The best tonneau cover for you can come in many different shapes, sizes, materials, colors, weights, or even smells. There are a lot of different options out there, some much better than others. You might have a general idea of what to look for, but after reading this, you'll be a tonneau cover encyclopedia. We looked at cost, customer reviews, style, and performance test results to find the best options on the market.
Q: Where did the word "Tonneau Cover" come from?
A: It's French, for the part of a car open to the air with no seats. Go figure. Open top cars buzzing through the south coast of France should inspire great things.
What Makes A Damn Great Tonneau Cover?
The most important aspect of a tonneau cover is that it works for your needs. The rest are just details.
In all seriousness, a tonneau cover needs to protect the gear and tools you keep in the bed of your truck. Protect from what? Rain, snow, dust, and just about any other malicious act of Mother Nature.
If you've ever heard the term, out of sight out of mind, the tonneau cover embraces that fully. A thief will be much more inclined to steal something from the back of your truck if they can see what there is to choose from. If your valuable items are hidden under a truck bed cover, the likelihood of your gear getting stolen decreases substantially.
Before we get into detail about the different kinds of pickup truck bed tonneau covers to see what they offer and how they will work for you, here’s a short list of our picks.
OVERALL BEST TONNEAU COVERS IN EACH CATEGORY
- Soft Roll-up: TruXedo TruXport
- Soft Folding: Tonno Pro Tri-Fold Soft Tonneau Cover
- Hard Roll-up: BAK Revolver X2 Tonneau Cover
- Hard Folding: Diamondback HD
- Retractable: Roll-N-Lock
- Full Shell/Painted: UnderCover Elite LX
- Form and Function: DECKED
TOP TONNEAU COVER FEATURES
Your choice of tonneau cover can depend on on your lifestyle. If you just need to keep your groceries safe from light drizzle, than a cheaper, soft top tonneau might be the way to go. If you are frequently traveling with expensive gear in your truck bed, whether it be firearms, stick welder, or scuba tanks, there is no doubt you need a heavier duty truck bed cover. To keep that gear secure and organized but also maintain full bed use, the best option is a DECKED system. Designed to fit directly into your truck bed, the DECKED System comes with two drawers that can hold up to 200lbs of gear all the while mainting the 2000lb payload capacity that most trucks have from the factory. Here a few perks of a DECKED Drawer System:
- Protection: The number one reason to buy any kind of truck bed cover is to protect tools and gear from the weather, acts of God, and morons.
- Durability: If you’re going to spend the money, you want something that will last. Durability will vary greatly depending on your willingness to spend money.
- Ease of use: A tonneau that can be folded/unfolded quickly reduces the hassle you might otherwise face if you wanted to keep all your items buried in your truck's cab.
- Cost: Price points vary wildly, from a couple hundred bucks for a soft cover to over a thousand for a full shell.
- Security: Half the security of tonneau covers just comes from keeping your items out of sight. Protect your gear from jerks that steal stuff.
- Function: Is yours a work truck or a fashion accessory? We don't judge.
- Enviability: You’re proud of your ride. You want a cover that makes your truck look tough and work better, buuuut also make your friends jealous.
Things to consider before buying a tonneau cover
Size matters: Truck bed sizes differ by make and model. The Ford F150 ranges from 5-foot-6-inch to 8-foot in length. The Chevy Silverado comes in three bed lengths: 5-foot-8-inch, 6.5-foot, and 8-foot. Those stats don't even consider the different widths between makes and models of trucks. Think like a carpenter when ordering a tonneau cover, measure twice, cut once. Returning items is a pain in the a$$ and can be expensive if you have to cover return shipping.
Accessories: Many truck owners upgrade their rig with racks, bumpers, lights and much more. When considering a tonneau cover, it's important to make sure that your previous (or future) modifications don't interfere with usability of your truck bed cover.
90% OF TONNEAU COVERS HAVE SOME SERIOUS SHORTCOMINGS:
- Unless you've spent some serious money, Mother Nature will find the flaws in your tonneau
- New trucks have locking tailgates, but many older trucks don't, your tonneau won't stop thieves from opening up the back of your truck.
