The Guide to the Best Truck Bed Toppers. It’s no secret that pick-up trucks have a lot of appeal. There isn’t anything more practical in terms of consumer vehicles, especially if you spend a lot of time moving things from one place to another. The average standard truck bed is approximately 6.5 feet long and 5.3 feet wide, making a pickup an ideal vehicle for moving furniture, hauling materials for that new shed you’ve been planning on building, or even constructing a truck bed camper. While there are numerous applications for a truck bed, there are some drawbacks to the pickup setup.
The openness of the bed itself is one of the main issues. If you don’t want a soggy couch on your living room floor, make sure the weather is nice on moving day. Truck beds are also not particularly secure. Even with a flimsy truck bed cover, anyone who tries hard enough can easily access anything in the bed. This is where truck bed toppers come into play. Obviously, the best truck bed toppers are subjective. That being said, there are some important criteria that truck beds must meet in order to be considered high-quality and worth their hefty price tag.
This guide will cover the best truck bed toppers for sale in 2023. We’ll look at some of the most important truck bed requirements, such as fitment, utility, security, and construction materials.
What exactly is a Truck Bed Topper?
Before we get into the specifics of selecting the best truck bed topper, let’s go over the fundamentals. Tuck bed toppers, at their most basic, are simply hard or soft shells that cover the bed of a pickup truck. The terms “truck bed topper,” “camper shell,” “truck bed cap,” and “truck canopy” are frequently used interchangeably. That’s all there is to it. However, there is some variation in the types of truck bed toppers available.
Truck shells can differ not only in terms of how they are installed, but also in terms of material, interior dimensions, and cost. All of these characteristics are heavily influenced by the truck topper brand you select.
Material Considerations When Choosing a Truck Bed Topper
One of the most important aspects to consider before purchasing a truck bed topper is the material. There are advantages to various types of topper materials, but it is critical to find one that best meets your needs. Aluminum and fiberglass are the two most common materials used to construct truck bed toppers. Alternatively, some people prefer to go the DIY route and build their own truck toppers out of wood.
Truck Bed Toppers Made of Aluminum
It should come as no surprise that aluminum truck bed toppers are the most durable option when it comes to weather resistance. Aluminum truck toppers are typically built for trade work, which means they are built to withstand harsh conditions without being damaged internally or externally. That also means they are among the most secure toppers available. They are typically more utilitarian in nature, with internal storage for equipment and tools.
While this is likely to be a plus for those looking for a topper for their work truck, it may be a disadvantage for those looking for a truck camper shell because it limits the amount of internal space. Because aluminum is such a lightweight material, installing and removing aluminum toppers is a breeze. Because aluminum toppers are widely used in professional applications, there are many of them in circulation, making them common and reasonably priced.
While an aluminum topper will most likely provide the most utility, there are some drawbacks. Because aluminum isn’t a great heat insulator, it won’t be ideal for cold winter days if you plan on spending a lot of time back there. Because aluminum is a rigid material, it is also difficult to customize, repair, or modify. They also lack ventilation and windows, which makes camping in them less than ideal.
Truck Bed Topper Made of Fiberglass
Moving on from metal truck bed toppers, fiberglass camper shells are a better choice for more recreational truck topper applications. Fiberglass toppers are less utilitarian and provide a better overall experience if you plan on spending time in the back of your truck. Most fiberglass camper shells include locking windows, watertight seals, and, in some cases, sunroofs. Fiberglass truck toppers are unquestionably the most common type of truck topper, which means there are a plethora of them available. With a simple eBay or Craigslist search, you can easily find used fiberglass truck campers for nearly any vehicle.
Another intriguing feature of fiberglass camper shells is that they are frequently aerodynamically efficient. Because fiberglass is more malleable and shapable than metal, there is a focus on preserving fuel economy through fiberglass camper shell design. While the difference in MPG may not be huge, it is usually noticeable in a good way.
With that out of the way, fiberglass truck camper shells do have a few disadvantages. For starters, they are not nearly as strong as metal shells. While this isn’t usually an issue, it is when it comes to severe weather, as fiberglass toppers will not withstand hail, strong winds, or massive amounts of snow. Fiberglass toppers are known to crack and break over time, so if longevity is your primary goal, they may not be the best choice. While fiberglass toppers are the most common, they can be very expensive if purchased new.
Dedicated Camping Toppers
Overlanding and truck camping have grown in popularity in recent years, and it’s easy to see why. However, if you’re serious about it, you’ll need a high-quality truck bed camper to get the job done. Having said that, many people make do with a fiberglass topper for their truck camping excursions. There are companies that specialize in truck bed campers if you are interested in a dedicated truck camping setup.
