Ultralight foamy camper turns Toyota Tacoma into hard-roof hut
A few years ago, Colorado startup High Altitude Trailer Co launched a very different style of teardrop trailer with its arched-nose foam-core-composite XT50. This time around, the company is boosting that same construction up into the beds of midsize pickup trucks. The all-new Ultralite TB50 is a unique breed of camping topper that brings four hard walls, a fixed high roof and an above-cab bed. It delivers fully foam-insulated protection in a sub-US$15,000 package that scales in under 450 lb (204 kg).
TC Teardrops taught us it's possible to essentially drop a teardrop body inside a pickup bed, but High Altitude has instead fully reworked and reshaped its foam-infused fiberglass construction into an alcove pickup camper. In doing so, it's launched one of the market's few fixed-roof camping toppers.
The topper market, comprising light, floor-less camping shells that mount to a pickup bed's rails, using the truck bed itself as part of the interior, is dominated by pop-top models, a couple of which feature folding hard walls. The only other topper with a hard fixed roof that we can think of is AT Overland's Attera Topper, also launched this year and is pictured at the bottom of this article.
By using a fixed-roof format, High Altitude is able to deliver the fully insulated hard-wall protection some much prefer over tent fabric while keeping weight well lower than the average full-floored pickup camper. It says the Ultralite TB50 weighs in as low as 448 lb (203 kg), well under the lightest pickup campers we've covered, which weigh between 600 lb (272 kg) – for the aforementioned TC Truck Camper – and 900 lb (408 kg). The TB50 does weigh more than the lightest pop-up toppers, which come in around 250 to 300 lb (113 to 136 kg), owing largely to its larger, heavier high-roof construction and tall rear wall.
High Altitude holds weight down in part by keeping its base configuration very simple, essentially offering an empty shell with a folding alcove double-sleeper platform, interior LED lighting, 12-V roof fan and rear drive lights. Everything else, including the windows and bed mattress, is optional. The company offers a variety of add-ons, including several Overland Vehicle Systems (OVS) awning options, a drop-down OVS shower tent and custom removable side jacks.
Unlike many toppers that have a rear hatch sitting above the truck tailgate, the TB50's rear wall extends down to bed level. This means the owner will have to remove the truck tailgate, then access the RV-like entry door via an available hitch step up to the rear bumper. The roof rises 54 inches (137 cm) over the bed rails so should deliver standing height, or close to it, depending upon the height of the rails. For instance, the 2023 Toyota Tacoma has 19-inch-high (48-cm) bed rails, which would put the roof at 73 inches (185 cm), offering roughly 6 feet (182 cm) of headroom inside.
High Altitude introduced the Ultralite TB50 this summer (Northern Hemisphere) for a starting price of $14,500. It's available in a variety of colors for midsize trucks like the Toyota Tacoma, Jeep Gladiator, Ford Ranger and Chevy Colorado, and comes with seven straps for securing to the truck bed.
While the TB50 is more expensive than many toppers out there, it's also well cheaper than the typical hard-roof slide-in camper. As far as the other fixed high-roof topper we mentioned, AT Overland's 510-lb (231-kg) honeycomb-composite Aterra Topper starts at $20,500 and brings a few extra standard features, like a 3-in king-size foam mattress, four double-pane Tern Overland windows and two wall-mounted folding tables. The Aterra is currently designed only for full-size trucks with 6.5-foot or 8-foot beds, though AT plans to add smaller bed sizes in the future.