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How to Choose the Best Soft Tonneau Cover

We went straight to the expert for tips on buying a soft tonneau cover.
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:

  • The best soft tonneau covers feature durable materials and are lightweight so they can be installed and removed in minutes.
  • Soft tonneau covers are typically the least expensive type of tonneau cover, ranging in cost from around $250 to $600 on average.
  • Based on hands-on testing, the best soft tonneau covers are the Gator SFX Tri-Fold and the TruXedo TruXport.
Best Soft Tonneau Cover
Gator SFX Tri-Fold Tonneau Cover

A low-cost soft tonneau cover that has excellent durability.

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Budget Soft Tonneau Cover
Tyger Auto Tonneau Cover

A sturdy but soft roll-up cover suitable for any budget.

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Also Consider
TruXedo TruXport

An easy-to-install soft tonneau cover that self-tensions for ease of use.

Check Price

A soft tonneau cover can be an excellent addition to your vehicle. They can reduce wind noise, protect the bed from rain, and enhance the look of your truck—all for a relatively low price compared to other types of tonneau covers.

For this guide, we share expert advice as well as suggestions for our favorite soft tonneau cover options based on research and in-person testing.


Soft Tonneau Covers: An Expert’s Opinion

To learn more about soft tonneau covers, we spoke with Chris King, the Director of Marketing at RealTruck. In addition to working with cars professionally for eight years, King has more than two decades of practical experience working on vehicles.

When shopping for any type of tonneau cover (soft or otherwise), King recommends potential buyers first consider their needs when it comes to cost, security, and use case. Also keep in mind that all tonneau covers—including soft covers—are vehicle-specific. That means the first thing you need to ensure is that any soft tonneau cover you purchase will fit your truck.

Soft Tonneau Cover Cost

Soft tonneau covers are usually the least expensive type of tonneau cover, typically costing between $250 and $600. This makes soft tonneau covers ideal for those with a small budget who still want their truck bed covered.

Low Price

$250

Typical Price

$400

High Price

$600

Durability

Higher-end soft tonneau covers tend to differentiate themselves with increased durability via protective coatings, as well as more attractive design features. Most soft tonneau covers feature either canvas or marine-grade vinyl as the primary cover material. King said,

“The foundation of any soft tonneau cover is going to be a vinyl base for weather protection. Covers like the [TruXedo] Pro X15 have a unique matte black canvas top layer that provides a premium look and feel. Another benefit to the canvas upper layer is that, since it’s matte, it looks cleaner on a day-to-day basis, as the dust is less apparent than it would be on a glossy, vinyl-topped cover.”

Soft tonneau covers are typically made with marine-grade vinyl. This material is resistant to tearing and has excellent water-repelling capabilities. Vinyl is also lightweight and relatively inexpensive.

Some soft tonneau covers may use a canvas fabric instead of or in addition to vinyl. Canvas has a greater resistance to UV light than vinyl but is not as waterproof. Canvas is more prone to molding and is a little more difficult to clean.

Canvas and vinyl each have a different look. Vinyl covers offer a more glossy appearance while canvas covers have a matte finish.

Folding Style

There are two common designs for how a soft tonneau cover is opened: folding and roll-up. Folding soft tonneau covers operate similarly to hard-folding tonneau covers. These are easy to open quickly. Folding covers have metal parts that can better keep your cover in place.

Roll-up soft tonneau covers take much longer to open but allow for greater truck access once opened. These tonneau covers are likely less expensive than similar folding covers.

Soft Tonneau Cover Security

A soft tonneau cover does not offer much in the way of security. While it will prevent anyone from seeing the contents of your truck bed, it can easily be bypassed with a knife. If keeping your truck locked and secure is a priority, you’ll want to opt for a hard tonneau cover.

Soft Tonneau Cover Use Case

Soft tonneau covers are good for those who don’t worry about security, need a low-cost tonneau cover, or don’t need to frequently use their tonneau cover. Because they are easy to install and remove, this is a good option if you want a cover for infrequent use. According to King,

“Within soft roll and soft fold categories, there are options that can be installed and removed in just minutes, making them great for those who may just want a cover during vacations or need to frequently remove the tonneau.”

Like any tonneau cover, a soft-top tonneau cover can shield your truck bed contents from the sun and elements. Consider this category of tonneau cover if you are shopping on a budget or want something especially lightweight.

