The 10 Best Tonneau & Truck Bed Covers to Buy 2020

The 10 Best Tonneau & Truck Bed Covers to Buy 2020

Here’s how it goes. You buy some new flat-pack furniture from your favorite flat-pack store, throw the cardboard box of goodies into your truck, and it rains. “If only there was a better way!” you shout into the void as soup leaks from its cardboard box onto your driveway. Then you realize that you don’t live in an infomercial, and that tonneau covers have existed since the first trucks rolled off the assembly line, so you consider grabbing one.

Covering the Basics of Truck Bed Covers

First things first, because we know you want to know. Why the heck is it called a tonneau cover? Well, tonneau is the French word for cask, which at first was used in the 20s and 30s to describe the barrel-like cloth covering that protected the back half of cars. People would stretch fabric over the rear seats of their convertible in order to get an aerodynamic edge. It was a simpler time. Nowadays, it’s synonymous with a truck bed cover, and they primarily come in two flavors.

Hard or Soft Tops

Modern truck bed covers are either soft, made usually of fabric or vinyl, or hard, where they are made from plastic or metal. Each type comes in numerous styles, which we’ll discuss here in the quick guide. They are made from a huge variety of materials too, which we’ll touch on down in the big guide at the bottom.

Soft

Soft covers are soft. Shocking, we know. Soft covers offer good weatherproofing and are very easy to stow when not in use. They aren’t as durable as hardcovers, but are often much cheaper.

Hard

Hardshell covers are stronger and more secure than soft shell covers. They are not necessarily more weatherproof than soft covers, but they will last longer and resist damage a lot better.

Tonneau Cover Styles

In addition to the shell material, tonneaus come in a handful of styles. The way they retract affects how usable your truck is as a truck and how easy they are to operate in general.

Folding

A folding cover is segmented, and each segment folds back onto the previous one. Most are either 3 or 4 segments. The best part of a segmented tonneau is that you can open it up part way and use it as the trunk on a car. The bad news is that even when they are open as far as possible, they still take up a lot of space.

Roll Up

Covers that roll up can be a godsend if you often need to haul oversized objects. If you need to stow them, you just roll them all the way up into a tight bundle. Then you’ll have access to your entire bed. The downside is that rolling them up and then having to unroll them is inconvenient and slow.

Retractable

A fancy alternative to rolling up a cover is to have a box that it retracts into. Picture a set of blinds on your home’s windows. These work the same way and offer something that is a lot like a compromise between rolling and folding. They offer the most coverage options, but the box still takes up valuable space.

Automatic

If money is no object, you can get covers that open and close at the push of a button. Ladies and gentlemen, Star Wars has nothing on us.

Double- Then Triple-Check the Size

Truck beds come in a lot of sizes. A short bed Tacoma is 4ft by 5ft. If you live the Taco life but go crazy and buy a cover for a long bed F250, no amount of DIY will allow you to simply lop 1ft off the width and 3ft off the length. Most manufacturers offer a ton of sizes on their product page, but you can also use Amazon to double-check for you by setting up your garage.

There are a lot of options out there, which is why we narrowed it down to 10. Take a look; it might be helpful to browse through all of the options just so you know what kind of crazy stuff is out there. We even included one for a Wrangler, so that Jeep people don’t feel excluded.

Top 10 Best Tonneau & Truck Bed Covers 2020

1. Best Overall Tonneau: Tyger Auto T5 Alloy Hardtop

Tyger Auto T5 Alloy Hardtop

Why we like it: It’s indestructible, easy to operate, and is one of the most budget-friendly hardtops on the market.

Editor’s Rating:

At a Glance:

  • Type: Hard
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Stow Away Method: 3-fold

Who Is It Best For?

If ease of use, durability, and style are your primary concerns, then this is the lid for you. It’s also one of the least expensive hardtops out there, so it won’t set you back too far. Basically, people who are just looking for a great cover that will keep up with the demand that trucks require, here it is.

If you haul a lot of stuff, though, it will be in the way more often than not. Check out a rolling tonneau like the Gator here instead.

What Feature Stands Out?

Tyger really goes out of their way to make their tonneau covers easy to install. In fact, their folding soft top is one of the best values out there and is also highly rated on our list here largely because of how easy it is to install and use. The Tyger mounting system uses big cammed clamps that take minutes to lock onto your bed; it’s very nice. You don’t need tools. You don’t even need an extra person to help.

