Your pickup truck is ideal for carrying equipment, luggage, or other larger things. But leaving these things out in an open truck bed is too tempting for bad guys with sticky fingers. And keeping stuff thrown in the back of your truck out of the weather is just plain common sense.
A truck bed cover can protect your gear. At first glance, it seems like a simple enough solution.
But there’s a bit more to consider. You should have a good idea of what you need to protect and how much protection you need. Material, ease of installation, and price will all be important factors in your decision.
Truck bed covers—also called tonneaus or tonneau covers—are available in four basic types: folding, roll-up, retractable, and rack-integrated. We’ve checked reviews from BestNetReview.com and CarCareTotal.com to find six covers that are durable and easy to use in each category.
The best folding truck bed covers
A folding truck bed cover folds in sections and has a special mechanism that allows easy folding and unfolding. You can unfold the cover in increments so that the contents of the truck bed aren’t exposed all at once.
The cover’s material can be hard or soft. If security isn’t a real priority, then a soft folding cover made from vinyl or canvas will cover your stuff well enough.
If you want a more secure tonneau, a hard truck cap made of vinyl and aluminum is a better choice. The MaxMate TCD371011 is an excellent choice for Dodge Ram 1500 owners who want a sturdy folding truck bed made from marine-grade vinyl with an aluminum frame. It comes pre-assembled, but you’ll need to drill small holes in your truck bed to install clamps that hold the cover down.
For Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra trucks, we like the Tyger Auto TG-BC3C1006. It’s made from marine-grade vinyl and heavy-duty aluminum and comes fully assembled with has special clamps for easy, no-drill installation.
Prices for trifold cover start at $179. Ford truck owners can choose a similar product, the Tyger Auto TG-BC3F1041, an equally durable and easy-to-use truck cap. This model starts at $199.
The best roll-up cover
A roll-up tonneau cover allows you to access the contents of the truck bed by rolling up the cover. Common ways to attach roll-up covers to the truck bed are snaps or hooks and loops. You can find a few tonneaus that attach through a channel along the bed’s side rails.
A roll-up has a slight advantage over a folding cover. If you need to stow things in the truck bed that don’t need covering, you can simply roll up the tonneau. It stays on the truck while staying out of the way. A folding cover needs to be uninstalled completely to use your open truck bed.
Like folding tonneaus, roll-ups can be made of hard or soft materials. Similarly, a roll-up made from a hard material will be more secure than a soft roll-up.
The manufacturer claims that the Truxedo’s design is aerodynamic enough to improve gas mileage by 10%. The roll-up for a 6.4-foot bed costs $305, which is competitive with roll-ups with snaps but still cheaper than some higher-end models.
The best retractable truck bed cover
A retractable cover is just what it sounds like: the cover extends out and retracts into a container at the top of the truck bed. It consists of aluminum slats mounted on a sliding rail and is operated by a manual or automatic mechanism.
While the aluminum construction is highly durable and more secure, be forewarned that this type of tonneau will be pricier than either the folding or roll-up options.
A big advantage of this type of cover is that you can open a retractable cover as much or as little as you need. Depending on the size of your truck bed and how many parts are on the cover you buy, though, installation may take up to a few hours.
A great option in this category is the RetraxPRO XR, which is a kind of a hybrid between a retractable cover and a rack-integrated one. It’s a T-slot style that is strong enough to store cargo on top of it as well as underneath. You can lock in your cargo with a key fob, too. Its proprietary rail system works with most T-slot accessories, although none are included with this product.
This retractable cover costs $1,929, as offered for the 6.5-foot truck bed on a 2018 Ford F-150.
The best rack-integrated tonneau
A rack-integrated truck bed cover combines metal racks that are installed on the truck bed rails with a hard folding cover. This type is by far the priciest amongst truck bed covers, but it is also the most secure and durable. Depending on the model, installation may take longer than other types of covers.
Rack-integrated covers offer a practical advantage because cargo can be carried on the racks in addition to underneath the cover. This is especially helpful if the stuff you’re carrying is irregularly shaped.
The BAKFlip CS-F1 Hard Folding Truck Bed Cover/Integrated Rack System is tough, reliable, and ideal for work trucks. The hard folding cover is made of aluminum and it’s designed so that you can access 100% of the truck bed.
The racks hold up to 500 pounds and can be positioned in multiple ways. This model can be installed or taken down in minutes according to the manufacturer, and an Amazon reviewer confirms its ease of installation.
The BAKFlip CS-F1 is priced at $1,769, as shown on a recent-model Toyota Tundra.