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DIY Canvas camper shell for pick up truck?

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gear, Survival Equipment & More' started by collecter, Jun 17, 2012.

  1. collecter


    Aug 21, 2002
    This might be a dumb idea but I'm thinking about building a canvas shell for my truck.

    I priced the varous soft tops for pickups and I just don't want to spend that much. I would use it only a few times a year for camping and hunting so can't justify the cost plus I wouldn't want to leave one of the of those nice tops on all year. They come off too easy if you know what I mean!

    I researched It a little and I haven't found any DIY projects on the web. I did find pics of an old system called the pickup poncho. See here,

    I'm thinking of using a hardwood frame that I can dissasemble. This wouldn't cost me anything as I already have the wood on hand. I priced some canvas tarps that I would need to modify. Total would be about $50. I'm just afraid of it turning out stupid ugly.

    Has anyone done anything like this?

  2. Codger_64

    Codger_64 Moderator Moderator

    Oct 8, 2004
    Why, yes. Yes I have. And it turned out stupid ugly and not able to handle highway speeds. I saw what I did wrong as I looked at canvas covers done right, military cargo truck and trailer covers. You may be able to get one to fit your truck from a surplus dealer on that auction site or elsewhere. But a like-new cover and the associated bows and other hardware will not be cheap. Best option these days is a tent made for truck beds. They aren't cheap either, but don't look crazy stupid ugly. But they do have to be removed for driving.


    Here is one that you can drive with that I hadn't seen before. But it is $500.
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2012
  3. 22-rimfire


    Nov 20, 2005
    They make tents that attach to the back of a pickup bed that you assemble on site. I have not used one but should work very well for one person certainly. These came out about 10 years ago.
  4. willseeyalater


    Jan 7, 2012
    I have seen homemade truck mounted tool boxes and pipe racks but never toppers. One thing you have to keep in mind is that if it will be used on public roads and is not strong enough to handle wind blast and normal use you could be liable for it coming apart and causing an accident. You maybe need to look at welding a steel square tube frame and custom make a canvas to fit it. I would think about using the vinyl sheeting that semi's with open box trailers are covered. Look at the tie down straps and loops on those for ideas of what it takes to make one to stand up to weather and wind. You might find one for salvage somewhere, there may be a piece of it big enough and in decent shape to do what you need.
  5. Trail Edge

    Trail Edge Banned BANNED

    Apr 23, 2011
    It may be one of those "larger dollar amount for a better experience" things.
  6. alex


    Oct 12, 1998
    Collecter,I just sent you an email with a website link on what seems like a really great deal. You might want to look into it right away since it is a 24 hour sale. Much easier to buy at that price than to try making one. Hope it works for you.

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