> TEOTWAWKI Blog: Truck Cap Shopping



Truck Cap Shopping

I'm in the market for a truck cap (shell/topper) for my daily driver/beater/camping vehicle/BOV, a 2000 Ford Ranger. We've got a big cross-country trip this summer and will need some covered, semi-secure storage in the back of the bed. The shell will be handy for camping, and will make hauling stuff around more convenient. Less need to bungee stuff down, no worries about rain, etc.

We did a test-fit to see how sleeping would be in the truck bed. Without much gear, the wife and I could sleep in it comfortably. The toddler-in-the-middle makes things a big snug, but for the time being, it's doable.

For camping, I like it because there's no tent to set up, while comfort should be much better...no rocks in your back, less condensation, drafts, and so on. I've seen some pretty nifty camper shell set ups (check out the Baja Taco), but I'd be keeping it basic to start off with, and personally would like more headroom than you can get with the raised bed setups...at least so I can sit up/crawl around easily. Gear will go outside under a tarp or in the cab of the truck. Max camping length would be 3 days, so extraordinary storage is not needed anyways. On a solo trip, I can easily fit my personal gear and clear a space for sleeping in the back.

In a bail out type situation, a truck cap gives you a portable, instant, low-profile shelter. You can accomplish the same thing with a decent sized van or SUV as well. Park it wherever, hop in the back and sleep. Many people today practice "stealth camping"; basically camping out in their vehicles in places where they wouldn't otherwise be able to--parking lots, quiet residential streets and highway exits. If done with some care, any passersby will just assume it's an empty vehicle, parked for the night. When you're ready to get back on the road, take-down time and pack up is minimal.

Of course, shopping for a cap/shell/topper sucks. Not only can no one agree what to call them, everyone is reluctant to show retail prices (when this happens, you know there's a huge markup in store!), and prices are pretty high. I'm not about to drop $2k on a cap, so it's used for me. Let someone else take that hit. On top of that, it seems no one can agree on which caps are quality. Reviews are all over the place...LEER is great, LEER is crap. ARE is bullet-proof, ARE leaks...at least I've got an idea of the bigger names in the biz.

Anyways, the search begins. Recommendations welcome!