Truck Topper V. Bed Cover??


Built, not bought!
hey guys, and Happy New Year's Eve.
Was wondering if you guys could give me some pointers or things i should consider when choosing between either a Topper or a Bed Cover for my new 2016 Nissan Frontier. I know I need some type of water proof storage system for the bed but not sure if my needs really justify an expensive topper. I do really like the look of a Topper but being that i have a 5ft bed and im 6ft i wont be sleeping in it. I do love the outdoors though and do lots of fishing, hiking, snow shoeing, camping, and shooting, so i would need a set up that is secure and lockable. I also have a cargo basket that i could put above either the topper or cover for additional storage of bulkier items.

What were some of your guys pros and cons between the two? Any other questions i should be asking to help me decide?

thanks for any help you can provide.
Happy 2016!


New member
If you aren't regularly hauling anything tall in the bed, I would go topper. It will give you more room than a basket and cover, all of it waterproof. You can use 2x4s and plywood to make a horizontal divider as well.

I've had toppers for years. I sleep on top of the divider when camping and store gear underneath. A dirt bike fits on a hitch carrier.

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Expedition Leader
One thing you will have to come to terms with right away is bed cover and topper do not occupy the same space as security. It takes a thief a micro-second more to bust into a fiberglass or metal bed cap than it does a cloth style version of either. Security isn't even part of the equation. If its in the bed, it isn't secure, period.

With that in mind, I like the soft tops like Softopper or Bestop. I can get the advantage of taller covered space, and can fold it down within about 3 minutes if I need unobstructed space in the bed. Fiberglass covers can be painted to match which is nice, but putting one on or taking it off regularly can be a pain. You can buy a soft cover for under a $1k, which isn't going to happen for a hard cover unless you buy used.

Anyway, that's my take. I've used all 3 styles...hard caps, soft caps, and tonneau style, and for versatility I'll take the soft cap style.


Autism Family Travellers!
My 03 F150 came with one. Its very handy. I had one on my 1998 Dakota too. Great for out in the woods, and its raining...just hop in the back and enjoy dinner. I have to get the windows tinted with limo tint, and get new locks. that will deter most people.
I am debating the same thing right now for my Ranger. It has a bed cover right now that the truck came with, but it is worn out and uses buttons to fasten it down which is a pain. I haul music equipment in the back so it needs to stay relatively dry and dust free. Has anyone done a custom cap or cover?


What it really comes down to is wether you will be hauling anything bigger than the topper allows on a regular bases. Both the topers and bed covers have some advantages and disadvantages. With my truck it started out having a roll up cover. I used that for many years with success, but it was not a secure space to leave anything. Now you can get pretty secure roll up or flip up covers. It was great for hauling motorcycles and whatever else I was putting back there at the time. Once I moved I found that the cover wasn't really meeting my needs anymore. I was doing less hauling and wanted more space to keep things like camping and ski gear out of the weather. I bought a matching used topper, put some roof racks on it and haven't looked back. Its been great for me so far until my conditions change. When I need to haul my bike or large mowers Its not too hard to remove the top, but I usually end up just taking my work dump truck or trailer.

Like others have said the toppers also make a great place to hang out in inclement weather and they make good platforms to build off of (roof racks, awning mounts, etc). Soft toppers have piqued my interest before. Unfortunately they seem to be capable of filling all needs but not really good at any of them (jack of all trades, expert at none). Hope this helps!


Built, not bought!
Thanks for all the info so far everyone. Some really good points. I think the most I ever have in the bed on a consistent basis would be all my camping gear. So I guess first I will load up the bed with everything I use and see what kind of space I'm working with. I have also thought of a soft topper but for the price of those I would rather save a bit more and just go fiberglass.

Does anyone have any input on gas mileage between the two option? Is one better than the other?


I found that I got the best milage with an open bed, Next best with a roll up tonneau, and the worst with the cap. It all depends on the vehicle though. Mine only varied about 1-2 mpg with the changes of covers. I would think the cap will most likely always end up with the worst milage due to the added weight.


Wiffleball Batter
If you're a cheap SOB like me and you don't care about color matching you can often find a used topper on CL for a few hundred bucks. I've bought 3 toppers for 2 different trucks over the last 9 years and the most I ever paid was $300.
For my DD a topper was a must since my truck is a reg-cab Ranger (Mazda B2300). Not much room in the cab!


Topper....Bed Cover?

If you're a cheap SOB like me and you don't care about color matching you can often find a used topper on CL for a few hundred bucks. I've bought 3 toppers for 2 different trucks over the last 9 years and the most I ever paid was $300.
For my DD a topper was a must since my truck is a reg-cab Ranger (Mazda B2300). Not much room in the cab!
First....... Martin, your not as cheap an SOB as you say, and Second, I had a topper on my 09 Ranger and I have one on my15 F 150, much better on all counts than any soft/hard bed cover, I live in upstate NY and we get weather, good, good and bad, bad. mjmcdowell


My vote is for a contractor type metal or color matching fiberglass shell. I don't think the soft shell would survive the snow or elements as well a hard shell unit. You can install solar on top of the shell if wanted and keep gear in the back full time like I do. I spent around 2k for my shell and I regretted not spending a little more for a walk in door though.


Ive owned 4 real trucks in my life. 3 came with matching toppers when I bought them. I really like the idea of the dry and more secure storage of the topper. I had a 98 S10 ZR2 with a matching fiberglass topper. It was 6 foot so we could sleep in it and carry camping gear. When we bought our first house I would take the topper on and off for various landscaping projects. One too many trips to the gravel pit really did a number on the paint on my tailgate. I sold that truck and we bought the wife a new more family oriented Hemi Dodge Durango. I got the beloved WK jeep and decided to get a cheap 6x8 utility trailer for future projects. Sold the jeep and now I have my family truck silverado crewcab with matching fiberglass topper. I kept the trailer an i use that for tall items, gravel, rock, trash, etc. It works out better to have the huge lockable trunk under the topper and a trailer that can take a beating if needed.

I once owned a Dodge Dakota crewcab with a bakflip folding tonneu. I used yakima rails, feet and crossbars to suspend bike trays and a roof basket over the bed. The bakflip leaked and the sun really deteriorated it after a few years. If i were to go with a tonneu cover i would go with an over the rail painted or black ABS type. No leaks and more secure.

For budget's sake you could go with a black plastic hard bed cover. Paint matched bed covers are pricey. For just a little more you can get an economy topper.

The only gripe I have with my topper is it needs a rear wiper or defrost option on the back glass. Mine holds snow and ice really bad.
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ol' scott

Have you thought about a toolbox? I have a topper sitting in my garage that I don't use because it's hard for my wife and I to take off and put back on by ourselves. The tint on the windows also reduces my visibility. I was offered a tonneau for Christmas but turned it down in favor of a toolbox. Locking storage while leaving the bed available for truck uses. If I need the full length the box is relatively easy to remove, even fully loaded. It fits into the jack of all trades, master of none category.


i just went to a topper with rails from a trifold hard bed cover so I could haul kayaks while towing a camper