Hanging a Bugg Banner keeps most of the insects off the fifth-wheel front cap and dramatically reduces cleaning time.
As a fly fisherman, I have a love-hate relationship with bugs. Trout love to eat bugs that hatch on the river, making it possible to cast look-alike flies to hungry fish. But bugs that are squashed and stuck to the high-profile front of a fifth-wheel are difficult to remove. The people at Bugg Banner have the same opinion of bugs and have devised a front cover-up that makes cleanup a breeze, and in many cases, not even necessary.
The concept of using a front paint protector (think auto mask) is not unique, but the process to keep the banner in place while on the road is clever and patented. Employing a network of well-designed blocks, cleats and rope, the banner can be hoisted and removed effortlessly in a matter of minutes while standing on the ground.
Bugg Banners are made of nylon, similar in structure to the material used to make outdoor flags. The standard banner has a dark background with scattered dots that are designed to hide bug stains, and the edges are sealed with canvas header material. The banners are available in two sizes to accommodate standard and wide-body fifth-wheels.
Optional designs displaying military and first-responder affiliations are available, and the company is looking to release new graphics in the future. There’s also an American flag banner, which should be used only while parked, to prevent desecration from squashed bugs on the road. Hanging the American flag on the Fourth of July was a real hit in the RV park.
Covering the front with the Bugg Banner, in a roundabout way, protects the vinyl decals from the damaging effects caused by cleaning with harsh chemicals. Although there are good bug removers on the market, some may soften the decals over time, which leads to deterioration and discoloration.
We ran into a number of bystanders who were concerned about gelcoat and paint fading, relating previous experiences with heavy vinyl auto masks and trapped moisture. The Bugg Banner breathes, does not hold moisture and, according to the company, will not attract mildew. After it rains, the material dries quickly and actually conforms better to the contours of the front cap.
Installing the kit components is not difficult, but it does require some advance instruction reading to understand the concept. The hardware is mounted to the front cap and side walls using VHB tape and screws, meaning you don’t get a second chance to relocate the parts. Therefore, the instructions suggest that the parts be premounted using tape (we used Gorilla Tape) to make sure the locations are correct. Once positioning is determined, the hardware (three pieces on each side) is installed permanently, which should be done in sequential order outlined in the instructions. Figure on about an hour to get the job done using simple hand tools.
A network of nylon rope, exposed on the side walls, is used to hoist and lower the banner. Plastic shields are provided to conceal the rope for those who prefer a more finished look. We attached the shields temporarily and decided we preferred the look of the rope instead of the black “boxes.”
When it comes time to hang the banner, extension ropes are clipped on to the ends of the hoist ropes, and the material can be secured to the carabiners and pulled into position. It takes a few more minutes the first time to learn how to center the material, but after that the procedure becomes easily repeatable.
During a cross-country jaunt last summer, the banner collected a large assortment of bugs. Surprisingly, the bugs were not that visible, a testament to the scattered-dot camouflaging. To clean, the banner is simply washed in a machine using common detergent and cold water. It cannot be machine dried. Instead, it is put back in place on the fifth-wheel cap and allowed to air dry. While the banner cleaned up nicely, the white canvas edging remained partially strained from bugs. The company is looking at darker-color alternatives.
An optional American flag banner can be hoisted in place once set up in an RV park.
It should not be used on the road.
Amazingly, the front cap stays bug free, which is a real time and back saver. The material does not cover the front cap completely, but the exposed area on top normally has a radius, which was relatively free of bugs during the test trip. The larger bottom section that was not covered did attract an assortment of squashed bugs, but it was easy to reach from the ground and could be cleaned in minutes. The banner stayed put on the highway and during heavy wind storms in RV parks. Depending on the contours of the front cap, it may take some adjusting to get all the wrinkles out, but that process is simple.
The Bugg Banner will quickly become a product you can’t do without. It’s definitely an attention-getter, and not having to scrub the front cap every few days made the investment worthwhile. Standard-size Bugg Banners (8 feet wide) sell for $329, and the 8½-foot-wide version is $359.
An RV/MH Hall of Fame inductee and publisher emeritus of Trailer Life and MotorHome, Bob Livingston has written countless RV technical and lifestyle articles and books, and created and appeared on the weekly television show RVtoday. A lifelong RV enthusiast, Bob now travels and lives full time with his wife, Lynne, in their fifth-wheel trailer. He continues to be a regular contributor to Trailer Life.