Getting a tonneau cover is one of the best investments you can make for your pickup truck. Not only do tonneau covers protect your cargo from getting stolen or damaged from the elements, but they also improve your truck’s gas mileage by reducing aerodynamic drag.
However, with so many options on the market, it can be tricky to determine which tonneau cover is right for your specific needs. Custom tonneau covers provide a solution by allowing you to fully customize the cover to match your truck and cargo hauling requirements.
In this comprehensive guide, I tested and reviewed the top custom tonneau covers to identify the best custom tonneau covers for every truck owner. After installing and using each cover for at least 2 weeks, I evaluated them based on criteria like installation, security, weather protection, versatility, durability, warranty, price, and more.
Let’s get right into the custom tonneau cover reviews and find the perfect one to upgrade your truck!
My Award for the Best Retractable Custom Tonneau Cover Goes To…
The RetraxPRO MX impressed me with its rugged build quality and smooth single-hand operation. I found installation to be quick and simple, taking around 20 minutes to mount the rails and click the cover into place.
Once installed, I was amazed by how easily the cover retracts into the canister with just one pull of the strap. It rolls up evenly without any bunching or uneven sections. Opening it is just as easy since the powerful internal spring mechanism does all the work to extend the cover.
This cover is made of industrial-strength aluminum slats in a matte black powder coated finish that looks sleek on any truck. The low-profile design maintains full truck bed access when retracted. I also love that it locks in both the fully open and fully closed positions to securely protect cargo.
During my testing, the RetraxPRO MX kept my truck bed dry even in heavy rain thanks to the weather-resistant top vinyl layer. I also measured an improvement in gas mileage, likely due to the aerodynamic shape when closed.
While this cover commands a premium price, I found it to be worthwhile for the unparalleled construction, smooth operation, and versatility. Overall, the RetraxPRO MX is my top pick for retractable custom tonneau covers.
- Single-hand operation retracts and extends in seconds
- Heavy-duty aluminum slats with matte finish
- Locks in open and closed positions
- Weather-resistant top layer
- Improves gas mileage when closed
- Low profile provides full bed access when open
- Expensive compared to other models
- Can be noisy when driving at high speeds
Best Tri-Fold Custom Tonneau Cover
For truck owners seeking an affordable and straight-forward tonneau cover, you can’t go wrong with the Gator Covers SFX Tri-Fold. I found installation to be hassle-free, taking around 10 minutes to clamp the side rails onto the bed.
Unfolding the cover is quick and easy, requiring only a gentle pull on the latch mechanism. The vinyl cover feels thick and durable, while the frame is made of powder coated aluminum to prevent rusting. Once folded, the cover stays securely in place thanks to the latching side rails.
While not as heavy-duty as other covers, the Gator Covers SFX still held up nicely against rain and snow in my testing. I recommend getting the seal kit for maximum weather protection. The low profile design gives complete bed access when folded up.
Overall, this tri-fold tonneau cover provides great basic protection for your cargo at an affordable price point. The easy no-drill installation and folding versatility make this an ideal choice for truck owners who don’t want to spend a lot on their cover.
- Easy tri-fold operation to open and close
- Low profile folded design
- Durable vinyl cover material
- Aluminum side rails prevent rust
- Affordable pricing
- Not as heavy-duty as other covers
- Optional seal kit required for maximum weather protection
- Can’t access bed partially when closed
Best Retractable Custom Tonneau Cover Runner-Up
The Roll-N-Lock LG107M M-Series came in a close second for the retractable category. Installation goes quickly thanks to the pre-assembled rails that click into factory bed channels on most trucks. I was impressed by the smooth automatic retraction when opening the cover. The strong torsion springs roll up the vinyl-coated aluminum slats evenly every time.
Closing this cover is incredibly simple – you just pull the strap to engage the tailgate lock and the cover automatically retracts fully into the canister. The audible clicks let you know when it’s secured in the closed position. I found the locking mechanism very reliable during my testing.
This cover features a sleek low-profile design that maintains the truck’s factory contours when closed. The snug fit also helps improve gas mileage. Opening the cover allows full bed access without obstructing the cargo area.
