Purchasing a canopy or topper for your pickup truck is one of the best decisions you will ever make, for a number of reasons. Primarily, a canopy or topper protects your cargo from harmful weather and keeps everything you carry in your bed locked and protected from theft. While those are obvious reasons to fit your pickup with a canopy or topper, one other very cool reason is that with the right canopy or topper, your pickup becomes a very handy camper where you can sleep out under the stars anytime you please. Much handier and easier than towing and maintaining an RV. Yes, it’s a spartan form of camping, but if you’re into the simple style of camping, it’s unbeatable for ease and convenience. Just be sure the topper you choose has sliding side windows for airflow, bug screens on the windows, and locks for safety.
There are several types of caps you can purchase for your pickup. If you’re looking for the most color options, durability, and even insulation properties, fiberglass truck caps are your best choice. They’re molded to fit various sized truck beds so you should be able to find one that fits yours perfectly. With their high dynamic load, you can even carry fairly heavy cargo on the roof, if you need to.
For a cheaper option, you could choose an aluminum truck topper. They come in a variety of weights, depending on whether you choose thick or thin walls, but be advised. While aluminum caps are lighter and cheaper than fiberglass, they are not as durable and strong. They dent easily, and if you are using it as a camper, rain will be very loud. With aluminum, there are only a few color options and they don’t have anywhere near the load capability of fiberglass so you can’t carry much on the roof.
Very infrequently, you’ll see wooden truck caps, but these are usually custom made and very heavy, so if weight is a concern, you should go a different direction.
Most truck toppers are cab-high, meaning they rise to the exact height of your cab for a cleaner look and optimal aerodynamics. They’re perfect for protecting your cargo and they offer more carrying capacity than a simple tonneau cover. They work very well for camping if you simply want a safe, comfortable place to sleep. But if you enjoy more head room and living space, you should choose a mid or high rise cap. These toppers extend higher than your truck’s cab, and they don’t look as clean and aerodynamic, but the trade off is lots more headroom and cargo space.
Like pickup trucks, canopies and toppers come with many optional features. You can go basic, or you can add all the options you like. For added insulation, sound deadening, and less condensation and moisture inside the cap, you can get a carpet headliner. For natural light and airflow when camping you’ll want at least two windows, fitted with bug screens. You can often get more windows for more light, but you’ll need to fit them all with blackout curtains for sleeping. Inside LED lights are handy for camping and storage so you can see better inside the topper, and if you need to carry a canoe, a kayak, or other equipment, a roof rack is a great option to choose.
If you’ve never purchased a truck canopy or topper, certainly your big question is how much do they cost. As with pickup trucks, it depends on the brand, type, and age. A new, base model, cab-height fiberglass topper will run you around $1,500. For a high-rise topper, complete with insulation and all the amenities, you could pay well over $3,500. That’s if you buy new. There are plenty of very good, used caps out there for significantly less money. Also, if it’s your first time purchasing a topper, this is the way to go to see if you like the benefits of a canopy along with truck camping. Just make sure you’re buying a good brand, with no damage or leaks, and that it fits your truck perfectly.