Best Pickup Truck Tonneau Covers: A Cover Story

Top 8 Best Tonneau Covers

best pickup truck tonneau covers a cover story

It should be no surprise to anyone reading this post that pickup trucks are popular in this country, to put it mildly. Such is the market for these machines that manufacturers are ladling more and more luxury items on them, searching for the upper limit of opulence and price. By all accounts, they haven’t found the ceiling yet. Silverado, Ram, F-150 … nearly 1 in 5 items to roll off a dealer’s lot with a new-car smell has an open box attached to it.

That open box (whether it’s five-and-a-half, six, or eight feet long) is the indisputable king of cargo. Need to haul a tree home from the arborist? No problem. How about that grandfather clock at the estate sale? Toss it in. The amount of detritus one can handle with a pickup is legendary. Thing is, though, that open bed is – well – open.

Your author may not be an authority in much but he has owned enough pickup trucks over the last twenty years to know a thing or two about their accessories. There are different varieties of tonneau covers, all with their own advantages and disadvantages, which is why we’re revisiting the topic for a second time this year.

We didn’t select a specific make and model of pickup truck this time, choosing instead to cover (pun intended) a broad range of vehicles. Make sure you’re getting the correct fit before buying. Here are a few we recommend.

Table of Contents

1. Editor’s Pick: BAKFlip G2 Hard Folding Tonneau Cover

The low-profile BAKFlip G2 hard folding cover allows you to drive with the cover fully closed or partially open. This is not totally unique. What is unique is the ability of this thing to flip up against the truck's back window, allowing for 100% bed access unlike some covers in which the front 1/3 remains clamped to the bed unless its owner removes the thing altogether. This, in your author's opinion, puts in the running for this market's best tonneau cover.

This hard tonneau cover features durable aluminum panels and an automatic latching system, providing greater security over vinyl covers. Prop rods hold the cover upright while open and they securely stow away when the cover is partially or fully closed.

Pros

  • Well-known brand, ability to access all of the bed

Cons

  • Don't sit on the cover while closed

Bottom Line

  • A great option

The low-profile BAKFlip G2 hard folding cover allows you to drive with the cover fully closed or partially open. This is not totally unique. What is unique is the ability of this thing to flip up against the truck's back window, allowing for 100% bed access unlike some covers in which the front 1/3 remains clamped to the bed unless its owner removes the thing altogether. This, in your author's opinion, puts in the running for this market's best tonneau cover.

This hard tonneau cover features durable aluminum panels and an automatic latching system, providing greater security over vinyl covers. Prop rods hold the cover upright while open and they securely stow away when the cover is partially or fully closed.

2. TruXedo Truxport Soft Roll Up Truck Bed Tonneau Cover

Irritatingly cute name aside, the TruXedo brand of tonneau covers garner reliably positive ratings from real world customers and regularly ranks as one of the top tonneau cover brands. This particular unit is a soft cover that stretched taut over the bed of a truck and can be rolled up like a tarp when it needs to be moved out of the way.

A heavy duty frame is installed, with rails clamping onto your truck's bed without the need for any drilling or special tools. The cover's tension can be manually adjusted based on what you've got in the bed, though we don't recommend stretching this thing over a pile of gravel, for instance. Many sizes and styles are available.

Pros

  • Top-tier rating, installs without drilling holes in your new truck

Cons

  • Soft covers can easily be sliced open by a knife-wielding crook

Bottom Line

  • Good brand, great reviews

Irritatingly cute name aside, the TruXedo brand of tonneau covers garner reliably positive ratings from real world customers and regularly ranks as one of the top tonneau cover brands. This particular unit is a soft cover that stretched taut over the bed of a truck and can be rolled up like a tarp when it needs to be moved out of the way.

A heavy duty frame is installed, with rails clamping onto your truck's bed without the need for any drilling or special tools. The cover's tension can be manually adjusted based on what you've got in the bed, though we don't recommend stretching this thing over a pile of gravel, for instance. Many sizes and styles are available.

3. Budget Pick: North Mountain Soft Vinyl Roll-up Tonneau Cover

If you've been searching for the best inexpensive tonneau cover, this is a decent option. While this product has yet to garner many real-world reviews, its price is right and the cover is offered in a wide array of shapes and sizes to fit many popular pickup truck beds.

The product is said to come with all mounting clamps required to affix it to the truck bed, along with a few bolts and instructions. It is promoted as a soft roll-up style cover and is, in fact, described as a 'tight fitting tarp'. Simple and to the point - we like it. The vinyl cover is made from 24oz material and is double sided for weather protection.

