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Safari Tim 07-12-2003 08:45 PM

Opinons wanted on truck shell or cover?
I have a long bed chevy and want the bed to be more useful, expecially when camping.

I am considering a cab height shell or one of those fiberglass lids.

The shell being able to hold taller items, but loose the truck look. Also I understand it makes it more difficult to use the rear window when backing.

The fiberglass cover keeps the truck look but only will hold shorter items. It is also easier to remove when I want to hall a load of yard clippings.

The shell will cost about $1300-$1500 dollars. And I would keep my rusty run down duraliner.

The lid is $899 and I would get a new line-x spray in liner for $500 or so.

So, what are your experiences and ideas?

Porky Pig 07-12-2003 09:04 PM

I will be ordering a new 2004 Ford F-350 in the very near future.

I really like the fiberglass lids .. either SnugTop or ARE .. haven't pinned it down yet.

The father of a good friend tows an older AS with his Chevy and he loves it. He showed it too me and it looked like he had plenty of room for all of his gear. He also mentioned he really liked the visibility of a lid over a shell. Not to mention the added security ... everything being out of site. A shell looks easier to bust into.

For me, the lid is the way to go ... Also, I had a shell on an Isuzu truck back in the 80s ... I really hated the thing ... it was made by Leer and seemed really shoddy. Perhaps they have improved since then?

I've been quoted about $800 for the SnugLid and $400 for the Line-X.

Pahaska 07-12-2003 09:39 PM

I have a Roll-N-Lock on my truck and I am sold on Roll-N-Locks. I had them on my last 2 trucks, also. The current version is much improved over the older versions. The way the lid locks into the tailgate makes it very secure.

I am constantly getting inquiries from other folks about th lid.

Safari Tim 07-12-2003 09:59 PM


Does it leak in the rain or washing?

Do you find you have enough room for your stuff? Expecially when camping?

overlander64 07-12-2003 11:09 PM

Opinons wanted on truck shell or cover?
Greetings Tim!

The only positive experience that I had with my '95 K1500 Chevrolet Z71 club cab short-bed pickup was with the the cab-height Leer cap that was color matched to the pickup and included a bed liner as part of the deal. The cap was water tight, gave the truck the appearance of an SUV - - at least let me forget the true lineage of the vehicle when viewed from a considerable distance (at least it resembled the sport utility that I had be waiting on for over 18 months). I didn't find that the cap posed any problems while towing, but the one thing that I would have added (had I known better) were the side access doors on both sides of the cap as it was something of a nuisance to always be crawling into the bed to get something that was needed.


j54mark 07-13-2003 05:33 AM

My experience probably comes from 25 years of driving vans, but I had to have a fiberglass shell for my shortbed Chevy. I carry too many bulky objects to make a bed cover work for me, and here in the midwest we have so many sudden, unexpected rainstorms that protection from the weather is essential.

There is a tremendous variation in quality among different brands of caps and lids. Take a look at Snugtop, ARE, probably others that fail to come to mind.


Pahaska 07-13-2003 06:58 AM


Originally posted by Safari Tim

Does it leak in the rain or washing?

Do you find you have enough room for your stuff? Expecially when camping?

I do get a little water in on a heavy rain or after a car wash, but very little. The cover is aluminum slats under a vinyl topping so the cover itself doesn't leak. The cover drains into the roll-up box and into the side rails which drain into the roll-up box. A real downpour of car wash can overflow the rails. There are some minor gaps on both ends of the tailgate that let in a small amount of water. I often carry my banjo back there (not in hot weather, tho) because it is out of sight and securely locked. I simply set the case on something so it is not on the floor.

As to capacity, I have never run out of space in the bed. I don't think I have ever used more than half the available space back there even with extra folding chairs and coolers.

john hd 07-13-2003 07:06 AM

i don't have a shell or a cover.

i try to take my motorcycle with me on trips. so, a open bed is the only way to go for me.:D

i use the truck regularly for hauling "stuff" anyway, a topper or a lid would just get in the way.

but, that is just how i use my truck. john's roll away lid does sound pretty nice!


