LAST UPDATED: May 15, 2019
Best Roll-Up Tonneau Covers: Add Extra Protection to Your Truck Bed
Roll-up tonneau covers that can keep your truck bed safe and accessible anytime you want
The Review Team
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PUBLISHED ON May 15, 2019
Truck beds are incredibly versatile when it comes to hauling a plethora of different things. From bikes to dirt to furniture, it's hard to beat the carrying capacity modern day pickups offer. Unfortunately, the simple truck bed design isn't secure enough to haul loose items unattended. This is where a basic truck bed cover comes in handy for keeping things secure and giving you better peace of mind. While some heavy-duty truck covers are difficult to install or use, a basic roll-up truck bed cover is one of the best ways to secure your bed without much hassle in setup or operation. Read on for our handy guide on some of the best roll-up covers today.
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Why Buy a Roll-Up Tonneau Cover
- Secure the truck bed. Since a truck bed lacks any lid, there is little preventing anyone from coming up and stealing something from the bed. A good roll-up cover, however, provides a basic barrier to hamper would-be thieves from taking what they want, even though the ultimate level of efficiency depends on the design and construction of the cover. Even a basic barrier is better than nothing.
- Improve fuel efficiency. One thing most pickup trucks aren't known for is great fuel efficiency. While some are better than others, it is commonly accepted that you shouldn't expect too much from the fuel savings. A pickup truck cover can improve fuel efficiency to a small degree by making the bed more aerodynamic. This allows air to pass over the bed instead of into it, which normally creates more air resistance at highway speeds, making the engine work harder.
- Stylize your truck. An often forgotten benefit of truck covers is the aesthetic appeal they can create. Although composite covers tend to be the most stylish in terms of customized looks and colors, a basic roll-up can add some unique visual flair to the mix. In fact, many hardcovers are perfect for adding some functionality without detracting from the overall looks. Many are designed with low-profile dimensions so they almost blend right into the truck bed itself.
Types of Roll-Up Tonneau Covers
The most basic type of truck cover is the soft cover. Typically made of some kind of vinyl fabric, soft covers tend to be budget-friendly and durable when it comes to the elements. Exterior fabrics, in particular, can be UV-resistant, waterproof, and do a decent job at keeping water and dirt out of the truck bed. On the negative side, most soft covers don't offer much theft protection since they are easier to cut into with a small knife.
For the ultimate level of protection, nothing beats a hard barrier. Made of either plastic or lightweight metals like aluminum, hard roll-up covers strike a good balance between the convenience of soft fabrics and the protective nature of hard bed covers. With the advantages and security, they offer also comes some difficulty in installation. Hard rolling covers take up more room when they are retracted, meaning there will be less bed length available when everything is installed. Many designs also have support rails that attach to be the bed rails that require proper alignment so everything rolls up smoothly.
Top Brands of Roll-Up Tonneau Covers
Founded in 2013, Tyger Auto Inc is a nationwide corporation focused on aftermarket auto parts geared for daily drivers and dedicated enthusiasts alike. The company's line of tonneau covers is primarily centered on soft designs like roll-ups, tri-folds, and more. The T1 Roll-Up Cover is a good example of the quality the company infused into its designs.
If there is something that needs to be covered and protected, chances are Gator has something in its product lineup for it. Gator Covers are well-known in the automotive industry as a producer of high-quality tonneau covers that span the range of soft and hard designs. The ETX Soft Cover is a perfect example of the extra perks Gator often includes in its covers.
Lund International is a company that caters to larger vehicles like trucks, SUVs, CUVs, vans, and more. Founded in 1965, the company has a number of different brand names, like Rampage Products and Roll-N-Lock, that represent the vast range of products it makes. Check out the Genesis Elite for a great tonneau cover option.
Pace Edwards, owned by Leer, made its mark on tonneau covers nearly 30 years ago by developing a retractable bed cover that offered more protection than most soft designs. Since then, the company has expanded into several different hardcover designs, including several popular roll-ups and tri-fold options. One popular product offered by the company is the Switchblade Tonneau Cover.
Roll-Up Tonneau Cover Pricing
- $300 and under: In the budget range of soft roll-up tonneau covers, you will find a good selection of budget-friendly options that offer the most basic level of theft and weather protection. Most of these options are soft tonneaus with basic fabric materials. Don't expect too much in terms of durability and longevity with these. With that said, most do a great job of keeping the elements out of the truck bed.
