Do Camper Shells Improve Gas Mileage

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Camping trips are fantastic as you can run away from your busy life and enjoy a beautiful day on the town’s outskirts. Especially if we don’t get much time to spend with family during the weekdays. Camping gears can get pretty expensive with all the new and improved features.

You probably go on a camping trip with your truck. If you’re planning to attach a camper shell, you should know that these guys can weigh over a couple of hundred pounds. So, do camper shells improve gas mileage? Let’s dive into the article and find out!


Do Camper Shells Improve Gas Mileage?

Not really. It’s quite the contrary to be very honest. As your mileage takes a hit due to the excess weight the vehicle has to carry. The extra load only contributes to lower mileage. So, camper shells do not improve gas mileage.

If you’ve never seen camper shells before, they mainly come as attachments for pickup trucks. After attaching camper shells to your pickup trucks’ back, they might even look like SUVs from afar. But apart from the visual benefits, there are quite a lot of other uses for camper shells.

These shells are manufactured by many companies, and they serve the purpose of providing shelter and additional space. Your pickup truck’s bed will be covered entirely with these attachments, and you do get a little extra height too.

For any other pickup truck, the bed is kept wholly exposed. So if you want to carry something important on the back of your pickup truck, the item stays exposed. A camper shell eliminates this issue by turning the bed into a separate cabin. If you want to get creative, you can carry equipment there as well.

Do camper shells improve gas mileage? They don’t, but they surely help out the most when you’re carrying equipment that is vulnerable to extreme weather. Large electronics can easily get shorted due to rain exposure. So camper shells keep the entire bed closed, and if you opt to go for a quality shell, you won’t even expect any leaks.

So you can easily say that your valuables won’t be susceptible to liquid damage with the presence of a camper shell. They can also keep frozen things cold for a longer time than leaving them exposed, which is another pretty neat trick.


Camper Shells V Truck Campers: How Are They Different?

A lot of people I’ve seen use the terms camper shells and truck campers interchangeably. But even if the differences are subtle, they are quite apparent. But the confusion is entirely justified as they seem alike and serve the same purpose of increasing bed space.

Camper Shells

But camper shells usually go on your pickup truck’s bed, whereas truck campers are attached separately and are relatively larger. Camper shells help add a layer of protection to the pickup truck’s bed and keep the bed insulated.

Camper shells are usually used to store camping gear while you’re on a camping trip. But these shells have a lot of industrial uses too. Many companies feel the need to install camper shells to add a layer of protection to the pickup truck’s bed.

If you’re going on a camping trip with a truck camper attached to your pickup truck’s bed, you can keep all your necessary items in the shell. But you also need to take a tent to camp as you can’t fit comfortably inside the camper shell.

Truck Campers

On the other hand, truck campers serve the same purposes, and more! They are quite frequently attached to the back of the truck, and they have their pair of wheels. Truck campers are designed to provide campers with a tent-like living experience. That is, you can use the truck campers to spend the night.

Truck campers are quite versatile, and you can use them for different purposes. Some truck campers can be permanently attached to a pickup truck’s bed, while others need to be attached to the back.

The comparison could seem baseless as truck campers are more comfortable than recreational vehicles that camper shells. A couple of people can easily fit inside truck campers, and they can spend the night easily. It’s safe to say that truck campers provide more space than camper shells.


How Do Camper Shells Affect Your Mileage?

Before buying camper shells for their pickup trucks, people come up with multiple questions and confusion. One of the questions goes like, “Do camping shells improve gas mileage?” While the answer may seem pretty obvious, many people can’t seem to grasp the idea.

No matter which brand of camper shells you opt for, whether it’s full metal or carbon fiber, it still counts as extra weight. While pickup trucks are built to handle the weight, it does not mean that the additional weight won’t affect the gas mileage. These shells could weigh up to five hundred pounds, which is enough to lower your mileage significantly.

Any additional weight will lower your fuel economy. To answer the question, “Do camper shells improve gas mileage?” the simple answer is “No.” The size of the camper depends on the size of your pickup truck. You can’t opt for a smaller camper for a bigger truck. Other than looking funny, the overall balance of the vehicle will also take a hit.


Do The Aerodynamics Take a Hit?

Well, all the camping shells are made by third-party manufacturers. As they aren’t stock parts. Truck manufacturers would prefer the trucks to be used as they are made, without attachments. But the importance of camping shells is relatively straightforward, so attaching them can sometimes even be called necessary.

The trucks are designed to provide better airflow and aerodynamics. If you add a camping shell, the truck body’s extension slightly changes the aerodynamics a bit. But you won’t be able to notice as the change is quite negligible.

Even if camping shells change the pickup trucks’ overall design a bit, they don’t affect the aerodynamics as much, so you can pretty much ignore the issue.

Lower Economy V Higher Cargo Space

You’ll still come across people who’ll still be in this dilemma. To answer the question, “Do camper shells improve gas mileage?” the answer’s clearly “No.” You won’t get improved mileage by adding a camper shell to the back of your pickup. The results are quite the contrary as camping shells often drag down the fuel economy instead of improving it.

So do you want to sacrifice a better fuel economy? This depends a lot on the returns you get. If you want a secure truck bed that won’t be susceptible to liquid damage, a camping shell is a way to go. They offer outstanding durability too, and you won’t have to worry about cargo space. They even add a bit of vertical cargo space to pickup trucks. But your gas mileage does take a hit due to the added weight.

So it depends entirely on the user. If you want to prioritize mileage, you shouldn’t get a camping shell and opt for an alternative. But if you genuinely need the added space and protection, a little compromise in mileage shouldn’t hurt.


What Else Can You Opt for Instead?

Do camper shells improve gas mileage? This is a pretty common myth, and the answer is “No.” A lot of people can’t seem to get their minds around the mileage problem that comes in with the additional weight of camping shells. That’s why they try and find adequate alternatives to buy.

Usually, if your only purpose is to go for the weekend camping trips, a camper shell is the recommended option. But I understand why some people would not prefer this as you can get the same results without compromising your ever so valuable gas mileage.

Have you heard about tonneaus? A tonneau is a cover that you attach to the bed of the pickup trucks. These are the most common and viable options to replace a camping shell. Tonneaus also offer you the same benefits as a camping shell, but they don’t affect mileage.

These covers lay flat along the top of the pickup truck’s bed. They improve the cargo space and keep your valuables dry and unexposed. So if you’re not ready to sacrifice your mileage, you can opt for one of these guys.



So, did you get your answer from our article? Do camper shells improve gas mileage? Do they serve their purpose well? Camping shells go on the back of your pickup trucks, and they come in with quite the additional weight. So they don’t improve your gas mileage at all; they only lower it.

As to whether they serve their purpose or not, they do! Camping shells can come out quite useful on camping trips or delivery trips. They provide added vertical space and keep the inside part safe and dry. So you can quickly get a camping shell for your truck.