Soft Tonneau Cover Advantages

The primary advantage of a soft tonneau cover compared to other options is the low cost. In addition to costing less, these types of covers also tend to be lightweight and easy to install. And, despite being less durable than hard-top covers, soft-top covers can still last an exceptionally long time. King shared,

“Some soft tonneau manufacturers (like TruXedo) have a lifetime warranty. So with proper care, longevity shouldn’t be a concern. That said, applying a protectant for additional protection is never a bad decision and will certainly help ensure your soft tonneau always looks new.”

Soft Tonneau Cover Disadvantages

The main disadvantage of a soft tonneau cover compared to a hard cover is that it does not offer security against theft. This is because soft covers can be easily destroyed by a determined thief (though unlikely to be destroyed by chance or the elements).

Because of the use of fabric materials, a soft tonneau cover can stretch over time, causing it to sag in the middle. With proper care, this should not happen for many years. However, if it regularly snows where you live, allowing snow to accumulate on your soft tonneau over a long enough period could result in sagging.


Soft Tonneau Cover Buying Guide

We have installed and reviewed every type of tonneau cover—hard, soft, folding, rolling, retractable, and automatic. When handling tonneau covers, we assess ease of use, ease of installation, and overall durability. In the soft tonneau cover category, there are some we recommend based on hands-on testing. Below, we also name some covers we haven’t yet tested, but could be smart choices for consumers.

What Is the Best Soft Tonneau Cover?

We named the Gator SFX Tri-Fold and the TruXedo TruXport the best-rated soft tonneau covers on the market in 2024. Other highly rated covers we would consider, but have not tested ourselves, include the Extang Trifecta Signature 2.0 and TruXedo Lo Pro.

Brand/ModelCostMaterialCover Type

Gator SFX Tri-Fold

$250 – $320

Vinyl

Folding

TruXedo TruXport

$300 – $380

Vinyl

Roll-Up

Extang Trifecta Signature 2.0

$550 – $600

Canvas

Folding

TruXedo Lo Pro

$550 – $600

Vinyl

Roll-Up

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

Soft Tonneau Cover Ratings: Our Testing Process

To select the soft 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 these 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 soft tonneau covers here.

1. Gator SFX Tri-Fold: Best Soft Tonneau Cover

Gator SFX Tri-Fold Tonneau Cover Review

  • Cost: $250 – $320
  • Overall rating: 4.0 out of 5.0
  • Cover type: Tri-fold
  • Material: Vinyl
  • Warranty length: Limited lifetime (structural) and 10 years (tarp)

The Gator SFX Tri-Fold is among the easiest-to-install tonneau covers that we tested. This cover is made with durable marine-grade vinyl and protected by the “Gator Guarantee,” which promises customers can swap their cover for another Gator-branded tonneau within 30 days of purchase.

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

Review CategoryScore (Out of 5.0 Stars)

Ease of Installation

5.0

Ease of Use

3.5

Durability

3.5

Overall Rating

4.0

Pros And Cons

Below, you can see our thoughts on the Gator SFX Tri-Fold:

Pros

  • Rigid, lightweight frame
  • Weather-resistant
  • No tools needed for installation

Cons

  • No quick-release lever
  • Reduced durability compared to hard tonneau covers

Our Experience

Due to the lightweight frame and quality clamps, the SFX trifold is very easy to install. We were able to attach it to our test vehicle in under 10 minutes. Once attached, the Tri-Fold doesn’t move or slide, as the back clamps offer a lot of tension.

We do deduct some points for ease of use, as the SFX does not have a quick-release lever (as many other soft tonneau covers do). Instead, users are required to disengage a set of clamps to raise the cover.

What Customers Are Saying

RealTruck review score: 4.7 out of 5.0 (over 14,000 reviews)

Users like this cover because of the quality of construction despite the low cost. Many commented (as we did) that the installation process is extremely easy. At least one person claims to have used this cover during snow and rain without any issues.

2. TruXedo TruXport: Also Consider

TruXedo TruXport Review

  • Cost: $300 – $380
  • Overall rating: 3.3 out of 5.0
  • Cover type: Roll-up
  • Material: Vinyl
  • Warranty length: Five years

TruXedo offers one of the sleekest-looking tonneau covers on the market. This roll-up tonneau cover is simple to install and adjust. Alloy support rods and a pre-set tensioner help prevent sagging. The TruXedo TruXport is backed by a five-year warranty.

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

Review CategoryScore (Out of 5.0 Stars)

Ease of Installation

4.0

Ease of Use

3.0

Durability

3.0

Overall Rating

3.3

Pros And Cons

Below are our thoughts on the TruXedo TruXport:

Pros

  • Easy, tool-free installation
  • Lightweight
  • Sleek design with shiny appearance

Cons

  • Reduced durability compared to hard tonneau covers
  • More room for user error compared to folding tonneau covers

Our Experience

We had no issues installing the TruXport, in part because of how well it fit our test vehicle. The process is typical for a soft tonneau cover, made easy by the pre-set tensioner.