The main advantage of these truck campers is that they are intended to be lived in. That usually means they have good thermal retention, plenty of ventilation, creature comforts like windows, and overall strength. When compared to other types of campers, dedicated truck bed campers are more intricate and complex. Dedicated camper shells come in a variety of shapes, with some resembling a small metal room on wheels and others resembling a regular topper with a roof tent mounted. Obviously, you’d have to spend a significant amount of time in the back of your truck to justify a purchase like this.
The price of dedicated truck bed camper toppers is the biggest issue. Most serious truck camper toppers cost well over $5,000, with some options exceeding $10,000. This is roughly ten times the cost of a traditional fiberglass or aluminum topper. While they do have some serious features, some people find it difficult to justify the price.
Truck Bed Topper Made of Wood
Wood truck camper toppers are possibly the least user-friendly option on this list. In general, a wood truck topper cannot be purchased new. They are frequently fabricated. It’s probably not a good idea to build one yourself unless you have some serious woodworking skills. The primary advantage of building a wood truck topper is the ability to create whatever best suits your needs. Some people choose to build their own wooden camper shell because they can’t find one with the right dimensions for their needs. Others simply have a lot of spare wood lying around and the necessary skills.
However, there are several potential drawbacks to making a wooden truck topper. The weight of wood as a building material is one of the most significant. Unless you choose a light-weight wood option, wooden truck toppers are usually the heaviest. This can put additional strain on your truck’s suspension and make installation and removal difficult.
Wooden truck toppers are also the most prone to leaking. As a result, they are a poor choice for truck camping in wet weather. Moisture can rot the wood over time, causing damage later on. Building your own wood topper is rarely less expensive than buying one made of fiberglass or aluminum. Wood is expensive, as is the time it would take you to build it.
What Qualities Should a Truck Bed Topper Have?
Aside from the construction materials, there are other factors to consider when purchasing a truck topper. Truck toppers aren’t universal unless specifically stated for a specific brand, which means you’ll need to find one that fits the dimensions of your truck. That should be fairly simple, as it is usually the first item listed in the product description.
You’ll also need to consider the payload of your vehicle. The payload is the amount of weight that can be added to a truck’s bed area. This number varies greatly depending on the vehicle. A Toyota Tacoma, for example, has a payload capacity of 1,050 – 1,685 lbs, whereas a Ford F-150 has a payload capacity of 1,310 – 2,238 lbs. Truck toppers made of fiberglass or aluminum typically weigh between 180 and 200 pounds. However, you must also take into account everything else in the truck’s bed.
If you intend to use the truck topper for recreational purposes, you must also consider your dimensions. You are limited in length by the length of your truck bed. Height, on the other hand, is an important consideration for truck campers. Do you wish you could sit up in your truck camper? If you’re tall, you’ll need one with a high-rise design.
Finally, consider the cost of the various camper options available. After some searching, I discovered some used fiberglass toppers for as little as $400 and some camping-specific, high-end toppers for as much as $5,000. The cost of a topper can vary greatly. The key is to find a topper that is both affordable and of high overall quality.
2023’s Best Truck Toppers
With all of the above factors in mind, we went ahead and compiled a list of some of the best and most popular truck toppers on the market right now. There are numerous manufacturers who produce truck camper toppers for almost every vehicle on the market. While they all achieve the same overall goal, there are a significant number of high-quality toppers that stand out in terms of quality, price, and utility.
Purchasing a new truck top camper shell can be an expensive ordeal. If you’re looking at this list and thinking that these toppers are way out of your price range, look for used options in your area as well. Of course, any used truck topper that you are considering purchasing should be thoroughly inspected. Watch out for leaks and cracks, which can ruin any potential gem. Otherwise, we try to cover as many truck topper styles as possible in this list.
Overland Series Truck Caps by A.R.E.
4are.com is where you can buy it.
When it comes to truck camper shells, particularly those made of fiberglass, it’s difficult to find a company that can compete with A.R.E. in terms of both quality and pedigree. A.R.E. has been making personal fiberglass truck caps since the early 1980s and has been in the truck cap business for over 50 years. When it comes to truck bed toppers, it is safe to say that they know what they are doing. The Overland Series by A.R.E. is one of the company’s best-selling lines and is known for its durability, fit, and finish.
The Overland Series from A.R.E. is a collaboration between the former company and Line-X coating, which is known for its high strength and rigid spray-on bed liner. The two companies’ collaboration is ideal for truck topper production because the Line-X coating, which is used on all A.R.E. Overland Series products, adds strength to high-stress areas of the topper. That makes it an excellent truck topper option for those who enjoy spending time off-road. The increased rigidity allows the Overland to remain stable with minimal flexing or movement.
The A.R.E. Overland toppers are also a good option if you’re looking for a good truck camper top. The Overland has plenty of ventilation and airflow if you spend some time back there on a hot day, thanks to features like a locking rear window and sliding side windows.
