Recently, I was called in on a marketing campaign for a new topside creeper. This innovative tool allowed a mechanic to lay horizontally over an engine while working on the vehicle.
The design makes plenty of sense to me, and the product was well-designed and sturdily built. These topside creepers fill a major role in an industry that is moving towards better ergonomics and more robust safety processes.
In researching the best topside creepers, ToolTally had a good list, and from there, I went deeper into each product, talking to my friends in the industry and watching Youtube videos to see who the big players are in the industry.
Traxion seems to be one of the most visible brands online. Based out of Van Buren, Arkansas, this brand epitomizes the Midwest.
Their website shows that they carry a few shop tools and several outdoor products such as tailgate steps and structural ramps for loading lawnmowers. When it comes to simple, lightweight metal designs, these guys know what they are doing.
They make two different, foldable topside creepers. Their design is simple, moderately lightweight, and seems to have good reviews.
These creepers only support the top part of the body. So it still puts some pressure on the lower back. However, it does allow the mechanic to reach tight places in a truck engine more easily.
Because of the popularity of the Traxion design, it seems that most of the other brands are using a very similar layout. Redline — a brand known for producing vehicle lifts and mechanic creepers — has an overhead creeper that is almost identical.
And there are several Chinese import models that are heavier but use a similar design.
Whiteside Manufacturing has a unique take on the design. Where most of these try to create a “rolling ladder“, this model is more of a step stool that has a bar for leaning over.
These models lack full-body support that would allow the user to lie entirely horizontally. A horizontal concept would relieve lower back pain and provide better protection against injury.
Nomad has attempted to solve this problem with its more aggressive Elevator over the engine creeper. It has a longer body support pad that allows the mechanic to get into a near-horizontal position. This allows greater comfort during longer repairs.
The Nomad design can also support the legs, completely eliminating the need to be bent over into a position that puts pressure on the lower back. It is currently the only model on the market that allows this position. Unfortunately, it also costs 2-3 times more than the other designs.
The added cost is a worthwhile investment for folks who want to avoid costly back problems down the road.
Because of the cost involved in creating these topside creepers, many enterprising individuals have started creating their own. Sometimes they take 2×4’s and build their own “human sawhorse” that they can lean on while they work.
Others have taken a standard creeper and then will build legs for it out of metal or wood. If you are handy with a welder, you can create something like this to support your back and get the job done.
I’ve recently seen a new Sky Creeper being advertised where the user attached a standard creeper to an engine hoist.
They could adjust the height and wheel the creeper into place. The key thing is that the other side of the engine hoist had to be weighted down to offset the bodyweight lying on the boom.
Of course, there are no steps on a design like this, so you’d almost have to climb up a separate ladder to get onto it. The entire contraption is probably an accident waiting to happen.
The bottom line is that there are very few topside creeper options. Some of the best designs have been made by farmers looking to solve a problem. But those designs are not scalable in the real world.
Your best bet is to buy an existing design or to create a topside creeper of your own.
Regardless of your choice, you want a model that is going to relieve lower back pain while increasing the safety and speed at which you can work.