Our Thoughts

It’s just hard to believe that you can get an easy to use, aluminum tonneau for this price. Security and protection from elements are two of the biggest reasons to get a bed cover, and the Tyger T5 has both in droves. If your tailgate is locked, people aren’t getting in. The weather can’t get in either; the Tyger has some awesome weathertight rails that also cushion the top.

Those rails make it a very quiet unit to operate. That’s sort of against truck mentality, but when you go camping and are trying to sneak out the donut box before the rest of the family wakes up, you’ll be thankful for it.

There’s got to be a bad side, right? Nothing is just good all around. There is, but they are only bad sides that are inherent to all folding hardtops. It will leak if it isn’t installed perfectly square. It’s not hard to adjust it, and it’s really not a big deal if a little water gets in along the sides most of the time. It just is an issue.

It also takes up a lot of space when fully opened, but as we said: get a roll-up cover if you need the full amount of space. There’s even a hardtop roll up here, so you don’t have to sacrifice the security.

The Tyger’s other issue is that the hinges don’t last as long as more premium brands. That’s just a product of the price. It’s really not a huge downside. You can spend twice as much on the BakFlip and get better hinges if you want.

Pros

  • Really great value
  • Very easy to use
  • Very easy to install too

Cons

  • Prone to leaks if not seated correctly
  • Hardware quality could be better

2. Best Soft Tri-Fold Tonneau: Tyger Auto T3 Soft

Tyger Auto T3 Soft

Why we like it: The T3 is very budget-friendly, very easy to use, and still strong enough to keep your stuff safe.

Editor’s Rating:

At a Glance:

  • Type: Soft
  • Material: Marine-grade vinyl
  • Stow Away Method: 3-fold

Who Is It Best For?

Ok, so if you saw our overall pick and thought, “dang, I want all those nice features, but it’s out of my budget,” then you are in luck. The Tyger T3 is still waterproof and easy to get in and out of. It’s about as close as a softcover can be to a hardtop.

The only thing you might miss is the extra security of a hardtop, and if that’s the case, there’s no substitute for a hardtop. Just grab the Tyger T5 instead.

What Feature Stands Out?

Just like with the T5, the T3 is just really, really easy to install. You don’t need tools, and the aluminum ribs just slide into place. It’s hard to overstate how nice it is to get a product that you can just walk out to your truck and install.

Our Thoughts

It really was a tough call for us to choose the aluminum Tyger offering over this vinyl one. Both are really easy to operate, both are weatherproof, and both offer no-tool installation. The vinyl is a lot cheaper but doesn’t offer the security or extra durability. The lack of durability is ultimately what prevented the T3 from the top spot. That doesn’t mean it’s terrible by any means, just not quite as good as the T5. It’s a lot cheaper, though, and will make it a better buy for a lot of people.

The T3 is great, is what we are saying in fewer words. The 3 fold design makes it effortless to get to your cargo, and the installation can be done by one person in a matter of minutes. It’s not as amazingly waterproof as the Gator soft top on our lists, but it makes up for it by being easier to live with. Plus, you can just add more weatherstripping and solve the issue, just make sure the seal between the cab side of the bed and the install brackets is perfect.

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Very easy to use
  • Very easy to install

Cons

  • Not as secure as other products
  • Weatherproofing can take some time

3. Best Budget Tonneau: Gator ETX Soft Roll

Gator ETX Soft Roll

Why we like it: Gator offers this budget-friendly option in a ton of sizes and styles, so it’s easy to get the right one for your truck.

Editor’s Rating:

At a Glance:

  • Type: Soft
  • Material: Leather-grain vinyl
  • Stow Away Method: Roll-up

Who Is It Best For?

The type of person who grabs this Gator softcover is the type of person who just wants a basic cover that’s durable enough to protect their stuff without breaking the bank. It’s for the person that occasionally needs to haul a dirtbike but mostly just wants to keep their tools or luggage out of the sun.

What Feature Stands Out?

Nothing really stands out about the Gator, but we mean that in the nicest way possible. It’s exactly what a softcover should be: easy to unlatch, weatherproof, and storable in a way that offers 100% bed access.

