Best Truck Bed Toppers and Your Options?

Truck owners, especially frequent campers love truck bed toppers. They also go by the name camper shells and that’s for a good reason. Some even call it truck caps, truck canopies, box shells, etc. If you are new to truck bed toppers, finding a good quality truck topper can be a real challenge for you. Therefore, today we are here with comprehensive information on truck bed toppers so that you can make an informed decision when you buy one for yourself.

Truck owners opt for truck bed toppers because it creates large, weatherproof storage space in the truck. It also makes your truck bed comfortable enough to sleep in it.

Before making any purchase, you should be well aware of why you are using the topper. It will help you make the right choices while purchasing a topper for yourself. It will also give you an idea of what kind of topper you would like to have on your truck. This begins with knowing what a topper isn’t and what it can’t do. The liftgate window at the rear and lock on the back are not enough to stop any theft but it does prevent. Your ability to stack oversized cargo will be limited because of the limited room, although it’s a lot, it’s not enough to stack large logs on top of it. Gaining access to items in the back is going to be tougher than ever.

Types of Truck Bed Toppers

Like any other truck bed accessories, a truck bed toppers also come in various types; in this blog, we will look into the types of toppers and what are your options. It will be followed by a list of top manufacturers of truck bed toppers. This section will help you decide what fits best to your purpose.

  • If you need a lot of headroom, enough to be able to stand on your truck bed, you should opt for “High Rise” camper shell which will also accommodate taller cargo in the bed.
  • On the other hand, if you need a topper that enables for easy access to the bed, then you should opt for a bed topper that comes with side-opening windows. This is a common feature among commercial topper manufacturers in the market. Some commercial options also have a sliding bed cargo tray that makes access to items even more convenient.
  • If you have a lot of expensive gear that you want to keep safe and prevent it from being stolen you need a stronger commercial system that comes with heavy-duty aluminum or steel lock. You could additionally buy locks for your toolboxes and drawers if you have them in your bed.
  • Some want the option to mount items on the roof of the truck topper, for them, a topper with roof rails would be a good option that could easily carry kayaks, ladders, mountain bikes, camping gear, etc.
  • People who are looking for a topper to camp inside the truck, they should opt for a liner truck camper shell. It provides a warmer and quieter space inside the bed.
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Types of Truck Bed Topper Material

01. Fiberglass and Thermoplast

Either fiberglass or thermoplastic shells are made to contour fit the lines of the truck bed you have. So, there will be different models of fiberglass camper shells depending on the make and model of your truck. Their advantage is that they give the original appearance of the manufacturer and has smooth lines which are good for aerodynamics. It is true that a camper shell can increase fuel economy because of reduced drag. That said, these types of camper shells are the most expensive and prices can start for nearly $1500. Moreover, you should not that it is easily breakable so it’s not a good option for off-roading.

Cons:

  • They are more expensive than other options and can run up to $200 including installation.
  • They are heavier than other options and can weigh up to 200 lbs thereby decreasing your fuel efficiency.
  • For commercial use, fiberglass can be a tough option to choose from for your truck bed.

Pros:

  • You can match the factory paint for your truck thereby giving a good aesthetic appearance.
  • They are durable and can handle wear as well as external weather hazards that other options.

02. Aluminum:

The aluminum shell toppers are made from standard molds. They will fit the bed of each truck but the lines are not exactly designed to give a well fit contoured appearance to the truck. Considering aluminum shells, you will have to sacrifice in appearance and aerodynamics. Moreover, aluminum shells only come in standard colors and they may not match the color of your vehicles. On the other hand, they come in larger sizes and are durable as well as affordable than most other options. The prices of an aluminum shell start at just over $500. It is durable enough to survive frequent off-road travels.

Cons:

  • They are generally white so they don’t give an aesthetically pleasing appearance
  • They get dings and dents after a few days of use and appear likewise because of the soft aluminum.

Pros:

  • They are lightweight and are inexpensive so they can save you a ton of expense.
  • There are some commercial options that come with features such as shelving, double doors, and toolboxes.

03. Canvas

Unlike other hard shells, a canvas shell is not so sturdy but does offer the convenience of being folded down when not needed. A canvas topper would enable you to carry large items in your pickup bed when you need without even removing the camper. This collapsible canvas shell comes in standard sizes and colors and provides the most benefits at a smaller price tag. Their cost can start at just under $300 which is very affordable compared to fiberglass which starts at nearly $1500. However, it doesn’t provide much protection against theft as they can be easily cut through a knife.

04. Plastic/Composite:

They are the latest type in the market which is much lighter, relatively durable and comparatively expensive than other options. They kind of bridge between all the above options. But, for now, their color selection is limited and has some advantages too.

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Cons

  • Limited color option.
  • With all the trimmings they can be relatively pricey and can go around $1500 after installation.

