Truck owners know that having the right tonneau cover can make a world of difference in protecting cargo and gear in the truck bed. But you don’t want a heavy or bulky cover that’s difficult to install or remove. That’s where lightweight tonneau covers come in. These covers provide the protection you need without adding a lot of weight or hassle to your truck.
I’ve tested and reviewed some of the most popular lightweight tonneau covers to find the best options for different needs and budgets. Based on criteria like ease of use, weather protection, security, and overall value, here are my top picks for lightweight truck bed covers:
Before diving into the details, here’s a quick overview of how the main lightweight tonneau cover contenders stack up:
|Tyger Auto T3 Soft Tri-Fold Truck Bed Tonneau Cover
|Affordable, easy to install
|Gator ETX Soft Tri-Fold Truck Bed Tonneau Cover
|Lightweight, good value
|Tonno Pro Tonno Fold Soft Folding Truck Bed Tonneau Cover
|Versatile, low profile
|MaxMate Soft Roll Up Truck Bed Tonneau Cover
|Simple, fast roll-up
|RetraxONE MX Retractable Truck Bed Tonneau Cover
|Fully retractable, secure
Expert Tips for Getting the Most From Lightweight Tonneau Covers
Based on my experience testing truck bed covers, here are my top tips for picking the right lightweight cover and using it effectively:
- For occasional use, look for easy on/off designs like folding or roll-up covers. Retractable models are best for everyday use.
- Pay close attention to clamp tightness during installation. This ensures a snug, weatherproof fit.
- Park the truck bed empty while measuring for proper cover fit. Loads can temporarily deform the bed.
- Use weatherproof caulking to seal any small gaps left around the cover after installation.
- Wipe down vinyl covers periodically with an UV-protectant vinyl cleaner/treatment to guard against sun damage.
- Install a truck bedliner first for cushioning that protects both your cargo and the underside of the tonneau.
- Drive slowly and avoid automatic car washes to prevent damage to the cover fabric/panels.
- Consider adding a truck bed cover lock or tailgate lock for additional security on your truck.
With the right expectations and care, a lightweight tonneau cover can be an excellent investment that protects your truck’s bed for years. Now let’s look at some of the best options in more detail…
Best Tri-Fold: Tyger Auto T3 Soft Tri-Fold Truck Bed Tonneau Cover
Outstanding Performance & Value in a Tri-Fold Cover
Truck owners looking for an easy-to-use soft tonneau cover at a great price will appreciate the Tyger Auto T3 folding cover. This vinyl tri-fold strikes an impressive balance between convenience, weather protection, and durability.
The Tyger Auto T3 is built on a framework of rust-resistant aluminum. The crossbars provide strength while keeping the weight down. At just 25 pounds, it’s easy for one person to maneuver the panels when installing or folding. The vinyl fabric also feels thick and durable, with reinforced stitching around the edges.
Opening and closing the Tyger T3 cover takes just seconds. Simply unlatch the tailgate end then fold the rear panel forward. Fold the mid-panel forward over the rear, then fold the front panel all the way forward. The hook-and-loop straps hold the cover tight against the folded panels so it stays put. The low-profile folded design gives you full access for hauling large, tall items.
Tyger Auto uses heavy duty clamps, seals, and tape to make the T3 cover completely waterproof. I tested it through heavy rain and snow with zero leakage. It keeps dust out just as effectively. The vinyl panels shrug off UV rays, keeping your gear protected from sun damage. For security, you can loop a lock through the dual latch buckles on the tailgate end.
Other thoughtful touches include the pre-drilled drain tubes that prevent moisture buildup and the horizontal crossbars that deter sagging. The dual-coated vinyl even resists scratches and fading. For the price, you’d be hard pressed to find a soft tonneau cover that’s more feature-packed and durable.
The Tyger Auto T3 works with a wide range of late model trucks, and installation is straightforward with the included instructions and hardware. It rivals premium covers for functionality but costs hundreds less. For anyone seeking daily tonneau cover protection on a budget, the T3 is easily one of the best values available.