Our Thoughts

Sometimes a truck accessory just needs to be an extension of the utilitarian nature of trucks. Or rather, trucks are for getting stuff done, and you don’t need anything fancy. That’s what Gator offers. It’s no TruXedo, there’s no auto tensioning or fancy fabric. The top is just thick vinyl that’s waterproof and damage resistant. It’ll scratch and get beat up over time, but that only means it will match the rest of the truck.

The Gator cover is exceptionally waterproof, but the fit could be a lot better. It’s a bit of a strange issue since usually bad fitment is what leads to water penetration. Gator’s softcover just extends so far over the rails that it acts like a big vinyl umbrella for your trucks. An umbrella that can be heavy and hard to work with, sometimes, which can be annoying. The Tyger soft top is much easier to work with if you don’t want to fight the vinyl. You will lose the 100% bed access, so it’s up to you to choose utility or ease.

Pros

  • Waterproofing is excellent
  • You get total bed access when it’s rolled
  • Inexpensive

Cons

  • Vinyl scratches easily
  • Can be a bit hard to work with sometimes

4. Best Premium Tonneau: BakFlip MX4

BakFlip MX4

Why we like it: The MX4 is simply one of the best hardtop folding covers on the market.

Editor’s Rating:

At a Glance:

  • Type: Hard
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Stow Away Method: 3-fold

Who Is It Best For?

The BakFlip is tough. You can put up to 400lbs on top of it, and that makes it the right cover for tradespersons or anyone else that needs durability above all else. Further adding to the all work attitude of the BakFlip is the fact that it can be stowed upright, so you can still use your bed to haul rocks without damaging it. It’s not as full access as a roll-up, but it’s close.

What Feature Stands Out?

After folding it up, the BakFlip locks in place upright. That gives you full access to the bed. Granted, it’s at the expense of seeing through your back window, but that’s what mirrors are for. It does leave your brake light exposed, something they advertise often. If you are using your truck bed to its fullest, you probably will cover it up anyway.

Our Thoughts

To get a really good feel for how tough the BakFlip is, take a look at the complaints around the web. Through a hurricane, there was a little bit of water that got underneath. It got dented during a hail storm. There were, gasp, scratches after the truck rolled over. Those are events that would destroy other covers and everything underneath them. Still, instead of replacing their cargo, people just complain online. If that doesn’t speak volumes about how good the durability is, we’re not sure what would.

All things considered, it’s not even that expensive. It’s twice as much as the Tyger, sure, but it’s downright cheap compared to losing a bed full of tools.

We do wish it was a little more secure. The aluminum Recoil on the list has its own external lock, whereas the BakFlip does not. It opens from both sides, convenient, but makes it a little easier to pry open with a crowbar.

The only other bad thing is that it’s harder to install for a folding tonneau. Not hard, just not as frustration-free as something made by Tyger.

Pros

  • Durable
  • Folds out of the way for full bed access
  • Opens from both sides

Cons

  • Not as secure as other premium models
  • Takes a while to install

5. Best Premium Soft Tonneau: TruXedo Pro X15

TruXedo Pro X15

Why we like it: There are two things that make the X15 stand out: it looks fantastic, and TruXedo is an awesome brand name. But it’s also one of the best soft tonneau covers money can buy.

Editor’s Rating:

At a Glance:

  • Type: Soft
  • Material: Black woven fabric
  • Stow Away Method: roll-up

Who Is It Best For?

This is one of the best soft tonneau covers you can buy, so if you are the type of person that values premium products, then here it is. You get all the benefits of a roll-up cover. You also get a fabric top that is stronger and much easier to look at than the vinyl tops like the Gator. It’s much more of a truck accessory for the suburban warrior than the farm truck.

What Feature Stands Out?

The woven cloth top is especially nice, but what makes it really stand out is the auto-tension system. Fabric stretches over time, and one of the big drawbacks to a fabric top is that it will sag and look terrible when it stretches and distorts it. Most soft tonneaus get around that issue by having ribs or aluminum supports that span the bed’s width to hold it up. The TruXedo holds the entire top under tension with springs instead.

Our Thoughts

The TruXedo is a dream to work with. The woven top is lightweight and easy to roll, and won’t become a nightmare when it’s cold. It’s also really good looking. The top doesn’t stick up despite sitting on top of the rails, and the lack of ribs give you a uniform look across the entire surface.

