How to Choose the Best Tonneau Cover

With all of the different options available, choosing a tonneau cover can be a hard decision to make. It is important to remember that tonneau covers are made to fit specific year, make, model, and bed lengths, and they are not a universal fit type product. Knowing the features available on the covers designed to fit your truck is our expertise. We want to help take the confusion out of your tonneau cover decision.Things to Consider:
Tonneau cover installed on black pickup truck

Tonneau Cover Style

Tonneau covers are offered in a wide variety of types and styles. The right style for you is largely personal preference.
Tonneau Cover Style Chart

Roll-Up Covers

A roll-up tonneau cover allows access to the truck bed by rolling up and out of the way in order to leave the truck bed open. Many roll-up covers are held in place by hook and loop fasteners or by snaps, though some covers secure inside a channel along the truck bed side rails. A tonneau cover that rolls up will offer virtually full bed access when it is rolled up.
Roll-up tonneau cover installed on pickup truck
Tonneau cover in rolled up position installed on pickup truck
Hard roll-up tonneau cover in rolled up position installed on pickup truck
Hard, Roll-Up Cover
Roll-up covers come in hard or soft-type styles. Hard roll-up covers, like the Truxedo Titanium and the BAK Revolver X2, combine the security and strength benefits of a hard cover with the traditional design and ease of use of a roll-up cover. The Titanium and Revolver X2 tonneau covers are made from an aluminum underside with a vinyl top.
Hard roll-up tonneau cover in rolled up position installed on pickup truck
Hard, Roll-Up Cover
Roll-up covers come in hard or soft-type styles. Hard roll-up covers, like the Truxedo Titanium and the BAK Revolver X2, combine the security and strength benefits of a hard cover with the traditional design and ease of use of a roll-up cover. The Titanium and Revolver X2 tonneau covers are made from an aluminum underside with a vinyl top.

Retractable Covers

Retractable tonneau covers will allow access to the truck bed by rolling up from the tailgate into a container at the front of the truck bed. These covers don't add to the height of the truck bed even when retracted since the storage canister sits below the bed rails. Some of the retractable covers are even motorized to be able to retract them with just the push of a button. These covers allow you to customize the amount of truck bed that is uncovered because of how they slide along the bed side rails.Retrax makes their covers from either aluminum or Lexan polycarbonate, while BAK's retractable cover is made from aluminum. For Retrax, the polycarbonate construction allows them to offer their covers at a slightly lower price point. Retrax also offers their retractable covers in either a manually retractable style or a powered retractable tonneau cover. The powered cover will connect directly to your vehicle's battery and it features an electromagnetic brake that allows the cover to be locked at any position.
Retractable tonneau cover installed on pickup truck

Hatch-Style Covers

Hatch-style tonneau covers are a more traditional design that comes to mind when many people think of a tonneau cover. These covers lift up from the tailgate in a single piece to allow access to the truck bed. To have access to the full truck bed, such as when moving large cargo, the cover would need to be removed from the truck bed.These hatch-style covers from Craftec and Extang are made of standard vinyl with an aluminum frame. This makes the cover lightweight and easy to open and close, while still protecting your cargo.
Hatch-style tonneau cover installed on pickup truck
Hatch-style tonneau cover in open position installed on pickup truck

Installation/Mounting

Tonneau covers typically install on a rail system that is clamped to the inside edge of the truck bed side rails. The rails are normally clamped to the bed rails with no drilling required, and are a somewhat permanent installation. Some covers don't use rails and attach directly to the bed side rails, making installation and removal of the cover easier.
Clamping tonneau cover rail system to bed rails
Pickup truck tonneau cover installation procedure
Pickup truck tonneau cover installation procedure
Another difference among tonneau covers is how far above the truck bed the top of the cover sits. Some covers sit flush with the bed rails, while others can reach an inch or so above the bed rails.
Pickup truck tonneau cover installation procedure
If you use your truck bed's stake pockets often to help secure cargo, you'll also want to consider if the tonneau cover's rails will cover the stake pockets. This is more common in retractable covers.