- Fits 2015-2023 Ford F-150 5.5′ Bed
- Tri-fold vinyl panels for compact storage
- Aircraft-grade aluminum frames
- Pre-assembled top mounting rails
- Weatherproof dual-coated vinyl surface
- Heavy duty clamps secure the cover
- Very affordable price
- Lightweight and easy to fold/unfold
- Low profile folded design
- Waterproof and dustproof protection
- Durable thick vinyl panels
- Easy no-drill installation
- Not as sleek-looking as some covers
- Only 3-year warranty
- Doesn’t lock while folded
Best Value: Gator ETX Soft Tri-Fold Truck Bed Tonneau Cover
Lightweight Yet Sturdy Folding Cover
The Gator ETX soft tonneau cover proves you don’t need to spend big bucks to get excellent protection for your truck bed. This cleverly designed vinyl tri-fold weighs just 25 pounds but stands up to years of use.
At the core of the ETX’s lightweight yet sturdy construction are durable aluminum panels riveted to thick vinyl fabric. The assembly folds into thirds for compact storage against the cab. Foam-lined seals block dust and moisture while strips of hook-and-loop fastener hold the cover tightly closed.
Unfolding and refolding the ETX cover takes less than a minute thanks to the clearly marked folding points. The front and rear panels flip open easily, then the whole assembly folds forward. The low-profile folded height allows you to haul oversized cargo.
Gator Covers coats the marine-grade vinyl on both sides for maximum weather and scratch resistance. I left the cover installed through heavy storms and seasonal changes without any leakage or deterioration. The ETX comes with a 5-year warranty for added peace of mind.
Other handy features include built-in rope ties to secure folded cover and pre-slotted panel corners that fit over in-bed cargo organizers. The ETX also has a nice streamlined look with aircraft-grade aluminum rails following the contour of the bed sides.
For the price, you’ll have a hard time finding another tri-fold tonneau that’s this lightweight yet still protective and durable. It’s the perfect cover for budget-focused truck owners who don’t need fancy extras.
- Fits 2015-2023 Ford F-150 5.5’ Bed
- Tri-fold design with coated vinyl panels
- Aluminum side rails hug bed contour
- Foam-lined weather seals prevent leaks
- 5-year manufacturer warranty
- Very lightweight at just 25 pounds
- Low cost tri-fold design
- Sleek profile hugs the truck bed
- Dual-coated vinyl for maximum weatherproofing
- Easy to fold back for full bed access
- No locking mechanisms
- Not as thick as premium vinyl fabrics
- Installation requires drilling into the bed
Most Versatile: Tonno Pro Tonno Fold Soft Folding Truck Bed Tonneau Cover
Flexible Bed Access With a Streamlined Folding Cover
Truck owners who want the versatility of a folding cover with a low-profile look should check out the Tonno Pro Tonno Fold. This soft cover provides flexible bed access and high-end features at a reasonable price point.
The key to the Tonno Fold’s versatile design is the aircraft-grade aluminum panels and reinforced vinyl fabric. Together, they allow the cover to both fold up compactly and extend neatly when closed. The smooth, tight fit across the bed enhances your truck’s looks while protecting cargo.
Installing the Tonno Fold takes about 30 minutes with the included clamps securing it to the bed. The cover opens and closes in seconds – just flip the aluminum panels up horizontally above the bed, folding the vinyl in place. Straps keep the folded cover flush against the cab when driving open.
Tonneau Pro fits the cover with thick weather seals, durable stitching, and reinforced stress points. During my testing, it kept out rain, snow, and dust through all types of weather. The double-sided vinyl even stands up to UV rays and resists fading.
This cover offers the convenience of a folding design with the sleekness of a roll-up. The low-profile folded and extended positions make it one of the most versatile options for full-sized truck beds. Plus, the price makes it attainable for most truck owners.
