Updated: Jul 3
Is covering your RV a good idea? How do I know which size cover I need for my RV? Read on to learn more.
It's that time of the year again. Seasonal RVers are putting their rigs down to sleep through the long winter. But how to take care of your RV so that it doesn't get damaged while in storage? An RV cover is one of the ways you can protect your rig while it is parked. But how do you choose the right RV cover for your rig? Read on to learn how.
Do You Need an RV Cover?
Do RV covers cause damage? RV covers developed a bad reputation in the past which led a lot of people to ask this question. This all started when low-quality tarp-like RV covers actually caused moisture to build up over the RV which in turn lead to mold and mildew development. However, RV covers today have come a long way both in terms of built quality and functionality.
If you're a seasonal RVer with your very own rig then covering it up during downtime is essential. You need to make sure that your rig doesn't get damaged while it is parked for the season, and an RV cover helps you do just that. A lot of RVers prefer covering their rig with an RV cover when winterizing their rig. An RV cover is especially important when you're parking your rig outside in a parking lot, your driveway, or your street.
Here are some pros and cons of covering your RV.
Pros of Covering your RV
Protection Against the Elements: A good RV cover protects your rig from environmental effects like damage from rain, snow, wind, and sun. The cover will protect your rig from scratches, wear, and damage to external accessories like antennas and side mirrors.
Protection Against Infestations: An RV that is left parked for long can attract rodents and other animals. A well-fitted RV cover discouraged this infestation by covering all possible entry points into the RV.
Protection Against the Sun: Sun damage is a real issue when it comes to parking your RV for long. UV rays can not only cause paint-fade but excessive heat from the sun can also damage the mechanical components of the RV. A high-quality RV cover can help protect your RV from UV damage.
Protection Against Moisture: Moisture can cause severe damage to your RV from the inside out. Mold and mildew development on the surface of RV can seep in through cracks and damage the wiring as well as the upholstery inside your rig. A rig cover helps protect the moisture from getting in and protecting your RV from developing mold.
Cons of Covering your RV
Damage to RV Accessories: Ill-fitting RV covers can cause damage to RV accessories like antennas, side mirrors, windows, and rig lights. That is the reason why it is important to buy an RV cover that is the right size for your rig. Investing in window covers, skylight covers, and windshield covers is also a good idea.
Billowing: If you cover your RV with a cover that hasn't been properly secured, wind can get inside the cover and cause it to billow against the roof of the RV. This can cause damage to both the RV roof and the cover itself. It is important to buy a cover that can be tightly secured around your RV to prevent this.
Rips and Tears: If you're planning on storing your RV in a place that gets a lot of wind and rain, it is important to buy an RV cover that is made of stronger material. Wind can cause rips and tears in covers made of a lighter material and a damaged RV cover is worst than no cover at all.
Choosing the Right RV Cover for Your Rig
What should I cover my RV with? is the question every new RVer asks themselves when they're ready to park their RV for the season. Choosing the right RV cover depends on a number of factors. Let's deep dive and explore each of them.
RV covers come in all shapes and sizes but most can be categorized into four basic categories:
Plastic tarps are the cheapest RV cover you can find on the market, but they are also the least effective. Plastic tarps are made of different kinds of materials, the most common ones you will find are made of vinyl, canvas, poly, and mesh. Each type has its own pros and cons, for example, vinyl tarps are waterproof and durable but they don't provide any sun protection. Canvas tarps are sun damage resistant but not waterproof.
Customized plastic RV covers are your best bet if you decide to use a plastic tarp for your RV. They are made of thicker fabric and include extra features like integrated air vents, zippered panels for accessing the RV, multiple drawstrings and cords for a tight fit, storage bags for RV cover, heavy-duty roof paneling, and improved grommets that won’t rust easily.
Another way to cover your RV is to shrink wrap your camper. Shrinkwrapping works by wrapping your rig in a special plastic wrap that looks like a huge plastic tarp. When the sun hits the plastic wrap the heat makes it shrink and fit the contours of your rig. Shrinkwrapping is a great way to custom cover your rigs of all sizes. If you have additional accessories installed on your rig like solar panels, shrink wrapping is a great way to cover it all up during the off-season.
The downside to shrink wrapping is that it is expensive, labor-intensive, and restrictive. You have to use just the right material and place and time it right for the shrink wrap to work properly. It is advisable to have experts install the shrink wrap since it has to be strategically placed and vents have to be placed to allow breathability. Lastly, once the shrink wrap is in place, there is no way for you to enter your rig till it is taken off.
A semi-custom RV cover is a cover that is designed specifically for your type of rig. You can find semi-custom RV covers for Class A motorhomes, Class B campers, Class C rigs, trailers, fifth-wheels, and more. The custom-fitted covers are just the right size for your rig and come with metal grommets, adjuster straps, and elastic hems for a snug fit.
Semi-custom RV covers are the best option for most RV owners. If you haven't customized your rig with additional accessories like solar panels, storage carriers, and more, a semi-custom camper cover will fit your rig like a glove. Most semi-custom covers come with wheel covers, storage bags, and zippered rollable access to the rig when the cover is on.
As the name suggests, a custom RV cover is one that is designed for your rig specifically. This is the most expensive RV cover option on the market because your cover will be custom-designed for the type, size, design, and other specifications of your rig. Custom-fit RV covers don't just offer a snug fit but also come with added features like sun-damage resistance, waterproof, weather resistance, custom vents, and more.
Custom-fit RV covers are the best option for people who have bigger motorhomes that don't have semi-custom RV covers. Or for RVers that have customized campers that need a specific cover.
Plastic tarps and semi-custom RV covers come in a number of different sizes. It is important that you measure your RV correctly to know which size of RV cover to buy (more on this later). Ill-fitting RV covers are worst than not covering your RV at all so make sure you buy a cover that is the right size for your rig.
