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How to Choose the Best Hard-Folding Tonneau Cover

Hard-folding covers can be a smart choice for many drivers.
Written and Tested By:
Will Moore
Written and Tested By: Will Moore Senior Writer – Motor1 Review Team

Will has written for several major auto sites including Motor1 since 2020, logging hundreds of hours researching and testing products ranging from child car seats to torque wrenches. Will is also Certified by Safe Kids Worldwide as a Child Passenger Safety Technician (#T836339).

Last Updated 05/03/2024

Motor1 Reviews Team Take:

  • Hard-folding tonneau covers are typically less expensive than retractable covers but offer greater security and durability compared to soft tonneau covers.
  • A hard-folding tonneau cover generally costs between $600 and $1,600. Most of the covers we recommend are about $1,000.
  • After consulting with an industry expert and testing several tonneau covers ourselves, our product team recommends the BAK BAKFlip G2 and Gator EFX.
Best Hard Folding Tonneau Cover
BAK BAKFlip G2

A rugged hard tonneau cover that can fold open for full bed access.

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Best Budget Hard Folding Tonneau Cover
Gator EFX

A relatively inexpensive tonneau cover backed by a lifetime warranty.

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The best hard-folding tonneau covers offer protection, offer security, and are built to last. This type of tonneau cover is mid-priced, typically costing around $1,000. Folding tonneau covers are often cheaper than retractable tonneau covers, though more expensive (and longer-lasting) than soft tonneau covers.

Our product team caught up with RealTruck Director of Marketing Chris King, who has been working on vehicles for over 25 years. In addition to sharing King’s advice, we recommend several hard-folding tonneau covers based on our own research and hands-on testing experience.


Hard-Folding Tonneau Covers: An Expert’s Opinion

King is an auto industry veteran who has worked on all manner of vehicles. He knows his tonneau covers underside to topside. When choosing a tonneau cover, King recommends that drivers start by considering three factors: cost, security, and use case.

Hard-Folding Tonneau Cover Price

Expect to spend between $600 to $1,600 for a hard-folding tonneau cover on average. This type of tonneau cover is often cheaper than a retractable cover, but more expensive than a soft roll-up tonneau cover.

Low Price

$600

Typical Price

$1,000

High Price

$1,600

If your tonneau cover budget is under $500, a soft-top cover is likely your only option. Hard-top tonneau covers are difficult to find in this price range. If price is no concern, you might choose a retractable tonneau cover with all the bells and whistles. This can cost between $1,000 and $4,000.

The difference between entry-level and the more expensive hard-folding tonneau covers often comes down to materials and bed access.

Materials

Hard-folding tonneaus are usually constructed using a piece of expanded foam sandwiched between two panels. In most cases, the interior panel is made of aluminum. Low-cost and mid-range hard-folding tonneaus typically use aluminum for the top panel as well.

More expensive hard-folding tonneaus may use a fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP). King said,

“FRP is more dent-resistant than aluminum. If you’re parked in a driveway and a tree branch fell off of a tree, the aluminum could dent or poke, and the FRP is going to be a lot more resistant to damage from tree branches or hail.”

While FRP is more durable than aluminum, FRP material isn’t as good at withstanding high-heat environments. If you live in a climate that regularly experiences extreme heat, you may be better off with an aluminum tonneau cover.

Bed Access

Folding tonneau covers do not always allow for access to the entire truck bed. Many are designed so that the last fold lies over the top of your truck bed, meaning you can only access one-fourth to one-third of your bed, depending on the design. According to King,

“Your entry price point hard-folding covers will only stow in the two-thirds folded position, so that last panel basically won’t fold all the way forward to the cab. But outside of your entry-level hard-folding, almost all of them fold all the way to the cab, so you do have the flexibility for when you need to haul something larger. You can drive with the tonneau covers stowed in those positions, so no issues there.”

While you can drive with a hard-folding cover in the fully opened position, this will obstruct the view out of the back window, so it’s not recommended to drive this way for an extended distance.

