Cover type, material, and warranty length aren’t the only things to consider when selecting a truck bed tonneau cover. The sections below provide further detail on the difference between the different tonneau cover styles and materials.
How To Choose A Tonneau Cover
The truck bed cover that’s best for you ultimately depends on your needs. Are you simply looking for the cheapest way to protect your truck bed’s contents? Or are you looking for complete weather protection? Simple questions like these will help you determine the tonneau cover that is best for you.
Below are the key steps to follow in order to find the best Tonneau cover to suit your needs:
- Consider basic functionality: Whether you have a truck tool box mounted or need to regularly open your truck bed are two things to consider in terms of your truck bed cover’s functionality.
- Figure out which type of tonneau cover is best for you: Figuring out the way you’d like your truck bed cover to open is one of the best ways to figure out which style of tonneau cover is best for you.
- Make sure the tonneau cover you select fits your truck: Take careful measurements of your truck bed’s dimensions to ensure the tonneau cover you purchase fits your truck.
- Consider the cost: Price is always an important consideration. Determine your budget before setting your heart on a premium tonneau cover.
We asked Hunter Gill, owner of aftermarket truck accessory retailer TEQ Customs about his thoughts on tonneau covers. Here’s what he had to say:
“Tonneau covers are really popular, especially for people that like to carry a lot of things around [in] their [pick-up truck’s] bed. A lot of people use their trucks for work, so [tonneau covers] are great at protecting your tools and equipment in the bed from getting wet when it rains, or if you’re in a snowy climate. [Tonneau covers] can also be used for security. It’s a lot harder [for thieves] to get something in your bed when you have that cover on there.”
What Is The Best Type Of Tonneau Cover?
Soft top or hard-folding? Rolling or tri-fold? There are a number of common truck bed tonneau cover designs and materials, each with different advantages and drawbacks. Which is best can depend on your needs and particular truck, but regardless of which one you choose, tonneau covers have many benefits.
Before we dig into the differences between tonneau covers, we want to highlight two characteristics that overlap between all types of tonneau covers: durability and accessibility.
The best tonneau covers offer security without sacrificing the functionality of a truck bed. The perfect cover opens easily, without making it too difficult to reach into other areas of the truck bed, but is also secure enough to deter theft.
Chances are that any tonneau cover you buy will take a bit of a beating from the elements, so you’ll want it to last. Common treatments for the best tonneau covers are weatherproofing to help avoid water stains and damage during storms and utilizing scratch-resistant materials.
The type of finish on your tonneau cover also affects how long it will last. If you’re going to leave your truck parked outside and in view of the sun often, make sure your cover is protected against UV rays.
Truck Bed Cover Types
Truck bed covers, otherwise known as tonneau covers, can typically be separated into two general classifications: hard and soft.
- Hard tonneau covers: Made with materials like aluminum, fiberglass, and polypropylene, the best hard tonneau covers are nearly impervious to break-ins when secured with a locked tailgate.
- Soft tonneau covers: Usually made of vinyl or cloth and are supported by a lightweight metal frame. These covers are suited for general weather protection but offer very little security.
Types Of Soft Tonneau Covers
Soft tonneau covers can also be classified into two different categories: roll-up and snap-on.
- Roll-up tonneau covers: Also called soft-folding covers, roll-up covers are made from materials such as vinyl and are secured to the bed of a truck using velcro straps or button fasteners. They are lightweight and have a low-profile design, making them ideal for basic weather protection. Some rolling covers can also be automated, in which a motor stores the cover in a canister similar to how a motorized window shade operates.
- Snap-on tonneau covers: Typically the least expensive and least durable option, snap-on covers are also usually the lightest tonneau covers available. While they’re typically easy to open and use, the contents inside your truck bed are more prone to theft with this tonneau cover installed compared to other options.
Types Of Hard Tonneau Covers
Hard tonneau covers can be distinguished from each other by how they open and close, branching out into three separate categories: retractable, one-piece, and hard-folding.
- Retractable tonneau covers: These come in a variety of materials and can be folded or rolled up for easy storage. Both styles share the same goal of creating a weatherproof truck bed that also protects against theft.
- One-piece tonneau covers: Typically plastic, sometimes fiberglass, covers that open and close like a truck lid using hydraulic struts.
- Hard-folding tonneau covers: Typically made with an aluminum frame, these covers are often more durable than soft roll-ups and offer better security. Most are quad-fold or tri-fold tonneau covers.
Read More: Best Hard Tonneau Covers
What Size Tonneau Cover Do I Need?
To figure out what size tonneau cover you’ll need for your truck, first, grab some measuring tape. Ensure your measuring tape is 8.0 to 10.0 ft. in length, as well as bring along a pen and paper to jot down measurements.
How To Measure A Tonneau Cover
To measure a tonneau cover, follow the steps listed below:
- Lower the tailgate on your truck and stand at the back end of your vehicle.
- Measure the length of your truck bed from the bulkhead wall to the gap between the truck bed and tailgate. The bulkhead wall is the wall closest to the cab.
- Divide your measurements by 12 to convert inches to feet, as that’s how tonneau covers are typically framed in size.
How Much Does A Truck Bed Cover Cost?
Most covers are sold in different sizes for different makes and models and so can vary in price ranging from $300 to over $2,000. Mitigating factors for the cost of a tonneau cover include materials, build quality, and even the style of tonneau cover you choose.
Typically, hard tonneau covers are more expensive than soft tonneau covers. Additionally, you can expect to pay more if you own a larger truck with a bigger truck bed.
Does A Tonneau Cover Increase Gas Mileage?
In short, yes, tonneau covers increase gas mileage. The way a tonneau cover increases gas mileage is by sealing off the truck bed, not permitting airflow into the truck bed. A tonneau cover optimizes a truck’s overall aerodynamics, thereby creating less drag and improving gas mileage.
If the cost of a tonneau cover worries you, consider factoring in the amount of gas you’ll save each year. However, savings will likely be minimal. Said savings also depend on the type of truck you drive, the type of tonneau cover you purchased, and overall driving habits.