Pros

  • Very affordable, many sizes available

Cons

  • Few ratings so far, vinyl is easily cut

Bottom Line

  • Good for a quick fix

If you've been searching for the best inexpensive tonneau cover, this is a decent option. While this product has yet to garner many real-world reviews, its price is right and the cover is offered in a wide array of shapes and sizes to fit many popular pickup truck beds.

The product is said to come with all mounting clamps required to affix it to the truck bed, along with a few bolts and instructions. It is promoted as a soft roll-up style cover and is, in fact, described as a 'tight fitting tarp'. Simple and to the point - we like it. The vinyl cover is made from 24oz material and is double sided for weather protection.

4. LEER Latitude SC Soft Tri-Fold Cover

This brand bills itself as “America’s #1 Truck Cover” and, given the sheer number of truck accessories one sees bearing the Leer name, they may have a point. This particular option is a soft tri-fold unit, flipping forward in thirds to reveal the truck bed underneath. Drivers can safely travel with the cover open thanks to security straps and buckles located at the front of the bed.

Made of commercial-grade reinforced vinyl, this cover won’t provide the security of a hard cover but is a good option if one doesn’t want to break the bank. A specially designed self-tensioning frame helps keep the truck bed cover in place while a support framework with rounded corners and beveled edges keep water out of the truck bed. The latching system near the tailgate is of a one-handed pinch design, not a bulky handle on which to yank. Leer’s solution is certainly lower profile but may be hard to grab, especially in the dark.

Pros

  • Well-known brand name, light weight, no-drill installation

Cons

  • Fiddly opening latches, costly for a soft cover

Bottom Line

  • America's #1 Truck Cover!

This brand bills itself as “America’s #1 Truck Cover” and, given the sheer number of truck accessories one sees bearing the Leer name, they may have a point. This particular option is a soft tri-fold unit, flipping forward in thirds to reveal the truck bed underneath. Drivers can safely travel with the cover open thanks to security straps and buckles located at the front of the bed.

Made of commercial-grade reinforced vinyl, this cover won’t provide the security of a hard cover but is a good option if one doesn’t want to break the bank. A specially designed self-tensioning frame helps keep the truck bed cover in place while a support framework with rounded corners and beveled edges keep water out of the truck bed. The latching system near the tailgate is of a one-handed pinch design, not a bulky handle on which to yank. Leer’s solution is certainly lower profile but may be hard to grab, especially in the dark.

5. Roll N Lock M-Series Retractable Tonneau Cover

This list would be incomplete without mention of a retractable tonneau cover. Merging the benefits of a hard cover and a roll-up soft cover, this unit opens up to uncover the truck’s bed in the same manner as one opens a kitchen bread box or fancy-pants rolltop desk.

When retracted, the cover resides in an ultra-compact canister measuring 7.5 inches deep at the head of the truck’s bed up by the cab. This does eat up some box space but is certainly compact enough to largely stay out of harm’s way. This example is a low-gloss vinyl over aluminum but total aluminum and electric retractable models are also available

Pros

  • Neat-n-tidy looks, best of several worlds

Cons

  • Scary prices

Bottom Line

  • Costly for a reason

This list would be incomplete without mention of a retractable tonneau cover. Merging the benefits of a hard cover and a roll-up soft cover, this unit opens up to uncover the truck’s bed in the same manner as one opens a kitchen bread box or fancy-pants rolltop desk.

When retracted, the cover resides in an ultra-compact canister measuring 7.5 inches deep at the head of the truck’s bed up by the cab. This does eat up some box space but is certainly compact enough to largely stay out of harm’s way. This example is a low-gloss vinyl over aluminum but total aluminum and electric retractable models are also available

6. PowertraxPRO MX Electric Retractable Tonneau Cover

Speaking of electric tonneau covers, here's a power-operated option from a brand called PowertraxPRO. This powered retractable cover features remote powered operation and can be locked in place anywhere along the truck bed, securing loose pieces of cargo too big to fit under the cover.

The cover features aluminum panels that can support up to 500 pounds of evenly distributed weight - so don't go placing your heavy trophies all in one spot - as well as a matte finish for UV and scratch protection. These things are made in North Dakota and are backed by a US-based customer support team.

Pros

  • Looks slick, you can brag to your friends

Cons

  • Extremely expensive

Bottom Line

  • Cool but costly

Speaking of electric tonneau covers, here's a power-operated option from a brand called PowertraxPRO. This powered retractable cover features remote powered operation and can be locked in place anywhere along the truck bed, securing loose pieces of cargo too big to fit under the cover.

