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How to Choose the Best Tonneau Cover For You

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 a specific year, make, model, and bed length, so use our tonneau cover fitguide to make sure that your specific vehicle is compatible. Knowing the ins and outs of these tonneau covers is our expertise, and we want to help take the confusion out of your tonneau cover decision.We will discuss:
Tonneau cover installed on black pickup truck

Our Rating Criteria

Tonneau covers are offered in a wide variety of types and styles. While you will undoubtedly have a style you personally prefer, we have done our best to rate them so that you can have all the information you need to make the best choice possible. In order to take the guesswork out of picking a tonneau cover for your vehicle, we gave them all a grade on four criteria; those criteria are:
Easy to use
Is this cover quick to collapse? Can I get to my truck bed quickly? We may mention installation here, but this score is more about general usage.
Will this cover stand up to the elements? Would this cover do well in the rain? Snow? Hail? When life throws something at this cover, this is the measure of how it holds up.
How expensive is this cover? How long will it last? Will I likely have to pay for installation? All of these things will be considered in overall cost effectiveness.
This may be somewhat self explanatory, but how difficult is it to get in without permission? Are your belongings safe in your truck bed?
Our Grades
Soft Roll-up Cover
soft rollup
Easy to use - 2/5
Durable - 2/5
Price - $
Secure - 2/5
Hard Roll-up Cover
hard rollup
Easy to use - 3/5
Durable - 4/5
Price - $$$
Secure - 4/5
Soft Fold-up Cover
soft foldup
Easy to use - 4/5
Durable - 3/5
Price - $
Secure - 3/5
Hard Fold-up Cover
hard foldup
Easy to use - 4/5
Durable - 4/5
Price - $$$
Secure - 4/5
Retractable Cover
Easy to use - 5/5
Durable - 4/5
Price - $$$$
Secure - 5/5
Hatch-Style Cover
hatch style
Easy to use - 2/5
Durable - 5/5
Costly - $$$$
Secure - 5/5
Soft Roll-Up CoverEasy to use - 2/5The soft roll-up cover gets points because it can be rolled up partially to allow use of your truck bed. However, it can be difficult to roll these up alone, and time consuming if you want to roll it up completely. Especially compared to other types of tonneau covers.Durable - 2/5The soft roll-up cover is the least durable of all the ones on this list. It can hold up to standard weather conditions (though it may have trouble in more extreme situations like large amounts of snow or hail), and is made of sturdy material. But it can be cut, torn, or otherwise damaged much easier than other types of covers.Price - $This is where the soft roll-up cover shines. It is tied for the least expensive on this list and won't likely require professional installation.Secure - 2/5Hiding the contents in your truck bed from view will do a lot to deter potential thieves, but if they've decided to get into your truck bed, this cover will do little to stop them.Return to Score Cards
soft rollup cover
Hard Roll-Up CoverEasy to use - 3/5This cover can be partially or completely rolled up to allow partial or full use of the truck bed. The hard roll-up cover is easier to roll up alone than its soft roll-up cousin. The only thing keeping this from a higher score is that it can sometimes take a bit of time to completely roll up, and it takes up space in the truck bed when it is completely rolled up.Durable - 4/5The hardness of the cover itself, combined with the inherent flexibility of the rolling design, make this one of the more durable and long-lasting cover styles on the market. Price - $$$The hard covers fall in the middle of the pack here. Not as expensive as some of the more elaborate entries on this list, but not as budget-friendly as soft covers. Secure - 4/5This cover type is rather secure for a roll-up cover. You can add a lock to prevent the cover from being opened, and the harder construction makes it more difficult to break into.Return to Score Cards
hard roll up
Soft Fold-Up CoverEasy to use - 4/5Extremely simple to operate. Just grab and fold along the sections and it will quickly open or close. It loses a point because it still requires manual operation and only has a few options for partial truck bed usage (folded once, twice, or all the way up). But all in all, this is an extremely user-friendly tonneau cover. The only downside to folding tonneau covers is that they take up a decent amount of space, even when completely folded up, making 100% access to your truck bed impossible without removing the coverDurable - 3/5The folding frame gives it a bit more durability than a soft rolling cover, but it is still vulnerable to being torn, cut, or damaged. And the folding hinges can let in small amounts of water at times, so it isn't as waterproof as rolling covers. Price - $Similar in price to the soft roll-up cover. Tied for the most budget-friendly entry on this list. Secure - 3/5Slightly better than a soft roll-up cover and can be locked depending on the model. However, it can be cut and opened completely from the outside rather easily. Return to Score Cards
soft fold up
Hard Fold-up CoverEasy to use - 4/5Extremely easy to use just like the soft fold-up cover. Opens and closes easily and quickly, but isn't as versatile as a roll-up cover. It is noteworthy that the hard-cover segments are heavier, and therefore are somewhat more strenuous to fold than a soft-fold cover, but not enough to give it an overall lower score here. The major drawback, like soft fold-up covers, is that even when it is completely folded up, it still doesn't allow complete access to your truck bed unless removed.Durable - 4/5This is an extremely durable tonneau cover. It withstands the weather well, and will last a long time. The only weaknesses could be the folding hinges, which may let in trace amounts of water. But other than that, this cover will stand up to whatever is thrown at it.Price - $$$A bit more pricey than the soft-cover options, but when the overall durability is taken into consideration, this is a good long-term investment.Secure - 4/5All of the benefits of a folding cover with none of the drawbacks of a soft material. It can be locked down and is very difficult to break into. Overall one of the best tonneau cover types for securely hauling your things.Return to Score Cards
hard fold up
Retractable CoverEasy to use - 5/5Push it open, pull it closed. Extremely fast and easy to use. These can even be remote-controlled so they can be operated from within your truck cabin, with a key fob, or in some cases via Bluetooth. The cover is stored in a canister, that does take up some room in the bed of your truck, but overall an extremely easy-to-use cover.Durable - 4/5Extremely durable tonneau cover. However, with the added complexities of an electric retractable cover, there is more that can potentially go wrong. Change this to a perfect score if your cover is manually operated.Price - $$$$While this cover excels in just about every area, you will definitely be paying for that quality. This is the most expensive type of tonneau cover on this list. It does get a point for being very long-lasting. Secure - 5/5Can be locked from the outside and offers some of the most secure truck bed storage currently on the market. If you keep tools, expensive materials, or anything you don't want stolen in your truck bed, this cover has you covered. Return to Score Cards
retractable cover
Hatch-Style CoverEasy to use - 2/5Very easy and quick to use. However, it leaves virtually no flexibility in your truck bed. You can't store anything too tall, and standing up in your truck bed to haul or move anything is no longer an option. Durable - 5/5Considering it is a single piece of metal that doesn't move or collapse in any way, this is the most durable option on the market by far.Price - $$$$This one is tricky. While it is a very durable tonneau cover for the money, many retailers no longer even sell them. So even if you find one you like, it might not fit your truck and will need to be made from the ground up. The difficulty of finding one that works for your vehicle, the cost of the cover itself, and having it professionally installed drive the price up.Secure - 5/5It's a solid piece of metal that locks from the outside. The contents of your truck bed are safe when there's a hatch-style tonneau cover over them.Return to Score Cards
soft rollup cover


