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Old 04-03-2010, 08:31 AM   #1
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2008 28' Safari SE
Santa Rosa Beach , Florida
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Question for all those with trucks as TVs

Do you prefer a truck box or camper shell for longer trips and why?

We are looking at camper shells, but I am thinking we may be able to get by with a truck box or two. My only real concern is locking up expensive items like generators, etc. I am not interested in tonneau covers because they limit the height of the items you can carry and I would like to be able to have everything we need without the extra mass of the camper shell. Any thoughts are appreciated.
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Old 04-03-2010, 08:43 AM   #2
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I would go with a shell. They make them today with access from the side which would be great if you are hitched up. Might be a little tough getting to big items though.
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Old 04-03-2010, 08:49 AM   #3
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Well, we have what you don't want -- a hard tonneau (ARI) with a remote lock. Keeps our stuff out of sight and the weather. Can also run the generator in there with the top down but the tailgate open if it is raining. Top comes off in 10 minutes (although it is a two person operation) if we need to but so far haven't needed to.

In four years and 40,000 miles we have never had a problem with an item being too tall to fit under the tonneau. We don't carry near the stuff we used to, found we didn't need most of it.

We didn't go with a camper shell because most have windows which offer a tempting look to those who may be up to no good. Why advertise?

mike
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Old 04-03-2010, 08:57 AM   #4
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Hi Tyrinius - my answer is in my avatar...

A canopy keeps rain & snow off my gear, is pet-friendly, is lockable (so's my tailgate) and allows for hauling of larger items than a tonneau or truck boxes. The height of it also nearly equals the height of my AS, so I have good aerodynamics on the road. The smoked windows make it hard to see what's inside, but I think any box or cover just "keeps the honest person honest"... a determined thief can break into almost anything if they want to.

Drawbacks from my perspective: If you are often hauling ATV's, motorcycles, junk to the dump, etc., then a canopy is not always great. Mine though has 4 clamps holding it and can be removed by 3 people in under 10 minutes. Also, getting stuff in and out of the truck - you can't stand up full-height, so it can be more awkward unloading heavy, large items.
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Old 04-03-2010, 08:59 AM   #5
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I have had a camper shell before with no challenges from prying eyes. May get one again one of these days. We tend to "kitsch it up" when we go camping and bring the Adirondack chairs. They are tall and a shell would help protect them.
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Old 04-03-2010, 09:36 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tyrinius View Post
Do you prefer a truck box or camper shell for longer trips and why?
We are looking at camper shells, but I am thinking we may be able to get by with a truck box or two. My only real concern is locking up expensive items like generators, etc. I am not interested in tonneau covers because they limit the height of the items you can carry and I would like to be able to have everything we need without the extra mass of the camper shell. Any thoughts are appreciated.
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The shell is your best bet, the one that gets higher as you go from the cab to the tailgate, creates a wind lift over the trailer, Height for larger items, Best to not have windows or tint them, drawback is that if you have something of value back there it is not hard to get to it with a simple screwdriver. What I did is have the topper and then get inside tool boxes that fit inside the bed walls and only take up the space that is lost to the wheel well anyways, these are lockable and can be enhanced to make them almost virtually impossible to get into without causing alot of noise and drawing attention which is what crimanals do not want. I also installed a heavy duty hinge on the front with shock assist lifters which made it where I can lift the topper for larger items.

Sarge
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Old 04-03-2010, 10:52 AM   #7
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I prefer a "Box Truck" for a tow vehicle.

I call it my rolling garage, but than again, I'm a full timer


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Old 04-03-2010, 10:56 AM   #8
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I recommend the shell also. I consider it my garage or basement where I can keep things dry and somewhat clean. Rather than a spray-on coating, I installed a thick cargo mat which is a little easier on the knees if I need to crawl inside, which I seldom need to do. I can retrieve almost everything using the 5' awning hook from my SOB. It can easily pull forward and push back most items. I seldom lock the shell as the glass in the shell costs more than most items inside. The generator is always chained.