There’s a price to looking good. There always is. Like most premium products, the TruXedo has a premium price. Especially compared to the very utilitarian Gator soft top. Even for a woven fabric top, it costs a lot. You can get the Lund for nearly half the price.

It’s also not great for the working man, so to speak. The fabric can be torn easily compared to vinyl, and water can sometimes find its way in since it doesn’t entirely cover the top of the bed.

It’s very good quality, though. We say that it’s easy to be torn easily, but that’s only in comparison to heavy vinyl tops. It’s tough fabric, and the rails will outlast your truck.

Pros

  • Woven fabric is very easy to work with
  • Auto-tensioner keeps cover tight over time
  • Looks really good

Cons

  • Expensive for a soft top
  • Could stand to be more waterproof

6. Best Retractable Hard Tonneau: Gator Recoil

Gator Recoil

Why we like it: The Gator Recoil is a secure, durable top that rolls all the way up. That way, you get the best of both hard tops and soft tops.

Editor’s Rating:

At a Glance:

  • Type: Hard
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Stow Away Method: Retractable

Who Is It Best For?

A hardshell unit’s security and the raw, unlimited convenience of a roll-up cover make this perfect for families. Let us explain.

You take the truck to the store and get a bunch of groceries? Just retract the top, unload the cart, pull it back closed.

Kids traveling with more luggage than a Persian Prince? Open the cover, throw it all in the bed, close the lid.

Your SO caught a bunch of salmon and needs a pickup? Open the cover, place them in the back with their fish, and return home without stinking up the cab.

What Feature Stands Out?

The recoil part of the Gator Recoil means that it’s super easy to access your stuff. It “coils” up as it slides along the tracks. That means you can open it as little or as much as you want, and that it’s incredibly easy to get into the bed.

The downside to the recoil part is that it takes up a lot of space. The rolled metal slats are just a lot bigger than a rolled soft top like the other Gator on the list.

Our Thoughts

Usually, installing a tonneau cover is a death sentence for the convenience of having a bed. You don’t have to make that sacrifice with the Recoil, and that makes it fantastic. It’s aluminum, which makes it tough, and the flush mounting makes it look fantastic.

It’s not as easy to install as other units just because of the retraction mechanism, but it also isn’t very expensive for a fancy hardtop.

The low cost is why there are some quality issues. It’s a lot less money than the Roll N Lock, our other retractable option, and it does show. The aluminum is thinner and can flex in the middle. The tracks need to be fiddled with more than other units, and it can sometimes get stuck while you are retracting it. Just jiggle it, it’ll come loose easy enough.

None of those downsides are worth overlooking the Recoil, though. It’s hard to overstate how easy it is to use and work with.

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Durable
  • Good looking

Cons

  • Takes up a lot of bed space
  • Could stand to have better rigidity

7. Best Ridiculously Fancy Automatic Tonneau: Roll N Lock E-Series

Roll N Lock E-Series

Why we like it: The features and styling of the Roll N Lock transcend truck culture and dip straight into the James Bond gadget territory.

Editor’s Rating:

At a Glance:

  • Type: Hard
  • Material: Coated aluminum
  • Stow Away Method: Automatic retraction

Who Is It Best For?

We’re just going to come right out and say it. This is perfect for anyone that wants to show off. You roll up to your friends’ house, hop out of the truck, and hit the button so the tonneau automatically retracts right in front of their awestruck eyes.

You could argue that someone who has difficulty operating traditional covers from a disability could really benefit from the automation. After all, everyone loves trucks, even if you have to load a wheelchair into the back every so often.

It’s just that we all know the reality is that the average person who buys this unit is doing it to be impressive, and that’s ok.

What Feature Stands Out?

The obvious stand out feature is the automatic retraction, but the Roll N Lock has no end of other great things. It has its own lock, so you can lock it independently of the tailgate. It has extra, over-engineered waterproofing. Really though, it’s the automatic retraction that will make you want this.

Our Thoughts

This is the most expensive unit on this list. It also takes up the most space and is the hardest to install. If you can overlook that, then it is one of the most amazing units out there. Picture it, you drive up to the hotel, and the valet comes out. You hold up a finger and hit a button, the tonneau retracts. You grab your luggage, and the tonneau closes and locks into place. Your remaining cargo is safe, and everyone in the lobby is staring. Nice.

