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RV Slide out topper can work great to protect your RVs slide out. People who are just starting out with RV camping or who have never used the topper do have this question. How does a slide out topper help? and should i get one for my RV?
If your RV didn’t come with it then its obvious you have this question. RV veterans talk about toppers in both ways (in favor for using it and not using as well). Lets find out their pros, cons and whether they are worth it or not.
What Is Slide Out topper
I am sure you already know what it is and that is why you are here. Or, that cover like thing came with your RV or TT and you don’t know what it does. Whatever the reason, lets quickly check on what a slide out topper is and then cover their benefits, whether it is good and should you use it.
Slide toppers are different than awnings. Many new RV owner are confused about the two. Awning is something that you extend and get some shade at a campground or while boondocking. Slide out topper on the other hand is used to cover the top of the slide of the RV or travel trailer.
Once the slide is extended you just have to install it at the top. It stays there as long as you are camping with the slide-out extended and open. And obviously, you have to take it out once you are ready to pack and leave.
If you are very new in RV camping, then it may seem like a unnecessary extra accessories and cost to you.
If you were to ask this to bunch of veteran Rvers, you will get both the answers. Some will say it is an added thing that does nothing much. Other will explain you how they had to face a stuck slide out because of not having the slide topper. Stuck slide-out without a topper? What? Hang on!
I have all the details you are looking for, have spoken to probably dozens of RV veterans, plus my own take on this.
Are they necessary?
RV slide out topper are not necessary, but having one can be an added security to protect your slide out. Its not that your slide out will get stuck and go bad if the topper was not there. Having a topper gives you that extra protection.
A slide out topper keeps the debris away from slide top. It avoids the chances of rain water sipping in and causing water damage inside the RV. Topper acts as a barrier between all the outer elements like pine cones, needles and leaves or tree debris.
This may sound like an exaggeration, but you will realize this only if you go camping with lots of trees, dust or dirt around. Boondocking will make your RV exteriors go dirty over a period of time.
A 2-3 days of camping and you have an RV roof, slide out that will have lots of dust and dirt sticking to it.
Its not only about dirt, debris there’s lot more to it. Read on to find out complete details, stories on benefits of having a slide out topper.
Slide out Topper benefits
Now that we have seen some basics, lets dive into all the details or benefits of using a slide out topper.
Going through each for these will definitely make you aware of and answer the question on whether or not you should be using a slide out topper. Lets start.
1. Keeps the slide out debri free
We already saw on this point above. Leaves, dust and all kinds of dirt can gather over a period of time on the top of your RV slide. Since a slide wont be remaining extended forever you are supposed to remove that debris from it before retracting it.
When you are out there in a national park or any dry camping location or a isolated boondocking location chances are that there will be wind and leaves or debris sticking at the top. When you do spend that much time at a location, this will happen.
Camping locations are surrounded by trees and all sorts of elements so you have to expect this.
So, if you don’t have topper you will have to remove the debris every time before retracting it. Keeping the debris or leaves or any particles on slide as it is can be turn out to be your nightmare.
2. Prevents Water from leaking
The seals on the slide may be good enough to prevent water sipping in, but an added extra protection can make it better.
Water leaking inside the RV can be a nightmare and you should do all that can prevent it. If you happen to camp during rainy or snow time, having a topper will add that extra layer to keep the water away.
You can then remove the water from the cover once you are ready to go.
3. Protects Slide out against the UV
A lot has been talked about invisible UV radiations. It does affect the RV exteriors, specially the tires and roofs. Slide out are no different.
The seals, paint and exterior can get affected and having the slide out topper can be helpful. Not to mention the heat it will keep away. UV does impact the RV Exteriors and over a long period of time you can see discoloration and the functioning can also get impacted.
Its better to count this advantage, you see a lot of people cover their tires and it does protect, so why not slide outs.
A lot of full time RVers do stress on this point and i feel its valid. Summers are obviously more harsh and having the topper will do more good than bad.
4. No more stuck slide outs
You will not appreciate the usefulness of topper until you have a slide out that gets stuck due to a fallen tree leaves or other elements. If you camp day-in and day-out and keep changing the locations then you may get tired of cleaning the slide out top.
I used to think, what it will take to get the slide out stuck. Will a dirt or dust or tree leaves get your slide stuck ?
It may sound silly but when you camp longer, things can come and sit on your slide-out top, you never know. And in case you forget to get it cleaned, there are a good chances that slide will malfunction and even get stuck.
And, then comes a day when you miss it at the top and the slide out stops operating. This has happened to many, and you defiantly don’t want it to happen to you.
Yes, getting at the top and clearing the slide out can be easy but you may get tired of doing it and it will lead to malfunctioning of the slide out.
Unless you are a hard camper and do things exactly as per your checklist without any exception, you will not need a topper to keep all things away. While the Slide out is retracting it will take few bigger element to get it stuck and the whole camping trip will be spoiled.
