This post may include affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we'll receive a commission at no extra cost to you. This support helps us maintain and grow our site. Thank you for your support!

If you are looking to add a new accessory to your truck, you should learn how to choose a tonneau cover that increases the performance of your vehicle.

When the time comes to choose a tonneau cover, there are a few things to remember. First, you should think about the different tonneau cover types that exist. Next, you should choose the cover design. Always remember the different features they offer too, like security, warranty, and compatibility.

Tonneau covers are an excellent choice for those who want to be able to get in and out of their trucks while still protecting the cargo area. There are several different features you need to look for when choosing a cover too. This guide includes everything you need to know on how to choose a tonneau cover

Pickup truck owners need to find a tonneau cover that meets their specific needs and preferences. Luckily, we have experts who understand how to get this done, and the information provided below is intended to make this an easy process to help you match a cover with your truck.  

Table of Contents

How To Choose A Tonneau Cover

Choosing a tonneau cover is an important decision that can have a major impact on your vehicle’s performance. You need to take into account the size of your truck bed and the type of material that you want for your tonneau cover along with the best style that suits your needs.

Before anything, you should consider the different types of tonneau covers and begin narrowing down your search. We will go into more detail about each type, but there are five key categories to keep in mind when picking the tonneau cover style.

Once you have an idea about the type of cover you like, you will have a difficult decision to decide whether a hard or soft cover works best for you. They both have pros and cons, making it difficult to pinpoint the best option.

Another key factor worth considering is whether you want a roll up or folding cover. These are the two most popular model types, and your decision will likely come down to these two options for your vehicle.

The best way to approach this process is by laying out what you value in a tonneau cover. Is your priority security? Or do you prefer a cover that provides maximum durability?

All of these things must be considered to make it possible to choose a tonneau cover. It is an essential process to make sure you buy the right product and maximize the efficiency and storage capabilities of your truck.

Types Of Tonneau Covers

Tonneau covers are a style of pickup truck bed cover that is hinged at the front-end and folds down over the truck bed. They are widely available in many different sizes, finishes, and style types.

These different styles of covers offer their own unique pros and cons that will fit the unique needs of different drivers. We have listed the five most commonly used tonneau cover types below to help you choose a tonneau cover that works.

Soft Folding Covers

Soft folding tonneau covers are highly reliable and versatile, but they tend to not be the most popular choice. This is because many brands tend to opt for making the other cover types more, but this is still a great choice.

There are other features that are present in this type of tonneau cover like the top-grade materials, the easy installation process, and also its ability to protect your truck bed from thieves. It is most commonly made from vinyl material too.

The soft folding design makes it very easy for you to fold back when needed and also very convenient for people who have limited space in their garage or for those who don't want the hassle.

This cover comes with three sections that can be folded, similar to the hard folding design. The only difference is it provides less truck bed access and worse durability. This is why it tends to be overlooked when compared to other design types.

Hard Folding Covers

Hard folding covers are one of the most popular choices. You will often see many of these covers advertised as tri-fold tonneau covers because they have three folding panels that can be manipulated to gain more truck bed access.

This cover also has a strap and buckle system to hold it in place and prevent water from entering the vehicle if it rains. This will create a better seal and a more reliable locking system for security.

It’s more secure than a soft cover and you can expect much more strength and durability. It is specially designed to protect cargo from water, snow, ice, and dirt. The design also includes extra cargo space located directly on top of the cover.

Soft Roll Up Covers

A soft roll up tonneau cover is a great replacement for a hard cover because they are easier to take on and off and they provide full access to your truck bed. If you are someone that opens a truck bed every day, this may be the best solution.

This cover is constructed with a fabric made out of polyester or vinyl. They are typically made to mount on the side rails of pickup trucks and have no mechanism to lock in place. They will not provide the same type of strength though.

The majority of them are also waterproof so you don't have to worry about water damage from rain or snow. However, it does not come with an advanced locking system so some drivers believe it is not as safe.

Hard Roll Up Covers

A hard roll up tonneau cover is the perfect solution for those who need to load more cargo but want extra security. It can also provide extra protection for your cargo against weather and theft.

This kind of cover is designed with a semi-hard shell that rolls up like an accordion to create a complete seal that protects against the elements. It is considered the cheapest option for hard roll up cover enthusiasts.