The cover features aluminum panels that can support up to 500 pounds of evenly distributed weight - so don't go placing your heavy trophies all in one spot - as well as a matte finish for UV and scratch protection. These things are made in North Dakota and are backed by a US-based customer support team.

7. Tyger Auto Black (Soft Top) Tri-Fold Truck Tonneau Cover

Tyger Auto Black is a readymade soft type tri-fold cover that fits with Ford F-150 2009-2014 models that come without the utility track system. Manufactured using aircraft-grade aluminum frames, this 24oz heavy-duty tonneau cover is shipped along with mounting hardware and an instruction manual and requires no drilling for installation. The clamps that comprise stainless steel rods, and the weather sealing that the cover has ensures firm locking, and protection from heavy rains, harmful sunlight, and snowfalls respectively.

The 5.5 ft. styleside bed with dual-coated vinyl exterior weighs 30.6 pounds, gives the vehicle a tough look, and provides a carefree off-roading experience.

Pros

  • Robust ratings on Amazon, pre-assembled crossbars

Cons

  • You're on the hook for shipping if you order the wrong size

Bottom Line

  • One of the better soft-surface tonneau covers.

Tyger Auto Black is a readymade soft type tri-fold cover that fits with Ford F-150 2009-2014 models that come without the utility track system. Manufactured using aircraft-grade aluminum frames, this 24oz heavy-duty tonneau cover is shipped along with mounting hardware and an instruction manual and requires no drilling for installation. The clamps that comprise stainless steel rods, and the weather sealing that the cover has ensures firm locking, and protection from heavy rains, harmful sunlight, and snowfalls respectively.

The 5.5 ft. styleside bed with dual-coated vinyl exterior weighs 30.6 pounds, gives the vehicle a tough look, and provides a carefree off-roading experience.

8. Softclub Truck Bed Tarp Cover

This tonneau cover is more of a huge tarp but we feel its inclusion on this list is appropriate so you can see all the different styles of this product that are available. To be blunt, your author finds the external strapping and bed side overlap to be hideously ugly but there's no denying the functionality on display here.

Made of a fabric material with waterproof strips at the seams, it is fixed in place with no less than a dozen bungee cords that hook onto various and sundry attachment points on your truck. We'd be terrified of scratches and what might happen should one of those bungees let go but the majority of real-world owners report good experiences. They must not be as vain as us, either.

Pros

  • Very low price, covers the bed opening and then some

Cons

  • Catastrophically ugly, risk of scratches if it goes wrong

Bottom Line

  • Function over form

This tonneau cover is more of a huge tarp but we feel its inclusion on this list is appropriate so you can see all the different styles of this product that are available. To be blunt, your author finds the external strapping and bed side overlap to be hideously ugly but there's no denying the functionality on display here.

Made of a fabric material with waterproof strips at the seams, it is fixed in place with no less than a dozen bungee cords that hook onto various and sundry attachment points on your truck. We'd be terrified of scratches and what might happen should one of those bungees let go but the majority of real-world owners report good experiences. They must not be as vain as us, either.

9. UnderCover Ultra Flex Hard Folding Truck Bed Tonneau Cover

Compatible with Nissan Titan 2016 to 2021 models, this tri-fold hard type tonneau cover is made up of aluminum panels and is available in a matte black finish. The cover offers 100 percent of bed access and can be partially closed, fully closed, or fully opened to provide the required level of protection. Equipped with an integrated LED rail light and full perimeter seal to offer additional visibility at night and insulation from the weather respectively, Ultra Flex offers a hassle-free 5-year warranty.

The 67” tonneau cover comes with a carpeted under-paneling that adds an extra layer of protection to the items underneath.

Pros

  • Offers 100 percent bed access, varying levels of closure.

Cons

  • Not cheap

Bottom Line

  • Get hard

Compatible with Nissan Titan 2016 to 2021 models, this tri-fold hard type tonneau cover is made up of aluminum panels and is available in a matte black finish. The cover offers 100 percent of bed access and can be partially closed, fully closed, or fully opened to provide the required level of protection. Equipped with an integrated LED rail light and full perimeter seal to offer additional visibility at night and insulation from the weather respectively, Ultra Flex offers a hassle-free 5-year warranty.

The 67” tonneau cover comes with a carpeted under-paneling that adds an extra layer of protection to the items underneath.

FAQs

What are the different types of tonneau covers?

