Truck Bed Covers: Which One is Right for You?

Blue truck with Undercover paint-matched tonneau cover driving on road.

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The Story of Fran the Pickup Truck

A pickup truck named Fran rolls into a therapist’s office and says “I’m feeling down, and I just can’t figure out why. It’s as if I have a ton of baggage, like a heavy load is weighing on me, everywhere I go…” The therapist stares at him blankly. “That’s because you have 1,224 pounds worth of Cruzin’ Cooler 3-Wheel Electric Scooters in your truck bed, Fran.” “Oh,” said Fran, as he tried to look back at his scooter-laden caboose and failed, because he is a truck, and does not have eyes. Hopefully, you can equip your pickup truck well enough to carry a thousand pounds or more, without it feeling weighed down like the afflicted anthropomorph above. And if you’re loading these items into your truck bed, it should certainly be protected with a truck bed cover. Believe it or not, a bed cover can actually help with issues like Fran’s. Truck bed covers can help decrease the amount of drag objects have while in your truck bed, enhancing the aerodynamics and fuel efficiency of the vehicle. Let’s explore some of the best truck bed covers and their applications.

Benefits of Tonneau Covers

Theft Prevention

Tonneau covers for pickup trucks have many other benefits and uses as well, including their ability to protect precious cargo. You might be hauling work tools and machinery from job site to job site. Or maybe you’re carrying loads of ultra-valuable hunting gear. Regardless, it’s best to keep them covered as opposed to out in the open. It’s as they say: out of sight, out of mind. Concealing what’s in your truck bed with a tonneau cover will eliminate direct incentives for thieves to steal any valuables. Plus, you can opt for tonneau covers with locking features for added peace of mind.

Protection from the Elements

In addition to protecting valuables from the variables of the human factor, tonneau covers shield gear from the elements. Rain, snow, debris, high winds, and gravity can all damage cargo in a myriad of ways. By simply introducing a sturdy barrier in the form of a bed cover, you’ll ensure that your cargo stays secure and dry. This could be the difference between needing to replace equipment next month and preserving your gear for years to come!

Truck Preservation

If you’ve put the time, energy, and money into keeping your truck well-maintained, surely you should use a tonneau cover. A cover will protect your gear from a variety of variables, while keeping your truck sleek and stylish. A paint-matched Undercover Tonneau Cover will conceal any clunky cargo, maintaining a streamlined aesthetic.

There are many types of tonneau covers out there, and even more brands and styles to choose from. Let’s explore the different types and discover the best truck bed cover for you!

Folding Truck Bed Covers

A grey pickup truck with a LoMax tonneau cover.

A highly popular bed cover type, folding covers are adjustable and versatile. They usually consist of three panels or more, each made from hard composite plastic and metal hinges. Folding tonneau covers for pickup trucks tend to be more pricey than soft bed covers, but more affordable than ultra-hard shell or retractable covers. They’re a middle-of-the-road cover, in both hardness and in price. This makes them perfect for the truck owner looking protect their belongings from water damage and other elements.  A perk of folding covers is that they come with adjustable folding segments. They work well for irregularly shaped items that might protrude past the height of the bed. For protection against the elements and people with sticky fingers, you can find folding covers with locks. Consider something like the Lomax Folding Hard Cover, with its automatic 10-point locking system for ultimate security.  

Hinged/Tilt Tonneau Covers

Hinged tonneau covers most often come in the form of a hard-shell made from composite materials. Hinges near the cab and struts work to support and secure them. Undercover tonneau covers feature many top-notch tilt-style options. This type of cover is a great option for truck owners who want the best protection their truck bed’s finish, or for those seeking optimal aerodynamics and drag reduction. It must be noted that while the cover is opened, the entire bed is exposed, leaving belongings vulnerable to the elements. These covers are capable of either being fully opened or fully closed- there is no in-between. If you plan to haul taller or abnormally shaped items, you should steer clear of using a hinged bed cover. You can’t leave tilt bed covers semi-open to accommodate taller items like you can with folding or retractable beds. While on the road, they would catch on the wind, most likely tearing the struts out of place. If you’re looking to carry smaller cargo to and from job sites, then hinged tonneau covers are a good idea. Paint-matched hinged covers are also available to render a sleek, flawless finish! Talk about the best truck bed cover for style.

