Types of Truck Tonneau Covers
It can be difficult to find a tonneau cover for your pickup truck. Many styles are available on the market; the covers come to have a huge variety of capacities, utilities, and functionalities; and they all have different prices. With this kind of diversity, it’s easy to understand why finding the one that’s perfect for your needs isn’t easy as it might sound. Would you prefer one that’s low-profile and which will save you gas money, but which costs more to purchase? Would you prefer a cover that’s hard and retractable or one which is soft and which pulls apart easily? Would you like the one that stays attached to your truck, or is it better for you if you get one that you can take off whenever you need to put it away? The type of cover you’re looking for—and the type you eventually end up buying—will determine everything about the cover: what contexts you’ll use it for, how often you’ll use it, how versatile it will be.
The first type of cover we’ll talk about today is known as toolbox cover. This term refers to covers that are designed so that they’re shorter than your truck bed; the extra room allows you to place a toolbox over the rail (hence the name). Some such covers even already include a toolbox directly into the cover.
- Hard cover
- Space for a toolbox
- Some models come with a toolbox
Second, up is the retractable cover. These are hard, but you can retract them to access your stuff with no problems. You can access the entire bed, and you can even do so with one hand. They can sit inside and outside the rails of your truck bed, although the former provides you with a much more convenient fit. They work efficiently, and their design is aerodynamic as well. They’re made out of aluminum, which is strong yet lightweight at the same time. These covers are stored in a kind of canister form when you don’t need them; the canister needs to be cleaned often and is stored at the front end of your truck bed. Many models also feature a lock and key, for additional security.
- Hard cover; can be soft as well
- Retracts so that you can access your stuff easily
- Aluminum build
- Stores in canister when not in use
- Most models have lock and key
Another type of cover is the roll-up cover. These aerodynamic covers are made of vinyl—often marine-grade vinyl, which scratch-resistant and very durable—and, as such, they can easily be folded away when not in use. It takes seconds to pull them aside to give you access to the truck; you won’t need to remove them to access your cargo. They’re generally simple to both install and remove. As for closing mechanisms, they offer various means of doing so: they have use snaps, clips, or latches.
- Soft cover
- Aerodynamic and low-profile
- Easy to install and remove
- Close with latches, clips, and snaps
Fourth, hinged tonneau covers are those which function by (you guessed it) hinges. They will keep thieves at bay, on account of both their hinges and because their over-the-tailgate design ensures safer usage. All the while they’re protecting you, they’re also providing you with solid, durable builds and aesthetic appeal, thanks to their contours, low-profile spoilers, and stylized ribs. They also are painted at the factory, with the result that they’ll be the same color as the body of your truck. You can install and remove them from your truck within minutes. Although most hinged covers are hard, some have a soft design which allows for easier manipulation.
- Hard cover
- Hinging mechanism offers greater protection
- Stylish design
- Safe and secure
Fifth, there are also folding covers. These allow you to access all the contents of your truck bed at record speed, and naturally, you won’t need to remove the cover to do so. They’re easy to install and remove, but their particular forte lies in protecting your stuff against the elements and harsh weather conditions. These covers come in the soft form—made out of vinyl that’s solid but which remains easy to manipulate—and the hard form, in which the construction is strong panels made of aluminum. Hard-folding covers can carry several hundred pounds of weight at once—up to 400 pounds, in some cases. Folding covers often come in the tri-fold form (i.e., they have 3 folding sections).
- Hard or soft
- Folds up so you can access goods quickly
- Easy to manipulate
What Kind Should I Get?
Thus, there remains the question of which tonneau cover will suit the needs of you and your pickup. The answer to this question depends, of course, on what you’re using your truck for. If, for example, you often need to use the bed of your truck without a cover at all—if you carry bigger items (such as furniture and large boxes), for example, or if you need to keep things solid strapped down with ropes—then you’ll want a cover that can easily be removed. Thus, a hard folding tonneau cover is appropriate. A roll-up cover might be appropriate if, on the contrary, you often travel without a cover because of weather conditions in your area.
Another factor is how much you’ll need to access your goods. If you like separating your bed into different sections, then you’ll want a cover that will allow you to access the various parts of the bed at will. A folding cover will be ideal for this, as well as a retractable cover. Hinged covers are a better choice if you access your goods all at once.
The third factor is what kind of goods you’re storing. Hardcovers—such as toolbox covers, hard retractable covers, and hard folding covers—tend to offer more solid protection than their softer counterparts, so they might be a good choice if you transport more fragile items, like glass products and electronics. In contrast, if you carry only the essentials in your truck bed (rope, a spare tire, and so forth), a softcover is a good choice.
Fourthly and finally, security issues (and threats thereof) will affect the type of cover you should choose. Soft covers—like soft retractable covers, soft folding covers, and roll-up covers, are easier to remove—makes them easier for thieves to access. The same can be said for retractable covers that don’t have a locking mechanism. Thus, bringing a softcover out on a camping trip is one thing—but, if you plan to use your truck in urban environments, a hard-hinged cover is a better choice.
Ultimately, the tonneau cover you end up purchasing depends on what you’ll use your truck for in the future. But whatever you do, be sure to search carefully, and not to make a decision until you’re absolutely ready; this way, you can make the most informed choice. Best of luck in your search! 🙂