Fullsize Overland Upgrades: A.R.E. CX HD Series Cap Review [Video]
Over the years, we’ve steadily modified our 2014 Ram 2500 to better fit our needs. From our smooth-riding ICON Vehicle Dynamics suspension to the 35-inch-tall Nitto Ridge Grapplers that keep us moving every day, each upgrade was made with a purpose. Equipped with a 6.7L Cummins diesel, the ¾-ton hauler often finds itself with a trailer in tow and is the go-to vehicle for long-distance adventures. It was with this adventure-based mentality that we decided on our latest upgrade.
It’s a CX HD Series cap from the leader in quality U.S.-made bed covers, A.R.E. While A.R.E. has a variety of bed caps, the CX HD Series stood out to us for a few reasons. Maybe one of the most important was the fact that it comes with an internal aluminum skeleton that ties into the roof rails. This configuration allows us to load 550 lbs on the top of the cap, making it ideal for everything from a basic roof top tent to a custom roof rack.
While the video above offers a closer look at our specific CX HD Series cap, we’re diving even further into the details in the article breakdown below.
A.R.E. caps are distributed through authorized dealers, which makes sense given it’s not exactly something UPS is going to drop off on your porch. Luckily for us, we have an excellent A.R.E. installer that we’ve been using for years in Wilmington, North Carolina. It’s called Hall’s Storage Buildings and there you’ll find Larry and his son Justin ready to walk you through the buying process and get the install done right.
Side-Mount Tool Box
Need a tool box, but don’t want to sacrifice floor space? It’s exactly the predicament we were in, and it’s why we opted for a side tool box upgrade on our cap. Given this box can support 200 lbs, we can stuff it full of tools and gear. We also opted for the divider, but you can get it without if you’re looking to load in larger items.
For the passenger side of the truck, we opted for the solid-aluminum panel, so we could easily access gear placed near the front of the cab. We also opted for the sliding back window so we can pass things through the cabin (or send a bit of air to the back) when we need to.
Heavy Duty Roof Rails
One of the biggest selling points for the CX HD Series Cap for us was the A.R.E. roof bars. These are designed to hold 550 lbs, making them ideal for commercial and recreational use.
The HD series can support such a heavy loads due to the roof bars being tied into the aluminum sub-frame. This setup spans the length of the cap and adds an additional level of rigidity to the already robust reinforced fiberglass cap.
Let There Be Light
To help us see a little better at night, we added the optional center strip LED light. This extremely bright, low-amp draw light has been a welcome addition for everything from late-night repairs to simple unloading.
While a more traditional glass rear window is available, we opted for the solid aluminum panel. We like the added safety and security it offers in addition to being able to stack more gear without fear of the glass breaking. Given we have a pretty sizable backup camera with our truck’s 8.4-inch touchscreen, backing up isn’t an issue.
We opted for lockable T-handles, which are inset into each panel. These center-mounted single handles are easy to use and a great feature for those using their caps frequently.
One option that we’ve had on previous trucks and enjoyed greatly is A.R.E.’s SwingSafe. These vehicle-specific storage boxes bolt directly to the bed and with the pull of a lever, swing out to the rear of the truck. These are fantastic for keeping small or frequently used items that you don’t want to crawl in and out of the bed for. While you can lock the box in place, we like that it’s removable so you can pack it with tools or gear you might need. Think of it like a mobile tool box in a pinch.
We seriously considered the OTR option for our cap as it would have given the entire shell a heavy-duty coating that we wouldn’t have to worry about scratching. Ultimately, we liked the look of the color-match and were extremely pleased at how well the paint on the cap blends with our Ram. Since our truck is equipped with the factory air rear suspension, it automatically adjusted for the added weight of the cap.
We’ve been clocking in the miles both on-road and off since our cap upgrade and are pleased to say that it’s leak free. While we have more in store for this pickup (and those roof rails), for now, we’re very much enjoying the convenience of the new setup.