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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm at the point of what to do with my F150. I'm wondering whether I should invest in it further or simply go back to an SUV since I really need more closed in storage space. It's a regular cab and open bed. It just doesn't have enough closed in, lockable storage space to protect things from the elements and thieves. Either I top it or get rid of it. It's a older 90's F150 with a 302 V8 and auto trans. It's a fun truck and I like these years a lot. For long term prep aspects it's easy to work on and there are tons of parts for them and other trucks out there still. It's pretty fast and tough. I don't tow anything really heavy and it covers that fine.

Truck Caps, Toppers and Camper Shells by LEER

:?
 

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In my opinion truck bed shells are not secure. I think you might could find one that is more secure than average I do not know. I regret buying my crew cab Silverado. I had a GMC Jimmy but did not like the changes GM made to the style. I think a SUV and a utility trailer is functionally the best setup. That is what I'll do when I buy again.
 

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They aren't terribly secure - but what car is? As stated a rock or hammer opens either up just as easily as the other, although a lot of the toppers I've seen might be easier to 'quietly' pry open without having to full on smash a window. But my .02 - if they are confident enough and willing to smash it with a hammer or pry it with a bar then they will get into either one. Just make sure it's locked and the security would be 90%+ the same.

And as far as SUV vs. truck - we currently have an SUV and I'm thinking about getting a truck... In my experience an SUV doesn't have nearly as much 'usable' space due to it being filled up with seats, bags and other 'household' items that slowly migrate in. I also don't want to have to haul a load of firewood in it either.
 

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I've heard it said that locks only keep honest people out, meaning of course, if someone wants in bad enough..... Also as Rick wrote, once you get where you are going having a truck will be a very handy thing, assuming you can get fuel of course.
 

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I've had both.. pros and cons for both.. Topper is not as secure as a suv but the topper can be made more secure then they are. I prefer a pickup with a topper over a suv, fuel smell stays outta the cab. Usually trucks can haul more just due to the useful space in a box. 8 foot bed with topper is a decent place to sleep if need be. Then if you get to your space where you are staying its easy to use the topper as a top to a small hut.. As for a trailer.. I have used em in snow, They suck if you have to back up in more then 8 inches of snow..
 

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Leer makes the best quality topper in their business (I used to work with them all). BUT, unless you get an aluminum "commercial" model, any 10 year old kid can pop open the rear window / gate in about 5 seconds. I'm not saying how on the internet. But believe me, anybody who wants something out of your topper WILL easily get it.

I STRONGLY recommend an aluminum tool box. Most come with kits to clamp them down to the bed of the truck from inside the box, and the best thing of all is if you get the polished aluminum ones they stay cool inside! Toppers get hotter than hell inside! And inevitably EVERYTHING you put in there (even with LineX or Rhino liner) will slide to the front of the bed so you have to crawl all the way in to get it (PITA!). If you open an aluminum tool box on a hot day you'll think it had been air conditioned inside.
 

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I would recommend an aluminum topper.they are light and two people can take them on and off where alot of the fiberglass one are very heavy.if you have more than a couple of friends to help at the time go with fiberglass.as far as storage,there are alot of companies that make work toppers and service boxes that mount in the bed and have slide out drawers to access your goods.I saw one in a local sherriffs pickup to store issue long guns and they had a topper too and it was super secure so, that may be something to look into.at the least,I would buy a jobbox or something simular from one of the big box stores in a size that suits you to put at the front of the bed and bolt it down with at least 4 grade 8 bolts with nuts and flat washers then tack weld the threads so no one could take it out short of having a torch or plasma cutter then,put the best padlocks you can find on it. it may not stop someone from getting in it but it would sure slow them down and make alot of noise.
 