5. No extra efforts of climbing and cleaning the slide top
I cant tell you how i feel when i have to pack and go back. You are refreshed when you start the setup but not many of us are excited to pack things up. While leaving and packing the RV, you have to follow a checklist and that should include clearing the slide out top (even with slide out topper).
With topper you just have to take it out and your job is done. But, without topper you have to get at the top using a ladder and clear it thoroughly. You have to mkae sure its all clear and the slide wont stuck due to bigger elemennts.
With topper, you just reduce one activity when you just want to wrap up and leave. You will have peace of mind and reduced efforts with the slide out topper. And you also don’t want a broken leg or hand when you climb hurriedly.
An early morning wrapping up can be crazy and you can mess up everything. Also, a lot of people think that the topper costs so much and you can just climb up clear it up, it hardly takes few minutes. It does, but you have to be consistent.
At times, it makes sense to not have it, provided you are a once in a month camping guy. A hundred to few hundred cost of a topper can be justified if you camp that often. Or if you go tit with your travel then that’s a better thing.
6. Increases the slide out life
Slide out do require good maintenance. Any mechanical item which has friction and movement need to be maintained. Slide out need to be lubricated regularly. Apart from such maintenance you also need to protect it.
And when it comes to protection you have to make sure its free of any obstruction when closing and opening. By covering at the top using topper you are giving it one less chance to stuck and obstruct. So, you are indirectly increasing its life.
Make sure the topper that you get fits properly and hangs a little extra on the outside. There are lots of custom slide out topper making companies that you can reach out to. Check with the dealer or repair chop and you will redirect to them.
The second thin is it protects from direct sunlight and UV making it stay put longer. Sun light can really affect the RV paint and exteriors so covering as much makes sense.
7. Extra insulation – keeps the interior cooler and warmer
When you have that slide out extended you are making space to live inside it. So, a topper at the top will be acting as an extra insulation during summer as well as winter. Specially during high temperatures it can really make the difference.
Even with good AC at times you can really feel the heat. The Roof top/slide top can really get hot and you definitely want that extra covering. Have even seen people trying to cover the RV roofs to avoid that extra heat.
Slide out top can really absorb the heat and make it very hot inside. The topper also comes in multi colors like white and other light colors. Choosing a color like while can make sense as it will reflect heat.
Similarly while in winter, i cant stress about the importance of insulation. With snow and negative degrees you will thank yourself for having that extra topper insulation.
After going through so many benefits we should be able answer the question now. Are RV slide topper worth it?
They are totally worth the money as they help protecting the slide-out by keeping the dirt and debris away thereby protecting the slide out from getting stuck. Slide out topper also help in increasing its overall life.
Why many RVers don’t bother to Use Slide out topper
Sure, we did see lot of benefits of slide out topper and yet people will say they don’t need it. They will never use it. And probably they are right for their own.
Many RV veterans say they have been camping in RV for years and never thought of using the topper.
The main reason why people don’t use them is because they never face the problems like the one’s we discussed above. Their RV never came with a topper and they just camped without it and never felt the need.
You too can camp without topper and see how it goes. And then you too may say the same. It all depends on how things go for you. Unless you have a costly RV and you don’t want to mess it up, its better to go with it straight now.
Some people also complain of extra effort of using it. They proper climbing up an clearing the top that may take few minutes. Some RVers also say that they never see much dirt or debris up there and it makes no sense to spend 200 to 400 dollars on a topper.
That’s an extra item to store as well.
Other reason why people avoid it is due to flapping of the topper. In areas where the wind is high it can be a problem. But for most of us, its just one thing that we can ignore or will never face. But, people who complain about it will be in areas that are too windy and flapping is too much.
Now that we have gone through all the pros and cons of using slide out topper, you have it up to yourself to decide.
Some common questions on RV Slide out Topper
Do RV’s or travel trailers come with slide out topper?
Yes, some RVs and TT’s do come with slide out topper but not all will be equipped. In this case, you can buy one and get it installed. Be sure to get the right size and buy from a reputed manufacturer to avoid early failure.
How much do they cost?
They cost anything between $150 to $550. Some of the bigger players in the market include lippert, dometic, and carefree. You should look at the overall quality, material durability before getting the topper.
Are slide toppers waterproof?
Most of them will be water resistance but eventually all will depend on the quality of the topper. The fabric used will not absorb much water as otherwise it will make things difficult.
But yes, it all depends on the quality of the topper. Installing the topper can be done easily. You may take extra time first time but you should be okay later on. The manufacturer will have step by step instruction on manual.
Having gone through almost every question about RV slide put topper, i am sure you have the answers now. If you got the topper with the travel trailer then go ahead and use it. Getting the topper for your new or even used RV is upto you. To protect a high cost RV i would definitely go ahead and get one to protect its slide out.