These covers tend to be made of aluminum or fiberglass for extra strength too. It's usually made to make the cargo area of a pickup truck more secure.

Retractable Covers

While we are not necessarily the biggest fans of retractable covers, they have continued to gain popularity. Many of these covers come with a remote that will open and close the cover on demand by clicking a button.

If you prefer a cover with extra technology, this may be the best choice for you. They also have traditional retractable designs without the bells and whistles of the automated features included.

These covers can be extremely convenient and they are made as high strength options too. You can get maximum cargo space with excellent durability.

What Features Should You Look For In A Tonneau Cover?

When you are trying to choose a tonneau cover, the features are typically the number one thing you look at during your shopping journey. These features are considered the selling point of a product, and with tonneau covers, this becomes even more important.

You want to be sure you are choosing the right cover that will help your truck become more reliable on the road and with storage. Below we have listed some of the key features that we look for in a tonneau cover that you should get familiar with too.

Locking Capabilities

All tonneau covers will come with some type of security and locking system. This is designed to allow drivers to keep their truck beds locked and secure to store cargo overnight or when they are away from their vehicle.

When you shop for a tonneau cover, you should consider the different locking capabilities that are offered on the variety of tonneau cover types. Some options are more secure than others, so if this is a feature you value above all else then making the extra investment might be worthwhile.

Ease Of Use

One of the key factors to consider with a tonneau cover is how easy to use it is and for installation. Some are easier to use than others and this can be a deciding factor, especially for drivers who are less experienced handling this equipment.

Tonneau covers generally either roll up and fold inside the truck bed or open up to enclose the whole bed of the pickup. Some can also be extremely difficult to install, making it impossible for a newbie to use on their own.

Keep in mind how easy the cover is to handle and use when you are choosing yours. This will go a long way when it is time to install, uninstall, and use it every day.


The durability of a tonneau cover is very important. You should consider the longevity and overall durability of a tonneau cover when shopping to ensure the maximum lifespan of the product to always keep your truck protected.

The type of cover you buy will be a determining factor in the type of longevity you can expect from the product. More durable covers are typically made from hard materials with enhanced strength and protection designs.


Since there are many different styles and brands of tonneau covers available on the market, it can be difficult to find one that fits your needs and budget. However, there are plenty of low-cost options available if you shop on a budget.

You should consider the price and overall cost of a tonneau cover when shopping because you want to make sure that you don't end up spending more than necessary or wasting money on something that doesn't provide all the features that you need.

But if you want a premium cover, you should expect to pay higher prices to reap the benefits of better durability, stronger construction, and enhanced performance.


Finding a tonneau cover that is properly sized for your truck bed can be tricky, but luckily there are plenty of options to choose from. Many of the popular covers also come in multiple sizes designed to fit the leading pickup truck models.

You need to know the size of your truck bed and the type of cover you want before you go shopping for a new tonneau cover. If you have a short-bed truck, for example, you will need to choose accordingly based on this requirement.


Another essential part of a tonneau cover is its warranty policy because it ensures that you will be able to use it without any issues for years to come. It is not uncommon to see a lifetime policy offered on some products.

The warranty you receive ensures the product can be replaced if needed, keeping it protected from any dents or damages during use. This is especially important because the purpose of the cover is to keep your truck bed safe in difficult conditions.

The best tonneau covers have high-quality materials and features, such as an easy-to-use latch system to secure the cover when not in use. These covers also tend to have the best warranty policies too.

Truck Bed Access

When deciding between a bed cover and a tonneau cover, it is important to consider the truck bed access each one provides. The more access the better for most drivers, especially if you are one to use the truck bed daily.

A bed cover will not give you much access to the truck bed, but it will keep everything in your truck clean and dry in wet weather. A tonneau cover is different in that it gives you easy access to the entire truck bed while also protecting your cargo from rain or snow.

Trucks are built for tough work, but driving with a tonneau cover installed makes the job easier. Depending on the type you choose, it can give you more access to your truck bed or provide a little extra cargo space that’s out of reach with other options.

Should You Buy A Hard Or Soft Tonneau Cover?