Hard-Folding Tonneau Cover Security

A hard tonneau cover can effectively protect the contents of your truck bed in a way that a soft tonneau cover simply cannot. Soft tonneau covers can easily be accessed by tearing through the vinyl with a knife. King said,

“One of the biggest benefits of hard-folding tonneau covers is, frankly, the security that they offer. If your truck tailgate locks when the cover is closed, your bed is locked. So it’s just like the interior of your truck or car. Most new trucks have locking tailgates. If you own an older model that doesn’t have an OEM lock—whether it’s automatic or keyed—there’s a brand called Pop & Lock that you can add.”

Depending on where you park and what you keep in the bed, security may not be an important factor in choosing a tonneau cover. Otherwise, you might consider a hard-folding cover made from aluminum or FRP.

Hard-Folding Tonneau Cover Use Case

Before purchasing any tonneau cover, consider how you use your truck and how you plan to use your tonneau cover. The best option may depend on how regularly you plan to remove and reattach your tonneau cover. King said,

“Your soft-folding covers can be removed from a truck in 60 seconds. If you just want a temporary solution for the occasional road trip and an open bed for the rest of the time, soft roll-ups can get out of the way completely for a trailer. Retractable covers would roll up and be out of the way for a fifth wheel or gooseneck. A hard-folding cover would also fold up against the cab and be out of the way, but if you’re towing a trailer and it’s going to be hooked up for a while, I certainly wouldn’t recommend blocking your rear window for a long period.”

If you regularly use a fifth-wheel hitch, a hard-folding tonneau cover may not be the best option. However, if you need something secure and a fifth wheel isn’t a concern, a hard-folding cover for around $1,000 may be the right choice.

Hard-Folding Tonneau Cover Benefits

According to King, “Hard-folding is far and away the most popular category of tonneau covers. They’re really well engineered, and they fit 99 percent of people’s use cases.” In addition to the security they provide over soft-top covers, hard-folding tonneau covers are significantly more durable than soft-top options. If properly cared for, a hard-folding tonneau could last as long as your truck.

Compared to retractable covers, hard-folding covers are less expensive, sometimes by thousands of dollars.

Finally, a hard-folding cover provides a sleek look that many find desirable. Soft and lower-priced covers will sit above the truck bed, while many hard-folding tonneau covers are flush with the bed.

Hard-Folding Tonneau Cover Downsides

While there are not a lot of downsides to hard-folding tonneaus, there may be better options depending on how you typically use your truck.

Hard-folding tonneau covers take more time to remove than soft-folding tonneau covers. They will also block the view out of your rear window when fully opened. For these reasons, a soft-folding or retractable tonneau may be a better option for those who frequently use a fifth wheel or gooseneck trailer. While hard-folding tonneaus can be compatible with these trailers, they are not the best choice for visibility when operating with a large trailer.


Hard-Folding Tonneau Cover Buying Guide

Our review team has tested a dozen tonneau covers, including several hard-folding types. Below, we recommend a couple of tonneau covers we had the opportunity to try. We also mention several promising covers we’ve yet to test.

What Is The Best Hard-Folding Tonneau Cover?

We named the BAK BAKFlip G2 and the Gator EFX the best hard-folding tonneau covers on the market in 2024. A few other highly rated covers we would consider, but have not tested ourselves, include the BAK BAKFlip MX4 and Extang Solid Fold 2.0.

Brand/ModelCostMaterialFull Bed Access

BAK BAKFlip G2

$1,100 – $1,150

Aluminum

Yes

Gator EFX

$700

Aluminum

No

BAK BAKFlip MX4

$1,200 – $1,250

Aluminum

Yes

Extang Solid Fold 2.0

$875 – $1,000

EnduraShield Polymer (similar to FRP)

No

*Because cost data fluctuates, the prices in the table above are approximate values that our team regularly updates.

