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Cover It Up

Truck Tops, Covers and Shells

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A.R.E's LSII fiberglass tonneau cover

A.R.E's LSII fiberglass tonneau cover.

Truck Tops (often referred to as camper shells, caps, cab extenders, cabs, lids, toppers, half cabs, or boots) are attached to a pickup truck's bed to create cargo space that is protected from the weather and secure from theft. Truck tops also improve fuel efficiency by enhancing the aerodynamics of your truck.

Truck tops are typically made of fiberglass or aluminum. The differences between the two are highlighted below:

  • Are made from custom molds designed specifically for your truck make, model, and year.
  • Contour around the cab of your vehicle for a nice custom fit and a sleek look.
  • Start in the $1,000 price range.
  • Come painted to match the paint code of your vehicle, as specified by the truck manufacturer.

Aluminum tops

  • Are made from a standard mold and is only made to fit the bed of your truck (front of the cap may be taller or shorter than the cab of your truck).
  • Do not contour around the truck's cab.
  • Start in the $400 price range
  • Have only standard colors to choose from.

Before purchasing a truck top, consider the following:

  1. Truck tops are relatively heavy and inconvenient to remove and replace on a frequent basis. While it's possible, it usually takes at least two people to remove or install a cap on a truck. On the other hand, some very creative owners have devised ways to store and/or hoist their camper shells themselves:
    Example 1 Example 2
  2. Consider the lift system that is built into the truck top itself. Most truck beds were not designed to have a constant 200 (or more!) pounds of pressure pushing or pulling on the front corners of the bed, so the cap's lift system plays an important role. For example, gas props in and of themselves add pressure to the truck bed. Some manufactures have built-in systems to their truck tops alleviating the pressure from the props, thus extending the life of the truck bed and framework of the truck top.
  3. Determine which features you would like to add as options (if any) to the standard truck top. You can choose from:
    • third brake lights
    • gas-assisted shocks
    • interior dome lights
    • tempered safety glass
    • paint finish
    • side and/or rear window packages
    • clothes rod
    • carpeted interior
    • style of trim
    • power locks
    • windshield wiper & washer
    • defrost system
    • spoilers
    • air deflectors
    • side access doors
    • utility racks
    • roof mounted racks
    While some of these features are standard with certain models, with other models, they're considered options.
  4. Finally, you'll want to select from a manufacturer that makes a custom fit for your particular vehicle make and model. While the majority of truck tops are manufactured today will fit most every make and model, there are some that do not.

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