Best Tonneau & Truck Bed Covers: Add Some Protection to Your Truck Bed

The best tonneau covers to protect your truck bed from the outside world.

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Best Tonneau & Truck Bed Covers: Add Some Protection to Your Truck Bed © Best Tonneau & Truck Bed Covers: Add Some Protection to Your Truck Bed

Your truck’s bed is likely one of the top reasons you bought your pickup. The expansive bed—even if it’s on the shorter size—allows you to haul just about anything and everything. But there’s one pretty significant problem with a truck’s bed. Whatever’s inside the bed is exposed to the world. Whether you’re carrying a few tools or more important items, your truck bed is vulnerable to problems like theft, unpredictable weather, and even the wear and tear that comes from driving along roads with no cover or protection. Fortunately, there’s an easy solution: a tonneau cover.

Tonneau covers offer you more protection for your truck’s bed and whatever you’re carrying inside. These covers come in an array of different styles and materials, from soft and flexible fabrics to hard metal that perfectly matches your truck’s paint job. With increased security and protection from the outdoor elements, a tonneau cover can offer a ton of value. Find the perfect fit for your truck on our list of the best tonneau covers right here.

Summary List 

Best Overall: Lund Genesis Elite Roll Up Tonneau Cover
Best Value: Tyger Auto T3 Tri-Fold Truck Bed Tonneau Cover
Honorable Mention: Pace Edwards Switchblade Tonneau Cover
Most User Friendly: Gator ETX Soft Roll Up Tonneau Cover
Best Hard Folding: BAK BAKFlip MX4 Hard Folding Tonneau Cover
Best High Profile: TruXedo TruXport Soft Roll Up Tonneau Cover
Best Value Runner-Up: MaxMate Soft Roll Up Tonneau Cover
Most Durable Soft Cover: Access Vanish Tonneau Cover
Best Retractable Cover: Retrax RetraxONE XR Tonneau Cover
Best Soft Folding: Stampede Tri-Fold Tonneau Cover

Our Methodology

We can’t put our own hands on every item available. In these instances, we put our collective experience in journalism, research, and prior product testing to use to make our product picks. Items that are used by our own staff may get earnest endorsements as well, but we’ll never accept fees or bonuses to sell you stuff we’re not actually excited about. Affiliate revenue is always disclosed. 

The Drive aggregates reviews and research from all over the internet to figure out which products are worth buying. We also put out shopping guides to help you understand how to assess the value of these things on your own.

Best Tonneau Covers Reviews & Recommendations

Our Verdict

Our top pick for the best tonneau cover is the Lund 96893 Genesis Elite Roll Up Truck Bed Tonneau Cover. With a roll-up design, it's hard to beat the convenience this cover offers. For something slightly more affordable, check out the Tyger Auto T3 Tri-Fold Truck Bed Tonneau Cover. It offers a convenient tri-fold design that does a decent job at protecting the truck bed.

What to Consider When Buying Tonneau Covers

Tonneau covers are some of the simplest upgrades to understand. They bolt on, instantly providing your truck's bed with protection from the elements and thieves. The bed is essentially a big box, so there's not a whole lot that goes into development. Still, plenty of things separates the chaff from the wheat. The following sections are here to lay the details down, so you know what to look for while you shop.

Types of Tonneau Covers

Soft 

Offering a lot in terms of flexibility and weather protection, soft tonneau covers also have the advantage of being budget-friendly in most cases. Because they are made of vinyl and other tough fabrics, most of these covers roll or fold. The fabric does cover cracks and small openings better than the alternative, and this helps to create a weather-proof seal. The drawback is that they don't offer much in terms of security. This can easily cut through the exterior layers to access your bed.

Hard

When it comes to the ultimate protection a cover can offer, hard tonneau options are hard to beat. These rely on metallic or composite aluminum that take some effort to break through. Hard covers also come in the widest variety. Folding, retracting, rolling, and lift-off are all available. Unfortunately, the extra security comes with a higher price tag, more weight, and more challenging installation in most cases.

Rolling

Rolling covers are often the simplest, most cost-effective solution. As the name implies, the cover rolls up out of the way to allow access to the bed. These are typically made of a soft vinyl or fabric material that's stretched over a metal frame to cover the bed. However, some are made with a series of interlocking panels made from aluminum or composite that are designed to roll like a traditional cover. Obviously, the latter does draw in a higher price.

