pros and cons of camper shells
Camper shells (aka truck toppers or truck caps) are a popular accessory for truck owners who are looking to increase the storage and security of their truck’s bed. Camper shells are most often crafted using fiberglass or aluminum materials and sit on top of the vehicle's bed. When installed properly, the seal between the vehicle and shell creates a weather-resistant enclosure for cargo, as well as a secluded sleeping area for camping.
With 45+ years of experience in the camper shell industry, here are some pros and cons of camper shell ownership from our leading experts:
1. Increased Storage Space
A camper shell provides more storage space for gear and equipment which is particularly useful for outdoor adventurists who tend to carry larger items such as camping gear, bicycles, etc. Additionally, they carry great benefits for contractors since more tools can be stored within the enclosed, secure truck bed.
Need even more space? Shells also offer the ability to store items on an elongated roof rack, such as kayaks, canoes, skies, fishing poles, roof top temps, and more!
2. Improved Fuel Efficiency
With a camper shell installed, your truck becomes more aerodynamic. Studies have shown that there is an estimated fuel economy increase of about 10 percent by having any type of bed cover. This is accomplished because a shell covers the open truck bed which normally catches air and reduces aerodynamics. Therefore, having a shell on a long road truck could help save money at the pump.
3. Enhanced Security
A camper shell provides a enclosure for your cargo in your truck bed, which can help to deter any theft. The main way it helps is by keeping your cargo out of site and out of mind for thieves. It makes it less tempting because they would have to physically break-in rather than just walk by and grab your stuff. The security level is also up to you. For medium security shells, they come with locks and dark tinted windows keeping people from looking in and opening the door. For higher security, shell manufactures offer an all-aluminum option with no windows making it hard to see and break into. This would be important if you are transporting expensive cargo, like tools for the jobsite.
4. Weather Protection
Shells provides protection from the elements, keeping your gear and equipment dry and safe from the sun, rain, snow, and wind. The one caveat is that we never claim any bed covers are waterproof but are rather water resistant. There are many open holes in the truck bed itself that will let water in when it rains or snows, but the shell does a fantastic job and keeping your cargo dry.
5. Increased Comfort
A camper shell can transform your truck into a comfortable and secure sleeping area, perfect for those outdoor enthusiasts listed before. Some shell models even allow you to lock yourself into the truck bed from the outside while sleeping, but of course there is a way to get out from the inside at any time. One note we have is that anytime you plan to sleep enclosed in your shell is to make sure you have proper ventilation, e.g. cracking open a window or vent.
Shells also offer a more stylish look to your truck because the fiberglass models are molded to follow your trucks body lines. Most shell manufactures sell their shells painted-to-match so it will match whatever color your truck is. Aluminum shells on the other hand value security and functionality over style, for their main purpose is for work at the jobsite.
1. Limited Headroom and Space
A camper shell can be restrictive when it comes to headroom or overall storage. This means that you may need to scoot or crawl to move around inside the shell which may no be easy for some people. Shells do limit your space when it comes to having to haul large items such as dirt bikes or furniture. However, most shell manufactures make a taller shell that gives more room, but they will exceed the height of your cab.
2. Reduced Accessibility
A camper shell can make it more difficult to access the items from the side of the truck. This can be mitigated however, because most shell manufactures over an add-on which allows the side windows to become doors. This helps reach items that have rolled to the very front of your truck bed during travel.
3. Reduced Visibility
A camper shell can restrict your visibility when driving, especially when backing up due to three layers of glass that must be looked through. This can make it more challenging to park or maneuver the truck in tight spaces. However, with the right practice using your side mirrors and back-up camera we have found that it ends up being just a small inconvenience. If you need more visibility, you can also just open the rear door to back up.
4. Burdensome to Remove
Shells are big and heavy so they aren’t the easiest to take off and put back on. Here at Fuller we use a forklift to put shells because it is the quickest way to get the job done. However, most customers we ask seem to not mind how hard it is to remove because they never have a reason to remove their shell. If they did, the job can be done by unclamping the shell and with 4 strong people on each corner to lift it off. Also, if you need to take your shell off often you can build a garage hoist and hoist the shell off yourself by backing your truck into your garage.
After looking at the pros and cons of purchasing a camper shell, in our opinion the pros outweigh the cons; for the cons are more inconveniences and can be mitigated by removing the shell with four strong people. Overall, then benefits of extra storage, security, and weather resistance will enhance your truck’s ability, functionality, and style.
Looking for a camper shell? Checkout our wide selection of shells we have to offer!