- Unless you like crawling into dark spaces or opening your tonneau every time you need something, gear access is not ideal.
- Very few tonneau covers can handle significant weight on top of them
- A tonneau cover is a great way to hide a truck bed mess, not organize one.
- Items will slide around uncontrolled if not tied down
That’s why we created DECKED. It’s the best option to combat all the pitfalls of your standard tonneau cover. Our system works with or without a tonneau cover to make your truck bed fully functional, secure, weatherproof, and totally accessible. More about that later.
To help you decide what you need, here are the different types of tonneau covers with their pros and cons.
DECKED: MULTI-FUNCTION TONNEAU
Tonneau covers are great, but there are enough pitfalls in a bed cover system that we decided you, the truck owner, needed a better solution.... enter the DECKED Drawer System. It operates in the same manner as a tonneau but adds some serious perks on top. Designed in Ketchum, ID and 100% manufactured in the United States, DECKED products are the be all end all for efficient truck and van storage solutions.
What's so good about DECKED Drawers? Well take a look here at this list:
- Keeps your cargo dry and secure under any and all weather conditions
- Optional locks on the drawers provide security even when the tailgate is unlocked/not lockable
- Unrestricted use of truck's bed footprint and payload
- 2,000 lb payload with tie-down points for real cargo carrying capacity
- Access items stored in full bed-length drawers without climbing into the truck bed.
- Unlimited customizable organization options
- Added surface area by covering the wheel wells
- More affordable than most high end tonneau covers.
- Easy assembly and installation.
- Easy and quick to remove and reinstall.
- Storage and organization accessories available.
- Made in the USA from recycled materials.
- More expensive than cheap tonneau covers
- Assembly more involved than cheap tonneau covers
- Decreases the depth of your truck bed (but to the benefit of better organization and increased surface area payload)
The only reason not to get a DECKED Drawer system would be if you are frequently hauling a gooseneck trailer and in that case I would suggest the all new DECKED Truck Tool Box. Looks as good as your truck does and works a helluva lot better than dented diamond plate tool boxes. Follow those links for more information on that front, but let's continue our discussion about the advantages of owning a DECKED Drawer system.
The DECKED Drawer system features two full bed-length weatherproof roll-out drawers rated for 200 pounds each. They provide full access to all of the gear in your bed, including the center and forward most portion of the bed, where all other tonneau covers make accessibility difficult. If you hit the brakes in your truck with gear in the back, there is a 100% chance it will end up cab side and you'll have to jump your junk back into the trunk to retrieve. DECKED Drawers will hold that gear tight and bring it right to you when you need it. The drawers can be purchased with optional locks to keep your things secure and the set up can be doubled by a locking tailgate.
The DECKED truck bed storage system is made up of high density polyethylene and American steel. With a strength to weight ratio of 10:1, you can put anything weighing up to 2000lbs on top (as long as the weight is evenly dispersed). The Drawer system is available with tie down points on top so you can strap your ATV, dirtbike, snowmobile, or refrigerator. Rack systems for bikes or other toys can also be mounted to the top of your DECKED storage system with the Core Trax or T-Track mounting system. DECKED is fully customizable for your lifestyle and the unit can be removed in 15-20 minutes. Every DECKED storage system is made in the USA from 100-percent recycled HDPE and American steel. Even better, if you party a little too hard, the system comes with limited lifetime warranty.
CAN I USE DECKED WITH A TONNEAU?
The DECKED Drawer System and a tonneau cover can go together like peanut butter and jelly. Keep your longer/larger items that won't fit in the drawers up top and your smaller items in the drawers. All your gear is out of sight from anything or anyone that wouldn't mind taking it for their own. The DECKED System is about 12" tall, which leaves about 10" of space to your bed rails, so just make sure the tonneau cover you choose doesn't overlap!
Soft roll-up tonneau covers are generally inexpensive, with easy installation and simple use. Soft truck bed covers are installed on rails attached with clamps. Like the name says, you just roll them up.
