Putting a pop top roof in your campervan is one of the most transformational things you can do to a campervan. Imagine – one day you have this relatively small and cramped space, and the next you can stand up in the van and you can now sleep 4 people comfortably?!
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This is the ultimate guide to VW pop top roofs.
On the upper end of that range you’ll benefit from things like:
- Colour coding to your vehicle
- TUV and M1 crash testing approval
- Bed and mattress
- Good quality fitting by a professional company
- Panoramic/scenic canvas
- Zip airways/windows on all sides
It’s a dreamy scenario. However, the second you start considering installing a pop top in your roof the very first question that comes to mind is “what even are vw T5 pop top roof prices these days?!”. You do a little bit of research by googling something like “VW pop top roofs” and then it hits you – which bloody roof should we go for?!
Like anything, there is a huge spectrum of price and quality in the market for campervan pop top roofs. You’re cutting a hole in what is probably one of the most expensive things that you own. You need to be sure that you’re making the right decision when you’re not only dropping a few thousands pounds on a roof, but have already spent likely tens of thousands on your van.
You’re cutting a hole in what is probably one of the most expensive things that you own (your campervan). You need to be sure that you’re making the right decision…
Pop top roof manufacturers
Let’s start by listing all of the options on the market currently. As of August 2020, here is a list of all pop top roof brands that I know of:
- VW California electric roof
You can get all of these fitted in some capacity. Some are more difficult to come by than others. For instance, very few campervan converters offer VW California electric pop top roof fitting, but it is possible. Some of these brands crop up in conversation in conversation (e.g. on forums, campervan communities, etc.) far more than others.
VW pop top roof prices – full list
- Last updated: August 2020
- The price listed is the fitted price for the SWB (short wheelbase) model.
- The price is always supply and fit below, unless stated otherwise.
- The price shows is the base price, with colour coding and elevating bed listed extra if not already included in the base price.
- Price assumes a base van that does not already have a pop top fitted.
- Some roofs have more optional extras available than others (e.g. colour coding, metallic struts, scenic canvas, etc.).
Bed including mattress: £350
Scenic canvas: £150
Front zip opening window: £60
Metallic colour coding £425
Pop top frame carpeting: £250
Solar panel slim line 100w: £550
Roof bars and cross bars: £250
Child pop top bed safety net system: £89
|Pricing from Custom Camper Solutions|
|HiLo||£5,000 – £6,000||Useful thread containing prices|
Colour coding from: £250
Scenic canvas: £225
Colour coding: £399
|See link for full optional extra list|
|Reimo||£4,565 + VAT (includes scenic canvas, fitting, and deliver)|
Bed & mattress £445.83 + VAT
Factory Colour Coding £372.50 + VAT
|Pricing from Vanguard conversions|
Colour code: £650
|Skyline||£2,850 or £3,350 (Aurora)|
|Click to download Skyline price list|
Bed boards: £180
Scenic canvas: £180
Fitting is the most important thing
Let me repeat that. When buying a pop top roof, fitting is the most important thing you should care about and do your homework on. You could start with the best roof in the world, but if it’s not fitted properly, then you’re in for trouble as soon as you pick the van up.
Poorly fitted pop top roofs have a number of symptoms including:
- Water leaking into the van
- Squeaking on the joints
- Wind noise while driving at speed
- Poor safety in the event of a crash
- Rust on the van where it’s been cut open
- Failing gas struts
Coincidentally, these are also what to look for when buying a transporter campervan (especially a converted transporter).
“When buying a pop top roof, fitting is the most important thing you should care about and do your homework on“
Here is a very interesting quote from Pauly on the T6 forums talking about his experience with using a bad quality conversion company, despite choosing the best quality Reimo roof:
I have a ‘Reimo Easyfit’ poptop roof and I advise to make sure whoever is fitting whatever roof you get have been fully trained in fitting it.
My roof was fitted by a company that usually fits other poptops though (NOT ‘Reimo’). I had problems with the roof where they proved worse than useless though thankfully ‘Reimo’ are one of the best companies and on contacting them directly in Germany they arranged for the problems to be sorted in both super quick time and at no cost to me.
For info I checked out loads of converted VWT6’s with many different roofs and some, when sitting on the rear sit my head was touching the bottom of the roof which made it useless.
One thing is for sure; not all converters are the same so choose wisley!Pauly, T6forum.com
Can a pop top roof have roofbars?
Most pop tops cannot have roof bars installed on top of them. This is due to the construction and the stress that having a heavy load puts on the roof. It also requires stronger gas struts for lifting the pop top up in an assisted fashion.
