Camper shells turn the traditionally exposed truck bed into a lockable, weatherproof space for storing cargo or even oneself on camping trips. The opening windows on many models of camper she'll provide useful ventilation where enclosed tonnes instead create dark caves amenable to mold growth.
Mid- or high-rise shells add another one to two feet of vertical space without the hit to efficiency that awkward loads protruding above the cab incur. On top of this, camper shells facilitate roof racks to mount all sorts of outsize cargo which might not otherwise fit inside the bed.
They are inexpensive compared to slide-in campers and far less stressful to mount, secure, stock, and drive with for a short weekend jaunt to the woods. Furthermore, their low weight and profile means that even the smallest mid-size truck can tote a camper shell without issue where a slide-in may pose a struggle with handling, efficiency, or insurance liability.
Depending on one’s personal philosophy, a shell can represent an investment of a few hundred to nearly ten thousand dollars. Small gaps from poorly-fitting camper shells can prevent a good, weatherproof seal or create an annoying whistle if edges stick out into the disturbed airflow from the cab of one’s truck.
And while an awkwardly fitting and non-color-matched shell can represent a discount of thousands over a new one, it certainly won’t impress one’s coworkers sitting in the office parking lot. Four Wheel Camper Project M Topper, basic aluminum utility shells may cost less than $1,000 installed and ready to drive.
By comparison, a color-matched fiberglass shell with a roof rack ranges from $2,000 to $3,000 depending on the size of one’s truck bed and additional accessories. More exotic shells, like the Four Wheel Campers Project M and AT Overland Summit, near $10,000, but sport the utility of a small pop-up truck camper.
Regardless of the type or model, buying new ensures a truck camper which is color-matched, tightly-fitting, and properly mounted to the rails of one’s truck. If one plans to drive their truck for 200,000 more miles after buying a $2,000 camper shell, then this adds a measly $0.01 to the per-mile lifetime cost.
Premium shells like FCC’s Project M offer more capacity for building out and more space for long-term travel, but at a cost approaching a used slide-in camper. An honest assessment of one’s needs should begin with the question of how often the camper shell will stay mounted, the remaining lifespan of one’s vehicle, and the utility it will provide to one’s lifestyle.
Snug top Camper ShellS oft canvas camper shells have similar security and weatherproofing problems as do soft tonne covers. While they are doubtlessly better than nothing at all, a basic aluminum shell offers more security, weatherproofing, and options for roof racks and other accessories at nearly identical cost.
Else, a no-frills aluminum model provides more of the benefits of a camper shell without a significant increase in cost, and with a longer lifetime owing to sturdier construction and fewer moving parts. Fiberglass shells are the most commonly seen camper shells on the road, and a huge variety of shapes, sizes, and options exist these.
This arrangement has the benefit of having low to no impact on fuel economy and providing great rear and lateral visibility while driving. The downsides of a cab-height shell are posed by their low interiors and smaller size; while this makes fitting into parking garages easier, one may not be able to accommodate common cargoes like furniture or bulky building supplies.
High-rise shells may impact fuel economy negatively, though this is slight at most and a subject of contention on many automotive forums. Swing-out windows allow one to access the truck bed from the side for smaller items, which can be more convenient than crawling in from the rear every time.
The simplest thin-wall models may not be capable of supporting a roof rack, but weigh the least of all hard-side camper shell options. For this reason, many contractors and commercial shell owners opt for thick-walled or otherwise reinforced aluminum shells, which can feature integrated cargo or ladder racks capable of holding far more than the typical 150 pounds dynamic load limit of sport racks from Yakima or Thule.
In a practical case, this could mean that a shell is capable of carrying a rooftop tent down the road, as well as safely supporting two or more campers inside when stationary. It’s worth reading manuals, talking to dealers, or calling the factory itself to more clearly understand the difference between these two ratings.
Since fiberglass shells are more popular for the recreational user, they sport a dazzling variety of options, ranging from lights and inverters to any number of rooftop rack systems and slide-out drawers. Nearly all fiberglass shells feature rooftop dynamic load ratings of 150 pounds, so if one plans on carrying heavy loads like a Jon boat or building materials, the reinforced commercial variants of fiberglass shells should be considered instead.
Camper shell installations which require drilling into the rails of one’s truck bed are slightly more difficult to remove, but this is still a quick job with a good vice grip and socket wrench. When compressed by a properly mounted and tightened camper shell, this provides a strong seal against rain, dust, and wind.
The quality of weather strip installation can vary hugely between camper shell dealers, and sometimes even at the same dealer depending on who does your installation or the notorious “Friday Afternoon Effect.” Without weather stripping, or with a shoddy job at it, leaks can cause pooling inside one’s truck bed or ruin sensitive items that the camper shell was purchased to protect in the first place. Alternatively, for total security, one can run a bead of caulking all the way along both the inside and outside the truck rails where the shell mounts.
Through this method nearly any present or future leak can be eradicated (except from egregious gaps stemming from poor fit) at the cost of bonding the camper shell to the truck bed, which complicates removal. Broken windows, either from rubble kicked up while off-road, shifting cargo, accidents, or just general bad luck can be a huge expense.
Another area to increase savings and utility is the expensive headliner option many shell manufacturers offer. Automotive headliner fabric is easy to find online, and can be installed using heavy-duty spray adhesive.
