How to Measure, Choose, and Purchase a Cover for Your RV

Nov 8, 2021 | Maintenance & Mods, Rigs

How to Measure, Choose, and Purchase a Cover for Your RV

Take the guesswork out of buying a cover for your rig with these expert tips and RV cover recommendations.

By Robert Annis

Photo courtesy of Classic Accessories

With winter right around the corner, many RV owners are preparing for the inevitable: storing their beloved rigs for the season. In addition to winterizing your RV, you may want to consider an added layer of protection, such as a cover.

“An RV cover can help extend the lifespan of your RV and preserve its resale value,” says Brian Mishowski, Parts Merchandising Manager at General RV. “A well-fitted RV cover protects the exterior of your RV from both the weather and UV rays.” 

How to Measure Your RV for a Cover

If this is your first time purchasing a cover for your vehicle, you’ll want to start off by measuring it. Using a tape measure, jot down the length, height, and width of your RV. Measure at the widest (your side mirrors) and longest (typically your bumpers) part of your vehicle. 

You don’t need to include the tongue length on a travel trailer, but you should measure the entire total length of your fifth wheel. You’ll want to include accessories such as ladders, bumpers, and spare tires when measuring, but not your propane tank. That said, don’t get too hung up on the solar panels or fan vents that can add inches to your final tally. “Cover manufacturers know that most RVs have roof accessories and take this into account when making the covers,” Mishowski says.

Mishowski also recommends not relying on standard model dimensions, as each vehicle is built by hand, leading to potential discrepancies between the information provided by the manufacturer and the finished product dimensions. If your RV falls between two sizes of covers, choose the larger size.

How Much Is an RV Cover?

Once you have the correct dimensions, you can start shopping for an RV cover. You’ll find a variety of options no matter what type of RV you have. Expect to pay between $400 and $800, depending on the cover’s material and quality. 

Airtstream trailer with covers on tire
Wirestock Creators /

If a full-size cover is not needed or out of your price range, you can instead purchase smaller, specific covers for wheels, propane tanks, seats, A/C units, and windshields. Expect to pay between $20 and $100 each for these items. 

What to Look for in an RV Cover

Mishowski recommends Classic Accessories’ PermaPRO covers with ripstop technology.  “Ripstop fabric is strong, lightweight, dramatically improves tension strength and minimizes chances of tearing,” Mishowski says. “It’s also the same material that parachutes are made of. The other types of fabrics in the cover market are not as durable; they tend to tear easily and therefore don’t last long.”

Look for a good warranty when buying a cover. “With the advancements in fabrics over recent years, there should be no reason for you to purchase a cover that doesn’t come with a lifetime warranty,” Mishowski says. “All covers are going to offer some sort of limited protection, but why would you want to buy a new cover every year because it didn’t last?” 

If you typically start your RV and generator every couple of weeks during winter, consider a cover with a zipper that allows for easy entry into your vehicle. Even more importantly, make sure that the cover doesn’t extend past your tail pipe; breathing in exhaust fumes in such an enclosed space can be deadly. Covers specifically made for your vehicle might also have zippered access ports for you to get into other doors or storage compartments. 

An RV with a cover on it
Photo courtesy of Classic Accessories

Most RV covers include straps or draw cords, allowing you to get a snug fit over your vehicle. While covers do provide much more protection than leaving your vehicle in the elements all winter, realize they’re not an impenetrable shield. “RV covers are water-resistant, but not waterproof; keep this in mind when choosing where to store your RV,” Mishowski says.

Tips for Purchasing an RV Cover

Do: Measure at the widest parts of your RV.

Don’t: Worry too much about roof vents or solar panels on the roof; most manufacturers account for rooftop accessories when designing covers.

Do: Measure twice, buy once. Double check that you measured correctly before spending hundreds of dollars on a cover.

Don’t: Rely on the manufacturer’s specs. Depending on the make and model of your RV, there can be a discrepancy between the claimed and actual size. 

Do: Pay more for a quality cover that will last. What’s the better value—a $200 cover that lasts barely a season or a $600 one that you’ll use for a decade or longer? 

Don’t: Buy a cover that’s so snug that you’ll have difficulty getting it off when spring arrives.

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Robert Annis

After spending nearly a decade as a reporter for The Indianapolis Star, Robert Annis became an award-winning outdoor-travel journalist. Over the years, Robert's byline has appeared in numerous publications and websites, including Outside, National Geographic Traveler, Afar, Men's Journal, Lonely Planet, and more. If you’re looking for Robert, chances are you'll find him either pedaling the backroads and trails of the Midwest on his bicycle or hunched over his laptop in an airport bar, frantically trying to make his next deadline.