The Gator Recoil retracts too, so if you don’t want to spend the dough but still like the cool look and ease of use, get the Recoil. The Recoil isn’t automatic, though; that’s Roll N Lock territory only.

Pros

  • Has extra security measures
  • Automatically retracts
  • Looks awesome

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Takes up a lot of bed space

8. Best Simple Weatherproof Tonneau: Lund Genesis Elite

Lund Genesis Elite

Why we like it: The Lund Genisis is good looking, lightweight, and does exactly what you need it to do.

Editor’s Rating:

At a Glance:

  • Type: Soft
  • Material: Premium canvas
  • Stow Away Method: Roll-up

Who Is It Best For?

The Lund is sort of like the balance between the no-frills, rugged Gator soft top, and the looks and luxury of the Truxedo. Basically, if you don’t want to spend a ton, but still want something nicer than the Gator, Lund has the Genisis Elite just for you.

What Feature Stands Out?

The thing that sets the Lund apart from the Gator soft tonneau is how easy the canvas is to work with than the standard vinyl. If you’ve ever worked with cold vinyl, you know how much of an absolute pain in the rear it can be to deal with. Get this Lund if you live in a cold place or plan on rolling and unrolling your cover a lot. The time you save not having to fight with the vinyl will make the price worth it.

Our Thoughts

The Lund sits in a weird place. It’s a premium product. The woven canvas top is one of the best soft tops out there. It’s easy to work with and looks really good. At the same time, they market it as ultra-tough and work truck ready, despite the cloth top being less durable than a vinyl top.

It costs more than the more utilitarian products too, so it’s really not the working man’s cover. It’s in between, which makes us wonder who the product is for. People wanting a premium product will probably spend more and get a hardtop, and people who need something tough will probably get less costly Gator or Tyger.

That being said, it’s a really nice roll-top tonneau. It installs easily with a set of wrenches. It has a quick-release function that makes it easy to roll up, and like we keep mentioning, the fabric is nice. At the end of the day, people who just want something nicer for their work truck will love the Lund.

Pros

  • The woven fabric top looks great
  • The quick-release function makes the bed easy to access
  • Installs quickly

Cons

  • A bit expensive for a simple soft top
  • Not as durable as vinyl tops

9. Best Cheap Folding Tonneau: Mostplus Quad Fold

Mostplus Quad Fold

Why we like it: It’s amazing that you can get a folding, easy to use cover for so cheap, and that forgives some of its quality issues.

Editor’s Rating:

At a Glance:

  • Type: Soft
  • Material: Vinyl
  • Stow Away Method: 4-fold

Who Is It Best For?

There exists a type of person on this earth that gets a thrill out of buying really cheap, unproven products and making them work. This cover is for them. It’s quirky, very cheap, and Mostplus is the least convincing name for a knockoff item we have ever seen. It does what it says, though, so if money is your biggest concern or you are just one of the people who like fighting with technology, this is for you.

What Feature Stands Out?

The low cost is the thing that offers the biggest draw for the Mostplus, but it does have another neat feature. It folds and stows upright like the BakFlip, giving you a lot of access to the bed despite the fold-up design.

Our Thoughts

The Tyger T3 is a proven, good quality tonneau that only costs about $50 more than this Mostplus. Get the T3 unless you are comfortable doing some DIY modifications to a product.

That being said, the Mostplus does come with everything that a good cover should come with. It’s got a tool-less installation, it’s easy to flip up, and it is waterproof.

Where you will notice the lack of quality is in the vinyl cover. It’s thin and unlined. That makes it bad at withstanding damage, so don’t expect it to survive the trail. It also means that any yahoo with a pocket knife can get into your bed if they really want to.

At the end of the day, though, if you just need a tonneau cover for general weatherproofing that’s easy to use, you won’t feel ripped off if you pick up the Mostplus.

Pros

  • Cheap
  • Stows upright for good bed access
  • Has tool-less installation rails

Cons

  • Quality isn’t great
  • Prone to ripping

10. Best Jeep Wrangler Tonneau: Shadeidea Tonneau

Shadeidea Tonneau

Why we like it: Trucks shouldn’t get all the love. If you own a Wrangler and want the benefits of a tonneau, this one’s for you.

