Car covers are a common enough commodity – RV covers, perhaps less so. While they may be a less frequent encounter, they are just as useful, perhaps more essential, than a car cover. All the benefits conferred by a car cover hold in the case of an RV cover, and there are numerous further benefits unique to RV coverings. Before proceeding to explore these manifold benefits, this introduction will clarify just a bit what RV covers are and how they are used.
An RV cover is a variously fitted fabric shield which provides a boundary between your RV and its environment. RV covers come in a variety of materials, changing on the basis of quality, cost, and intended use conditions. Just like car covers, RV covers are designed to be simple enough to remove such that they are beneficial for short term storage and protection as well as long term. Due to greater uniformity amongst the vast majority of RVs or motorhomes – something rounded yet boxy – RV covers tend to be sold under more generic specifications such as specific RV type (class A-C motorhome, trailer, etc.) and length. This practical compromise helps to mitigate the cost of RV covers, the greater amount of material needed otherwise making them significantly more precious than car covers.
One of the principle uses for any kind of vehicle cover is to protect from adverse environmental conditions. While RVs are vehicles meant to spend extended period of times outside – typically one’s whole life – they are nevertheless vulnerable like any other vehicle, if marginally less so. Considering that most RV owners don’t have access to a space large enough to shelter an RV, those who wish the maximize the longevity of their motorhome or trailer ought to invest in a cover.
What are the weather conditions which can affect an RV, and in what manner? To be frank, all weather can have some deleterious impact on your RV. Whether it is wind, rain, snow sleet, hail, or sun, the odds are that your vehicle will be negatively impacted. High winds have the potential to pick up dust and all manner of debris, be it small pebbles or branches and twigs. In drier climes, wind has the tendency to conjure up dust storms, a weather event which is especially likely to cause substantial cosmetic damage, if nothing more serious.
The negative effects of rain meanwhile are fairly obvious: water encourages rust, and on large flat surfaces of vehicles water can pool and do gradual cosmetic and structural damage to materials which are not metal. When combined with other long-term consequences of unprotected outdoor ‘storage’, this water may make its way past the vehicle shell, wreaking havoc on your RV internals, such as electronics or passenger/camper interfaces in the cabin and cockpit. This is especially likely as plastic and rubber seals begin to wear away.
While it regularly goes unspoken and unacknowledged, sun exposure has slow accumulating effects which directly and indirectly harm your RV. These direct consequences come in the form of the rubber rot indicated above, fading, and drying. Rubber seals like those used at the outline of doors and windows are susceptible to UV rays which begin to desiccate and thus fail to provide a seal. Decals, paintjobs, and material tints will all begin to fade under the onslaught of the sun. Leather is doubly vulnerable in this way, fading and losing its structural integrity over time. While the threat of UV exposure is not consistent, all exposure adds up. The same considerations that measure risk for human skin applies equally to all vulnerable surfaces: as such, during the summer months, and in areas of the world closer to the equator, UV damage will happen faster and potentially be more intense.
While an RV cover may not provide complete protection against baseball sized hail or objects whipped around in gale force winds, a good RV will protect against everything mentioned above and may even mitigate damage done in extreme circumstances. Thick covers can provide some protection when collisions occur, and most reputable covers will be water resistant or repellant and boast a UV resistant coating in addition to providing a material barrier against the sun.
While it may sound farfetched, theft is undoubtedly a concern when RVs are at stake. There are various reasons for RV theft to occur, and they correspond in part to the kind of RV under consideration. Motorhome theft is appealing because of the value of such objects: there is more to be gained from one ‘hijacking’ relative to other vehicles. Trailers are, meanwhile, more susceptible to theft in general. As they don’t have a locking cabin when collapsible and only minimal security otherwise, made stationary by a lock that is easily cut and kept closed by a flimsy door that can be broken and replaced, the effort to reward ratio is palatable.
The appeal of RV theft is compounded by amount of time they are left unattended: if they are at home, an RV isn’t typically front and center on the drive way – and it often isn’t at home at all. Indeed, the sense of security provided by living in a good neighborhood doesn’t mean much where RVs are concerned. An RV is more liable to be stolen when it is kept away, or when you are on the road and not staying in the RV for the night. The best that can be done in all these cases, barring expensive security equipment and a hawkish attentiveness, is to cover your RV when it is vulnerable. While it might sound like a superficial line of defense, hiding in plain sight and making your RV inconspicuous is an essential and straightforward first form of security. Simply put, a vehicle which has fewer eyes on it, a vehicle which draws less attention, is less likely to become the object of desire for a would-be thief.
While most RVs might not have paintjobs one would immediately describe as desirable – it seems that the designs found on most RVs are stuck in some sort of limbo haunted by a fusion of 80s / 90s aesthetics – custom paintjobs are becoming more prevalent. As it was suggested earlier, RV covers are essential to protecting an expensive and pristine paintjob. The finest artistry and highest quality paints and sealants used will not sustain their visual excellence for long if a vehicle is left uncovered.
Ideally, such a souped-up RV will be covered whenever it isn’t in use, and especially during particularly inclement conditions. First however one must be assured that their paint job has had sufficient time to dry. While a recent paint job may be stable enough for the road or to be taken off the lot or out of the shop where it was finished, it is not necessarily finished drying or sufficiently dry to be covered. The special paints used for automotive applications have unintuitive cure times, and as such it is best to contact the applicator for guidance. When a cover is applied to RV which isn’t finished curing, it is incredibly likely that the weight and rubbing of a RV cover (however slight) will tarnish and dull the paintjob, threatening its durability and ruining its shine.
The Best Type of RV Cover
There are several features which you ought to be on the lookout for when picking out your RV cover. The most common failing that undermines the efficacy of a cover is a lack of breathability. Non-breathable materials are bound to become a breeding ground for mold, fungus, and bacteria. As moisture evaporates and travels upward, a non-breathable cover will trap that water underneath, undermining any protection that a cover is supposed to provide against the wet. The best covers have one-way breathability, where moisture can transfer from the interior to the exterior of the cover, but not the reverse.
Good RV covers will also have a paneled construction and ventilation flaps. These panels unlock the most unique feature of RV covers, which is that they can be used while an RV is being occupied. You need to extremely careful of any heat produced by the RV in these instances, but in ideal conditions a cover will be adequate enough insulation to supplement gas / electrical heating. A paneled cover lets you selectively uncover key components, and vent flaps help to regulate the conditions between the cover and your RV’s exterior.
Finally, you should be discerning about the materials used in your cover’s construction. While something natural and recognizable like cotton might be superficially desirable, the materials that make sense in other contexts do not in an automotive one. The industry standard exterior-use material is polypropylene, which is preferred for its balance of strength and flexibility. Polypropylene does not atrophy outdoors and has the additional benefit of being cheap to manufacture due to its ubiquity. Ideally, a polypropylene cover will have a softer inner material or a differentiated two-sided stitch to protect the surface of the vehicle.