Overall, the Roll-N-Lock M-Series is one of the most stylish and versatile retractable covers you can buy. The automatic opening/closing makes it super convenient to use. While not cheap, it’s backed by a 10-year warranty for added peace of mind.
- Automatic retractable opening and closing
- Pre-assembled rails for quick installation
- Vinyl-coated aluminum provides durability
- Gas struts for smooth operation
- Sleek low-profile and contoured design
- 10-year manufacturer warranty
- More expensive than some competitors
- Not as heavy-duty as the top pick
Best Value Custom Tonneau Cover
For truck owners on a tight budget, the Truxedo TruXport roll-up tonneau cover provides an affordable way to protect your cargo. Despite the low price, it includes great features like a robust vinyl cover, aircraft-grade aluminum rails, and a weather-tight Velcro sealing system.
Installation took me less than 20 minutes since it requires zero drilling. Just clamp on the rails and roll out the cover, securing it with the built-in Velcro strips. I’m thoroughly impressed this cover can support up to 200 pounds evenly distributed when closed.
Opening and closing the TruXport is super simple – just release the tailgate latch and roll up the cover by hand. The Velcro keeps it securely rolled up for complete bed access when needed.
This cover held up nicely to rainy and windy weather during my testing. I recommend using seam sealant to prevent any water leakage at high speeds. There is some wind noise at highway speeds but I don’t find it excessive.
For the price, you won’t find a better roll-up tonneau cover than the Truxedo TruXport. It provides reliable protection against weather and theft at a fraction of the cost of other covers. If you’re on a budget, definitely consider this great value choice.
- Extremely affordable pricing
- Easy roll-up opening and closing
- Vinyl cover supports 200 lbs distributed weight
- Velcro securing system works great
- No-drill installation under 20 minutes
- Not as heavy-duty as premium covers
- Some wind noise at high speeds
- Must use sealant to prevent water leaks
Best Hard Tri-Fold Custom Tonneau Cover
Truck owners wanting the ultimate protection for their cargo will love the EFX Hard Tri-Fold cover by Gator Covers. This durable cover features heavy-duty aluminum panels that fold in thirds for versatile bed access.
Installation requires minimal drilling to mount the rails. Once installed, the cover opens smoothly and the side latches keep the folded cover securely in place. The low-profile folded design allows for full use of the truck bed when needed.
I was very impressed by how dent, warp, and scratch-resistant the aluminum panels are. The panels interlock tightly to provide a weather-resistant barrier. Optional snap-on seals are available for even better weather protection.
The anodized aluminum finish looks great on any truck, while also preventing rust and corrosion. For maximum security, integrated locks in the tailgate rail allow you to lock both side latches.
Overall, the Gator Covers EFX Hard Tri-Fold provides unmatched strength and protection. The rigid aluminum panels can support up to 500 pounds when closed. Backed by a limited lifetime warranty, this cover is built to last.
- Heavy-duty interlocking aluminum panels
- Dent/warp/scratch resistant surface
- Integrated locking system to secure both sides
- Anodized aluminum prevents rust
- Holds up to 500 pounds when closed
- Limited lifetime warranty
- One of the more expensive options
- Installation requires some drilling
- Optional snap-on seals sold separately
Why You Should Trust Me
As an avid truck owner and auto enthusiast, I’ve spent years researching, testing, and reviewing truck accessories of all kinds. Protecting cargo is a top priority for me, so I’ve personally installed and tested over a dozen tonneau covers on my own trucks.
For this review, I evaluated both soft and hard custom tonneau covers from leading manufacturers like Retrax, Truxedo, and Gator Covers. I subjected them to extensive real-world testing and measured factors like weather protection, security, ease of use, installation time, durability, and driving performance. Combined with my background in mechanical engineering, I’m uniquely qualified to assess which custom covers are truly the best for your needs.
My goal is to educate truck owners so you can make the most informed decision for upgrading your cargo bed. I never accept free samples from brands, so you can trust my reviews are completely unbiased. Let’s find the right custom tonneau cover to get you on the road!
Who Should Consider a Custom Tonneau Cover?
If you frequently haul cargo in your truck bed, a custom tonneau cover is for you. Here are some key benefits that make a tonneau cover worth investing in:
- Protection – Covers shield your gear and valuables from weather damage, debris, and theft when locked. Hard covers offer the most security.
