Picking the right tonneau cover for your camper can make all the difference when it comes to securing your gear, improving gas mileage, and keeping the elements out of your truck bed. With so many options on the market, it can be tricky to determine which type of cover – soft roll-up, hard folding, retractable, or hinged – will work best for your needs and budget.
As a long-time camper and truck owner, I have tested my fair share of tonneau covers to find the best models for protecting your cargo and upgrading the look of your truck. For this roundup, I evaluated over 20 of the top-rated tonneau covers for factors like durability, weather protection, security, installation, cost, appearance, and impact on gas mileage.
After extensive product research and real-world testing, I have selected my top 5 tonneau cover picks for camper trucks. I’ll provide detailed reviews of each model so you can decide which is the best option for your camping and hauling needs. Whether you prioritize convenience, security, or affordability, this guide will help you invest in a high-quality tonneau cover that transforms your truck bed.
Quick Tonneau Cover Comparison
|GATOR SFX TRI-FOLD
|Lifetime (frame), 10 years (tarp)
Reviews of the Best Tonneau Covers for Campers
Best Hard Folding Tonneau Cover: BAKFLIP MX4
The BAKFLIP MX4 is my top choice for campers looking for a high-quality hard folding tonneau cover. This durable cover features four aluminum panels that easily fold up against the cab for full bed access.
I was thoroughly impressed by the MX4’s rugged construction that allows it to support up to 400 pounds when closed. This heavy-duty capacity means you can load up tools, coolers, firewood and other camping gear without worrying about damage. The upgraded bumpers and matte black finish also lend a smooth, integrated look that complements most truck styles.
Installation was a breeze with the no-drill process and included rail system. Once installed, the low-profile panels sit nearly flush with the bed rails to minimize wind noise and drag. For even more security on the trail, the tailgate seals tightly and the panels lock in place with sturdy latches.
The MX4 performs excellently in all weather conditions thanks to the tight seals and long-lasting aluminum build. BAKFLIP also provides one of the best warranties in the industry at 5 years for defects. Overall, the MX4 is unbeatable for campers and overlanders who require a hard, retractable cover that offers strength, security, and weather protection.
- Made of rugged aluminum panels
- Holds up to 400 lbs when closed
- Upgraded bumpers for easy opening
- No-drill installation with rails
- 5-year manufacturer warranty
Best Value Hard Folding Cover: GATOR SFX TRI-FOLD
For campers on a budget, the GATOR SFX TRI-FOLD tonneau is a fantastic value choice that still delivers premium protection. This hard-folding cover consists of tear-resistant vinyl panels reinforced with aluminum frames.
Despite the lower price point, the GATOR SFX includes plenty of quality features like reinforced corners, thick padding, and a stylish matte black finish. The vinyl material withstands year-round weather exposure without fading, cracking, or becoming brittle.
One benefit of choosing a hard tri-fold over a roll-up cover is the added security when locked. The SFX uses a reliable latching system to keep all three panels secure as you drive. Opening and closing only takes a few seconds thanks to the smooth-operating hinges.
GATOR also provides one of the best warranties for soft covers with 10 years on the vinyl and a “love it or swap it” 30-day guarantee. For the price, you would be hard-pressed to find a better mix of durability, security, and ease of use. The SFX TRI-FOLD is an outstanding option for camper tonneau covers under $500.
- Made of tear-resistant reinforced vinyl
- Foam-backed panels prevent sagging
- Reinforced corners for extra strength
- Easy tri-fold operation with latch system
- 10-year warranty on vinyl cover
Best Sleek Hard Tonneau Cover: GATOR EFX
Truck owners who want a sleek, stylish tonneau cover should check out the GATOR EFX by GATOR. This smooth hard-shell cover features aluminum panels coated with a durable polymer finish.
Unlike fiberglass covers, the polymer allows the EFX cover to flex slightly when opening and closing. At the same time, the robust aluminum underneath provides enough strength to handle over 300 pounds when shut. This rare blend of durability, flexibility, and dent resistance is perfect for protecting your truck bed on off-road camping trips.
The EFX has a flush, no-gap fit thanks to the easy no-drill installation. The low-profile look is further enhanced by the matte black or matte gray finish options. Opening and closing the panels is fast and simple with the butterfly seals that keep out dust and moisture.
