How To Install an RV Cover


Emily Causseaux

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If you’re new to RVing, you might wonder why you need an RV cover. RV and travel trailer covers protect against rain, snow, dust, UV exposure, and other debris when you’re storing your RV. Learn more about why you should cover your RV and all of the storage options you have when your RV is not in use.

How to Find the Right Cover for Your RV

Use Camping World’s RV Cover Selector tool to quickly find the right sized cover for your rig.

There are many brands of RV covers out there, but ADCO is one of the most popular. They make covers for travel trailers, fifth wheels, pop-up campers, and all types of motorized RVs. This article outlines the process for installing most RV covers. Be sure to consult your cover’s instruction manual for specific steps for prepping, installing, and removing your RV cover.

How to Prepare Before Installing an RV Cover

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Before you throw your cover on, perform these pre-checks. They’ll help ensure proper installation and protect your RV and cover it from potential damage.

  • Make sure you have the correct size cover. Measure your RV front to back, including mirrors in front of the front bumper and any accessories (spare tire, ladders, etc.) extending beyond the rear bumper. This website is great for RV cover sizing tips.
  • Wash your RV. Clean your RV from top to bottom to minimize the risk of black streaks developing once your cover is installed. Learn how to wash your RV properly if you aren’t already familiar.
  • Pad sharp edges. Minimize the risk of tears or punctures by padding rain gutters, steps, ladders, and other abrasive corners. Some covers come with padding, while others require padding to be purchased separately. Cover your RV ladder last so you can use it during installation.

Note: Climbing onto your RV’s roof is NOT required for cover installation. A step ladder can be used, but climbing onto the roof is the fastest way to install an RV cover if your roof is fully walkable.

Basic RV Cover Components

Not all RV covers are identical, and this image is specific to most ADCO RV covers. But it will help you identify some of the main components referred to in the installation and removal instructions below.

Photo by Camping World

How to Install a An RV Cover

Photo by Camping World

These step-by-step instructions will help you install most RV covers properly:

1. Unroll the cover next to your RV, unwinding the straps and buckles as you go.

2. Turn the cover inside out on the ground.

3. Roll it back up so that the FRONT tag is the last thing left exposed (rolling loosely is fine).

4. Place the cover width-wise behind your RV.

5. Grab the FRONT tag and ascend your RV ladder.

Photo by Camping World

6. Once you’re safely on the roof, turn toward the rear of your RV and pull up the cover (as if you were pulling up a fire hose).

7. With the front tag still in hand, walk the cover to the front of your RV.

8. Let the front of the cover drop over the front of your RV.

9. Spread the cover out over the top of your RV.

10. The sides will begin to fall into place naturally.

Ensure the sides fall down enough for you to reach them from the ground.

Photo by Camping World

11. Begin descending your RV ladder, installing the ladder cap along the way.

12. Pull the back of the cover down as you go.

13. Walk around your RV, straightening the cover so that it’s centered properly.

14. Secure the bottom corners AFTER you’re sure the cover is centered.

DO NOT make adjustments or pull the fabric after corners are secured, as it increases the risk of tearing the cover.

15. Connect the buckles and tighten the Slip-Seam straps running from the front to the rear of the cover.

Each cover should have two sets of straps on each side (top and bottom).

16. Connect the buckles and tighten the Slip-Seam straps on the front and rear of the cover (running from side to side).

Each cover should have two sets of straps on the front and back (top and bottom).

Photo by Camping World

17. Adjust the cinching straps and buckles at the front and rear of the cover.

18. Attach the “Weighted Toss-under” and throw the buckles under the RV to the other side.

19. Disconnect the weights and connect the front and rear buckles.

20. Tighten the straps to remove slack from the cover and ensure a snug fit.

Straps should be moderately tight. Avoid over-tightening.

Photo by Camping World

Now that your RV cover is in place, set a reminder to check on it at least once a month. Cover straps can loosen with wind and require regular retightening throughout the storage season.