Two items that always take up a lot of storage space are lawn chairs and bikes. They take up less room if stored vertically, so I made a rack for both, an open box affair for the chairs and front fork clamp for the bike. This still leaves plenty of room for the jack and wheel cribbing, firewood (local only), water jerry cans, gas container for the generator, extra diesel container, a step stool, and a few too many more items. I keep my tools locked up inside the cab.

I'm not sure how useful the hinged side windows are as the sides of the pickup boxes are so high in recent years making it hard to reach inside without a step ladder. I'd go with the awning hook.

Good luck,

Jim
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Old 04-03-2010, 10:59 AM   #9
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I like the shell ,mine steps up as it goes back,and should help the air flow over the trailer.I also ordered it with the side windows that hinge up,allowing access thru the side.The windows are tinted,but someone can see in if they look close enough,as said before ,you can`t stop a die hard thief. Dave
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Old 04-04-2010, 01:41 AM   #10
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Flip-Pac

We just purchased a Flip-Pac camper shell, which folds out into a sleeping platform while also allowing the storage of your gear. We plan to take our new F-150 4WD to areas where the Bambi can't easily follow. The Flip-Pac makes it possible for us to have a 1-2 day layover in these remote/hard-to-get-to spots. These photos were taken in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (CA). Another advantage of this shell is that you can stand up inside the truck bed, which also makes it easier to load gear into the truck. The weight is approx. 300 lbs, and the manufacturer can custom-make the product to fit almost any truck bed. Their website is flippac.com.
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Old 04-04-2010, 05:42 AM   #11
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I have had a couple of camper shells over the years and now travel without one. There are some things to realize:

1) They do not keep the dust out.
2) It is difficult to get items in and out, because you generally have to load from the tailgate and there isn't enough overhead clearance to stand up. Flip-up side windows help to a degree but are not big enough for larger items
3) Even if the gelcoat matches the truck finish at first, they will fade at different rates.
4) There is no resale value. Used truck dealerships find that trucks sell better without toppers and will remove them from any incoming trucks. A few dealers will keep them on site and try to sell them separately but most just haul them to the dump.
5) Removal and reinstallation is a big enough hassle that most people never do it, so you end up needing a flatbed trailer for the occasional times when you have to haul a fridge, motorcycle, or other tall item.
6) Visibility is compromised to a degree
7) The locks will fail in the first two years, and don't provide much security anyway

I may end up getting one of the folding vinyl toppers that is now on the market. They have a system of bows and rails and fold to the front of the bed. Seems like the best of both worlds. Otherwise there's a lot to be said for tonneau covers, which look better and are much easier to load.
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Old 04-04-2010, 06:03 AM   #12
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We like our slightly elevated cap. It has 42 inches of clear height inside so we can carry two bikes standing up in a rack. We have lots of stuff we travel with to run the club rallies. We do use the truck for our rental business and haul refrigerators laying down. Just let them stand up for a couple hours before you plug them in. Lawn tractors also fit. We have lots of bad weather in Illinois so the cap protects our tools, which we carry all the time.
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Old 04-04-2010, 06:31 AM   #13
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I always thought I would like a shell but was not sure enough to invest the money. I work for a radio service shop and they traded in a service truck and the shell would not fit the new truck. It did fit mine though. I painted it to match and love it. It has the right side door, and a tool box behind the left side door. Everything stays dry and locked up.
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Old 04-04-2010, 07:05 AM   #14
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TV Cover

We ordered a Silverado with an 8' bed. We have a gull wing lockable tool box behind the cab. We then use a foldable cover for the rest of the bed. We have a Honda 3000 gen. chained into the bed. We can fold up the cover and haul our 4 wheeler. The bed is easy to load and unload as I can stand up. I had a shell and hated crawling in and out......Tim
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