- $300-$1000: In the midrange, there is a good mix of soft and hard roll-up covers to consider. The soft covers tend to be higher in quality and can come with extra security features like locks. The hardcovers, on the other hand, are on the low end of this range, so they are less likely to come with handy features that enhance the convenience and security truck covers can offer.
- $1000 and above: At the upper end of the truck cover spectrum are the high-quality, hard roll-up covers. Beyond this mark, you will find a number of advanced designs that come with unique features like spring-loaded retracting mechanisms, electronic/remote controlled motors, tie downs, and more. If you want the most in terms of protection and security, this is definitely the range to consider.
In order to really protect the truck bed, a truck cover needs to have a durable exterior surface that can resistant damage from the elements and attempts of theft. The choice of material is particularly important in this regard. Some basic materials only offer a small level of weather protection and may not last as long as more expensive, higher-quality options. Soft materials like vinyl fabric do a good job with basic weatherproofing, but if you want the best in terms of thief protection, hard material is a way to go.
The unique thing about roll-up truck covers is their rolling design. Unlike panel and single-body covers, the rolling design takes up less space and, sometimes, is more convenient to use if you have to open or close the cover quickly. The ultimate design of the rolling cover, however, will determine how easy it is to use and how much space the cover takes up in the bed. Basic soft covers roll up tightly, while hardcovers require more space in the bed for dedicated housing for the metal panels.
Extra Safety Features
Different truck cover manufacturers have different ways of securing the cover when it's closed. At the most basic level, a cover will just clamp or Velcro down onto the edge of the bed. This design is convenient, but it doesn't offer much in terms of theft protection. Other covers have simple locks you can open with a key or are designed in a way where they can't be opened when the tailgate is up and locked. In most cases, these are the better choice for extra peace of mind for when your truck is unattended.
- Bed Size: More than anything else, for a truck cover to be effective, it has to fit the bed itself. If it doesn't have a perfect fit over the edges of the bed and tailgate, uninvited weather and people may be able to get in unexpectedly. This is why it's important to know the exact dimensions (width and length) of your bed so you can find the right model for that perfect fit. Thankfully, many manufacturers also make different versions of the same product for different makes and models of trucks.
- Installation: Most roll-up truck covers are easy to use once everything is set up. Getting it mounted, however, can be a different story. Some covers, like most soft models, only take a few minutes to install using basic clamps and fasteners. Hard models, on the other hand, can be more challenging since there are extra pieces to mount, align, and secure.
Best Roll-Up Tonneau Covers Reviews & Recommendations 2020
This roll-up tonneau cover lacks a lot of high-end features more advanced options spout, but it does simplicity well. Made of leather-grain fabric, the cover itself sits above the bed on the supplied rails that clamp down to the sides of the bed. The top-mounted design not only offers a good amount of waterproofing, but it also gives the cover and truck a distinct look.
Easy installation is where this tonneau cover really shines. Coming with the soft cover and support rails, the kit requires about 30 minutes to clamp the rails to the side of the bed. Once installed, the cover does a good job of resisting rain, snow, wind, and other weather elements that can cause havoc on a truck bed's contents.
The fit of the cover, however, can be a little tight on some truck models, making buying the right one extremely important. Since the cover sits between the two support rails, some alignment may be required to get the snaps positioned correctly if the bed rails are just too far apart to offer some give in the placement.
Coming in at a fraction of the price of most hardcovers, this tonneau cover has some basic features that go a long way towards creating a tight seal around the bed of a truck. Using a marine-grade vinyl top, the exterior cover rolls up tightly to offer the most amount of space possible in the bed. In its fully closed position, the cover straps down to the edges of the bed using Velcro strips.
Like other soft covers, the T1 uses metal support rails that mount onto the sides/edges of the truck bed using supplied clamps and fasteners. Since the sides of the cover attach the Velcro strips on the support rails, the cover creates a good seal to keep water and debris out, even in windy conditions. Best of all, the cover rolls up partially in case you need brief access to the bed.