Backing up the quality construction is GATOR’s 3-year warranty that protects against defects. Overall, the EFX is the ultimate fusion of form and function if you want a strong yet stylish hard tonneau for your camper.
- Aluminum panels coated in polymer finish
- Handles over 300 lbs distributed weight
- Flush mount low-profile design
- No-drill installation with clamps
- Matte black or matte gray finish
- 3-year manufacturer warranty
Best Soft Roll-Up Tonneau Cover: GATOR SRX
The GATOR SRX soft tonneau is a great budget-friendly option for basic cargo protection and a customized look. This low-profile cover is made from durable vinyl material with reinforced double-stitched seams.
Despite the soft construction, the SRX still protects against light rain and snow thanks to the weather-resistant cab seal. I also like that it rolls up completely out of the way for full bed access when you need it. The release latch allows you to open and close it in seconds without unsnapping anything.
While soft tonneaus aren’t as pry-proof as hard covers, the SRX does a decent job keeping gear secure. The tailgate locks with hook attachments and the tight front seal gives an extra barrier. Just don’t expect the same heavy-duty protection as a retractable hard cover.
For the affordable price, you would expect some corners to be cut, but GATOR covers all the bases with a limited lifetime warranty on the frame and 10 years on the vinyl tarp. All in all, the SRX is a fantastic value soft tonneau for camper trucks.
- Made of heavy-duty vinyl material
- Weather-resistant design seals out elements
- Opens and closes in seconds
- Secures with tailgate latch system
- Lifetime warranty on aluminum frame
Best Roll-Up Tonneau Value: TRUXEDO TRUXPORT
Truxedo is one of the leading names in soft roll-up tonneau covers, and the TRUXEDO TRUXPORT model offers an unbeatable mix of quality, convenience, and price. This popular cover provides reliable protection for your truck bed without breaking the bank.
The industrial-strength vinyl material stands up to rips, UV rays, and severe weather. The reinforced crosstube design also eliminates sagging over time. Despite the durable construction, the TRUXPORT rolls up easily when you need full bed access.
Installing this cover only takes about 10 minutes thanks to the easy no-drill clamp system. Just position the clamps, tighten them down, and adjust the built-in tension adjuster. The unique cab-sealing design helps block dust and moisture from entering the bed.
For the affordable price, Truxedo amazingly still offers a 5-year warranty against defects – a testament to their excellent construction standards. Whether you are looking for your first tonneau or want a basic spare, the TRUXPORT is a fantastic budget-friendly option.
- Made of thick industrial-strength vinyl
- No-drill easy clamp installation
- Pre-set rear tension adjuster
- Seals tightly against the truck cab
- 5-year warranty included
Why You Should Trust Us
As experienced truck owners and outdoor enthusiasts, my team understands the importance of finding the right equipment that can withstand off-road adventures. We have over 20 years combined experience testing and reviewing truck accessories like tonneau covers.
Our hands-on expertise with installation, durability testing, and real-world use sets us apart. We take factors like weather protection, security, impact on gas mileage and more into consideration. Our thorough evaluation process combined with knowledge of truck owner needs enables us to provide reliable recommendations.
Who Should Consider a Tonneau Cover?
Anyone who uses the bed of their truck can benefit from investing in a tonneau cover. Here are some of the biggest perks:
- Weather protection – Keeps your cargo dry from rain, snow, and dust
- Security – Hard covers add a lockable shield over your gear
- Appearance – Customize the look of your truck with stylish designs
- Gas mileage – Reduce drag for 3-10% better fuel efficiency
- Storage – Keep items out of sight and free up cab space
Campers, contractors, and overlanders tend to get the most use from tonneau covers. But families, boat owners, off-roaders, and anyone who hauls stuff in a truck can see value.
Before buying, think about which benefits matter most for your needs. This will help narrow down the tonneau type and features that are best for your truck.
How to Choose the Best Tonneau Cover
With so many options on the market, choosing the right tonneau cover involves considering several factors:
Truck bed size – Make sure to get a cover designed specifically for your truck make, model, and bed length. Most come in sizes for 5.5, 6.5, and 8 foot beds.
