Pickup truck owners love the versatility of having an open truck bed for hauling larger items. But driving around with an exposed truck bed can also leave your gear vulnerable to weather or theft. That’s why many truck owners invest in a tonneau cover to protect their truck bed.
Hard tri-fold tonneau covers are a popular choice for their durability and easy folding design. But what happens when you need to partially or fully fold up your tonneau cover when you still have cargo loaded in the truck bed? Is it possible to fold up a hard tri-fold tonneau cover with cargo still inside?
What Are The Key Features Of A Hard Tri-Fold Tonneau Cover?
Before diving into whether these covers can fold with cargo inside, let’s look at what defines a hard tri-fold tonneau cover:
- Hard vs Soft Cover – Hard covers are made from aluminum, fiberglass, or heavy-duty vinyl/plastic rather than soft vinyl or canvas. They are more durable and weatherproof.
- Folding Design – Tri-fold covers have 2-3 panels that fold accordion-style for partial or full access to the bed.
- Locking Mechanism – Hard covers use hydraulic supports and latching systems to keep the panels flush and secure.
- Easy Installation – Many tri-fold covers utilize a no-drill installation with clamps rather than drilling holes.
Knowing these key traits, what happens when you go to fold up the panels with cargo still loaded?
Can You Fold Up A Hard Tonneau With Cargo Inside?
The short answer is yes, you can fold up your hard tri-fold tonneau cover with cargo still inside the truck bed. However, there are some important factors to consider:
Cargo Size, Weight, and Placement
- Bulky, tall, or oddly-shaped cargo may get in the way of fully folding the cover.
- Pay attention to weight limits – excess weight on top of the cover when folded could damage the panels.
- Try to load cargo towards the cab or rear of the bed to allow the cover to fold.
Manufacturer Instructions and Specs
- Check your specific cover’s manual for fold-with-cargo capability and weight limits when folded.
- Designs vary – some brands/models may fold easier or support more weight than others.
Visibility and Access Considerations
- Folded cover may block rear window visibility – drive cautiously.
- Accessing in-bed cargo will require repeatedly unlatching and refolding the cover.
- Cargo may shift while driving if not well-secured.
Protecting the Tonneau Cover
- Use care when folding cover panels onto cargo.
- Cargo rubbing against vinyl/plastic panels may scuff or scratch them.
- Sharp or pointed objects may puncture or tear panel fabric.
So Should You Fold Your Hard Tonneau With Cargo Inside?
While most tri-fold hard covers can physically fold up with cargo in the truck bed, here are some pros and cons to consider:
- Allows partial bed access without fully removing tonneau cover.
- Can keep cargo secure and protected from weather while driving.
- Provides some pickup bed protection when hauling oversized cargo.
- Cargo limits full foldability and bed access.
- Repeated unlatching/folding cover is inconvenient for accessing cargo.
- Risk of cargo shifting or damaging cover panels.
- May obstruct rear visibility when driving.
- Fold cover slowly and carefully to avoid cargo damage.
- Use protective padding ifneeded between cargo and cover panels.
- Secure cargo firmly in place so it won’t shift while driving.
- Check cargo and cover mounts regularly during transport.
What Are Some Alternatives For Hauling Cargo With A Tonneau Cover?
If folding up your hard tonneau cover with cargo inside seems too inconvenient or risky, here are a few options to consider:
- Remove tonneau cover – Taking off the cover allows full bed access for oversized or oddly-shaped cargo. But do so at your own risk of weather exposure and theft.
- Use a different truck – Consider using an SUV, van, or trailer to more easily enclose bulky cargo.
- Add a truck bed rack – Carrying cargo on a rack above the tonneau cover leaves the cover usable. But it raises the vehicle’s center of gravity.
- Switch tonneau cover style – A retractable or roll-up cover may fold away easier than a tri-fold when cargo is loaded. But they’re typically less durable.
- Go with a toolbox instead – Toolboxes install over the bed rails, allowing unobstructed folding of the tonneau cover. But they reduce bed space.
Key Takeaways About Folding a Hard Tonneau Cover With Cargo
While most hard folding truck bed covers can technically still fold up with cargo inside, it may not be the most convenient option. Here are some key points to remember:
- Check your specific tonneau cover’s manual for capabilities and weight limits.
- Position cargo strategically to allow cover to fold as much as possible.
- Be cautious of obstructed visibility and insecure cargo when driving folded cover.
- Be gentle folding cover to avoid cargo damage or shifting.
- For best access, remove tonneau cover completely when hauling oversized or heavy cargo.
So in summary, it is possible to fold a hard tri-fold tonneau cover with cargo inside, but it may depend on the specific cover and the size and shape of the cargo. Some tri-fold covers can be completely folded up, but this may block the view out the rear window. Hard folding covers can support extra weight and cargo on top of the tonneau cover, but accessibility and maneuverability may be restricted during use.
It is important to note that tri-fold hard tonneau covers can be challenging to install and remove, and anytime you need full access to your cargo space, you will have to go through a disassembly process. Therefore, it is recommended to check the manufacturer’s instructions or contact the manufacturer directly to determine the specific capabilities and limitations of a particular hard tri-fold tonneau cover.