A tonneau cover is an excellent addition to any pickup truck, providing protection and security for cargo in the truck bed. But can you still fold up a tonneau cover when you have cargo inside? The short answer is yes, you can fold a tonneau cover with cargo still loaded in the truck bed. However, there are some important factors to consider depending on the type and design of tonneau cover.
What are the Different Types of Tonneau Covers?
There are three main types of tonneau covers to choose from:
Hard Folding Tonneau Covers
Hard folding tonneau covers are made of hard materials like aluminum, fiberglass, or vinyl. They consist of two or more panels that fold or roll up for full access to the bed.
Soft Roll-Up Tonneau Covers
Soft roll-up tonneau covers are made of flexible vinyl or fabric and roll up to store at the front of the bed. A spring-loaded support bow helps keep the cover tightened when closed.
Soft Tri-Fold Tonneau Covers
Soft tri-fold tonneau covers fold into thirds for easy opening and closing. The flexible fabric construction allows these covers to fold up quickly.
Can You Fold a Hard Tonneau Cover With Cargo Inside?
Hard folding tonneau covers are designed for easy folding even when cargo is loaded in the truck bed. Here are some tips for folding up a hard tonneau cover with cargo inside:
Rearrange Cargo for Clearance
You may need to consolidate and rearrange cargo to provide clearance for the tonneau cover to fold. Keep cargo away from the sides and loaded more centrally to allow the panels to fold upright.
Properly secure all cargo with straps, nets, or tie-downs to prevent shifting or moving when folding the panels. Loose cargo can get damaged or make folding difficult.
Fold One Panel at a Time
Unlatch and fold up one panel at a time, starting with the rear panel. Make sure cargo is not obstructing the hinges or folding mechanisms.
Support Panel While Folding
If needed, have someone support and guide the tonneau cover panels while folding to prevent any undue strain or pressure on the cargo.
Avoid Excessive Weight
Extremely heavy cargo in the bed may make folding the hard panels more difficult. Try to limit cargo to within the recommended weight capacity.
As long as cargo is properly secured and consolidated, most hard folding tonneau covers can be folded up with cargo loaded. Just take care when folding and watch for any shifting cargo.
What About Soft Tonneau Covers?
Soft tonneau covers like roll-up and tri-fold designs can also usually be folded up with cargo inside the truck bed. However, there are some additional factors to keep in mind:
Cargo May Limit Folding
Large or oddly-shaped cargo may get in the way of rolling or folding the cover. The flexible nature of soft covers means cargo could inhibit folding.
As with hard covers, arranging cargo efficiently will make folding a soft cover much easier. Keep cargo centrally located and low profile.
Properly tie-down all cargo and close tailgate prior to folding cover. This will prevent cargo from shifting when cover is folded.
Fold Slowly and Carefully
Soft covers should be slowly rolled or folded to watch for any interference or contact with cargo. Take extra care when folding not to place pressure on cargo.
Avoid Excess Weight
Any extremely heavy cargo may put too much strain on a soft tonneau cover when folding. Try to limit cargo weight for easier folding.
Soft tonneau covers do have some limitations when folding with cargo inside. But with proper loading and securing of cargo, most can still be folded up. Just take precautions and fold carefully.
Tips for Folding a Tonneau Cover With Cargo
Here are some general tips to keep in mind when folding up a tonneau cover with cargo loaded:
- Consolidate cargo centrally and evenly in bed
- Properly tie down all cargo before folding cover
- Fold cover slowly while watching for shifting cargo
- Support cover panels during folding as needed
- Limit cargo weight to reasonable levels
- Consult manufacturer guidelines for weight capacities
- Rearrange large, bulky items if needed for clearance
- Only fold cover when parked on level surface
- Take care when driving with folded cover to avoid cargo shifting
Are There Any Tonneau Covers That Can’t Fold With Cargo?
Most standard tonneau covers are designed to allow folding even when loaded. However, there are some exceptions:
Some very low profile, flush fitting soft covers may not be able to fold with cargo inside. Cargo may press up against the cover exterior when closed.
Covers that use a snapping system instead of hinges or folds likely cannot fold up with cargo in the bed.
Specific Manufacturers’ Instructions
Some manufacturers may advise against folding their covers when loaded. Always check the specific guidelines.
Unless indicated otherwise by the manufacturer, most tonneau covers can still be folded with cargo inside the truck bed. But proper loading and caution should be used.
What Are Some Precautions When Folding a Loaded Tonneau Cover?
If you need to fold up your tonneau cover with cargo inside, keep these precautions in mind:
- Unlatch cover slowly to watch for shifting cargo
- Have someone assist with folding and spotting if needed
- Avoid folding cover in windy conditions when loaded
- Take care not to let folded cover flap around and contact cargo
- Make sure to secure cover in folded position
- Drive slowly and steadily to prevent cargo movement
- Avoid sudden braking or swerving maneuvers
- Check cargo after each trip to ensure it hasn’t shifted
Use common sense and care when maneuvering a tonneau cover with cargo inside the truck bed. Pay attention to the cover and cargo during all stages of opening, folding, driving, and closing the cover.
Is It Okay to Drive With a Folded Tonneau Cover and Cargo?
Driving with your tonneau cover folded up and loaded cargo inside the bed is generally okay in most cases. However, be sure to follow these guidelines for safe driving:
- Double check cargo is properly secured before driving
- Make sure tonneau is safely secured in folded position
- Drive slowly and steadily, avoiding quick acceleration
- Brake, turn, and change lanes gently
- Be aware of wind resistance with cover folded
- Keep an eye on cargo through rearview mirror
- Pull over periodically to check cargo has not shifted
- Avoid driving long distances with loaded, folded cover
Use caution when driving with cargo and a folded tonneau. Take regular breaks to check cargo, drive vigilantly, and get the cover back down whenever feasible.
When Is It Best to Avoid Folding a Loaded Tonneau Cover?
There are some instances when it is better to avoid folding up your tonneau cover if the truck bed is loaded:
Transporting Loose Material
Items like sand, gravel, mulch or other loose materials should be tarped instead of folded over to prevent spillage.
Large, Unwieldy Cargo
Oversize cargo that cannot be properly secured or consolidated may be too risky to fold over.
Extremely Heavy Cargo
Excessively heavy cargo could put too much strain on most covers when folded.
Strong winds could catch and damage a folded cover, or blow around unsecured cargo.
Long Distance Driving
Driving long distances with cargo and a folded cover increases risks of shifting and damage.
If maker advises against folding when loaded, adhere to their guidelines.
Use good judgment when deciding if folding a tonneau is safe or if cargo should be removed first. Evaluate cargo type, weight, driving distance and weather conditions.
Folding up a tonneau cover while loaded is generally possible, with some sensible precautions taken. Hard folding covers and tri-fold designs handle folded cargo better than roll-up covers. Properly securing and consolidating cargo is key, along with careful driving. Truck owners can safely fold their tonneau cover when loaded in most short-distance scenarios. Just use good cargo sense and care when operating the cover to prevent issues. With the right tonneau cover and prudent loading techniques, you can fold over your cargo and keep it protected.