There are two installation styles, top mount and flush. The top mount style covers your pocket holes, so you won’t be able to use tie downs and ladder racks and such without removing the whole thing. You will be able to use tie downs with a flush mount soft cover.
- Simple to install and use.
- The least expensive option.
- Effective at hiding the contents of your truck bed from casual lookers.
- Moderate level of protection from the elements especially direct UV exposure.
- Can be rolled up to use the entire truck bed without a cover.
- Limited security and protection. Your stuff may be safe from prying eyes, but an 8-year-old could break in.
- Most of them close with velcro fasteners. Easy to peek inside and open or slice open.
- Material can be temperamental in extreme seasonal weather.
- Minimal payload - a snow storm can collapse one, and forget putting cargo on top.
- Items in the bed inaccessible unless secured at tailgate end.
- For the budget shopper, this is the entry level price point. If you do decide to go. this route, it’s a good idea to find a product with a great warranty.
THE BEST SOFT ROLL-UP OPTIONS
Truxedo TruXport Soft Roll-up Dual Latch Tonneau Cover is a good-looking top-mount design that’s tear-resistant and easy to install and use. The latching system is high-grade velcro material for easy access. The high quality leather-embossed vinyl truck bed cover comes with a 5-year warranty.
***Compatible with DECKED
The Access Lorado Roll-Up is one of the highest quality soft rolling tonneau covers available. Even though the cover is secured with a hook and loop fastener and made of a soft vinyl material, it features impressive installation mechanics, latches and overall quality. It’s one of the top low-profile design soft tonneau covers on the market.
***Compatible with DECKED
HARD ROLL-UP TONNEAU COVERS
A STEP UP IN QUALITY AND FUNCTIONALITY
Hard roll-up covers combine the access of a soft roll-up with the increased security of a hard tonneau. Since they are bulkier than a soft roll-up, they take up more space when open, and may obscure your rear vision. Typically, they’re constructed of aluminum slats covered with high grade vinyl, making them durable, tear-resistant, and capable of supporting up to 400 pounds of evenly distributed weight.
- Easy to install
- Aluminum frame supports wrapped in vinyl or other material provides rigidity.
- More functional than soft rolling.
- Improved security.
- Decent protection from elements but not waterproof.
- Easy to deploy and retract.
- While more expensive than soft rolling, they’re still pretty affordable.
- Most advertise a 400lb payload, good for snow.
- Payload option but no tie-downs.
- Vinyl cover can be ripped or frayed if you did carry a payload.
- Questionable protection from the elements.
- Everything that is not strapped down will slide around.
- Items not at tailgate end are unreachable without crawling into bed or rolling the cover fully open.
- Takes up forward bed space when open.
THE BEST HARD ROLL-UP TONNEAU OPTIONS
BAK REVOLVER X2 TONNEAU COVER
The BAK Revolver X2 Tonneau Cover offers the user options when it comes to how far back they want to roll the cover up. It's very easy to operate and has a slick locking mechanism at the tailgate end available from either side. It provides stability and structure with an option to load up to 400 pounds on top.
***Compatible with DECKED
RUGGED RIDGE ARMIS TONNEAU COVER
The Rugged Ridge Armis is very similar to the BAK Revolver X2. The overall function is a step above the soft rolling tonneau covers and it gives more variability than a soft folding tonneau. The company claims a 400-pound payload capacity on top, which could be useful, but there is no access to tie-down points.
Ultimately, these models do offer a greater level of security of bed items if the tailgate is closed and locked. And the high quality locking mechanism is a plus if your tailgate locks.
***Compatible with DECKED
SOFT FOLDING TONNEAU COVERS
Soft folding truck bed covers are constructed of heavy-duty vinyl stretched over an aluminum frame. They can be installed in minutes using hand-tightened clamps, no tools required. The tri-fold design allows you to uncover up to two thirds of your truck bed when open. To access the entire bed, you must remove the cover.
