Whether you are a longtime truck driver or brand new owner, it is important to have a quality truck tonneau cover, particularly if you haul a lot of cargo on a regular basis. But, with so many different types of tonneau covers out there, picking the right one for you can be a challenge.
So, to give you an idea of what it is you should be looking for, we will look at several of the different types of tonneau covers as well as some of the best covers on the market.
What Is a Tonneau Cover?
Before getting into the different types of tonneau covers, let’s get into the purposes and benefits of them.
Simply put, a tonneau cover goes over a truck bed, keeping the cargo in the bed safe and secure. You can use a tonneau for a variety of different purposes. For one, you can use one if you need to transport a lot of equipment or materials with your truck. If you are going on a long road trip, a tonneau cover is also a helpful storage accessory. Additionally, it can adequately shelter anything you are transporting from harsh weather elements, such as rain, sleet, or snow.
Some tonneaus come equipped with a locking mechanism, which is perfect for protecting your most precious cargo. Tonneau covers are also just perfect ways for your truck bed to have a more sleek and stylish look.
Did you know that a tonneau cover can also save you on gas mileage? That’s right. When your truck bed is open, this creates tailgate drag, which is not all that great for your mileage. An installed and covered tonneau actually provides your truck with better aerodynamics and reduced tailgate drag, which can increase your gas mileage efficiency and lead to up to 10% in savings. Pretty great, right?
All told, tonneau covers serve a number of purposes. But which cover is ultimately the best for you? More on that coming up.
The Different Types of Tonneau Covers
Next, we will delve right into some of the different types of tonneau covers as well as some of the specific models on the market.
- Soft and Hard Folding Covers
Folding covers are particularly popular because they are so easy to use and provide quick access to the truck bed, which is ideal for drivers who haul larger cargo. There are a number of different styles of folding tonneau covers, from bi-fold to tri-fold to ones that are made out of fabric to ones made out of metal. But they can generally be separated into two categories: hard and soft folding covers.
Soft folding covers permit easy cover removal and truck bed access, while hard folding covers have an additional security element when equipped with a locking tailgate.
Soft Folding Cover Example: The Extang Trifecta is a tri-fold tonneau cover that is lightweight and also has an extremely strong frame.
Hard Folding Cover Example: Made out of thermoplastic skin, the Extang Solid Fold is one of the most weather resistant hard folding covers you can get. Its lightweight hinges and panels make opening and closing simpler, and the hinge caps and polymer rubber corners add to the cover’s sleek design.
- Roll-up Covers
While folding covers fold up into your truck bed, roll-up covers conveniently, as the name suggests, roll up, providing easy access to your truck bed. With easy-to-install frames, these types of covers can come with both hard and soft tops and provide great protection.
Roll-up Example: With an Access tonneau cover, which has a surface that is covered in vinyl on both sides, you can reattach the cover in extreme cold thanks to a rear rail tensioning system. If you add a tailgate lock, the rear rail can lock into the framework on the sides, offering an added level of security.
- Retractable Covers
You know you are getting a sleek and luxurious design with “retractable” in the name. From aluminum to polycarbonate to vinyl, the number of different materials these covers can come in ensures that they can protect your cargo in any condition. They also come with lockable closing and opening points to securely store any additional larger items. Another plus is that these covers can be secured while they are half-way open.
Retractable Cover Example: The Retrax Retractable Cover has an incredibly solid polycarbonate construction and is perfect for fifth wheel towing.
- Hinged Covers
The most expensive of the bunch, hinge covers open thanks to advanced shock technology, provide the most durability and security, and will last just about as long as your truck does.
Hinged Cover Example: Extang offers a number of high-quality hinged covers that are perfect for any situation.
What Style of Tonneau Cover Is Right For You?
Before determining what sort of tonneau cover you should get for your truck, it is important to ask yourself a few questions first. Is quick and easy access to your truck bed a must? How much equipment are you hauling every day? Is your truck constantly exposed to extreme weather conditions? Do you often park in areas where car theft is an issue?
These are all things you need to keep in mind to make sure that you are getting the right tonneau cover for you.