Three Features You Need in a Pickup Tonneau Cover

A good tonneau cover can keep items in your truck bed dry, protected, and safe.

Modern tonneau covers
Modern tonneau covers are lightweight, but durable, and easy to collapse if you need greater access to your truck bed.BAK

If you have a pickup truck and don’t have a tonneau cover for it, it just might be time to consider one. Not only are they easier to install and access than ever before, but the number of different opening and closing styles give you plenty of access options. Plus, a good tonneau cover will keep items in the back of your pickup safe from thieves and dry in inclement weather. When shopping for the perfect pickup cover for you, consider things like accessibility, fit, and installation. All three are critical to making the best purchasing decision.

Accessibility

soft roll-up tonneau cover
This soft roll-up tonneau cover features a dual-coated, 24-ounce marine-grade vinyl top and no-drill installation.Tyger Auto

A decade ago, most tonneau covers were variations of a hatch, which opens at the back by hinging just behind the cab. Those designs are still available, but have lost some popularity because the hinged cover doesn’t allow you to stand in the bed to load and unload. Fold-up covers fold over in sections so you can uncover part or all of the bed. They’re handy because they don’t hinder overhead access. Roll-up covers are also popular and, just as their name implies, roll up, usually from the back of the truck to the cab. Many roll-up covers are held in place by hook and loop fasteners or snaps, though some covers secure inside a channel along the truck bed side rails. Retractable covers allow access to the truck bed by rolling up from the tailgate into a container just behind the cab. They’re popular because they don’t add height to the truck bed, even when retracted.

Custom Fit

hard folding tonneau cover
This hard folding tonneau cover is made to fit 2015 to 2018 Ford F-150s with a short bed.BAK

Tonneau covers, like pickup trucks, come in many different shapes and sizes. Consequently, you can’t just jump online and order any tonneau cover and expect it to fit your pickup correctly. You need to know all of the measurements of your bed, not just how long it is. Even ordering by pickup model can yield uncertainty and a cover that won’t fit because of different bed configurations within some models. This might sound like a no-brainer, but incorrect covers are ordered often, and they’re not cheap to ship back. When you decide on the tonneau cover you want, have all of the following information available when you get ready to order—bed length, bed width, make, model, and any information pertaining to the model that might be important for a good fit. That way you can avoid confusion and get the perfect cover for your truck.

Easy Installation

tri-fold cover
This tri-fold cover can be installed in about 10 minutes by simply clamping the rails on without using a drill.Gator Covers

Tonneau covers are installed, or mounted, in a number of different manners depending on the individual design. Most attach to a rail system clamped to the inside edge of the truck bed side rails and require no drilling or bolting. Some models attach directly to the bed side rails rather than using mounting rails as an attachment. Depending on the style of rail and how it attaches, the cover might ride flush with the top of the bed or sit up a little higher. Difficulty of installation varies from one model to the next, so if you’re not very handy at such things, it would be a good idea to read reviews to see which are easiest to mount. Note that tonneau covers come in a wide range of prices. It’s advisable to work out your budget first before you start shopping. That way you’ll have a better idea what models to consider and which ones to immediately rule out because they exceed your budget.