Pros

  • They are made from high-quality material and are durable. They are better than aluminum material but not as good as the fiberglass material.
  • Considering their features and durability their cost is lower than the fiberglass material.

Determining the Cost of Your Topper

The cost of the topper you buy will primarily depend on the brand or manufacturer of the topper as well as the model of your pickup. For example, a Ridgeline truck camper shell will cost less than a Ridgeline camper shell for Ford -150, simply because of the fact that Ford-150 is a popular model. Toppers for smaller size truck will also be relatively cheaper than a full-size option. Further, we are going to list some of the best brands and manufacturers of the truck toppers, however, you should be aware of the fact that installation is also an added cost, which will vary depending on the make and model of your truck.

4 Types of Camper Models

01. Camper Shell Topper:

Camper shell toppers are usually mounted onto the truck bed rails and are typically made of fiberglass, aluminum, etc. They provide limited space and is the same height as the truck cab. For new truck owners, this is a great option to start with for a better camping experience. This is definitely a step above the regular tent camping and you will have to create an interior with a carpet kit and other storage cabinets for a comfortable space.

02. Slide-In, Cab Over Camper:

This type of camper shell simply slides into the truck bed using jacks to lift it to the height. This is rather easy to mount and is secured using turnbuckles and straps. It has a sleeping area that extends over the cab and therefore often called a cab over campers. This type of overhang gives an additional is for its occupants to sleep. Moreover, it is tall enough for a normal person to be able to stand up inside the truck bed. These types of campers come with a dinette which converts into a sleeping area. It will easily accommodate two adults and a couple of children to sleep over. They are also wider than usual campers and sometimes overhangs to the sides of the bed. One of the convenient features is that you can remove the camper after parking when needed.

03. Chassis Mount Camper:

This type of camper is similar to the cab-over slide-in camper but will have a cab over the section for sleeping. The difference is that the truck’s bed is removed and the camper has to be installed permanently to the chassis of the truck. They are also classified as a Class-C camper. After the truck bed is removed, you will have more option while configuring the floor plan. You can decide on the placement of the door, windows, and other aspects; you could also arrange for additional storage in the camper system.

04. Pop-Up Camper:

The pop-up camper has a striking feature that the roof lowers down while driving and then raises or pops-up while parked for camping. Features in a pop-up camper are commonly found in the slide-in style camper. The camper may or may not include a cab over the section. On the other hand, the biggest advantage is that it improved maneuverability while you are on the road. There is less wind resistance with the roof lowered and you get it back when parked.

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Brands/Manufacturers:

  • ARE:

    The company provides a range of products from truck covers to caps and commercial gear and accessories for the truck. You can look into their Z-series, TW & HD series models and see if you find one for yourself.

  • ATC

    This company provides American-made products including caps, lids, accessories, etc. They have several products in the topper section such as the LED, LTD, LEX, LHR and other similar but high-quality models.

  • Century:

    Century produces some of the best truck caps in the market. They have a wide selection of camper shells and toppers starting from their ULTRA to ULTRA-SPORT and other models that are worth checking out.

  • Brand FX:

    This is a good brand to look into if you are looking for composite work toppers. Their models fit almost all pickup trucks both from older to newer models. Currently, they have a selection of two variants in their topper lineup.

  • Jason:

    Get premium truck caps from Jason which give a custom fit to your pickup. It also features waterproof tinted glass side sliding windows with screens. Other features include SUV style flip open rear access door, rotary latch locking rear doors and more.

  • Leer:

    Leer is one of the most popular brands in the market and has a wide selection of truck bed toppers to meet your specific needs. They come in a number of models, designs and fits for your pickup. They are definitely worth checking out.

  • Raider:

    Raider is the professional manufacturer of fiberglass truck caps and has a few models to fit your pickup truck. You will definitely find the perfect fit for your pickup from the company.

  • Ranch:

    This company specializes in fiberglass truck toppers and have nearly five different models and lineups for your pickup, each with a specific purpose to serve.

  • Snugtop:

    The company does produce some of the best truck toppers in the market, but they don’t have many options for all make and model of the pickup truck.

  • Unicover:

    This company offers a large selection of fiberglass, aluminum, and commercial toppers. You are sure to find one that fits your pickup and your needs.

Conclusion:

There are many popular brands manufacturing pickup toppers and it’s not really easy to say who is the best. Each brand has its own advantages and disadvantages such as some would be lighter and some would be heavier. Some brands would have more models and some only a few.

That said, truck toppers are surely a great accessory to add to your pickup if you are really serious about camping and keeping your cargo safe. But if you use your pickup to carry large cargo, it may not be a good option for you. Take your time before deciding on the brand and the model of pickup truck topper you want for your pickup.

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