Heavy amounts of snow can start to challenge the cover's sealing, however. The weight of snow cover can stretch the cover, loosening the connection with the Velcro around the edges. As a result, it's common to see some snow or water in the bed of the truck around the corners after heavy snowfall.
The Switchblade is one tonneau cover that tries to mix some of the best benefits of true soft and hardcover options. Made of aluminum panel segments, the exterior surface remains rigid and locked in the closed position. Taking a page from soft roll-up covers, the panels retract into a metal enclosure anytime you want to quickly access the bed of your truck.
As far as hardcovers go, the Switchblade is one of the most convenient to use when it comes to opening or closing it for bed access. Spring-loaded, the cover automatically retracts into the metal housing. To close it, the included strap makes it easy just to pull it forward until it locks into place.
Installation is more complex than simple soft roll-up covers. In addition to the support rails, the metal housing is heavy and difficult to the position by yourself. Once everything is mounted into place, a lengthy alignment process is required to get the rails properly positioned so the cover can roll smoothly without any hiccups.
This soft roll-up tonneau cover will fit a 2014 through 2019 GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado 1500 with a 6-foot, 6-inch bed. If this isn’t your truck, Gator makes covers in several sizes, and you’re sure to find a cover that will fit your truck. This cover is made in the United States. It has an inside mount design with a tension control mechanism to keep the cover pulled tight.
You’ll like the low-profile design of this cover. It’s also easy and fast to open and close. If you open it all of the way, you’ll have access to 100 percent of the bed. It comes with heavy-duty latches and industrial strength leather-grain vinyl for increased protection and a sleek appearance.
Unfortunately, this cover has limited compatibility, so it may not fit your truck. The material is also vinyl, which isn’t as secure as a hard cover. The rails for this cover can warp, which makes them unusable. The latches are only on one side of the cover, so it isn’t totally secure and can pop off the rail. You’ll also notice that the thread will start to unravel.
This hard rolling tonneau cover will fit a Nissan Frontier with a 5 foot bed. Model years from 2005 through 2020 are compatible. BAK makes several different bed covers, so you should be able to find a cover that fits your truck. The cover is constructed of durable gloss vinyl material that’s laid over a sheet of aluminum slats. There are hidden cables that release the cover so that you can roll it up.
What’s nice about this cover is that you get the security of a hard cover and the convenience of a soft cover. The cover is lightweight thanks to the aluminum, but it’s also very secure and can withstand up to 400 pounds. When you don’t want to use the cover, you can roll it completely out of the way for full bed access.
Unfortunately, this bed cover may leak. It also won't secure the bed of your truck if your tailgate doesn't lock. This means it isn’t totally secure. The limited fitment of this cover means it isn’t versatile and may not fit your truck bed.
This roll-up tonneau cover is made of a tear-resistant, double-sided 24-ounce vinyl. An aluminum frame holds everything in shape. This cover fits the truck bed of a 2015 through 2019 Ford F-150 with an 8-foot bed. The cover comes with the required hardware for installation.
What you’ll really like about this cover is that it’s lightweight and easy to use. You can roll it up completely and use the included straps to keep it tucked out of the way. This will give you full access to your bed.
Unfortunately, the installation instructions aren’t included with this cover. This can make installing it on your truck almost impossible. You can have a professional install it for you, but this will result in additional costs. The cover also has a weird shiny look to it, which isn’t as attractive as other covers. It’s also made of vinyl and held on with Velcro, so it isn’t the most secure.
This soft roll-up truck bed cover will fit a 2008 through 2016 Ford Super Duty 8-foot bed. It’s made of a twill weave material that has a light textured matte black finish. The rails are heavy-duty to give your cover the necessary support to keep it in place. This cover is made in America.
You’ll love that this material is incredibly low-maintenance. This means it’ll take less effort on your part to keep your bed cover looking great. This cover also has a unique and patented latching system. It has a quick release to give you full access to the bed of your truck in seconds. Hidden underneath the cover is a tension control system to keep the top tight and secure. Then there are rubber seals at the front and back to prevent moisture leakage.
Unfortunately, you may find that the material starts to shrink and warp over the course of a few months. This will prevent the cover’s Velcro from connecting and sealing. While you can do the installation yourself, you’ll need to get it just right, or it can become incredibly challenging. There is a specific edge on the truck rail you have to get, and there are some parts included that aren’t mentioned in the directions.
