Trifold? Solid? Roll-up? Retracting? Your needs will determine the kind you should buy.

amazon, choosing a tonneau cover: which one is right for you?
Amazon

This article was updated September 13, 2022 with new products and fresh information.

Pickup owners love their trucks. This is known. What’s also clear is that the majority of pickup owners don’t need or use their truck beds very often. Covering your truck bed with a tonneau cover can protect it from the elements and debris. And there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that covering your truck’s bed can reduce aerodynamic drag and, therefore, increase fuel efficiency.


Top-Rated Tonneau Covers by Type

  • Retractable Tonneau Cover—RetraxPRO XR Retractable Truck Bed Tonneau Cover
  • Folding Tonneau Cover—Gator EFX Hard Tri-Fold Truck Bed Tonneau Cover
  • Hinged Tonneau Cover—UnderCover SE One-Piece Truck Bed Tonneau Cover
  • Roll-Up Tonneau Cover—TruXedo TruXport Soft Roll Up Truck Bed Tonneau Cover
  • Snap-On Tonneau Cover—Lund Genesis Snap Truck Bed Tonneau Cover

    A tonneau cover protects your truck bed when you’re not using it and potentially improves your gas mileage. But with so many types and styles of tonneau covers on the market, which one is right for you?

    The answer lies in how you use your truck. If you’re using your truck bed for work, hauling supplies daily and getting in and out of the bed often, you’ll want a tonneau cover that’s sturdy and easy to use. If your truck is mainly for stylin’ and profilin’, with the occasional grocery run or moving-day haul thrown in, you’ll want a protective cover that looks great—and works when you need it.

    Regardless of where you are on this pickup-truck spectrum (we’re guessing most truck owners fall somewhere in between the two extremes), a tonneau cover is an investment worth considering. In addition to keeping your truck bed free of dirt and debris, it will protect the paint. Moreover, while any bump in fuel efficiency will be negligible—and could be negated by the additional weight—the savings can add up. Especially when the average fuel-tank size of a standard pickup is around 25 gallons.

    Here are the most popular types of tonneau covers and their benefits—and drawbacks.


    Types of Tonneau Covers

    Retractable Tonneau Covers

    For fully featured coverage that’s easy to use and disappears out of sight for a sleek look, consider a retractable tonneau cover. Retractables are great because the unused portion of the cover rolls up into itself toward the cab of the truck, exposing as much or as little of the bed as you need. This is usually performed by hand, but many of today’s retractable tonneau covers are electric powered, making them a snap to use. Just push a button (usually on a key fob) and the cover retracts automatically.

    amazon, choosing a tonneau cover: which one is right for you?
    Amazon

    Retractable Truck Bed Tonneau Cover

    RetraxPRO XR

    $2,099.00

    SHOP NOW

    • Choose Manual or Remote power
    • Options for most truck models
    • Pricier than others

    spec sheet

    Dimensions LxWxH 74 x 5 x 7 inches
    Weight 90 pounds

    Retractable tonneau covers look fantastic, and they’re sleek and easy to use. If there’s a downside, it’s that they’re generally made of soft fabric, like a roll-up or snap-on tonneau cover. This makes them more susceptible to rips and tears, as well as water damage. But like roll-ups, many of today’s retractable tonneau covers are manufactured using hard composite in dozens of segment slats that are hinged every inch or so, making them more durable. Best of all, most have locking mechanisms, providing trunk space and security. For our money, an electric retractable tonneau cover is one of the best-looking and easiest to use truck-bed coverings.


    Folding Tonneau Covers

    Folding covers are most often made of three panels that fold back toward the cab, exposing just as much of the truck bed as desired. Whether they’re trifold, or have two or even four panels, folding covers are probably the most popular style of tonneau cover. Usually made of hard-composite plastic with metal hinges, they’re more expensive than their soft counterparts, but not as pricy as retractable or paint-matched hard-shell covers. So they’re still relatively affordable.

    amazon, choosing a tonneau cover: which one is right for you?
    Amazon

    Folding tonneau covers

    Gator EFX

    $699.97

    $587.97 (16% off)

    SHOP NOW

    • Comes in 5’7″, 6’7″, and 8’2″ sizes
    • Most makes/models available
    • Clamps may be flimsy

    spec sheet

    Dimensions LxWxH 53 x 35 x 7 inches
    Weight 53.6 pounds

    Folding covers are more durable than soft rolling or snap-on tonneau covers and are super useful for hauling small, awkwardly sized items that rise above the level of the bed. Get one with a lock, and you’re effectively adding a trunk to your pickup, which is super-handy. However, they’re also heavier, and they definitely cost more. We think it’s worth it.


