GetFlated Air Topper For 3rd Gen (2022+) Tundra: Lightweight, Inflatable & Easily Removable Camper Shell Truck Cap
I’ve gone truck-bed camping since I was a child, and I love it. The ability to ride out to literally any spot and setup camp quickly and with minimal footprint is truly one of life’s enjoyments. That’s why toppers are often called “camper shells” or “truck caps”. Over the years, I’ve used pretty much every brand of hardshell topper. Each has its pros and cons.
One problem, though, that all hardshell toppers have is their semi-permanence on your truck. They’re heavy, often requiring two or more people to install and remove. They’re bulky, taking up tons of space in a garage. These issues make actually using them cumbersome. Often when not in use, they just become left out in people’s yards on blocks. And, at least for myself, a semi-permanent topper isn’t feasible with my daily applications for work where I carry items taller than the camper shell roof.
Fortunately, Flated has a super great product to solve these issues: their Air Topper is an inflatable camper shell that blows up quickly, sets up easily with just one person, and can stow away in any closet. T
o give you an idea: the Air Topper gives me as much interior space as an ARE MX, yet is so light I can lift it even after a good shoulder workout, and it stuffs into a should-strap bag about as large as a 65L backpack. It’s also extremely tough, solidly put together, and has nearly all of the features and capabilities of regular hard shell toppers.
When I heard about the Air Topper, I reached out to Flated to learn more about their company. They are based in Missoula, Montana, a fun city situated in one of the most beautiful mountain valleys in America. I’ve taken many trips in and around the Bitterroot Valley. Definitely recommended! The crew was very responsive and excited to answer my questions about how they developed, designed, and intended their toppers to be used.
They’re really a great group of people. Whenever you buy a product, you’re really entering into a relationship with people. So, I was excited to put my hands on Flated’s Air Topper and then ride out to some trails, hills, and even to the beach to make some memories with it.
Find It Online
- Flated Air Topper: Check Price
Flated Air Topper For Tundra
Table of Contents
In The Box
First impressions start before even opening, and right away I’m glad the box comes with extra strapping and internal ridges to keep the contents from damage. Although package weighs about 80 lbs., mine arrived in pretty sound condition.
Be sure to check that outside white panel to ensure you get the right model and size for your application. For short bed Tundras, you should have the “Full Size, Short Bed” model.
From left to right: The kit comes with a stout pump with a nice pressure gauge, a repair kit (orange tube) with seven straps (three for each side and one for the tailgate), three tinted hook-and-loop windows, one clear hook-and-loop window, and the inflatable topper itself. The topper comes in a double should-strap carrying bag that’s adjustable – so when you go to fold it back up and it doesn’t quite fit as it did from the factory, there’s still plenty of room to adjust.
Step 1. Unpack & Organize
The first thing to do is unpack and roll out the tent and windows. This allows the sun to soften them up for install.
Next, lay the topper flat on a soft surface as seen above. The material from which the topper is made is highly abrasion resistant. Even so, you want to take every precaution.
Step 2. Inflate Topper
Next, locate the inflation ports (four total). Flated recommends 5-8 PSI, which you can measure from the black “Flated” air pump (center above).
As an aside, I appreciated the attention to detail in manufacturing as seen in the spring-loaded air ports. Once you reach the desired air pressure, simply twist-release of the pump’s hose and the pressure valve holds fast. The gray plug is meant to protect the pressure valve, not keep air in. The valve does all the work. Very nice!
The air pressure pushes out the topper to its proper form, and now it is ready to be installed. I tried to use an aftermarket electric pump but the fitting won’t adapt to the proprietary valve stem. If you find another way to use an aftermarket electric pump, please reply in the comments. I believeFlated sells their own as an add-on to the normal kit.
Step 3. Place Topper On Bed
Seriously, just pick it up and put it on your truck’s bed rails. I needed no help doing this. I actually had my wife try, just to see if she could, and she had no problem picking it up and putting it on my lifted truck. This really is so great. As I mentioned above, one of my problems with hard shells is modularity – the ability to adapt quickly to changing applications. This topper incentivizes me make use of it more often. More adventures!
I have to say that holding this thing, while light weight, also feels extremely solid. Like a complete unit tank. The inflatable areas turn into stiff walls and a hard roof. The whole topper itself holds well together once inflated.
Tip: Don’t cinch it down until you install the windows. The front window needs to be installed from the outside, and this cannot be done if the Air Topper is already locked down tight.
Above you can see the rear profile and volume that we’re working with. As I said above, the interior is really tall. It feels like being inside an extended roof hard shell camper. The exact internal dimensions from my own measurements are as follows:
- 46″ high from truck bed floor to topper ceiling
- 53″ wide side-to-side at the topper ceiling
- 63″ wide side-to-side at the topper mid (level with bed rails)
- 67″ long topper front to rear
You can also see the rear window rolled up and secured with hook-and-loop strips. Really nice. It zips back down as well. Speaking of windows, let’s get them installed now.
