Skip to Content

How to Heat a Camper Shell?

How to Heat a Camper Shell?

Many people prefer to insulate their camper shells when traveling a long distance or camping. In addition, it helps to retain heat and avoids frosting.

How to Heat a Camper Shell? You can heat a camper shell by placing heaters like diesel, electric, propane, and auxiliary heater. In addition, the insulation of the floor and camper shell by adding Styrofoam and natural fibers like wool can retain heat inside. A warm sleeping bag and a heat blanket keep you warm in cold weather. You can restrict the entry of cold air by dropping down heavy curtains over the windows. Furthermore, the reflective shades and comforter or a mattress can warm the camper.

It is challenging to live and survive out of a camper in a cold environment. However, an insulated camper shell can protect you from the cold air resulting in frosting.

The truck shell provides a storage area for groceries and equipment and keeps you warm after proper insulation.

What is a camper shell?

A camper shell is an area behind the truck cab that provides an enclosure. Modern camper covers are made of fiberglass because metal shells can get damaged due to rust.

You can ensure safety by locking the handles present on the rear door, which prevents the automatic opening of the tailgate.

There are different types of camper shells according to their material: metal, fiberglass, and fabric or canvas shells.

Furthermore, fiberglass shells are highly durable and provide better insulation from cold. 

Easy Steps to heat a camper shell

It is easy to heat up a camper shell and maintain a warm environment inside. There are many ways to keep the camper warm.

Insulation of floor and shell 

Proper insulation of floor and shell is essential to keep the bed warm in winters. It avoids using any external sources of heat to increase temperature.

The insulating material retains the warm temperature and prevents the entry of cold air inside. You can use a rigid Styrofoam that cannot absorb moisture and can keep heat inside.

It is better to prefer Styrofoam with an increased R-value, which means this foam can retain maximum heat. For example, the Styrofoam of 2 inches thickness has more than 10 RV-value.

In addition, you can also use spray foam for the insulation of the shell. It needs an application of plywood over it to hold an expansion of the foam.

Insulation of camper shells with natural fibers like denim and wool is a good option when relying on natural sources. Both denim and wool can absorb heat and release moisture efficiently.

Installation of heaters

Everyone wants a small and portable heater to place in a confined area. Many options include adding a diesel, electric, propane, and an auxiliary heater to your shell.

The heaters provide continuous heat that keeps the enclosure warm. A diesel engine is a good option as it is easy to fit and provides warmth, but it needs a power supply to work for a long.

A propane heater does not require any power to operate, but fumes can build up inside.

However, you have to open windows a little bit for ventilation to avoid the buildup of carbon monoxide in the shell.

An opening of only 1 to 2 inches is enough to maintain airflow, so you do not have to open the windows completely.

You need to turn off the heater after some time as it produces a lot of heat. However, an electric heater can heat up small truck beds efficiently.

You can heat a camper by adding an auxiliary heater to a shell that operates only when the engine is running. It needs an attachment of wires to the battery.

It is better to keep the heater 28 inches away from you or avoid putting anything near it.

Camper shells provide a small space, so you have to maintain the distance as much as possible for your safety.

Warm blanket and sleeping bag

A warm blanket and a sleeping bag are good to keep the truck bed warm in the frosting night.

The heat blanket needs a power source to run, and you can switch it on before sleeping so that it gets warm. It takes almost 20 to 40 minutes to get warm and provide relief from cold air.

One of my friends has gone for a 5-night trip to a cold area, and he has taken 2 warm blankets with himself to maintain body heat.

You can get a sleeping bag that keeps you warm and maintains a cozy environment in the camper shell.

You need to know about the temperature limit of a sleeping bag while purchasing. Then, get a winter sleeping bag that can make you comfortable in a cold environment.

Dropdown heavy curtains

Windows can also release heat from the truck shell, so you can add thick and heavy curtains fabric on the windows to restrict airflow. 

