Truck accessories are becoming increasingly popular in North America as pickup truck sales are now at an all-time high. The Ford F-Series pickup truck continues to be the best selling vehicle in Canada and the US in 2021, with the Dodge Ram trailing closely in second place.
One of the most popular exterior accessories that serves both function and style is the truck tonneau cover. If you’re looking for a truck bed cover but aren’t sure which option is right for you and your needs, then you’ve come to the right place. We’ll give you the full breakdown of the best tonneau cover options on the market and how they function to help you decide which one best suits your truck and how you use it.
Truck bed covers can be either a soft or hard top, typically constructed of strong vinyl, aluminum, steel, or fiberglass. They generally function by folding, rolling, or retracting to the back third of your truck bed, closest to the bulkhead. Solid one piece tonneau covers will tilt upward, starting at the tailgate. There are many versions available on the market and we’ll go into further detail on each a little later on to help you decide which option is best for you.
One of the most popular versions of the truck tonneau cover is the tri fold cover. Tri folds can be soft or hard top mounting or lay flush with the bed. The covers tend to fold two to three times overlapping onto itself allowing for access to the majority of the truck bed. They tend to follow a simple installation process, with retractable or spring-loaded clamps that snap or lock into a bed frame, with typically 2-3 clamps on both sides of the truck’s frame. The cover can be easily removed from the truck by unlatching the clamps, folding it up, and storing away until it’s needed again.
Similar to a traditional tri fold cover, a low profile flush mount is a hard folding tonneau cover that folds back onto itself, but includes an additional fold that flips up against the back window of the cabin. An expensive but popular model thanks to its convenience of allowing near full access to the truck bed. Back flip covers lay flush with the sides of the truck bed and require an additional rail system to be installed along the bed frame. Similar to the flush mount roll up covers, truck owners tend to leave the back flip installed at all times until a new replacement cover is required.
Similar to a garage door, retractable tonneau covers can manually or electronically retract to the back of your truck bed. They lay flush with the sides of the bed frame, and require an additional rail system to be installed, often requiring professional assistance. Many versions offer a key lock for added security. Retractable covers tend to be less popular of an option due to the higher price point, reduced cargo space at the back of the truck bed (compartment where it retracts) and the potential to require professional repairs if the retracting mechanism ever jams.
Single tilt up operation to allow access to the truck bed starting at the tailgate at an average 45 degree angle. Typically constructed of fiberglass, and available in various colours to match the paint and finish of your truck. Often has a key to lock for added security. One piece solid lids can be flush or top mounting covers, and require an additional rail system to be installed along the bed frame. Offers a stylish look that suits the finish of your truck, but not as popular of an option because of the accessibility it restricts to the full use of the truck bed.
One sized tonneau covers do not fit all trucks. Therefore it's important to confirm the measurements of your truck bed to determine which tonneau covers will fit your vehicle.
A factor to strongly consider before purchasing a tonneau cover is your intended use of the truck bed and/or your line of work.
Common questions you should consider include:
The ability for a cover to be compatible with other truck bed accessories may be a critical purchasing decision for those that require them for their line of work, such as roof racks for extended ladders or built-in tool boxes. Most tonneau covers will not fit alongside these accessories, so ensure you purchase a tonneau cover that specifically states that it fits a truck bed with a tool box and / or roof rack.
The cheapest or most expensive option might not make sense for everyone. Very budget conscious individuals that are looking for best value may be best suited for a soft tri fold cover or soft roll up cover. Those looking for added protection and security of a hard / solid cover and ease of use may benefit best from a hard tri fold cover. Finally those individuals who care deeply about security and near full bed access at all times, and are willing to spend on the higher end, may be best suited for a back flip hard folding cover.
Our consensus pick for best tonneau cover is the tri fold cover. It offers the most versatility, ease of use, and durability for any weather condition or season. Choosing between a soft top or hard top can come down to your budget and how much you value the added security of a solid, hard cover to protect your precious cargo. But choose the cover that best suits your truck and needs. Ensure you select a brand that is a trusted best seller, and from a reputable vendor that offers you the ability to see and touch the product in person if desired.
Now that we’ve covered the benefits of owning a tonneau cover and the range of options available on the market, you’re one step closer to choosing the best cover for your truck and how you intend to use it.
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