There are two main categories of tonneau covers namely:

Soft Covers – These tonneau covers are lightweight and are cheap

Hard Covers – These covers are hard, strong, and offer better protection as compared to the soft tonneau covers

In addition to the above categories, there are five to six types of tonneau covers, and depending on your needs, you can prefer one over the other. Some of the most commonly used covers include:

Roll Up

As the name suggests, these covers can be rolled up partially or fully as mats or curtains according to the requirements, and therefore they are easy to use. In most cases, these fall in the category of soft covers. However, if there is a specific need, hard roll-up covers are also available in the market.

Folding

These are mostly tri-fold covers and are easily available in both soft and hard types. Folding tonneau covers are comparatively stronger, can be opened and folded partially or fully according to the requirement, and if need be, they can even be removed altogether to utilize all the space the pickup truck has.

Retractable

These tonneau covers slide to uncover the space and are rolled up to the unit installed within the truck itself. However, because the entire equipment is installed inside the vehicle, a part of its area becomes unavailable to accommodate the retracted bed. The good thing is, these covers can be locked at any position while sliding, thus enabling you to partially or fully cover the tonneau according to the needs. The only drawback is that the retractable covers are more expensive compared to others.

Hinged

These covers are mostly hard type and can be opened or closed as the bonnet of the car. Hinged tonneau covers offer hassle-free and clean installation, can be bought in the color that matches the pickup truck, and provide more security and weatherproofing to your items. However, it becomes extremely challenging to drive the car with an opened hinge, and even the fuel consumption is significantly increased due to high aerodynamic drag if or when you try to do so.

Heavy-Duty

These are the strongest tonneau covers, can hold several tons of load, and offer multiple access points for loading and unloading heavy objects such as bikes.

Toolbox

These tonneau covers have a separate compartment, specifically designed to store the tools that may come in handy while off-roading. With this quality, the toolbox covers serve the dual purpose of providing a protective cover and storing useful tools.

Why aren’t tonneau covers offered by the factory?

Because every person uses their pickup truck for a different purpose, and they may want to have a tonneau cover to best suit their specific needs, it becomes almost impractical to have a one-size-fits-all type of bed for the vehicle. Instead, it is comparatively more convenient for the companies to leave it to the buyers to choose the type of cover they want according to their work requirements.

Will a tonneau cover help my fuel economy?

According to several experts, a good quality tonneau cover decreases the aerodynamic drag while the vehicle is on the road, and makes it run more smoothly. Because of this, the fuel consumption is reduced by as much as up to 10 percent.

What is the most durable tonneau cover?

Some most durable tonneau covers are listed below for your consideration:

BakFlip MX4 ( Buy here!)

This one has a matt finish which makes the cover almost invincible to UV damage, scratches, etc. Furthermore, the cover even allows access to 100 percent space and can hold a distributed weight of up to 400 lbs.

Rugged Liner E-Series Hard Folding ( Buy here!)

This comes in a fully assembled form and all you need to do is, place it on your truck, tighten the screws, and you’re done. The average installation time of this aluminum-paneled truck bed cover is not more than 6 minutes to 7 minutes.

What is the best truck bed cover?

According to various surveys and a large number of positive user reviews on Amazon, some of the best truck bed covers are:

RetraxPRO XR Retractable ( Buy here!)

This is manually operated and has a key locking system. The cover looks tough and masculine due to the matte finish that it comes in.

BAK BAKFlip MX4 ( Buy here!)

With the panels made of aluminum, this tonneau cover is pretty durable, offers 100 percent bed access post-installation, and it comes with a 5-year warranty.

Are truck bed covers worth it?

Yes, they are. However, because they come with some pros and cons, you must keep the following few points in mind while purchasing so that you know what you’re paying for:

Cargo Safety

Truck bed covers limit the visibility of the cargo under transportation or hide it altogether, thus keeping it protected from people with bad intentions. Furthermore, the covers also reduce the accessibility of the cargo from unauthorized persons.

Economic on Fuel

A truck with a bed cover receives a lesser amount of air resistance and therefore the fuel consumption is reduced by up to 10 percent.

Classy Appearance

A bed cover with a contrasting color gives your truck a classy look.

Protection Against Weather Conditions

Cargo covered with a good quality bed cover remains protected against severe weather conditions during transportation.

Expensive

Truck bed covers don’t come cheap. Although there could be some pocket-friendly variants, they might not be quite efficient and may not look good either.

Inconvenient Installation Process

Some bed covers require a couple of holes to be drilled in the truck’s body before they can be installed.

However, if you don’t want to have any such unpleasant experience, you can go for the covers that can be installed without drilling but at the cost of a compromised appearance.

