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Researching a shell for my truck

Discussion in 'General Survival and Preparedness' started by Idahoser, Jul 31, 2014.

  1. Idahoser

    Idahoser Monkey+++ Founding Member

    The "camper vs. RV" thread got me thinking.

    I'm beginning to get serious about putting a cap/camper shell/topper on my truck, but I don't know enough to feel like I can make a smart decision. It's a used truck, 2005 F-250 8-ft bed with Super Cab, I have no idea how difficult it will be to find an appropriate used cap or if I need to buy new. If they have to paint a new one anyway then the color of a used one wouldn't matter. I'd like the dark tinted windows that can be opened and the front window that comes out for cleaning, other than that I don't know much.
    Any suggestions?
  2. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    Mine, the front window neither moves nor comes out, but it has never been a problem. It is held to the walls with 6 clamps, and can easily be removed or installed by two people. The window is easy to clean while it is off the truck. It doesn't collect much dirt, and has only been cleaned once this year.inside Cargo lights are nice for night loading, and sliding/locking screened windows are good for ventilation. I have a F-150. If you want a brand or pics, let me know.
  3. Tevin

    Tevin Monkey+

    Are you looking for a full drop-in camper or just a cap? There's a biiig difference.

    I've also looked into a cap for my 2005 F150.
    I decided against it because the nice new Fiberglas caps look great but are quite expensive (starting at $1200), especially if you want extras like windows that open and a pass-through front. There are cheaper aluminum models...they also look cheap and are easily dented and dinged.

    If you go the used route, keep your expectations low. You're pretty much stuck with whatever you can find, and at least around here it's almost impossible to find a used cap that does not also come with a truck underneath it. Forget about getting a particular color and be prepared to compromise on features.

    I've concluded that it's not worth it unless you buy a new/used truck with a cap already on it, or you're just really, really, lucky and find a used stand-alone cap that has everything you want.
  4. Dunerunner

    Dunerunner Monkey

  5. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    Check your laws. A pass thru window for a cap (or slide in) won't serve much use if you can't have passengers in the box under way. Screens are good if you are going to sleep in it on the road.
  6. -06

    -06 Monkey+++

    What do you want to do with it? Occasional camping or long term? The aluminum shells are super light and easily installed. Fiberglass models look better but are often heavy cutting your fuel milage. The slip in campers are nice but are very heavy and the height will again cut your fuel efficiency. If you get the slip in be sure to get a front entrance capable model. Going around back is a pain and also only gives you one entrance/exit. We always cut the gas before bedtime when using our slide in. We now have a small R/V and still cut the gas--just in case. Carbon Monoxide poisoning is nothing to be played with---nor is a gas explosion.
  7. kckndrgn

    kckndrgn Moderator Moderator Founding Member

    I looked into toppers when I got my truck, just couldn't afford one at the time. They can/do paint to match your truck color. Most now have the 3rd light and when I talked to one dealer in my area they said the shells are made to stay on now due to the 3rd break light. Thought that was kinda stupid, but oh well.
    What I did get was a roll-up tonneau cover.
    Makes it nice as I can cover the bed of the truck to keep contents dry and out of sight. Easy to install and limited impact (if any) on gas mileage. When hauling oversized items, I just roll it up and it stays next to the back window on the top edge of the bed.
    Downside, in order to cover the contents of the bed, everything must stay below the sides of the bed. It can be easily cut into (haven't had that problem). Not 100% water tight, but when the original bed liner was in there it was very water resistant. Took the liner out and now there is a gap at the front of the bed, no biggie though.
  8. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    Third light, cargo lights, that is just a pigtail plug near the tailgate. No effort at all to undo or reinstall.
  9. Idahoser

    Idahoser Monkey+++ Founding Member

    I had looked at slide-in campers but this project would be just a camper shell over the bed.
    I don't have a terrible dislike of the aluminum style but I'd really prefer a fitted fiberglass shell. The reason I'm looking, is that I would like to keep things in the bed from getting wet, I would probably camp in it rarely, I don't have a sliding window on the truck so the pass through is not necessary, but I would like to be able to clean the windows without removing the shell. I can't say I'll never remove the shell, because I do have a couple of motorcycles, but it would be my intent to leave it on for the most part. I can imagine it might be easier (if not cheaper) to rent a uhaul bike trailer than to remove the cap.
    I find it difficult to get info on what fits what, but apparently there's some range of years that might be 96-07 or something similar, of Super Cab Super Duty trucks with long bed, that will fit. It has to do with the shape of the back of the cab, I can't share with F-150s or crew cabs.
    I would imagine the screens and interior lights and such can be added but the third brake light and opening windows might need to be factory options. If there isn't a headliner already in it I'd probably add one.

    It does seem like a bunch of money, but then I'm not the type of person who would ever have paid what my vehicles cost when they were new, I always get nicely equipped, 5 year old vehicles for less than what a new beater-level would be. A couple grand really doesn't seem impossibly high when you're paying $50k for a truck, but on a $17k truck it's a lot bigger portion.

    However, I have high hopes that this truck will last me a very good long time, and if I get a decade out of it, the topper will have been a good investment, I think.
  10. Idahoser

    Idahoser Monkey+++ Founding Member

    Reading that I just wrote seems like I've about talked myself into a new one.

    If I did that, does anybody have recommendations for how to go about it? Go to the local dealer, mail order, outdoor shows, sales?
  11. HK_User

    HK_User A Productive Monkey is a Happy Monkey Site Supporter

    Just like the rear camera that gets busted up when the thieves steal or attempt to steal the tail gate etc.

    For me best was a hard shell top, tail gate lock, hard shell always stays locked.

    AND I took the right sided hinge mount off, welded up the gap and replaced it with torx and red lock tite.
  12. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    Oh, I lock everything. Tailgate and cap are locked even while empty.
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