Best Tonneau & Truck Bed Covers: Add Some Protection to Your Truck Bed
The best tonneau covers to protect your truck bed from the outside world
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PUBLISHED ON May 9, 2019
Bed covers offer a great way for truck owners to protect the inside of a truck bed while still retaining easy access to it in most cases. Coming in soft and hard varieties, finding the right truck bed cover is a matter of personal taste and finding the right balance between security and convenience. To help you out, here's our guide and reviews on some of the best truck covers you should consider.
- Best OverallLund 96893 Genesis Elite Roll Up Truck Bed Tonneau CoverSummarySummaryOne of the best, low-profile, roll-up tonneau covers that offers more security and functionality than other options. Comes with everything needed to get set up quickly.ProsProsConvenient soft roll-up cover with a low-profile design. The twill weave cover, much like marine-grade vinyl folding covers, does a good job of repelling water. Side rails are easy to position and mount to the side of the truck bed.ConsConsThe cover must be positioned correctly across the side rails and the Velcro pads to get the best weatherproofing underneath in the truck bed.
- Best ValueTyger Auto T3 Tri-Fold Truck Bed Tonneau CoverSummarySummarySaving money without sacrificing weather protection is no issue with this cover. The tri-fold tonneau cover makes it easy to quickly access the bed without undoing everything.ProsProsSimple hard-folding design equals an easy installation when it comes to mounting the cover onto the top of a truck bed. The folding tonneau cover sits flush with the bed rails so the overall profile of the truck isn't affected too much.ConsConsThe cover can block access to the stake pockets on the bed rails, making it difficult or impossible to mount other truck accessories like racks.
- Honorable MentionPace Edwards SWC3250 Switchblade Tonneau CoverSummarySummaryA heavy-duty, sturdy, retractable cover that's a fraction of the cost of most high-end retractable tonneau covers, this cover is the best to consider when you want the extra security of a hard barrier.ProsProsIt comes with a quick and convenient retractable design. An included strap makes it easy to move the cover into the closed position.ConsConsDifficult installation process. The rails require some trial and error to get everything properly aligned for smooth operation. Not compatible with many truck accessories like ladder racks. Some rain can get in around the tailgate seals and corners.
Why Trust Us
All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, and practical experience with each product we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Why Buy a Tonneau Cover
- Protect the inside of the truck bed. When the truck bed is left open and exposed to the outside, anything you put in it may be up for grabs or damage. Both people and the elements can do some harm in the bed of your truck. Individuals can easily walk up and snatch small items. Rain, snow, and hail can do a number on the bed as well. With a cover, however, you can create a barrier that offers some level of protection against thieves and the weather.
- Increase fuel economy. You won't turn your truck into a hybrid, but a good tonneau cover can boost up the fuel efficiency rating a bit. With an open truck bed, the aerodynamics in the rear of the truck suffers. With a cover, however, air passes along the top of the bed more smoothly, making the truck work less, using less fuel in the process.
- Enhance the truck's style. Different tonneau covers have different designs and styles. Combined with the paint job and visual flair of your truck, a cover can work with the overall look to create something rugged, stylish, or unique. Some covers can even match the paint color.
- Keep the full versatility of the truck bed. The great thing about an open truck bed is the versatility it provides when hauling large items around. Some of this versatility is lost with traditional camper shells, especially for objects that rise above the cab. Since most tonneau covers retract, however, they can open up most of the space you can use to carry objects around without restricting the height.
Types of Tonneau Covers
Offering a lot in terms of flexibility and weather protection, soft tonneau covers also have the advantage of being budget-friendly in most cases. Made of tough fabrics like vinyl, most of these covers roll or fold. Weather-wise, soft fabrics are more effective at covering the little cracks and spaces water and debris can get into around the truck bed. On the opposite end, however, soft covers don't offer much security against thieves or tampering.
When it comes to the ultimate amount of protection a cover can offer, hard tonneau options are hard to beat. Using composites or metal panels, these covers create a rigid barrier between the truck bed and outside world. Many covers also roll or fold up like softcovers, but some models are a single piece that lifts up on one end. Unfortunately, the extra security comes with a higher price tag, more weight, and more challenging installation in most cases.
Top Brands of Tonneau Covers
Gator is all about covers. From truck covers to accessory covers, the company specializes in soft and hard tonneau covers that fall below the price of most other high-end competitors. The ETX Soft Tri-Fold Cover is one example of an affordable, high-quality Gator cover you can buy.
Based in Washington, Tyger Auto specializes in aftermarket auto parts. Bringing together several experts in the industry, the company, founded in 2013, has a good selection of highly reviewed tonneau covers to consider. Check out the T3 Tri-Fold Cover as an example of its build quality.
Tonneau Cover Pricing
- $200 and under: The budget-friendly range of tonneau covers, options here tend to be basic softcovers that either fold or roll up to access the bed. These options don't offer much in terms of security but do a decent job protecting the bed from the weather.
- $200-$1,000: The main range of tonneau covers, this range is full of soft and hard options that fold, roll, and lift up for access. Lower-end hardcovers are common here, but they often lack the convenience of their more expensive counterparts that have spring loaded rollers.
- $1,000 and up: In this upper range, tonneau covers are primarily hard shells that either roll up or lift up. Several covers have electric and remote rollers for more convenient access. Custom options that match the truck's paint are also available here.
Beyond the choice of a soft or hardcover, the specific type of material the cover uses is important when determining its overall durability and longevity. hardcovers typically use materials like aluminum and fiberglass for their rigidity. Soft materials like vinyl are more common when a high level of flexibility is required. Regardless of the material type, the exterior side should also be treated to resist the elements like UV rays, rain, snow, and small impacts/scratches.