Platform Truck Camper Topper by Go Fast Campers
Go Here to Buy: gofastcampers.com
If you’re looking for a truck topper that’s specifically designed for truck camping, Go Fast is one of the most well-known and high-quality brands in the industry. The GFC Platform truck camper is their most popular model among a variety of truck camper shells. It has all of the features you’ll need for a good truck camping trip without the astronomical price tag. The Go Fast Campers Platform setup includes a roof tent that can comfortably sleep two adults. However, the Go Fast topper, which does not come with the tent, can be purchased separately. It does, however, include many truck camping features that you would like to see.
The Go Fast Camper is available in two sizes in terms of overall internal size. The smaller unit, designed to be a Ford Ranger topper, Jeep Gladiator topper, or Toyota Tacoma topper, has a sleeping space of 5090 inches. Because of the extra length, the larger model is intended to work as a Ford F150 topper, Ram 1500 topper, or Toyota Tundra topper. The XL model has a sleeping space of 5610 inches.
The topper is made primarily of aluminum and has an internal aluminum space frame. If you intend to mount roof accessories, it disperses weight extremely well. The topper, in addition to the space frame, has locking side panels with built-in windows that can be opened from the inside. Overall, the Go Fast Campers Topper is difficult to beat if you want a strong aluminum topper with good ventilation and strength.
Fiberglass Truck Cap Leer 100R
Purchase at leer.com.
If you’ve done any research on truck shells, you’ve almost certainly come across the Leer name. Leer is the Coca-Cola of truck caps in many ways. Despite not changing much over the years, they are a well-known brand that provides a high-quality product. However, there is value in buying a tried and true option because you know what to expect. Leer has a large selection of truck toppers that vary in size, features, and price. The Leer 100R truck cap is one of their most affordable options. It does, however, include many of the features that you’d expect from a new truck topper.
The Leer 100R includes a custom-fit design, a rear-framed door with dual-locking T-handles, skirted sides, an interior dome light, an insulated roof, and other desirable standard features. Furthermore, the Leer 100R can be color-matched to the body color of your truck at no extra cost. Optional features that can be added to the base Leer 100R include a carpeted interior, roof rack tracks, windoors, removable sliding front glass, and others. The Leer 100R represents excellent value for money given the number of standard and optional features.
Overall, the Leer 100R is unlikely to win any awards for its frills and extravagant features. Having said that, there’s still a lot to like about the 100R, especially if you’re looking for a simple, elegant, and functional fiberglass truck cap that won’t break the bank.
SmartCap EVO Sport is a sport cap.
OffroadAlliance.com is where you can buy it.
The SmartCap Sport is a departure from the comfortable, camping-oriented truck shells. It is made of high-strength stainless steel in terms of its overall structure. It is designed to withstand any weather condition or situation that you can throw at it. When we were breaking down truck bed cap types earlier, we mentioned that aluminum truck bed toppers are more utilitarian and strength-focused, and the SmartCap is no exception. The stainless steel construction of the EVO Sport allows it to support a massive amount of weight.
Most fiberglass truck caps are not designed to completely seal out the elements. Water can seep in and damage whatever you store in the space because fiberglass options are prone to cracking and most lack true waterproofing. The SmartCap, on the other hand, features cutting-edge sealing systems that keep water and dust out.
High internal airflow is another advantage of the SmartCap. A positive-pressure roof vent circulates air into the space on a continuous basis. The SmartCap has gullwing doors with fixed glass inserts for even more airflow. For easy access to the topper, these can be opened on either side of the truck. The EVO Sport has sliding “doggie windows” that are large enough to accommodate your dog’s head but small enough to prevent any escape attempts.
Overall, if strength is a top priority, the SmartCap truck topper is the best option on this list. The stainless steel construction of the SmartCap makes it impenetrable by most metrics while still providing some of the most important features that a truck topper can have.
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Summary of the Best Truck Bed Toppers for 2023
Truck bed toppers (also known as truck caps, camper shells, and truck bed campers) come in a variety of shapes and sizes, as their various names suggest. The reasons for getting a truck bed topper vary greatly as well, with some truck owners looking for a way to store items in a covered space and others looking for a comfortable space to spend time on a camping trip. While truck bed toppers can be costly when new, there is a sizable secondary market for them.
Finally, there are numerous truck bed topper options, each of which serves a different purpose. While aluminum truck toppers are strong, practical, and rigid, they frequently lack the creature comforts needed for camping. Fiberglass toppers, on the other hand, have the opposite problem of being too comfortable but less durable. Camping truck toppers provide the best of both worlds. They do, however, come at a high cost that most people cannot afford.
Before you buy a truck bed topper, make sure you know what you’re going to use it for. Toppers like the A.R.E. Overland and Leer 100R are excellent fiberglass topper options that have received high praise in their field, aren’t too expensive, and bridge the gap between a good camping topper and a good storage topper. The Go Fast Campers topper, on the other hand, is much more focused on camping applications, whereas the SmartCap EVO is focused on providing excellent strength. Whichever topper you choose, make sure it balances your budget with high-quality construction materials.