Brand

Some tonneau cover manufactures are driven by offering the most budget friendly covers, while others shoot for using the highest quality materials. Our installers agree that when it comes to how well the covers fit, quality definitely fits better than the economic covers. We've ranked our tonneau cover manufactures from those shooting for the lowest prices to those who offer the highest quality products.
Access Company Logo
AccessAccess offers a number of options for soft, roll-up covers. With Access, we begin to see an increase in quality, features, and price. The covers from Access are designed for a more permanent-type installation, since they do include a frame and rails that need to be installed on the truck bed's sides. Covers come in either polyester or vinyl, come with either a standard profile or a low profile, and will mount inside your truck bed's side rails rather than on top of the rails.
BAK Company Logo
BAKGetting to the tonneau covers from BAK brings us to higher quality covers. BAK makes hard tonneau covers that fold-up, roll-up, or retract from materials like aluminum, aluminum and fiberglass, and aluminum and vinyl. These covers fall into a higher price budget because of the strong and durable construction and high quality of the covers.
Bestop Company Logo
BestopBestop offers their vinyl, soft, folding tonneau covers at a good entry-level price. They have also designed their covers to install without any additional rails being installed on the truck. A more unique product offered by Bestop is their soft shell camper top. This is a polyester cover that functions similarly to a cross between a vehicle soft top and a traditional camper shell. The windows will zip out and the top of the shell can be folded down to carry taller cargo.
Craftec Company Logo
CraftecCraftec offers hatch-style, soft tonneau covers made from standard vinyl. These covers are another entry-level, budget-friendly solution to cover the cargo in your truck bed. The hatch-style cover means that the cover must be removed in order to have full access to your truck bed. These covers do not require additional full-length side rails to be installed.
Extang Company Logo
ExtangExtang works to bring a variety of tonneau covers in order to fit every style and budget. With both soft and hard-type covers, Extang offers roll-up, fold-up, and hatch-style tonneau covers. Their covers come in a selection of different constructions, such as fiberglass-reinforced plastic, polypropylene, premium canvas, or standard vinyl. Quality tonneau covers for every price range are available from Extang.
Lomax Company Logo
LomaxLomax specializes in hard, folding, aluminum tonneau covers that are lightweight, strong, and easy to install. The covers clamp to the existing bed rails, so there are no additional rails that need to be installed and no need to drill into your truck bed. The tri-fold design allows you to open 2/3 of your truck bed when you have a need to carry something that won't fit under the tonneau cover. For full access to the truck bed, the cover must be removed. Lomax tonneau covers fall in the middle of the price spectrum and offer an easy-to-use, quality cover.
Pace Edwards Company Logo
Pace EdwardsPace Edwards makes high-quality tonneau covers designed for ease of use, security, and functionality. These high-end tonneau covers are all hard, retractable covers that don't require drilling for installation, are made from rigid aluminum panels, and offer full bed access when the cover is retracted. Pace Edwards offers a cover with integrated t-slots for a rail expansion system, making sure you can carry all of your gear when you need it most. Some covers are offered in powered models, meaning you can have an open truck bed with just the push of a button.
Retrax Company Logo
RetraxRetrax makes top of the line tonneau covers. They offer hard, retractable covers made from either aluminum or polycarbonate that are some of the strongest on the market. The tonneau covers come in manual or powered retracting options that can be stopped anywhere along the track to offer as much or as little bed access as needed. When not covering the truck bed, the tonneau cover will store in a canister at the front of the bed, under the cover. Retrax also features a lock built into the cover to provided added security to your cargo.
Tonno Pro Company Logo
Tonno ProTonno Pro is a great entry level brand tonneau cover. They offer their tonneau covers at a budget-friendly price, and the covers work well to keep your truck bed cargo away from prying eyes. Soft covers available in folding or rolling designs are available from Tonno Pro. These covers are made from tear-resistant, double-sided vinyl. Tonno Pro also offers a hard, folding cover made from an aluminum frame and aluminum panels with a vinyl cover. These covers install directly to the truck bed sides without any additional side rails.
Truxedo Company Logo
TruxedoTruxedo offers a variety of tonneau covers to fit a variety of needs. They offer styles such as hard, roll-up covers and roll-up or fold-up soft tonneau covers. Some covers are the traditional style, with a soft, vinyl, roll-up cover that secures with hook and loop fasteners. Other covers work to expand a tried and true design by offering new features, such as being able to fold a section of the cover back from the cab, or creating a hard tonneau cover that will roll up. Truxedo offers a cover for every budget.
Related ArticlesWritten by: Victoria B