- Most affordable in the folding cover category.
- Very easy to operate.
- Lighter than hard folding or retractable covers.
- Can be opened or closed by one person on the side of the truck.
- Poor security.
- Prone to flapping in the wind.
- No real payload capacity - heavy snow or your drunk uncle will go right through it.
- Poor weatherproof qualities.
- Most block the rear window when folded up and will need to be removed.
- Lack of durability; will rip easily.
THE BEST SOFT FOLDING TONNEAU COVERS
TONNO PRO TRI-FOLD TONNEAU COVER
Like all soft folding tonneau covers, the Tonno Pro Tri-Fold is a good middle ground for those looking to get the bed covered and protected, but not so concerned about the elements getting in. It’s lightweight and easy to use but does not provide the same security as a hard folding cover. A major advantage is the quick install.
TYGER AUTO T3 TRI-FOLD TONNEAU COVER
The Tyger Auto T3 Tri-Fold tonneau cover gives you the convenience of a tri-fold hard cover with the lower cost of a soft cover. It’s constructed of marine-grade vinyl, with an aluminium frame and stainless steel clamps. Crossbars provide stability most roll-up soft covers lack, and tri-fold operation allows you to access all or part of the truck bed.
While the overwhelming number of Amazon reviews are positive, a few reviews show the product flapping in the wind while driving. But Tyger offers a lifetime warranty on its truck tonneau covers, so if there’s a problem, you’re covered.
GATOR ETX SOFT TRI-FOLD TONNEAU COVER
The Gator ETX Soft Tri-Fold is very similar to the other soft folding tonneau cover options available. It’s a good option for someone who is not looking to get full protection or weatherproofing, but still wants to hide the gear out of sight in the bed of their pickup. For what it is, it's a quality product that has been on the market for quite some time.
HARD FOLDING TONNEAU COVERS
Hard folding tonneau covers may be constructed of aluminum or composite panels with a high gloss, matte, or textured finish for rugged good looks. Most have tri-fold design and payload capacity. Our favorite DiamondBack model features flip-up wings fixed to inges on a center bar for full accessibility.
- Rugged; more durable than soft folding.
- Easy to install and remove.
- Improved weatherproofing compared to soft folding.
- Added security and durability.
- Payload: Even if it snows three feet, your cover won't collapse.
- Tonneau covers that fold up block rear window view when open.
- Tonneau covers that fold down require rearranging cargo to operate.
- Secure only if the tailgate is locked/lockable.
- Can be expensive.
- Despite added payload, usually no cargo tie-down points are available.
- Top load has to be removed to access bed cargo from top.
- Not compatible with most ladder racks or other bed rail mounted accessories.
- No organization options.
- Items not tied down will slide around; you'll have to crawl inside bed or open cover to retrieve them.
DiamondBack is by far the most robust, high quality of the hard folding tonneau covers made from heavy-duty diamond plate aluminum. These things are built to go to war. And they look cool. It offers hard shell bed cover security and comes fully gasketed for weatherproof storage.
The DiamondBack features flatbed style storage on top with up to 400 pounds of carrying capacity on its standard version or a 1,600lb payload on the HD model, which can be secured using the built-in tie-down cleats. If you are serious about using your truck with a tonneau, this is the way to go. Bed access is made easier thanks to multiple entry points, but it may be difficult to access in-bed cargo with a load on top. Removal of the tonneau cover would be required to fit larger in-bed items or items that exceed 400 or 1,600 pounds depending on which model is chosen. And removal does not appear that straightforward or quick.
BAKFLIP TONNEAU COVER
The BAKFlip G2, F1, MX4, Fiber Max, and VP hard folding tonneau covers all have similar quality and serve the same purpose. They offer a sleek profile, tri-fold design and the security of solid aluminum panels. They are available in fiberglass or aluminum and include a 1- to 5-year warranty based on the model.
They rely solely on the tailgate lock of the pickup, none of the models offer a lockable solution. Unique gasket and water drainage features are utilized to keep your gear dry. Near full bed access can be achieved with the folding design. When closed, the BAKFlip hard tonneau covers can support 300-400 pounds depending on the model, but there are no tie-down points included.
