Under The Covers

Empire Covers Blogs and Postings

Over the River and Through the Woods

Whether this is your favorite, or most dreaded time of the year, there's no denying that winter weather can add some difficulties to caring for your recreational vehicles and powersports equipment.  Before you know it, if you're not careful, your RV could look like Cousin Eddie's rustbucket from Christmas Vacation.

Falling leaves, dropping temperatures, rain, snow and sleet (and if you're lucky enough to live in a sunny, warm climate: bright sunshine) can all cause your ATV, UTV, or even snowmobile to fade, rust, or crack your seat's upholstery.  RVs are even more susceptible to damage from sun, rain and snow. Here are a few tips to protect your RV and Powersports equipment this winter.

1) Just say NO to blue tarps - 

We get lots of questions like "why do I need a cover for my RV, when I have a tarp?" Tarps are indeed waterproof and will keep water off of whatever they're covering. But if your RV, ATV or snowmobile is in long-term storage, tarps can create a major problem with rust, corrosion, or mold. Why? They don't breathe. Tarps are made with completely waterproof plastic material. Our RV and PowerSports covers are all made from breathable fabric that stops water penetration from the outside of the fabric, but allows any moisture or condensation to escape from underneath the cover, preventing rust, mold or mildew from forming. Many of our covers also include a venting system to ensure airflow under the cover.

The other thing to note is that a tarp is a rectangular piece of material. It usually needs to be folded or adjusted to fit a long, narrow RV, or a awkwardly shaped ATV. Water collects on a tarp, and bows as the water gets heavier, creating a pathway for the collecting water. Suddenly, the rain is pouring down the side of your RV in a river, which is not where you want it to go!  Tarps often require adjusting and readjusting, not to mention that wind and a flapping tarp with metal grommets on the corners can quite easily scratch your RV, ATV or other sports equipment. 

2) Say YES to a cover fitted specifically for your equipment:
We carry covers sized for a variety of RV sizes or Powersports equipment. With correct measurements, we can fit most RVs, snowmobiles, ATVs and UTVs well.  Secure straps and buckles on both our RV and Powersports covers help keep the cover fitting snugly, with no folds or creases to create a river of rainwater on your equipment.  And most of our covers are also waterproof but breathable (some are water-resistant) meaning that moisture under the cover can properly evaporate.

Also, we hear a lot "I heard that covering my RV can scratch the paint," and we are happy to debunk that myth. Our covers are made from non-abrasive material, so even with windy conditions, a well secured cover won't scratch your RV or ATV's paint. We have one caveat: never cover a dirty vehicle. This dirt WILL scratch your paint's surface -think of that dirt like tiny steel wool pads that WILL scratch if the cover moves against the surface of your vehicle. 

Safe travels this holiday season!

To Our Blog Readers - Save 40% On Your Cover Purchase:

Find a Cover for Your RV here: http://www.empirecovers.com/rvcovers.aspx?coupon=ECBLOG

Find a Cover for your Powersports Equipment here: http://www.empirecovers.com/covers_rec.aspx?coupon=ECBLOG

All About Our Bimini Tops

If you've ever been to the Bahamas, you'll remember the bright, intense sun and the beautiful blue of the Atlantic Ocean surrounding the islands. The small Bahamian island of Bimini is known for sport-fishing and beautiful beaches. It's no wonder that the shade top for boats, the Bimini top, was named after it!

Being in the sun feels good, but sometimes hours of intense sun can have very negative effects: sunburn, sun poisoning, heat exhaustion and more. If you fish, water ski, or are a pleasure-cruiser, having a shady retreat on your boat can mean staying out longer, rather than having to come in because you and your passengers are hot and exhausted. 

Our Bimini tops are 600-denier polyester oxford cloth. It's a heavy-duty fabric that is treated for UV protection, and provides sun protection beyond the standard. It's also waterproof, so if you're caught in a shower, you've got built-in protection. Lastly, our tops easily fold flat and come with a matching storage boot to stow away and keep your canvas looking neat.  They also work perfectly with our Boat Covers.


To measure for a Bimini top for your boat, measure at three points:

1) Width - measure between the desired mounting points on your side rails. Our tops are designed to flex to fit a range of measurements

2) Length - The mounting point of your top is in the center of the length of the top. Therefore, for a 72" top, you'll have 36" of shade in front of the mounting point, and 36" of shade behind the mounting point. Your mounting point will be determined by where you need your shade on your boat.

