The nice thing about an SUV is that it’s easy to get stuff in and out of the cargo area. The nice thing about a pickup truck is that the cargo area is a lot bigger, even on a short bed like our Tacoma. But if you have a bed cap on it, you get some shelter from dust, elements, and thieves, like an SUV, but it also reduces your access to your stuff, because, unlike an SUV, you can’t get at it from the passenger area.
To help with access to our 4Runner, I built a nifty deck to make storage more efficient, and you can see a video about that out here. To help with that, in our Tacoma with the Snugtop on it, I built these drawers.
That helped a lot, but I still wanted more.
What is it?
The RSI Smart Cap is a modular stainless steel truck cap or camper shell made in South Africa and shipped in 5 pieces to a dealer or your home.
Weight and loading
For this video, I’m going to compare it to the previous cap, which was a Snugtop GB Sport with the Sportsmen’s package, carpet, and single rear hatch. The sportsmen’s package gave it a 500# load capacity with extra fiberglass and roof rails. The top was very rigid and strong, and I never saw any cracks or flexing in it at all.
I do not know how much it weighed, but I can tell you that it took three of us to lift it off the truck, which I only did a couple of times, including when I took it off the Tacoma and put it on the truck I sold it to. So I’ll say it weighed 200+ pounds.
The RSI Smart Cap is listed as weighing between 168 and 198 pounds on their model comparison page. Since this is the smallest one they make, I’ll say it’s in the 168-pound range.
I know that’s not precise, but I’m confident in saying that it’s lighter than a fiberglass cap with a high load capacity and 2 windoors.
Weight capacity is 330 pounds dynamic and 770 pounds static. So you can load 330# when driving and #770 when parked. So as long as we all weigh less than 192 pounds each (and we do), we’re good. Whether the Toyota Tacoma bed is strong enough for all that weight is debatable, but to help, I use these bed stiffeners from Total Chaos.
The Snugtop did not give separate dynamic and static loading stats for the GB Sport.
The roof rails on the Snugtop were rhino or Yakima rails with tiny stainless steel bolts, while the rails on the smart cap are big and thick and integrated into the bolts that hold the whole cap together.
The RSI Smartcap has a lot of advantages over a fiberglass cap, but let me get two things out of the way first:
First, there are multiple other companies that make nearly identical caps, including RLD Designs, Alucab, GoFast Camper, and BYND 4×4.
Second, there’s nothing wrong with fiberglass. They like to use steel as a marketing point and say that it’s built like a truck, not a boat, but boats are certified and have a lot more riding on them than a truck topper.
Doors and Access
You can get side doors on a fiberglass cap, but on these steel caps, the doors are much bigger.
Rear access on this allows me to load in my biggest cooler or fridge, even on top of the deck. The side doors allow tremendous access to the back from both sides and lets us use the space way up near the cab in ways you just can’t without those side doors.
Locks and latches
These caps have two locking latches on each door. As far as I can tell, caps and campers all use the same ones. They take the same key, of course, and are secure enough.
They can be a pain, though. Locking six locks is tedious, and the keys are flimsy. Also, they are not watertight, and they can get frozen shut in the winter. I did find a solution to this, though. Either WD40 or this lock de-icer works well and actually lasts a while. Once I figured this out this winter, I could get through most of the late winter without any more lock freezing after just one application. And we had a lot of cold storms.
The side and front panels on the Eco Sport model have sliding window openings if you need to let fresh air in. They slide on a track and have a nice gasket seal. I haven’t had any leak issues with these at all.
Positive pressure vent
On top, a breather vent lets relatively dust-free air in and pressurizes the cap to keep other leaks from letting dust in from the bottom or real. This has a filter inside that is probably replaceable. But it’s surprisingly effective. We’ve taken a couple of trips to the Black Rock Playa and many dusty dirt roads, and we only get dust right at the rear around the tailgate. But the rest of the cap stays pretty clean.
Looks and style
The RSI smart cap looks great. The Snugtop GB Sport looks better, though, especially with the paint match. But the Smart cap is certainly more Overlandy, Tactical, and off-road looking with the black powder coating. It doesn’t look bad, I just think it looks a little extra…
Since it’s steel, you can use magnets on it. Either inside or out. These hooks work to hold this basket in place, and these carabiner clips are good for holding keys and stuff.
RSI has some neat accessories like a table that mounts at the top, side boxes, and a crazy side kitchen. They also have some fancy retracting roof rack platforms. I have not used any of these, however.
When I installed mine, I just took it off one truck and moved it over, but I got to watch Mark at Rack2 Roam install one, and here are some tips and tricks for doing that.
How I use it
The side doors and even the main rear door have really changed how we use the bed of the truck these days.
The biggest and most obvious is the side doors. Getting things in and out of the bed through these doors is really nice and easy. It makes spaces that were almost inaccessible before convenient spots for things we need to grab and go. Danielle keeps her camera here on the passenger side and can grab it when she wants to get out and shoot some photos.
I keep handy things like tie-downs, gloves, etc., in these baskets that I can reach from the driver’s side door.
The rear door opening is much taller than on the Snugtop, so I can put our big Dometic fridge on the slide here and still get it in and out.
Since we have such easy access to the bed now, I decided to take out the old deck and drawer system and install this half deck. I’ll have a full video on this soon.
The half deck lets me put my bike in here, and the side doors let me put the handlebar at the front so I can still have all my camera gear back here for a shoot neatly stacked on and under the deck and still be able to get the bike out.
Having the bike back here is much more secure, doesn’t block bed access, and isn’t something I have to worry about crashing into other cars in parking lots. It’s out of sight and safe.
Price and Availability
From a pricing perspective, these caps run about $4000 for the Tacoma. A fiberglass cap is about the same, except if you want windoors, it’ll cost a lot more. So, for what you get, it’s a great value.
There are some downsides to this cap, and I’ll go over them now.
First, the weather sealing isn’t as good. Fiberglass caps usually overhang the bed a little bit so they shed water better. The smart cap sits on top of the bed rails, front end and tailgate. This allows water to sit on top and potentially get into the bed.
On the Tacoma, gaps in the front let water in if you don’t do something extra to seal them up.
One upside to this design is that you can get the tailgate open with the rear hatch closed. This is handy for getting gear out without having to fiddle with two locks and latches.
Second, you have to fiddle with two locks and latches to open each door. Many fiberglass caps have two latches, but my snug top has a single t-handle. So I could get in and out with one twist. The latches work fine, and the locks do, too, but the key is flimsy and prone to bending if you don’t get it in all the way. The convenience of having the side doors more than outweighs the inconvenience of the watches and locks by a lot.
Lastly, as you can see from the footage I got at Rack2Roam, the new caps are slightly different. But overall, it looks like it’s more or less functionally the same. If you’re considering ordering one of these, I’d suggest you have it assembled and installed at a place like Rack2Roam in Reno, NV, unless you like heavy and expensive IKEA jobs. I noticed that the bolts that hold my cap together can come loose. I’d suggest using some blue locktite when you put it together.
Also, experienced installers like Rack2Roam have some tricks to seal things up, so if you have them do it, you probably won’t have any issues.
And that’s it. The RSI Smart cap, and by extension all the other similar truck cap designs, are great, highly functional, and a massive upgrade from a standard cap, or none at all. I highly recommend them.
Thanks for watching, happy trails.