RVs without slideout toppers: Do they leak?


    By Chuck Woodbury

    Without a topper

    I was talking to my neighbor in the RV park. He’s a traveling nurse on his way from his last assignment in Cooperstown, New York, to his next one near Atlanta. After talking about what it’s like to be a traveling nurse (good, with lots of job opportunities), the discussion turned to RVs.

    The subject of slideout toppers came up. Slideout toppers, if you do not know, are like awnings that cover your RV’s slideouts to keep out water and debris. His Montana Fifth Wheel does not have toppers. My motorhome does. So this is not a topic I have thought about much.

    With topper

    He said that when it’s raining or has been raining, he needs to get up on his roof to clean the top of his slides. He uses a towel to remove as much water as he can. “If I don’t, water drips into the RV,” he said.

    That sounds like a bad thing to me. The last thing I want in my RV is water, except in the sinks and shower. I’m pretty sure you feel the same.

    But now I’m curious: If your RV DOES NOT HAVE slideout toppers does rain water seep in when you pull in the slides? Please respond to the survey below and feel free to leave a comment.

    REMEMBER: Only answer if your RV DOES NOT have slide toppers.


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    Dan Varcoe

    We have had a 30′ TT with slide and now a 5th wheel with 2 slides. No awnings and no water coming in when retracting the slides. I sweep the tops to remove pine needles and leaves before bringing them in, if we have been parked for more than a few days. If its just rain or a bit of snow, we don’t worry about it. Figure a little moisture wouldn’t hurt much of anything and it hasn’t.

    ed smith

    We’ve been fairly lucky so far with all the rigs we’ve owned. The only one that leaked was our 04 motorhome that had toppers. I’m not a fan of having toppers due to the fact that they still get a lot of leaves and whatever under them, also when the winds get really bad they flop all the time , noisy when trying to sleep and very worrisome wondering when they’ll rip and be “GONE WITH THE WIND”


    Water leaking inside is a problem of the slide seals, not the toppers. We had a 5th-wheel without toppers and never had any problems that couldn’t be fixed easily with a broom, including snow and leafy debris. We now own a motorhome with topper. After the expense and hassle of broken springs, torn fabrics….

    Our vote would be to do without them.


    We do not have slide-out awnings. I knew about them when we purchased our 2015 model, but just didn’t think about them when we did our PDI. I wish they would have been offered; we definitely would have gotten them. They are on the list. Having said all that, we bought a WORX lightweight cordless blower and always carry an aluminum ladder. Works great for blowing off debris. Have never had an issue with leaking. Never even thought about it til now.

    Morgan Borrowman

    We bought a 2013 Cougar new without slide covers. After having to wipe it down or get up and remove debris several times we had a slide topper installed and it completely solved the problem. It also protects the seals around the slide from damage should something be up there and missed. It is a cheap solution and highly recommended.

    Paul l

    Like some others here, most (but not all) of the water drains off when I pull my slides in. But there is always some remaining and we have to put towels up there or it will fly everywhere when we start driving. Snow, however, is a whole other problem. My slides bring snow in, and a lot of it. Three times this spring we got overnight snow on travel days and I had to go up on the roof and shovel the slides off – that’s really not fun when the roof is covered with snow! Raising the front of the RV doesn’t help. I guess I could wait until the snow melted but was trying to get on the road before noon (and a couple of the days it just wasn’t that warm). My next RV will have slide toppers.

    Dennis Clark

    I went from a Holiday Rambler Presidential with slide toppers to a Crossroads Rushmore without slide toppers. I can honestly say that I am much happier without the slide toppers. I have had no problems with any leaks with the Rushmore when the slides are out or when I retract them back in. The amount of dust entering the 5th wheel is more on retracting the slide in; however, that is an easy fix with my swifter. With the Presidential, the slide toppers became a major pain in the neck. If it rained to much, they would sag and I would have to slide them in to remove the excess water. Any high winds I would have to pull the slides so the toppers did not get ripped or torn off the rig. Lastly, there is the expense of replacing the toppers. After 7 years of use, I had to replace the toppers on the Presidential; it cost over $3000!!!! I have had the Rushmore for a little over a year and so far life is GREAT with no toppers.


