Reviews

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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BY Heather Fishel / LAST UPDATED ON May 26, 2021

Your truck’s bed is likely one of the top reasons you bought your pickup. The expansive bed — even if it’s on the shorter size — allows you to haul just about anything and everything. But there’s one pretty significant problem with a truck’s bed. Whatever’s inside the bed is always exposed to the world. Whether you’re carrying a few tools or more important items, your truck bed is always vulnerable to problems like theft, unpredictable weather, and even the wear and tear that comes from driving along roads with no cover or protection. Fortunately, there’s an easy solution: Just add a tonneau cover to your truck.

A tonneau cover will offer more protection for your truck’s bed and whatever you’re carrying inside it. These covers come in an array of different styles, from soft and flexible fabrics to hard metal that perfectly matches your truck’s paint job. With increased security and protection from the outdoor elements, a tonneau cover can offer a ton of value. Find the perfect fit for your truck on our list of the best tonneau covers right here.

Best Overall
Lund 96893 Genesis Elite Roll Up Truck Bed Tonneau Cover
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Summary
Summary

One 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.

Pros
Pros
  • Convenient soft roll-up cover with a low-profile design
  • 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
Cons
Cons
  • Cover must be positioned correctly across the side rails and the Velcro pads to get the best weatherproofing underneath in the truck bed
Best Overall
Lund 96893 Genesis Elite Roll Up Truck Bed Tonneau Cover
Best Value
Tyger Auto T3 Tri-Fold Truck Bed Tonneau Cover
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Summary
Summary

Saving 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.

Pros
Pros
  • Simple hard-folding design equals an easy installation when it comes to mounting the cover onto the top of a truck bed
  • Folding tonneau cover sits flush with the bed rails so the overall profile of the truck isn't affected too much
Cons
Cons
  • Cover can block access to the stake pockets on the bed rails, making it difficult or impossible to mount other truck accessories like racks
Best Value
Tyger Auto T3 Tri-Fold Truck Bed Tonneau Cover
Honorable Mention
Pace Edwards SWC3250 Switchblade Tonneau Cover
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Summary
Summary

A 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.

Pros
Pros
  • Comes with a quick and convenient retractable design
  • Included strap makes it easy to move the cover into the closed position
Cons
Cons
  • Difficult 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
Honorable Mention
Pace Edwards SWC3250 Switchblade Tonneau Cover

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Why Buy a Tonneau Cover

  • Increased protection for your truck bed. While truck beds are certainly made to withstand exposure to the outdoors just like the rest of your pickup, all of that exposure can cause issues like paint fading, scratches, dents, dings, and other signs of visible wear. If you want to keep your truck bed looking its best, a tonneau cover will protect it from debris, sunlight, and all kinds of other outdoor issues.
  • Security and theft protection. An exposed truck bed is like a gift to wannabe thieves. If you don’t have a cover over your bed, anyone can see what’s inside — and pick it up and walk away with it. Tonneau covers keep whatever you’re hauling out of sight and reach. Additionally, tonneaus can come with locks and other security measures that keep others from getting inside.
  • Better gas mileage. An open truck bed can have an impact on your fuel economy, slowing you down with a bit of drag. A tonneau cover, however, has the opposite effect. One of these covers gives you better aerodynamics, turning your pickup into a sleek and streamlined vehicle — and that can make it use less fuel. As a result, you’ll notice slightly improved gas mileage when your cover is in place. 
  • Sleek, perfectly matched style. Worried a tonneau cover will stand out? It doesn’t have to — many of these truck bed covers are make- and model-specific, made to match your pickup perfectly. These covers can even flawlessly match your paint color so they blend in and look like they were made just for your vehicle. Want a more rugged look? With so many different styles available to choose from, you can find just the right fit.
  • Convenience and Versatility. Tonneau covers keep your truck bed flexible and adaptable. These covers come in many different styles, including folding and roll-up, so you can always access your truck bed’s full capability. You can remove or fold up the cover when you need to haul big or bulky items, and you can even find products that allow you to half-open or remove the tonneau cover as needed. Some even allow you to attach accessories and will work with other options or custom products, like tool boxes or hauling and towing equipment.
A Ram truck sitting on a stage.
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There’s a tonneau cover for nearly any pickup truck on the road today.

Types of Tonneau Covers

Soft

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.

Hard

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. 

Folding

Both soft and hard tonneau covers are also available in another style: folding covers. Soft covers typically roll up, allowing you to secure them in place with straps or buckles when you don’t need the cover’s protection or overhead coverage. Hard folding covers tend to have panels that you can fold back and secure, via lock or latch mechanisms. Both kinds of folding covers give you the freedom to partially or completely open the cover for as much access as you need. 

