Does A Camper Shell Affect Gas Mileage?

A camper shell creates a safer and drier place for all your stuff in the back of a truck; with one, you can even go camping if you wish, the possibilities are numerous.

Having said that, will putting one on your pickup make the thing use more fuel? I mean, it makes sense that it would as it does weight quite a bit.

It’s not as simple as it may seem

A camper shell may or may very well not affect your truck’s gas mileage in any way, be it positively or negatively. What kind of results you can expect on your pickup after you install one is completely individual.

Some folks claim they’ve seen an increase of about 1 to 2 miles per gallon once they started driving with a topper on. Others state completely different – they started to use only more fuel!

Then there’s the middle ground which says their MPG haven’t changed neither negatively nor positively with a shell on.


And this is really the reason why I can’t give you a solid answer to this question – there are just too many factors at play here.

Maybe the owner who argues that a camper shell increased his fuel economy is because the specific kind of truck he has just works better with it. Or perhaps his vehicle is just modded in some type of way that favors having a cap.

“But it’s aerodynamic, it must reduce fuel usage!”

While the aerodynamic part is certainly true, you also have to remember that the thing weighs quite a bit as well – as much as an adult, if not more.

So even though the shape of the cap does add better curvature to the back of the truck, the extra weight that comes with it just cancels all that benefit out, at least that’s how I see it.

Even if you will end up losing some MPG, it’s not the end of the world

The worst I’ve read of people, who do lose miles per gallon with a shell installed, is only around 2 gallons, at most.

So, if losing that little fuel economy is a dealbreaker to you, I think you’re getting a cap for the wrong reasons.

What’s my take on this question

If I was to give a heads-up to those who are thinking about purchasing a camper shell, I would say that you should either expect it to not impact the fuel economy at all, or if it does, by a gallon or some more.

I just don’t see how majority of people would see an increase in MPG with the topper. Again, I’ve definitely read of folks who did, but it’s rather few and far between.

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