The decision on which one of these two tonneau covers to buy should depend on the type of cargo you will be carrying, your budget, and the type of vehicle you drive. All of these features will have a major impact, making it important to choose correctly.

You should expect to pay a premium on hard top tonneau covers because they tend to be made from higher quality materials for better security. They are also heavier, making it a bit more difficult to carry them around compared to a soft cover.

If you value security more than product value, a hard tonneau cover would best suit you. But a soft cover is much more affordable and provides excellent versatility when it comes to storage and installation.

Hard Tonneau Cover

A hard tonneau cover is a truck bed cover that is made with materials that provide extra sturdy construction. Some examples include aluminum, plastic, and fiberglass because they can create added cover strength.

They have unique construction and they will typically use a holding design for opening and closing the cover for truck bed access. The only problem with this type of tonneau cover is that they tend to be rather expensive.

With the help of a hard tonneau cover, you can protect your cargo from sun damage and thieves. You can also enjoy the sleek look that comes with it. They are known to be the more durable and secure option because of the design.

These materials are extremely water and weatherproof, so you should not expect any issues during winter conditions. They do tend to be heavier though, so installation is not as easy as a soft cover.

Soft Tonneau Cover

A soft tonneau cover is a type of pickup truck bed cover that is lightweight and made from less sturdy materials. It is easier to use for most drivers because they tend to provide much more versatility on your truck.

The best way to store this type of truck bed cover is by laying it on its back in front of your truck's cab. Soft tonneau covers are usually made out of nylon or vinyl and offer more storage space than their hard counterparts too.

Soft tonneaus are made of fabric and can be customized to fit the owner’s truck shape. They are less expensive than hard tonneau covers and they don't require as much assembly time as their hard counterparts, since they just need to be stretched over the truck bed.

These covers are designed to shield the contents of the bed from sun exposure as well as moisture. They can be easily removed for access to items in the truck bed without opening up the tailgate.

You can expect to save money by opting for a soft tonneau cover. However, they will not provide the same level of durability and security as a hard tonneau cover will.

Should You Buy A Roll Up Or Folding Tonneau Cover?

The two most commonly used tonneau cover designs include a roll up and a folding cover. They are uniquely different in the way they operate, making them both a reliable option depending on what you prefer most.

Roll up covers are widely considered to be much more user-friendly and easier to use. They also tend to be lightweight, making them less of a hassle to install or place into storage when required.

Roll-up covers also tend to be less expensive than folding models, but they offer less protection for both cargo and your vehicle. Folding covers provide less versatility, but they tend to be much stronger.

Roll Up Tonneau Cover

Roll up tonneau cover is a type of truck bed cover that closes like a rollup door. This type of cover protects your cargo and also looks good on the truck. It's made from aluminum and it's quite durable.

It also resists rust and scratch which makes it last longer than other types of covers. Roll up covers are available in various styles and colors which you can choose according to your preference.

It can be installed on any size or shape of the truck bed area as it has an adjustable frame that can be adjusted according to the truck bed area dimensions. They also provide much more truck bed access when compared to folding covers.

The designs tend to be cheaper, but this is made possible because of the materials used. They are best for low-profile designs that make it easier to gain a sleek appearance and aerodynamic capabilities when driving.

Folding Tonneau Cover

The folding tonneau cover is a perfect solution if you want to protect your truck bed from the elements while preserving the aerodynamics of your vehicle. They use a modern-looking design that is extra durable.

These covers can be quite heavy and difficult to install and remove on your own. They also don’t work on every truck model or style which means you may not be able to find one that fits your vehicle specifically.

While the roll up cover may be easier to handle and use, the folding cover is much faster to open. It uses multiple panels so getting immediate access to your truck bed is quick and easy when compared to a rolling cover.

One of the most notable things about these folding covers is that they can support cargo on top too. This provides you extra storage space without damaging the cover, making them worth the investment for some drivers.

What Type Of Tonneau Cover Is Most Secure?

When you are looking for a cover to keep your contents safe, you will want to find the best one. Hard folding tonneau truck bed covers make a clear statement about your commitment to safety.

These covers are considered the most secure in the industry and they offer a lot of coverage to keep everything inside safe from theft or damage. The hard folding tonneau is considered to be the most secure type of cover you can find.

They are designed to be difficult for thieves to break into. They are secured by two pins that lockdown on the front and back of the truck bed.

