How To Heat A Camper Shell Correctly

Finding a way to make yourself feel comfortable, and by that i mean warm when being inside a truck’s camper shell is many peoples’ goal – i mean, if you full-time there or even weekend camp, feeling cold and miserable is not the right way to go.

Use a propane heater

When we talk about the main heating solution, regardless for what kind of vehicle it is, the king is propane.

Why, you might say? Well, it all really has to do with the versatility.

If it was all that simple, everyone would run the electric heaters in their pickup truck caps, though the issue here is that they use a ton of power, which is difficult to get in mobile situations.

There are many good quality propane warmers on the market, however i suggest going for the more reputable kind, like the Mr. Heater Buddy series or the Camco Olympian Wave.

This Mr. Heater you can get on Amazon (link) is more than enough.

Always fresh air

Once you figure out which heater is right for you and you’re ready to start using it, the most important thing you must do from now on is keep the shell ventilated at all times whenever using the propane heat.

This definitely goes a bit against the logic of heating the cap to begin with – i mean, if you want to be warm, why would you want to crack open the window and essentially waste money?

The reason why you should do so is to prevent carbon monoxide build-up, as failing to do it ladies and gentlemen, leads to eventual poisoning or even death. This also reduces the chance of mold growth, and we definitely don’t want that!

For best results, make sure that you open up two windows at the same time, preferably one at each side, and that the opening is about an inch or so, just to be safe.

To be extra careful, get a carbon monoxide detector – it will tell you exactly whether or not anything harmful collects there, and that makes it easy to know when you need better ventilation.

Don’t have anything too close

Another crucial rule you must obey to when using a gas heater is never have anything right in its way, more specifically closer than 25 inches (this number can be even higher, depending on the device).

This is actually pretty bad news for those who will indeed use them inside their camper shells, as there is not that much space to play around with anyway, although it is not that bad if you will mount it closer to the top.

How often should you use it?

As long as you have a sleeping bag designed for the temperature you’re currently in, i would say that you should only really need to use the heater for about 10 minutes before going to bed, and for a short time after waking up, but this is just my take on this.

This obviously works only if the goal of using the cap is to have a sleep for the night. In case you are actually using the place as a means of a more permanent dwelling, you will definitely need to have it on a lot more frequently.

Even if it’s just below freezing, the propane heater will have to be in use basically through the whole time you’re in there, except while sleeping – the annoying thing about it is that most of them don’t have a thermostat, so you will be turning one on and off frequently as they produce a lot of heat, even on low.

Saving money on gas

Instead of buying those 1 pound cylinders, consider hooking up a 20 pound tank and making your life cheaper and easier.

For those who want to be extra careful, you will also be able to place the tank outside and run the hose that way.

For better results, insulate

Insulating the camper shell is a very good idea in those situations where you indeed want to heat the space, but want to make it stay inside for longer; doing so can also be tremendously good for those who won’t use any external heat source at all.

To get the best results, you really should use foam boards all around it, and even on the bed – this guy got it right.

You’ll definitely end up losing even more space in already small shell after doing so, though this is certainly the step to go for if retaining heat is that crucial.

Heating alternatives


Don’t want to mess around with a gas heater? Actually there is a way to power an electric one without any problem, it’s just that you will need to run a generator outside.

Does it make sense to do so? I guess so, if you will be camping where this is legal and there are not that many people there, if you get the point.

What about a furnace?

Furnaces seem to get more and more popular nowadays, and for a good reason.

They don’t produce any moisture inside, dangerous gasses for you to inhale and in general, are actually inexpensive to use, after you get one installed that is.

You can purchase them in three different fuel consumption types: propane, gas and diesel. Generally speaking, the propane route is a better option because of its availability.

All in all

Anybody can say things like “just wear a hat bro, it can’t be that cold!”, but those who actually have to endure those colder days inside of a pickup cap know how difficult it can be, so figuring out a heating solution is certainly a number one priority for you.

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