If you're someone who owns a truck, and frequently carries expensive equipment like tools, sports gear or anything in between in their truck's bed, you've probably considered getting a tonneau cover to increase protection and reduce chances of theft at one point in time. However, with so many different types of tonneau covers available, picking the right one can leave you scratching your head. In fact, many people can't even spell them right, and I've heard some refer to these accessories as tunnel, tonnue and even tono covers. Tonneau is actually a French word that refers to the open passenger compartments found on most old cars.
But, let's get to our main point. Tonneau covers can be made of a wide range of materials, and they're divided into three basic categories - soft, hard and retractable. Some tonneau covers are off-road accessories, while others are mostly reserved for city road use. Regardless, we're going to discuss the soft, hard and retractable tonneau cover types on the market and their differences, so that you can make a well-informed buying decision.
Types of Tonneau Truck Covers
Hard tonneau truck covers are usually made to match the body colour of your truck. Not only do they look great, but they also offer the best cargo protection out of all cover types. Quality tonneau truck covers feature lights inside, and many models just clamp, requiring no drilling or any other kind of difficult installation.
Furthermore, these covers feature a hinge system. As a result, it's very convenient to open and close them. Plus, some models even include a key fob remote. If you aren't concerned too much about the colour, there are also hard roll-up tonneau covers to choose from. Most tonneau covers are made from aluminium, but there are also fibreglass models. Both materials are capable of withstanding harsh weather, protecting your cargo from the elements, as well as from being stolen.
The downside to hard covers is that you can't use the hinged type for loads that go above the bed rails, as you'll have to remove them or prop them open. Plus, at least two people are needed to fit or remove these covers, and they take up a lot of storage space.
Soft tonneau truck covers are great if you want to create the traditional style of covering your truck's bed with black vinyl. Many people prefer this look, and luckily, soft covers are available in a wide range of styles. Standard style tonneau covers are also known as roll-up covers, and they use bows that straddle across the truck's bed and are joined on a clamp-on frame. Roll-up tonneau covers are easy to fit on the truck and remove if needed. This makes them some of the most sought after off road accessories, and are used by people who need to frequently install and remove the cover.
Folding tonneau covers, on the other hand, can be folded either in half or three-section with the help of hinges. These covers make it easy to load and unload the truck's bed.
The downside to these covers is that the vinyl can stretch and fade over time, making them flop in the wind. Additionally, soft covers don't provide as much theft protection as you can easily cut through them. Some people dislike the bow system, while others don't like the button snaps, as they're somewhat difficult to install.
As their name implies, retractable covers are capable of retracting into a roll, making them easy to store, as well as allowing the bed to be fully closed, open or anywhere in between. These covers can be made from a wide range of materials, including cast aluminium, hard plastic, etc. They're built of many parts which are joined together to bend and fold, so that you can roll up the cover easily. Some brands provide motor-operated retractable covers, while others can only be opened and closed by hand. These tonneaus also provide the best security and are practically impenetrable. They can also be mounted on a track system that clamps to your truck's rails so you won't have to drill it.
On the downside, these are the most expensive covers available. Moreover, they take longer to install, and when you roll them, they'll take up some space at the front of your truck's bed. Motor-operated models require more room than their manual-operated counterparts. Some people don't like how these covers look, and they usually aren't painted to match the colour of your truck, meaning you only have black powder-coated models to choose from.
So, What's the Best Cover for Me?
Determining what type of cover you need is easy and almost always up to personal preference. For instance, many people are attracted by the look of one type, so they just roll with it. However, some people have security at the highest priority, so they opt for hard tonneau covers. Regardless, there's a cover that will suit your preferences and needs.
What Benefits Can I Expect?
Besides the obvious safety benefits, tonneau bed covers provide a range of other perks. For example, they can improve your vehicle's mileage. How? Tonneau covers have an aerodynamic design, ensuring your bed generates less drag. Some people claim to have their mileage improved by 5-10%, which is significant, especially when you're touring over long distances. And while you're exploring the range of covers car accessory stores sell, you can even go a step further and get an aftermarket exhaust to improve performance.
Furthermore, these accessories can help you keep things organised in your truck's bed. Think about how many times you've loaded up and driven around, just to see that everything in your truck's bed is all over the place. And lastly, the tonneau cover will increase your truck's value, and save you money in the long run. The fact that you get reduced mileage, lesser chances of damaged or lost cargo and theft, and prevent damage that will lead to costly repairs from cargo shifting in your truck's bed makes these accessories well-worth their price tag. And of course, once you decide to sell your truck, the bed will be in a much better condition, increasing its price.