A quick guide to caravan covers
Caravans are unusual: unlike other vehicles, they tend to be used relatively rarely through their lifetime, yet suffer all the wear and tear an outdoor vehicle can expect. They tend to mostly live outdoors, as most owners struggle to fit them into a garage. For this reason, it makes a great deal of sense to invest in a cover to protect them from the elements and other hazards. Many caravan owners have strong views about using covers. Those that are strongly against the idea often do so because of preconceived notions about them. It's worth reading up on the subject to really understand the benefits a cover can deliver in terms of preserving the life of your caravan.
Why use a cover?
There are many reasons to cover your caravan. Protection from the elements and from damage is an obvious advantage. When out of use, many caravans are stored where they may easily be damaged, such as in a driveway with regular foot traffic passing by. A protecting slip cover will just help guard them against scratches. It will also guard against rain and dust that can cause rust and corrosion, and against dirt.
If you park your caravan under trees (particularly ones such as lime trees that notoriously rain sticky sap in certain seasons) it will guard against any sap or falling leaves and insects. A light-resistant cover will also stop sunlight fading internal fabrics such as curtains and other soft furnishings. Although a cover isn't generally designed to be impregnable, some owners feel they may be security deterrents and they will guard against some causal vandalism.
Arguments against using a caravan cover include the inconvenience of having to purchase and fit one. It's no small job trying to fit a cover on a big caravan, especially by yourself (get a friend to help you).
A lot of people are deterred from using a cover because they feel it might increase the dampness inside by retaining moisture and reducing air circulation, but this generally isn't the case. Modern covers tend to be breathable and a well-fitting one will allow for adequate air circulation underneath.
A cover generally costs a few hundred pounds, although some really cheap covers come in at under £100. For a top of the range cover for a large caravan, you could be looking at a bill for £500. As a general rule, you tend to get what you pay for. Pricier covers fit better, are easier to put on, have softer linings to minimise scratches and offer features such as better breathability.
Some owners believe a cover is a worthwhile investment as it will help preserve the caravan's value for resale. It's unlikely that a properly-fitted cover will do your caravan any harm and we suggest it's good practice to fit one when the caravan is expected to be out of use for any period of time. Winter is the obvious time to fit one.
If you're using a cover, we'd still recommend checking your caravan is alright from time to time particularly if it's in storage for an extended period. This is to check there's no water incursion and everything's OK under the cover - remember the cover may hide any problems unless you are regularly checking underneath.
If your caravan has a status aerial with a spike on, make sure to unscrew the spike before you fit the cover to avoid poking a hole through it. If you think you'll need regular access to your caravan even when out of use, consider getting a cover with a door to prevent having to lift the entire cover every time you want to gain access.