Retractable

Retractable tonneau covers are different from folding covers. Typically made out of thin, flexible, and soft materials, retractable tonneau covers feature an automated (or electric) mechanism that pulls the cover open and rolls it out of your way as needed. These covers are incredibly convenient, as they make getting your cover off your truck’s bed simple and quick, and they allow you to have versatility in how much or how little of the cover you’d like to use.

Top Brands of Tonneau Covers

Gator

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 tonneau cover you can buy.

Tyger

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. Tyger tonneau covers are easily some of the most durable and high quality covers on the market, so check out the T3 Tri-Fold Cover as an example of its build quality.

Tonneau Cover Pricing

  • Under $200: 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 to $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.

Key Features

Material Treatment

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.

Retracting Mechanism

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.

Easy Bed Access

You don’t have to give up the free, constant access to your truck bed if you choose one of the best tonneau covers. However, in order to achieve this, you’ll want to make sure you choose a cover that offers you easy bed access. Folding or retractable covers are the most accessible, as you can get inside some or all of the bed in just a few seconds. Hard covers can be a bit trickier, as these often have to be lifted in order to get inside. Look for a tonneau cover that you can easily move or open at just a moment’s notice.

Security Lock

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.

Weather Sealing

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.

Other Considerations

  • 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.
  • Installation Method. Some tonneau covers are easy to install, while others require more effort (and sometimes, a professional’s help). Look to see how the covers you’re interested in need to be installed. You may need to drill the cover’s components into the sides of your truck bed, or your installation process may be simpler and less permanent. Decide which is the best fit for you before you settle on a temporary or permanent kind of cover.

Best Tonneau Covers Reviews & Recommendations 2021

Best Overall
Lund 96893 Genesis Elite Roll Up Truck Bed Tonneau Cover

The Lund Genesis Elite gets as close as possible to striking 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 fasteners are easy to position and tighten down with just a 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 secure the cover 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 against 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 components required to secure the cover to the bed rails.


Unfortunately, as a soft cover, the T3 has some severe limitations when it comes to security. The fabric isn't strong enough to resist cutting, and the sides are open to prying with the right equipment. Finally, the weatherstripping you need to apply around the edges is difficult to install at times. 

Best Retractable Hardcover
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, 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 preventing water from getting into the bed.


Installing the cover is a different story, however. Despite Pace Edwards' 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.

Most User Friendly
Gator ETX Soft Roll Up Truck Bed Tonneau Cover

This soft roll-up tonneau cover is designed to fit the 2009-2020 Classic Ram 1500 and the 2010-2020 Ram 2500 and 3500. It fits truck beds that are 6 feet 4 inches in length. If this doesn’t fit the length of your truck bed, it also comes in the 5 foot 7 inch and 8 foot length. This cover is made of industrial-grade leather grain vinyl.


What’s nice about this tonneau cover is that it’s fast and easy to install. You don’t need to drill anything. It also mounts on the inside of the bed rails for a clean look. When you need the cover out of the way, it can give you full access to the bed by neatly rolling up.


Unfortunately, the quality of the mounting hardware may not be up to par. It could come missing pieces or with broken hardware. Once mounted, the seals may not sit flush with the truck and instead stick up above it.

Honorable Mention
BAK BAKFlip MX4 Hard Folding Truck Bed Tonneau Cover

This hard folding tonneau cover has three aluminum panels. They automatically latch as you unfold or lay them down into place. The top has a matte black finish and will protect against scuff marks. You can fold them out of the way and have 100 percent access to the bed of your truck. This cover fits the GM Silverado and Sierra 1500 5 foot 8 inch bed with the new 2019-2020 body style. The cover comes in additional sizes to accommodate older models and longer truck beds.


You’ll appreciate how durable this bed cover is. The panels are treated with UV protection to guard against aging from the sun. They’re also rated for holding 400 pounds that’s evenly distributed over the cover. You can also close your tailgate with the cover open or closed.


One downside with this cover is that the trim seals aren’t cut with precision. This can cause some of them to be crooked or too short. This isn’t a big deal until it rains, and the cover begins to leak. You may also find some installation quality control issues with your cover, such as holes drilled slightly off or bent brackets.

Honorable Mention
TruXedo TruXport Soft Roll Up Truck Bed Tonneau Cover

This soft rolling tonneau cover fits the 6 foot 6 inch bed of the 2014-2018, 2019 Limited/Legacy GMC Sierra & Chevrolet Silverado 1500, 2500HD, and 3500HD. If you have a different length of bed, the cover also comes in 5 foot 8 inch and 8 foot lengths. This cover is the TruXport style, which is a top mount cover that sits about 1.5 inches above the truck bed.


