LAST UPDATED: May 9, 2019
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
The Review Team
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PUBLISHED ON May 9, 2019
Bed covers are a great way for truck owners to protect the truck bed while still retaining easy access to it in most cases. Available in soft and hard varieties, choosing 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 on some of the best truck covers available.
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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 2020
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 four 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.
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 weather stripping you need to apply around the edges is difficult to install at times.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This tonneau cover gives you the look of soft vinyl with the protection of a hard cover. The top is a marine-grade vinyl that is stretched over three folding aluminum panels. When installed, you only see the vinyl cover. You can fold the panels out of the way for access to your truck bed. This cover fits the 2014-2020 Toyota Tundra with the 5 foot 5 inch bed and no utility track system, but it comes in several other sizes and a utility track-friendly version for broad compatibility.
What makes this cover stand out is the unique combination of looks and protection. The panels are lightweight with the entire cover weighing only 70 pounds. Yet the cover is strong and can support 350 pounds of evenly distributed weight. The cover comes pre-assembled to make installation easier.
The biggest problem with this cover is that it isn’t durable long term. The color will begin to fade, which degrades the look of your truck. The hooks also begin to deteriorate and could break. There are also small gaps where the panels fold, which can allow air into the bed of the truck and cause the cover to vibrate.
This tri-fold bed cover uses a metal frame and vinyl material to protect the bed of your truck. It fits the 2015-2020 Ford F150 with a 5 foot 5 inch bed. It also comes in longer versions to fit the 6 foot 6 inch and 8 foot length truck beds.
The installation and operation of this tonneau cover is easy, which makes it user friendly for beginners. It’s also protective with a weather seal that runs the entire length of the perimeter of the cover. The materials feel and look like they’re high-quality.
Unfortunately, this cover is not watertight, which means water can leak into your truck bed when the cover is completely closed. It also isn’t the most secure cover, as it is made of vinyl with a metal frame.
This hard folding tonneau cover will fit a 2009-2018 Classic Dodge Ram 1500 with an 8 foot bed. It also comes in additional sizes to fit the 5 foot 7 inch and 6 foot 4 inch beds with or without Rambox. The cover has three aluminum panels that have foam cores. You can drive with the panels open or closed.
What makes this cover stand out is that it comes completely assembled, so there are no loose parts in the box. This makes installation fast and easy. You’ll also appreciate the double-sealed hinges. They gives you a tighter seal when the cover is closed so that no water should leak through and into your truck bed.
Unfortunately, the seals can begin to peel off of the aluminum panels. This will compromise its ability to keep water out. The aluminum panels can also begin to separate so that the aluminum sheets and the foam cores become separate pieces.
- 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.