Going up the ladder to check whether the roof of your RV slideout has twigs or leaves is a chore that many people do not look forward to doing. An RV topper is a vinyl fabric sheet attached to a reel and connected to the camper’s roof. It automatically extends and retracts and is sometimes attached to the slideout.
RV toppers are worth it because they offer protection against falling leaves, twigs, and bird droppings. They also protect the slide out from water and sun damage. RV toppers are fairly priced and provide shade against the scorching sun if you want to sit outside.
RV toppers are quite handy because you no longer have to worry about where you park your RV out of fear of the dirt and debris likely to collect on the slideout. This article will discuss RV toppers further, what they are, their benefits, and the drawbacks.
What Is an RV Slide Topper?
This YouTube video shows RV slide toppers, what they are and their importance:
When buying accessories for your RV, one of the items you need to consider is the RV slide topper, also known as a slideout awning. The dirt easily collects on the roof since you repeatedly extend and retract the slideout. Unless you keep sweeping and cleaning the roof, the dirt will eventually ruin your RV, costing you more in maintenance.
An RV slide topper is a vinyl sheet that covers the slideout roof. It is connected to a reel that automatically opens and retracts whenever you operate your RV slideout room. It works as a protective cover to keep rain, snow, and debris from coming into your rig.
The RV slide topper will not only keep the leaves, branches, and bird droppings from your RV, it will also protect your RV from long-term water and stain damage. You have much to gain from RV slide toppers, making them an essential accessory for RVs.
This Tentproinc RV Awning has a solid fabric that will provide a shade when you want to sit outside with your family. It extends to a limit of 50 inches (1.27m), and can be used as a permanent cover for the slideout. It comes with mounting brackets and awning rails.
Benefits to an RV Slide Topper
What makes one RV stand out from the rest is the accessories, gadgets, and add-ons. The RV slide topper is undoubtedly one of the accessories you should have. Getting one will add more value to your RV.
It Protects the RV Slide Out From Falling Debris
The RV slideout roof is exposed to all kinds of debris, depending on where you park the RV. If you are under a tree, there is always the risk of branches and twigs falling on the roof. As they hit the roof, the branches can cause dents, ultimately making the RV unsightly.
Sometimes the leaves may leave stains when not cleaned out immediately. Sometimes this is not possible because you cannot spend every spare moment cleaning the slideout roof. Instead, the debris rolls off the RV topper or can easily be swept off.
Besides protecting the slideout roof, the topper keeps debris from getting into the hinges and seals of the slideout. Additionally, if you are caught in a rainstorm, you need not worry about leaves getting plastered all over the slide roof.
Prevents Water Infiltration
When RVing during winter, the snow that collects on the slideout roof will leak into the RV. Likewise, when retracting the slideout room after a downpour, the water will infiltrate your camper. Unfortunately, this water will corrode parts of the RV or damage other RV parts.
The water will also damage items in the RV if they leak through the seals, especially during the rainy season. The RV will also be damp, making your stay in your RV uncomfortable. Unfortunately, sometimes leaving the slideout retracted is not an option, especially if you need extra space, irrespective of the weather conditions.
It Helps To Keep the Slideout Room Cooler
The slideout room can be quite uncomfortable on a hot day. Its small size and exposed rooftop trap heat, and with minimal ventilation, this room can be quite hot. The RV topper prevents direct UV rays from heating the roof, so an RV with a topper will be cooler than one without.
However, if you are worried about the heat, you should go for a white RV topper. It reflects the sun, so it does not absorb as much heat as the black topper. Planning ahead when it comes to purchasing a topper is essential so that you don’t run into any inconvenient weather troubles.
It Automatically Extends and Retracts With Your Slideout
The RV slideout topper is fitted in the joints of the slideout, so when you retract or extend the slideout, the topper automatically moves with it. Since it is also easy to install, you will not be taking on extra work when you get one.