You’ll notice that this cover has a beautiful leather grain finish to the vinyl material. This gives your truck both protection and good looks. It’s also easy to mount and operate with paddle latches to open the cover on both sides of the tailgate.


Unfortunately, the vinyl material used to make this cover tends to stretch. This can be an issue if rainwater collects on the cover. You may also find that the corners begin to pull up over time. The cover also lacks seals, which means it can leak.

Honorable Mention
MaxMate Soft Roll Up Truck Bed Tonneau Cover

This tonneau cover rolls up to give you easy access to the entire bed of your 2019-2020 Chevy Colorado or GMC Canyon. It fits the 5 foot 2 inch bed length but also comes in other sizes to fit both the 5 foot 1 inch and 6 foot 1 inch lengths. It also comes in versions that will fit older models of these trucks. The vinyl is a heavy-duty, 24-ounce marine-grade vinyl. It’s supported by aircraft-grade aluminum rails.


What makes this cover stand out is the quality and durability of the materials. It is also backed by a 10-year warranty. The cover doesn’t require any drilling to install. It also has a strong Velcro lining the edge of the cover to give you a secure seal.


Unfortunately, the Velcro may grow weak over time. This can make it difficult to close the cover and have the Velcro create the solid seal it’s supposed to. You may also find that the cover begins to roll up and off on its own while driving.

Honorable Mention
Access Vanish Tonneau Cover

The Access Vanish Tonneau Cover is one seriously tough and durable cover for your pickup’s bed. It’s not only built for the wear and tear of the road; this cover is also so protective it’s able to seal out weather, debris, and more. This soft cover is constructed from UV-protected fabric, which is temperature-resistant and won’t stretch or sag even in extremely hot temperatures. The top layer of the material is cold-treated, which keeps it flexible in extreme cold (up to minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit), too. The tonneau cover rolls up so you can access the inside of your truck bed at any time. All you have to do is twist the XT-Dial tension adjuster to get the cover rolling back. When it’s closed, a proprietary Extra Element Seal gasket protects against wind, snow, hail, and rain to keep the bed completely dry and clean. This tonneau cover is also backed by a three-year warranty, which means you can trust it to perform and meet your expectations.

Honorable Mention
Retrax RetraxONE XR Tonneau Cover

If you carry a lot of gear in your truck, you need a tonneau cover that can give you the convenience you need, and the Retrax RetraxONE XR Tonneau Cover is just the right product. This cover is strong and capable, stylish and perfectly fitted for different makes and models of pickups. It’s one piece of hard polycarbonate material that’s solid and sturdy, with sealed ball-bearing rollers that slide smoothly when the cover is opened or closed. The cover has a low-profile design that fits tightly against your truck bed, and the polycarbonate exterior is scratch-resistant and sleek. When you’re ready to add gear to your bed, the built-in T-slot compatibility allows you to add a rack and rack accessories. You can carry your stuff right on top of the cover, or hide it underneath in the bed if you prefer. This tonneau cover is lockable for added security, and you can trust it to perform thanks to its limited lifetime warranty.

Honorable Mention
Stampede Tri-Fold Tonneau Cover

Want all of the benefits of a hard cover with the flexibility of a soft cover? The Stampede Tri-Fold Tonneau Cover is a perfect pick. This cover is made with tear-resistant vinyl, which is strong enough to hold up to weight, would-be thieves, and other challenges, yet its foldable design makes it incredibly easy to expose your bed. A three-panel aluminum frame allows you to open and close the cover as needed to access the pickup’s bed, and the cover locks in place when it’s completely closed and attached to the tailgate. Installation is simple and won’t damage your truck; there’s no drilling required, just a few clamps and about half an hour of your time. Even more importantly, every one of these Stampede covers is custom-made in the U.S. for your specific make and model to ensure a perfect fit. Backed by a three-year limited warranty, this tonneau cover is a smart investment.

Tips

  • 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.

FAQ

Q: Will a tonneau cover keeps people from stealing stuff in the bed?

Hard covers 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?

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?

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. 

Q: Is a soft or hard tonneau cover better?

This depends on your preferences and needs. For some truck owners, a soft cover is the best choice, especially if you want an easy-to-remove cover that doesn’t need permanent installation on your vehicle. However, a hard cover offers more durability and increased security, which makes a hard tonneau a better choice for others.

Q: Do tonneau covers keep water out?

Many tonneau covers are able to block out water — but you’ll want to make sure you search for covers that are waterproof, not water-resistant, in order to keep your truck bed dry. Hard covers tend to offer the best waterproofing, as these covers are custom-fitted and completely close up your pickup’s bed off from the outdoor elements. 

Final Thoughts

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.