Lesser Room Access

With a truck bed cover installed, you may not be able to utilize the full space and/or store and access some important pieces of equipment such as racks or toolboxes.

Are Leer tonneau covers good?

They are comparatively better than the other standard tonneau covers. A couple of factors that make Leer tonneau covers stand out include:

They are made of decent quality fiberglass and are therefore pretty durable

They can be color-matched and many times give the look of a factory-fitted item

They reduce fuel consumption due to their aerodynamic form factor

They are easy to install and uninstall

They offer a keyless remote locking feature for convenience

They can be operated from a single hand, thanks to the SuperLift system

They come with a lifetime warranty

Although the above points look quite tempting, Leer tonneau covers aren’t cheap and may cost somewhere from $1500 to $2000.

What should I look for in a tonneau cover?

When planning to buy a tonneau cover for your truck, a couple of points that you must consider include:

Convenience of Usability – Make sure that the cover that you are planning to buy is easy to use and makes loading and unloading the cargo convenient

Durability and Warranty – Although the life of a tonneau cover majorly depends on your usage, it is important to ensure that the one you buy is of good quality and lasts long. It would be good to check how many years of warranty does the cover come with as well

Security and Protection – It would be good to have a hard tonneau cover with latches so it becomes extremely challenging for the thieves to gain access to the cargo

Budget – One of the most important factors is how much you want to invest in tonneau covers. If your pocket allows, the first recommendation would be to get Leer covers as they are durable, are available in matching colors, and are pretty secure

When keeping the above points in mind while buying a tonneau cover, you will get the best bang for the buck to protect the cargo and give your truck a premium look.

Descriptions

Tyger Auto Black (Soft Top) Tri-Fold Truck Tonneau Cover ( Buy here!)

Tyger Auto Black is a readymade soft type tri-fold cover that fits with Ford F-150 2009-2014 models that come without the utility track system. Manufactured using aircraft-grade aluminum frames, this 24oz heavy-duty tonneau cover is shipped along with mounting hardware and an instruction manual and requires no drilling for installation. The clamps that comprise stainless steel rods, and the weather sealing that the cover has ensures firm locking, and protection from heavy rains, harmful sunlight, and snowfalls respectively.

The 5.5 ft. styleside bed with dual-coated vinyl exterior weighs 30.6 pounds, gives the vehicle a tough look, and provides a carefree off-roading experience.

UnderCover Ultra Flex Hard Folding Truck Bed Tonneau Cover ( Buy here!)

Compatible with Nissan Titan 2016 to 2021 models, this tri-fold hard type tonneau cover is made up of aluminum panels and is available in a matte black finish. The cover offers 100 percent of bed access and can be partially closed, fully closed, or fully opened to provide the required level of protection. Equipped with an integrated LED rail light and full perimeter seal to offer additional visibility at night and insulation from the weather respectively, Ultra Flex offers a hassle-free 5-year warranty.

The 67” tonneau cover comes with a carpeted under-paneling that adds an extra layer of protection to the items underneath.

From time to time, TTAC will highlight automotive products we think may be of interest to our community. Plus, posts like this help to keep the lights on around here. Learn more about how this works.

(Editor’s note: This post is meant to both help you be an informed shopper for automotive products but also to pay for our ‘90s sedan shopping habits operating expenses. Some of you don’t find these posts fun, but they help pay for Junkyard Finds, Rare Rides, Piston Slaps, and whatever else. Thanks for reading.)

[Product images provided by the manufacturer.]

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  • Vulpine Vulpine on Apr 19, 2022

    I personally have a four-panel hard tonneau, which gives me ready access to ¾ of the bed length of my '19 Colorado and still have a tool box mounted in the front of the bed (that uses the fourth panel as its cover. It's lockable at both ends, making the cargo and the tool box reasonably well protected, even if not absolutely so (there are ways to force it.) To me, this is better than any of the tri-fold models and infinitely better than any soft model, which can be easily cut by a casual thief. And the cover is reasonably stout, as I carried a queen-sized box spring on it as I was delivering the bed and mattresses to a family member 150 miles away (box spring wouldn't fit through the door of the u-Haul trailer which carried the mattress and frame, as well as other items.) No issues and at 3.5 years old, it looks almost as good as new, despite being in the weather 24/7.

  • Vulpine Vulpine on May 03, 2022

    I have a 4-panel hard tonneau on my Colorado.

    • Vulpine Vulpine on May 03, 2022

      Ah... I see... Comments not working right on Safari today. Couldn't view the comments, which made me think the article was a re-post looking for new commentary.

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