If you are looking for a tonneau cover for your truck, two of the most popular options you will likely be considering are roll up and tri-fold covers.

Tri-fold tonneau covers are considered more popular because they are easier to open. They also provide more durability and security with advanced locking mechanisms. Roll up covers are a cheaper alternative. They offer a lightweight and low-profile design for easier storage and handling.

Roll-up tonneau covers offer more versatility than tri-fold tonneau covers, but you will not experience as much quality and security. Tri-fold covers provide better protection for your vehicle's cargo and they are easy to open with a simple motion. Both covers are great choices, and you can use this guide to help you find the best match for your vehicle.  

Testing these different covers requires industry expertise and experience to know what matters most for your truck. Our team has included all research and data in this guide to help you decide whether a roll up or a tri-fold tonneau cover is best for your vehicle.

Which Is Better: Roll Up Vs Tri Fold Tonneau Covers

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Which Is Better: Roll Up Vs Tri-Fold Tonneau Covers

Both tonneau covers have their strengths and weaknesses. For example, the roll up cover is very aerodynamic, which means it can cut through the air more quickly and effectively than the tri-fold cover. Most importantly, however, it is better at keeping smaller objects out of sight.

While both types of covers offer a lot of benefits to users, most people will choose one over the other depending on what they need it for. Roll-up covers offer less protection and are more likely to be damaged or punctured.

However, tri-fold tonneau covers are easier to clean and have a lower chance of rusting or warping. This is because of the more premium exterior finish and added durability features they come equipped with.

The two types of tonneau covers are very different in their build. With the roll-up design, the fabric is rolled when it's closed, so it can easily stay on top of the vehicle's frame without being stretched out or ripped.

In comparison, the tri-fold design has three panels that fold together to close and protect your load from rain and damage. This is a bit different when it comes to opening and closing the cover and a primary reason why some drivers prefer the roll up instead.

The choice of which tonneau cover is better comes down to personal preference. Some people prefer the roll up because it is easier to open and close. Others like the tri-fold because it doesn't require much effort to use, but they do tend to be more expensive.

Roll up covers are typically cheaper than tri-fold covers, but they can be harder to close. Although tri-fold covers are more expensive, they hold more cargo and have a tighter fit for extra security and durability.

Roll Up Tonneau Covers

Roll Up tonneau covers are a great way to secure your truck. They have been around for a long time and there are several different styles available that will fit a variety of different truck designs.

They are made from durable, water-resistant materials and can be customized according to the needs of the customer. We have listed some of the key features that make these covers so reliable below.

Key Features

A roll up tonneau cover is a retractable cloth or metal covering that is used on truck beds. These covers protect a truck bed from the elements and provide an extra layer of protection for cargo.

To make sure you are getting the right tonneau cover, it is important to identify the key features that it should have. The following key features are some of the most notable you get when using a roll up tonneau cover.

Lightweight Design

Roll up tonneau covers are more lightweight and easier to handle. They are also considered a lighter option when it comes to truck bed covers. This will help save the truck from unnecessary weight adding stress on the frame and suspension.

These covers now come with an aluminum frame or hard plastic so they can handle more weight while remaining light. These new roll up tonneau covers come with an improved latch system, which makes them easier to install onto your truck bed.

They also provide a greater level of protection against heat, dirt, dust, and water. Overall, you should expect lots of convenience from your roll up tonneau cover.

Easy Installation

The design of a tonneau cover and its installation requires a lot less time, effort, as well as patience, and skill. The process of installing a tonneau cover can be tedious but overall you will notice much less is required when handling your roll up cover.

This design has eliminated some struggles that users usually have with installing a conventional tonneau cover. It makes the installation process much easier for those who want to use their own hands or just don’t have the required skill sets to do it themselves.

Roll up tonneau covers are easier to install because the design is less complex and it is faster to put on your truck.

Better Truck Bed Access

The advantages that roll up tonneau covers give you are in their design, which allows for better access to your cargo than traditional covers and also gives you more storage space, especially when you're using the cover for recreational purposes.

They also have quick-release latches that are significantly easier to work than the fixed tonneau cover latches. This makes them easier to use and less likely to get caught or tangled in anything or damaged during use.

Roll-up covers also give you better visibility out of your window while driving allowing you to see more and make safer decisions while driving. Because the design is lighter, you can take advantage of the extra truck bed space with more cargo too.

Pros

  • Extremely lightweight for optimal handling
  • Typically use a low profile design for excellent visibility and appearance
  • Cheaper than competing tri-fold tonneau cover choices
  • Available in more sizes and colors
  • More visibility out of your rear windows
  • Extra truck bed space

Cons

  • Not as secure or durable as folding covers
  • Slightly more complicated to open and close consistently
  • A bit less sturdy because they are so lightweight

Tri-Fold Tonneau Covers

Tri-Fold tonneau covers have some of the best features you can add to your vehicle. They give your car a unique look while protecting it from getting scratched.

The first thing that comes to mind when you think of a tri-fold tonneau cover is that it is designed specifically for bigger trucks. It folds into different, unique shapes to make accessing your truck bed safer and more secure.

