If you are a truck owner, you probably know the importance of a good tonneau cover for your truck bed. While the right type of tonneau cover can enhance the longevity of your truck bed, the wrong one can make your life hell. Thus, to make your life easier, in this article we will give you not only thorough information on some of the best types of tonneau covers available in the global market right now but so much more. So, let’s begin.
Most Popular Types of Tonneau Covers-
1) Retractable Tonneau Covers-
Retractable tonneau covers are flexible covers that follow the same mechanism as a sliding door. They are pulled outwards from a canister that is positioned at the bulkhead of the cab to cover your truck bed. You can push them inwards into the same canister to open the cover. Their working mechanism is like a flush door.
They are available in both the hard and soft categories. They are also extremely user-friendly. You can easily operate them manually or via automatic remote control. That’s why they are the most popular types of tonneau covers.
They are available in different materials like vinyl, aluminum & polycarbonate. These highly durable materials make them impenetrable enough to endure the heavyweight. The soft retractable covers are less weather-resistant than hardcovers. Also, whether you want to open or lock them partially or fully would be up to you.
- Made up of Highly Durable Materials
- Also comes with an remote operating variant
- Can Endure Heavyweight
- Has Good Waterproof Characteristics
- Installation is somewhat complex
2) Soft Folding Tonneau Covers –
Soft folding covers are those covers that provide a simplistic look to your truck bed. They are affordable and easy to manage. The heavy-duty vinyl material used in the covers makes them lighter in weight. That is why they are easier to install and remove.
You can get full or half bed access with both tri-fold or quad-fold panels. Also, they usually sit an inch or two above the truck bed rails giving adequate protection to your truck bed against water. But because they are made up of soft material, they deliver limited security and are easily prone to dents and scratches.
- Affordable to purchase
- Easy to install
- Light weight
- Can be installed and removed by one person
- Not so secure as compared to other tonneau covers
- Prone to dents and scratches
3) Hard Folding Tonneau Covers-
As the name suggests, Hard folding tonneau covers are robust quality covers with remarkable durability. They have a lot of similarities with soft folding covers like they both can guard your cargo against prying eyes, but they offer a better locking security system than them. They are built with heavy-duty aluminum and fiberglass material. Thus, they are more rigid than soft-folding tonneau covers.
They can hold more weight than any other tonneau cover. They also provide efficient water and UV protection to your truck bed. They are accessible in a three or four-panel system. You can easily fold them partially or fully depending upon your usage. You can also remove them in case you want to. Most of them offer a flush fit to the truck.
- Can endure heavyweight due to aluminum and fiberglass materials used
- Offer a better locking security system
- Can hold more weight than any other tonneau cover
- Fair level of Water and UV protection
- Usually expensive
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4) Roll-up or Rolling tonneau covers-
Roll-up covers are like retractable covers in design and mechanism. You can roll them up to the front of the cab easily with just one hand. They are also divided into both soft and hard tonneau covers. The hardcovers provide more durability and security than the soft ones.
Despite this, hardcovers can be a bit difficult to fold all the way to the bulkhead because of their solid material. Also, though these covers provide a rear rail safety system, yet they would operate better with a tailgate locking mechanism. Different materials are used in different rolling covers like aluminum and heavy-duty vinyl. With both hard & soft covers you can achieve full bed access.
- Comes with two variety, soft and hard tonneau covers
- Easy to insall soft tonneau covers
- Relatively cheaper
- Fair level of UV protection
- Difficult to insall the hard variant
- Soft variant doesn’t provide good security
What to consider when buying a tonneau cover-
1) Easy to install & use-
Most tonneau covers are easy to install but there are few things to contemplate regarding the installation process of a tonneau cover. If you are planning to install the cover all by yourself then the best type of tonneau cover for you would be any soft tonneau cover because of its lightweight. This doesn’t mean that you cannot buy hard, retractable & roll-up covers. But if you do buy any one of these, make sure you have an extra pair of hands to help you with the installation process because of its heavyweight and complex clamping system.
Now, on the one hand, retractable & rolling covers can be a bit tricky when it comes to installation, yet on the other hand, these flat covers are more convenient to use. The folding covers can be a nuisance because of their folding panels.
Security- The protection of your cargo is probably one of the reasons you are buying a tonneau cover. The covers with pull-cable release and key locks should be your best option. Thus blindly opt for hardcovers be it folding, retractable, or roll-up. They offer extra security with an efficient locking mechanism.
The hard folding covers secure in union with the locking tailgate means once the cover overlaps the tailgate, your truck is secure. And the key lock system of hard retractable & rolling covers adds upper-level security to your truck.
2) Durability –
The durability of a tonneau cover depends on whether it can withstand harsh weather or not and how much damage it can take. So, start by choosing a tonneau cover based on the weather condition where you live in. Some tonneau covers are more weather resistant than the others. Soft covers are generally less durable than hardcovers.
So, if you are living in a hot region then buy a hard folding or retractable cover because they are more UV resistant. Hard folding, rolling & retractable covers are also more scratch and tear-resistant than soft folding covers especially the ones made with fiberglass. Even the ones made of high-grade aluminum can withstand dents and cuts. Thus, they are more durable than soft folding, retractable & rolling covers.