This will make your life much easier, and does not require you to do anything extra when you retract or extend the slideout. This also prevents the topper from damage, since it moves with another part of the RV.
Additionally, if the weather is particularly bad, you won’t have to leave your RV in order to retract the slideout. Using a remote control, you can retract it from inside of the van.
It Saves You Cleaning Time
The RV slideout topper will save you the time you would have spent cleaning the slideout roof, especially if you often do it when retracting the room. Most RV slideout toppers are made of vinyl, which is easy to clean.
Sometimes, the debris slides off the roof as soon as they fall on a topper fixed at an angle that allows light debris, like leaves and twigs, to slide off.
You can use the Camco RV Wash Brush to sweep debris from the RV topper. Some of the features include rubber corners and a locking head to keep the broom from spinning as you clean the awning.
The handle adjusts to a maximum length of 71 inches (1.80m) from 43 inches (1.09m). You can also attach a standard garden hose and use an on/off button to control the water coming through the brush head.
Drawbacks to an RV Slide Topper
The RV slide topper, unfortunately, is not without its drawbacks. Before buying one, despite its numerous benefits, you need to consider the drawbacks. Some people choose not to have RV toppers because it does have its disadvantages, especially in bad weather conditions.
Snow May Build Up on the Slide out Roof
When RVing during winter, the slideout roof can easily be a problem because of snow buildup. It could cause an issue if the slideout is left extended for some time. The snow will collect on the RV topper and fall off when the slideout is retracted.
Additionally, if snow builds up on the slide topper, you may find it will weaken it over time. This may cause damage in the long run and it may end up breaking if you do not regularly clean it. Maintenance is key with an RV slide topper, so bear this in mind when going out in snowy weather conditions.
The RV Slide Topper Tears Easily When It Is Windy
While the RV slide topper offers protection from the sun and rain, it is not so lucky against the wind. When it gets too windy and the RV topper is not retracted, it will tear.
If you are a boondocker, you are likely to experience windy conditions out in the wild. In this case, you probably shouldn’t use a slide topper. However, if the RV parks you visit have trees to act as windbreakers, you can easily use a slide topper without worrying about it tearing.
Should the RV topper tear, this video is a guide on how to replace the fabric:
It Flaps When It Is Windy
The other downside of the RV slide topper is it tends to flap when it is winder. Whether you are using the slide topper independent of the slideout or over the slideout, it will flap. The sounds can be really loud on a windy night, especially when accompanied by a shaking trailer.
You can use de-flapper clamps to stop the flapping. They will prevent tearing on breezy days. However, they may not be helpful during high winds. A stabilizer kit may be more effective when it is extremely windy.
These Camco Awning De-Flapper Max protect RV toppers from rips and tears, as well as noisy flapping. The wide grippers leave no marks and are a universal fit for awnings of different sizes and brands. It secures the straps with hook and loop fasteners that are easy to use. They are rust proof, chemical resistant, and durable.
It Collects Water During Heavy Rains
If the RV topper is not angled to allow water to roll off, it will collect and form a puddle at the center. Even when installed correctly, the topper will loosen and slump in the middle.
If your RV topper collects water, you need to find ways to get rid of the water. You can either do this by retracting it or using a long brush to push it off the topper.
Should you ignore the water, especially if you have no intention of leaving your current location, the water will weaken the topper. The result will be flapping, mold growth, and possible damage to the awning.
Difficulty Cleaning the Slide out Roof
An RV topper attached to the slideout makes cleaning of the roof difficult. This is mainly because the topper is attached to the slideout. When you extend the slideout, the topper opens automatically. Likewise, when you retract it, the topper closes.
If you have to clean the slideout roof, you have to remove the topper, which is sometimes an inconvenience. Unfortunately, awnings get moldy easily, especially underneath, and this will naturally ruin the slideout roof.
Schedule regular cleaning of your entire RV, including the topper and the slideout roof. Your RV will serve you for a long time if you do not worry about water and mold damage.