There are many different styles of tonneau cover available on the market today. Sometimes it can be difficult to decide which one is right for you and your truck. In this guide, we’ll review the features of different tonneau cover designs to help you make the right choice in your search for the perfect truck bed cover.
Soft Tonneau Covers
A Truxedo Lo-Pro QT tonneau cover
Soft tonneau covers are made with vinyl or canvas material mounted on a frame or rails. In addition to keeping your cargo out of sight, they provide protection from rain, snow, and other elements. Generally more affordable than hard covers, soft tonneau covers can be found in the following styles.
A snap tonneau cover.
As the name implies, a snap tonneau cover fastens around your truck bed on a frame with snaps. The cover is held taut across the width of the bed with bowed rails which can be removed when the cover is opened completely. The simplistic snap design makes this style of tonneau cover among the most affordable on the market. If you need good protection from the weather, are on a budget, and you don’t plan on opening and closing your cover frequently, a snap cover such as the Advantage Sure Fit
may be right for you.
Soft Roll Up Covers
A small roll up tonneau cover.
The designs of soft roll up covers vary from one manufacturer to another. The most popular versions feature rails and a tarp with heavy duty hook and loop fasteners which holds the cover in place while shut. These designs also include rails or bows running the width of the bed which usually roll up with the cover. Roll up covers are popular due to their relative affordability, ease of use, and the full bed access they offer when completely open. Less common roll up covers designs use a seal similar to what you might see on a sandwich bag to hold the cover in place. For a great combination of weather protection and easy full bed access, check out soft roll up covers from manufacturers like Ionic
Image of a soft folding tonneau cover.
A soft tri-fold cover is built with hinged sections that allow it to be folded open and shut. Unlike snap and roll up covers where the frame and tarp are separate pieces, tri-fold covers are usually assembled as one whole piece. This means tri-fold covers can be installed and completely removed in far less time than any other cover design, often with no tools required. This style of cover is a great choice if you don’t mind removing it when you need to haul large items requiring full bed access. Manufacturers such as Extang
have great soft tri-fold covers available for nearly every truck on the road today.
Hard Tonneau Covers
A Retrax hard retractable tonneau cover.
Strong and sturdy, hard tonneau covers are a significant step up in security and weather protection compared to soft covers. Just like soft covers, various hard cover designs are available to accommodate different needs and preferences.
A hard folding BAK tonneau cover.
Available in materials ranging from aluminum to ABS plastic, hard folding covers provide excellent security, weather protection, and style. While some hard folding covers such as the Advantage Hard Hat mimic the one-piece design of their soft cover equivalents, others such as the Bakflip use separate rails that the cover attaches to. This design allows the cover to fold up against the cab giving you access to the majority of your bed without having to remove the cover. Whichever model you choose, hard folding covers provide the easiest full bed access of any other style of hard cover. For this reason, they’re a great choice for customers who frequently haul large items but still need to keep small items in the bed secure.
A retractable tonneau cover.
Retractable tonneau covers close by rolling into a canister mounted at the bulkhead area of the truck bed. Most models feature intermittent locking positions which allows a portion of the bed to remain exposed for carrying larger items while keeping smaller items protected from the elements. Since the cover slides back and forth on a rail rather than having to be folded or lifted, many customers find them to be the easiest style of hard cover to operate. In fact, some retractable covers are available with electric motors and remote controls for ultimate ease of use. The only drawback of the retractable design is that the canister usually takes up between 8-12 inches which results in the loss of some bed space and cargo capacity. However, if you don’t frequently haul large items and you want a cover that combines ease of use with excellent security and weather protection, take a look at retractable covers from manufacturers such as Retrax
Painted and Hinged
A hard painted tonneau cover.
Aside from the obvious benefits of increased security and weather protection, a painted cover gives your truck a finished, custom appearance that no other accessory can provide. A painted tonneau cover usually features a button or latch and an external lock cylinder which are used to open it. Similar to the trunk of a car, the cover rises up on lift supports that hold it in place while it’s open. Painted covers provide outstanding protection from the elements, but if you need to haul a large item, you’ll need to remove the cover to do so. Nothing else matches the custom appearance a painted cover provides though, so if your goal is to create the ultimate personalized truck, a painted cover such as those made by Undercover is a great choice. If you like the hinged one-piece design of a painted cover but don’t require matching paint, Undercover
also offers their covers in a generic black finish.
If you have questions about any of our tonneau cover designs and styles, contact our team of experts today. They’re standing by to help you choose the best cover for your truck.