Camper Shells: What You Need to Know About this Essential Overlanding Truck Accessory
Camper shells have long been a popular accessary for truck owners. Whether you are looking to keep your bed cargo safe from unwanted attention or turn your truck bed into a living space camper shells serve an important functional purpose. With the popularity of overlanding, camper shells have evolved into different forms. If you’re in the market for a camper shell, here is a guide to help you though decide which type is best for you.
Fabric Bed Cover: Simple and Functional
Fabric truck bed covers such as a Softopper or Bestop’s Supertop offer a versatile and affordable truck bed accessory. When fully extended, these tops provide full length bed coverage to keep your payload safe and away from the elements and prying eyes. The sides can roll up for easy access into the truck bed. Whenever you need to haul tall items like a motorcycle or plants or access a bed mounted hitch, these tops can fold away like a convertible top for unlimited height clearance, offering a best of both worlds solution.
Pros: Folds away when not needed, light weight
Cons: Minimal insulation
Fiberglass Hard-Shell: Like a turtle shell for your truck
Fiberglass hard-shell camper shells are the most common type of camper shells. These hard-shell camper shells are lightweight and durable. They may not be as versatile as soft tops but they offer significantly more protection, durability and insulation.
What they lack in the versatility found in soft tops, they make up for in variety of options. These can be configured in various styles to suit your needs; from different window options; fixed windows, sliding windows, windoors (hinged windows that can open like doors for access to the bed) and even different roof heights. A camper shell shouldn’t limit the usage of your truck bed. Depending on the camper shell or how you option yours out, it will allow you to mount things to the shell itself. Some hard shell camper shells can also be fitted with rails on the roof so that you can add accessories like a roof rack, roof top tent or other gear.
Pros: Durable, lightweight, mid-priced, many options and styles, insulation, side access (depending on configuration),
Cons: Not many
Metal Camper Shell: Heavy duty for the serious camper
Need more room for camping or a more heavy-duty option than the fiberglass camper shell? These hardcore camper shells are designed for extreme payloads and longer-term camping.
Pros: More protection from the elements, integrated roof top tent, durable, can still use roof for storage
Cons: Heavy, limited storage, semi-permanent, more for overlanding than work (in most cases)
The RSI Smart Cap is one heavy-duty solution. Featuring steel construction, the RSI Smart Cap can support 330 lbs. of dynamic weight and 770 lbs. of static weight. The Smart Cap can take a roof top tent or mount various gear with no problem.
Companies like Montana based Go Fast Campers (GFC) combines the utility of a camper shell with the convenience of a roof top tent. Their latest version features a metal frame with 3 opening doors and a pop-up hard shell roof top tent. Shown above with roof top tent closed.
Unlike the Smart Cap, GFC’s camper shell is integrated with their roof top tent so you enter the tent from the bottom and also stand up straight in your truck bed with the roof top tent popped up. The only downside to GFC’s camper shell is that you’ll be committed to hauling a rooftop tent on your truck 365 days a year.
No matter what your purpose, camper shells take the functionality of your truck bed to another level. They offer the convenience of an SUV while letting you keep the best benefits of your truck bed.