Folding

As opposed to rolling covers, folding covers rely on multiple large panels that fold over each other to expose the bed. These are generally easier to operate and are a favorite for those who prefer as little hassle as possible. The main drawback is that these covers often don't expose the entire bed. However, there are plenty of models that flip against the back of the cabin to provide access to the entire bed.

Retractable

Retractable tonneau covers are different from folding covers. Typically made out of thin, flexible, and soft materials, retractable tonneau covers feature an automated (or electric) mechanism that pulls the cover open and rolls it out of your way as needed. These covers are incredibly convenient, as they make getting your cover off your truck’s bed simple and quick, and they allow you to have versatility in how much or how little of the cover you’d like to use.

Key Features 

Material Treatment

Beyond the choice of a soft or hardcover, the specific type of material the cover uses is important when determining its overall durability and longevity. hardcovers typically use materials like aluminum and fiberglass for their rigidity. Soft materials like vinyl are more common when a high level of flexibility is required. Regardless of the material type, the exterior side should also be treated to resist the elements like UV rays, rain, snow, and small impacts/scratches.

Retracting Mechanism

Unless the cover has a single-piece design that lifts up on one end, it is likely to have some kind of way to retract the cover, opening up access to the truck bed. Budget-friendly covers, soft and hard, often have a folding frame with separate panels. More expensive options typically use some kind of rolling mechanism, with a soft fabric or metal segments, or individual panels that simply slide into some guiding rails.

Easy Bed Access

You don’t have to give up the free, constant access to your truck bed if you choose one of the best tonneau covers. However, in order to achieve this, you’ll want to make sure you choose a cover that offers you easy bed access. Folding or retractable covers are the most accessible, as you can get inside some or all of the bed in just a few seconds. Hard covers can be a bit trickier, as these often have to be lifted in order to get inside. Look for a tonneau cover that you can easily move or open at just a moment’s notice.

Security Lock

A tonneau cover needs to remain in place in order to offer the most protection possible. If someone can simply come up and remove it, it isn't much of a protective barrier. For enhanced security, some covers either have a dedicated lock or a design that keeps it in place when the tailgate is up. Both options offer a basic amount of protection, but dedicated locks often allow you to open the cover without messing with the tailgate. On the other hand, tailgates are more difficult to break open and tend to tie into the truck's security system.

Weather Sealing

One area that some covers excel in is weather protection. This means keeping the outside elements like water out of the truck bed. Beyond the cover itself, the cover should seal the corners and sides where water can get into the small cracks and spaces. Some covers do this by sitting above the bed rails, while others use weather stripping to seal in the cracks. A few high-end covers even have drainage systems that attempt to direct water away from the bed.

Tonneau Cover Pricing

If you're looking for a budget-friendly tonneau cover, there are plenty of soft covers, both folding and roll-up, that list for anywhere from $180-$300. Moving up to the $300-$500 range will usually bring in hard folding and premium soft covers. That said, plenty of premium offerings can list for well over the $1,000 mark, meaning there really isn't a cap on how much you can expect to pay when going all-out.

FAQ

You've got questions. The Drive has answers.

Q: Will a tonneau cover keep people from stealing stuff in the bed?

Hard covers offer a good amount of protection if they come with some kind of lock. No cover, however, is completely theft-proof.

Q: How does a tonneau cover stay on the truck?

Most covers use clamps that latch onto the side of the bed rails. Some clamps are attached to the cover, while others are separate.

Q: Can I carry things on top of the cover?

In most cases, no. Some hardcovers are designed to carry a good amount of weight on top, but most can't support heavy items without compromising the structural integrity.

Q: Is a soft or hard tonneau cover better?

This depends on your preferences and needs. For some truck owners, a soft cover is the best choice, especially if you want an easy-to-remove cover that doesn’t need permanent installation on your vehicle. However, a hard cover offers more durability and increased security, which makes a hard tonneau a better choice for others.

Q: Do tonneau covers keep water out?

Many tonneau covers are able to block out water — but you’ll want to make sure you search for covers that are waterproof, not water-resistant, in order to keep your truck bed dry. Hard covers tend to offer the best waterproofing, as these covers are custom-fitted and completely close up your pickup’s bed off from the outdoor elements.

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