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Published Nov. 10, 2021

If you’re a truck owner, chances are that you appreciate the practicality and utilitarianism that it provides. Being able to carry a lot of gear and easily access it is one of the main selling points of owning a truck. The rub is that with an open truck bed, any gear and equipment you may be carrying gets exposed to the elements, causing things to get wet, dirty, or rusted. If this is a problem you face often, investing in a rugged tonneau cover can be a great idea. 

With so many different styles and types to choose from, selecting the best one to meet your needs can be a challenge. To make it easier on you, we’ve compiled a list of our top picks as well as a knowledgeable buying guide.

Best Tonneau Covers Reviews & Recommendations

We like the simple design and clean look that the Truxedo TruXport Roll-up Truck Bed Cover provides. This model is engineered with a durable 1.5-inch metal frame and a heavy-duty leather-embossed waterproof vinyl that will give you years of reliable use. It will keep all your cargo dry in a wide variety of harsh weather conditions thanks to its pre-set tarp tension that keeps the cover tight, even under several inches of snow. The one we linked to above is for Ram, but these are available for a wide variety of truck makes and models.

The Truxedo TruXport also installs relatively quickly and easily, without the need for drilling or painful modifications to your truck. You just clamp the rails onto your truck bed, affix the cover, unroll it, and go. The whole process usually takes less than 30 minutes. Another great selling point of this tough tonneau cover is that it’s backed by a five-year warranty for added protection and peace of mind. One thing to note is that on initial installation, the cover is quite tight and tough to make fit properly. It does relax after a few days and become more manageable, though.

Specs
  • Brand: Truxedo
  • Model: 245901
  • Weight: 24.4 pounds
PROS

Durable and long-lasting

Easy to install

Backed by a five-year warranty

CONS

Make and model specific, not a universal fit

Can be tight at first

Installation instructions could be easier to understand

The Gator Soft Tri-Fold Tonneau Truck Bed Cover is a budget-friendly bargain. It’s a soft-fold cover that’s able to be installed in under 10 minutes, without the need for any special tools or modifications to your truck. As with other tonneau covers, this one features rails that quickly and securely clamp to your truck bed, creating a solid framework for the cover to be stretched taut. The frame and cross-bows are constructed from heavy-duty, but lightweight and rust-resistant aluminum. The cover itself is made from tough waterproof vinyl. These can also be had for a variety of truck models.

This straightforward and easy-to-operate tonneau cover is made in the USA, so you’re supporting an American business with your purchase. This model features extra-strength seals that are designed to provide confident protection from unwanted leaks as well as keeping out dust, debris, and snow. This cover is able to be driven in the 2/3 open position for the times you have larger loads to transport. As an added bonus, this cover comes backed by a lifetime, hassle-free warranty on the frame and a generous 10-year warranty on the tarp. One drawback is that for longer truck beds, there could be more clamps supplied in order to create a more snug and secure fit for the rails.

Specs
  • Brand: Gator
  • Model: Gator Soft Tri-Fold Tonneau Cover
  • Weight: 27 pounds
PROS

Can be driven in the 2/3 open position

Backed by a lifetime warranty on the frame and a 10-year warranty on the clamps

Affordable

CONS

Model-specific, not universal fit

Need more clamps for longer truck beds

May need to remove your truck’s bedliner seal to properly install

The Bak BakFlip MX4 Hard Folding Truck Bed Tonneau Cover is a heavy-duty folding hardtop truck bed cover that’s designed to fit a variety of truck models. It features four durable but lightweight and corrosion-resistant aluminum panels that automatically latch as the cover becomes partially or fully closed. This offers an increased level of security over regular rolling or folding vinyl covers. The matte finish is a subtle, but classy look that goes well with virtually any truck style or color.

The finish is also designed to protect against UV damage, scratches, scuffs, or other marks. It also boasts heavy-duty hardware and perimeter seals to keep out moisture and debris. This cover can be operated closed, open, or flipped up, all without obscuring your third brake light. It’s also rated to support up to 400 pounds of evenly distributed weight, so snowy climates are not a problem with this option. It’s backed by a five-year warranty, which isn’t the best in the business but still covers a lot of needs. Be prepared, though, because this premium tonneau cover comes with a premium price tag to boot.

