Is It Ok to Leave Camper Slide Out?: Risky Business

When deciding whether or not it is OK to leave the slides out of your camper, you should consider both short-term and long-term effects.

In the short-term, leaving the slides out will make it easier for pests such as rodents and insects to access your camper interior. Long-term effects could include damage due to rain and UV damage that could lead to costly repairs down the line.

Camper slide outs have become increasingly popular in many recreational vehicles over the past few years. Not only do they add extra space to an otherwise cramped interior, but they also open up new possibilities for exploring the great outdoors.

Aside from increased convenience, these slide outs are made with durable materials and sturdy rubber seals that provide reliable protection against the elements. This ensures that campers can enjoy a comfortable, safe, and secure life on the road without compromising their quality of life.

Whether you have a truck camper, travel trailer, or even a fifth wheel, the RV slideouts are all similar, and the same issues below can arise.

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Before we dive into the specific issues that can occur when your slide is unnecessarily out, let’s review the basics on RV maintenance. Your camper maintenance and how you treat it directly reflect how long it will last. Also, a properly maintained camper will give you less trouble, especially when on a family excursion.

Flickr:javaholics / Coffeenuts, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

One of the most common causes of slide out damage is improper maintenance. Components like rollers can become damaged or stuck in place without regular lubrication and inspection. If this happens, removing the entire system from the camper may be necessary to make repairs.

Other types of damage can occur due to extreme weather conditions, such as strong winds that can put too much pressure on the support structure and cause parts to break off or bend over time.


One of the most common complaints about campers is debris getting stuck in their slide outs. Unfortunately, dirt, rocks, tree branches, and other debris can get caught in these slide out pieces and cause major problems for campers.

The top of your slide is just like the rest of your camper in that it has a roof. The issue is that dirt and debris fall on top of your roof and become an issue when trying to retract the slideout. Leaving your camper slide out gives you more time for debris and dirt to collect on your roof.

Photo 256127886 / Camper Slide © Guy Sagi |
Debris from trees can sit on slide roof

If debris gets stuck in a slide out track, it will prevent the camper from extending or retracting smoothly. This can damage both the camper’s frame and its wall panels if not addressed quickly. In some cases, it may even lead to costly repairs that could have been avoided with proper maintenance of the slide out tracks. To avoid this problem, it is important to clean any debris around your camper before opening or closing it each time you use it.

Slide Topper

A slide out includes a frame that extends outward from the side or rear of the camper with either slides or awnings on each side. Different sizes are available depending on your needs, so you can easily find something that fits you. Most models also feature a cover or canopy over the top, providing shade from the sun and protection from rain and other elements.

A slide topper helps keep out debris, but some can still find their way under the topper and on the slide roof.

Rubber Seal

When it comes to camper slide outs, protecting all your rubber seals can make a huge difference. Rubber seals help protect your rig from the elements and keep fresh air flowing inside.

A well-installed seal should fit securely around the edges of the slide out frame, with no gaps or sharp edges that can tear at the rubber material over time. It’s important to inspect them regularly for tears or holes and replace them as needed to ensure their effectiveness. Some brands offer warranties covering these seals, so you may want to look into this option if you’re worried about replacing them too often.

UV Exposure

As these seals are constantly exposed to the elements, they can easily become damaged due to UV exposure and need to be replaced every 2-3 years for maximum protection. By using rubber protectants and keeping the sun exposure from your seals, it will extend the life of your slide.

Martin Murphy martinjmurph, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons


Slide-outs extend from the sides of the camper, providing an additional room or rooms when needed and folding away when not in use. When keeping your slide-out extended, insulation is an important factor to consider. Not all slide-outs come with insulation preinstalled. It is important to ensure that any slide out is properly insulated, as this can affect the camper’s energy efficiency and comfort levels.

The right type of insulation will help keep out both outside noise and heat or cold, depending on the climate you’re camping in. Without proper insulation, either extreme could make your camping experience quite uncomfortable.

By keeping your slide in, you are providing better insulation for the rest of your camper.


Should you leave your camper slide out? It adds wear and exposure to key components, such as rubber seals, in the long term. It also increases your chance of debris and dirt sitting on your roof and causing damage to your seals when the slide is retracted. Personally, I always keep my slideout retracted when not in use on a camping trip.