

Outback

Explorer
I've put up and broke down camp in high winds with my ATFlip PAC. I never had an issue? My wife may have. That's may have. I'm no body builder either. If you do go the Flip PAC route go with the "AT" flip PAC. It's built for extreme off road use. The regular flip PAC is built for asphaulters.

As far as the Caravan Camper goes you can have it made to what ever height you want.
 

alaska

Observer
@Outback
I appreciate your comments on Caravan Campers, which were also mentioned by zukrider earlier on in this thread. I remember following your 2009 thread with the setting up of your Caravan Camper shell on your Chevy 3500 Duramax. I have to say, it looked great! I have a few questions for you, since you said you live in it half the year... With the type of work life you do, I'm sure you have quite some experience living out of a camper shell! What options did you go for besides the top's fan? How tall is you CC shell? I looked at their website, but it's not as explanatory of details and options as the A.R.E. one is. Do you know if they can make a shell with straight side walls (90 degree angle) and a full hatchback rear door? It would be great if you could post a few pictures of your cap's interior....the way you have set it up to sleep in it six months out of the year. Thanks.
 

Darwin

Explorer
I am confused about why you would limit yourself to just these two options? What is it about your trip that requires you to be "stealth" especially since you say you are going to Alaska. I would not think you would be "urban camping" a majority of your time. Personally I wouldn't torture myself if I didn't have to by living out of a truck cap for 2.5 months especially in Alaska.

I own a a utility shell similar to the ARE and right now it's about to disintegrate from all the bumpy roads. If I were to spend the money, I would definitely be getting a Caravan Camper like Outback says. Much stronger and better construction IMO.
 

fullpoints

New member
Will,
I would buy a callen camper hands down- its a steel frame and indestructible- plus it has insulation, paneling and lights standard. website is callencamper.com but you can get them on craigslist for about a grand used.
 

alaska

Observer
I am confused about why you would limit yourself to just these two options? What is it about your trip that requires you to be "stealth" especially since you say you are going to Alaska. I would not think you would be "urban camping" a majority of your time. Personally I wouldn't torture myself if I didn't have to by living out of a truck cap for 2.5 months especially in Alaska. .
This is a work truck and therefore it's got to work to earn its play time... :) After taking into account all the feedback I've got here, I believe a hard cap such as the A.R.E. or Caravan Campers shell would be ideal, as it could stay permanently on the truck in both the work and play modes. I'll build the "expedition set" interior in such a way that it can be easily removed (in sections) when the truck is in work mode, then quickly put back for weekend expedition time or longer trips such as this one to Alaska.
I wouldn't think of living out of it for a couple of months as "torture..." A 36" tall cap provides an inside height of 55" in my truck, which is higher than that provided by an FWC or other slide-in, pop-up camper with the top down. It can be set up very nicely inside and provide much comfort. The only difference comparing it to a pop-up camper is not being able to stand up inside the camper and the obvious necessity to have the sitting bench also double as a bed (by adding an extension to it at bed time).

Thank you all. By all means, please keep the suggestions coming in...it's all been very useful and great feedback! :luxhello:
 

Snafu

Adventurer
I voted for the camper shell mainly because of this $200 not so pretty (the window screens are ripped, gas shocks for window blown, the rack on top is a bit rickity...I call it all character though) but damn useful camper shell I recently bought and used during my Colorado trip about three weeks ago:


Lemon sleeping too by snafu-kb, on Flickr

I don't know about you, but I carry a kayak with me everywhere I go and while a flipPac looks awesome, there's nowhere for me to put it. My cheap shell is well worn, but it kept all the water out. Plus, when I was camping in Alpine tundra at 12000 feet off Engineer pass it seemed to, unexpectedly, help me stay warm (that's saying a lot for a guy that's been living in the Chihuahua desert for a lil over two years). I had a much better night than my friend sleeping in my tent outside using a much nicer sleeping bag, bivy sack, and winter liner


Camp 360 Panorama by snafu-kb, on Flickr

Yes, I hit my head several times. Yes, it was hard to get to things up near the cab. But, I think that as time goes by you can improve upon a camper shell as there are infinite possibilities.

Good luck on your adventure, and yes, please share it with us! I'm planning for the day I have the means to take that trip...but I'm only 25 so I got some time to save up PTO and money!
 
Last edited:

alaska

Observer
I'd like to pose a question to those who have experience driving on Alaskan soil, which I have also posed in the Alaska section, and that's regarding proper tire selection for my truck. I am thinking of using BFG KM2 255/85-16's (33's which are only 10" wide) for this trip, as they have performed well both on- and off-road and have given some of the best fuel economy so far compared to other 33's. However, I'm concerned that the Alaskan soil might be soft in certain areas of the state and that a truck with relatively thin tires will sink into it.
My truck is a pretty heavy one with the Cummins diesel engine and these tires are obviously on the thin side.
Do you think their thinness could be a problem on Alaskan roads/terrain? (I don't plan to do any unnecessary off-roading, just drive along the available paths to camping sites and locations to be visited.) What would your suggestion be?
 

HMalice

New member
Will,
I would buy a callen camper hands down- its a steel frame and indestructible- plus it has insulation, paneling and lights standard. website is callencamper.com but you can get them on craigslist for about a grand used.
I agree, a used Callen is your best bet. The one in my photo was picked up for $700, later down the road an even nicer one with a flip up side panel (blue striped one) was had for $900. I have done everything with them from camping to moving our home up the west coast. The truck and camper have since been sold but when I get another, buying or building this style camper would be my first choice.

I used 255/85's for a long time, they did fine off road & thru some fairly nasty mud pits. Worn out rear lsd wishing I had lockers.





 
Last edited:

HMalice

New member
HMalice, do you remember what the height (floor to ceiling) was inside your Callen, approximately?
I want to say about 5'6"?

Forgot to mention in my last post, I've also had an a.r.e. dcu hi top on the same truck. It serves a purpose as a contractor shell but was fairly flimsy and easy to damage in comparison. I never camped in that one and don't think I would want to; always saw it like a large cold toolbox.
 

Forum statistics

Threads
177,422
Messages
2,771,269
Members
211,977
Latest member
Mojack1995
Top