As of the time of writing, here are the pop tops that can have a roof bar fitted. Note that these do not come with roof bars as standard – they’ll need to be purchased and fitted separately:
- Skyline (Eco)
Pop tops approved by Volkswagen
There isn’t a particular pop top roof that is simply approved by Volkswagen. As far as I can tell, the only semblance of approval actually comes from the conversion company you use – some of which can have an element of approval from VW. Some forums suggest that SCA roofs are approved by VW, but I can’t find any official documentation to support this from SCA or VW.
Very few of the hundreds (or thousands?) or campervan conversion companies in the UK are accredited or approved by Volkswagen directly.
The usual route to “approval” (if you can call it that) is whereby the conversion company are registered vehicle body builders. They take base vehicles with glass fitted all round and therefore do not have to make numerous other modifications, as the base vehicle is of a certain standard already.
It’s been known for VW to write a letter to some companies saying that they have no objections to them converting the van into a campervan, assuming relevant accreditations, and a minimum level of quality and experience.
Using one of these companies will mean the VW warranty isn’t voided in the case of comeback. Manufacturers find any reason to not fix things under warranty, though, so this isn’t a certainty that you’ll be able to head back to VW for every little problem coming out of your campervan. Also, remember that this only applies to relatively new vans anyway – older vans won’t be covered under warranty regardless.
Best looking pop top roof
Winner: HiLo pop tops
This is subjective depending on the side of the argument that you fall on. Some people love the look of their van because everyone can see that it does have a pop top. Others prefer the van to look no different and to be more stealthy looking.
There are only a few variations on how pop top roofs look because, lets face it, they’re quite a standard concept and there’s not really many ways to reinvent the wheel here.
In my humble opinion, and I think this is quite a widely held opinion in the campervan scene, HiLo roofs look the best.
HiLo – stealthy roofs
HiLo roofs don’t stick out at all while – in fact, you can’t even tell it’s a pop top at all as you can see below.
Compare this to most other pop top roofs and you’ll instantly see the difference. I love my Austops roof because it’s TUV approved and great quality, but there’s no denying that it stands out like a sore thumb.
Here are some photos of my Austops roof:
Here is a comparison of the HiLo vs the style of most other brands:
Panoramic pop top roof scenic canvas
Some pop tops offer an additional ‘scenic’ or ‘panoramic’ canvas option. There is where the canvas of the roof can be taken away while the roof is extended upwards, kinda like a half way between pop top and convertible roof.
Load rated pop top roof
This is only relevant for pop tops that have roof bars on.
The load rating for SCA roofs if 70kg, and for Reimo roofs it’s 35kg.
Note that the quoted load rating for pop top roofs is for while the roof is down. It is always recommended to remove the weight prior to lifted the pop top up. Failing to do so may cause the struts to fail, and in any case, would be extremely difficult with 70kg to lift (plus the weight of the roof itself).
Painting a pop top roof
Pop top roofs usually come supplied in white as this is the most common Transporter colour.
As you can see in the comparison table at the top of this page, assuming you have a standard VW colour, the average cost to colour code your pop top will be around £300-£400. It may work out cheaper if you take it to a bodyshop after having it converted, but is it really worth the hassle?
Pop top TUV approval and M1 crash testing
Not all pop tops are fully safety rated with TUV approval.
TUV are a body in Germany who inspect and certify products from a consumer safety point of view. From their website:
We have stood for quality and safety for over 145 years. Our globally recognized independent testing and certification services conducted by experienced international experts help you secure the trust of your customers and business partners. We provide you a respected and renowned test mark as well as an entry in our Certipedia online database to ensure full transparency about the quality and safety of your products.TUV website
To be TUV approved entails rigorous safety testing and costs a lot of money. Not only that, it’s also indicative of the care that the pop top manufacturer has in designing and building their roofs.
TUV pop tops are typically more expensive, but I personally think it’s worth choosing a TUV-approved roof and not scrimp on safety.
The TUV approved pop tops that I can find are:
Can I have a solar panel on a pop top roof?
Yes. Pop tops can take solar panels, but it’s always easier to have these fitted when the roof is being fitted instead of after.
You can expect to pay £400-£800 to get a solar panel fitted on to your pop top.
Austops offer a slimline 100w panel for £500 including fitting.
Awning rail on a pop top roof
There are a few solutions you can try before committing to an awning rail, but ultimately they are the best. Many people don’t find a magnetic strip strong another, and suckers have a tendency to pop off when any pressure is exerted (e.g. windy nights).
You can have an awning rail fitted to a T5 with a pop top roof.
Depending on your existing roof and which awning rail you go for, you’ll probably need to spend £200-£400 for a rail.
My van came with the Reimo multirail already fitted and it does a great job – I’m really happy with it.