    Hinged Tonneau Covers

    Effectively a lid for your pickup truck’s bed, a hinged tonneau cover props up on hinges near the cab and stays put via struts. Typically made of hard-shell composite material but sometimes made of soft fabric with an internal frame, they’re great for protecting your bed finish and reducing aerodynamic drag.

    amazon, choosing a tonneau cover: which one is right for you?
    Amazon

    Hinged tonneau Cover

    UnderCover SE One-Piece

    UNDERCOVER amazon.com

    $999.00

    SHOP NOW

    • Sizes for most makes/models available
    • Three-year warranty
    • More expensive and heavier than roll-up or snap-on types

    spec sheet

    Dimensions LxWxH 78 x 86 x 5 incheses
    Weight 96 pounds

    While the benefits are obvious, hinged tonneau covers aren’t perfect for everyone. When opened, they expose the entire truck bed—whether you need it or not. Further, hard-shell tonneau covers prevent you from hauling anything taller than the level of your bed. You can’t leave it propped open while driving; the cover will catch air like a sail on a boat, likely ripping the struts right out of their moorings. Hard-shell hinged tonneau covers look sleek and can often be paint matched for an even purer aesthetic. We don’t recommend a fabric hinged tonneau cover; if you’re looking to save money or weight, a roll-up or snap-on cover will be far more functional and nearly as secure.


    Roll-Up Tonneau Covers

    A roll-up tonneau cover rolls up toward the truck cab, exposing as much or as little of the bed as you want. It’s great for hauling odd-shaped items, as well as for quick and easy access to a portion of the bed for small loads, like bags of groceries. Look for roll-ups with removable crossbeam supports, too, as these can get in the way when you need the whole bed for picking up your annual Christmas tree or helping your buddy move.

    amazon, choosing a tonneau cover: which one is right for you?
    Amazon

    Soft Roll Up Truck Bed Tonneau Cover

    TruXedo TruXport

    $369.99

    $329.99 (11% off)

    SHOP NOW

    • Lightweight, affordable, and easy to install
    • Sizes to fit most trucks
    • Not as durable or secure as a hard shell tonneau cover

    spec sheet

    Dimensions LxWxH 80 x 7 x 7 inches
    Weight 5 pounds

    While they perform basically the same function of a snap-on, exposing only as much of the bed as is needed, roll-ups can be more reliable than snap-on tonneau covers. There are no snaps to break and corners to tear while stretching. However, most roll-ups are also made of fabric material and will be less durable than hard-shell tonneau covers. They also need to be secured once rolled up. Some newer roll-up tonneau covers are being manufactured with hard composite and roll up section by section. They cost a bit more, but, in our opinion, their durability will pay off in the end.


    Snap-On Tonneau Covers

    Snap-on tonneau covers are the least expensive—and least durable. That said, they’re also the lightest in weight and can be ordered in custom sizes. Again, any fuel efficiency gained by covering your truck bed can be negated by adding all that extra weight to the vehicle, so a snap-on tonneau cover is a lightweight, inexpensive solution. They also provide easy, quick access to all or part of the truck bed.

    amazon, choosing a tonneau cover: which one is right for you?
    Amazon

    Snap-On Tonneau Cover

    Lund Genesis

    $296.53

    SHOP NOW

    • Most affordable; easy to install and use
    • Made in the USA; limited lifetime warranty
    • Flimsy; not for securing tools or valuables

    spec sheet

    Dimensions LxWxH 75.5 x 5 x 7.75 inches
    Weight 24 pounds

    The downside is obvious: Snap-on tonneau covers are made of soft fabric material that can wear and (literally) tear more easily than hard tonneau covers. Most have an aluminum frame that bolts onto the top of the truck bed and utilize metal crossbars for support. However, these crossbars can be unwieldy or obtrusive when you want to haul large items. Look for snap-ons with removable crossbeams.

    In our opinion, snap-on tonneau covers also don’t add much in the way of aesthetic appeal. Frankly, we wouldn’t recommend one unless you’re in a bind and need a quick fix. Spend a little more, and you’ll get a lot more.


    FAQs About Tonneau Covers

    Q: Do Tonneau Covers Improve Gas Mileage?

    Frankly, the jury is still out on this. Some studies (usually those touted by tonneau-cover manufacturers and retailers) claim an emphatic “yes!” Others, like this outdated 2013 study from Consumer Reports, claim that any aerodynamic advantage is negligible, and overall mileage is actually compromised by the added weight a tonneau cover brings. We’re looking forward to putting this theory to the test ourselves in the future.

    For now, while a tonneau cover can theoretically reduce aerodynamic drag and improve fuel efficiency and, therefore, gas mileage, in our opinion the greatest value here lies in the security and protection it provides—and the overall improved looks of a truck. But if you’re really looking at a tonneau cover to save you money, opt for a lightweight one.

    Q: Should I Get a Hard-Shell or Soft-Fabric Tonneau Cover?

    If you want waterproof security and a locking mechanism to protect any valuables you may want to keep in your tuck, you should opt for a hard-shell tonneau cover. But be advised, it will add weight to the vehicle and potentially negate any added fuel efficiency. A soft cover will be lighter weight, but won’t be as secure or durable. Your call.

    Q: Can I Install a Tonneau Cover Myself?

    Sure, you can. Most modern tonneau covers can be installed by any reasonably handy do-it-yourselfer with the proper tools—and the willingness to experiment on his own vehicle. To that end, if you’re unsure, we definitely recommend professional installation. Hey, it’s your truck.

