Tonneau covers are usually classified according to their material and the way they open. In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at tonneau cover opening styles, examining the pros and cons of each one to help you pick out the best cover for your truck.
Tonneau Cover Styles
The Surefit snap tonneau cover from Advantage
Snap: One of the oldest tonneau cover styles, a snap cover sits on a frame which mounts atop the rails and tailgate of your truck bed. The snaps used to secure the cover in place can be made with a variety of materials, from steel to nylon. Exclusively available as a soft cover, snap covers provide good weather protection at an affordable price.
Usually the most affordable tonneau cover style.
Difficult to operate in cold temperatures, not ideal for constant opening and reopening.
Examples: Advantage Surefit
and Rugged Snap Tonneau Cover.
The SR-1 roll-up tonneau cover from Gator
Roll Up: A good upgrade over snap covers is the roll up cover. This cover style mounts to your truck on rails that run along your bed rails. Usually secured in place with velcro, a roll up cover can be secured at the back of your bed when opened, allowing full bed access when you need to haul large items. This style of cover requires you to open your tailgate before opening the cover, providing good security as well as weather protection. While most roll up covers are soft, the Revolver X2 and Truxedo Titanium covers provide roll up operation with the security of a hard cover.
Easy to open and close, great balance of affordability and weather protection.
Requires seasonal tension adjustments to maintain ease of operation and optimal appearance.
Examples: Ionic Rollup
and Truxedo Lo Pro QT
The Trifecta 2.0 soft folding cover from Extang
One Piece Folding: Found in both hard and soft designs, a one piece folding cover comes as a fully assembled unit with the panels and rails integrated into a single unit. The cover is usually divided into three segments, prompting them to be called tri-fold covers. This style of tonneau cover is perhaps the easiest to install, attaching with hand-tightened clamps in as few as five minutes. This cover usually folds back twice and secures on top of the rear panel to provide space for hauling larger items. To access your entire bed, the cover will need to be removed.
Easiest tonneau cover style to install, comes off easily as well.
Removal is necessary to gain full bed access, tall profile produces a somewhat bulky appearance.
Examples: Extang Trifecta
and Advantage Hard Hat
BAK Folding Cover:
The MX4 folding tonneau cover from BAK
Distinct from the one piece folding cover is the folding style developed by BAK industries for their BAKFlip folding covers. This design features separate rails which the folding cover portion attaches to during installation. The benefit of this design is that the cover can fold up against the cab, providing access to the majority of your bed without having to detach the cover. This style is only found as a hard tonneau cover, providing excellent security, versatility, and weather protection.
An unparalleled combination of security, easy bed access, and protection from rain, hail, and snow.
Attachment panel takes up about 4 inches at the back of the bed.
The Legacy one-piece hard cover from Ranch
Popular among custom truck enthusiasts is the hinged tonneau cover style. Hinged covers open very much like the trunk or hood of a car, raising up from the tailgate while remaining fixed at the bulkhead. This cover style is almost exclusively found as a hard tonneau made with fiberglass or ABS plastic and is often available painted to match your truck.
Exemplary security and water resistance, can be painted to match for the ultimate custom look.
Needs to be removed for full bed access to haul larger items.
Examples: Undercover Elite
and Ranch Legacy.
The electric retractable Bedlocker cover from Pace-Edwards
Favored for their ease of operation, retractable covers feature a segmented panel that retracts into a canister at the back of the bed. This panel is made of a rigid material such as aluminum or tough polycarbonate plastic. Depending on the manufacturer, retractable covers can lock in any position between open and shut, every 12 inches, or only in the open and shut positions. Some retractable covers also feature electric motors which allow them to be operated remotely. While easier to operate than any other hard tonneau cover, the canister at the back of the bed takes up a substantial amount of space (usually 10 to 12 inches) making them less than ideal for trucks that frequently carry large items.
Easiest hard cover to operate, ideal for lifted trucks where folding or lifting would be difficult
Canister takes up about a foot of space at the bulkhead, limiting cargo capacity.
and the Pace Edwards Bedlocker.