We were impressed by the quality of the vinyl material, which is very thick, designed to withstand extreme weather, and not easily punctured. That said, this is still a vinyl cover, and so lacks durability compared to a hard-top tonneau cover.

We also note that this cover is a little harder to open compared to other soft tonneau covers. The tensioners improve durability by preventing sagging but also make the cover harder to release.

When rolling and unrolling the TruXport, it is possible to misalign it along the track. There is some play on each side, and if you accidentally unfurl at the wrong angle, the cover will rest unevenly. This does not make the TruXport hard to use, but opening and closing the cover takes more time and care compared to folding options.

What Customers Are Saying

RealTruck review score: 4.8 out of 5.0 (over 4,000 reviews)

Online reviewers like the TruXport in part because of the excellent fit. (TruXport covers offer vehicle-specific fits.) This makes installation and operation easier, as the cover doesn’t shift once installed.

A few reviewers complain about the TruXport’s ease of use. Namely, it can be difficult to unroll the TruXport without the material bunching.

Other Soft Tonneau Covers To Consider

The following soft tonneau covers we have yet to test. We will update this article as we test more covers in the future. If you need more options for tonneaus, the following are well-reviewed by customers:

Extang Trifecta Signature 2.0

The Extang Trifecta Signature 2.0 stands out for its use of canvas rather than marine-grade vinyl. This material is a bit more durable than vinyl, though it absorbs more water. Some customer reviews complain about water incursion, but most say the Extang is an effective waterproof cover.

The folding design incorporates aluminum support bars and spring-loaded lock clamps. The triple-fin perimeter seals should effectively keep out water.

Most reviewers say the Trifecta fits well and comment on its extreme durability. Several mention owning this cover for over seven years without a tear or issue. A few people also note that the quick-release latch allows for seamless and easy operation.

There are a couple of recurring complaints. The first is that this cover can flap loudly on the highway at speeds over 60 miles per hour. Another is that rainwater can pool on the truck bed cover.

TruXedo Lo Pro

The TruXedo Lo Pro is similar to the TruXport. It has a self-adjusting tensioner, has a trigger latch release, and is made with marine-grade vinyl. This tonneau cover differs from the TruXport because of its low-profile design, which is nearly flush with the bed rails.

Another difference between the Lo Pro and the TruXport is that the Lo Pro has a longer warranty (limited lifetime). Among its over 900 reviews, we found few complaints about water incursion and reports of excellent longevity.

Reviews of the TruXedo Lo Pro describe a tonneau cover with a sleek design that is easy to install. Many report years of effective use with the tonneau cover, and there are fewer complaints about water incursion than we notice among most soft tonneau cover reviews.

As with many soft covers, however, there are some comments about the tailgate seal. On some trucks, the seal can push inward when the tailgate is closed according to reviewers. There is a solution: using a small tool to pry the seal back out. But this could be annoying to do every time you close the tailgate.


Best Soft Tonneau Cover: Bottom Line

Based on our in-person testing, we recommend the following as some of the best soft tonneau covers on the market in 2024:

  1. Best Soft Tonneau Cover: Gator SFX Tri-Fold
  2. Also Consider: TruXedo TruXport

We also think the following tonneau covers are worth a look based on online reviews, though we have yet to test these covers ourselves:

  1. Extang Trifecta Signature 2.0
  2. TruXedo Lo Pro

Soft Tonneau Covers: FAQ

Are soft tonneau covers worth it?

A soft tonneau cover may not offer much security from thieves but can keep items protected from the elements. Some of the best soft tonneau covers will also keep your truck bed try. This type of tonneau cover can be found for less than $600.

What are the disadvantages of a soft tonneau cover?

Compared to a hard tonneau cover, a soft tonneau cover is not as durable. Soft tonneau covers also don’t provide as much security, as they can be more easily destroyed by a thief.

Will a car wash damage a soft tonneau cover?

A typical car wash is not likely to damage a soft tonneau cover. However, you should check with the owners of your car wash beforehand to be certain. Tonneau covers are designed to be water-resistant. However, not all soft tonneau covers are completely watertight, especially against the pressurized water sprays of a car wash.

How much should you spend on a soft tonneau cover?

Expect to spend between about $250 and $600 on a soft tonneau cover, though many top-selling covers cost around $400 or less.


Full Soft 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-inch 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, instructions included with the kits 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.

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