Truck owners know the thrill of sleeping in their truck bed if they have the best truck bed mattresses. While these mattresses work to keep you as comfortable as possible, having a camper shell over your truck bed will shield you from different elements.
And this means a more peaceful night’s sleep! So, you need a camper shell for your truck. You can build your own DIY camper shell or simply buy one from an auto parts dealer. But building a camper shell yourself is more beneficial.
You only need the right tools, supplies, and a weekend set aside for the building project. And with the right work input, your camper shell will be ready in a short time. Building your camper shell will be an enjoyable experience if you’re into DIY projects.
What is a truck’s camper shell?
Most people might not know what a camper shell is. But truck owners know what it is. Basically, it is a canopy structure that encloses a pickup truck’s bed thus providing shelter against various elements.
If you want to transport cargo and shelter it from the rain and other elements, a camper shell will be of great value. Also, you might find a camper shell very useful when you need to spend the night in your truck bed. A camper shell also goes by other names such as a truck topper, a truck cap, and a shell just to mention a few reference names.
They were initially made of metals but all that changed since metals would prematurely rust. Also, a metallic truck camper would add more weight to a truck and this affected the gas mileage. Seeking durable and more lightweight truck canopies became the immediate solution to the problems.
This saw an increase in truck canopies made of fiberglass as this material was more durable and lightweight. And today, you will find additional truck canopy materials such as canvas and wood. This brings more options as far as truck camper shell material goes. And when looking to build your own camper shell, you can use any of these materials.
What are the uses of a camper shell?
Initially, a camper shell became very useful during camping, especially at night when you had to sleep. But with time, its initial purpose changed. People began using it as a tool shed, others used it as a space for their supplies. But pickup trucks with a camper shell still remain to be inexpensive and convenient vehicles for camping.
How to build your own camper shell
When building your camper shell, you will need materials, some supplies, tools, and a weekend set aside for the construction work. However, the materials of choice will determine the camper shell’s durability, weight, and performance.
So, you need to make a careful selection. You have a few options when it comes to materials for use to build a camper shell. Some of these materials include PVC pipes for the frame and fiberglass for the siding. You could also use wood frames with a plywood siding. Additionally, you can choose to use metal framing with aluminum sheets as the siding material.
You will need the right tools for particular camper shell materials. For metal framing and aluminum sheets, you will need welding tools and drilling tools. But most people don’t have excellent welding skills, or the tools required to piece metal frames and aluminum together.
If you’re one of these people, be sure to choose one of the two remaining material options. And don’t forget to arm yourself with the right tool for the building works. In the case of wood framing and plywood siding, nails and a nail gun will do just fine. For PVC frames and fiberglass siding, adhesives will come in handy.
Before starting to build your own camper shell, make sure you have taken accurate measurements of the truck bed. If you’re going to use PVC framing, buy 10 PVC pipes with a diameter of 1 inch. Each PVC pipe should be 10 feet long.
Don’t forget to also buy ten, 3-way angle PVC pipe joints and adhesives. For the siding material, buy four fiberglass kits that include a fiberglass cloth and resin. But you might opt for wood framing and plywood siding materials.
In this case, you want to source 10 feet long, 2×2 lumber, and ¼-inch plywood materials for the siding materials. Basically, you will replace the PVC pipes and fiberglass with 2×2 lumber and plywood respectively, keeping their number and measurements the same.
You will also need a few protective gears for the building works. They include a respirator, nice work gloves, and safety goggles. You will also need a spray paint for the wood or fiberglass and four C-clamps.
Once you have every material, supply, and tool ready, you can follow the steps below:
- Step 1: Carefully measure the length and width of the truck bed interior.
- Step 2: Cut four pieces of lumber or PVC into the measured length and four pieces for the width. It depends on the material of choice for the framing.
- Step 3: Also cut four pieces of PVC or wood so they’re 3 or 3 feet high. It depends on how high you want your camper shell.
- Step 4: You will need to connect the PVC pipes using the 3-way angle joints if you’re using PVC framing. When creating the frame, consider the tailgate.
- Step 5: Lay down the siding material on top of the frame and the three sides except for the tailgate section. You will need a door for this side.
- Step 6: Cut right-sized windows on the sides of the siding material. It depends on your personal window size preference.
- Step 7: make a camper shell door for the tailgate section of the canopy.
A camper shell is an excellent utility accessory for pickup trucks. You will need it if you go to a campsite especially at night when you need some night’s sleep and rest. While you can buy a camper shell for your truck, you can build your own camper shell.
You only need the right materials, tools, a few supplies, and time set aside for the construction work. And if you’re a DIYer, you will enjoy building your own camper shell. Transform your pickup truck into a camper truck by adding a camper shell to its truck bed.