How Tos & Tutorials

How to Pick a Truck Bed Cover

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Need a truck bed cover for your truck but scared of accidentally buying the wrong one?

No worries because we’ll teach you how to scout for the right pickup truck bed covers with the following tips in mind.

WHAT IS A TRUCK BED COVER?

truxedo truxport roll-up tonneau cover
Photo Credit: TRUXEDO

A truck bed cover serves as a layer of protection for your valuables like toolboxes and other shipping or cargo crates that should otherwise go at the back of your truck. Its main purpose is to prevent your items from spilling out of your truck bed when your vehicle suddenly moves or brakes.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST FOR A TRUCK BED COVER?

2021 Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price

Truck Bed Cover Classification Cheap Truck Bed Covers Affordable Truck Bed Covers High-end Truck Bed Covers
Price $200$200-$1,000$1,000+

Truck bed cover prices depend on the style or design that you prefer. But they’re usually divided under these categories:

  • Cheap truck bed covers – are mostly of the soft cover type which gives your valuables just enough amount of protection against heat and rain.
  • Affordable truck bed covers – are a combo of soft and hard covers but the latter lacks the spring rollers that make them easy to open.
  • High-end truck bed covers – are made of hardcovers (usually reinforced shells) that give further protection to your valuables and are easily accessible.

HOW DO YOU INSTALL A TONNEAU COVER?

off roading gear tonneau cover
Photo Credit: Offroading Gear

Installing a tonneau cover can be difficult for newbies but once you get the hang of it, you’ll get used to how it’s done. Although there are many ways of mounting a tonneau cover on your truck bed because design varies, there’s basically a rule of thumb for most tonneau cover installations including opening the tailgate, aligning the cover bulkhead, and releasing the clips.

The tri-fold and rollup tonneau cover types basically use clips to mount them in place but they can be easily done even if you’re not mechanically inclined. On the contrary, the hard covers have rails which require a bit more effort in installation because alignment can be tricky. You can have them either as a D.I.Y. project but you can also ask help from most retailers.

WHAT SIZE OF TONNEAU COVER DO I NEED FOR MY TRUCK?

tonneau cover size chart
Photo Credit: Offroading Gear

Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a universal tonneau cover that’ll fit on all trucks. This is because tonneau covers rely on truck model, year, and bed size. With this, obviously, tonneau cover fitment is also adjusted for newer truck models.

WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF TRUCK BED COVERS?

different types of truck bed covers 2

Tonneau covers are classified according to their style and material. They’re the following:

  • Tri-fold tonneau covers – are truck bed covers that you overlap or stack when you open. They can be made from either soft folding (vinyl) or hard folding (plastic) material.
  • Roll-up tonneau covers – are roll up truck bed covers because you rotate them upwards like a mat when opening. They can also be soft or hard.
  • Retractable tonneau covers – are truck bed covers that you push or pull (in a sliding motion) when opening.
  • Hard-hinged tonneau covers – are truck bed covers that you close or open like a window pane. Their surfaces are impact and weather resistant.

WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE FOUR TYPES?

Differences on the Tonneau Covers

TypeTri-foldRoll-upRetractableHard-hinged
Cost$230+$200+$900+$1000+
Difficulty to InstallEasyModerateA bit hard.Easy
MaterialMade of vinyl and aluminum.Made of vinyl.Made of vinyl, aluminum, with armored tech, and weather stripping.Made of fiberglass and ABS plastic, with weather stripping.
Durability LevelMediumLight to MediumGreatGreat

Each tonneau cover has its own strengths and weaknesses so it’s really up to you on how you’ll use it to your advantage.

WHICH IS BETTER: ROLL-UP, TRI-FOLD, RETRACTABLE OR HARD-HINGED?

truck bed cover pros and cons 2

Choosing the type of truck bed cover goes down to your preference and what particular situation or scenario you find yourself in.

WHICH TRUCK BED COVER WILL KEEP YOUR GEAR MOST SECURE?

knife test 2
Photo Credit: americantrucks.com

Regarding the level of security, the hard-hinged and retractable tonneau covers take the lead in offering the highest level of security. The former has seals that shut it tight with a locking tailgate whereas the latter, has a layered surface with a lock and key system. In other words, if both the truck’s tailgate and cover locking knob are in “lock” mode, you’ll never have access to your truck bed unless you use your truck key.

For trifold tonneau covers, some of them are locked via latch clamp system. This is done by pressing or squeezing the side frames of the covers to secure them in place. Others go by rotary latches wherein you simply turn a locking knob.

On the other hand, rollup tonneau covers normally run on a trigger latch system. This means you need to pull down “levers” or small handles underneath to open them.

DO TRUCK BED COVERS IMPROVE GAS MILEAGE?

truck bed cover gas mileage
Image shows arrows representing the wind drag.

Yes, they do. All vehicles’ movements are influenced by the wind drag. This is the wind that acts against your vehicles while they move. To keep it at a minimum as much as possible, automotive companies produce 4WD designs that are slightly shaped like a funnel or teardrop.

When you have truck bed covers, the wind smoothly passes over your truck bed and further reduces such wind resistance because it doesn’t have to go inside your truck bed. As a result, gas mileage is improved by 10%.

CONCLUSION

Choosing the right truck bed covers is a matter of driving style and preference. But most of all, you do it for the sake of protecting your valuables against spilling, weather, and theft. What’s your favorite tonneau cover type? Share us your answers below.

 

 

 

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