Truck Bed CAMPER SHELL: What to Know

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Chelsea and I use our Ford powerstroke and SnugTop OUTBACK camper shell to explore the western United States with our four sons. This is how we use our truck bed camper shell and why we made the decision to use SnugTop.

Adventure from the beginning

Chelsea and I quickly fell in love with the idea of traveling throughout the United States together. Our first outing was in college to the Grand Canyon in my 2001 Toyota Tundra TRD. We literally slept out under the stars in the bed of my truck which I filled with an inflatable air mattress. However, this was all short lived as we quickly started our family and even more quickly outgrew our little Toyota. We needed something newer…and larger. And eventually, something with a truck bed camper shell.

A big new Truck

We opted to purchase a full size diesel truck. This meant a crew cab with room for – what would eventually be – six of us, an eight foot bed, all the interior comforts and power to spare. We landed on a 2014 Ford Lariat Powerstroke 4×4 and it's…amazing. Even still, I quickly set myself off on a quest to make it better.

This meant improvements in traction, toughness, utility, and lighting. You know, just the basics. All of these things helped with the general mobility of the truck through the course of our adventures. But what it didn't have was a way to ensure the safety and security of our bed along with everything in it. I learned on only a few of our first trips that driving to a campsite out in the countryside meant our gear would get dirty pretty quickly. If it rained, we would have only a ragtag way of protecting our sleeping bags, tents, and food from the elements. Even bugs were an issue!

Enter the Truck Bed Camper Shell by SnugTop

It didn't take long to find a solution in SnugTop. This is arguably the highest quality truck bed camper shell company in the business. Our first model was the XtraVision and I opted to upgrade to the Sportsman package with Windoors. I know it seems like I might have misspelled that, but it is what it is. The side windows on the shell not only have a small sliding window for ventilation, but the whole window pops up like an access door. Along with our Bedslide, everything was accessible and easy to get to.

Truck bed camper shell with eyes

There is no denying that the new SnugTop truck bed camper shell was a vast improvement to a naked truck bed. The boys even loved playing and eating lunch inside as it rained during a pit stop. However, the shell along with a new rear bumper with a tire swing for my spare BFGoodrich all-terrain tire created a bit of a visibility concern. Little boys have a tendency to run around A LOT at a campsite and that was a bit scary when I needed to park or move the truck. SnugTop eventually came out with the Outback model, which not only boasted ambulance style doors, but also a rear rooftop mounted backup camera that plugs right into the existing rear camera system of our truck. Finally, I had a near birds-eye view of a wider area behind the truck.

A new shell with new doors to adventure

The Outback was everything I wanted from my XtraVision model and more. It had the large roof load capacity, fishing rod holders, that new backup camera, and was even able to have my beloved windoors. After that, there was a distinct difference that changed the whole look of my truck. This truck bed camper shell created a whole new access point. The Outback comes equipped with two ambulance style doors with a 60/40 ratio that allows cab-like access from the rear by swapping out the traditional vertically-closing tailgate. This also makes access to the bed of the truck more direct as there is nothing to bend over.

The complete package

Now, it's apparent that I've equipped our truck with a Bedslide to improve my access to my gear and change the way I use the truck in general. However, this aside, if ANYONE was thinking about camping and wanted to use their truck, the SnugTop Outback truck bed camper shell is the fastest and most cost effective way to create a mobile habitat. You can literally build a mini yet extremely capable mobile home with the ability to take you anywhere. From a general campground to the Rockies or Sierras, you can pretty much drive, cook, eat and sleep on four wheels without dropping a house payment to do it. Oh, and look awesome at the same time.

Exploring the world anew

Here we find ourselves exploring a prehistoric meteor crater in north central Arizona. The boys tote their own gear, kept safe under our truck bed camper shell from the sun, freeway wind, rain, snow…and dragons and frozen zombie armies.

Now, we're off to visit the great state of Texas…for that Texas sized adventure.

Got questions about truck bed camper shells? Shoot us an email or reach out on Instagram!


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