A Review of Tonneau Covers

Review of Tonneau Covers
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Image Source: Mr.choppers, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you were to ask someone why they love their truck so much, you’ll get several different answers. Some people love their trucks for being large and powerful, while others make use of all-terrain tires to go on an adventure. However, one commonly talked about the benefit of owning and driving a truck is the ability to haul equipment in the back. A truck’s transportation abilities are unrivaled by regular cars and cannot be underestimated.

If you want to protect the supplies in the back from the weather, thieves, animals, and more, you need to purchase a truck bed cover, or tonneau cover. Not only do they look good, but they protect your haul as well.

But what if you don’t know how to choose a tonneau cover? You need something affordable, yet functional, protective yet stylish, and designed for your specific needs. That’s why we’re here to review the best tonneau covers available, to help you decide what to get for your truck, and always ensure that, no matter what happens, you’re covered.

What Is A Tonneau Cover

What Is A Tonneau Cover?

If you’re a new truck owner, you might be wondering what a tonneau cover really is. If you intend to store anything in the back of your truck or even just want to make your truck a little more stylish, you’re going to need a truck bed cover, or “tonneau” cover, right away.

Derived from a French word meaning “barrel” or “cask,” a tonneau refers to a type of cover that shields whatever is underneath it in your truck bed. It seems simple enough on the surface. You can use a tonneau cover to protect your haul from being damaged or stolen, and you can remove it when you don’t need it. It also provides the streamlined style that many people like.

What Should You Look For In a Tonneau Cover?

Tonneau covers come in different materials, sizes, and styles, and some have extra parts, such as rack covers for things like boats. They all work differently, too. Each type has different pros and cons depending on what they do, how they attach, and what material they incorporate.

Before you decide what to buy, you need to identify your main concern. Do you simply want to protect your haul from bad weather, mud, or debris? In that case, it’s important to consider that a soft cover might be okay against rain and dirt, but it will sag in heavy snow. However, if you want easy access to the supplies in the back, a soft cover that is easy to remove might be preferable despite its drawbacks.

Some tonneau covers have locks that can protect your belongings from burglars. Others even have a complex water-drainage system similar to roof gutters, if you really want to protect your things from getting wet.

As you can see, it’s important to discover your needs ahead of time, before checking out various tonneau cover reviews. That way, you know exactly what sort of cover you’re looking for.
Otherwise, you may wind up spending your money on something that isn’t the best fit for your needs.

Types of Tonneau Covers

As a general rule, tonneau covers are constructed with either soft or hard materials. “Soft tonneau covers” typically refer to cloth or fabric covers, commonly made with vinyl. “Hard tonneau covers” refer to covers made of metal or fiberglass, with aluminum being a favorite for its defensive qualities.

Soft covers are typically easier to use and remove, especially if you need to open the bed part way or make room for an oddly shaped object. However, when it comes to protection and style, hard covers are preferred for their solid nature and are designed to withstand both the elements and potential thieves, regardless of whether those thieves are humans or animals. While newer soft covers are starting to be designed with greater protection in mind, a material like vinyl still risks getting sliced open by an attacker. Meanwhile, harder covers aren’t always difficult to remove, but can get rusty if not properly cared for.

There are a few types of tonneau covers to discuss. The four we’ll be reviewing here are the most common types: folding, roll-up, hinged, and retractable. While there are other varieties, including electric and snap covers, these four show the most range of use, while also being easy to find and use for your own purposes.

Roll-Up Tonneau Covers

Roll-up tonneau covers are primarily soft covers made of materials such as vinyl or another durable, synthetic fabric. While hard versions constructed of connected strips of lightweight plastics do exist, they’re not as common. These are often harder to install, but may offer better protection.

Pros:

  • Easy to install and use due to having very few parts or mechanisms involved.
  • They offer more bed space than other covers do when fully retracted.

Cons:

  • The standard soft-cover design is less protective from either thieves or the elements.
  • These covers typically have a shorter lifespan than other cover styles.

 Soft Roll Up Tonneau Cover

 

Best Roll Up Cover: OEDRO® Soft Roll Up Tonneau Cover

Oedro’s soft roll up cover is made of PVC, which has been designed with both protection and style in mind. It’s resistant to UV rays to keep your supplies safe from the elements.

A consumer reviewer said: “Worked great, held up to some really fast speeds of 80 mph and 40 mph cross winds.”

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Foldable Tonneau Covers

Folding tonneau covers come in a few varieties and are most often found in the tri-fold variety. The quad-fold style, with its smaller folding sections, is a close second. These covers employ the use of folding panels to expand and fold up as needed, stacking on top of each other and resting at the edge of the truck bed when not in use. They can be made of either hard or soft materials.

