If you've spent any time around pickup enthusiasts, you'll know there's a heated debate between those that love truck shells (also known as bed caps) and those that hate them. And there seems to be no middle ground. Regardless of which side you're on it's hard to deny the functionality that a shell brings with it. They keep the bed clean and dry, protecting the contents from the elements. Shells also bring a level of added security, keeping bed-stored items out of view and away from sticky fingers. People use them for business and for pleasure, some even camp in them. Of course, the detractors would say it limits the size of items that can be hauled in the truck's bed, and they wouldn't be wrong.
Very early in our Ford F-150 Raptor build we decided that it would need a shell. Our plans included mounting two spare 37-inch BFGoodrich tires in the bed along with our spare parts, tools, and a Dometic fridge/freezer. Since we love the look of Raptors with shells and wanted to protect everything from both the elements and prying eyes we turned to the shell experts at A.R.E.
There are so many different styles and models of truck shells, choosing one can be a daunting task. A.R.E. alone offers 17 different models and of those five fit our 2013 Ford F-150. To keep things simple, we chose one of the most basic, the CX Classic series. The CX Classic is one of the more affordable caps starting at $2,049, which includes paint. Price and complexity go up from there. Ordering and installation is handled by A.R.E. 's extensive network of independent retailers, and there are shells to fit nearly every pickup brand and bed length from the past two decades. The company also offers a limited lifetime warranty on all of its fiberglass shells.
Come along with us as we take a look at just how quick and easy it is to install a truck bed shell!
| 2013 Ford F 150 Raptor A R E Shell Install 001
| Each shell has dozens of available options creating hundreds of possible combinations. Because of this, each shell is custom ordered from A.R.E.'s vast dealer network. Ordering is easy and it takes about four to six weeks for delivery.
| We kept things pretty simple, opting for a color-matched painted exterior, a fold-down sliding front window for easy cleaning, a dark gray headliner (to match our BedRug), and an LED lighting strip. The shell was delivered to Shell Land in Norwalk, California, where the crew took great pride and care in the installation.
| Prior to setting the shell on the truck's bedrails the crew at Shell Land applied self-adhesive weather stripping to the bottom edges of the CX Classic. This provides both a weather-tight seal and helps prevent damage to the truck should you choose to remove the shell in the future.
| In the corners, where the weather stripping might not seal perfectly, silicon caulking is employed to ensure unwanted moisture stays out of the bed.
| Our CX Classic shell tipped the scales at about 175 pounds. Utilizing a forklift with custom fork cushions is the quickest and easiest way for the Shell Land crew to lift the shell above the bedrails and gently lower it into place.
| A pair of large C-clamps is used on either side to secure the shell to the truck's bedrails. Since we had no plans of slowing down our off-road adventuring, we opted to add a third clamp to each side for peace of mind.
| The provided wiring harness is fairly simple. With our chosen options the harness will provide power to the interior LED lighting along with the integrated LED center-high-mounted-stoplight.
| After routing the wires through an existing hole in the bed, the cap-side harness plug needs to be assembled. While this step adds a little time and complexity to the installation process, it also allows for the use of smaller holes when feeding the wiring through the bed along with versatility depending on which options are chosen.
| Wires to power the lights were routed along the passenger-side framerail and into the engine bay where they were connected to the battery. Total time to complete the wiring of the shell was less than half an hour.
| After a quick trip to the desert, we're happy to report that the A.R.E. CX Classic shell is holding up flawlessly. It's not only stylish but also keeps our spare parts, tires, and gear out of the elements and away from prying eyes.