Tonneau covers are used in pickup trucks to secure cargo in the truck bed area. Benefits to installing a tonneau cover include protection from weather elements such as snow and rain, as well as security against theft. Many truck owners also install truck covers to enhance the appearance of their vehicle. When purchasing a tonneau cover, you’ll find there are several different types. So how do you know which is the best type of tonneau cover? Common tonneau cover choices include roll-up covers, retractable and hard (fiberglass or aluminum) options.
Roll-up Tonneau Covers
Roll-up covers are generally the least expensive tonneau cover option. They’re also easy to install and require no drilling. Typically, roll-up covers take between 10-15 minutes to install, making them appealing to pickup truck drivers who are looking for a simple solution. “The cover attaches to the truck bed with clamps and opens and closes with a hook and loop system,” according to Truck Champ.
Roll-up covers are made from a soft material, usually consisting of vinyl or cloth “which uses a rib-like structure to support the fabric and keep it taut,” according to Wikipedia. Once installed, roll-up tonneau covers are opened by carefully rolling the cloth material back, towards the truck cab.
Retractable Tonneau Covers
A more durable tonneau cover option is the retractable cover. This cover requires a semi-permanent installation, where the unit is mounted at the front of the bed as well as the sides. From there, the cover retracts from the tailgate of the truck towards the cab.
Retractable tonneaus are made of vinyl or aluminum materials and thought to be more secure and long-lasting than soft tonneau covers. “This type of tonneau cover takes about an hour to install, but provides super ease of use once installation is complete. This type of truck bed cover easily retracts to allow complete access to your truck bed and truck bed contents, and its small canister depth provides maximum truck bed storage capacity,” according to Truck Champ.
Hard Tonneau Covers
A hard tonneau cover is made of aluminum or fiberglass. These covers are more sturdy and long lasting. These tonneau covers can be painted to match the exterior color of the truck. They also can be locked, which allows truck drivers to secure their cargo when they truck is unattended. “These covers are usually heavy and require gas struts to assist in opening and closing. They operate much like a vehicle’s hood, typically opening from the tailgate end of the bed (back to front). Some have multiple compartments that open front to back, back to front, side to side, or even rise vertically. Fiberglass, hard plastic or aluminum tonneau covers are sometimes installed as a factory option on new vehicles,” according to Bed of a Truck.
Hard tonneaus require a more permanent install, which may turn truck drivers off. If you’re looking to avoid drilling into your truck, this is not a good option for you. Hard overs are also the most costly of the tonneau cover options. “You’ll pay a pretty penny for these types of covers but they are really great quality products that each offer something special” according to Bed of a Truck.
Summary: Which is the Best Type of Tonneau Cover?
There are several different types of tonneau covers to choose from. Ultimately, there is not one best type of tonneau cover. Each style has specific pros and cons, depending on your budget, and how you plan to use it. In general, tonneau covers are a great way to protect your truck bed as well as your cargo.