Unless the cover has a single-piece design that lifts up on one end, it is likely to have some kind of way to retract the cover, opening up access to the truck bed. Budget-friendly covers, soft and hard, often have a folding frame with separate panels. More expensive options typically use some kind of rolling mechanism, with a soft fabric or metal segments, or individual panels that simply slide into some guiding rails.
A tonneau cover needs to remain in place in order to offer the most protection possible. If someone can simply come up and remove it, it isn't much of a protective barrier. For enhanced security, most covers either have a dedicated lock or a design that keeps it in place when the tailgate is up. Both options offer a basic amount of protection, but dedicated locks often allow you to open the cover without messing with the tailgate. On the other hand, tailgates are more difficult to break open and tend to tie into the truck's security system.
One area that some covers excel in is weather protection. This means keeping the outside elements like water out of the truck bed. Beyond the cover itself, the cover should seal the corners and sides where water can get into the small cracks and spaces. Some covers do this by sitting above the bed rails, while others use weather stripping to seal in the cracks. A few high-end covers even have drainage systems that attempt to direct water away from the bed.
- Truck Size: The size of the truck bed width largely influence which tonneau covers you should consider. All truck makers have different sizes of pickup trucks. What works for an old Dodge Ram won’t work for the latest Ford F-150. If the cover doesn't have a good fit around the width and length of the cover, it won't do its job. Most cover manufacturers make several versions of a single model to fit different makes and models. Bed liners can also influence the final fit and ease of use, especially with hard folding tonneau covers.
- Accessories: Truck beds can hold a lot of different accessories like racks. Unfortunately, not all covers play well with other accessories. For example, many covers up the stack pockets that are required to mount different accessories. It's important to pay attention to the design of the cover to see what gets blocked in the bed.
Best Tonneau Covers Reviews & Recommendations 2019
Best Overall: Lund 96893 Genesis Elite Roll Up Truck Bed Tonneau Cover
The Lund Genesis Elite is one cover that gets as close as possible to strike the right balance between hard and soft tonneau covers. Using soft twill weave fabric, the cover is lightweight and flexible, making it easy to roll up when you need access to the main bulk of the bed. Best of all, the profile of the rolled up cover is just about 4 inches in diameter.
Installation is surprisingly quick for a cover with a complex setup. The included fasteners are easy to position and tighten down with just a basic wrench. The support rails require little alignment, so you can get them mounted in just a few minutes.
When it comes to performance, the cover delivers in most areas. Its weatherproofing is top notch as long as the cover is positioned correctly. It can be difficult to get the cover secured on both side rails if the bed width is just slightly larger than the cover itself. Finally, while it is tear resistant, the tonneau truck bed cover won’t do that much for theft attempts.
Best Value: Tyger Auto T3 Tri-Fold Truck Bed Tonneau Cover
The Tyger T3 is about as good as it gets when it comes to an affordable tri-fold truck bed tonneau cover. Using a rigid aluminum frame, the cover has a vinyl fabric exterior that does a good job of protecting the bed from outside elements. The folding design also offers quick and easy access to the bed when the truck is stopped.
Installation wise, this tonneau cover is one of the easiest and quickest to set up. Compared to hardcover tonneau covers, the T3 truck tonneau cover has fewer parts to install. A few clamps are the only parts required to secure the cover to the bed rails.
Unfortunately, as a soft cover, the T3 has some severe limitations when it comes to thief security. The fabric isn't strong enough to resist cutting, and the sides are open to prying with the right equipment. Finally, the weather stripping you need to apply around the edges is difficult to install at times.
Honorable Mention: Pace Edwards SWC3250 Switchblade Tonneau Cover
As one of the few rolling hardcovers, the Switchblade is a bit of a unicorn in the tonneau world: It's an affordable retractable hardcover. The ArmorTek deck features articulating aluminum panels that roll up into a housing unit that's a few inches wide.
If you are looking for a truly secure cover option, the Switchblade gets much closer in theft protection than other options. The metal paneling is scratch and impact resistant. When installed correctly, the cover also does a decent job of repelling water from getting into the bed.
Installing the cover is a different story, however. Despite Pace Edward's claims that it's easy to install, there are some challenging steps in the process. Attaching the guiding rails requires some trial and error to get them properly aligned so the cover will roll smoothly down the tracks.
- Choose a tonneau cover with a minimal overhang over the bed rails to preserve access to the stake pockets.
- Some high-end covers offer electric and remote access to open and close the cover with the touch of a button.
- Installing a tonneau cover can be difficult alone. Work with a friend to get the job done faster.
- You can add your own weatherproofing for hardcovers if you want to control the amount of water that gets into the bed more.
Q. Will a tonneau cover keeps people from stealing stuff in the bed?
A. Hardcovers offer a good amount of protection if they come with some kind of lock. No cover, however, is completely theft proof.
Q. How does a tonneau cover stay on the truck?
A. Most covers use clamps that latch onto the side of the bed rails. Some clamps are attached to the cover, while others are separate.
Q. Can I carry things on top of the cover?
A. In most cases, no. Some hardcovers are designed to carry a good amount of weight on top, but most can't support heavy items without compromising the structural integrity.
Our top pick for the best tonneau cover is the Lund 96893 Genesis Elite Roll Up Truck Bed Tonneau Cover. With a roll-up design, it's hard to beat the convenience this cover offers.
For something slightly more affordable, check out the Tyger Auto T3 Tri-Fold Truck Bed Tonneau Cover. It offers a convenient tri-fold design that does a decent job at protecting the truck bed.