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I have owned and driven pickups for 40 years, and every one I put a topper on. It keeps your cargo dry. As noted above they are not terribly secure.
I have always had aluminum ones, until I bought my last truck - GMC Sierra 1500 Crew Cab. I put a Leer on it and the glass came from the Leer factory with a very dark tint. This helps keep a casual glance from revealing what's in there. It wasn't cheap, over $1000 installed. If you can afford it I recomment the Leer over any aluminum one.
For me an SUV wasn't an option, I occasionally need to haul bales of hay. That stuff gets everywhere.
I've alway been a Ford man so I can appreciate your feelings for the F-150. Right now my '88 F-150 is laid up with a worn out 302 V-8. I need to pull and rebuild the motor (that is relaxation therapy for me) and since it's a 5 speed manual she's going to get off the computer and get a Crane cam, Holley 4 barrel and some headers.
 
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I had an aluminum topper for years, and as said before they are not secure. A bolt in lockable box for those things you can't afford to lose is a must. If you ever see a need to sleep In it, having the means to be up off the truck bed is a must especially in cold weather. Other than limiting height they are great for keeping the weather out of the truck bed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I have owned and driven pickups for 40 years, and every one I put a topper on. It keeps your cargo dry. As noted above they are not terribly secure.
I have always had aluminum ones, until I bought my last truck - GMC Sierra 1500 Crew Cab. I put a Leer on it and the glass came from the Leer factory with a very dark tint. This helps keep a casual glance from revealing what's in there. It wasn't cheap, over $1000 installed. If you can afford it I recomment the Leer over any aluminum one.
For me an SUV wasn't an option, I occasionally need to haul bales of hay. That stuff gets everywhere.
I've alway been a Ford man so I can appreciate your feelings for the F-150. Right now my '88 F-150 is laid up with a worn out 302 V-8. I need to pull and rebuild the motor (that is relaxation therapy for me) and since it's a 5 speed manual she's going to get off the computer and get a Crane cam, Holley 4 barrel and some headers.
How I'd love an older 70's to early 80's F100 or F150 without the computer. It's what I was looking to do a while back and get away from the PCM's and all the sensors.

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It's hard for me to think about being without a pickup. This is my 4th and 2nd 92 F150 with a 5.0L 302 V8 in it. The toppers do seem to give a lot more room for stuff, but I know the real old one I had on a F100 way back wasn't very secure. You'd think they'd improve things by now. I had consider the tonneau covers but LEER doesn't seem to make one for my model and year and my search so far only comes up with soft top versions and that's not secure at all. If someone can't see in though, the less apt they are to want to bother I think.
 

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I think alot depends on where you live. Recently I traded in a 1996 F150 4X4 with a topper for a compact SUV. Truck had a topper & before the Ford had a compact Toyota 4X4 with a topper. Advantage to any SUV is entire compartment is heated or cooled.
 

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How I'd love an older 70's to early 80's F100 or F150 without the computer. It's what I was looking to do a while back and get away from the PCM's and all the sensors.

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It's hard for me to think about being without a pickup. This is my 4th and 2nd 92 F150 with a 5.0L 302 V8 in it. The toppers do seem to give a lot more room for stuff, but I know the real old one I had on a F100 way back wasn't very secure. You'd think they'd improve things by now. I had consider the tonneau covers but LEER doesn't seem to make one for my model and year and my search so far only comes up with soft top versions and that's not secure at all. If someone can't see in though, the less apt they are to want to bother I think.
Here in Florida we have no emissions inspection or mechanical inspection so it's easy, if you have an old school small block V-8 Chevy or Ford to put an aftermarket distributor and a carburetor on. There are all sorts of off road and racing engine parts available. And with a manual transmission you can put in a nice lumpy cam and not worry about needing to match it with a torque convertor on an auto trans. And no O2 sensor to have to install in exhaust headers.
My first pickup was a 1974 F-100 that cost $3600 brand new. But of course, that would probably be $25,000 in today's dollars.
 