3) Height - Our tops come in varying heights depending on whether they're round or square pole tops, but measure the height from the mounting point to determine if a lower top will work for you. You will want room to stand comfortably under your top. 


Need Instructions? Find them as a PDF here:  Bimini_Instructions_Master.pdf (842.3KB)

Our Bimini tops are shipped in 3-7 business days (to the lower US, see our website for approximate shipping times) from our warehouse. The canvas ships separately from the framework, so look for a poly bag with the top and a box with the frame. It should also include all hardware, frames, collars, and straps. 

Watch our brief assembly video here to see how it's done:


Watch our video to visualize how the top is installed. You will need a helper to support the top as you drill the holes and attach it.  You will also need a power drill. 

We hope you enjoy your EmpireCovers Bimini Top - send us pictures of your boat with your Bimini  Top and we'll share them on social media!

Cinco de Mayo Fiesta

In my opinion, Cinco de Mayo is one of those holidays that was created solely so people could have a good time. And choosing Mexico as the celebratory country was a good call - ice cold cervezas with lime and margaritas are a fabulous way to celebrate.  Why not join the celebrating on your patio (well, it if ever dries out here on the East Coast)!

Having friends over? Pop open a bright, chili pepper red umbrella and instantly bring the fiesta.  If you do yoga, you may already have a colorful Mexican blanket. Throw it on your table for a festive table cover. A colorful table runner, poncho or other blanket will also do the trick! Light up your string lights, crank some Mariachi tunes from Spotify, and you'll transform your patio into a charming cantina.

Whip up some guacamole, recipe below, throw together some tacos or a taco salad, and enjoy! 

Easy Guacamole Recipe

2 ripe avocados
1/4 small onion, chopped finely
1 large clove garlic, minced
cilantro to taste
2 Tbsp. salsa
Lime wedge
Salt to taste

Prepare avocados by slicing in half lengthwise, and twisting apart. Remove the pit with a spoon, or whack the pit with a sharp knife (carefully), twist, and remove.  Slice avocado into strips, both lengthwise and crosswise while still in the shell, and scoop with a spoon to neatly remove your avocado squares. Mash to your liking with the spoon. Add onion, garlic, cilantro and salsa, then stir. Squeeze with lime and salt to taste. Enjoy guacamole on everything.

Find our Red Umbrella here.

Find patio rugs, hammocks and more for your backyard oasis at EmpirePatio.com

Have fun! Let us know if you tried the recipe and what you'll be doing to celebrate today in the comments.

Great Drives: US-1 Overseas Highway, Miami to Key West, FL

The Overseas Highway runs 113 miles through some of Florida's loveliest scenery, and the drive from Miami to Key West is on many a road-tripper's bucket list. It was on my traveling companion's must do list, so when we had a chance for a vacation, we chose to drive. I'm an avid Jeep enthusiast and know well the feeling of the wind in my hair, so we opted to rent a convertible to make the trip a little more exciting.

Car Rental Betrayal
Renting a convertible is not for the budget-conscious.  It cost nearly $200 with taxes and fees for our convertible for one day, and although we dreamed of riding in a Mustang convertible those 120+ miles, we didn't get the Mustang. We got a 2015 Camaro. Don't get me wrong, it's a nice-looking car - but the rental version didn't seem to have much get up and go. I guess the rental car companies don't want you to drive TOO fast.


Getting out of Miami traffic is the first challenge. From the airport, we stopped for lunch upon recommendations from friends, in Coconut Grove, a beautiful part of the city. Our first hint as to how bad Miami traffic is should have been when it took us 30 minutes to go 4 miles from the airport to Coconut Grove. We had an enjoyable lunch, walked around this party of the city, gawked at some fancy cars, including a Bentley, a Rolls Royce, a Ferrari, and a Lamborghini.

Upper Keys
It took more than an hour to release us from the stranglehold of Miami traffic and find some open road on Route 1 as it follows Southern Florida's curve.  FINALLY, after passing strip malls, fast food joints and dive shops, we found ourselves on the bridge to Key Largo. Key Largo is actually somewhat modern and developed (I expected Florida kitch immediately). You'll find grocery stores Publix and Winn Dixie, and larger hotel resorts, like the Key Largo Bay Marriott Beach Resort.  There are your typical roadside waterfront restaurants, and you can swim with the dolphins at DolphinsPlus Key Largo.  Two of the biggest attractions in Key Largo are diving and snorkeling along the two state parks or one National Marine Sanctuary. The other thing that brings people to Key Largo is the movie of the same name, starring Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart, and as tribute, they offer a Humphrey Bogart Film Festival every year.  