Editor’s Rating:

At a Glance:

  • Type: Soft
  • Material: Marine-grade vinyl
  • Stow Away Method: Fold and stuff into a carrying case

Who Is It Best For?

It might be a little too obvious to point out, but since this is a product built for Wranglers, it’s best for people with Jeep Wranglers. If you love running topless in your JK but hate it when mud crusts over your camping gear, this is the perfect product. It covers the cargo while still allowing you to enjoy the full top-down doors-off life.

What Feature Stands Out?

The Shadeidea is a straightforward cover that has a lot of little smart things that make it great. First, it folds into a case that can be carried around, so when you’re not using it, instead of leaving it attached to the Jeep, you just throw it into your garage. Second, it just stretches and hooks to a few attach points: no button snaps, no zippers, just stretch, and hook.

Our Thoughts

Why should trucks have all the fun? Wranglers have a bed too, and there’s nothing exclusive about wanting to keep your cargo dry. That’s where the Shadeidea comes in; it’s a tonneau for your Wrangler.

If you have a truck, it won’t fit. Get the Tyger T3 or something.

The carrying case is a neat idea, and the simple way it just hooks on makes it one of the fastest installing covers on our list. Unfortunately, the fast stretch and hook system can leak if it gets caught up on something.

Beyond that, it’s a high-quality tonneau for your Jeep. That’s all it needs to be to be awesome.

Pros

  • Specially made for Wranglers
  • Easy to install
  • Comes with a carrying case

Cons

  • Only fits Jeep Wranglers
  • Can leak if it doesn’t fit perfectly

The Ins and Outs of Tonneau Coverage

Still on the fence about getting a cargo cover? That’s fine; we are here to lay out all the facts so you can be sure you are making the right choice. Let’s start with the reasons most people get a tonneau.

The Best Reasons to Install a Tonneau Cover

There are some very good reasons to install a cover over your bed. There’s also a common reason that’s not very good, but it gets built up a lot, so we’ll include it.

Protection From the Elements

This is perhaps the biggest reason to get a bed cover. Most of the things people haul on the day to day are not gigantic; they will fit under a tonneau without any issue. It’s nice to know that your stuff is safe from the elements if it rains or some other weather event.

In general, one-piece roll-top tonneaus like the Lund we recommend offer the best protection since they stretch over the rails and don’t have hinges or seams that can leak.

Security

The second most compelling reason to get a cover is to protect your stuff from other people. This is where fabric covers can be undesirable since many can be undone from the outside of the truck.

They can also just be cut with a knife, so even if they secure from the inside, they don’t do much to stop a determined thief. Compare that to coming out and watching some poor fool trying to cut up a hardshell like the Tyger with a pocket knife.

In the real world, the inconvenience of having to undo a softshell to steal your stuff will deter most thievery. Since the enterprising criminal can’t just reach into the bed and pull out your stuff, they will probably just move to the next vehicle.

Looks

When you cover a truck bed, especially with something clean and low profile like the TruxEdo, it can really make the entire truck look better. Something is pleasing about better aerodynamics. This reason is more subjective than the last two.

Some people likely don’t like the looks, and if you are one of those people, that’s ok. There are a lot of people who do, though, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting a good looking truck.

Gas Mileage

This is the section where the mythology runs wild. There are claims of up to 10% better mileage with the addition of a bed cover. You won’t see anywhere near that level of improvement. Mythbusters famously did an episode about this very thing (Episode 64) and found that the gas saved from a tonneau cover was minimal.

Most people report between 3-4% better economy, which means you would have to buy $16k worth of gas for an average cover to pay for itself. There are many great reasons to pick up a tonneau; it doesn’t need to also be a miracle gas saving device.

Materials

There’s a lot of materials in the tonneau world. The materials are often the biggest difference between an inexpensive cover and a premium cover, so it’s good to know a little bit about what the differences are.

Vinyl

The biggest problem with vinyl is that it’s heavy and doesn’t like to cooperate when cold. It’s good at keeping water out, it’s plenty durable, and it resists damage just fine. You just don’t want to be out on a cold morning trying to roll it up or stretch it back into place. It also scratches easily. If you accidentally drag a toolbox across the top, it will leave marks.

