When it comes to most things, you get what you pay for. In the case of RV covers it’s no different. There are some very cheap covers available and the difference in quality is vast. With regard to choosing a cover and understanding the differences there are some key things to consider. Remember, the primary purpose of the cover is to protect your valuable RV.
Addressing the quality vs. price matter.
It’s possible to purchase a cover from as little as $99 all the way up to more than $2000. Based entirely on the cheapest option available you will naturally save a huge amount upfront. Paying $100 only you could argue that even if that cover lasts 1 year, you will get 20 years of caravan covers for the price of a $2000 cover that may still last only 6 or 7. If price is the most important criteria then be sure to spend as little as possible.
‘What are you really getting for your money these days when buying an RV cover?’, you may ask. At the low end the materials are a soft and breathable synthetic (usually polypropylene), that’s designed to be gentle against the body of the RV reducing wear on surfaces such as paint, fibreglass and aluminium. Better quality covers will have multiple and thicker layers of this fabric ensuring a more durable and longer lasting product. The benefit of this material is it’s breathable and soft nature. They are let down with a vulnerability to tears or rips and edges on the RV will often quickly wear through to create holes from flapping in the wind. Additionally despite claims, they are not as waterproof as they should be. I’ll pick up on waterproofing a little later in the article.
Custom covers are the premium choice with higher quality materials and made to size with built in features that suit your RV such as extra zips to access storage lockers, clear sections for solar panels and heavier fabrics for extreme conditions such as heat or hail protection. If well cared for the heavier materials used will last for many years and perhaps as many as 10 so the investment may well pay off if you benefit from the features that standards covers can’t offer. Considering the protection they give your RV they should be well worth the extra expense if you can afford the initial outlay.
Features to look for in a cover are;
- A warranty that extends beyond 12 months
- Multilayered material; 3-4 layers in the soft fabrics, soft backing on canvas or nylon
- Lots of adjustment and fitting straps all around with reinforced attachment to material
- The correct size for your RV – both height and length
- Zip up section(s) over the door so it doesn’t need to be removed to get in RV
Fitting your RV Cover
Fitting the cover is probably the main reason why they’re not used as much as they should be! No one enjoys this job! There are however a few simple tips that will make it bearable and somewhat easier.
- Take a friend – yes, perhaps the most obvious. At least you’ll have someone to blame when it doesn’t go to plan. Seriously though, it will make the job go a lot quicker and easier especially if you engage the next tip.
- With your helper, use a couple of broom handles or telescopic poles to insert under the front of the cover either side and raise the cover up and over the RV from back to front lower it in position and pulling the sides down in place then fit and tighten the straps. This helps to avoid entanglements like solar panels, antennas, AC units etc on the roof.
- Have on hand a minimum 3 step ladder. Using the first 2 steps is on most RVs enough to raise you to or above the roof line so you can see where the cover may get caught.
- If you’re doing it solo, preparation will make you succeed like a hero. By laying the cover flat/splayed out on the ground in the same orientation it will be on the RV, create a length ways bi-fold (3 sections) then roll it from front to back. With a ladder lift it onto the back of the RV then roll forwards. As it rolls, pull the sections to the sides of the van. Use a broom handle or similar to push it when you can’t reach especially over the AC unit. The broom will help to spread the folds as you work down the side of the RV. It will get to a point when you can essentially pull the sides down, then centre the cover front to back. If it snags use the handle to lift or push the cover carefully over before pulling then fit with straps.
- Be sure to leave as little loose material on the cover as possible as wind will blow it around risking premature wear. It needs to be snug. Too tight and the tension will create wear also.
- Taking your time will make it go faster! Careful planning, checking for snags and not rushing will ensure it goes smoothly. Try to rush and the cover may get damaged or you’ll waste time and energy starting over.
- Removing the cover is also something to be approaching carefully. Don’t ever try to pull it off. Lift and push it off. Lift or roll the sides up to roof, the roll or push it to the front or back. You’ll end up with a scrunched up ball that will deserve straightening out and folding.
- Avoid packing away a wet cover. This can be difficult at times, but try to plan ahead. It’s better to leave your van exposed to the weather for a few days if you can plan to take the cover off on a dry day.
You might already employ these techniques or have others that you use. I realise this isn’t an exhaustive list. Comment below if you have a tip you believe will be of help to others.
Of course if it’s all still too hard you can use our services to remove or fit your cover for you.
Storing an RV outdoors is not the ideal place to store it. Many years ago it was considered highly neglectful to store a motor vehicle outside due to the design and manufacturing techniques of the day not producing a vehicle that would fully withstand water ingress. These days while still a benefit, parking a car outside in general won’t mean it will leak and turn to rust. The same cannot yet be said of RV manufacturing. The processes and techniques for sealing them are improving but have not reached the standard of motor vehicles. So much so, that in fact most require re-caulking every 6-7 years which is a little known maintenance requirement for many RVs, and without it, may eventually lead to water ingress issues. Caulking commonly used in the industry dries, cracks and even falls out over time. Silicon sealant is not used very often and would serve to maintain seals much longer. Two points: 1) If left with no other option than to store your RV outdoors first inspect it to see if re-caulking is required and consult a service and repair agent for assistance if unsure, 2) Choose the right cover that will minimise water ingress as well as protect your RV from UV damage.