Specs
  • Brand: Bak
  • Model: ‎ 448130
  • Weight: 77 pounds
PROS

Four lightweight, durable, hard aluminum panels

Extra-strong aluminum side rails and rugged perimeter seals

Five-year warranty

CONS

More expensive than other options

Can be more difficult to install than vinyl covers

Heavier than vinyl covers

For a great tri-folding choice that also comes with a great price tag, check out the Tyger Auto Tri-Fold Soft Tonneau Cover. This is a U,S,-designed and patented cover that is constructed from dual-coated, heavy-duty 24-ounce marine-grade vinyl. It also features aircraft-grade aluminum frames and stainless steel clamps that are all lightweight and rust-resistant. For the price, it’s hard to beat the durability of this well-made truck bed cover.

Horizontal crossbars come preassembled to allow for easy, no-drilling installation. All instructions and necessary mounting hardware are included. Be warned though, that if you have a bed liner already installed, you will need to cut small holes in it to be able to properly secure the clamps if your liner goes over the rail. This model is also backed by a limited lifetime warranty, making it an even better bang for your buck.

Specs
  • Brand: Tyger Auto
  • Model: TG-BC3D1015
  • Weight: 29.8 pounds
PROS

User-friendly design and operation

Affordable price point

Limited lifetime warranty

CONS

Latching system is not as heavy-duty as some other models

Stitching on the seams could be stronger

If you have an over-the-rail bed liner, you’ll need to cut holes in it to install this item

If you want a top-of-the-line, no-sacrifices tonneau cover, the RetraxPRO XR Retractable Truck Bed Tonneau Cover will be right up your alley. This is a seriously built retractable cover that’s constructed from rust-resistant aluminum panels capable of supporting up to 500 pounds of evenly distributed weight. This essentially can double your truck bed cargo capacity if you need it to.

It has the Trax Rail System that’s compatible with almost any T-slot accessory and features overlander capabilities. This is a sleek, tough-looking cover that will provide impressive protection from some of the harshest elements you can throw at it. It’s made in the USA and is backed by an impressive lifetime guarantee. As an added bonus, this model can be locked in place anywhere along the truck bed by latch or by key. The major drawback to this unit is its steep price tag. It’s far and away the priciest tonneau cover on our list. Weighing in at 90 pounds, it’s also the heaviest.

Specs
  • Brand: Retrax
  • Model: ‎ T80373
  • Weight: 90 pounds
PROS

Ultra-rugged retractable cover

Can support up to 500 pounds

Able to be locked anywhere along the truck bed for added versatility

CONS

Can be more difficult to install than some other models

Very pricey

Heavier than most other options on the market

How We Selected The Products 

There were dozens of different options for high-quality tonneau covers to choose from. In order to narrow down and select only the best options, we first chose products that came from reputable manufacturers. We looked for companies with a solid history of delivering dependable products backed by impressive customer service. We wanted to offer a diverse selection of tonneau covers to suit different needs and makes and models of trucks. For pricing strategy, we also wanted to offer a wide range to suit any budget, from being extremely price-conscious to the upper end of the spectrum.

Our product selections, rankings, and awards for this story are based on research. While we haven’t conducted real-world testing on all of these products yet, we’ve looked at consumer testimonials and data, tutorials, and general discussions on social media and in forums. We also consider price and specification in the context of the segment. And, of course, we rely on our institutional knowledge of the automotive landscape to weed out weak products.

Buying Guide/What to Look For 

There are several key factors to pay attention to when selecting the best tonneau cover. With different types of retractability, different construction materials, and different weights, it can be tough to figure out which one will suit your needs best. 

Purpose

What are you looking to protect with your tonneau cover, and from what? Weather? Other humans? All of the above? If that’s the case, choose covers that are very difficult to tamper with and offer excellent weather protection. If you’re also concerned about appearance and style, you may want to look at a hardtop cover over a vinyl one. 

Compatibility

Make sure prior to purchase that the tonneau cover you’re considering is compatible with the make and model of your truck. Your truck also typically comes with a bed liner, whether it’s the carpet or mat type of installation or even painted ones. The point is that you need to make sure your cover is compatible with your bed liner or at least allows full and easy installation without making any changes to your existing bed liner setup. The same is true with other vehicle accessories like tie-down rings, utility track systems, truck racks, bed extenders, and many more. You’d want your tonneau cover to work well with these systems.

Ease of Installation

Some of the best tonneau covers can be installed in under 10 to 20 minutes while others will require some degree of prep work and additional help or assistance. Some can be easily clamped onto existing bed rails while others require drilling holes. Depending on how much work you’re committed to putting into the installation of a tonneau cover, you might as well get something that’s easier for you to install on your own.

Ease of Maintenance

These are extensions of your vehicle so proper care should always be observed. Most bed truck covers can be easily cleaned with an appropriate cleaner while others may require some more extensive work. Double-check the manufacturer’s recommendations prior to purchase to make sure you’re not getting a high-maintenance product when what you really want is a low-maintenance one.