Retractable Bed Covers

A silver pickup truck with a Retrax truck bed cover.

Retractable covers are excellent in terms of ease with their flexibility to roll up. You can roll up any unused portion of the cover towards the cab, providing options for either full or partial closure. Retractable covers can easily cover your belongings and render a clean, sleek look for your truck. Retrax bed covers and other retractable covers are often made of soft fabrics that feature a roll-up or Snap-On design. This softness makes them one of the more flexible options, but can also lead to less durability. Soft fabrics make them more prone to rips and tears that might need repairs. This could be a problem if water seeps in, especially if you have valuables that can’t afford to get wet. If this is a concern, there are hard retractable tonneau covers made from segments of aluminum or other durable materials. Many of these are electric, allowing for adjustable levels of openness with the push of a button. You can easily find models with built-in locking mechanisms in place, providing an extra degree of security to your truck bed. Retrax bed covers feature a wide array of retractable options, including both manual and electric. They make retractable tonneau covers with both standard and T-slot style rails, as well as Bluetooth capabilities for optimal control and convenience. Choose between rigid polycarbonate construction, industrial-strength aluminum, and more for your personalized bed cover!

Roll Up Tonneau Covers

A grey pickup truck with a Truxedo roll-up tonneau cover.

Roll up covers are generally made from soft fabric materials, rendering them flexible and versatile. They roll up towards the truck cab as much or as little as needed, allowing truck drivers to choose how much of the bed is open. This type of bed cover grants quick and easy access to items at the end of the bed, which could come in handy for snatching snacks or grabbing gear on the go. Most roll-up covers have supporting crossbeams for added structural integrity, but you can opt for removable crossbeams to make space for larger, clunkier items. Since most roll-up covers are soft fabric, they tend to be less durable and may require extra securement. However, some rollup covers feature hard composite material that rolls up section by section for a more heavy-duty makeup. Truxedo Tonneau Covers makes a fantastic hard roll up tonneau cover that is second to none.

Tonneau Covers for Pickup Trucks: Materials

Vinyl 

Vinyl is one of the most effective and affordable material options for truck beds, and therefore, one of the most popular. It’s naturally waterproof and durable, making it an excellent candidate to provide sufficient protection to your belongings. Vinyl is a lighter material, which generally makes it easier to install and handle. Many high-quality Leer tonneau covers consist of vinyl.

Aluminum

Aluminum is another lightweight option for truck owners, but it differs from vinyl in its level of hardness. For those seeking the sturdiness and durability of hard covers combined with the flexibility of retractable or fold-up covers, aluminum is the way to go. Many hard roll up tonneau covers are also constructed from aluminum. There are so many options to ensure the best for your truck bed.

Fiberglass

Fiberglass is a hard material that usually yields the greatest amount of security and protection. Leer tonneau covers offer a fiberglass material that matches your truck bed for a seamless look. This type of material is a great choice for those seeking optimal securement of cargo and defense against theft. For this level of protection, truck owners must be willing to pay more, as fiberglass tonneau covers are typically the most expensive. Investing in a high-quality tonneau cover that effectively protects all your valuables could wind up saving you money in the end!

Canvas

Canvas is a soft fabric material for tonneau covers, often applicable for short trips and a light level of protection against rain and winds. This wouldn’t be the option for someone seeking heavy-duty protection of high-value cargo. However, canvas covers are lightweight and easy to store or throw on for a bit of extra security. Do not choose this cover if you live or travel in locations that experience high levels of precipitation. Canvas can’t keep your cargo from getting drenched in the event of any amount of precipitation heavier than a light drizzle or snow dusting. Canvas truck bed covers are the most affordable option and work best in arid environments. They help prevent lighter items from falling out of the bed and from being completely exposed in the truck bed.

Discover Your Cover

Whether your vehicle is hauling tools for work or carrying a thousand pounds worth of scooters like Fran the Truck, the ideal cover for you is out there. Consider the factors of security level, geographic location, accessibility, price, and aesthetics. Once you identify your needs, choosing the best truck bed cover for your travels will come naturally.

Level Up Your Vehicle!

At Omni Garage, we make it our mission to level up your vehicle to its highest potential, at the lowest price. Whether it’s traveling to a job or traversing terrain, we’re all about getting you where you need to go.