47WeeWind 07-13-2003 09:23 AM

used telco utility box
As Kevin mentions above, if you have a liftgate on your shell and a tailgate on your box, you will forever be crawling inside the box on your hands and knees to retrieve and return small items, very inconvenient and soon tiring. Rectangular lockable doors along each side of the topper with window inserts increase accessability and visibility.

Look at your local teleco or cableco trucks for ideas. Around here, they use cab height shells with windowed side lockable doors and 1' deep racks just inside (along each side of the bed) for storage. The center of the bed remains available for longer items. Two rear doors allow easier access to the bed than a liftgate, so consider removing your tailgate and getting a shell with 2 rear doors. Measure beforehand to make sure the doors clear your tanks and can be fully swung opened with your trailer hitched up.

I mounted a used teleco utility box on my old Dodge 3/4 ton truck. It has 3 very handy lockable walk-up-to side compartments on each side. A sliding top cover locks over the mini-tailgate and provides a 2' high x 4' x 8' secure enclosed bed space. The utility bed top cover can be slid forward (over the fixed forward 4' of the top cover) to access a 4' x 4' floor area at the rear for tall items that can not be laid down inside the 8' long bed.

The lockable bed utility box has slightly less visibility than a pickup bed cover because the box cover sits 6" higher. Nevertheless, when towing, I can see clear through the rear window of my Airstream, a great comfort.

Wally and his Caravanners used quite a few of these lockable utility boxes on the Capetown to Cairo Caravan in 1959-60. They can be seen in Bryan Burkhart's Airstream book.

Pick 07-13-2003 09:26 AM

I agree with John_HD. Having a bed cover would be a real pain in the arse for me. Nice to reach in a get things out, without having to unsnap or unfasten things. Anything we take with us, that can't get wet, like firewood, goes in Rubbermaid tubs.

Pahaska 07-13-2003 09:42 AM

Pain in the arse?
I find that the rolling cover is no pain at all. I have had it on 3 successive trucks.

Rolled open (just takes turn of the lock and a shove) I have all but about 11" of length the box at the top and the full length under the roll-up box. To close, it is just a matter of pulling the strap and turning the lock. It locks partially open at 3 places as well and it only takes a drill and a file to make it lock at additional places. The cover is sturdy enough that the ad shows a young woman standing in the center of one.

The big thing is that my belongings are locked as securely as a car trunk (probably more so) and are out of sight. The cover locks to the rails and to the tailgate. I can stop anywhere and leave the truck without fear of theft. Things I carry include an $800 generator which I strap in the rear roadside corner and which I can run by partially opening the cover. Another thing I carry back there is my $3000 banjo (in cooler weather only).

Instead of a topper, I would choose a SUV.

garry 07-13-2003 03:14 PM

I started out with a roll up bed cover and soon grew tired of the constant hassle plus the limited space with the top closed. The top was showing wear after a year and a half.

I bought a used camper shell and had it painted to match the truck. $500 for the top and $100 to paint. A new one cost over $1100. I like the shell much better. No problem with visibility.
There are so many options of the shell covers even in the used market that finding one that meets your requirements should not be too big a deal, if that's the way you decide to go.


Dave-O 07-14-2003 06:56 AM

Which roll top did you go with and from where? I have been eyeing the Pace Edwards brand and really like the concept.
I, too, have been internally debating the option of camper shell (used) or new roll top.
By the way what do they cost? Guessing $500-600 (for the roll top).
Thanks for your help.

Pahaska 07-14-2003 07:13 AM

Re: Pahaska

Originally posted by Dave-O
Which roll top did you go with and from where? I have been eyeing the Pace Edwards brand and really like the concept.
I, too, have been internally debating the option of camper shell (used) or new roll top.
By the way what do they cost? Guessing $500-600 (for the roll top).
Thanks for your help.

I have Roll-N-Lock, it is my 3rd from that company. It is more expensive then most (close to $800), but I consider it head and shoulders over anything else I have seen on the market.

I shopped for the best price on the internet and installed it myself. Took about an hour to install.

Chas 07-14-2003 07:27 AM

1 Attachment(s)
Whatever you call it,

Camper top, fiberglass shell, topper, bed cap, is the way to go! Tonneau covers are a total waste of space. If I have anything that is too big to fit in my truck I just use a small utility trailer.