Depending on what style you end up with, installing a tonneau cover can be complicated. Mistakes can be costly, potentially damaging your tonneau cover, or even the truck itself. Not to mention that your cover will not work as well if it is installed incorrectly. If you are unfamiliar, or uncomfortable with the process, we would suggest having your tonneau cover professionally installed to avoid any damage. Soft covers generally can be installed by a professional for roughly $150-$500, and hard covers cost about $500, but may go all the way up to almost $2,000 depending on the type and features. Click here to search for professional installers near you! However, if you are experienced or want to install your tonneau cover yourself, we have installation videos for many of the tonneau covers we offer, and for a variety of vehicles. Consult the video below for an example of step-by-step instructions!


etrailer works with a number of brands, all of which have great products with varying pros and cons. We carry a variety of tonneau brands, which you can browse below. Not sure which one meets your needs? Tell us what you're looking for in the comments below and we can point you in the right direction. Related ProductsRelated Articles
jacob j
About Jacob JTo say that my path to etrailer was complicated would be an understatement. I have always had a passion for helping others, and throughout my education and career as a social worker or community liaison, I have loved writing as a hobby. When I found etrailer and was given the opportunity to turn something I enjoyed doing into a career that helped people access information and products they need to live the best life they possibly could, I was instantly interested. I am a lover of the outdoors, have been loading and unloading trailers since I before I was old enough to drive them, and have spent my recent years working in and around the automotive industry. And I am excited to share all of the things I have learned (more often than not the hard way).I consider myself a perpetual student, and etrailer gives me the opportunity to learn something new every day and share my findings with others. Which is something I am extremely grateful for. I look forward to continuing to help people find the answers they need to make memories for a lifetime.



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