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Here in Florida we have no emissions inspection or mechanical inspection so it's easy, if you have an old school small block V-8 Chevy or Ford to put an aftermarket distributor and a carburetor on. There are all sorts of off road and racing engine parts available. And with a manual transmission you can put in a nice lumpy cam and not worry about needing to match it with a torque convertor on an auto trans. And no O2 sensor to have to install in exhaust headers.
My first pickup was a 1974 F-100 that cost $3600 brand new. But of course, that would probably be $25,000 in today's dollars.
No emissions controls in Michigan either.I originally built this 86 f-250 in western Washington.got it with a 6.9 diesel that had a hole thru the block.now its got a 466 LIMA engine,with a c-6 auto so the wife can drive it and a host of accessories like dual batteries, better springs,10,000 lb winch,limited slip in the rear and on board air system.its carbed and the only electronics is the easily acquired blue tab control module oh,and the radio too.It has an aluminum topper we got for free so, we gave away the 400 lb(?)fiberglass original ford topper that took four people to put on. in winter we drop it on since I dont like to drive around with a ton of ice in it .we have had it for 15 years and its part of the family.
 

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I had a Leer camper shell on my '00 Silverado Z85 4x4 that had double latches (one per side). It was color matched by Leer when I ordered it, and I loved it. People used to think my truck was a Suburban, it matched the body lines so well.

I had the truck bed sprayed with Rhino liner, and the camper shell protected it from UV sun damage - it always looked brand new. I also owned a Tahoe (wife's ride) but the truck was much more utilitarian. I could haul my dogs in the back (screen windows in full-length sliders) and I had a sliding rear window so I could induce cold air conditioning to the dogs on hot days, which they really enjoyed.

My wife and I, and three German Shepherds, could all sleep inside if the weather got bad; otherwise, the dogs slept by the truck, and we used to camp anywhere with that setup.

Secure? Heck no - what car or truck is?

I used Rubbermaid's excellent Action Packers (latchable and lockable) to carry gear, food, guns & ammo, fishing poles, tents, etc., and you can remove them once you get home, or to your destination. They keep your belongings out of sight, and if you have a locking tailgate, the large ones cannot be yanked out the tailgate glass or side windows, so it does deter thieves. My truck never got broken into, but a lot of effort to park smart and empty the bed at night helped with that, I'm sure.

The Rhino liner was great - haul the nasty stuff, or if the dogs had a little, ahem, accident, then just hose the bed out on a slight slope, wash it down with a brush and car wash soap, and you are good as new.

Tow a trailer and even better, pitch a tent and it rains - truck is instant weatherproof shelter.

Take it hunting or fishing, sleep in it, and greet the sunrise ready to go....

To me, a good truck with a quality camper shell/cap is a superb bug-out vehicle.

Get the Leer and rock on!
 

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Either can easily be broken into if someone is so motivated. I work security so that's not even a debatable issue. There aint much difference in the two. If there are goodies in either that are visable to the passer by, then your a easy target. The only real difference I see is the amount of damage that will be done and the cost that will be associated with repairing it. Repairing a Truck Shell is generally easier and cheaper than what it will cost to fix your SUV.

I completely agree with Verteidiger and thinks he makes a great case for the truck with a camper shell. You already have the truck, you seem to be pretty happy with it so Id would stick with what your happy with. Just add a shell to it. The only real suggestion I would make is that I would buy some plywood and break out the wood working tools and make some storage boxes on the sides that come out even with the wheel wells that have locking hasp on them. I would also build a shallow deck on the floor bed of the truck for additional out of sight storage space and cover with carpet. In addition to lots of additional locking storage space that if built modually is that it can be lifted out once you get to your location and need to haul something in the bed with the shell removed. In the meantime you have a lot of storage space and if you need to sleep in there a insulated bed to throw your sleeping bag on so you can sleep sheltered from the elements. The other thing I have seen done with camper shells that have been removed is that I have seen folks build truck bed sized structures about 4-5ft high and then taken the shell off their truck and put it on the structure to create a instant shelter or storage shed roof at a site! Being the red neck that I am I have bought a couple of dirt cheap camper shells that were rode hard and put away wet for pennies on the dollar and made a quick chicken coop hen houses with them or a storage building at a deer lease to hold bags of corn and other stuff so we didn't have to pack everything in every time we went to the lease. Just some things to think about in the equation...

