Folding a soft roll-up tonneau cover while cargo is still loaded in the truck bed is a common question for truck owners. The flexibility and convenience of soft covers make them popular choices, but does that mean you can fold them up easily with items still loaded?
The short answer is maybe, but it depends. Soft tonneau covers are designed for convenient access to the bed, but several factors come into play when trying to fold them with cargo inside. Weight limits, material type, cargo properties, and ease of use can all impact how easily (or whether) a soft cover can be folded with items remaining in the truck bed.
What Are Weight Limits for Soft Tonneau Covers?
The first consideration is weight limits. Soft roll-up covers are flexible by design, but still have load capacities that should be followed. Exceeding the recommended weight can damage the cover.
Typical weight limits for soft tonneau covers include:
- Soft tri-fold covers: 20-30 lbs
- Vinyl roll-ups: Around 100 lbs
- Premium canvas roll-ups: 100-200 lbs
Heavier tri-fold hard covers and retractable covers have higher weight capacities, like 400 lbs evenly distributed.
So a soft cover might be folded with lightweight cargo inside, but heavy items could put it over the weight limit and cause damage. Always check the manufacturer’s specs.
Does Material Type Impact Folding With Cargo Inside?
The type of material used for the tonneau cover also affects how well it can handle folding with cargo inside.
Soft covers are typically made from either canvas or vinyl.
Vinyl covers are waterproof and affordable, but more prone to punctures and tearing. Folding them with cargo could be risky if the items have sharp corners or edges.
Canvas is more durable but also a bit pricier. It’s less likely to suffer damage during folding with cargo inside. However, canvas has weight limits too.
Heavier dual-layered covers offer protective lining and improved puncture resistance. But the extra weight still limits how much additional cargo can be loaded during folding.
What About the Cargo’s Properties?
Even if the cargo weight is within the cover’s limits, properties of the cargo itself can determine whether folding the cover is possible or safe:
- Sharp edges – Cargo like building supplies with pointed corners can easily puncture soft covers during folding. Removing cargo first is best.
- Odd shapes – Awkward, irregular cargo makes evenly folding the cover difficult and strains cover material.
- Dirty/abrasive – Cargo that could rub against and abrade the cover’s interior surface during folding is problematic.
- Secured improperly – Unsecured cargo can shift and move when folding the cover, damaging the cover or bed.
- Exceeds weight limit – Overloading will over-stress the cover and lead to tears or material failure when folding.
Ideally, the cargo left inside for folding should have smooth edges, regular shapes, and be clean, secured, and within weight limits.
Is Folding the Cover With Cargo Inside More Difficult?
Even if the cargo weight and properties permit it, folding up a soft tonneau cover around loaded cargo is likely to be more difficult and time consuming compared to an empty bed.
Here are some considerations on ease of folding with cargo inside:
- It takes more force and effort to fold the cover when resisting cargo weight or irregular shapes. Over time, this can strain cover components.
- Folding an evenly distributed load is easier than working around randomly loaded items. Organized cargo placement helps.
- Full bed coverage is nearly impossible. Cargo essentially divides the cover into sections that must be folded individually.
- Separate sections have to be aligned and secured properly when folding to prevent gaps, billowing, and cracking.
- Condensation or spills on cargo can wet the cover interior and cause sticking while folding.
With practice and experimentation, truck owners can find techniques that work for folding their soft cover around typical cargo. But removing cargo before folding remains the easiest method overall.
Key Takeaways – Folding Soft Covers With Cargo
Folding a soft roll-up tonneau cover with cargo inside the truck bed is possible in many cases, but not always recommended. Here are some key tips:
- Verify cargo weight is within cover weight limits first. Exceeding the weight capacity risks damage.
- Canvas covers are more durable for folding with cargo versus vinyl. But limits still apply.
- Cargo should have smooth edges and shapes that won’t puncture or crease the cover.
- Proper cargo securing and even load distribution make folding much easier than random placement.
- Expect that folding will be more difficult and time consuming with cargo versus an empty bed.
- Check that cargo is not abrasive and hasn’t left moisture that could make the cover stick.
- Remove cargo first if ever unsure about weight limits or possible damage from folding.
With careful cargo selection and loading techniques, soft roll-up tonneau covers can in many cases be folded with some cargo remaining in the truck bed. But proceed cautiously and remove heavy or risky cargo prior to folding whenever possible.
Common Questions About Folding Soft Tonneau Covers
Here are answers to some other frequently asked questions about folding soft roll-up tonneau covers with cargo inside:
Can I fold a soft tonneau cover with 100 lbs of cargo inside?
Maybe, depending on the cover. Basic vinyl covers often max out around 100 lbs capacity. But higher-end canvas covers may be rated for up to 200 lbs. Folding 100 lbs is possible if it’s an approved cover, but will be more difficult than an unloaded bed.
What’s the weight limit on a tri-fold soft tonneau cover?
Tri-fold soft covers typically max out around 20-30 lbs weight capacity. Exceeding this risks damage to the folding panels and hinges. Hard tri-fold covers can handle much more weight, like 400 lbs.
Should I remove a dirt bike before folding my canvas tonneau?
Yes, it’s best to remove a heavy item like a dirt bike before folding the cover. The weight could exceed the cover’s limits, and the tires and frame are likely to puncture or tear the canvas during folding.
Can I leave a toolbox loaded when I fold my roll-up cover?
If it’s a lightweight aluminum toolbox secured low in the bed, you may be able to fold the cover over it safely. But heavy, bulky toolboxes should be removed first to avoid straining or creasing the cover.
Is it ok to fold my cover over lumber and plywood?
Lumber, plywood sheets, and similar building supplies are not safe to fold over. Their weight is often too much for soft covers, and the pointed edges and corners can easily slice or gouge vinyl and canvas.
Can I fold a BakFlip soft cover while loaded with groceries in bags?
Yes, if the grocery bags are not too heavy. Evenly distributed, smooth, lighter items like bagged groceries are less likely to strain or puncture soft covers during folding than rigid heavy cargo. Just mind the cover’s weight limits.
Soft roll-up tonneau covers provide the ultimate access and versatility for pickup truck beds. With proper precautions for cargo weight and properties, many can also be folded over cargo safely in a pinch. But exceeded weight capacities or hazardous cargo could easily damage the cover. Whenever feasible, clearing all cargo before folding soft tonneau covers remains the best approach for performance and longevity.