by The Post Zilla


A topper shell (also known as a camper shell, box shell, truck cap, or truck canopy) provides a large and waterproof storage space for trucks. While some truck owners would like this space to have a feeling of security – or even be comfortable enough to spend a night in – most are trying to make their truck beds function as very large trunks.

We will discuss the pros and cons of some of the top options that new truck buyers can choose from, along with cost estimates.

How will you use your truck toppers?

With a basic topper, your truck’s roofline is even with the liftgate window at the rear, and it has a simple cam lock. In addition to not stopping a serious theft attempt, it’s also not going to accommodate oversized rear cargo. Getting access to gear is also going to be difficult, since you will need to “unload” every time you need a tool or piece of gear that is closer to the cab.

  • Would you like to stand or crouch? What about a big load? If you want a “high rise” top, it should advertise lots of headroom and/or a tall design.
  • Would you like to have access to the entire bed? If so, you probably want a window topper that opens from the side. They are more convenient than having to stick your head through the side window of a topper.
  • Is there anything you want to mount on the roof of your topper? Campers, kayakers, mountain bikers, etc. are mounted to the roof of some toppers, whereas commercial users tend to mount ladders or other gear. Toppings with rails are best for placing gear.
  • Is your expensive gear in need of protection? Most commercial systems use heavy-duty steel or aluminum locking mechanisms to prevent simple cam locks on basic topper from defeated. You can also find toolboxes, drawers, etc that locked.
  • Is the inside of the bag to lined? You should get a lined camper shell if you’re going to camp in your truck toppers since it’ll keep things warm and quiet, not to mention more comfortable.

You can also answer other questions to determine what you need, but suffice it to say that extra features – such as a high-rise, roof-mounted rails, lined interiors, etc. – will increase the price substantially.

Read also: Leer Caps near ME


When you’ve decided on the basic functions your topper will perform, it’s time to decide which material to use. You have three basic materials to choose from:

  1. Aluminized
  2. Isophthalic glass
  3. Composites/plastics
  4. A stainless steel material

Aluminium is by far the least expensive material: A brand new aluminum top with minimal features typically costs less than $1,000. A typical installation costs between $900 and $1200. Aluminium costs more.

  • There are usually only a few colors available, usually white, and sometimes black, and many people don’t like how white topper looks on a truck of any color
  • The aluminum toppers (especially the cheaper ones) tend to dingy and dented over time

You can use a plain white aluminum topper if you’re not too concerned with aesthetics (or if your truck is white). A great option if you’re trying to save weight, or if you want a top that has shelving, lockable toolboxes, double doors, etc.

It is hard to find a fiberglass topper for less than $1,200 installed – most cost about $1,800-$3,000 installed). Because of that, aluminum toppers are still fairly popular. In addition to being heavy (they can weigh up to 200 pounds. epending on the options), fiberglass toppers are also hard to find made for commercial use (although they are available).

In recent years, composite/plastic toppers have gained in popularity. Their color selection very limited, but they offer a lot of the benefits of aluminum. Without sacrificing appearance, which makes them a good compromise between aluminum and fiberglass.

 In general, composite toppers are more expensive than aluminum (but still less expensive than fiberglass). But you can expect to spend more on composite than aluminum. Depending on the features, an estimate of $1,200-$1,800 (installed) is a good estimate.

Last but not least, a newcomer to the market, SmartCap, manufactures truck toppers from stainless steel. The truck bed toppers on this list are among the most expensive, but they will definitely last the longest. South Africa manufactures SmartCap truck caps and sells them in the U.S.

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