RETRACTABLE TONNEAU COVERS
High-tech retractable tonneau covers slide away in seconds to provide full access to your truck bed. They offer all the convenience of a soft top and the enhanced security and protection of a hard top, without restricting access to your full truck bed.
- Gadget geeks love the tech
- Reasonably good weatherproof characteristics; best of the rolling category.
- Automated versions are available for extra convenience and cool factor.
- Good security, but only if your tailgate locks.
- Typically robust materials.
- Look less clunky than rolling tonneau covers.
- Storage canister for tonneau cover eats up valuable bed real estate when retracted
- A lot of moving parts which can and do fail; especially automated
- Typically very spendy
- Complex installation, including frequently adding drain tubs
- Tailgate must be locked to gain added security
- Again all your stuff slides around; and must be opened to reach items not near the tailgate
THE BEST RETRACTABLE TONNEAU COVER OPTIONS
ROLL-N-LOCK TONNEAU COVER
Roll-N-Lock offers three high-quality retractable tonneau covers available in both manual and electric versions made of powder coated aluminum and a vinyl aluminum laminate. The design allows for the rolled up cover to remain sleekly below the bedrail, but sucks up significant forward bed space no matter if the unit is opened or closed. Its best-in-class weatherproof design includes drain tubes to funnel water away from the bed of your truck.
***Some Roll-N-Lock tonneaus are compatible with DECKED, but you will need to check the canister depth first.
PACE EDWARDS TONNEAU COVER
Pace Edwards offers both automatic and manual retracting tonneau covers with several heavy-duty, powder-coated metal and aluminum vinyl laminate versions to choose from. All Pace Edwards options are high quality, but bed space is significantly decreased regardless of if the unit is extended or retracted due to the canister. Although, it remains sleek and nearly level with the bedrail even when retracted.
***Some models compatible with DECKED
FULL SHELL TONNEAU COVERS
Also known as painted covers, full shell covers offer the best truck bed security on the market. The cover overlaps the tailgate and locks, so the tailgate cannot be opened without unlocking and opening the cover. They’re attractive, weatherproof, and secure, but also limit the functional use of your truck bed.
- Conceals the entire bed of pickup and provides a tailgate seal.
- Maximum security in tonneau category.
- Best weatherproof option in category.
- Paint matching usually available for your truck.
- If it's your thing, they look cool.
- Most allow for mounting racks and other accessories.
- Bulky, heavy, and cumbersome.
- Inability to load large items taller than wedge will allow. If you plan to move furniture ever, it’s not gonna happen.
- If you load stuff on them, they will mark and scratch.
- No tie-down options.
- Cargo will slide around in bed. If cargo slides to the front, you’ll have to crawl in to get it out.
- Driving with the cover open to accommodate tall cargo obscures your rear view and wrecks your aerodynamics and gas mileage.
BEST FULL SHELL TONNEAU COVERS
UNDERCOVER ELITE LX TONNEAU COVER
UnderCover Elite LX tonneau cover comes painted and color matched to the factory paint on your pickup truck. The one-piece fiberglass construction is durable and safely secures cargo better than many other tonneau cover options. It’s also likely the most weather resistant tonneau available since there are no folding seams or material that could rip or tear.
The Elite LX features a removable LED lighting system and an integrated locking mechanism, but you’ll need a locking tailgate for your gear to be fully secure. As with all full shell tonneau covers, access to the forward most part of the bed is limited, even with the cover open.
LEER TONNEAU COVER
Another paint-matched, full shell option, Leer makes a good, high quality tonneau cover. It shares the same PROs/CONs of the category, but it's for a specific customer. On the 750 Sport you get some cool options like Bluetooth locking gas prop activation and a 12-volt LED lighting kit. The 700 and 750 have some fancy styling adding lines to your truck while the 550 keeps it clean and smooth.
Tonneau Cover Comparison Chart