HopperTopper Lawn & Leaf Funnel: Product Review
A good idea but it just doesn’t work as claimed
Available on Amazon
One of the biggest struggles with fall leaf clean-up is getting all of those leaves into the tall, narrow paper yard waste bags for curbside pickup or transport to your compost pile. So I was interested in trying the HopperTopper (along with the Amazing Rake – see our review here) to see if it would make the job any easier.
However, I found this product a solution in search of a need. Essentially, the HopperTopper is designed as a funnel – a way to keep the paper bag open while you scoop the leaves in. It’s a good idea, don’t get me wrong. But when the rubber hits the road, it just doesn’t deliver.
First, there’s a disconnect between the promises on the package and reality.
For example, the cardboard Topper has a large banner on the packaging saying “No Assembly Required” – but there IS assembly required.
And the plastic Topper claims “Simple One-Time Assembly” – but if you plan to refold and reuse it (it’s much more streamlined and practical to store it flat, rather than fully opened), then there will indeed be assembly required each and every time you use it.
Cardboard vs Plastic HopperToppers
There are two options when buying a HopperTopper – cardboard or plastic.
The corrugated cardboard version (two to a package) is made in the USA. I like that it’s biodegradable, so when it does lose its shape it can be tossed right into the compost with the leaves and bag.
The company claims the cardboard Topper is reusable multiple times – and as long as the leaves or lawn aren’t too wet during use, this could be true. But how often does that really happen?
The other option is the yellow plastic HopperTopper. It’s made in China and you get one per package.
While both versions of the HopperTopper look very similar, they seem to operate differently and have different issues.
Using the HopperTopper
I first tried to use the HopperToppers by following the limited instructions printed on them. It’s a relatively simple product so I figured it should be simple to set up.
But … I had real problems getting the HopperToppers to nest inside the top of the leaf bag. It’s supposed to fit neatly into the opening, with the “funnel” extending about 4 inches down the inside of the bag.
The cardboard HopperTopper was more stubborn than the corrugated plastic one, although I had the same problem with both. The issue is that yard waste bags are tall and narrow – not an ideal platform for embracing and holding up the much heavier cardboard HopperTopper. I had to almost rest it on top, being careful not to push down so hard as to rip the paper bag (in which case both the bag and the topper would be useless).
Plus, it’s windy in the autumn and the heavier top just made the HopperTopper more of a sail. The package claims that the HopperTopper keeps the bag open on windy days – but I found that not to be the case when the yard waste bag was standing up (it kept blowing over). And because the fit of the HopperTopper into the bag wasn’t smooth or tight, it didn’t readily rest flat on the lawn either. So in neither situation did the topper hold the bag “open”.
The plastic HopperTopper was a bit more manageable to insert into the paper leaf bag; however, it constantly slipped down the bag like undergarments whose elasticity has seen better days…
The side tabs to hold the topper in place didn’t snap in as suggested in the Assembly directions – it was more of a twist and push and coax of an operation. More confusing is the visual instructions showing “Easy to insert into the bag” without the side tabs – because you have to insert the piece into the bag while the plastic Topper is somewhat relaxed or collapsed or that’s the way it looked to me. Lower on the package Assembly directions it shows a separate step-by-step how to insert the tabs – but there’s no leaf bag in any of the images, leaving you to figure out, solo, if the tabs go on first and then you wiggle the Topper into the leaf bag or as I did, insert the Topper into the leaf bag and then before it slips down, hold it and coax in the side tabs.
In the end, it just seemed like far too much work.
Granted, the plastic Topper looks like it will lay more flat on the lawn to allow easy raking into the bag, but because I couldn’t get it to nest in the bag properly, it didn’t work laying down either.
Watch the YouTube Videos Before Use!
At that point I decided there had to be more too it than I was able to figure out – surely the HopperTopper couldn’t be that bad. So I searched online and found the maker’s assembly and use videos on YouTube.
The instructions on YouTube demonstrate how to get both the muscular cardboard and the plastic Hopper Topper to sit nicely inside and on top of the leaf bag.
After careful review of the online video instructions a few times (and there are a total of three instructional videos) and a bit of practice, I was able to get both the cardboard and plastic Toppers to work properly.
A few suggestions and caveats
The maker needs to include complete instructions in the package or strongly suggest to viewing the videos on YouTube.
Some key elements are missing on the product package, such as bending the cardboard corners (there are no pre-perforated tabs visible nor instructions).
Also missing is mention of the need to reverse the folds to eliminate the base memory from both the Toppers in order to provide more structure and stability to the funnel feature.
Further, the corners in the plastic Topper don’t snap in quite as readily as the print or video indicates – but twist them a bit and play with it and they’ll fit together eventually (be careful to avoid bending the inserts too much or they won’t work).
Finally, the video shows the lawn environment as so pristine that except for a car driving in the background, I would’ve thought it was a “green screen.” There wasn’t a whisper of a breeze. Real world conditions, especially during leaf season, are windy. So be mindful of the tall bag and its topper tipping. Or just lay it on its side and scoop the leaves in. This is the best feature benefit, as the bag stays open while scooping and raking in – rather than the bag mouth collapsing or clamping shut.
Despite the company’s claim that the HopperTopper is easy to use and results in “no more frustrations,” I had quite the opposite experience until I watched the YouTube video and practiced a few times. The quality of construction for both the cardboard and plastic Topper is good, they’re pretty solid. However, without watching the videos it’s very difficult to get them to work properly and my overall feeling is that they work okay but aren’t worth the effort, particularly when viewed in light of the maker’s claims.
The maker of the HopperTopper needs to include complete instructions in the package or strongly suggest viewing the assembly and use videos on YouTube (although realistically, who’s going to open the package, see the notice and then head inside to view some videos before trying to use something that should be simple to use??).
Where To Buy
The suggested retail for the HopperTopper (both cardboard and plastic) is approximately $13.00 (although you can find it online for less); remember, the cardboard comes in a 2-pack. They’re available from national retailers and online through Amazon.
And now over to you – Have you used a “topper” to hold your yard waste bag open? What did you use and how did it work? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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