Camping

How to Choose a Truck Canopy

Your new truck can do more for you if you accessorize it properly. Installing a truck canopy is by far the best decision since it keeps your cargo protected from theft and weather. However, you need to know first how to choose a truck canopy.

Since there are several options on the market, it’s okay to get confused. But if you read the article from top to the bottom, you’ll leave no further questions regarding the topic. We have come up with everything you need to know about truck canopies.

Without a second word, let’s dive right in!

Read More: How To Dehydrate Camping Meals

Why Choose a Truck Canopy for Camping?

Truck canopy camping is such an easy way to convert your truck into a camper. You only need to follow some actionable steps to install a truck topper to your pickup. And then, change the camper shell’s interior as you wish and make a perfect sleeping space.

The setup process can vary from basic to advance level. Yes, you can just throw a mattress into your truck box (nothing at all) or go for a custom-built bed as well as storage units.

However, here are some of the most alluring benefits a truck canopy offers:

  • Extreme versatility
  • Doesn’t affect gas mileage
  • Lots of customization
  • Stealthy
  • Hardshell walls and roof to protect from weather
  • No need to tear down your camping setup

How to Choose a Truck Canopy From the Main Four Types

Below are the different types of truck canopies, a well as the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Type-1: Aluminum Truck Canopy

Aluminum Truck Canopy
Aluminum Truck Canopy

Campers love aluminum truck canopies because they are incredibly lightweight. For this feature, these canopies put less stress on the suspension of the trucks.

If you need to take your truck canopy on and off so frequently, going for an aluminum truck cap would be a good idea. Because it’s pretty easy to install and remove a well. Also, this cap is a lot cheaper compared to a fiberglass truck cap. So, this is in your favor if you are on a tight budget.

However, there are a few things you may not like about aluminum truck canopies.

They are not insulated like fiberglass canopies. This will become a hindrance for you if you were planning to do literally a lot of camping with your truck canopy.

Moreover, these caps do not come with a wide range of color options. You can choose from white, black, and silver only because most of the aluminum truck caps come in these colors.

Pros

  • Built-in storage- Aluminum truck caps are widely used in trade work, this is why they come with built-in storage by the manufacturer.
  • Strength- They are usually manufactured for trade work like plumbing, electrical, construction, etc. They are extremely sturdy.
  • Good used selection- People use these a lot and even second-hand pieces are used more than other options.
  • Easy to install- For being lightweight, they are super easy to install.

Cons

  • Not insulated- Generally, they’ll be hotter in the summer and colder in the winter than other options.
  • Lack of ventilation- Most caps come with less ventilation. Although this works better for stealth camping, it affects comfort level.
  • Difficult to repair and customize- Since these canopies come with built-in storage, you may face difficulties modifying or making repairs when the storage doesn’t suit your needs.

Type-2: Fiberglass Truck Canopy

Fiberglass Truck Canopy
Fiberglass Truck Canopy

These days, fiberglass truck canopies are becoming more popular than other types. They come with customizable options that people like. You’ll get doors, windows, fishing rod holders, lights, toolboxes, and a whole lot more that make this type more suitable for your needs.

If you have cosmetic issues and want something that looks great, fiberglass truck caps can be your caps. While we’re talking about looking great, you can paint these canopies to match your particular truck using the certain truck’s color code.

However, fiberglass truck canopies are quite heavy. So, if you prefer a lightweight one, this is not what you’re looking for. Also, it’s a costlier option.

Pros

  • Aerodynamic- These canopies are made with aerodynamics in mind. You’ll notice an improvement in gas mileage while installing yours.
  • Options- You’ll find numerous options and find one that perfectly fits your truck canopy camping needs.
  • Easy to repair- It’s easier to repair than other types of truck canopies. Also, the supplies you’ll need to make repairs are available at most hardware stores.

Cons

  • Weight- Although fiberglass caps are not as heavy as wooden ones, it’s heavier compared to an aluminum truck cap.
  • Strength- We are not calling it weak, but fiberglass trucks are a bit more prone to crack or break than an aluminum canopy.
  • Cost- Purchasing a new fiberglass canopy will cost more.

Type-3: Wedge Camper Truck Canopy

Wedge Camper Truck Canopy
Wedge Camper Truck Canopy

Wedge camper trucks are another lightweight option having a lot more amazing features.

These campers are very strong that support huge weights (up to 500lbs of weight). So, you can haul all of your fun-having gear during camping trips. Also, the mounting accessories such as cargo racks, awnings, and off-road lights to the GFC’s sides are pretty easy.

In addition, there are so many windows that ensure so much ventilation.

Pros

  • Weight- These campers are made of aluminum and other composite materials that are lightweight. Saying fair and square, they are a slightly improved version of fiberglass canopies while it’s about gas mileage.
  • Space- Wedge campers come with notable huge space. You can even cook inside, stand up and change clothes more comfortably.
  • Accessibility- The GFC comes with completely open three sides that allow you to access gear more easily. There’s no need to climb inside your camper shell when you need something.
  • Ventilation- They have multiple window configurations that offer you much ventilation. Also, the GFC has fully opened three sides; those are another reason for the ventilation.

