Top 8 Best Tonneau Covers
By | Last updated: February 10, 2021
extang solid fold hard folding tonneau cover

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 (see the FAQs at the end of this post).

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.

1. Editor’s Pick: Extang Solid Fold 2.0 Hard Folding Cover

This is your editor’s pick because it is the one I installed on my own pickup truck. After night upon sleepless night of research, this cover was selected based on its looks, construction, and positive feedback. Fully assembled right out of the box, this hard cover folds up into thirds, allowing your author to load a snowblower or other smaller piece of equipment aboard the truck bed without needing to remove the entire cover.

Installation is straightforward, with the cover’s leading edge clamped to the bedsides using robust metal fasteners which don’t require tools to adjust. Its edging provides a tight seal to keep out the weather, while easy-to-use spring-loaded fasteners keep the tailgate end of the cover secured tightly to the bed even with frequent opening and closing of the truck’s ‘gate.

Pros/Dead simple to install, robust construction, slick good looks
Cons/Expensive, weighs about 50 pounds
Bottom Line/Editor's Pick for best tonneau cover

2. Highly Rated: 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, it must be said, truck-owning buddies of your author. 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

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

If all you need is a quick and affordable way to cover the bad of your truck, 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.

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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

4. 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 bedside overlap to be hideously ugly but there’s no denying the functionality on display here.

Made of 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

5. 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!

6. 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

7. 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.

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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/Stout construction, made in America
Cons/More expensive than many factory options
Bottom Line/New gadgets are fun

8. 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 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

Tonneau Cover FAQs

Wait. There’s differences in these things?

Yes. Tonneau covers are constructed of either hard or soft material, each with their own advantages. The hard covers are generally made of metal or hard plastic while soft covers are fabric-based. Metal units are more robust and resistant to skeets trying to steal your gear but, logically, they are more expensive than their fabric brethren.

Why aren’t these offered by the factory?

Some are. Witness the massive catalog of accessories being hawked by Jeep for their Gladiator pickup truck, for example. However, the aftermarket sometimes builds a better mousetrap, thanks to their laser focus on a single product compared to manufacturers who have a million other things on their mind.

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Will this help my fuel economy?

Only marginally. An open truck bed with a closed tailgate is said to create a kind of swirling vortex over which air can rush as it passes over the top of the truck. Tonneau covers can smooth out that aero to a point – but truck makers have a keen eye on aerodynamics during the development cycle (remember those million things we mentioned?). At best, a marginal economy gain will be experienced.

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.]

2 Comments on “Buyer’s Guide: The Best Tonneau Covers for Your Truck...”

  • avatar

    Just what one needs to turn your truck into the family sedan.

  • avatar

    If you’re in snowy clime, seriously look into the Foldacover in addition to the Extang Solidfold. It sits above the rails, so water runs off it before it freezes. Instead of freezing in tiny channels and tubes, the way it does in most others. In my experience, it’s also less leaky, and generally tighter than the Extang. The Extang removes fully, a bit easier, though. And is a bit less likely to pinch and scrape you. Both are good for what they are.

    As for “sedan”, the covers keeps “most” stuff dry and out of sight most of the time. While getting out of the way for hauling snowblowers, snowmachines and bikes easier than a cap, when more load height is required.

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