We just finished installing a complete set of Torklift Talons on our truck. What are Talons? Well, if you’re familiar with Torklift International’s frame mounted tie down system for truck campers, Talons are simply the aluminum version of the same system. In fact, aside from the lightweight, military-grade aluminum from which they’re made and the color and shape of the tie-down inserts, there are very few differences between the two products. The other difference, of course, is the Torklift Talon “Eagle” sticker affixed to each insert.
Why buy a set of Talons when you can buy a set of the classic steel tie-downs for less? Well, the fact that they’re made of aluminum means they’re lighter, about 30 pounds less than the steel version (Torklift told me that each receiver and insert together weigh 7 to 8 pounds less). When it comes to truck campers, every pound matters, especially when your truck camper combo is pushing or exceeds your truck’s GVWR. Another big benefit of the Talons’ aluminum construction is that they won’t rust. No need to clean and paint them on an annual basis to keep them protected and looking good. The only real negative with the Torklift Talons is the cost—you’ll spend a good $120 more for a complete set compared to Torklift’s original steel tie-downs.
The complete Talon truck camper tie-down system comes with four removable aluminum inserts, four aluminum frame mounted receivers that work similar to trailer hitch receiver, mounting hardware, and four finishing kit covers to protect the receiver tubes when the inserts aren’t installed (note that the Talons are sold in pairs, two for the front and two for the back). Like all Torklift International products, the Talons come with Torklift International’s legendary lifetime warranty. Better yet, they’re proudly made in the USA. If you’re like us, this is important. Anytime we can help keep an American worker stay employed, we’re going to do it. Even if it means we have to pay a little more to do it. The typical cost for a pair of Talons is $325 on the Internet. For my 2013 Ram 3500, I installed kit D2123A for the front and kit D3109A for the rear.
Installing the Torklift Talon tie-down receivers was easy. No drilling is necessary. Just bolt them on by using existing holes in the frame and mounting points on the suspension. If you’ve installed the classic Torklift tie-downs before, then you’ll have no problem installing the Talons. Indeed, the installation of the Talons for my truck was identical with the two systems using the same exact installation hardware. The only real difference between the two is that the front Talon receivers use only one vertical hook bracket rather than two. The installation time was quick, about 20 minutes each for the rear tie-down receivers and 30 minutes for the front receivers. Oh, and in case you’re wondering. The Talon inserts are a bit too large to fit in the classic steel tie down receivers.
Like any job, having the right tools will make the job go much quicker and easier. For the Talon front receivers you’ll need a standard 3/4-inch wrench and a socket wrench with a 3/4-inch head attached to an 10 inch extension. The wrench extension is a must to tighten the nut to the vertical hook brackets. You’ll need the same tools for the rear receivers including the extensions. You’ll also need a 15/16-inch socket head to remove and reinstall the factory bolts for the rear tie downs. Lastly, a torque wrench is needed to tighten all nuts to the required 40-foot-pounds.
Taken as a whole, the Talon’s front receivers were more difficult to install than the rear receivers. Part of the difficulty lies in the tight confines where the front receivers are located. Elbow room is lacking. The receivers are mounted over the front leaf spring perch mount. Each tie-down receiver has a large hole which is placed over the large bolt head shown in the picture below. The vertical hook bracket is used to install the top of the receiver while the mid-section is secured using a metal clamp strap. Due to the height and difficult angle, you may have some difficulty lining up the hook bracket with the hole at the top of the receiver. Keep at it if you’re having trouble moving the hook bracket, it will move, you just have to get it at the right angle to slide around.
The clamp strap was much easier to reach and install. The strap, which has a dog-leg shape, was installed just above and behind the perch mount bolt shown in the picture above. Unfortunately, I found that one side of the strap doesn’t sit perfectly flush due to the radius edge on one side of the perch mount opening (see the small opening to the right of the large bolt in the photo above). Torklift confirmed that this isn’t a problem as long as the nut is tightened to specs. If you look at the picture below you’ll notice the slight off-angle of one of the installed bolts. The only complaint I have with this portion of the install is that the bolts used for the clamp strap are too short, they need to be at least a 1/2-inch longer. Each front receiver took a little over 30 minutes to install with an extra set of hands to help.
Torklift’s instructions state that you should hand-tighten the nuts first before tightening everything up to 40 foot pounds. It’s important that you do this to allow a little play in the receiver to get the alignment of the receiver just right. Though the directions don’t specifically say, we recommend tightening the clamp strap nuts first before moving on to the hook bracket nut at the top of the receiver. Alignment of the clamp strap is crucial as there isn’t much wiggle room to allow sufficient clearance of the bolts. Even after getting the alignment right, however, we still found that the Talon front receiver tubes were tilted forward just a bit. Torklift confirmed that this isn’t a problem and is quite normal for this particular installation (the steel Torklift receivers have this same quirk).
Compared to the front, the Talon rear receivers were extremely easy to install. Everything was easy to reach and get to and the instructions were clear and well-written on what needed to be done. You’ll use three existing factory bolts as well as a supplied 2-inch-long bolt for each rear receiver. No issues were encountered installing these though we did need to use a breaker bar over the socket wrench handle to get sufficient leverage to loosen the factory bolts. These were very tight and difficult to budge. Each rear receiver took only about 20 minutes to install.
Overall, installing the Torklift Talon Tie-Downs was quick and easy. One person can easily perform this installation though at times another person is useful to hold the receivers in place and to help tighten the nuts. Out of curiosity, I called several hitch shops here in the Phoenix/Mesa area to see what they would charge to install these and the quotes I received varied between $150 and $300 dollars. If you have the inclination and know-how, I recommend you do the installation yourself. If you don’t, then you’ll probably pay a hefty price for what I consider to be a fairly easy installation.
So is the Torklift Talon aluminum-made tie-down system worth the extra cost over Torklift’s classic steel tie-down system? That’s up to you to decide. In our opinion, the Talons are worth the extra cost on the basis of being rust-free alone. The fact that they weigh less is just icing on the cake. Coupled with Torklift’s outstanding FastGun turnbuckle you really can’t get a better tie-down setup for your camper. So if you’re looking for a lightweight, tried and true frame mounted tie-down system that doesn’t require drilling holes into your truck bed and your rear bumper, then get a set of Torklift Talons. You won’t regret it. What would we rate the Torklift International Talons? On a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest, we enthusiastically give the Talons a rating of 5 stars. It’s a great product.
Bought them and found the installation simple and straightforward, they are and excellent choice and I strongly recommend them, far superior to any other system. I use them in conjunction with my fast guns and they work great!