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Covered For Adventure: A.R.E. Z Series Cap Review

Posted in How To: Body Chassis on August 28, 2018
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There are few modifications that truly change the utility of a truck as much as a bed cap. A cap can not only keep your gear out of the elements, but it allows you to transform your truck into everything from a basecamp to a mobile workshop. In addition, a cap creates a secure place to haul cargo for when the cabin is packed with people. Our ’18 Chevy Colorado ZR2 is a great example of a versatile pickup that quickly runs out of room with the family on board.

This fact, along with our travel needs, led us to look for a cap to cover our Crew Cab’s shortbed. After looking at the available options, we landed on a cap that met all of our wants and needs. It comes from A.R.E. and is part of the company’s Z Series line. With nearly 50 years of cap building under its belt, A.R.E. has an extensive catalog of bed covers and accessories.

The Z Series caught our attention initially due to the slanted back and all-glass rear window. It’s a subtle, but well-executed, styling cue that we felt looked more exciting than your average flat-backed cap. Once we looked further into the details on the fiberglass cover, we quickly found that we could option it just the way we needed. Working with our local A.R.E. certified dealer, we ordered ours; a few weeks later, we were back at Hall’s Storage Buildings in Wilmington, North Carolina, to have it installed.

So, what’s it been like living with the new cap? Read on to find out.

Given the size of the cap, A.R.E. recommends using certified dealers for the install. This will ensure the top fits properly and reduces any likelihood of damage when placing it on the truck. Father and son Larry and Justin Hall had ours on and wired in no time flat.
We opted for the roof-mounted track system, which works with a host of racks and rooftop accessories. We’re using an Ascend roof basket from A.R.E., which bolts directly into the rack channels.
The vented and extremely lightweight aluminum construction of the Ascend baskets means we’re not hauling around a heavy wind sail, and we have plenty of gear securing options thanks to four heavy-duty crossbars. There are even tabs for LED lights, so we can add roof-mounted lighting.
The all-glass back on the Z Series is a styling cue we really like. The hidden hinges and angled design were definitely a selling point for us as well. You’ll also notice that the cap includes an LED third brake light, which gets tapped into your truck’s stock wiring harness.
The cap is a no-drill upgrade that uses four heavy-duty clamps to secure it in place. While there are additional interior celling options, we kept ours clean and simple with a carpeted liner and single LED rear-mounted dome light.
You can opt for up to four hangers inside of the cap depending on the configuration. We went with two placed directly apart from each other. This is a great way to make a clothesline and very useful for hanging items you don’t want rolling around in the bed.
If you are particular about keeping your rear glass clean, we highly recommend the folding window option. Ours is fit with a slider so we can pass gear (or share cool air) to the back.
Speaking of flowing air, the rear side glass extends out to offer a bit of ventilation. These are backed with a durable mesh screen to keep critters from making their way in.
The back glass opens via a unique palm-handle lever. Ours was optioned with the E-Lock system, which allows us to use our truck’s stock fob to lock and unlock the cap.
The cap is comprised of a unique polyester resin fiberglass laminate. This keeps the overall weight down without sacrificing rigidity. Depending on the truck, the Z Series caps range from 130 to 180 pounds.

Form and Function

Styling can be subjective, but we love the look of our color-matched cap. Using it daily for everything from hauling strollers to car parts, it’s absolutely improved the versatility of the truck. The Ascend rack has also been extremely helpful, as we’ve been able to secure an awning to it as well as haul gear that was way too long to fit in the bed. Given the amount of holes that come in the bed from the factory, we didn’t expect this to be a perfectly sealed setup. Thankfully, we rarely have issues with water or dust creeping in. While it’s not a dirt-cheap upgrade, it is one that has added tremendous value to the truck.

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A.R.E. Accessories, LLC
Massillon, OH 44648
Hall’s Storage Buildings

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