Questions and Comments about this Article

Ben D.

I am looking for a tonneau cover for a F350 long box truck with a tool box. I tow with a Reese goose box. I would like a tonneau that is low profile. I am concerned about clearance of the bed rails to the pin box. What would you recommend? Alternatively, without a toolbox what would you recommend for something that does not use any rails but is low profile and rolls/folds up out of the way while towing?

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Les D.

@BenD If you have a 2020 model I would recommend something like the Pace Edwards # 311-SWFA19A45 Switch Blade retractable tonneau cover whose rail lip only sits on the rail. This will clear your pin box. I don't think a toolbox will work with this application. If you can provide your model year, I can make a specific recommendation.

Reply from Ben D.

@LesD The truck is a 2017. Thanks for the help!

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Les D.

For your 2017 F350 with 6-3/4 foot bed, you can use the Leer # LE74FR Quad-Fold cover. If you have an 8 foot bed you can use the Leer # 311-SWFA19A45 Switchblade retractable cover. Both of these mount below the rail.

Dennis S.

Looking for a hard cover for my 2022 Chev Silverado 3500 HD (High Country). I have the standard box and I haul a fifth wheel RV. Do not want to cover back window when towing. I have had FoldaCover for years and liked them very much, but the new box size on the 2022 Chev it will not allow transfer also I believe the company is out of business. What are your suggestions?

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Victoria B.

For your 2022 Silverado 3500 I recommend checking out the BAKFlip G2 # BAK84FR and the BAK Revolver X2 # BAK64FR . The G2 is a hard, folding cover that is similar to your previous tonneau cover. The Revolver is also a hard cover, but it is a rolling cover rather than folding. So it will offer you security when closed, but will also give you a nearly entirely open bed without blocking your whole rear window. I have also linked all of the hard tonneau covers we offer that are confirmed to fit your truck.

Tony

Are hard roll up covers easily removed from the truck? Thanks

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Victoria B.

Hard roll up covers like the BAK Revolver models can be removed, but because they use a rail system that the cover itself is bolted to I would not consider them easy to remove. The same thing would apply to a hard retractable cover because the cover cannot be removed without a good amount a disassembly. The easiest covers to remove and reinstall are the folding covers that have an integrated frame and use clamps to keep the cover on the truck bed. For a hard folding cover that comes off easily check out the Extang Solid Fold 2.0.

Dennis

I cant find any roll up hard covers for my 2021 Ram 1500 6'4" bed " WITH A MULTIFUNCTION TAILGATE" but no ram box. What covers will fit this truck as nothing is shown in a full open bed access. Can you help me with covers that will fit my truck ?

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Jon G.

All of the hard roll-up covers that we have for a 2021 Ram 1500 are not compatible with the multi-function tailgate. I am attaching a link to our selection of other hard tonneau covers that you can filter through. Be sure to look at the installation notes to see if it is compatible with the multi-function tailgate or not.

Mike S.

What is the best cover - ladder rack combination for a 2021 Ram 1500 with 5.5 foot bed. It is very confusing to determine compatibility.

Etrailer Expert
Reply from Kef G.

Because of the mounting locations, there aren't many combinations of ladder racks and tonneau covers. One of those combinations are the Adarac Pro Series Custom Truck Bed Ladder Rack, part # A4000965 , with the BAKFlip MX4 Hard Tonneau Cover, part # BAK448227 .



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