The pin system ensures that the cover cannot be removed unless it is unlocked with a special key or locking mechanism. This makes it very difficult for thieves to break into your truck bed when the hard folding tonneau is in place.

They come with a lock and key and they can be locked closed to keep items inside safe. A hard folding tonneau cover is an excellent choice for those who want to be able to fold down their truck bed's tailgate while keeping their cargo safe and secure.

Are Tonneau Covers Worth The Investment?

Tonneau covers are a type of car accessory that is designed to cover the bed of a pickup truck. They are a pricy investment, but because of the many benefits, you can receive by owning one they are worth it.

The benefits of having a tonneau cover on your vehicle can be significant. They can provide additional security to your vehicle by preventing people from tampering with it. You have peace of mind with a tonneau cover.

The most attractive and underrated feature about these covers may be the added fuel economy that they provide because tonneaus are aerodynamically designed to cut down on drag which saves gas mileage.

Most pickups use tonneau covers for their cargo to provide weather protection and security from theft. They also offer an alternative to roll-up soft bed covers which can sometimes get in the way when loading and unloading goods from the bed of the truck.

If you are looking for a way to improve the performance, security, and durability of your truck then a tonneau cover is well worth the investment.

5 Essential Tips To Remember When Choosing A Tonneau Cover

Since tonneau covers are usually stored onto your truck bed, think about what color will look best with the rest of the exterior and interior of your truck. Below we mention the 5 essential tips that can help you find the right tonneau cover for your truck bed.

This will not only make it easier to find a good cover, but it will help ensure you find the perfect match for your own needs. This will save you time and money in the long run too while improving vehicle performance.

1. Decide What You Need First

Before anything, you should think about exactly what you need and why you want this cover in the first place. This will help you understand the different options that are available to you and slimming down your choices becomes much easier.

Decide if you want to buy a cover that increases the security of your truck bed or the durability of your vehicle. Both options are available, but the cover you decide to buy will provide you with many different results.

Once you have narrowed down your search parameters, it becomes much simpler to find a cover that matches the features that you desire most.

2. Always Measure Your Truck Bed First

Always measure your truck bed before you purchase a new tonneau cover to make sure that it is the right size. You don't want to buy a cover that doesn't fit when you are not aware of this in advance.

Measure the dimensions of your truck bed so you know exactly what size tonneau cover to buy. You can also check the type of material that is used for the cover to ensure it will be a proper fit on your truck.

One of the worst things that can happen is selecting a cover that is the wrong size. This will waste both time and money.

3. Double Check The Tonneau Cover Installation Needs

When installing the tonneau cover, be aware of how it attaches so you can adjust accordingly. Installation is one of the key factors to remember because many people struggle to do it on their own, defeating the purpose of the cover in the first place.

Getting a professional installation can be costly, so finding a cover that has minimal installation needs can save a ton of time and money. It also makes it much easier to remove and install your cover whenever you want.

4. Consider The Amount Of Maintenance Each Cover Needs

It is crucial to think about your tonneau cover maintenance before you buy it. Every tonneau cover is different and every tonneau cover requires a certain amount of maintenance.

Consider the type of material that your tonneau cover is made of. Most importantly, consider how easy or difficult it will be to maintain the truck bed cover on a given day-to-day basis.

If you plan on using the cover for its advertised purpose, then the cover should not need much maintenance at all. This will ensure you can get the most use out of it without spending much on repairs and regular maintenance.

5. Always Opt For A Weather-Friendly Cover

A weather-friendly tonneau cover is a perfect choice for drivers who want to get their cargo to their destination safe and sound. It's also great for drivers who are looking to protect the interior of their truck bed.

This is one of the most critical tips to remember, especially if you live in a region that gets harsh weather like the northeast. These covers come in handy during inclement weather, protecting against snow, sleet, wind, rain, and more.

You will get much more bang for your buck by purchasing a cover that is built for this type of weather too. It will have more durable construction and last much longer over time.

How To Choose A Tonneau Cover

About The Author

Charles Redding

Charles Redding

I've spent many years selling cars, working with auto detailers, mechanics, dealership service teams, quoting and researching car insurance, modding my own cars, and much more.

Read More About Charles Redding