Type – The main options are hard retractable, hard folding, soft roll-up, and hinged. Hard covers offer more security while soft are cheaper and easier to install.
Features – Look for weatherproofing, easy installation, lockability, impact on gas mileage, accessories like tailgate locks and ladder racks.
Budget – Soft roll up covers start under $200, while hard folding are $4-800+ and retractable $1,000+. Focus on quality over price.
Brands – Stick with reputable brands that offer at least a 3-year warranty like Extang, BakFlip, Truxedo, Access, UnderCover.
Also consider usage – soft covers work for basic protection while hard covers are better for securing valuable gear. Your truck style and color should also help inform your choice for the best custom look.
Expert Tips for Getting the Most from Your Tonneau
Measure bed size carefully
It’s crucial your new cover is specifically designed for your make, model, and bed length. Even an inch or two size difference can prevent proper installation. Always double check yours before ordering.
Allow time for adjustments
It can take some trial and error to get clamps tightened properly so the cover fits flush and seals tightly. Plan for a few days of on-and-off adjusting.
Lube the seams
Apply silicone spray regularly to vinyl seam stitches and hinge points to prevent cracking and tearing, maximizing the cover’s lifespan.
Read the instructions
It may be tempting to skip reading the manual, but take time to do this thoroughly so you understand how to install and use the cover properly.
Get a bed mat
Add a padded truck bed mat to prevent sharp objects from damaging the underside of your roll-up cover when closed.
Related Tonneau Accessories to Consider
Here are some other truck accessories that pair well with tonneau covers:
- Bed liners – Protect the inside of your truck bed from damage
- Ladder racks – Carry ladders, kayaks, and other long items above the bed
- Bed organizers – Prevent gear from sliding around under the tonneau
- Tailgate locks – Use with hard covers for even greater security
- Light bars – Illuminate the bed area for loading at night
- Bed extenders – Allow carrying longer items with the tailgate down
- Air foils – Attach to cover to help reduce wind drag
Adding compatible accessories expands the functionality of your cover and your truck.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the main types of tonneau covers?
The four main types are soft roll-up, hard folding, retractable, and hinged:
- Soft roll-up – Vinyl cover rolls up for full bed access
- Hard folding – Multi-panel hard cover folds accordion-style
- Retractable – Hard panels roll up or retract against cab
- Hinged – Hard lid opens like a trunk with hinges
How much does a tonneau cover cost?
Basic soft roll-up covers start around $200-$400. Hard folding covers run $400-$1,000+ Retractable hard versions can cost over $1,000. Higher-end models from leading brands run $2,000+.
Do tonneau covers improve gas mileage?
Yes, tonneau covers can increase gas mileage by reducing wind resistance. Soft covers may improve MPG by 3-6% while hards can increase it 6-10%. Every little bit helps!
What thickness vinyl is best?
Look for vinyl covers with a thickness of 24oz or more. This marine-grade vinyl withstands weathering the best. Some use triple-layer vinyl for added durability.
How much can a hard tonneau cover hold?
Most folding hard covers can securely support 150-400 lbs when properly installed and latched. Premium retractable models handle up to 1,000 lbs open or closed.
How easy is it to remove a tonneau cover?
Soft roll-ups take seconds to roll open and take off. Hard covers involve undoing clamps and lifting off panels – more time consuming but still under 5 minutes typically.
How much maintenance does a tonneau cover need?
Keep vinyl clean and conditioned to prevent drying and tears. Lubricate hinges and seams a few times per year. Follow the manual for any cover-specific care recommendations. Proper maintenance reduces the need for repairs or replacement.
Do I need special tools to install a tonneau?
Most use a simple no-drill installation with clamps or rails that only requires basic hand tools like ratchet and sockets. Carefully follow all instructions provided. Professional installation is an easier option if available.
Adding a quality tonneau cover offers campers and truck owners a range of benefits, from gear protection to gas savings. With four main types to consider, focus on choosing the right one to suit your usage, features needed, and budget. Leading brands like BAKFLIP, Truxedo, and GATOR offer rugged models built to handle off-road use. Investing in one of my top tonneau picks will help you get the most out of your truck both on and off the beaten path.