Middle Keys
If Key Largo is the diving capital of the country, Islamorada is known as the sport-fishing capital. Boat charters abound, and in the waters around the six keys that make up the Islamorada region, you'll find tarpon, bonefish, sailfish, snook and redfish. Indeed, you'll see marinas everywhere you look. As I expected in the Northern Keys, there are more kitschy restaurants and hotels in the Middle Keys. We drove by the giant mermaid signs atop Lorelei's Cabana Bar, a popular watering hole in the area. 

At some point while crossing Islamorada, the keys become smaller, the water the majority, and the views even better. Long Key and Duck Key featured some amazing views as we drove into the sunset.  Hawks Cay Resort is right on the water in Duck Key and features sailing, watersports, dolphin encounters (meet the locals!), and even fishing charters.

Lower Keys
You'll cross the famous "Seven Mile Bridge" while you depart Marathon, and the views are incredible.  You'll see bits and pieces of the old railroad that Henry Flagler built, to first connect the mainland with the keys in the 1920s. Parts of it are now the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail, a walking, biking and running path which will eventually stretch the entire 113 mile route from Miami to Key West.  Nature is the focus of the lower keys. You'll see The Turtle Hospital, which cares for injured or sick sea turtles, a Key Deer National Wildlife Refuge, and the award-winning beaches of Bahia Honda State Park.  

Eventually, Route 1 will lead you to the "Southernmost Point" - Mile O, and Key West. Honestly, I expected Key West to be immediately
"weird" as we crossed onto the island, but it wasn't, in fact, Key West had all the modern amenities of mainland Florida - strip malls, chain restaurants - ones you may not have seen much in the last 80 miles of the drive. What it was, though, was exceptionally charming. Once we drove into Key West proper, I was awestruck by the well-preserved historical houses (or at least historical-looking houses) that are all over the island.

Key West

Our biggest surprise? Convertible Mustangs are everywhere. Orange ones, red ones, yellow ones, white ones - it seems that every other car is a Mustang in Key West.  That made us a teeny bit envious...until we realized that you can walk just about anywhere you need to go in Key West. There isn't really a need for a rental car unless you're coming or going!

We thoroughly enjoyed our time at the Southernmost town in the US. Whether you prefer your vacations mild or wild, Key West has something for everyone. We spent a day at beautiful Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park, a lovely beach with rentable chairs and umbrellas, and a snack bar that even stocked smoothies (alcoholic or not). I've been on many a beach in Florida with sugar-fine sand, but as Key West is a giant coral reef, I should have expected rocky, coral-y beaches. Wear water shoes or water-safe sandals and spare your feet!

A long walk to the beach and back (about 3 miles) was broken up by a pit stop for some barbecue at Charlie Mac's. An ice-cold Corona was the perfect foil to 90 degrees and humid, and it was also the perfect partner to my Shrimp basket with seasoned fries. Oh.My.Word. My dining companion had the Brisket sandwich, which was full of flavor.

We were also fortunate enough to be next door to a wonderful-smelling Caribbean/Latino place for lunch, Bien.  We waited in line for a few minutes, our mouths watering, as we decided what to order, and left thrilled with our choices, a Palomilla Steak Sandwich and the Rice/Bean trio. 

Although we envied all the Mustangs, and saw quite a few Jeep Wranglers, Camaros and other topless vehicles, we were grateful for the chance to  walk off the wonderful food and drink, like the Rum punch that was widely found at the many watering holes on Duval Street.  A walkway along the harbor took us directly to all the action (much like Bourbon Street in New Orleans, Duval Street has a multitude of places to grab a drink, people watch and party).

Before we left the island, we grabbed sandwiches and eyed the pastry at the Old Town Bakery, then hopped in our Mazda 5 hatchback rental (it was more affordable) for the trip back to the mainland.  The trip back, oddly, seemed shorter, but was equally as scenic as the sun rose over the road to light our way North and East.

Planning a trip to Key West? Start here, where you'll find great information about traveling from Miami and stops along the way, in addition to happenings and lodging in the Southernmost city. 

We're already starting to discuss our next road trip - the Pacific Coast Highway from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Stay tuned!