If you live in a place that experiences significant snowfall, make sure to clear your RV’s roof after each snow. Allowing too much snow to remain on the roof can damage your RV cover and the roof itself.

How to Remove an RV Cover

Photo by Camping World

In many ways, you’ll simply reverse the steps above. But here’s a quick breakdown to help you remove your RV cover when you’re ready for your next RV adventure:

1. Disconnect the straps and buckles underneath and on the front and back of your RV.

2. Pull the cover off the front and rear corners.

3. Ascend your RV ladder, pulling up the cover as you go.

4. Carefully walk on top of the cover to the front of the RV. Avoid areas not flat on your RV’s roof, such as AC units, roof vents, and satellite TV antennas.

5. Pull the front of the cover up onto the roof.

6. Pull each side of the cover onto the roof, turning inside out as you go.

You’ll be left with a strip of cover spanning the length of your RV roof.

7. Move to the rear of the roof and begin rolling the cover up from back to front.

8. Leave the cover’s FRONT tag exposed at the end of the roll.

9. Once rolled, you can fold it into thirds for more compact storage.

10. Drop your cover gently down to the ground over the front of your RV.

11. Store it inside a dedicated storage bag and/or in your RV underneath storage.

Removing your cover in this way ensures it’s ready for easy installation the next time you want to protect your RV. And storing it out of the elements protects it against unnecessary wear and tear so that it lasts for years to come.

Learning why RV covers are important is part of every new RVer’s ownership journey. And safely installing your heavy-duty RV cover is vital to maintaining your RV’s long-term health and resale value.

Do you have any additional tips for installing an RV cover? Please share them in the comments below! 

  • Comment (9)
  • Arnold Tobias says:

    The rodents tore pieces of my cover to make a nest in my engine compartment. I live in Central Fl. First cover lasted 2 uses, second cover was one of the best covers that CW offered and it was very lightweight and I even took the insurance for it. When I removed it, the cover peeled off like an onion. CW stood by their warranty and gave me another one even though I wanted the cheaper one, which was heavier. Actually, I won’t have used it anyways, gave it away when I sold the RV. Won’t waste my money anymore and don’t cover my new RV. Just get the roof inspected and sealed once an year.

    • Steven says:

      You really should cover your RV to protect it from the sun. Your expensive paint will fade. Your leather on your Awnings will start to peel.

  • scott smith says:

    Don’t try and do this when it’s windy. First time we put our cover on it was windy and I almost went parasailing. If there is a little bit of a breeze you might have to change the direction you roll up the cover so you are working with the wind and not against it.

  • Not A. Firefighter says:

    Gotta a chuckle out of these instructions. I reckon I must have skipped school the day we learned about handling fire hoses. Step 6 of the section “How to Install an RV Cover” offers this *aid* to understanding how to pull your cover up: “as if you were pulling up a fire hose”. Seriously? Is this supposed to be common knowledge? I’ve got to get out more!

  • Janet says:

    What do we do to protect our winterized and covered RV FROM rodents?

  • Sorry to hear about your rodent experience Arnold!

    Some RVers put moth balls or rodent traps inside before covering their RV for the season:

    You’re right about annual roof inspection and sealing being a part of your RV’s routine maintenance schedule. But we still recommend covering your RV if it’ll be stored outside for an extended period, as it provides a layer of protection for your roof material, sealants, A/C unit, antenna, roof vents, holding tank vent caps, and other roof-mounted accessories.

  • I haven’t personally had fire hose training either! But I think the concept is simply to get your cover onto the roof safely (without tearing it) before you can proceed to the next step!

  • Great additional tip Scott! Thanks so much for chiming in!

  • Wade Thiel says:

    Hey Janet, Great question. First, I’d do all that I can to keep them from getting in. Close up all small openings with either a temprary or permanent solution (some folks use silicone calk or expanding foam), clean the inside of the RV before putting it away and remove any food or anything he rodents could be attracted to, then park the rv on concrete or gravel if possible. Avoid parking in grass near bushes. Last, check the RV every couple of weeks or so. Those are some quick things you can do.

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