Tonneau Cover Types

While it is easy to say that you should choose one that is highly specific to your vehicle type, make, and model, a more important question is related to the type of truck bed cover that you should be buying. Here are some of the most common types of tonneau covers.

Rollup Covers

As the name implies, the tonneau cover can be rolled up and down the entire length of the truck bed to provide ample coverage from the bulkhead straight to the tailgate. These can come in the form of both soft and hard rollup tonneau covers with the main difference being the material used. Soft rollups are usually made of tear-resistant vinyl, although it is not unusual for some brands to go with other types of fabrics. Hard rollups are like your window blinds that are made up of overlapping aluminum slats. Because of their design, these slats can be effectively rolled up and down the truck bed.

Retractable covers

These are perfect for protecting your gear from heavy snowfall as the design provides exceptionally rigid coverage of the truck bed. It is similar to rollups except that the cover moves along a predetermined line, parallel to the truck bed railing. That’s why they call it a retractable tonneau cover. A canister containing the cover is mounted at the bulkhead well below the level of the bed railing. When the cover is pulled or retracted, a mechanism inside the canister spins to roll out the cover along the grooves on the railing. Some products come with fully automatic retracting mechanisms.

Folding Covers

Folding tonneau covers typically come as a trifold system. They can be either made of soft or hard material. Aluminum frames are used to reinforce the individual folding panels of soft covers which are usually made of vinyl. Hard folding tonneau covers usually rely on aluminum panels, although we’ve seen some made of fiberglass. These are also covered with vinyl to help protect the metal from the elements.

Single-Piece Hinged Covers

This type of tonneau cover is the most sought-after when it comes to ultimate protection for your truck bed, as there are no folds or seams where moisture and dirt or any other particle can gain entry. These are made of either soft or hard materials that are engineered as a single solid piece. Imagine your vehicle’s hood and this is what a single-piece hinged tonneau cover will look like, except that it will be covering your truck bed and not your engine bay.

Tonneau Cover Tips and Tricks

To help you use your tonneau cover properly, here’s a selection of what we’ve learned along the way in our own travels.

  • Avoid using silicone-based cleaning chemicals like Armor All, as these can actually deteriorate some of the adhesives on your tonneau cover
  • Try to avoid leaving heavy gear on your cover, especially if you have a soft vinyl one, as these can stretch the cover over time
  • Periodically check that your mounting hardware is securely attached and in good condition to ensure proper smooth function of your cover
  • Regularly assess the tonneau cover itself for signs of wear and tear or damage, especially around seams and at the ends

FAQs

Q: How can I install tonneau covers on my truck?

Most tonneau covers install quickly and easily without the need for modifications. It usually involves affixing the support rail to your truck bed, clamping it down, then rolling or unfolding the cover over the rails and securing it at certain anchor points. Most installations can be done in under 30 minutes.

Q: How should I clean my tonneau cover?

Always follow the manufacturer’s directions. They’ll recommend the gentlest cleaning solutions and cleaning methods to ensure your tonneau cover has a long lifespan. If you don’t have directions, just use a mild soap and warm water to clean off your cover. Try doing it in the shade to avoid streaks caused by the sunlight.

Q: How much cargo security will my tonneau cover provide?

The level of security afforded by tonneau covers is dependent on the material used in its construction as well as its locking mechanisms. Vinyl or fabric materials can be punctured or slashed with a sharp object. Hardtops and retractable tonneau cover units, on the other hand, make it a bit tougher to crack. Some even have integrated lock systems at the tailgate to improve security. Regardless, simply covering the contents of your truck bed should reduce the risk of theft.

Q: Can I use accessories like bike racks and crossbars with my cover?

This depends on your tonneau cover and the model of truck you’re driving. Some covers actually work with specific vehicle accessories. Sadly, if your truck or your tonneau don’t offer such versatility, there’s really no way you can use such accessories. While some may actually resort to modifying their covers to fit vehicle accessories, this is not really recommended unless you don’t mind voiding your warranty.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for a great all-around tonneau cover, in terms of durability, reliability, appearance, and price, our top pick is the Truxedo TruXport Roll-up Truck Bed Cover 245901. This model is engineered with a durable 1.5-inch metal frame and a heavy-duty leather-embossed waterproof vinyl that should give you years of reliable use.

For a more budget-friendly option that doesn’t sacrifice quality for price, check out the Gator Soft Tri-Fold Tonneau Truck Bed Cover. This soft cover installs in minutes and provides a good level of protection.

Do you have a tonneau cover that you can’t live without, but didn’t make our list? Let us know about it in the comments.

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