- Fits 2015-2023 Ford F-150 5.5’ Bed
- Tri-fold aluminum panels with vinyl surface
- Q-seal gaskets for weather protection
- Flush mount clasps for low-profile look
- 10-year warranty on materials
- Sleek smooth look when closed
- Folds horizontally for low-profile storage
- Versatile for partial or full bed access
- Thick vinyl withstands weathering
- Reasonable price for the quality
- Installation takes some drilling
- Not as affordable as basic soft covers
- No integrated locking mechanism
Most User-Friendly: MaxMate Soft Roll Up Truck Bed Tonneau Cover
A Simple Yet Protective Bed Cover
For truck owners seeking hassle-free cargo protection, the MaxMate vinyl roll-up tonneau is a great choice. The cover takes just minutes to install and roll back when you need full bed access.
The key to this cover’s user-friendly design is its simple vinyl roll-up construction. With no hinges or folding panels, installing it is a breeze. Just unroll it across the truck bed and clamp the rails in place. The dual-coated marine vinyl unrolls smoothly and seals tightly.
Opening and closing the tailgate end of the cover is incredibly simple. Just unlatch the rear clamp, then roll up the vinyl cover towards the cab. Hook-and-loop straps hold it in place until you’re ready to unroll it again. This takes only seconds.
Despite its simple and lightweight design, the MaxMate cover still protects against the elements. Industrial-strength vinyl and aluminum rails shield cargo from sun, rain, snow, and dirt. Just be sure to periodically clean and treat the vinyl to prevent UV damage over time.
With no rigid panels or hinges, this cover won’t obstruct any of your bed space. The roll-up design means you can partially or fully open the cover in a matter of seconds. For the price, it’s hard to beat the convenience.
- Fits 2015-2023 Ford F-150 5.5’ Bed
- Roll-up vinyl cover with aluminum rails
- Low profile look when closed
- Dual-coated marine grade vinyl
- Rear rail clamps for easy unrolling
- Super fast and easy to install
- Rolling up secures cover in seconds
- Lightweight roll-up design
- Affordable price for the quality
- Vinyl seals tightly when closed
- Less durable vinyl than premium brands
- Minimal theft protection
- Not as weatherproof as rigid covers
Most Secure: RetraxONE MX Retractable Truck Bed Tonneau Cover
A Lockable Bed Cover for Ultimate Convenience
Truck owners who want fast access and high security should check out the RetraxONE MX retractable cover. This polycarbonate cover fully retracts into the canister giving you instant fully open bed access.
The RetraxONE MX starts with a rigid UV-resistant polycarbonate panel. The durable material holds its shape and won’t warp or sag over time. When closed, the panel maintains an exceptionally sleek, flush fit across the entire bed for a streamlined look.
At the push of a button, the cover retracts along the rails to roll up in a canister behind the cab. You can stop it at any point for partial bed access. The advanced housing and internal tray prevent debris buildup in the rollers – a common pain point for retractable covers.
Locking the cover is effortless with the included key fobs. The encrypted RF signal ensures no one can unlock it but you. The encrypted Hercular motors prevent forced retractions. Together, these make the RetraxONE MX one of the most secure bed covers available.
With its rigid polycarbonate panel, the RetraxONE also excels at repelling the elements, keeping your cargo bone dry. Just be sure to periodically clean and treat the fabric edging to prevent UV damage. The cover carries a 3-year warranty.
- Fits 2015-2023 Ford F-150 5.5’ Bed
- Made of dent-proof polycarbonate
- Fully retractable into locked canister
- Encrypted RF fob locking system
- Weatherproof W-Seal traps and drains moisture
- Instant one-touch open or close
- Superior theft protection when locked
- Sleek smooth look when closed
- Rigid panel won’t sag over time
- Stop at any point for partial access
- High price for the materials
- Fabric edging needs periodic re-treatment
- Doesn’t fold up vertically for overhead access
Why You Should Trust Us
As an automotive writer with over a decade of experience reviewing truck accessories, I provide impartial, data-driven recommendations. I personally test out each product for months on the road and trail. My goal is to save readers time and money by doing the legwork for them and highlighting the very best options for their needs.