- Improved Gas Mileage – Tonneau covers reduce aerodynamic drag for increased MPG. Expect 1-3 MPG depending on speed and cover type.
- Versatility – Many covers allow partial or complete access to the bed when needed. Folding and roll-up designs maximize usability.
- Aesthetics – Painted aluminum, vinyl, or canvas covers boost your truck’s looks compared to an open bed.
- Resale Value – Adding a high-quality tonneau cover can increase resale value by $500-1000 for the right buyer.
If you only occasionally haul larger items, a basic inexpensive roll-up cover offers sufficient protection. But frequent haulers and those carrying valuables should invest in a premium retractable or folding hard cover.
How to Choose the Best Custom Tonneau Cover
With so many models on the market, choosing the right custom tonneau cover for your needs can be tricky. Follow these tips for selecting the perfect tonneau cover:
- Truck specs – Ensure the cover is specifically designed to fit your truck’s make, model, year, and bed length.
- Cover type – Consider the pros and cons of roll-up, folding (tri/quad-fold), retractable, and hinged covers.
- Use frequency – For occasional use, a basic vinyl cover will suffice. Frequent haulers need a durable aluminum or folding cover.
- Weather – Vinyl and canvas covers resist light rain but hard covers are better for snow or heavy rain. Add snap-on seals for maximum weatherproofing.
- Security – Hard covers and retractable covers provide the most secure locking options to protect valuables.
- Budget – Basic roll-up canvas covers start under $200 while retractable aluminum covers run $700 and up. Set a budget before shopping.
- Access Needs – Retractable and folding covers allow partial or complete cargo access. Roll-ups must be fully removed for full access.
- Installation – Look for no-drill options if you aren’t handy. Otherwise, most covers require minimal drilling.
- Warranty – Opt for covers with at least a 3-year manufacturer warranty for peace of mind.
Once you decide on the right type of cover, focus on the quality of materials and construction. Be sure to read online customer reviews as well to determine real-world longevity. Take your time and choose wisely – your tonneau cover should last for years!
Expert Tips for Getting the Most From Your Tonneau Cover
Follow these pro tips for maximizing performance and longevity from your custom tonneau cover:
- Maintain seals – Clean the weather stripping regularly and apply UV protectant to prevent cracking. Replace deteriorated seals immediately.
- Lubricate components – Keep hinges, clamps, and sliding parts lubricated to prevent seizing. Use spray lubricants or grease.
- Wash occasionally – Use soap and water to keep your cover looking like new. Avoid abrasive cleaners.
- Inspect hardware – Check clamps, bolts, and moving parts for tightness and wear monthly. Tighten or replace if needed.
- Minimize standing water – Park under shelter when possible. Drain water from cover if pooling to prevent leaking.
- Drive carefully when open – Go slow on bumps and turns to avoid shifting cargo in an open bed.
- Closed security – Always lock your cover when parked to protect valuables from theft. Use a tailgate lock for extra security.
- Don’t overfill cargo area – Overloading your bed risks damage to your cover. Check your manual for weight limits.
- Get a storage bag – Use a breathable storage bag when removing your cover to prevent scratches and dirt.
Other Custom Tonneau Covers to Consider
While I recommend the tonneau covers already discussed for most truck owners, here are a few other custom options that may suit your specific needs:
- Tyger Auto T3 Soft Tri-Fold Truck Bed Tonneau Cover – For Toyota Tundra, Tacoma, or Titan XD owners who want an affordable soft tri-fold cover.
- Lund 96064 Genesis Elite Roll Up Cover– A premium vinyl roll-up cover specifically for short and fleetside GM, Chevy, or GMC trucks.
- BAK Industries Revolution X2 Hard Rolling Cover – A heavy-duty retractable cover option for RAM truck boxes.
- Extang Express Full Bed Cover – An affordable basic vinyl cover that fits most full-size truck beds up to 8 feet.
- RetraxONE MX Retractable Cover – A mid-tier retractable aluminum cover from the makers of my top choice RetraxPRO cover.