Hard-Folding Tonneau Cover Ratings: Our Testing Process

To select the hard-folding tonneau covers featured in this buyers guide, our team first combed through dozens of resources such as DIY mechanic and auto enthusiast forums, manufacturer websites, instruction manuals from manufacturers, and reviews from online retailers. We pay particularly close attention to quality reviews and recommendations that highlight the quality of warranties, customer service support, build quality, materials, and overall reliability.

We also factored in the quantity and quality of online retailer reviews from websites such as RealTruck and Amazon. We looked at factors such as standout customer reviews, prices, meaningful superlatives, and discount shipping eligibility.

To test tonneau covers, we installed each one according to the included instructions. We attached covers to a range of truck makes, including Toyota, Chevrolet, and Nissan vehicles. After installation, we tried each cover’s features and then left it on the test vehicle to learn how it would hold up over time.

Learn more about how we tested tonneau covers here.

1. BAK BAKFlip G2: Best Hard-Folding Tonneau Cover

BAK BAKFlip G2 Best Hard-Folding Tonneau Cover
  • Cost: $1,100 – $1,150
  • Overall rating: 4.0 out of 5.0
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Warranty length: Three years

The BAK BAKFlip G2 is a highly durable cover, made with aircraft-grade aluminum reinforced by a powder-coated black finish, making it UV-resistant. Ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) rubber seals line the sides of this cover, preventing water incursion.

The tonneau cover is easy to use and can be opened to allow for full bed access. You can see how the BAK BAKFlip G2 performed in each of our testing categories below:

Review Category Score (Out of 5.0 Stars)
Ease of Installation 4.0
Ease of Use 4.0
Durability 4.0
Overall Rating 4.0

Below are pros and cons of the BAK BAKFlip G2 identified by our testing team:

Pros
  • Made from strong materials
  • Weight tolerance of up to 300 pounds
  • Easy installation
  • Prop-up capabilities for large cargo
Cons
  • Mixed customer reviews on water incursion

We felt the BAKFlip G2 performed better than average by all of our metrics. It installs quickly and sits flush with the truck bed. We like the multiple open positions, including the ability to open fully for complete bed access.

This cover does require more installation steps for trucks that lack square bed rails. If this is the case, there are additional steps required to properly attach this folding tonneau cover.

RealTruck review score: 4.5 out of 5.0 (over 1,700 reviews)

One of the most common pieces of praise for the BAK BAKFlip G2 is that it fits perfectly. Most say this tonneau cover is easy to install and easy to use. Many comment that they appreciate the cover allows for full bed access.

Comments about the ability of the G2 to prevent water incursion are mixed. Some say this cover is watertight, while others say that it leaks at the tailgate. In our experience, few tonneau covers will totally prevent water incursion, especially during heavy rains. This is why many tonneau covers include drainage tubes. Fit may also vary by vehicle and leaking can be a result of improper installation.

2. Gator EFX: Best Budget Hard-Folding Tonneau Cover

Gator EFX
Gator EFX Best Budget Hard-Folding Tonneau Cover
  • Cost: $700
  • Overall rating: 3.8 out of 5.0
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Warranty length: Limited lifetime

The Gator EFX is another well-built tonneau cover that offers exceptional durability. It can also prevent water incursion because of the EPDM rubber hinges and included drain tubes. While it can be opened into the two-thirds position, it does not allow for full bed access while driving.

You can see how the Gator EFX performed in each of our testing categories below:

Review Category Score (Out of 5.0 Stars)
Ease of Installation 4.0
Ease of Use 3.5
Durability 4.0
Overall Rating 3.8

Below are pros and cons of the Gator EFX identified by our testing team:

Pros
  • Relatively inexpensive
  • Simple installation
  • Durable construction
Cons
  • Can leak at tailgate according to customer reviews

The EFX installation process is typical for a hard-folding cover. While the written directions aren’t very clear, the overall process is simple. It is extremely stable once installed.

We did notice that not all of the slam latches aligned perfectly. The cover has some left and right motion once installed, and you may need to shift it from the side to ensure the locks are correctly engaged.

This rugged cover uses aircraft-grade aluminum slats topped with a powder coat finish. The rubber is so thick that we found it did not sit completely flush with the truck bed in some places.