I currently have a very nice 1989 Chevy sitting in my drive way that's no longer a daily driver that is being used as a back up vehicle if my current ride goes in the shop for a few days or more. Guess what? Its about to get a shell thrown on top of it and out fitted just as I mentioned above even though it has a 5th wheel hitch mounting in the bed since I still occasionally have to tow a 5th wheel trailer. A six pack of beer and I can easily get a neighbor to give me a hand lifting off the shell or putting it back on when I am done towing on the rare occasion I still have to tow. If I have to bug out...it will be simply a question of grabbing my back pack and tossing it in and driving a way. That would take what...all of about 3 minutes to do? Not only do I have all my gear in my BOB but I have a ton of extra stuff too that will make the going much easier and further more I don't have to hump it all! Take the shell off and empty the storage boxes out of the bed and now I have a utility vehicle at my bug out location to preform yeoman duty with. Try that hat trick with a SUV...
 

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I had an sheet metal Leer on the back of a Ford Ranger once. The nozzle / handle assembly on my rather large fire extinguisher came off one day (HOT DAY) and it turned the tank into an unsecured missle. That thing ricocheted all over the inside of that bed/camper area. Aside from knocking some insulation loose and coating everything with fine yellow powder - no damage.

Then later I rolled that truck in a bar ditch and the camper shell held together after sliding around upside down on it.

So yeah - I think they are pretty secure.
 
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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
You guys make good sense on a lot of points. I'll keep the truck for now and put a topper on it. After selling the other 92 F150 and missing it is why I bought this one. I'd probably miss it again if I didn't buy another F150 or F100 to take it's place. Which is probably what I'll do in time, because I want an older carbureted one, but this is a good truck still. I'll just have to watch what I put in the rear and watch it like a hawk. I slept in the old one way back camping and it is convenient and roomy for it. I did sleep on top of my gear once on a long trip back from out west in my old Cherokee, but it wasn't what you'd call roomy. I stopped late into the night trying to drive all night through to make it back, but was getting too tired. No one messed with me at the rest stop I took a quick nap at, but I could have just been lucky or they didn't want to risk their luck with the large guy sleeping on top his gear, with 82nd Airborne stickers on his Jeep and a 9mm pistol by his hand. Who knows, but it was what I needed and I woke up refreshed and thirsty for coffee and a cigar. Thanks guys. :smile:
 

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I would agree, locks only keep honest people honest. I have a f-150 and have looked around for a topper too. I would preferably go with aluminum because of the lighter weight and ability to get it on or off by myself. My dad has one and used window frost spray on the windows so people cant see what's inside of it.
 
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I have a topper on my Ram. It was a pain to get things from up front UNTIL I picked up a BedSlide. (google it) It bolts to the bed and slides out like a tray. Mine has 2" high sides on it with holes to run bungies or ratchet straps from one side to the other to hold down cargo. It slides out about 3/4 of the way to reach stuff up front. The tray is removable if you want to. It just leavers the rails. I never have, though.
There are several brands out there now. Definitely worth the investment.
I guess if you were talented enough you could build your own.
 
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Any kind of topper or cap or whatever makes it a not-pickup truck, IMO, you might as well be driving a freakin mini-van. One of the main benefits of having a truck is that you can haul bigger items like refrigerators or whatever. If you can't load it with a forklift, front end loader, or overhead crane, it gets real hard to load with a cap and taking a cover on and off is a pain in the ass.

The beefy diamond plate toolboxes give you some additional lockable storage while keeping the benefits of having a pickup in the first place.
 
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