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What Is a Truck Camper Shell?

A great thing about camping is that it can accommodate different desires and budgets. A simple tent, a truck camper shell, a well-equipped van, or a luxury RV all grant you the safety needed to survive a night outdoors. 

However, you don’t have to spend tens of thousands of dollars to camp comfortably, especially if you prefer to keep things simple. Working with a quality truck and camper shell might be the best option for a budget-conscious explorer.

Read on to find out if a camper shell is right for you. 

truck with topper shell

What Is a Truck Camper Shell?

First off, what exactly is a truck camper shell? Well, you may know it by many names. You may hear it called a bed cap, box cap, a truck topper, and even just a shell. Whatever the terminology, it’s an accessory you can add to the bed of your truck that gives it a canopy or housing space. 

Why You Should Buy A Camper Shell | Outside

People generally use them to add protection to the bed of their truck for storing tools, supplies, or camping gear. There are usually vented windows on the side and a glass hatch in the rear of the addition to make access to the truck bed less complicated. The addition is also completely removable if the circumstance requires it. 

Why Do People Put Camper Shells on Trucks? 

This addition to your truck is noteworthy. You can do so much with the space created by a truck topper. As mentioned before, storing tools, materials, gear, and other important supplies is the main drive for most truck owners. 

You could choose to turn the space created into a living area for camping and exploring or move your furniture from one house to another in the rain. Or perhaps you need a safer way of transporting your pups. Though there are many reasons people might add a camper shell to their truck, it’s safe to say that truck owners understand the value of a covered bed. 

Motorhome towing truck with camper shell attached
Take your truck on your next camping adventure by adding a camper shell on the bed.

Are Truck Camper Shells Universal?

They are not universal! You can’t simply find a random one on Craigslist and be sure it will fit your truck. If you’re looking to add a camper shell, research is key. 

Truck beds aren’t all the same, so it’s safe to assume that you won’t find a camper shell that fits every truck on the road. A few camper shells claim to be universal, but a custom fit is best. Make sure you vet the situation well and get a camper shell that fits just right. 

Pro Tip: Instead of buying a camper shell, why not try a truck tent for camping? This is how to Turn Your Pickup Into a Camper With a Truck Bed Tent.

Are They Waterproof?

This question is a bit hairy as it is. They are generally advertised as water-resistant or even waterproof, but you can’t always be sure that’s the case. If your truck camper shell is older, you likely have lots of different spots where water can get into the bed area. 

The truth is that even if the truck camper shell isn’t quite waterproof upon the first installment, there are things you can do to solidify its ability to keep water out. If you don’t mind making the addition more permanent, add weatherstripping in the gaps and seal up all the connection points to ensure it’s waterproof. 

Gold truck with camper shell installed driving off road.
Whether you want an extra space to go camping in or just want somewhere to store your tools, a camper shell can help!

How Do I Choose a Camper Shell?

There are thousands of different truck camper shells available on the market. It’s easy to understand how searching for the right one might be a challenge. When choosing a camper shell that’s right for you, first consider how you plan on using the added utility. 

Camper shells come in different materials like aluminum, wood, and fiberglass. A truck used for hard work like construction or landscaping might be best suited to the rugged strength of aluminum. One used for camping and exploring might need a fiberglass camper shell because it adds extra insulation and protection from outside temperatures. 

How Much Do They Cost? 

You don’t have to break the bank to get a new truck camper shell added to your vehicle. Depending on the materials you choose for your basic camper shell, you’ll pay anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 for the topper and installment. It’s a much more affordable way to camp safely in the great outdoors than purchasing an RV if the provisions are suitable for your needs. 

Silver truck parked with camper shell installed.
Get your truck camper shell in either aluminum, wood, or fiberglass.

Does Ford Make Camper Shells?

Ford itself doesn’t manufacture camper shells. However, it’s not a huge challenge to find a shell built to fit a Ford. There are a few manufacturers that focus on designing camper shells to fit Ford trucks precisely—SnugTop being one. 

Pro Tip: Want to turn your truck into the ultimate camping machine? Before you do, discover Does My Truck Camper Need a Title, Registration, and Insurance? 

What Can I Do With an Old Truck Camper Shell?

There is a lot that can be done with an old camper shell. Looking to get rid of it? You could sell it online. If it’s not really worth selling, you can part it out. If it’s not even worth parting out, then take it to the nearest recycling center. 

Is a Truck Camper Shell Worth It?

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and so is value. If you have a need, and the truck camper shell fills it, then the purchase is likely “worth it.” The key is to properly identify your needs.

If you’re an adventurer or a hard worker with a lot of dirty tools, you’ll likely stand to benefit from adding a topper to your truck. Hopefully, the information you discovered here will help make your decision-making process easier. 

Pro Tip: Looking for an epic adventure rig? Check out the Denali 3s: Rugged Mountain’s Game-Changing 3-Slide Truck Camper.

truck bed mattress
A truck camper shell is an affordable way to upgrade your truck bed.

If you want to turn your truck into a cozy camping retreat, you’ll need a mattress that fits your truck bed. Here are your best options: Camp in Your Truck Bed With a Comfy Truck Bed Mattress

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About Tom Morton

Tom, a Pacific Northwest native, is our technical genius. Born in Washington and raised in Alaska before settling in Michigan. He's the man who keeps our operation running, both figuratively and literally.

With a background in Electrical Engineering, Tom specializes in RV solar systems and lithium batteries. He made history as the first documented individual to use a Tesla battery module as an RV battery. Tom has personally assisted countless RVers with system installations and has educated thousands more through his videos and articles.

Cinematography is another of Tom's passions, showcased in his work on the Go North series. You can see his camera skills on display in The RVers TV show on Discovery Channel and PBS where he also stars as a co-host.

Tom's mechanical expertise extends beyond RVs to boats, planes, and all things mechanical. He's renowned for taking on maintenance and repair projects single-handedly and is often spotted underneath RVs, making him the technical backbone of our endeavors.

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