Carpeting, featuring a rubber base and thick felt pile, provides the most insulation, but should be tested in small areas first to ensure that one’s particular spray adhesive facilitates a strong bond between the fiberglass or aluminum shell and the rubber carpet base. A faster option is to use a shop-vac to simply suck the dust off, and finish problem areas with paper towels and acetone.
For those with four-cylinder midsize trucks like the Toyota Tacoma, camper shells may represent the fullest extent of what their power and payload capacity facilitates. The Decked system is a pre-built version of this featuring slide-out drawers, but at a relatively high cost to what can be achieved in a weekend with power tools and some lumber.
While this mattress would not fit between the wheel wells of a Tacoma without squeezing, the bed platform sits atop them. Memory foam mattresses are a good solution, and ones which fold up allow for more room in the camper shell while not sleeping.
A shell insulated with an indoor/outdoor felt carpet will allow Velcro to be stuck to it, while automotive headliners may not provide a bond at all. This allows one to add hooks for suspending a camping light inside a shell, or even to attach curtains or Reflect ix panels over the windows for privacy and additional insulation.
The T-handles to be found on most styles of camper shell are another place to hang a camping light, which is a boon to those of us using the tailgate to cook on. Blogs and social networks like Pinterest and Reddit offer a wealth of inspiration for build ideas, accessories, and living arrangements.
As with slide-in campers, it is wisest to pick and outfit a model which will support one’s budget and needs both present and future. Wherever one’s adventures lead, a camper shell is the perfect, lightweight companion that won’t break the bank.
A truck camper shell is just what you need to make camping trips more comfortable and fun! In addition, smaller size paired with the low center of gravity allows you to take your truck camper shell to all sorts of environments.
Before you decide to buy a truck camper shell, you need to make sure your truck can haul it. You need to check your truck’s payload rating before you decide on investing in a camper shell.
A dinette Dry bath Fireplace Love seat Queen-sized bed 8-cubic foot fridge A 6-gallon DSI water heater A 1000 watt inverter To haul this giant beast of a camper shell, you’ll need at least 3500/F-350 dual rear wheel trucks with 5500 lbs of payload.
While the Host Mammoth is a bit pricey, the features on this camper make it worth every single penny. The fiberglass exterior of this classic model makes it durable and attractive.
This camper includes a 60 × 80 inch bed with storage space underneath, molded one-piece countertops, and a 3.8-cubic foot three-way fridge. Hallmark gives you a wide variety of options to choose from when it comes to cabinet interiors.
The standard options include Oak or Amber Bamboo cabinets. For an additional cost, you can also choose from Cherry, Blond, Bamboo, Maple, and Hickory cabinetry.
With a 9-foot floor plan, this truck camper shell includes a queen-sized bed, a wet bath, a dinette, and a kitchenette. Other features include a three-way 6.3-cubic foot refrigerator, a 6-gallon DSI water heater, a dual battery compartment, and a 95-watt solar power system, among other things.
So, you can enjoy your trips without worrying about filling up your waste tank sizes. Besides, you don’t have to worry about repairs as this truck camper shell comes with a 6-year structural warranty.
If the attractive cherry-stained interior of this 8-foot 6-inch camper doesn’t reel you in, then I’m sure Lance’s new Easy Charge exterior allows you to attach a portable solar panel or a generator for battery charging, will definitely win you over. You’ll also find on this truck camper shell a 3-cubic foot refrigerator, a two-burner stainless steel cook-top, and a 6-gallon water heater.
The Lance 825 comes with a removable carpet kit and a roof rack system, which makes it perfect for camping trips. You can simply lay out the carpet, pull open the roof rack and settle under, enjoying nature’s beauty.
If your truck cannot haul a large, heavy, camper shell, then the Outfitter Caribou Lite 6.5 is what you’re looking for. The vacuum bound composite walls combined with the walk-on roof and the fully welded aluminum frame make this camper quite sturdy.
During chilly winter camping trips, this camper shell will surely keep you warm. This model could easily be one of the best truckcampershells in the industry, especially with the lifetime structural warranty that it comes with.
Moreover, the 10-foot 1-inch spacious floor plan, second largest in this list, includes a queen-sized bed, a dinette, and a large wardrobe. This 3530 lbs Camp truck camper shell doesn’t disappoint when it comes to the tank capacity.
To match your truck’s color, you can also choose between a white or silver exterior with ten different accents. This construction of this model includes a sturdy wall with a hydraulic, mechanical design.
Moreover, it has a full-length door, which means you don’t have to bend when entering or exiting the camper. Add the weight of the mandatory Fox Package; when fully loaded, this camper probably weighs around 4500 lbs in total.
The Arctic Fox comes with a walk on the ceiling with a cathedral arch, a large basement, heavily insulated walls, a 6-gallon DSI water heater, and a lot more. If you’re looking for a truck camper shell that offers the best value in terms of both quality and price, then this model is meant for you.
The narrow girth and unique rear kickback make it perfect for extreme off-road adventures. This truck camper shell weighs 1325 lbs dry and has a height of 59-inches when the pop up is pulled down.
On this camper, you’ll find a 72 x 78-inch bed, a small kitchenette, a 1.7-cubic foot fridge, and a dinette. The last truck camper on this list, Bundle Wild, has a rugged wooden frame with one-piece fiberglass and an aluminum roof.
With a 7-foot floor plan, this camper includes a 56 x 74-inch mattress with storage space underneath, a kitchen, a wet bath, refrigerator, and a dinette. Also, keep in mind the payload rating of your truck and the full-load weight of the camper when going to buy a truck camper shell.