The curtains act as a barrier and do not allow entry of cold air to reach inside the camper. Similarly, it keeps warm air inside and prevents its release to the outside environment.

Use comforter and mattress 

You can use a comforter or a soft mattress to get warmth. The luxurious and feathery comforters maintain heat due to their weight.

A highly dense comforter and mattress can block airflow inside and efficiently capture the body heat.

As a result, the body heat remains inside the mattress, and it provides warmth in cold weather.

Blankets are made of only a single layer, while comforters provide additional insulation due to double layering.

Therefore, it is better to add a layer of blankets over the comforter for better warmth.

I have a soft and heavy mattress in my camper that keeps me warm when the external temperature is low.

Add multiple layers of clothing

In addition, you can add multiple layers of clothing to your body. For example, you can wear a warm shirt and a leather jacket over it.

The natural fiber is breathable, while synthetic fiber keeps moisture away and does not allow air to pass through it.

Moreover, you can add multiple layers of clothes around windows and a rear access door to avoid the entry of cold air inside the camper shell.

Add rug and carpet to floor 

The placement of a wool rug on the bed floor adds an insulation layer to the camper shell. It restricts the entry of air and keeps the environment warm. Not only a soft rug, but you can add a piece of carpet on the floor for this purpose.

Carpets are not a direct heat source, but they provide better insulation by inhibiting heat flow.

A metal floor can make you feel colder, so place a rug or carpet of suitable thickness on the bed.

Use reflective sunshades

You can avoid frosting by installing reflective shades in the truck shells that retain heat in winters.

The reflective sunshades are dual-purpose due to their design. First, you can use the sunshades in summer to keep the shell cool and warm in winter.

The dual property of sunshades is due to the difference of color on both sides. Keep the lighter side or white side towards the outside to reflect sunlight.

You can flip the dark or black side of sunshades towards sunlight that absorbs heat and keeps the internal environment of the camper shell warm.

You need to know that these reflective sunshades are not producing heat; instead, they trap heat inside.

So, you have to find some other sources for heat production like a warm sleeping bag or heater.

Why would you heat a camper shell?

It is good to maintain a warm temperature inside the shell if you drive in the winter. In addition, it is one of the inexpensive and suitable ways to go camping.

Camper shells turn the pickup into a weatherproof space. However, there are chances of an unexpected rainstorm during traveling, so it is better to take preventive measures for your safety.

Moreover, you can feel warm at night due to the better insulation of your pickup.

It protects your valuables and makes you feel relaxed in a warm and soothing environment by limiting exposure to cold air.

You can enjoy a better sleep in an insulated camper shell that restricts cold air from entering the shell.

Is it legal and safe to sleep in a camper shell?

It sounds strange to sleep in a truck, but it is convenient for campers. It is legal to sleep in a truck with the engine off.

However, it is essential to take care of the parking areas while parking trucks on a street or road. In addition, it should not disturb the traffic flow.

The people usually sleep in their pickups when they are on long tours, or a few of them sleep when traveling a long distance.

Yes, it is safe to sleep in an insulated camper because the purpose is to keep you warm.

Be careful when using heaters as the fumes can cause suffocation inside. Using other alternatives like a warm sleeping bag or blanket and floor insulation is better.

How often to heat a camper shell?

A camper shell needs insulation when you are going camping in cold areas. It retains heat for a maximum duration if it has the proper insulation.

By adding carpets, rugs, and curtains, the floor and shell insulation can work well, but these do not heat produce heat.

Therefore, a heat source like a heater and heat blanket is essential.

 You have to switch on and off heaters after short intervals to keep the shell warm and avoid fumes buildup.

In addition, you need to switch on the heat blanket before sleeping because it takes time to get warm. So, it is better to switch on the heat source 20 minutes before sleeping.

Related Articles:

Problems with Black Series Camper

Will an S10 Topper Fit a Tacoma?