Cons

  • Less stealthy- Wedge truck canopies are not perfect for stealth camping, sorry. The top opened up is nothing but a dead giveaway for you while you’re sleeping in there.
  • Cost- This is a costlier option than others.

Type-4: Wood DIY Truck Canopy

Wood DIY Truck Canopy
Wood DIY Truck Canopy

It’s a great option to customize your own truck canopy. If you choose quality wood and you are skilled in DIY projects like these, you can build it exactly how you want it. So, the height, features, and strength largely depend on you- how you are making it and what you are using to make it.

However, wood is heavy and generally not aerodynamic enough, meaning it’s not that good for the gas mileage of your truck.

Initially, maybe it seems a cheap option, but the cost of materials and your time is not less expensive. It’s as costly as other options.

Pros

  • Customizable- If you are good at DIY projects, you can have a truck canopy just like you want it.

Cons

  • Very heavy- Wood is heavy, so don’t expect it to become a lightweight option.
  • Leaks- There are chances of water access that may result in wood rot, leaks, and even mold. Because it’s really hard to achieve all the seams fully sealed.

Which Truck Canopy Should You Choose?

Although the answer should be “it’s up to you” (since we’ve made it all clear in front of you), we would suggest fiberglass if you asked us. From the comparative analysis, you should know which type fits your needs ideally.

We talked about strength, price, space, accessibility, visual appearance, and almost everything that you should know about before making a purchase. So, now, it’s your time to go for one.

However, fiberglass canopies are the ultimate route to start a bed camping adventure. It’s aerodynamic, comes with hundreds of options, easy to repair, and has numerous advantages that campers want to have.

So, yes, that would be our recommendation.

Things You Should Consider While Choosing a Truck Canopy

A few things shouldn’t be missed to consider while purchasing a truck canopy. These are…

Truck Canopy’s Interior Height

You will want the most possible headroom while truck shell camping. You will get more room for eating, storing stuff, changing clothes, and even only sitting up in there. Also, there’s more room means you’ll get more space to have a comfortable mattress.

Therefore, when you select a truck canopy for camping, make sure to select one that rises even higher than cab height.

Budget

Set your mind firstly whether you purchase a new or used truck canopy. If you go for a new fiberglass truck canopy, you’ll need around $1000-$3000 plus. On the other hand, a wedge camper will be around $6500+.

Purchasing a new one is always a better idea since you can fairly customize it to your needs. Also, there’s nothing to worry about leaks because a new one generally offers a warranty and installation as well.

However, if buying a new canopy is not your option, you’ll get fiberglass truck caps at $2000 though it depends on how old they are.

Window Options of The Truck Canopies

Proper ventilation is an inevitable part of camping. A minimum of one sliding window having a screen is a must for truck shelling camping. Also, a window coming with a side wing can also be a good option when you need to reach things at the truck bed’s front end.

Moreover, going for a dark ceramic window tint (high-quality) is recommended. It will aid to increase privacy, hide your prying eyes, have successful stealthy camps, and reduce heat.

Once more major upgrades are made to your truck that will take the comfort level to the next- installing a vent fan in the truck shell’s roof.

The Headliner of A Truck Canopy

For truck camping, condensation is inevitable (especially when the weather is cold) and problems will be more when you have more people in the truck.

Once you install a headliner, it will prevent the condensation from dripping down and pooling when you are sleeping. This is how it will alleviate the problem.

Truck Canopy Color

No, it’s not only about visual appearance, color also has an effect on climate control during truck shell camping.

In simpler words, a silver or white truck canopy is comparatively cooler in the hot weather. On the contrary, a dark-colored canopy stays warmer in the winter.

Frequently Asked Questions of How to Choose a Truck Canopy

How Can I Fit a Truck Canopy?
It’s quite easy to do the job. You need to climb your pickup bed firstly and then go the furthest possible. Next, align the clamps and use a socket wrench for hand tightening them. Close the tailgate in the next step and keep the truck canopy aligned. Finally, adjust and realign.
Will a Truck Canopy Improve Gas Mileage?
To be honest, it always does not. In fact, the additional weight lowers the mileage.
How Long Will It Take to Install a Truck Canopy?
On average, it will take 2 to 4 hours to install your truck canopy.
If I Lower the Tailgate, Will It Improve Gas Mileage?
Well, experts say that lowering tailgate may hurt fuel economy instead of helping it. It reduces efficiency.
How Big My Truck Should Be If I Install a Truck Camper?
In case, you are purchasing your very first truck and you’re literally willing to have a truck camper, skip the ¾-ton and ½-ton, buy a 1-ton truck. It can carry 2,000 pounds or more weight.

Conclusion

And, we are at the end of our discussion. Do you now know how to choose a truck canopy? You’re surely saying a yes since we have broken down every necessary information into chunks.

Truck canopies work like a champ when you are on camping trips. They give your truck SUV stylings as well as let you sleep sound while camping trips. They also provide 100% protection against UV rays, snow, and weather issues that may damage the equipment in your truck.

So, if you can choose the right fit for you, you can take proper advantage of truck canopies. Hope you’ll get the perfect one, best of luck!

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