Pros:

  • olding covers are easy to install, not requiring any extra tools or products.
  • Because they can be made of various materials and come in various sub-styles, the market for folding covers is wide open, giving you plenty of options to choose from when compared to other cover varieties.
  • Hard folding covers are fairly durable.
  • Soft folding covers are more affordable.

Cons:

  • While they can retract, they still take up space in the truck bed. This restricts what objects you can put in the back. Large or oddly-shaped loads might not be able to fit at all without removing the tonneau cover entirely.
  • Hard folding covers may come at a higher price than soft ones.
  • Soft folding covers are not as durable as hard folding covers.

Best Soft Foldable Cover: OEDRO® Soft Tri-Fold Tonneau Cover

This cover is a soft tri-fold tonneau cover made of highly-resistant Polyvinyl Chloride, or PVC, designed to withstand the elements. This cover includes a weather strip to protect the inside of the truck even further, and clamps on easily to the rails of the bed when installed.

A consumer stated: “Easy to install, my Nissan has the utility track, and the extra hardware supplied worked perfectly. Looks great on the truck and for the price, it cannot be beaten!”

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Soft Tri-Fold Tonneau Cover

 

RedMtnFunding Tonneau Covers Hard Roll Up

Best Hard Fold Cover: OEDRO® Hard Tri-Fold Tonneau Cover

This hard, tri-fold cover is one of the strongest tonneau covers, made with a double-layer aluminum honeycomb panel and designed to carry up to 350 pounds and provide maximum-level security for the supplies in your truck.. There are also built-in headlights for the sake of nighttime visibility.

Our consumer reviewer said: “I like this Nissan bed cover. It looks great and keeps things dry.”

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Retractable Tonneau Covers

Much like folding covers, retractable covers can be made of either hard or soft material. The mechanisms by which they retract can vary depending on the material used. Their flat, retractable surface allows you to choose how much of your bed to expose when needed.

Pros:

  • Many utilize electricity, requiring only the press of a button.
  • You’ll have a number of hard and soft retractable covers to choose from, and it’s easy to find one whose durability and price point matches your needs.
  • More durable than roll up covers.
  • Easier to install than most hard covers.

Cons:

  • Tend to be relatively more expensive, due to the extra technology involved.
  • Restrictive, as even when fully retracted, the canister takes up space in the bed.

Best Retractable Cover: Roll N Lock M-Series Retractable Truck Bed Tonneau Cover

This cover is a soft tri-fold tonneau cover made of highly-resistant Polyvinyl Chloride, or PVC, designed to withstand the elements. This cover includes a weather strip to protect the inside of the truck even further, and clamps on easily to the rails of the bed when installed.

A consumer stated: “Easy to install, my Nissan has the utility track, and the extra hardware supplied worked perfectly. Looks great on the truck and for the price, it cannot be beaten!”

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Roll N Lock M Series Retractable

Hinged Tonneau Covers

Hinged tonneau covers are made of a solid, hard material such as aluminum. They’re a single, flat piece that covers the entire bed and opens using a single hinge, similar to a car’s trunk.

Pros:

  • Hinged covers are aesthetically pleasing. Some truck owners even paint them to better match their trucks.
  • YThese covers are excellent at protecting supplies inside the truck bed. They’re designed to be kept in place and to withstand the elements.

Cons:

  • Hinged covers are harder to install, due to the special hinge mechanism. This also means they’re harder to remove.
  • There have been reports of hinged covers trapping excess heat, which can be bad for both the haul in the truck and the truck’s paint job.
  • These covers restrict the use of your truck bed to anything that can fit underneath the cover, especially since they can’t be partially removed.

UnderCover SE One-Piece

 

Best Hinged Cover: UnderCover SE One-Piece Truck Bed Tonneau Cover

The UnderCover SE is a solid black hinged cover made of a durable, scratch-resistant, thermoplastic polymer known as acrylonitrile butadiene styrene. It’s designed to be aerodynamic and stylish, especially for owners interested in using paint.

A satisfied reviewer said: “I love the way it looks on my truck. It is weatherproof & locks securely. If I go shopping or on a trip I know my luggage or packages are safe & secure. It is simple to install & light enough to remove & hang on the wall if needed.”

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Choosing a Tonneau Cover

Choosing a tonneau cover offers a number of benefits beyond improving the look and style of your truck. You’re gaining the means of a roomier and safer transport of items, improving gas mileage by eliminating air drag, and increasing the overall value of your vehicle. A small modification can make a huge impact on style and convenience.