This low-profile roll-up cover is meant for use on a 2014 through 2018 Chevy Silverado, GMC Sierra 1500, or a 2015 through 2018 2500 and 3500. It fits trucks that have a 6.5-foot bed. The material used to construct this cover is a 20-ounce premium vinyl. This tonneau cover clamps on in minutes and doesn’t require drilling.
What you’ll appreciate about this cover is that the vinyl comes with a special UV-protective treatment. This will extend the life of the vinyl by preventing fading, cracking, and other damage from the sun’s rays. You’ll also love how low-profile this cover is when installed on your truck.
Unfortunately, the soft vinyl material is not the most secure. It also has limited compatibility as it only works with the 6.5-foot bed and not the 5.8- or 8-foot bed versions of these trucks. You may also find that the instructions included with this cover are a bit confusing, which can make installation challenging.
This soft roll-up cover will fit a 2014 and newer Chevy Silverado or GMC Sierra. The truck bed needs to be 5.8 feet or 68 inches in length. It features heavy-duty black vinyl, a hook and loop secure system, and drill-free clamps.
One standout feature of this cover is the industrial strength Velcro system. It’s super strong and will keep your cover securely in place along the rails. It’ll even work in freezing temperatures. It’s also compatible with a variety of bed rails, tailgate supporters, bed caps, under the rail systems, and spray-on liners.
Unfortunately, this cover is very challenging to install. The included directions aren’t clear, and you may get stumped on how some parts go on your truck. This cover isn’t completely waterproof and can leak.
This retractable bed cover securely locks into place to give you the ultimate in security for the bed of your truck. It fits a 2014 through 2018 Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra, the 2019 1500 Legacy/Limited, and the 2500 and 3500 from 2015 through 2019. It fits a 5.8-foot truck bed. This tonneau cover is made from a one-piece aluminum-reinforced polycarbonate material.
You’ll find that this cover stands out because it gives you the low-profile look of the soft roll-up covers, but also the security of the hard covers. You’ll find it easy to use as it rolls out of the way. Hidden in the inner workings of the cover are sealed ball bearing rollers. This helps the cover retract smoothly so that it doesn’t need springs that tend to fail.
Unfortunately, the cover that you receive could be missing parts. This will make installation impossible. You may also not receive the cover that you ordered, so it may not be compatible with your truck bed. If you do get the correct cover with all of the parts, you may find that it takes up a lot of space in the front of the bed of your truck.
- If you want the most in terms of weather protection, a soft cover is hard to beat. Unlike metal hardcovers that have cracks and spaces in between the segments and parts where water can get through, the soft fabric does a better job of covering the top of a bed. Make sure, however, that you're okay with the trade-offs necessary since soft covers are easier to breach.
- To get the most weatherproofing out of a hardcover, invest in one with a dedicated drainage system or take some time to add some extra proofing. Even simple weatherstripping goes a long way to prevent moisture or more from getting into the truck bed.
- Buy a spring-loaded or remote-controlled cover if you want quick and easy access to the truck bed. These open and close quickly, with most only taking a few seconds to slide into position.
Q. How long does it take to install a truck cover?
A. You can expect anywhere between 15 minutes and an hour for installation, depending on the design. Hardcovers take the longest because of their complex design and a greater number of parts that must be installed. This will also depend on the make and model since different trucks like the new Chevy Silverado and old Dodge Rams have unique bed profiles.
Q. Do roll-up truck covers really save a lot of space in the bed?
A. Most of the time, yes. Soft roll-up covers with a low-profile design, for example, only take up a few inches at most when rolled up. Because harder roll-up covers use metal segments that can't bend like fabric, this design tends to take up more room (usually 8-12 inches).
Q. Can I drive with my cover open?
A. If the cover has some straps or housing to secure the cover, then yes. Some truck covers lack a securing mechanism, so the cover itself is likely to unwind at highway speeds. With some security, however, the cover will stay in place so you can take full advantage of the bed without potential issues.
For a top-notch yet affordable choice of the tonneau cover, check out the TruXedo Truxport Soft Cover. Its simple design and installation are hard to beat for first-time tonneau cover owners.
To save some money while getting a good amount of weather protection, the Tyger Auto T1 Cover is a strong contender.