Pickup trucks are popular vehicles that offer versatility and cargo hauling capabilities. Many truck owners outfit their trucks with accessories like bed extenders and tonneau covers to enhance functionality. But can you use both accessories together? Let’s explore the possibilities of mounting a bed extender with a tri-fold tonneau cover on your truck.
What Is A Bed Extender And How Does It Work?
A bed extender is an accessory that mounts to the tailgate of a pickup truck and extends rearwards to provide extra cargo space. Some key features of bed extenders:
How Do Bed Extenders Attach To The Truck?
- They mount to the top of the tailgate via brackets or clamps. Some use bolt-on brackets while others have clamps that tighten onto the tailgate top.
What Are Bed Extenders Made Of?
- Most are constructed from powder-coated steel or aluminum tubing for durability. The extending portion is covered in a mesh material or has slats to hold cargo.
How Far Do They Extend The Bed?
- When flipped out, bed extenders can add an extra 2 to 3 feet of usable cargo length. The extended portion folds up against the tailgate when not in use.
Do They Allow Full Access To The Tailgate?
- Yes, most bed extenders are designed so the tailgate can still be lowered completely with the extender mounted.
So in short, a bed extender is an easy way to temporarily gain more cargo capacity from your truck’s bed when needed. Next, let’s look at tonneau covers.
What Is A Tonneau Cover And How Does It Work?
A tonneau cover goes over the truck bed to protect cargo from weather and theft. Some key tonneau cover features:
What Are The Different Types of Tonneau Covers?
- Hard covers – Hard, rigid covers made from aluminum or fiberglass. Offers most protection but limits bed access.
- Soft covers – Vinyl covers stretched over a frame. More affordable but less durable than hard covers.
- Retractable covers – Roll up or retract to provide full bed access. More expensive but very versatile.
- Folding covers – Hinged panels fold up for cargo access. Tri-fold covers have 3 panels.
How Are Tonneau Covers Installed?
- Most tonneau covers clamp onto the bed sides or attach via a rail system. Installation varies by cover design.
Do They Impact Bed Access?
- Hard covers limit access when closed. Soft, retractable, and folding covers allow access to parts of the bed when opened partially.
So tonneau covers secure cargo and protect it from elements while allowing some bed access. Now let’s look at using both a bed extender and tonneau cover together.
Is It Possible To Mount A Bed Extender With A Tonneau Cover Already Installed?
This is the key question many truck owners have. Can you effectively use a bed extender if you already have a tonneau cover on your truck bed? The short answer is yes, it is possible in most cases depending on the bed extender style and tonneau cover type. Here are some key points:
What Tonneau Cover Types Work Best With Bed Extenders?
- Retractable – Fully retracts so bed extender can be used without interference. No issues.
- Tri-fold – Partial foldability allows bed extender in some positions. Must check clearance.
- Hard covers – Limited compatibility unless removed when using bed extender.
Does The Bed Extender Mounting Style Matter?
- Clamp-on extenders are most adaptable and easiest to install with a tonneau. Bracket mounting may have interference issues.
- Low profile extenders may also have better clearance over some tonneau covers.
What Positions Work For The Bed Extender?
- Folded up against the tailgate is no problem with any cover.
- Fully extended rearwards needs to clear the cover when folded or retracted.
- Angled positions may work with tri-fold covers partially opened.
So the key factors are making sure the bed extender can mount properly to the tailgate without interfering with the tonneau cover mounts. And when flipped out it needs adequate clearance over the cover. Some trial and error may be needed to find optimal positions.
Tips For Mounting A Bed Extender With A Tri-Fold Tonneau Cover
Tri-fold tonneau covers are a popular folding cover choice. Their 3-panel design allows partial opening for bed access. Here are some tips for mounting a bed extender with a tri-fold cover:
Choose A Clamp-On Bed Extender Style
- Clamp-on extenders are the easiest to install and remove as needed without impacting the tonneau cover mounting.
Ensure The Bed Extender Brackets Clear The Cover
- Measure first to make sure the extender brackets will clamp onto the tailgate without hitting the tonneau cover side rails or clamps.
Partially Open The Tri-Fold Cover When Using The Extender
- With the cover folded forward, you create clearance to allow the extender to flip rearwards.
Angle The Extender To Avoid Hitting The Cover
- If fully extending the extender hits the cover, try angling it partially open to create clearance.
Open Just The Rear Panel For Full Extension
- For maximum extension, you can just open the rear tri-fold panel and leave the front two closed.
With some adjustment and positioning, bed extenders and tri-fold tonneau covers can definitely be used together successfully.
Example Setups With Bed Extenders And Tonneau Covers
To further illustrate how bed extenders can be mounted on trucks with tonneau covers, here are some real-world setups.
Ford F-150 With Retractable Cover
- For Ford’s smooth retractable tonneau cover, owners report no issues also installing a clamp-on bed extender.
- With the cover fully retracted, the extender can be flipped out to maximum extension with plenty of clearance.
Toyota Tundra With Folding Hard Cover
- Hard folding covers like the BakFlip G2 work well with low-profile bed extenders.
- With the cover partially folded, the low-profile extender can flip out when needed without making contact.
Chevy Silverado With Soft Roll-Up Cover
- For simple soft roll up tonneau covers, any bed extenders style should be compatible.
- The soft cover rolls up fully so the extender can be used in any position needed.
These real-world examples demonstrate that with the right bed extender and tonneau cover combination, mounting both to enhance truck utility is certainly possible.
Expert Tips For Choosing Compatible Bed Extender And Tonneau Cover Models
If you’re looking to add a bed extender to your truck that already has a tonneau cover, keep these expert tips in mind:
- For retractable covers, almost any bed extender will work without issues.
- Look for a low-profile, clamp-on bed extender style for hard folding covers.
- Partially open folding covers allow more positions for the extender.
- Measure first to ensure the extender brackets and hardware don’t interfere with the cover mountings.
- Angling and centering the extender rearwards provides optimal clearance over the cover.
- Adding protective buffers prevents the extender from rubbing on the cover when flipped up.
Doing your homework before purchasing can ensure you select bed extender and tonneau cover models that work great together.
Can You Use A Bed Extender With A Tool Box?
Adding a tool box in the truck bed is another popular option. Is it possible to use a bed extender mounted behind a tool box?
The answer is it depends on the size and position of the tool box. Some key factors include:
- Small tool boxes may allow enough tailgate access to mount an extender.
- Full-width tool boxes likely preclude using a bed extender.
- Position the box forward in the bed for maximum tailgate access.
- Measure carefully to see if the extender can clamp on the exposed tailgate area.
So while using both a tool box and bed extender is limited by space constraints, it can be possible with a small toolbox positioned towards the cab.
To summarize, pickup truck owners can definitely mount bed extenders on trucks that already have tonneau covers installed. The key is choosing cover and extender models that are compatible in terms of mounting style and clearance when the extender is flipped out.
Retractable, soft, and folding covers provide the most versatility for using an extender. And proper positioning of the extender folded up or extended rearward provides optimal cargo space. With good planning and strategic mounting, both bed extenders and tonneau covers can be used together to maximize cargo utility.