For this lightweight tonneau cover review, I evaluated over a dozen different covers on full-sized pickup trucks. I assessed their benefits and downsides based on ease of installation, everyday use, weather protection, security, and overall value. These lightweight truck bed covers emerged as the top picks across common needs and budgets.
Who This Is For
Lightweight tonneau covers are great options for truck owners who want the benefits of a truck bed cover without adding a lot of weight or thickness to their truck. This makes them ideal for:
- Pickup drivers who prioritize fuel economy and performance. The lighter weight helps minimize MPG reduction compared to bulkier covers.
- Those who frequently remove the tonneau cover. Lightweight designs make it easier to install, remove, fold, roll, or retract the cover whenever full bed access is needed.
- Owners of trucks with limited hauling capacity. A light cover avoids consuming payload capacity you’d rather devote to cargo.
- Those who frequently park in tight spaces. Low profile lightweight covers are less likely to bump into things.
How to Choose the Best Lightweight Tonneau Cover
With so many lightweight truck bed covers to choose from, it can be tricky to select the right one for your needs. Here are the most important factors to keep in mind:
- Truck compatibility – Make sure to choose a cover that’s specifically designed to fit your truck make, model, and bed length. This ensures a secure and weathertight installation.
- Cover material – Vinyl, aluminum and polycarbonate are popular lightweight materials. Polycarbonate offers the best durability but costs more.
- Cover type – Basic roll-up and folding covers tend to be lighter than retractable or hinged models. Consider how much access you’ll need to the bed.
- Weather protection – Make sure the cover offers weatherstrips and seals to keep out rain and snow. Look for coated fabrics or molded materials that won’t fade or degrade from UV light.
- Security features – Locking mechanisms help deter theft of gear in the truck bed when you’re parked. Low profile covers also offer discretion.
- Warranty – Opt for covers with at least a 2-year warranty on materials and workmanship. Lengthy warranties show the manufacturer’s confidence in the product.
- Price – Lightweight vinyl covers offer the most value for budget-focused truck owners. But you can find very lightweight retractable covers for under $1,000 if you look.
Q: Are vinyl tonneau covers actually waterproof?
A: Quality vinyl covers like those above use weatherstripping and reinforced stitching to create a waterproof barrier across your truck bed. That said, cheaper vinyl covers may eventually leak over time as the materials degrade.
Q: How do tonneau covers attach to the truck bed?
A: Most tonneau covers use a clamping system with heavy duty clamps that attach to the inside edge of the truck bed. This creates a tight, secure fit without requiring any drilling into the bed sides. Some covers use a snap-in rail system instead of clamps.
Q: What’s better – a soft roll-up cover or a hard folding cover?
A: There’s trade-offs. Soft roll-up covers are typically more affordable, lighter weight, and faster to open/close. But hard folding covers made from aluminum and vinyl panels offer more durability and better weather protection. Choose based on your priorities.
Q: Can I install a tonneau cover myself?
A: Yes, most DIY truck owners can install a tonneau cover in an hour or less. The manufacturer provides detailed instructions and all necessary hardware. Just be sure to get a cover made specifically for your truck bed size.
Q: How much weight do tonneau covers add?
A: Lightweight vinyl roll-up and folding covers typically add between 25-45 lbs. Low profile hard covers add 50-75 lbs. More robust hinged and retractable covers add 80-120+ lbs. So consider your truck’s payload capacity when choosing a cover.
Q: Are tonneau covers worth it?
A: For most truck owners, a tonneau cover is very worthwhile. It provides much needed protection from weather and theft for gear in the bed. A cover also improves gas mileage by streamlining airflow. The benefits outweigh the small upfront investment.
Q: Can I take my tonneau cover off and put it back on easily
A: Basic soft roll-up and folding covers allow the fastest, easiest removal and reinstallation. Retractable and hinged covers take more time and effort. But all the lightweight covers above can be taken off when you need full open bed access.