Semi-custom camper covers come in size ranges like 30-33' for example. If your rig falls at the maximum end of the range, it is better to go a size up. You can always use the straps and grommets to make your cover fit snugly. A cover that is smaller than your rig is more prone to tears and rips.
You can find travel trailer covers in many different materials in the market. Rig covers come in polypropylene, polyester, woven, unwoven, 300D, 600 deniers, and more. Some materials are also treated for special purposes like single-layer, multi-layer, UV treated, anti-tear treated, water-resistant, waterproof, and more.
Choose the material of your RV cover based on where you're going to be storing your RV. If you are parking your motorhome in your driveway that gets a lot of sun and wind invest in a motorhome cover that is multilayered, anti-tear treated, waterproof, and UV-resistant.
RV covers come in a number of different colors. Choose a neutral color that doesn't fade due to sun damage if you're rig will be parked under direct sunlight. If you're going for bright, neon colors, make sure the colors are strong. You don't want the color to stain your camper after one rain.
Travel trailer covers come with multiple features. When choosing the right camper cover, make sure you focus on all the base features first (like multiple vents, rollable entrance, rust-proof grommets) and then focus on any added requirements (tear-proof, double-layering). Don't forget to check the warranty on your RV cover.
What to Look for in a Camper Cover?
Let's take a look at some of the basic things you should be looking for in your motorhome cover.
Make sure the camper cover you choose is made of high-quality, strong material that is tear-proof and lasts a long time. Durability is important since buying a new RV cover every season can be really expensive. You want a cover that stands the test of time and the elements.
Moisture is an RVs biggest enemy. To make sure your RV remains dry and mold-free it is important that your RV cover allows enough ventilation. Make sure you buy a trailer cover with the right number of vents that allow air to circulate through the RV. This will keep your camper dry and safe.
Your camper needs protection from the sun, wind, snow, air, and more. Your RV cover needs to cater to all these needs. It is important that your cover is waterproof and UV resistant. It also needs to be tear-resistant so that no rodents or water can get in.
Whether you own a small camper or a large trailer, accessibility to the rig is important. It is recommended that you check your trailer at least once in 2-3 weeks to make sure the battery and other electrical components are working properly. So if your RV cover doesn't allow you to enter your RV while it is parked, that won't do. Choose a cover that has a rollable, zippered entry for the door so you can easily access your trailer.
Buy your RV covers from a well-reputed manufacturer or retailer. The market is flooded with RV cover retailers, you need to find one who has a good reputation. Check online reviews, company profiles, and how long the company has been in business. The company's warranty policy is a good perimeter to check if they have high-quality products.
How to Measure Your Travel Trailer for a Cover?
Measuring your travel trailer for a cover is a two-person job. If you want accurate measurements skip the tape measure and use a laser distance meter.
The first end of the laser distance meter should be held in the farthest protruding section of the rear bumper.
Bring the meter all the way to the farthest protruding section of the front bumper. This is the length of the trailer.
Then measure from the farthest protruding right side of the camper to the left. This is the width of the trailer. Don't worry about the side mirrors or awning, most commercial trailer covers already take that into account.
Measure from the top of the trailer roof to the bottom of the trailer frame. This is the height of the camper. You don't have to measure any existing AC units since they are already accounted for in commercial trailer covers. However, any aftermarket accessories like bike racks, solar panels, and more need to be measured since they won't fit under a standard cover.
Note down all the measurements on a single notepad (or in a single note on your phone) so all the info you need to buy the right RV cover is readily available.
Many new trailers come with exact trailer dimensions in the user's manual. You can find the manual inside the glove box or storage compartments.
How to Put on a Travel Trailer Cover?
Installing the camper cover the right way is important. If you put on your cover when there is a lot of wind then it might tear and billow. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to put on a travel trailer cover:
Lay the cover down on the rear end of the RV and find the front of the cover.
Take the front end of the cover and climb on top of the camper from the rear end.
Pulling the cover over the length of the trailer, start draping the sides of the camper with the cover.
Once you've covered all the sides perfectly climb down the trailer and adjust the cover on all sides of the trailer.
Tightly pull down the cover from all sides and secure it tightly for a snug fit.
Most RV covers come with an installation guide so make sure to read that first and follow the instructions to the tee.
How to Take Care of Your RV Cover?
RV covers need to be maintained just like any other RV accessory. Here are some helpful tips to keep your RV covers ready to use all year round.
Clean the RV Cover During Downtime
Your RV cover goes through a lot when it is covering your rig. Make sure to give it a good wash when you take it off to store it. If you have a plastic cover, wash it with soap and water and let it air dry before storing it. Make sure to store the cover by folding it and storing it in a storage bag (most RV covers come with one).
Wash and Clean the RV Before Putting the Cover On
When winterizing your RV, you should wash and clean your RV before putting the cover on. Use soap and water to wash the frame of the RV and let the rig dry completely before putting the cover on.
Make Sure the Trailer Cover is Well-Fitted
A well-fitted cover can protect your RV from all the harm that may come its way. Make sure you measure your RV correctly and buy a trailer cover that is the right fit. Ill-fitted RV covers do more damage than no covers at all since they let moisture get trapped inside which caused mold build-up.
Properly Store the Camper Cover
Storing your camper cover in a cool, safe, dry place is essential. If you don't store your cover correctly, it may get tears and rips. Most camper covers come with a storage bag, use it when storing the cover. If you don't have a storage bag, fold the trailer cover carefully and store it in a safe place that doesn't attract rodents.
The Last Word
RV covers are a great way to keep your rig safe while it is in storage. Make sure you follow our guide to find the right RV cover for your trailer. Happy shopping!