    I have two RVs a 30 TT with 18ft slide no topper and a 41ft 5er with. three slides w/toppers. I will be removing the toppers, especially the 20ft one over the living room slide. The tube is so warped it will hardly roll up any more, just too long. I have never had water come in on my TT slide with no topper. In fact I sometimes take a hose to it to spray it off just before retracting, never had water come in. Never had water come in with my toppers either but way more of a pain to get the two long ones to roll up and they flap in the wind, just more of a pain than without. Like I said – they will be removed in the near future.


    We have a 2007 Fleetwood Expedition and on our recent trip the topper over our full side slide broke. So we had it removed and finished the trip with out the topper. But we did experience water leaking into the back corner and we got a lot more dirt inside the RV.

    Casey Piton

    We chose not to have slide toppers on our 2017 DRV Mobile Suites 44 Memphis fifth wheel and are very happy with our decision. Our 2 super slides are 18′ and 20′ long. It depends on where we park (if there are trees or it is an open area). Sometimes we tilt the front up so water runs off the slides and roof right before retracting the slides, and other times we squeegee/sweep the slides before sliding them in. We have not had water issues when sliding the slides in. The pro of not having toppers is that we can walk on our slide-outs (some brands you cannot walk on the slide-outs). We have a lot of solar on our roof and being able to walk on the slide-outs makes setting up/tilting the panels easier. We’ve seen/heard cons about toppers: 1) critters like to make their nests or store food under them if the RV is stationary for any amount of time, 2) water/leaves/debris creates sags in the toppers and then they need replacement more often (no toppers = no replacement cost). It comes down to personal preference, not a disservice from a dealer one way or the other. We don’t mind climbing on top of the rig to keep up with the maintenance, others don’t want to go up on the roof.

    Wayne Caldwell

    Our 2001 CrossRoads All American came with a slideout topper. It needed replacing when we bought the trailer last year so I went online to get instructions. Fairly simple and straightforward. Saved a lot of money doing it myself. Same with the 19′ main awning.


    I have slide toppers on my current motorhome (2005 Dutch Star) but did not have them on the last one (2000 Dutch Star) and have not had much problem with either. I did occasionally have water and leaves on the slide when bringing it in with the 2000 and had to climb up on the roof to sweep snow off the slide to get it in on one occasion. Never really wanted toppers, but they were already on this one and seem to work well reducing water and debris but will need to be replaced soon as they are always exposed to sun and wind when out.. I still consider them a cure worse than the disease.

    George B

    Awnings over slides also offer some “quieter times” when it’s raining. The rain hits the awning and not the top of the slide which, to me, is like being in a drum when it’s right above my pillow.


    We have never had an issue with water on our slides. I do sweep off the slides before retracting just to remove debris that could harm the seals.


    My slides’ ceilings all angle outward when deployed and even steeper while rolling in. Although it raises humidity to bring in wet slides, even water brought “inside” continues to run outward and (as far as i can tell) down drain channels to pavement.


    I always clean off the top of my slide before retracting it, my best friend does not so far neither one of us had an issue!


    Our MH has slide toppers but none of our trailers (TT and 5th) ever did. We never got water in when they were out but there was some on top that didn’t drain when it was tilted. Our MH is the same – even with toppers there can be water on it due to rain blowing in and/or due to the low spot on the top of the slide. I usually will put a couple towels up there but I have forgotten which results in the driver have a ‘shower’!


    The manufacturer of my 5th wheel did not recommend slide out awnings, NUWA, Hitchhiker. My trailer is 11 years old and never had water leak inside when bringing the slides in. The slides tilt up when you start to bring them in, any standing water runs off then. The 5th wheel we had before this had the slide topper awnings and they were a pain, noisy in the wind, rain would puddle on them, even had ice form on them once when camping in the spring. We are thinking about replacing our current trailer and I was wondering if the new one would need or have to have the awnings, I hope not.

    George B

    A slide awning will not keep the top of your slide dry. Any angle to the rain falling will get onto the top of your slide. Slide awnings are great at keeping debris off the slide. With or without slide awnings, when it’s time to hook up, raise or lower the front end of your trailer and almost all the water will run off the slide before it comes in. I have slide awnings on all four of my slides and would recommend them to everyone.

    Dave g

    Water is not the only issue, leaves, pine needles, acorns, sticks/branches, etc. can get to the seals and will damage them. Manufacturers who do not install slide toppers are doing buyers a disservice in the long run, it reduces the initial cost but increases the lifetime expense.