RealTruck review score: 4.5 out of 5.0 (over 2,400 reviews)

According to online reviews, the Gator EFX works very well for such a low-cost cover. Most find the cover easy to install and appreciate the sleek, flush appearance.

Some feel this cover is not completely waterproof. Those who have a truck bed liner mention the EFX may not fit perfectly without first trimming back the liner.

Other Top-Selling Hard-Folding Tonneau Covers

While our team has tested many tonneau covers, we haven’t yet had the opportunity to try the covers below. Based on manufacturer reputation, features, and customer reviews, we think these may be worth considering.

BAK BAKFlip MX4

As with many folding tonneau covers, the BAKFlip MX4 can be installed at home without power tools. It features a matte finish and sits flush with the bed rails for an aerodynamic look. It is moderately priced for this type of tonneau cover but especially heavy-duty and reliable according to thousands of customer reviews.

With a five-year warranty and aluminum composite construction, expect this cover to last through many seasons. The security features should protect your gear from would-be thieves as well as the elements.

Truck owners choose the BAKFlip MX4 for its appearance, durability, and ease of use. The most commonly praised aspects of this tonneau cover are that it’s easy to install and fits perfectly. Several reviewers also appreciate that this hard-folding tonneau cover allows for full truck bed access.

Some have had issues with the weatherstripping coming off and the cover leaking.

Extang Solid Fold 2.0 Tonneau Cover

The Extang Solid Fold 2.0 is a composite hard-folding tonneau cover featuring 1.0-inch thick EnduraShield polymer panels with a powder-coated finish. Triple-fin rubber seals around the edges reduce water incursion, and each cover is tested for water management, load capacity, and fading.

We think this could be a good pick for those who want the look of a composite tonneau cover that’s easy to use. The Solid Fold 2.0 does not allow for full bed access, but it is moderately priced for this type of tonneau cover.

Many customers claim that they were able to install the Extang 2.0 in around 10 minutes. Once installed, it is easy to open and the composite panels have a nice thick feel according to reviewers. Reviewers claim you can put heavy objects on top of this cover with no noticeable bowing.

Reviews about the waterproofing are mixed. A lot of 5.0-star reviews describe very little leaking, while 3.0-star reviews (the minority) mention issues with water incursion. One reviewer said their first model leaked and they complained to Extang, which quickly supplied a replacement that didn’t leak.

A few reviewers note that the hardware for mounting the front of this tonneau cover is not of high quality. One recommends buying your own nuts and bolts (around $15) to use instead.


Best Hard-Folding Tonneau Cover: Bottom Line

A good hard-folding tonneau cover should be durable, open quickly, and allow little water incursion. Most tonneau covers can deter theft too. In this buyers guide, we reviewed some of the best hard-folding tonneau covers in 2024:

  1. Best Hard-Folding Tonneau Cover: BAK BAKFlip G2
  2. Best Budget Hard-Folding Tonneau Cover: Gator EFX

The following covers may also be of interest to you, though we have not tested them ourselves:

  1. BAK BAKFlip MX4
  2. Extang Solid Fold 2.0

Hard-Folding Tonneau Covers: FAQ

Are hard tonneau covers worth it?

A hard tonneau cover can protect your truck bed from theft and extreme weather. If these are concerns for you, then a hard tonneau cover may be worth it. Compared to a soft tonneau cover, a hard-folding tonneau cover is typically more durable and secure against thieves.

Which is better, tri-fold or quad-fold tonneau covers?

The main difference between a tri-fold and a quad-fold tonneau cover is the appearance. Both styles can be easy to open and secure from the elements. As for the best, that comes down to personal taste.

Which is better, a soft- or hard-folding tonneau cover?

A soft-folding tonneau cover is likely to be much less expensive than a hard-folding tonneau cover. Soft covers are typically made with marine-grade vinyl and are good at stopping rain but not as secure against theft.

Do hard tonneau covers save gas?

