Soft tonneau covers provide a convenient way to protect the truck bed and any cargo inside. Their flexible vinyl or canvas construction allows them to roll up or fold for full bed access. But despite their usefulness, soft covers have limitations. An important question for many truck owners is: will putting weight on a soft tonneau cover damage it?
How Much Weight Can a Soft Tonneau Cover Hold?
Soft tonneau covers are designed to keep the elements out of your truck bed, not to support extra weight. The amount of weight they can handle depends on the specific model, but most experts recommend keeping additional loads under 30 pounds.
Excess weight is likely to cause problems like:
- Stretching or tearing of the vinyl or canvas
- Popping open of snaps
- Cracks in the cover framework
- Permanent drooping or sagging
So while you may be able to stand or sit on a soft tonneau cover briefly, it’s best to avoid putting prolonged or heavy weight on it.
Are Some Soft Covers Stronger Than Others?
Yes, higher quality soft tonneau covers can withstand more weight than cheaper models. Some factors that affect durability include:
Cover Material – canvas is generally more rigid and sturdy than vinyl. Vinyl can stretch out and deform easier under loads.
Framework – Covers with aluminum bows or plastic support strips can handle more weight than models without internal framing.
Mounting – Snaps, rails, and clamps that are reinforced and mounted securely can better support weight.
Brand – Premium brands like Extang and BakFlip use higher grade materials that add strength.
So while no soft cover is truly meant for standing or heavy loads, some are built better than others. The strongest can potentially handle 50+ pounds without damage when properly reinforced.
What Kind of Damage Can Weight Cause?
Too much weight on a soft tonneau cover risks:
- Tears – from stress points near clamps and snaps as the fabric stretches.
- Broken Snaps – excessive force can pop the male and female parts apart.
- Bent Framework – bows and support strips can bend if overloaded.
- Stretched Fabric – vinyl will permanently deform and sag when overloaded.
- Broken Clamps – excessive weight near the tailgate risks cracking clamps.
- Rail Detachment – force from weight can separate cover rails from the inside bed walls.
- Water leakage – seams, snaps, and rails become compromised and won’t seal out moisture.
While minor damage may be repairable, major tears or broken components will require replacement parts or a whole new cover. Preventing damage is better than repairing it later on.
Tips for Protecting Your Soft Tonneau Cover
To keep a soft tonneau cover looking great and working properly:
- Avoid standing or sitting on it whenever possible.
- Roll up the cover if you need to place heavy items in the bed.
- Distribute weight evenly if you must load the cover.
- Use truck bed protectors like rubber mats or liners for heavy cargo.
- Follow the weight limits in your owner’s manual.
- Support loads on truck racks instead of the cover.
- Use vinyl conditioner and protectants to maintain flexibility.
- Inspect for wear and damage periodically. Catch problems early.
- Have a professional dealer do any repairs needed.
Are Hard Covers Better for Holding Weight?
Definitely. Hard folding, retractable, and one-piece tonneau covers are designed to support weight. Models from UnderCover, BakFlip, and Extang are rated to handle 100+ pounds. The rigid panels distribute force evenly and won’t sag. Hard covers also provide more secure storage and better protection than most soft types. Just be sure to follow the recommended weight capacities.
Soft tonneau covers provide weather protection but aren’t made to be weight bearing. Their vinyl and canvas materials can easily deform or tear when overloaded. While periodic standing won’t necessarily damage a quality soft cover, it’s wise to avoid heavy objects or prolonged loads. Hard tonneau covers are better options if you routinely haul heavy cargo. With proper use and care though, a soft tonneau can reliably protect the truck bed without damage.