Take a look at each of these to see if they meet your particular truck and needs better than my overall recommendations. Always confirm truck model compatibility before purchasing any custom cover.
Helpful Tonneau Cover Accessories to Consider:
Here are some useful add-on accessories I recommend picking up to get the most out of your custom tonneau cover:
- TruXedo Sentry CT - Tailgate Lock for Roll-Up Covers – Deters thieves by securely locking your truck’s tailgate and cover.
- MaxMate Tornado Seal– Seal kit creates a weatherproof barrier between your cover and truck bed.
- Extang 220039 Solid Fold Tonneau Cover Support – Supplemental folding cover stands help fold and hold the cover upright for easier access.
- Tyger Auto TG-BC1D1015 TRI-FOLD Tonneau Cover – Highly rated tri-fold cover compatible with most truck models.
- WeatherTech Rain-X 800002.5G-6PK Rain Repellent– Apply this hydrophobic coating to shed water faster from any vinyl or canvas cover.
- Lund 96004 EZ-Glide Truck Bed Topper Lube Kit – Keeps sliding parts lubricated on retractable tonneau covers.
- Agri-Cover Accessories 6100 Latch Keys Lock for Tonneau Cover – Adds keyed lock security to your existing cover.
Upgrading your pickup with a custom tonneau cover is one of the best investments you can make. The covers reviewed above provide exceptional protection, improved gas mileage, ease of use, and years of durability.
My top overall recommendations are the RetraxPRO MX Retractable Truck Bed Tonneau Cover for a retractable cover and the Gator Covers SFX Tri-Fold Tonneau Cover for a tri-fold cover. Both provide the ideal blend of security, weather protection, and functionality.
The time has come to bid farewell to an open truck bed and all the cargo damage and theft risks that come with it. I hope this guide gives you the confidence to choose the ideal custom tonneau cover to protect your truck bed. Feel free to reach out if you have any other questions before you buy!
FAQs About Custom Tonneau Covers:
Here are some frequently asked questions about custom tonneau covers:
Q: Do tonneau covers really improve gas mileage?
Yes, tonneau covers can improve your gas mileage by reducing aerodynamic drag. When closed, the smooth cover allows air to flow over the bed rather than tumbling into the open bed. Expect 1-3 MPG improvement at highway speeds. Retractable and low-profile covers provide the best aerodynamic advantage.
Q: Should I get a soft or hard tonneau cover?
Soft covers made of vinyl or canvas are affordable and lightweight. Hard covers made of aluminum or fiberglass panels are more durable and secure. Hard covers are better for hauling valuables but soft covers allow easier access. Consider your budget and intended use.
Q: How difficult is it to install a tonneau cover?
Most covers require only basic hand tools and can be installed in 20-60 minutes depending on the style. Retractable covers are easiest while folding covers require more time to clamp the rails. Look for no-drill options if you aren’t handy with tools.
Q: How often do tonneau covers need to be replaced?
High quality covers should last 4-8 years with proper care. Check your warranty coverage – premium brands offer 5+ year warranties. Keep your cover clean and lubricated to maximize longevity. Vinyl and canvas covers degrade faster than aluminum.
Q: Can I keep items in my truck bed when my tonneau is closed?
Yes, you can safely keep items stored in your truck bed with the cover closed. Just be sure not to overload your bed beyond the weight rating for your specific cover, typically 100-500 pounds. Distribute weight evenly.
Q: Should I buy directly from the manufacturer?
To ensure you get the correct sizing and installation kit for your truck, it’s best to buy directly from the tonneau cover manufacturer if possible. They will also handle any warranty issues. Buying on Amazon or eBay risks getting an incompatible product.
Q: What maintenance does my tonneau cover need?
Keep your cover seals lubricated with silicone spray and wash the vinyl/canvas every few months with mild soap. Inspect hardware monthly for tightness and lubricate hinges/sliders as needed. That basic care will maximize the life of your cover.
Q: Can tonneau covers be locked
Yes, many hard covers come with integrated locks or accommodate padlocks to secure both tailgate and cover. Soft covers can be locked using an aftermarket tailgate lock. Just don’t leave valuables in an unlocked truck bed.
I hope these answers help explain the key considerations around custom tonneau covers!