    Still undecided about which tonneau cover is right for you? Check out some of these great selections.


    Top-Rated Tonneau Covers

    tonneau covers

    amazon, choosing a tonneau cover: which one is right for you?

    Lund Genesis Elite Tri-fold Tonneau Cover

    $369.00

    SHOP NOW

    • Easy installation, no tools required
    • Lifetime warranty against defects
    • Canvas fabric not waterproof

    If you’re looking for an inexpensive, no-frills tonneau cover you can’t go wrong here.

    amazon, choosing a tonneau cover: which one is right for you?

    TruXedo Edge Tonneau Cover

    $449.00

    SHOP NOW

    • Made of leather
    • Available for multiple brands and styles
    • Soft covers aren’t as secure as hard shell

    This real leather tonneau cover adds a bit more class, and it installs easily with just three clamps.

    amazon, choosing a tonneau cover: which one is right for you?

    Extang Trifecta Toolbox 2.0 Tonneau Cover

    $479.00

    SHOP NOW

    • Soft tarp material is lightweight
    • Self-locking clamps
    • Tool box not included

    This soft cover is ideal for the job site. It works with most 18″-20″ tool boxes.

    amazon, choosing a tonneau cover: which one is right for you?

    TruXedo Deuce 2 Tonneau Cover

    $549.99

    SHOP NOW

    • No-drill installation
    • Automatic tension control keeps cover tight in all temperatures
    • Vinyl not as nice-looking as leather or as secure as composite

    Unique dual-action design rolls up toward the cab or folds back from the front.

    amazon, choosing a tonneau cover: which one is right for you?

    Access Limited Tonneau Cover

    $575.10

    SHOP NOW

    • Easy to install
    • Auto-latch system
    • Hook-and-loop seal isn’t as durable or secure as some other options

    Made of commercial-grade, double-coated, reinforced vinyl, this is one of the best soft tonneau covers you’ll find.

    amazon, choosing a tonneau cover: which one is right for you?

    BAK Revolver X4 Tonneau Cover

    $909.99

    SHOP NOW

    • No-drill, easy installation
    • Works with most 5th-wheel hitches
    • Weather-resistant, not weatherproof

    Rotational locking aluminum slats under a vinyl cover lock into side mounting rails for unbeatable soft-cover security.

    amazon, choosing a tonneau cover: which one is right for you?

    UnderCover SE Tonneau Cover

    $1,069.00

    SHOP NOW

    • Weather-tight seal
    • Built-in interior LED light
    • Adds about 60 pounds of weight to your truck

    Durable ABS composite construction and unique x-frame design make it tough, while the simple matte black finish means it’s universal for most models.

    amazon, choosing a tonneau cover: which one is right for you?

    Patriot Eagle SE Tonneau Cover

    $1,897.15

    SHOP NOW

    • Hinged struts won’t bend
    • Interior dome light
    • Special orders only; no cancellations

    The contoured design of this fiberglass hard shell tonneau cover is custom-made specifically for your truck and paint-matched.

    amazon, choosing a tonneau cover: which one is right for you?

    DiamondBack 180 Tonneau Cover

    $1,579.00

    SHOP NOW

    • Butterfly opening provides access to both sides of the truck bed
    • 3/8-inch keyed deadbolt lock provides complete security for tools and more
    • Center spine limits hauling ability

    A serious cover for serious work, it’s made of .080-inch alloy aluminum diamond plate and can support up to 400 pounds.

    amazon, choosing a tonneau cover: which one is right for you?

    Pace Edwards JackRabbit Tonneau Cover

    $2,112.00

    SHOP NOW

    • “Latch & Lock” system ensures the cover locks every 12 inches
    • Clamp-on, no-drill installation
    • Rather pricey

    Made of heavy duty aluminum with a matte black finish, the cover retracts out of the way and into a canister at the front of the truck bed.

    amazon, choosing a tonneau cover: which one is right for you?

    GatorTrax Electric Tonneau Cover

    $2,187.00

    SHOP NOW

    • Made of impact-resistant Lexan, not plastic or ABS
    • 11″x11″ sealed storage leaves plenty of room in the bed
    • The price is prohibitive but the product is top-flight

    Buy at Amazon

    Looking for an electric. low-profile tonneau cover that looks sleek and is a breeze to use? Look no further.

    amazon, choosing a tonneau cover: which one is right for you?

    Retrax PowertraxPRO XR Tonneau Cover

    $2,945.00

    SHOP NOW

    • Perfect for weekend warriors as well as lumber and supplies
    • Aluminum slats can support over 500 lbs. evenly distrtibuted
    • Crossbars are not included but are relatively inexpensive

    Constructed of heavy-duty aluminum slats, the T-slot track system lets you fit crossbars to haul things like kayaks, bike racks, and more.

    From: Autoweek

    Jon Langston The Senior Commerce Editor for Hearst Autos, Jon Langston is an avid motorcyclist and gear collector whose work has appeared in Men’s Journal, The Drive, Rider, Task & Purpose, Cycle World, and more.

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