Truck caps (sometimes referred to as “camper shells”) are the fiberglass or aluminum enclosures that cover the cargo bed of a truck, while extending the sides of the truck to the height of the cab (or even above the cab). Caps are not to be confused with tonneau covers which also cover the bed of a truck, but simply fit over the bed without changing the profile of the truck. Caps function as pickup bed and cargo protectors and increase carrying space. Since many drivers also value their trucks as show pieces, a custom cap can add to a truck’s overall look.
Does a Truck Cap Improve Your Gas Mileage?
It seems intuitive that a truck with a square cap would provide better gas mileage than a truck with an open bed. After all, the tailgate must act like a sail, and force the truck to work harder, right? Surprisingly, however, the limited research that has been done in this area suggests that adding a cap provides extra drag, and therefore has a small negative effect on your gas mileage. You’re better off lowering your tailgate (provided that you have nothing that will fall out), or buying a tonneau cover.
Also, don’t forget that truck caps typically add 100 – 200 pounds of weight to your truck, which also reduces your gas mileage.
Convenience and Functionality
Most truck caps are made from molded fiberglass or aluminum. Many companies that build truck caps will perfectly match the exterior paint of the truck so that the cap looks as if it rolled out of the factory already installed. They also build them to mold seamlessly with the overall design of the truck to give it a finished and attractive appearance.
There are many models to choose from. Options include windows, security locks, a full-sized walk-in door, keyless entry, a roof rack, and inside lights. Buyers also may choose from cab-height caps or fully or partially raised models, depending on how they plan to use the caps. For example, if someone needs to stand or move around in their truck bed, a raised cap with a convenient door will make it easy.
Although truck caps don’t come with all the conveniences of campers, they certainly allow for a place to sleep if you’re on a trip or taking a weekend jaunt in the great outdoors. A resourceful person can turn their pickup into a cozy shelter by adding a few items. They also provide a safe place for tools, ice chests, and any goods you may be hauling.