As a busy mom of two teenage boys, I rely on my trusty pickup truck for hauling the kid’s sports gear, groceries, and of course the endless piles of laundry. But I quickly learned that tossing everything into the open truck bed meant my stuff was exposed to the elements and prying eyes. A lockable tonneau cover was the perfect solution to keep my cargo secure while freeing up space inside the cab.
After researching the different types of tonneau covers thoroughly, I narrowed it down to the most highly rated retractable and folding covers with integrated storage solutions. To select the best options, I considered key factors like durability, weather protection, security, installation, weight capacity, profile height and of course, storage functionality.
My boys and I put these shortlisted truck bed covers through extensive real-world testing over several weeks. We assessed how easy each one was to install, use and load up with cargo. We evaluated truck bed access, durability on rough gravel roads and how well they protected our stuff from downpours. After reviewing all the pros and cons, we picked our top 5 favorite tonneau covers with storage.
|Syneticusa Retractable Hard Tonneau Cover
|Adjustable rack kit
|Gator Recoil Tonneau Cover
|Integrated rack system
|Gator Covers EFX Tonneau Cover
|RetraxPRO XR Tonneau Cover
|Integrated rack system
|Truxedo Truxport Tonneau Cover
Syneticusa Retractable Tonneau Cover – Best Customizable Storage
The Syneticusa retractable tonneau cover provides the versatility of a retractable cover along with the bonus of an adjustable rack kit for customizable storage. This low profile aluminum cover has a sleek matte black finish that blends seamlessly with the truck bed.
Installation was straightforward – it took my husband about 2 hours to mount the rails and clamp the cover in place. The cover glides smoothly along the rails and locks securely in any position with an integrated tailgate lock.
We love that the rack kit can be positioned at various points along the rails to hold cargo of different sizes. I can fit my supplies tote and a camping cooler, while still keeping plenty of open bed space. The aluminum construction seems super durable and keeps our stuff dry.
- Made of thick aluminum with matte black finish
- Retractable functionality allows versatile bed access
- Integrated locking system in tailgate and rails
- Adjustable rack kit for customizable storage
- Low profile flush mount provides sleek look
- Rack kit is adjustable for hauling items of varied sizes
- Provides full or partial bed access as needed
- Highly durable and weatherproof construction
- Matte black finish matches truck nicely
- Installs without drilling holes in truck bed
- Rack bars could be a little longer for extra large items
- Higher price than basic vinyl or tri-fold options
- Stiff panels lift a bit awkwardly at the tailgate
Gator Recoil Tonneau Cover – Best Heavy Duty Storage
The Gator Recoil retractable tonneau is built tank tough with an integrated storage rack system that can handle up to 500 pounds. The thick aluminum panels have a durable matte black powder coat that matched my truck perfectly.
My husband installed it in about 90 minutes without any drilling. He appreciates the industrial strength aircraft-grade aluminum rails and thick polymer side seals that keep dust and rain out.
I love that the storage rack glides back with the cover, expanding from the tailgate to the cab. It’s held everything from lumber and piping to our big cooler loaded with sports drinks. The cover has kept all our stuff secure and bone dry.
- Made of heavy duty matte black aluminum
- Integrated rack system for built-in storage
- Industrial strength rails and thick seals
- Retracts to allow full or partial bed access
- Holds up to 500 lbs on rack system
- Built-in extendable rack stores really heavy stuff
- Keeps cargo totally dry in heavy rain
- Rigid panels have smooth gliding action
- Locks securely along rails and tailgate
- Matches the factory finish of truck nicely
- A bit pricey but worth it for heavy use
- Panels are very stiff and hard to manage
- Installation takes some time and patience
Gator Covers EFX Tonneau Cover – Best Bang for Your Buck
For truck owners needing basic cargo protection on a budget, the Gator Covers EFX tri-fold tonneau is a great value option. The thick matte black aluminum panels are waterproof and durable while still being lightweight enough for me to handle alone.
