When looking for a caravan, camper, pop top, or motorhome cover consider the elements from which you will be shielding your vehicle. Because you generally get what you pay for when it comes to caravan covers, sometimes it pays to consider exactly how durable you need the material to be.
High Sun Exposure:
If the caravan is going to be kept outside and not under any kind of shelter, it would be best to consider a thicker, UV stabilised material. This is important for two reasons:
- First and foremost, to protect the caravan’s finish from aging too quickly due to prolonged sun exposure.
- Cheaper covers that may not be as UV stabilised as more expensive brands may disintegrate over time. This will create a mess, make it more prone to tearing, and obviously not provide suitable protection for the vehicle.
If your caravan is going to be sitting out in the open, then wind is another element to consider protecting against. You’ll want a cover that has extra reinforced stitching and extra tie-downs like buckles, straps, and cinching systems. This is to prevent the cover from billowing about annoyingly, which is ideal for two reasons:
- The cover is less likely to move around any trapped dirt, potentially scratching up the surface of your caravan.
- Strong winds are less likely to blow up into the cover and tear material that is strapped up close to the vehicle. Reinforced stitching will also reduce the likeliness of any tearing.
Most covers are constructed with waterproof materials and many will have breathable panels to reduce the likelihood of mould and mildew developing. In most cases you will find the top panel of the cover will be a “water resistant” material where water will bead and sometimes remain until it evaporates or is wiped off. Side panels will generally be where any vents are located to encourage air flow.
After a rain event, it’s probably also worth wiping off the top of the cover so any water that may have pooled isn’t sitting there for too long. More expensive brands will claim to be rot and mildew resistant but wiping off any excess water can’t hurt to prolong the life of the cover.
Thickness of material & structural design:
A cover made from a thicker material could be ideal for protecting against hail and small debris. A heavier gauge material will also sit more sturdily on the vehicle and be less affected by wind. They usually also feature a soft lining, which provides further protection from the wear and tear of rubbing on both the vehicle and the cover. Thicker covers that sit at a higher price point are usually designed to have more structure and proper panels so they also have the additional benefit of looking nicer in general.
Like most things, recreational vehicle covers will not last forever, but the warranty of a product should be a pretty good indicator of quality. Most covers will usually have a warranty of three years. This isn’t to say that they won’t last longer depending on weather events and the UV exposure index. On average, good covers can have a lifespan of 24-48 months depending on the conditions and probably longer if not kept constantly in direct sunlight.
After taking all of this into account…
If your caravan already has some shelter and you’re just looking for some basic protection from dust and mild weather, then an inexpensive caravan cover will suffice. Because these particular covers may not be as reinforced or as thick as a high quality cover, it might be worth applying some old but clean towels or blankets on any corners or protrusions of your vehicle before fitting the cover. They will act as a buffer, protecting both the caravan and the cover from any rubbing and wear and tear that may occur. With that in mind, if you have things like solar panels on your roof, you may want to place a soft blanket or towel on top of them too before covering the caravan.
You might be thinking: “Well, if I have to add extra protection under the cover, then why waste the money and instead just use a tarpaulin?” This budget alternative is a tempting option, however, tarpaulins will not provide the correct kind of protection that even just a cheap cover can offer. All caravan covers are at least designed to be fitted to the RV they are made for and usually feature breathable material or vents. Tarpaulins would require a lot more effort to be strapped to a caravan, as well as trapping moisture, and encouraging the growth of mould and mildew.
Getting the correct size
Once you have made the decision on what kind of brand/quality you require, then it’s just a matter of figuring out the correct size for your specific vehicle.
Note: The only exception would be is if you have a pop top that you want to store with the top “popped”. This would require a caravan cover instead of a pop top cover to make allowances for the height.
The height and width of most RVs are fairly standard, so cover sizes are distinguished by the length of the vehicle, which is usually measured in feet.
Once everything is tucked away or removed, measure the length of the vehicle not including the A-frame. If there are any bits and pieces, like spare tyres, attached to the front or rear that cannot be removed for storage, also take those into account as they obviously need to fit under the cover as well. It’s better to account for too much than too little, as fitting a larger cover is going to be a lot easier than trying to fit a cover that is too small.
When fitting the caravan cover:
- Ensure your caravan is washed, clean, and dry before covering it for two reasons:
- To reduce the chances of any mould, mildew, and general dirt build-up as a result of excess dirt being left on the vehicle
- To prevent scuffs and scratches to paintwork and windows by trapped dirt particles being rubbed around by the cover
- Remember to remove or stow away protrusions such as antennas, steps, ladders/racks, awnings, or drop down legs
- Identify the front and the back of the cover — depending on the brand, the front will usually have a logo
- With the help of a friend and something that will give you extra reach like tent poles, start at the rear of the vehicle and raise the cover over the length of the RV. Make sure the cover does not get caught on anything as you move it along
- Once you have reached the front, make sure all the sides are covered and adjust the cover accordingly
- Now simply secure any straps to keep it in place — these could be belly straps, or front and rear straps
Note: You want the cover tightened and secure enough so fabric movement is limited, but not too tight so as to potentially tear the material or seams.
Remember, when shopping around for an ideal cover for your caravan, camper, pop top, or motorhome, consider your budget, the elements to which the RV will be exposed, and correct measurements for the best fit.