If you drive an open-bed pickup truck, you appreciate the great cargo-hauling ability it affords. But open bed trucks get worse gas mileage and leave your gear unsecured and open to the elements. Installing a bed cover (also referred to as a tonneau cover) makes the truck more aerodynamic and can save you a mile or more per gallon. It also helps protect cargo you want to keep clean and dry. A good bed cover will also help secure valuable gear, saving you from loading everything into the cab of your truck when you have to park someplace you don’t trust.

There are hundreds of bed covers on the market. To help you make a smart shopping decision, here are three things to look for in a pickup truck bed cover:

1. Access to the full bed

Top Pick

Removing the cover from the rails and then putting it back on takes a lot of time and effort. Look for a roll-up or flip-up cover that folds up against the rear window if you need full bed access often. Tyger

There may be times when you don’t need a bed cover. If you occasionally haul an ATV, you want that bed cover to be totally out of the way so you can load and unload the machine.

2. Ease of use

Easy Installation

Flip-style bed covers allow easy access to your stuff. Tyger

A bed cover should be easy to open and close so you can remove your cargo and load it back in, quickly and without fuss. This is especially important if you transport gear often, or need to load and offload gear several times during a trip.

3. Security

Luxury Option

A sturdy hard cover will do the best job of deterring thieves. BAK

There may be times when you’ll need to leave the truck out of sight, and you can’t or don’t want to move valuable gear from the bed to the passenger compartment.