Installation took my husband under 30 minutes since it just clamps on top of the bed rails without any drilling. Opening and closing the panels is super easy with the grip handle on the front panel. Prop rods hold the cover open for full bed access when needed.
We do wish it had some type of storage racks, but the cover alone keeps our stuff safe from sun, rain and prying eyes. For the price, you can’t beat the straightforward design and easy everyday use. We use it to cover bulky items that won’t fit in the cab.
- Budget-friendly tri-fold aluminum cover
- Thick matte black aluminum panels
- Clamp-on rails provide simple no drill install
- Front panel has handle for easy opening
- Prop rod allows propping open for full access
- Great price for a basic aluminum cover
- Lightweight panels are easy to open/close
- No drilling installation takes under 30 minutes
- Provides good protection from weather
- Flush mount has a factory installed look
- No integrated storage racks
- Not as durable as premium retractable models
- Only short-term water protection in heavy rain
RetraxPRO XR Tonneau Cover – Best Security
The RetraxPRO XR gives me peace of mind that the kid’s gear and groceries will be protected from damage and thieves. The matte black aircraft-grade aluminum panels are extremely rigid and durable.
My husband found the directions very thorough and had it installed in about an hour with no drilling required. The cover glides smoothly over the rails and we love being able to lock it in any position.
The integrated rack system is perfect for holding our sports bags, backpacks and other bulky items. I like that the rack extends out with the cover, so I can access the whole bed without unloading. The sturdy build quality ensures our stuff stays clean and dry.
- Made of thick, durable aluminum panels
- Integrated rack system for built-in storage
- Retracts fully or partially along rails
- Locks securely in any position on rails
- Matte black low profile finish
- Rigid panels prevent sagging or pooling water
- Locking system deters thieves
- Smoothest gliding action of any cover tested
- Rack holds bulky items while allowing access
- Easy no drill installation
- Higher cost than basic soft covers
- Very large/heavy items may exceed capacity
- Stiff panels can be hard to manage
Truxedo Truxport Tonneau Cover – Best Smooth Operation
With two rambunctious teens, I needed a cover that could handle heavy everyday use and the Truxedo Truxport delivers. The vinyl cover is backed with an aluminum frame that keeps it taut and smooth.
Installation took just 20 minutes since it clamps on top of the bed rails with no drilling required. The Velcro strips secure the cover tightly along the rails while allowing easy rolling access.
I’m able to quickly roll up the cover to any point and secured it with the built-in straps. The pre-set tensioner eliminates sagging and water pooling. While it lacks any integrated storage, the simple fuss-free operation has been perfect for keeping sports equipment and groceries protected.
- Industrial strength vinyl cover
- Pre-set tensioner keeps cover tight
- Clamps to bed rails for no drill install
- Roll-up allows partial or full access
- Built-in straps hold cover securely
- Smooth easy rolling action
- Vinyl cover remains drum tight
- No-drill install takes only 20 minutes
- Provides good sun and weather protection
- Low profile doesn’t affect fuel economy
- No integrated storage options
- Not as durable as hard covers
- Vinyl can sag over time
- Minimal security compared to lockable models
Why You Should Trust Me
As a busy mom, I rely on my pickup daily to haul cargo for family activities, home projects, shopping and road trips. After dealing with cargo getting soaked or tossed around in the open truck bed, I became determined to find the ideal protective tonneau cover.
I extensively researched the different types of covers available and evaluated countless customer reviews. My teenage sons then thoroughly tested the shortlisted covers by loading them up with sports equipment, tools, groceries and coolers over several weeks. We assessed day-to-day use, durability, weather protection and storage functionality.
With my hands-on testing and criteria evaluation, I provide practical real-world advice to help you choose the right tonneau cover with storage for your needs and budget.
Who Should Consider a Tonneau Cover with Storage
- Active families who need to transport sports/camping gear
- Homeowners and DIYers with tools, lumber, piping etc.
- Ranchers, farmers, hunters hauling feed, hay, game
- Those who want to free up truck cab space
- Anyone who needs to keep cargo secure and protected
How to Choose the Best Tonneau Cover with Storage
- Hard vs soft covers – Hard covers are more durable and secure but can be pricey. Soft covers are budget-friendly but offer less protection.
