What Is The Best Ford F-150 Camper Shell?
Since 1977, the F-Series by Ford has been the best selling pickup truck in both the United States and Canada. Out of the series, the F-150 continues to win best full-size truck awards nearly every year, including in 2020.
The acclaim comes because of several reasons. The truck has retained its classic looks over the years, yet comes in six models. The F-150 also offers single and dual cab options, various bed lengths, and six engine options.
The models range from a V6 with 250 horsepower to a 5.0L V8 with 400 horsepower. Ford even offers a full hybrid V6 engine. The F-150 is a lighter truck than some of its competition yet still offers a substantial payload that ranges from around 1,800 lb. to 3,325 lb. Nearly all the F-150 trucks can tow up to 12,000 lb.
With its reliability, safety ratings, and towing options ranking high, the truck’s price does not. The newer F-150s start at less than $30,000, making it appealing for RVers who also plan on purchasing a camper or trailer for their new truck.
While several truck campers can fit onto this half-ton truck, we are going to look at a few of the best camper shells for the F-150. A camper shell, also known as a truck topper, has a much lower profile, no full-time cabover bed, and is much lighter than a traditional truck camper. In addition, a camper shell fits on top of the truck bed’s rails and is clamped and bolted down rather than a truck camper which usually slides into the bed.
The price of a camper shell is also lighter on the wallet. While some truck campers can range up to $60,000, a simple, aluminum camper shell can start as low as a few thousand dollars. However, much of the time a camper shell will be a semi-permanent part of the truck. Camper shells do not come with the automatic jacks seen on truck campers, so removal may require several people.
The 5 Best Ford F-150 Camper Shell Options
These five camper shells are a few of our favorites and tick every box for our favorite pickup truck.
1. BunduTecUSA Bivak
BunduTecUSA already has over 10 truck campers in its overlanding arsenal. Their lightest option is the 500-lb Bivak, which can be custom made for the F-150. Made of wood and aluminum, this interesting camper shell costs less than $4,000, but is primarily a basic storage and cooking space.
The Bivak’s back opens up to reveal a pullout kitchen with a Dometic fridge and a sink. The sink is supplied by a 17-gallon fresh water tank powered by a 12-volt pump. The rear doors can hold a camp stove, a small pantry, and the sprayers for the sink.
The rest of the shell interior is used for storage, so sleeping will need to be found in other locations. It’s a good thing that BunduTecUSA also has a rooftop tent with a mattress for sale for around $4,500. The popup BunduTop comes in three sizes and can fit on top of the Bivak’s roof.
2. AT Summit Truck Topper
If you don’t want to pay separately for a rooftop tent, then AT Overland Equipment has an option for the Ford. The AT Summit Truck Topper is like a traditional camper shell, yet with over eight feet of headroom inside the roomy tent.
Made from insulated aluminum composite panels, the camper only weighs 340 lb. It features pullout gear racks that can be customized.
The tent bed area contains a 48×80 inch bed and the roof of the tent can hold up to 600 lb., so bikes, kayaks, and gear can be up and out of the way. For colder nights, the Summit also has an optional Thinsulate liner available for the tent.
3. Four Wheel Project M
The Project M popup topper by Four Wheel Campers is unique in that it looks like a camper shell, yet acts more like a truck camper. The vinyl topper opens up on all four sides with struts.
The interior features lights and prewiring for your chosen battery and solar panels. There are also quite a few windows in this design to let in lots of light. The cabover bed is on a slider to create more space and can be customized with different mattresses.
This topper doesn’t come with a kitchen, bathroom, or any seating, but most customers choose to build out their own cooking spaces and cabinets inside the truck bed or on the tailgate. Project M comes in at under $10,000 with options such as a Dometic fridge and solar panels for an extra cost.
4. EZLift TopperLift
This very interesting idea by an independent manufacturer actually turns a basic truck topper into a camper with the flick of a switch. The TopperLift is universal for all types of trucks, including the F-150.
It not only allows the topper to be raised to create for headroom for a camping space, but allows for easier loading and unloading of gear and the topper itself. Best of all, the TopperLift can be installed at home in a few hours.
The lift actuators run off a 12-volt system and draw less than eight amps. The actuators can also lift up to about 900 lbs. When lifted the open sides are zipped up with a quilted tent to enclose in the truck bed for sleeping and cooking. In addition, EZLift sells an optional rear tent called the Weekend Camper that extends out the truck bed’s living area.
5. OVRLND Camper
One of the best ways to find exactly what you are looking for is to have it custom made. The OVRLND company of Flagstaff, Ariz. builds custom popup camper shells for any size truck.
Coming in at less than $10,000 for a long bed version, their camper shells include some great features. Each camper comes with a slide-out queen bed, over eight feet of height when popped up, and easy access rear doors. Optional features include additional windows, gas lift struts, and roof rails for adding gear boxes. The tent canvas can also be custom colored per your truck’s paint job.
What OVRLND offers that many companies do not is their series of Camp Tackle Modules. Inspired by gear storage on river rafting trips, these lightweight cubbies can be used to create different gear storage and platform options for seating, cooking, and eating. They are easy to move around and strap to each other and the truck bed.
Because of the cost and customization options, the OVRLND truck camper is ranking pretty high on this list. Not only do the vertical walls offer more interior space than other popup options, but being built from aluminum tubing keeps this camper in the 300 lb. range. However, for someone with an F-150 (or any model of truck) who is interested in DIY projects, the Topperlift is an intriguing alternative and worth investigating further.
Considering that a typical LEER truck topper costs around $1,500, adding a TopperLift for less than $1,300 creates a roomy truck camper shell for less than $3,000. That leaves quite a bit of cash left over for fueling up both the Ford and your own belly during a road trip.