Simple installation. Looks good. Three size options available to fit your truck bed. Allows you to fold back partially if you need to carry tall loads. Good design.
Don't expect a completely waterproof seal from this truck bed cover; it may have a tends to leak over time.
Nice frame under a soft vinyl cover. The ease of a fold-up truck bed cover at the lower cost of a soft-bed cover. Comes in several sizes. Tie-downs help keep the cover from flapping when folded up.
The clamping mechanism on this can be tricky to get to work right.
A hard cover that rolls rather than folds. Can secure to the front of the cab with straps. Comes in three sizes. Vinyl over aluminum gives you a smooth look on top. Installation is fairly easy. Keeps water out on the sides.
Tends to leak a bit at the tailgate.
Good-quality soft cover for the money. Folds easily in three sections with horizontal crossbars. Cover is made from 24-ounce marine-grade vinyl. Includes stainless steel clamps. Installs easily.
This is a universal top, so there may be some overlap or spacing issues depending on your vehicle.
Folds to the front of the truck bed. Fiberglass and aluminum construction. UV resistant. Very durable. Looks good. Does a good job of keeping your items dry.
Some of the clips are made from plastic and could be made with more durable material.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
A truck is a handy vehicle to have if you frequently carry items that don’t easily fit in a car. Unfortunately, a truck with an open bed is pretty much like driving around with your trunk wide open. All the time. If this is the situation you’re in, you need a truck bed cover.
Truck bed covers provide a couple of benefits: they keep any cargo that you have in your truck bed out of site (and off the radar of potential thieves), and they keep said cargo dry and secure. Also known as tonneau covers, truck bed covers are available in a variety of brands, styles, and materials. They are less expensive and bulky than truck caps or shells and easier to move on and off your truck for those times when you need a cover-free bed.
This guide will help you to navigate some of the features, styles, and other considerations that you need to think about before settling on a truck bed cover. We also dive into some of the pricing considerations and share some of our recommendations on which cover to buy.
Covers are considered to be “soft” or “hard,” depending on the material. They’re also available in a variety of types that can differ from each other considerably. Some of the more popular types include the following:
Roll-up: These covers include a soft material that stretches over a frame, which is then clamped to the truck bed. To access the bed, you roll the cover open; to secure the bed, you roll the cover closed. The cover is usually secured by some form of snap or hook-and-loop fastener. Most soft covers are equipped with tension-control adjusters that you can use to keep the cover material taut. This will improve its appearance and aerodynamics.
Folding: Available in both soft and hard versions, folding covers offer a quick and easy way to access the bed. Most folding covers are made of three or four panels. To open the cover, you simply fold the panels together. Some of these covers fit on top of the bed, while others fit flush. (Low-profile truck bed covers sit flush – or close to flush – with the top of the truck bed, giving your truck a clean appearance.)
Retractable: These covers are usually made up of a number of panels or slats that glide along a track to open and close. They’re available in several materials ranging from vinyl to aluminum. These covers operate in a similar way to folding covers, but they provide you with access to more of your bed when the cover is fully opened. Like folding covers, these are available in either sit-on-top or flush versions.
Hinged: These soft or hard covers open like a door and usually have some form of support rod to keep them propped open. The hinged section usually gives you access to half or three-quarters of the bed when it’s open.
Truck covers can be either hard or soft, and constructed from a wide range of materials, including canvas, vinyl, aluminum, and fiberglass. Whichever type of cover you buy, it should be durable, and the material itself should be water resistant.
Truck bed covers are considerably lighter than truck caps or shells, and as such are generally easier for one person to install. When shopping for a cover, verify that it also ships with all the hardware needed for installation. Most covers attach using some form of clamping system that secures the cover to the bed. Some may require a minimal amount of drilling, particularly if you have a truck bed liner. Installation time and specifics vary by brand and cover type, but most of them should install easily in less than an hour. Be sure to read the included manual carefully to know what’s involved, what tools you’ll need, and whether you’ll need help.
Most truck bed covers are available in a variety of sizes to fit a wide range of trucks. So long as you carefully measure your truck bed and match it with the correct size cover, you should receive a cover that fits. Some covers are constructed with specific makes, models, or years of truck in mind, so be aware of this when you’re comparing covers.
Truck bed covers offer differing degrees of security, but they all have the benefit of covering what is in your truck and keeping it from prying eyes. If you want a bit more in the way of security, you’ll need to shop accordingly.
Simple snap covers like soft roll-ups offer the least amount of security. With these, you’re basically buying the simple out-of-sight security already mentioned. The next step up would be something like a soft folding cover, although you’d probably need a locking tailgate to realize adequate protection here.
Hard covers like hard folding or retractable covers that lock offer an even more secure solution, particularly if coupled with a locking tailgate. The securest covers are one-piece solid-impact covers, which can extend over the end of the tailgate to keep the whole bed as secure as the cab.
While not as expensive as a truck cap or shell (which can run $2,000 or more), a truck bed cover can still set you back a bit. Soft covers tend to be less expensive than hard covers. You can find a simple cover for under $100.
Pay more and you will find better quality and more advanced features like increased security. Most high-quality covers run into the hundreds of dollars. Several of the ones we recommend are priced in the $800 to $900 range.
Lubricate the rails of a roll-up cover periodically. This helps make sure that the cover can roll open and closed easily.
Check all clamps or other hardware for fastening the cover to your truck. Do this periodically to verify that they’re secure.
Check the owner’s manual before placing any weight on the cover. Most tonneau covers aren’t constructed to be weight bearing.
Apply a UV protectant to a vinyl cover. Do this occasionally to protect the cover from sun damage.
Consider a truck bed cover with a built-in rack system. You can use it to carry items like kayaks or ladders.
Choose hook-and-loop fasteners for a soft cover if you live in a cold climate. Cold soft covers have little give, and trying to stretch it taut and secure snaps can be difficult in the winter.
Given the wide variety of truck bed covers available, we weren’t able to include all of our favorites in the matrix. Several more that we like include the Tyger Auto T3 Tri-Fold Truck Bed Cover. This best-selling option is rugged, easy to install, and offers a lifetime warranty. The Extang Trifecta Toolbox 2.0 Soft Truck Bed Cover is a great soft option if you already have an existing 18- to 20-inch tool box in your truck. And the UnderCover Flex Hard Folding Truck Bed Cover is a hard cover option that stands out for its sleek appearance and ultra-low profile.
Q. Will my truck be more fuel efficient with a bed cover?
A. That depends largely on who you ask. Some studies (usually touted by those selling covers) suggest that it will. Others say that a cover will actually make your truck less fuel efficient. Our take on it is that yes, it will help to cut down on drag, but not in any significant way. Any change in fuel efficiency will be negligible.
Q. Is one type of cover more waterproof than others?
A. Based on the materials they’re made of, all truck bed covers are waterproof to some extent. It’s the areas around the edge of the cover – where it attaches to the bed – where waterproofing starts to fail. The design of retractable covers provides them with the best waterproofing capabilities, while snap-based roll-up covers are the least waterproof.
Q. Will I have problems installing a truck bed cover over my bed liner?
A. The majority of covers clamp on, so it really depends on what kind of bed liner you have. Under-the-rail liners generally don’t interfere with where the cover clamps go, so you shouldn’t have a problem with these (one exception may be retractable covers in the bulkhead area).
Over-the-rail liners may present you with some installation challenges, however. Because these may cover over some clamping areas, you might need to do some drilling or cutting to securely attach the cover to the bed with this type of liner.