I've got an ARE cab high that is painted to match my truck. I agree that getting to the stuff inside is a pain but take a look at my pic and check out my BedRat slide out tray. ( I apologize for the mess, just got back from a trip) It pulls out the entire cargo, very stout, extruded aluminum channels with heavy duty steel rollers and detents to lock it in place. It is made by Weatherguard, pricy yes, but since I make a living out of my truck doing commercial building maintenance I was able to justify the cost, right around $1200. I also have a 4'x4' PackRat bin mounted on top of it for all the small parts I carry. I also built a headache rack at the front just to keep everything in place.


59toaster 07-14-2003 08:41 AM

I have had both. Overall I like the Fiberglass shell the best. Seemed most of the larger things I wanted to cary would fit in a shell but not uder the bed cover. Basicly the bed cover was never on because of this. My big complaint with the shell was getting things at the front. If I ever get another I'll get one with opening side doors. I might even go for one of the steel units because you can get shelving for the one side and the otherside be open to the bed.

The visibility issue never bothered me. I use to drive moving vans and I'm very use to using outside only mirrors and I always put a convex on the passengerside. It's more of a issue of retraining yourself.

Dbraw 07-14-2003 01:31 PM

I have had a GemTop shell on my Silverado for thirteen years and haven't had any problem reaching things up front. The reason is that I have an antique can grabber like used in old grocery stores to reach things up high. Just reach for an item and grip the handle, the other end fingers grab it and out it comes. Some old things just can't be beat.

Silvertwinkie 07-14-2003 01:35 PM

I'd go with a hard top. More space than the tarp type or "lid" type enclosures. Some can be purchased with the same factory color as the truck.


gwsullivan 07-14-2003 02:11 PM

Tim, I had the SnugTop Tonneau cover on my last truck and really liked it but when I recently bought a new truck I thought I could get more toys in a cab-high shell. After discussing the pros and cons I decided the tonneau cover provided easier access to things in the front of the bed. I carry firewood in the front of the bed and it would be really difficult to get at it with the shell. I removed the legs from my Webber grill and installed six inch long galvenized pipe in their place so it fits under the lid nicely. I chose the SnugTop brand because it seems to be more sturdy than some other brands. I installed the Yakama rails directly on the lid so I can carry my bikes, skiis and kayak on top.
Good luck with your decision.

RoadKingMoe 07-14-2003 05:24 PM

Like John_HD, I'll sometimes need every inch of the 8' bed for my Harley. I had the sliding snap Lund on my Toyota 4X4 and the bed was always dry, but it was a little slow to use.

This time I got the velcro Lund. It has tension locks at the rear that stretch the cover tight enough that you can't pull it up far enough to get a good look at what's in the bed.

Unlike another brand that I forget, it doesn't have the supports sewn into the cover, but I just pop them out, lay them on the cover, and roll them up in it. It's quick and easy, and I still have full use of my bed.

85MH325 07-15-2003 04:46 AM

a little different perspective...
Tim, the question I'd ask you is: what works the best for you for the 99% of the time you use your longbed Chevy and you're NOT camping? Whatever decision you make for you camping outings, you're going to have to live with all the rest of the time when you use your truck.

I've had several pickups over the years, and a couple of them came with toppers. The toppers were always too short, or what I wanted was in the front of the bed. I ended up taking the toppers off and selling them. I use a truck to haul brush, lumber, lawnmowers, bicycles, and other tall 'stuff'. When I pulled our Safari with our '77 Ford F250 extended cab, the blue (gray water) tank, levelling boards, stabilizer jacks, bicycles, and 'stuff' went into the bed. 'Stuff' that I didn't want to get wet went either inside the trailer or inside the cab, unless it was 'truck bed dry stuff'. If it was 'truck bed dry stuff', I wrapped it in a poly tarp and left it in the bed.

If you just leave 'stuff' in your truck all of the time, and you want it to stay secure and dry then a topper is great, but they can be a real pain to take off and put on when you want to. If you occasionally use your bed for BIG 'stuff' but generally the bed is unused, or you keep small 'stuff' in it, then the roll-away tonneaus are good. If you fill and empty 'stuff' out of your bed regularly, you might want to save yourself a lot of money and effort and just tarp the 'stuff' that needs it when you camp.;)


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