Gone Outdoors

How to Install Curtains in a Camper Shell

by Marie Mulrooney

Sleeping in the back of your truck provides a practical way to save money while traveling; installing a camper shell over the trunk bed shelters you from the weather and gives you some privacy, too. Installing curtains in your camper shell makes that privacy complete, keeps light out and also protects any valuables in the back of the truck. If you install your curtains on a string or a bungee, you can slide them aside for clear visibility when you drive.

Industrial-Strength Adhesive or Screws

You have several options for mounting curtains that you can slide across your camper shell's windows. If your windows are held in by screws, the easiest method is using those screws to mount the brackets for a curtain road. If the shell is metal or fiberglass, you can also use an industrial-strength adhesive to adhere small hooks to the inside of the shell, about 1 inch above and outside each top corner of every window. Tie a length of string or suspend a bungee between each pair of hooks as a makeshift curtain rod.

The Drill Method

You can also drill through the shell and insert the hooks -- but this creates a small gap where water can leak into the shell. Stop the water by using a flat rubber washer on both sides, then add a bead of silicone caulking before you insert each hook. Holding everything in place with a nylon locking nut will help it stay put despite road vibrations. Once the hook is in, caulk both the inside and the outside of the opening around the hook. Finally, if your camper shell has any exposed hardware inside it, you might be able to run a string between bolts to hold drapes over the windows. However, be warned that this will almost definitely void the warranty on your camper shell.

Sewing Your Curtains

Measure each window you intend to cover, then cut the curtains to be at least 5 1/2 inches taller and 5 inches wider than each window they'll cover. This gives you a nice margin so that nobody will be able to peek in under your curtains or around their edges. Fold the top half-inch of your curtains over, placing the wrong sides of the fabric together; stitch a quarter-inch inside the fold to create a neat seam. Repeat on the other three sides, then fold the top inch and a half of the fabric over, again placing the wrong sides together. Stitch a quarter-inch away from the top hemmed edge, creating a 1 1/4-inch tube at the top of the curtain. Thread your string or bungee through the tube to support each curtain.

Hook and Loop Curtains

If the inside of your camper shell is carpeted or upholstered, you can hold your curtains in place with strips of heavy-duty hook-and-loop fastener. All you need is the hook part. Hem around all four sides of each curtain, then sew a "hook" strip to the top of each curtain, on the side you want to face out the windows. Press the hook strip against the fabric on the inside of the camper shell; as long as you've used light fabric for your curtains, they'll stay put and then come off easily when it's time to drive.

Photo Credits

  • David De Lossy/Photodisc/Getty Images