There are lots of features that we will examine about these covers to help you decide whether this cover is what you need.

Key Features

The tri-fold tonneau covers are a less popular type of truck tonneau because they tend to be more advanced and expensive. However, they can be easily attached to the truck bed and will keep your cargo safe.

We consider the extra truck bed security, added cover durability, and more sleek and appealing exterior appearance to be the three best features you get from tri-fold tonneau covers on your truck.

Extra Truck Bed Security

Truck bed covers are used to provide extra protection and securement for the vehicle's cargo. The covers usually come in a horizontal or a vertical design and are made of heavy-duty materials like steel, aluminum, and stainless steel.

The tri-fold tonneau cover provides truck bed security with more advanced locking capabilities including a locking tailgate bar as well as features such as tie-downs, side release buckles, and tie-down straps.

Some tri-fold tonneau covers also have a cargo carrier that keeps items secure for transport. Most tri-fold tonneau covers provide better protection from the elements and thieves, making them the right choice for nearly every truck.

More Reliable Durability

One of the most significant features you can take advantage of with tri-fold tonneau covers is its impressive durability. These covers usually have higher quality materials so they will hold up better in difficult weather while withstanding external debris without damage.

They are more durable, ensuring that you can use them for a long time before needing to replace them. This is also because of the premium finish that makes the price tag a bit higher on these covers.

These tonneau covers can withstand high winds, rain, snow, and extreme cold and heat. You can get up to 10 years from these covers if they are cared for properly too.

Sleek Exterior Appearance

Tri-fold tonneau covers are a very popular option for truck owners because of their sleek and stylish design. This premium finish and design can be seen in all types of vehicles, making the exterior of your truck look much more improved and appealing.

These covers provide a much sleeker exterior appearance, which makes them more high-quality than the traditional tonneau covers. They can also support cargo on top, making it much more unique to drive around with the extra cargo space compared to a roll up cover.

Pros

  • Much more durable and long-lasting than roll up covers
  • Better security and locking features
  • Plenty of sturdiness and stability
  • Easy and fast to open regularly
  • Extra strength to hold cargo on top of the cover too

Cons

  • Much more expensive than roll up covers
  • Less availability in sizes and colors
  • Less rear window visibility

Differences Between Roll Up & Tri-Fold Tonneau Covers

Tri-fold tonneau covers are known to be more convenient because they open faster and do not require extra time rolling because of the quick folding mechanism. They offer a sleek, clean look and are cheaper than tri-fold tonneau covers.

On the other hand, roll up tonneau covers are more affordable and offer a lightweight design for the truck bed. Deciding between the two will ultimately come down to personal preference.

Complexity

When comparing roll up and tri-fold tonneau covers, you should consider the complexity of each and its designs. Roll up covers are cheaper and a bit more complex when it comes to operation. Tri-fold covers have a better design and are considered easier to open consistently.

Roll up tonneau covers are more common and can be found in most vehicles. They are more difficult to design, as they have to cover a huge surface space since they don't fold.

Security

Roll up covers are considered to be the best option for people who want a cheaper cover that can still provide a sense of security and keep your truck or SUV safe.

Tri-fold tonneau covers, on the other hand, offer more protection and locking features to secure your truck or SUV.

The security and locking features on tri-fold tonneau covers are a great way to ensure that your truck will stay protected from potential thieves.

Durability

When it comes to the durability of your truck's cab, you have a tri-fold tonneau cover. They tend to last longer than roll up covers because they are more advanced with a higher price tag.

Roll up covers are less expensive while tri-fold covers are known for their durability. A roll-up cover may be easier to apply and remove but it has a higher chance of getting damaged from exposure to sunlight or signs of wear and tear from daily use.

Design

When it comes to the design, a tri-fold cover is typically more complicated than a roll up cover. However, the roll up cover is easier to install because it has fewer features that need to be addressed to equip it on your truck.

Tri-fold tonneau covers also work with limited surfaces and can be designed in a way that allows them to fold up or down. Overall, the design of the tri-fold cover is better and more advanced with added features.

How Much Weight Can A Tonneau Cover Hold?

The weight limit for a tonneau cover varies based on a few factors, but most importantly the type of cover matters most. It can be used to cover items in your garage or it can be used as a temporary storage unit for items that you're moving to a different place.

As we have mentioned, tri-fold covers are more durable and heavy-duty so you can expect to get more from them when it comes to holding extra weight. However, both covers do a good job of providing weight support.

Roll Up Tonneau Cover

The average weight a roll up tonneau cover can hold is between 50 to 150 pounds. Most covers will be under 100 pounds, but some of the premium roll up covers will have more capacity to withstand extra cargo.

We typically do not recommend keeping cargo on top of these covers, but it is possible if you keep the weight to a minimum.

Tri-Fold Tonneau Cover

Tri-fold covers vary a bit, and the exact weight they can hold will depend on the brand and the cover design. On average, you will get more weight support from these covers compared to any roll up tonneau cover design.

You can expect your tri-fold tonneau cover to hold anywhere between 100 to 1,000 lbs. This includes placing cargo on top of the cover to increase the amount of storage capacity your truck can provide.

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.

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