How to build your own camper shell

If going camping without the need to set up a tent or sleep on the ground appeals to you, you might want to learn how to build a camper shell to transform your truck into a comfortable sleeping area. With the right supplies, tools, and a weekend set aside for the project, you can build the perfect camper shell for your truck.

What Is a Camper Shell?

Pickup trucks have been there for a long time, and camper shells provide an enclosed area over the bed on the back of a pickup truck. They are also called caps or toppers. The earliest models were made of metal. However, due to premature rusting and weight, the next generation of caps was made of fiberglass.

Learning How to Build a Camper Shell

If this type of camping sounds appealing to you, but you can’t quite afford the high cost of the new fiberglass toppers, then you may want to consider building a camper shell yourself.

Materials Used for Camper Frames

The materials that you choose for the shell of your truck camper will determine the overall weight, the durability, and of course, how easy or difficult it will be to build. The most common options for camper frame and wall material include the following:


Most people don’t have the welding skills or tools to create metal framing, so the two most commonly used frame types are PVC and wood. The procedure for building a camper shell is almost identical in both cases. The only difference is how all the components are attached. In the case of wood, nails will do, but in the case of PVC and fiberglass, you should be using adhesives.

How to Build a Camper Shell in a Weekend

Build the Frame

  1. Using two long and two wide pieces, glue or nail each together end-to-end (using angle joints in the case of PVC) to create a square.
  2. Repeat the same procedure and create a second square, but without one wide piece.
  3. Using the four short pieces of PVC or wood, connect the two squares by the corners so that you have a cube that has the length and width of your truck bed, with a missing lower piece where your tailgate will touch.
  4. Let the frame of your new camper dry for 10 to 20 minutes before moving to the next step.

Cover the Frame and Finish Up

  1. Lay wall sections over the top and three sides of the box (leaving the back open). The top will be solid, but on the sides, you’ll need to consider cutting appropriately sized holes for your windows if you plan to install them. With fiberglass, you lay a fiberglass cloth across the side, mix the resin, and then coat the cloth. The resin will harden into a wall in about 30 minutes.
  2. Cut it to the appropriate size and nail it to your frame using plywood. Then, coat all four walls and the roof with a good layer of sealant.
  3. Install the windows if you’ve created holes for them. Don’t forget to seal the edges of the windows with caulking to block leaks.
  4. Cut your Plexiglas into the same size as the front wall of your cube.
  5. Attach hinges to the top of your cube with screws, and screw the other end of the hinge into your Plexiglas sheet to attach it to swing up and down to allow entry into the camper.


Building your own campershell can be exciting but may also get a bit intimidating at times. So, if you want to spare some leisure time for yourself and want someone else to do your work, contact us. We have ready-to-install prebuilt snugtop camper shells plus a custom build option that not only saves your extra efforts but also protects your cargo from weather conditions and theft.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *