Buying a tonneau cover for your truck is an exciting time! A tonneau cover helps protect your stuff in the truck bed. It keeps your gear safe and dry. But with so many options, how do you choose the right one? We will walk you through the steps to pick the perfect tonneau cover!
What Will You Use Your Truck Bed For?
The first thing to think about is how you will use your truck. Will you use it for work? Will you haul lots of heavy things? Or is it just for groceries and small errands?
For Work and Heavy Hauling
If you use your truck for work, you likely haul equipment, tools, and materials. You need a tonneau that is very strong and secure. Look for one that can handle a lot of weight and getting banged around. Hard folding covers and retractable covers are good for heavy use.
For Personal Use and Small Loads
Using your truck for groceries, sports gear, and light errands? A basic vinyl roll-up tonneau will do the trick. These are affordable and provide basic protection. Soft folding covers also work well for light personal use.
The Main Types of Tonneau Covers
There are 5 main types of tonneau covers. Let’s look at the features and benefits of each.
Roll-up tonneaus are a popular choice. They roll up to allow open access to the bed.
- Easy to install
- Roll fully out of the way
- Less durable than hard covers
- Don’t lock
- Can let in rain
Good for light personal use. Not the most secure.
Folding tonneaus have panels that fold up. There are soft and hard folding options.
- Low profile
- Easy to remove
- Hard covers are very durable
- Prone to leaking
- Take up some bed space
Great for both personal and work use. Hard folding the most versatile.
Retractable tonneaus roll up into a canister at the cab. Just hit a button!
- Instant full bed access
- Hard covers are very strong
- Highly secure when closed
- Canister takes up some space
A premium choice great for work trucks and security.
Snapping tonneaus use a snap system for easy on/off. Most are vinyl.
- Simple to install and remove
- Not very durable
- Offer minimal security
Good basic coverage for personal use on a budget.
Hinged tonneaus are a single panel that lifts and latches open.
- Fast, easy access
- Low profile style
- Limited cargo space access
- Not as secure when open
Decent choice for small personal loads.
How Important is Cargo Security?
Do you need to lock up tools and equipment? Or are you just keeping some groceries and sports gear dry?
For maximum security, choose a retractable or hard folding tonneau. These lock tightly to protect your cargo. Some have locking mechanisms right on the cover.
If you just need to cover some small personal items, a vinyl roll-up or snapping cover will get the job done. They keep gear dry but aren’t meant for high security.
Match the Tonneau to Your Truck Bed Size
Tonneaus come in sizes to fit all truck beds. Measure your truck bed length for the perfect fit.
Full-size truck beds:
- Short bed: 5′ – 6’6″
- Standard bed: 6’6″ – 8′
- Long bed: 8′ – 9′
- 5′ – 6′ bed lengths
- 4′ – 5′ bed lengths
A long tonneau on a short bed leaves gaps. A short tonneau on a long bed won’t fully cover. Take measurements and read the size guide when ordering.
Factor in Your Truck’s Use
How and where you drive matters when picking a tonneau.
Off-Roading and Adventure
Heading off-road? Choose a durable retractable or hinged tonneau. Make sure it can handle dirt, mud, and bumps.
Long Highway Drives
Spend lots of time on the highway? A low-profile hard folding tonneau offers great MPG benefits.
Hot and Sunny Climate
In a hot area? A vinyl cover may warp or crack over time. Go for a hard cover or keep your tonneau covered when parked.
Retractable covers can ice up in freezing temps. And cold makes vinyl and snaps more brittle. Opt for hardy construction materials.
Read Reviews and Compare Brands
Once you know the type you need, it’s time to pick a brand. Read expert reviews and shopper feedback online. See how brands compare on:
- Security features
- Weather protection
- Easy installation
Stick with top-rated brands known for quality. The best brands will have great customer reviews over many years.
Top tonneau brands include Extang, BakFlip, TruXedo, UnderCover, Retrax, and Tyger Auto. Shop around for sales to save money.
Helpful Tips for Buying a Tonneau
Keep these tips in mind while shopping:
- Softer vinyl covers cost less but may not hold up over time. Hard covers are a sturdy long-term choice.
- Clamping systems are easier to install than drilling into your truck bed.
- Locking tonneaus keep cargo secure but can be broken into by prying. Use extra locks on pricier gear.
- Added warranties provide peace of mind and cover defects and premature wear.
- Buy from brands sold at truck outfitters and tonneau specialty shops for the best selection and service.
Time to Choose Your Tonneau!
Now you know how to pick the perfect tonneau cover! First, think about how you use your truck. Next, decide which type suits your needs. Be sure to measure your truck bed for a custom fit. And read reviews to find a top brand. Order your tonneau and get ready to haul your gear with confidence. Enjoy the extra protection and versatility your new tonneau provides!