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EZ lift lets truck bed cap rise, convert to camper

Larry Edsall
Special to The Detroit News

Having a cap over the bed of your pickup can keep your gear not only high and dry but safe and out of sight. But a cap also can be an issue if you want to load an ATV, a riding lawnmower or large appliances into the bed.

But now there’s a solution: Simply throw a switch and the cap lifts more than 17 inches above the top of your truck bed’s rails, creating extra room for stowing large items, or even for reaching in to grab items stowed in the bed but up near the cab.

The solution is the TopperEZLift, and it comes with a bonus: an optional tent kit that turns your truck bed into a pop-up camper.

The TopperEZLift is produced by EZ Lift Systems of Mendota, Minnesota, and is distributed by Massillon, Ohio-based truck cap and tonneau cover manufacturer A.R.E. Accessories through its network of nearly 700 dealers.

According to A.R.E., power comes from the vehicle’s 12-volt battery with a draw of only 5-8 amps needed for the four elevators that move the cap up and down. The maximum lift is 17.5 inches and is accomplished in 30 seconds. The elevators can deal with as much as 900 pounds and while it is possible to drive with the cap in the raised position, it is not recommended.

When lowered, self-locking actuators secure the cap back in place.

The tent package includes ripstop nylon fabric in a variety of outdoor patterns and solid colors with two screened side windows and Velcro attachment.

“A lot of companies have offered something like this, but nobody’s gotten it quite right,” said Andy Clutter, A.R.E. marketing manager. “TopperEZLift nailed it!”

Clutter said A.R.E. regional sale manager for Minnesota saw the TopperEZLift and recommended it to the home office.

“We were skeptical at the beginning,” Clutter said, “but it’s a game changer.”

He said sportsmen like the extra versatility the lift and tent lend to their trucks, and commercial customers appreciate the expanded storage space and access the lift provides.

The device was created by Todd Bruestle and Josh Lee. Bruestle owns restaurants and Lee, who studied engineering in college worked in one of them.

“We were loading ATVs, lawn mowers, washers and driers and had to take the caps off our trucks,” Bruestle said.

So in 2009 they started working on a way to lift the caps. They tried an air system but that equipment was too sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity, so they tried an electric worm drive system long used on farm implements.

The TopperEZLift retails for $1,300 and the optional camping tent also is $1,300.

Bruestle and Lee also are nearing completion of development but are still in need of funding to produce a second product, the I-Can Wheelchair Lift.

Bruestle’s now 19-year-old daughter, Kaitlin, has used a wheelchair since childhood. Her prototype I-Can lift allows her to raise her chair so she can reach into kitchen cupboards.

For more information on the TopperEZLift, visit www.4are.com. To learn more about the wheelchair lift, visit www.i-canwheelchairlift.com.

Larry Edsall is a Phoenix-based freelance writer. You can reach him at ledsall@cox.net.