Do Camper Shells Improve Gas Mileage

Do camper shells improve gas mileage is the big question that many people want to know. The gas mileage is significant to many people because it ensures they can travel more efficiently.

If the truck is more efficient, the people need to buy less fuel and ultimately save more money. This is a massive dilemma that many people thinking about buying a camper shell come across.

In this article, we are going to detailed discuss the advantages and disadvantages of camper shells, compare them to other similar alternatives, and help you solve the big question. Never hesitate again when thinking about purchasing a camper shell.

Do camper shells improve gas mileage?

Camper shells do not improve gas mileage. Camper shells lower your mileage due to the extreme weight that is added. Some camper shells can be as heavy as a few hundred pounds, and adding weight to your pickup truck is never good.

The basics and benefits of Camper Shells

Camper Shells are mainly used on pickup trucks. They serve the purpose of adding space and shelter. These camper shells cover the entire bed of the pickup and raise the height of it as high as the top of the truck cab. 

The camper shell adds extra space to the truck. The second reason people buy a camper shell for pickup is that it provides shelter for the bed. In regular vehicles, there would not be any shelter covering the bed, so whatever is not covered from the elements. This includes rain, shine, wind, and temperature. 

For example, somebody wants to carry a lot of equipment that is related to electronics. He would want to shield their equipment if it rains. The more natural way would be to attach a tarp over the equipment, but you get a sense of security with a camper shell knowing that your equipment is 100% safe from any liquid damage. 

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Let me give you another example. Let’s say you are carrying lots of ice and beer to a big party. The weather is scorching hot outside, and you fear that the heat might melt the ice on your way there. A camper shell can fix this problem as it can help to shield the ice bags and beer from the sun’s scorching heat.

These are some reasons why you might buy a camper shell.

How camper shells are different from truck camper?

A truck camper is like a camper shell but not a camper shell. Camper shells and a truck camper both have one common characteristic that they share, they increase space.

For a camper shell, they help improve the area of the bed of your truck and also help protect any equipment on it from the natural elements.

A truck camper does the same thing as a camper shell and more. A camper shell is mainly used to store equipment and not people to use it as a place for living.

For a truck camper, it is designed for extra living space and can be comparable to a recreational vehicle (RV). A truck camper and a recreational vehicle do have some differences. The truck camper is something that can be configured onto and attached to the bed of a pickup truck while an RV is permanently fixed onto the bed.

Truck campers are considered one of the most versatile forms of recreational vehicles because they are designed to go anywhere a pickup can go. These truck campers can be configured to fit people inside it comfortably.

This means that three people can be at the back of the pickup truck in the truck camper while somebody is driving it in the driver seat.

It is also something to take note that a camper shell does not offer this feature. Because it does not provide nearly the same amount of space like a truck camper.

Do the camper shells weight affect gas mileage

For every 100 pounds that you add to your vehicle, it lowers your mileage by about 2 to 3%. Add a couple of hundred pounds, and you will be looking at a 10% lower fuel economy for the heavy shells.

Camper Shells weigh between 80 to 200 pounds. The weight of your camper shell will depend on your truck’s payload capacity and size.

In the end, the weight problem comes down to how efficient the pickup truck is. A competent pickup truck with a reasonably heavy camper shell might still have a higher gas economy than a truck that is not as efficient and without a camper shell.

This weight problem is significant when talking about the presence of a camper shell and gas mileage.

The relation between weight and gas mileage is that as the weight increase, the gas mileage decreases. So, when the camper shell adds weight to the pickup truck, it reduces its mileage.

So, why are camper shells so heavy that it impacts the gas economy of a pickup truck? The reason for this question is the choice of material.

The structure and housing of a camper shell are usually made up of fiberglass or aluminum. The density of aluminum is 2699kg/cubic meter, so it adds substantial weight to your pickup truck.

This problem gets even worse when you add up the weight of your payload. For example, if you add your payload weighing 300 pounds and a camper shell weighing 200 pounds, you would be looking at a 10% to 15% lower gas mileage.

Another issue about having a camper shell is the weight restrictions. A 2019 Ford F-150 running a 5.0L Ti-VCT V8 can carry a maximum payload of up to 3270 pounds. Assuming the truck is using a reasonably sized camper shell, you would only be able to carry a maximum of 3100 pounds.

This might not be a significant change to the amount of weight, but to some people that are pushing the weight restrictions to the max, it matters.

Do camper shells make the truck more aerodynamic?

Even if there were any positive differences due to aerodynamic reasons and it is very light. It would be so negligible that it would not make much a difference.

Buying a camper shell should never improve gas mileage, which is a common myth that enhances the truck’s aerodynamics.

It is right to say that a camper shell does not decrease aerodynamic drag on the truck too. So, camper shells do not improve a truck’s aerodynamics enough to have noticeable effects.

Alternatives of a camper shell

There are many other ways to have the same effects as having a camper shell without sacrificing weight and mileage. One of these ways is having a tonneau cover. This high-quality tonneau cover is available on Amazon at the lowest price. It will really enhance your truck look. 

A tonneau, in a way, does the same things that a camper shell would do. It would protect the payload from the elements. But it does not help increase the amount of space at the back of the pickup truck.

The tonneau does not sacrifice so much on weight because it is made of a material much lighter. It is because of the lighter material that it does not have to sacrifice on mileage.

In fact, unlike the camper shell, a tonneau improves the aerodynamics of a pickup truck so that the gas mileage will increase.


So, the conclusion is that camper shells do not improve gas mileage. It decreases it by quite a substantial number because of the weight problem. These camper shells can also reduce the maximum weight of payload that you can carry.

People buy a camper shell for their pickup truck because they have requirements that need to be fulfilled. These requirements go along the lines of protection from natural elements and space restrictions.

To some people, the advantages of getting a camper shell for their pickup truck outweighs the disadvantages of less gas mileage.

Also Read:

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How much gasoline can I carry in my truck?