There is debate on how tonneau covers might affect fuel economy. Research conducted by mechanical engineers at Grand Valley State University demonstrates that a tonneau cover can reduce drag and lift. This is because the exposed rear end of a pickup truck creates a negative pressure zone. However, this study was performed more than a decade ago.

Do hard tonneau covers keep water out?

A quality hard tonneau cover will keep most water out. Weather protection varies among products and depends largely on the quality of weather stripping.


Full Hard-Folding Tonneau Cover Testing Methodology

When testing tonneau covers, we assessed ease of installation, ease of use, and durability. We think these are some of the most important factors when choosing a tonneau cover.

Our product testing team then ordered the tonneau covers that best met these standards. A team member tested each product on one of the following testing vehicles:

  • 2013 Toyota Tacoma (Standard Cab) with a 6.0-foot, 2.0-in. bed
  • 2016 Toyota Tundra XS1 with a 5.0-ft., 7.0-in. bed
  • 2016 Chevrolet Colorado with a 5.0-ft. bed
  • 2017 Toyota Tundra with a 5.0-ft., 7.0-in. bed
  • 2022 Nissan Frontier Crew Cab with a 5.0-ft. bed
  • 2022 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Trailblazer with a 5.0-ft., 8.0-in. bed
  • 2024 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 with a 6.0-ft., 9.0-in. bed

We took note of how easy the tonneau cover was to install, overall build quality, and ease of use. Each hard tonneau cover was given a rating out of 5.0 stars based on these criteria.

Ease of Installation

Ease of installation is a measure of how easy or difficult it is for a layperson to install this tonneau cover at home. Requiring few tools, installing quickly, and using only a few components help tonneau covers score best in this category. We give lower ratings to tonneau covers that take a long time to install or seem especially complicated.

Among the tonneau covers we have tested, it seemed universal that the included instructions were mediocre at best. In general, we recommend looking up installation videos on Google or YouTube for your specific truck cover. These videos generally include easier-to-follow instructions than the written manual, which often includes ambiguous diagrams.

Ease of Use

Our ease of use score is a measure of how simple it is to open, close, and generally operate the tonneau cover once installed. For this rating, we look for things like functioning latches, smooth gliding along rails, or built-in straps for securing the tonneau cover in the open position.

To score best in this category, a tonneau cover will have smoothly functioning latches and won’t jam on the tracks if it is retractable. Lightweight tonneau covers also score better in this category.

Durability

Our durability rating represents the strength and longevity we expect from a tonneau cover. We base this score on the feel of the materials, our own experience using the cover, and customer reviews. A good tonneau cover should last for many years, so to get a sense of how these covers hold up four or five years down the road, we turn to customer reviews.

How We Score Products

Every tonneau cover we test is given a score between 1.0 and 5.0 stars in each category. Here’s what those star ratings mean in concrete terms:

  • 5.0 Stars: A 5.0-star rating means a tonneau cover is among the best in a category. It may attach in minutes using no tools. To score 5.0 stars for durability, it should be made with the strongest materials.
  • 4.0 Stars: A 4.0-star rating means a tonneau performs better than average in a category. Installation may require a wrench, but the tonneau cover may still be set up in under 10 minutes. For ease of use, a tonneau cover will have slam latches and pull strings for easy opening.
  • 3.0 Stars: A 3.0-star rating indicates what is average or typical for a tonneau cover, based on our testing experience. This means a tonneau cover that takes 20 to 30 minutes to install and may lack slam latches or retractable features.
  • 2.0 Stars: A 2.0-star rating indicates the tonneau cover performs adequately in a category but is poorer than average. Covers may not fit perfectly or feel fully secured once installed.
  • 1.0 Star: A 1.0-star rating indicates that the tonneau performs well below expectations in a category. A 1.0-star cover may not fit at all or break easily during testing.

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Each year, we test over 350 auto products on vehicles and in our testing lab. Our team of product testers thoroughly researches top products, unboxes and puts our hands on each component, and tests the items on real vehicles before making recommendations to readers.

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*Data accurate at time of publication. Products subject to availability.