- Retractable, folding or roll-up – Retractable are most versatile but priciest, folding are rigid but tricky to open/close, roll-ups operate easiest but have less durability.
- Clamp-on vs drill installation – Clamp-on models are quicker to install but may not be as secure in the long run.
- Weight rating – Check manufacturer specs and choose a cover that can handle the load.
- Height profile – Low profile covers maintain fuel economy and provide OEM flush fit.
- Access needs – Determine if you need full bed access or side access is sufficient.
- Storage functionality – Consider if you need an integrated rack system or if open bed storage will suffice.
- Security features – Retractable and folding covers allow tailgate/panel locking to deter thieves.
- Weather protection – Hard covers provide the most water/dirt protection. Ensure seals prevent dust and moisture.
- Appearance – Many covers offer stylish finishes like matte black that complement truck appearance.
- Price – Basic vinyl roll-ups start under $200 while retractable models with racks can exceed $1000.
- Warranty – Look for at least a 3-year warranty on materials and mechanism.
Expert Tips for Getting the Most from Your Tonneau Cover
- For soft covers, park in the shade whenever possible to prevent material fatigue over time.
- Follow the manufacturer’s maintenance tips to keep hinges, seals and mechanisms operating smoothly.
- Use tire shims when needed to keep the cover flush and tight against the bed rails.
- Lubricate sliding panels and hinges with silicone spray to prevent sticking and tearing.
- Never exceed the recommended weight capacity to avoid damage.
- Open hard covers carefully and don’t allow to fall slammed open/closed.
- Ensure integrated racks are evenly loaded to prevent uneven wear and tear.
- Wash vinyl covers and clean aluminum panels regularly with mild soap and water.
- In snow and ice, never force open frozen panels and use de-icer spray liberally.
Other Truck Bed Covers and Accessories to Consider
- Toolboxes that mount over the truck bed for organizing tools and hardware. Can be combined with certain soft covers.
- Bed extenders that allow hauling longer cargo and can also provide some weather protection.
- Bedliners that protect the inner truck bed from damage when loading heavy or abrasive cargo.
- Bed mats that provide a protective cushioned surface and help keep cargo from sliding around.
- Cargo nets that stretch over the truck bed to secure loose items from shifting during transport.
- Retractable bed steps for easier access to front of bed for loading/unloading cargo.
- Truck bed bike racks that mount inside the bed and allow transporting bikes securely.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Are tonneau covers easy to install?
Most tonneau covers are designed for DIY installation. Clamp-on models are quickest, taking 20-30 mins. Some drilling may be required for retractable rails or folding covers, extending install time to 1-2 hrs.
Q: Can I keep my tonneau cover on year round?
Yes, tonneau covers are designed to be left on year round. Use snow and ice de-icer spray to prevent freeze up of panels and ensure proper operation.
Q: What’s the best way to clean a tonneau cover?
Use a mild soap and water solution with a soft brush or cloth to clean vinyl covers. For aluminum panels, wipe down with a microfiber cloth, water and mild detergent.
Q: Will a tonneau cover improve gas mileage?
A soft roll-up cover may increase MPG 1-2 miles per gallon on average by improving aerodynamics. Hard covers provide negligible if any fuel economy benefit.
Q: Can I store really heavy items with an integrated rack system?
It depends on the weight rating of the cover – most can handle 100-500 lbs. Check manufacturer specs and evenly distribute load on rack bars.
Q: Should I get a retractable, folding or roll-up cover?
Retractable are most versatile but expensive. Folding provide good access and security but can be hard to manage. Roll-ups are budget-friendly yet lack durability and security.
Q: Are hard folding covers difficult to open and close?
Yes, due to the material rigidity, folding panels can be cumbersome and prone to slamming closed/open if not managed carefully. Handles and prop rods can help.
I sincerely hope this comprehensive review article helps you choose the perfect tonneau cover to keep your truck bed cargo secure while freeing up valuable cab space.