A tonneau cover is an excellent accessory for any pickup truck owner looking to secure and protect their cargo. Soft tonneau covers are a popular choice due to their flexibility and ease of use. But a common question is whether you can fold a soft tonneau cover closed with cargo still inside the truck bed.
What Are The Different Types Of Soft Tonneau Covers?
There are a few main types of soft tonneau covers to consider:
Roll-up tonneau covers are made of vinyl or another durable fabric that can be rolled up toward the cab to allow access to the full truck bed. The cover attaches to the sides of the truck bed with a Velcro or snap system.
Pros: Roll-up covers are very convenient for accessing cargo frequently. They allow you to uncover as much or as little of the bed as needed.
Cons: When rolled up, they do not provide the same level of security as other cover types. They may also sag in the middle over time.
Folding covers, often called tri-fold, are made of vinyl or canvas fabric. They fold into thirds for easy access to the bed and can be quickly released and folded from either side of the truck.
Pros: Folding covers maintain good security when closed and folded. They also provide fast, convenient access to the bed.
Cons: They take up some bed space when folded up. Accessing cargo under a folded section may require fully unfolding the cover.
Retractable tonneau covers roll up on a spring-loaded frame. The cover resides under a canister at the front of the bed when fully retracted.
Pros: Retractable covers provide the easiest access to 100% of the bed, with the ability to uncover any amount of cargo.
Cons: The mechanism requires maintenance, can fail over time, and takes up some bed space. Cost is also higher.
Can You Close A Soft Tonneau Cover With Cargo Inside?
Whether you can close your soft tonneau cover with cargo inside the bed depends on the specific type of cover:
Yes, roll-up covers are designed for easy cargo access. You can leave cargo in the truck bed and simply roll the cover closed over it. The flexible fabric can mold over cargo of various shapes and sizes. Just be sure not to overload the bed with cargo above the sides, as this can put excess strain on the cover.
Maybe, but it depends on the size and position of the cargo. Because folding covers create rigid sections when closed, any cargo that protrudes too high could prevent the panels from folding properly. Low-profile cargo that fits under the panels should be fine. But it’s best to fold the cover open first before loading taller cargo.
No, retractable tonneau covers are not designed to be closed with cargo inside. The rigid canister requires the cover to be fully retracted into a rolled-up position. Any cargo in the bed would obstruct this process. These covers are intended for use with an empty truck bed.
Key Factors To Consider With Cargo And Soft Covers
If you want the flexibility to occasionally close your soft tonneau cover over some cargo, keep these factors in mind:
The lower the cargo profile, the more likely it is to work with a closed cover. Protruding and irregularly shaped items are problematic. Secure cargo flush to the truck bed whenever possible.
Centralizing cargo toward the cab or tailgate minimizes interference with folding cover panels. Avoid placing cargo directly where the cover joints/hinges fold.
Roll-up and folding covers should be installed with sufficient tension to remain taut and resist sagging in the middle over cargo. Check the tension each time you load cargo inside with the cover closed.
Watch For Damage
Repeated folding and closing the cover over rigid cargo can damage the vinyl or fabric over time. Use protective pads or blankets to reduce abrasion and stress.
Added Wind Resistance
Large cargo inside a closed cover essentially turns the cover into a sail, increasing wind resistance. Drive cautiously in high winds and consider removing cargo first.
Most states prohibit objects protruding beyond the truck bed sides. Cargo inside a closed cover should remain fully within the bed walls.
Advantages Of Soft Tonneau Covers With Cargo Access
Being able to access and load cargo with your tonneau cover closed provides some nice benefits:
You can load cargo through the tailgate and simply close the cover back up, without having to fully remove it each time. This saves significant time and hassle.
The cover keeps dust, debris, and other elements out of your cargo while driving, even if loaded with the cover closed.
The cover hides and secures cargo, while still allowing access by simply flipping open a section. This deters opportunistic theft.
With the cover protecting cargo from above, you can drive in light rain or snow without cargo getting wet. Just avoid heavy downpours.
A tight, closed cover improves gas mileage, even with cargo inside. Loose flapping covers waste fuel.
Just be sensible about cargo weight, height, and positioning when driving with a closed soft tonneau cover. And take care not to overstress the vinyl or fabric. With some forethought, you can enjoy the best of both worlds!
How To Use A Soft Tonneau Cover With Cargo
If you want to be able to fold your soft tonneau cover closed over some cargo, here are some tips:
Should You Load Cargo With Cover Open Or Closed?
- For roll-up covers, it’s easiest to load cargo with cover closed. Just roll it back as needed.
- For folding covers, load cargo with cover fully open, then fold closed after.
What Cargo Positions Best With Folded Covers?
- Central toward cab/tailgate
- In front of wheel wells
- Low profile and flush with bed floor
How Can You Prevent Cover Damage From Cargo?
- Use protective padding or blankets
- Avoid abrasive/sharp objects directly under cover
- Check cover tightness and tension
- Drive slowly on rough roads
What If Cargo Won’t Let The Cover Fold Closed?
- Consolidate smaller items together
- Switch cargo to opposite side of bed
- Rotate or flip cargo to lower height
- Partially fold cover and secure open sections with straps
- Remove interfering cargo before folding cover
Is Driving With Cargo And Closed Cover Safe?
- Load cargo below bed sides to avoid legal issues
- Check cargo is stable and won’t shift while driving
- Go slow around corners and in windy conditions
- Avoid sudden braking that could shift cargo forward
Taking a few extra steps when loading cargo under your soft tonneau cover will ensure everything fits, folds, and functions properly! Just use common sense.
Pros And Cons Of Closing Soft Tonneau Covers With Cargo Inside
- Saves time not having to remove and reinstall cover
- Provides security and protection for cargo
- Keeps cargo clean and dry in some weather
- Improves gas mileage with cover closed
- Allows access to cargo from tailgate
- Doesn’t require special loading/unloading
- Risk of cover damage or excessive wear
- Cargo may interfere with cover folding
- Height limits and positioning challenges
- Reduced bed access compared to open cover
- Cargo may shift or tip while driving
- Wind resistance increases with cargo
- Heavy rain can still enter bed/cargo area
At the end of the day, the answer to whether you can fold a soft tonneau cover closed with cargo inside depends specifically on your cover type and the size of your cargo.
Roll-up covers offer the most flexibility, as their vinyl material can fold over cargo with relative ease. But folding covers may be limited by cargo that is too large or too high. And retractable covers really need an empty bed to operate properly.
The key is to assess your specific needs and choose the tonneau cover that fits your cargo requirements. Roll-up covers are great if you need frequent easy access. Locking folding covers provide more security when closed. And retractable covers maximize unobstructed bed access when fully open.
With smart loading techniques and common sense use, soft tonneau covers can safely accommodate some cargo while closed. Just be cautious of cover wear, cargo shifting, and driving conditions. A soft tonneau can be a useful asset for the pickup owner who needs both cargo protection and easy access.