Leak resistance – As you may or may not know, no tonneau cover is 100% waterproof. So, there will always be a chance of water leaking inside the truck no matter which tonneau cover you would buy. Having said that, some tonneau covers are more water-resistant than others. The good ones will have weatherproofing seals with the drainage system.
But it’s always smart to choose covers that sit an inch above the top rails because the water would simply slide down the rails instead of going in through a flush-fit tonneau cover. Still, hardcovers too can protect your truck against leakage because of their solid materials. Just make sure that the installation is done properly, and no gaps are left open so that you can minimize the water leakage.
Different brands use different materials for their tonneau covers. The durability of the cover would also depend on the type of material used in it. The materials vary from vinyl to aluminum to fiberglass and many more. Vinyl which is mainly used in soft covers can be easy to manage and install but won’t provide enough protection to your truck.
On the other hand, heavy-duty aluminum and fiberglass used in hardcovers not only offer maximum security but their sturdy surface can also endure accidental harm from dents and load. Thus, hardcovers are the most popular type of tonneau covers when it comes to the best material.
Best Type of Tonneau Cover-
With a detailed research, we have concluded that retractable covers, both hard and soft, are the best type of tonneau covers. They don’t just have all the outstanding traits of folding and rolling covers but also have some modern innovative features that other tonneau covers lack. For instance, you can effortlessly open and close the cover with just one hand because of its amazing sliding mechanism. You can simply move the cover back and forth out of the canister at the front of the truck bed.
Another amazing perk of a retractable tonneau cover is the handy wireless remote control with which you can open and close the truck with just one touch. In fact, you can do this even when you are driving. You will not find this feature on any other cover. Though they are similar to roll-up covers in the mechanism, yet the roll-up covers can be a bit heavier to slide than retractable covers.
Also, you can lock them at any place you like which means if you want partial bed access, you can lock them in the middle of the truck. All these features make them futuristic tonneau covers.
Most Popular Tonneau Cover- Tyger Auto T3 Soft Tri-Fold Truck
Tyger Auto T3 is one of the best soft truck bed cover tri- folding panels. It serves all the purposes of a top-quality tonneau cover at a very affordable price. The material used in the cover is double coated heavy-duty vinyl & we can assure you that it’s extremely tear-resistant. Also, the rustproof aluminum frame that protects it from harsh UV rays ensures its high durability. The pre-assembled form of the cover takes hardly 20 min to install even if you are doing it alone as it doesn’t require any drilling.
Note- You would have to cut small holes in the bed liner on the trucks with an over-the-bedrail bedliner to attach the clamps to complete the installation.
We like the fact that the cover sits on top of the truck giving it ultimate water protection. Now when it comes to security, the cover can only be opened once you open the tailgate lock. So, it gives decent theft protection, but we cannot guarantee complete safety because soft covers are more vulnerable than hardcovers. Added to this, there are a few other things that we didn’t like with this tri-fold cover.
The first thing is that you cannot leave it open while driving because there are no in-built prop rods to hold the panels that you see in hard folding covers. Another point is that you will only be able to access one-third or two-thirds of the bed. For full bed access, you have to remove the cover from the truck. But the cover comes with an exceptional limited lifetime warranty, which is a good thing.
Budget-Friendly Tonneau Cover- BAKFlip MX4 Hard Folding Truck Bed Cover
The BAKFlip Mx4 hard folding tonneau cover is one of the best in every aspect. We like the black matte finishing which gives a polished look to the truck bed. Even though the installation process doesn’t require any drilling yet it will take around 40 min to install the cover if you are doing it alone as you have to fix two to three clamps, bolts & drainage tubes on each side. The dual-action tailgate seal will allow you to open and close the cover without needing to open the tailgate.
Moreover, we like the injection-molded latch housing and the heavy-duty aluminum frame that makes the surface sturdy enough to hold 400 pounds of evenly distributed weight. The MX4 offers premium UV resistance and the in-built dual drainage system and EDMP rubber seals in the rails make them incredibly water-resistant. You can also drive around with the covers partially open once you secure the folding covers with the prop rods. Plus, you will have full bed access and three years extended warranty on the cover.
Best Material For Tonneau Cover-
Out of all the materials used in the tonneau covers, Fiberglass is on top of our list of the best material for a tonneau cover. Though aluminum tonneau covers are tough textured too fiberglass is proven to be more robust than aluminum. It is also known to give more protection against ding and dents. Added to this, fiberglass provides ample safety from leakage too.
It can even take the pressure of a heavy hailstorm. All these features make it a high-quality durable material. Also, fiberglass is relatively more immune to the damage caused by car washing.
Now that we have come to the end of the article, we hope that all the information available here would help you choose the best amongst the different types of tonneau cover. You can choose one according to your needs. We would recommend you to be aware of your truck type and size because it is not always necessary that the best available tonneau cover is best suited for your truck. So keep all the merits and demerits of each type of tonneau cover in mind before making the choice.