Step 4. Install Windows
The windows should be warmed up and pliable enough now to install. Grab them and pull them tight as you compress the hook-and-loop surfaces. I have to say here that I also appreciate the waterproof flaps over the front and top of the window enclosures. Real attention to detail.
Also, the windows are darkly tinted and provide some really nice shade (see pic below). The image doesn’t do the contrast much justice. When you’re inside the Air Topper, the shade is like having 20% tint on your windows – just my experience. Really nice though!
There are also some mesh pockets by the side windows (see above) and on the front window (two pics above). These are small features but this is how any modern tent is setup. When you get in your camp, you need to put little items at arm’s reach, yet off the ground floor. What this tells me is that the folks at Flated really intended this for camping use. I like it.
The windows come off easily for a more open, breezy day. This is how I like to camp, personally. I want to feel and breathe in the night air – though without all the bugs about. But even the interior screens are hook-and-loop. So, they too come right off if you want a full open view.
That profile looks so good. The Air Topper dovetails nicely with the tailgate.
Step 5. Securing Topper
Now you need to adjust the topper on your bed rails. It probably sits a little wide off your bed at first. This is fine. It’s adjustable. Here’s another tip: zip down the rear window first. This will bring the sides of the Air Topper into its own natural width spacing. Now, you can adjust the width to fit your bed and then cinch the topper’s anchor points to your bed’s tie-down points. There are three on each side.
Lastly, you will loop the long strap around your tailgate and attach it to the Air Topper’s rear window hook-and-loop bottom. (I actually only did this for driving. Otherwise, I took it off, so that I could get in and out of the topper without having to rip off the hook-and-loop each time.)
Fitment & Profile
Above and below show how the Air Topper sits on my truck bed once I dialed it in. It’s a little wide, but this is good in my opinion. A wider stance allows water to drain on the outside of the truck. Also, the rubber footings are fully seated on the truck bed rail. I made a few off-road and on-road trips with this topper, and each time the Air Topper moved very little in any direction.
Below are a few images that show the rest of the profile – how exactly the Air Topper fits on the Tundra. With hard camper shells, getting a right fit is really important for regulating dust, water, temperature, bugs, and wind drag.
Keeping in mind that the Air Topper comes in general sizes that fit common bed lengths and widths, it seems to fit quite well on the 2022+ Tundra. Look at how closely it seats up to the rear cab (above).
Lastly, you can see the top and side profiles above. The Air Topper does extend beyond the truck a little. However, I noticed zero wind issues; zero movement of the topper itself; and my gas mileage didn’t indicate any extra drag. Overall, I think it looks pretty slick on my Tundra; especially since it matches the MGM color.
Some friends and I went to shoot clays recently and we made a camping trip of it. Typically when I go camping out of my truck bed, I throw everything in the back on the ride out. Flated’s Air Topper affords so much volume space.
Come hunting season, I’ll easily be able to hold all camping gear, including decoys (pretty bulky items), camouflage, and anything else I might need for a 3-day’er. We even caught a little unexpected drizzle and had to jump in the back for a brief time. No sweat.
I did notice two things while this happened: If you look carefully two photos above, you’ll notice that the Air Topper sits off the truck bed rail at a few points (light poking through). I suppose that this could easily be fixed with some foam stripping (like $2 at Walmart). The other thing was that the interior leaked no water at those notorious front corners of the truck bed where the natural joinery of the truck bed itself is always gapping. Pretty good so far.
The top side of the Air Topper has two hand-hold straps and four tie-down D-rings. I’m sure the rings and straps have other intended uses, but this is what I used them for! In camp I prefer to hang my water bags or shower bags, which worked out perfectly here.
I also found myself using the hand-hold strap for help accessing the top side of the topper. It would be great to have another hand-hold strap on the side of the topper, just forward of the green bag shown above. Speaking of roof top storage, I decided to see what I could haul up there and really put it to the test…
I said in the intro that the Air Topper has nearly all the capabilities of a hardshell. One obvious lack is the inability to carry, say, a 100 lb. roof top tent screwed down to railing. What good is a camper shell if it can’t carry anything? Well, the Air Topper’s four tie down points on the roof indicate that Flated intends us to use that area.
So, I decided to test it out. I strapped down my 12′, 72 lb. kayak and took on a couple hour trip to the beach. The Air Topper held up with minimal flexing the entire way. In the future the only thing I will do differently is secure the nose end so that the wind doesn’t make it yaw. What should I try next up there?
A last tip about tear-down, cleaning, and storage: I drove through rain, dust, and sand with this Air Topper. Cleaning was easy, as it involved just spraying it down and letting it dry out in the sun. Don’t store it wet and dirty! Tearing it down was the opposite of setting it up. However, as indicated in the beginning I couldn’t fold the Air Topper back down perfectly. the carrying bag was still able to enclose it just fine.
This was my evening view the weekend after I received the Air Topper and I’ve been really enjoying it at every opportunity. Given that it’s easy to setup and teardown, hopefully there will be more of such times. I love gear that is lightweight, modular, rugged, and adventure-inducing. The Air Topper checks all my boxes. I need to checkout their Air Deck next.