The upside is that it’s cheap; vinyl top covers like the Tyger T3 come in at less than half the price of the TruXedo.

Treated Fabric or Canvas

Compared to vinyl, woven fabrics are lightweight, easy to keep clean, and much easier to stretch and keep tight. They can be easier to tear, although that depends more on the thickness of the vinyl you compare it to. Older fabric covers used to be noisy. They would whip and flap in the wind and be all sorts of annoying unless they were brand new.

Modern fabric systems like you find with the Lund cover don’t do that. They are just as silent as their vinyl and hardshell counterparts.

Hard Plastic

We actually didn’t include any hard plastic tonneaus on our list, but that’s not because they are bad. It’s simply that they are rarer nowadays, and we had limited spots. Many trucks came with hard plastic covers as a factory option, like the SportTrac or Avalanche, so they are still out there. They are lightweight, waterproof, and can be very high quality.

The biggest reason people avoid them is that they fade in the sunlight over time. Everyone has seen an Avalanche going around with plastic trim that has faded to pure ugliness. No one wants that for their bed cover.

Aluminum

The most common hardtop material is aluminum. Most soft tonneaus also contain aluminum, either in the frames of folding units or the support ribs of roll-up units. It’s lightweight, strong, and plentiful on this earth. There’s nothing not to love until you drop something on it and put a gnarly dent into it that wouldn’t have even left a mark on the fabric.

There’s a solution, though. If you just picked up the Tyger T5 and are worried about dents, don’t drop things on it. Easy.

Fabric Covered Aluminum

This is a weird one. Some companies wrap aluminum slats in fabric and make a product that looks like medieval armor. You get a cover that is cheaper than a full aluminum top, but still really durable.

It’s rare to see unless you get into the more premo manufacturers like Roll N Lock. We suggest their E-Power on our list, but they also make a retractable, fabric-covered aluminum product.

How the Cover Attaches to the Truck

a stretch and snap style vinyl tonneau cover

It’s hard to talk about how a tonneau attaches to a bed just because everybody has their own idea. Tyger uses these big woodworking clamp looking things, while Gator uses standard bolts. What we can do is define some of the more common terms for you. It probably won’t be the deciding factor when choosing a tonneau, but it will help to know what you are getting into after you order one.

Tool-Less

This is Tyger’s big thing; both the T5 and T3 use big clamps that are easy to operate. Tool-less installs rely on clamping to your truck bed without extra rails, and it makes them the most convenient things to install out there.

Just watch this video and you’ll understand instantly why we talked so much about Tyger’s installation process.

Drill-Less

Gator and Lund offer “no-drill” installation, which means you don’t have to put holes into your bed to thread screws or bolts.

Roll-up covers need their own rail system to attach to, so tool-free rail installations use clamps to hold onto the bed. Other no-drill rails use bolts that need to be tightened with a wrench. Roll N Lock’s rails have to be clamped onto the bed using hex head bolts and screwed into the clamps using Phillips screws. While you technically don’t need a drill, you still might want one.

On Top vs. Inside

If you take a look at the Tyger T5, you’ll notice it sits on top of the bed. That gives you a little bit better waterproofing, and it’s easier to install that way.

Compare that to the low profile Gator Retractable that sits inside the bed. Low profile covers are better for aerodynamics, looks, and security. A thief won’t be able to just work a small tool under the cover and pop the rail off if it’s inside the bed.

There are also in-between covers like the Lund. They sit up on the rails, but the rails are inside the bed, giving it a very low profile and great waterproofing.

Tonneau Accessories

Once you have the cover, the possibilities only get more limitless. If you are a hardcore adventurer, consider grabbing a set of over cover rails to mount a rooftop tent, like the ones we talk about over here.

There are even covers that come with their own rails, like this one from Trax. Grab some vinyl conditioner if you have a vinyl top to keep everything shiny, or puck lights to throw underneath the cover so you can see in the dark. If nothing else, there’s always room for another bed-mounted toolbox.

Enjoy the Height of Aerodynamic Design

Trucks are awesome, but the open bed does present some big downsides. Solve them with a cover. Keep thieves and water away from your important stuff by getting a cover. There’s no substitute for peace of mind, and there’s also no substitute for getting all your camp gear out to the lake safely for a great weekend.