Best Tonneau Covers (We Compare 18 Types)
By John Cappa
What Makes a Damn Good Tonneau??
Here Are 4 Main Things to Look For:
If you’re in the market for a pickup truck tonneau bed cover, then you are likely looking to:
- Protect your gear from jerks that steal stuff
- Protect your tools and gear from the weather/acts of God
- Get better access and organization of your tools and gear
- Let's admit it, you might just want to make your truck look tougher
The tonneau type that will work best for you depends on:
- How you plan to use it
- What features are important to you
- Your budget
Different Tonneau Cover Types
Today’s aftermarket offers more tonneau bed cover options than ever. These options include:
- Soft rolling
- Hard rolling
- Soft folding
- Hard folding
- Full shell
- DECKED: dual function - coverage/protection and access/organization
We created DECKED to compensate for the shortcomings of 90% of CONs in the tonneau cover market:
- Not many actually provide a totally dry bed in inclement weather
- No real security if tailgate isn't locked/doesn't lock
- Cargo is inaccessible if not located at tailgate
- Tonneau's must be opened to access cargo
- Typically unusable payload capacity
- No system of organization
- Items slide around uncontrolled if not tied down
A: It's French (?!!?) for the part of a car open to the air with no seats. Go figure.
Soft Rolling Tonneau Covers
- Easy to install
- Effective at hiding the contents of your truck bed
- Moderate level of protection from the elements especially direct UV exposure
- Limited security and protection
- Easy to peak inside then open/slice open
- Material can be temper-mental in extreme seasonal weather
- Minimal payload (snow storm can collapse one)
- Requires two people or climbing into bed to operate
- 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.
Popular Soft Rolling Options
The American Tonneau soft rolling cover is considered an entry-level bed cover. It will keep your gear out of the sun, but it is not completely waterproof. It’s an affordable option for those simply looking to hide the contents of the pickup bed, with little regard for security. ***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 vinyl material, it features impressive installation mechanics, latches and overall quality. ***Compatible with DECKED
Hard Rolling Tonneau Covers
A Step Up in Quality and Functionality
- Easy to install
- Aluminum frame 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 do tend to still be more
- Most advertise a 400lb payload, good for snow. But
- Tonneau cover has a payload but no tie-downs for carrying payloads
- Vinyl cover can be ripped, 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 cover open
- When open can tend to look uncivilized and take up forward bed space
Popular Hard Rolling Options
BAK Revolver X2
The BAK Revolver X2 Tonneau 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
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
Retractable Tonneau Covers
- Gadget geeks love the tech
- Reasonably good weatherproof characteristics; best of the rolling category
- Automated versions available adding convenience
- 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
Popular Retracting Tonneau Options
Roll N Lock
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. The weatherproof nature of this cover is best in class and comes with drain tubes which must be installed to funnel water away from the bed of your truck.
***Some Roll N Lock tonneau's are compatible with DECKED, but you will need to check the canister depth first.
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
Soft Folding Tonneau Covers
- Most affordable in the folding category
- Very easy to operate
- Lighter than hard folding or retractable covers
- No real payload capacity (heh hem: snow fall or your drunk uncle)
- Can be opened or closed by one person on the side of the truck
- Poor security
- Prone to flapping in the wind
- Poor weatherproof qualities
- Most block rear window when folded up and will need to be removed
- Lack of durability; will rip easily
- All cargo not at tailgate will requiring opening cover or crawling into bed to retrieve
Popular Soft Folding Tonneau Covers
Like all soft folding tonneau covers, the TonnoPro TriFold 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
The Tyger Auto T3 Tri-Fold is an entry-level soft folding tonneau cover. The construction indicates that you get what you pay for. There are a few reviews that show the product flapping in the wind while driving. The installation is quick, however the hardware appears to be made of mostly plastic. It’s not likely to last or keep your gear protected. But again this depends on your budget and this is an entry level product.
Gator ETX Soft Tri-Fold
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
- Rugged more durable than soft folding
- Still easy to install and remove,
- Improved weatherproofing over soft folding
- Added security and durability
- Payload: if it snows three feet in Florida that your cover won't collapse
- Tonneau covers that fold up will block rear window view when open
- Tonneau covers that fold down require rearranging cargo to operate
- Secure only if tailgate is locked/lockable
- Can be expensive
- Despite added payload, usually no cargo tie-down points are available
- Payload will have 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
Popular Hard Folding Tonneau Covers
Diamond Back 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 Diamond Back 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 like a 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 straight forward or quick.
The BAKFlip G2, F1, MX4, Fiber Max, and VP hard folding tonneau covers all show similar quality and serve the same purpose. They offer a sleek profile and the security of a solid material. 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 tonneau covers can support 300-400 pounds depending on the model, but there are no tie-down points included.
Full Shell Tonneau Covers
- Conceals the entire bed of pickup
- 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. If that's your thing
- Most allow for mounting racks and other accessories to surface
- Bulky, large and cumbersome
- Inability to load large items taller than wedge will allow
- Must be fully removed to use tall items in truck bed
- If you load stuff on them, they will mark and scratch
- No tie-down options offered
- Cargo will slide around in bed. No organization offered. Must climb in or open to retrieve items which have shifted
Popular Full Shell Tonneau Covers
UnderCover Elite LX
UnderCover Elite LX 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 700, 550, 750 Sport
Another paint-matched, full shell option, Leer makes a good, high quality 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.
DECKED: Multi-function Tonneau
We created DECKED because we loved some of the functions of tonneau covers, but really hated the CONs side of the equation. We didn't make it for sidewalk appeal, we designed it to keep your stuff dry and secure and still give you full use of your truck bed.
- Fully weatherproof
- Secure even when tailgate is unlocked/not lockable
- Unrestricted use of truck bed footprint
- 2,000lb payload with tie-down points for real cargo carrying capacity
- Access items stored in full bed-length drawers without entering truck bed
- Limitless organization options
- More affordable than most high end tonneau covers
- Reasonably 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
The DECKED storage system is a tonneau cover in reverse. It not only increases the security of the stored items in the bed of your pickup, it helps organize your cargo and gives you more ergonomic access to it than any other tonneau cover product on the market. Ultimately, a DECKED storage system is not the right product for everyone, but that’s only because everyone doesn’t drive a pickup truck.
The DECKED storage 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 don’t. Each drawer is independently locked and a locking tailgate provides double the storage security of any other tonneau cover available. The durable high density polyethylene deck is capable of holding 2,000 pounds of evenly disbursed on-top cargo and the platform sits below the bedrails to help contain any loose gear. Multiple tie-down points can be added to the top of your DECKED storage system for securing a motorcycle, ATV, refrigerator, or anything else. Rack systems can also be mounted to the top of your DECKED storage system. DECKED is fully customizable for your gear and the unit is easy to remove or install in 15-20 minutes. Every DECKED storage system is made in the USA from 100-percent recycled HDPE and comes with a 3-year warranty.
DECKED With a Tonneau
DECKED is also a great complement to a lot of tonneau covers. Typically one will have about 10" of space on top of the system below the tonneau cover to store other items that might not want to be in a drawer. It is not compatible with every style of tonneau but is with a majority. The DECKED System is 12" tall so you will just need to measure whatever you are looking at and make sure there is the difference between the bed rail height and 12" clearance to let your tonneau operate if you go that route.
Tonneau Cover Comparison Chart