Ah, the truck. That open rear payload gives you the freedom to haul everything from brick to gravel to your convertible bed. But that open payload also leaves your equipment and furniture exposed to the elements and the sticky fingers of parking lot bandits.

Many truck owners choose to install a caravan because they want to protect their things from the wrath of Mother Nature and useless thieves. However, this reduces the versatility of your pickups. You can’t exactly pack a full-size reproduction of the statue, Laocoon and His Sons, in your payload when you have a truck cap. There are clear advantages and disadvantages of caravan housings, so consider these pros and cons before making the investment.


Protection: Without a doubt, caravan housings give you the most protection against nasty weather and Vikings in the parking lot. Because they are lined with an insulated seal, rainwater and muddy sleet shouldn’t be able to infiltrate your truck bed. And, lockable latches on your access doors prevent all but the most determined thieves from stealing your valuables.

Better MPG: Motorhome housings improve the aerodynamics of your truck and can improve your fuel economy. You might not know it, but your open payload is killing your MPGs. When air flows over your cabin, it spills onto your bed, hits your back door, and creates resistance. With the frame of a caravan in place, the air gently passes through the roof instead of hitting the rear.


Lower load capacity: Your truck bed is always limited by its length and width, but it is also limited by height when you add a caravan shell. Instead of having open skies above, there will be a fiberglass roof that will limit the load that will fit. Due to the bulky size of a shell, picking it up and removing it every time you have a sofa to move is impractical, especially in impromptu movement situations, such as when you stumble across a free mattress in an alley. Of course, there are truck lid racks available to give you more headroom.

Extra weight: Don’t let the word “shell” fool you: caravan shells are not as delicate as an egg. These heavy duty truck covers are made from layers of fiberglass and weigh about 100 pounds. That kind of extra weight on the rear of your vehicle puts extra pressure on your shocks. Additionally, it can reduce fuel economy that comes from improved aerodynamics.

The choice to buy a truck is no small thing. Make sure you carefully weigh the pros and cons before shelling out a lot of money for a shell.

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