Best Truck Bed Cover for Winter – Which One Will Last?

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In my opinion, a hard folding tonneau cover is the best option for winter conditions because it’s more durable than a soft cover and is easiest to open and close if it has some snow on it. But, we all have different opinions and I cover all the ways each type of cover reacts to cold weather.

Snow and ice can build upon a truck’s tonneau cover during the winter months, making them difficult to open. There are many types of truck bed covers, and they all react differently to winter conditions.

The most common problem is that the tonneau covers freeze to the tailgate, making it hard to open the tailgate, and you will have to either melt or break the ice to gain access to your truck’s bed. 

The best truck bed cover for winter is a hard cover because it can hold more weight than a soft tonneau.

This article explains how each style of truck bed cover handles ice and snow and the ins and outs of opening frozen tonneau covers.

Soft Roll-Up Covers

Your soft roll-up tonneau cover, caked with snow, is a pretty sight but is also concerning because soft roll-up tonneau covers can’t handle as much weight as hard roll-up tonneau covers.

Of course, if it’s just fluffy snow that doesn’t have much weight, there is no need for concern. But the heavy snow might cause damage by stretching the material. 

Moisture gets in the edges and freezes the tonneau cover to the truck’s bed, making it impossible to access the bed of a pickup truck. 

If you’ve never had to deal with roll-up a tonneau cover that’s frozen, it’s like opening your truck door after an ice storm.

Pouring warm water on the seams will make it easier to open, but if it’s still cold out, it will just freeze over again, and you’ll have to repeat the process.

There are solutions to this freezing problem that I will share later because it relates to all types of truck bed covers.

Is it bad to go through a car wash with a soft tonneau cover?

Hard Roll-Up Covers

Hard roll-up tonneau covers are much more sturdy than soft roll-up tonneau covers and can withstand the weight of heavy snow and ice, so that’s not a big concern, tho they have their limits too. 

But as the snow and ice build up on the hard cover, it makes opening it a challenge. Of course, it’s not the snow that presents the challenge because you can seep the snow off the tonneau cover. But the ice acts like glue on all the seams and grooves, which makes opening the hard cover stiff and holding the tonneau cover shut.

I don’t recommend forcing the hard roll-up truck bed cover when it’s frozen shut. If the ice has a good hold on it, you risk damaging the seams, and then your tonneau cover might leak in the future.

You’ll need to clear the snow and ice from the tonneau cover first, but how?

You can take a broom and brush the snow off of the tonneau cover. Then, using a jug, pour warm water on the seams to melt the ice. You can then easily roll up your tonneau cover. But, again, the problem with this is if it’s still below freezing, the tonneau cover will freeze up again.

Soft Folding Covers

Again, with soft tonneau covers in general, the concern is the weight of the snow and ice stretching and bending the materials. Therefore, it’s best to remove the snow as soon as possible so that it doesn’t have a chance to gain any weight.

As mentioned before, after removing snow, pouring warm water onto the seams to melt the ice will prevent damage from occurring as you open it. Unfortunately, if you’re still experiencing freezing winter conditions, the soft-folding tonneau cover will freeze up again. 

You can try to use Windex in the seams, it won’t hurt your paint as it drips down, but the danger is that the ammonia in Windex is terrible for the vinyl and will weaken the vinyl and tarnish the appearance of your soft tonneau cover.

For more on caring for tonneau covers, read our blog on “How to Clean a Tonneau Cover.”

Hard Folding Covers

Like the hard roll-up covers, the weight of the snow isn’t as much of an issue as it is with a soft tri-fold tonneau cover. Instead, it’s the ice build-up that causes the problems by freezing the edges and seams. 

In this video, you will see three tonneau covers that have experienced the same weather conditions, yet only one was frozen shut, and how one guy managed to open his tailgate.

I’m sure it’s okay if you’re careful. Still, I cringed when he used a flathead screwdriver to pry the tonneau cover away from the tailgate – I would suggest using something plastic such as a spatula or a credit card to lessen the chance of scratching anything. 

I want to point out that petroleum or grease of any kind is not a good idea to use on any moving parts, as it will collect dust/dirt and cause the components to operate sluggishly.

And as you can see from the above video, the petroleum didn’t work to keep the tailgate from freezing to the tonneau cover and was a mess to deal with because it can get on your clothes as you use the bed of your truck.

One option we found was to use ski wax, but be sure to check the rated temperature for the wax because some wax is only suitable for certain temperatures; for example, Swix waxes can be used for snow temperatures between 1 C and -4 C (34 F to 25 F). The 7 Series is for temperatures from -2 C to -8 C, (28˚F to 18˚F).

So, depending on your environment, this may work for you.

Hard fold tonneau covers are not only strong, but they are also secure and can be water-resistant if installed correctly. 

We’ve done a ton of research, and as you can see, we’ve found actual user opinions to find the best possible roll-up hard tonneau that will withstand harsh winter weather.

Read more: Roll-up or Tri-fold Truck bed Covers or Best Roll-up Truck bed Cover

Here is what (Tony) a.k.a. Dr. Honda at the Ram1500 Diesel forum had to say about the Extang brand.

best tonneau cover in the winter

Retractable Covers

The plus is that most retractable tonneau covers are sturdy enough to handle the weight of a heavy snowfall. However, unless you park in a heated garage, these are the worst truck bed covers to use in the winter.

Don’t plan on using the truck bed if the weather calls for snow or freezing rain because once they freeze, they lose flexibility, making it impossible to retract. 

One of the significant issues in freezing weather with a retractable tonneau cover is the locking mechanism; they tend to break under freezing conditions.

So, don’t put too much pressure on the locking mechanism; use something safe for your retractable tonneau cover and paint to melt the ice first, like Lock De-Icer & Lubricant. Warm water is the safest option, even though it will refreeze.

One-Piece Solid Covers

Out of all the tonneau covers, this is the most sturdy and secure style. In addition, it offers the most strength when it comes to withstanding the weight of a heavy snowfall. So if you’re not regularly hauling large cargo that requires you to remove the cover, this might be the best option.

If you live in a wintery climate, a solid, one-piece bed cover might be a great option, but you’ll have to deal with a frozen lock and tailgate. If you can’t open the one-piece solid cover, your tailgate won’t open either! 

The solution for safely opening a solid one-piece tonneau cover is the same as all the above styles; melt or break the ice. Warm water is the safest way to open it without damaging or weakening anything. All other liquids have ingredients that might cause unwanted results. 


Many conditions come into play when choosing the best truck bed cover for winters, such as the tonneau cover’s design, the temperature, and the amount of precipitation.

Spraying Windex on the seams of a frozen tonneau cover and giving it a minute to melt the ice is a good option because Windex will freeze but at a much lower temperature than water. 

In this video, he uses Windex on a car door. Still, you can see it will work just as well on a tonneau cover, but there is a danger to this method. As mentioned before, you must be careful not to get any on the vinyl, or you risk weakening and tarnishing the material.

I’m sure you’ve heard of the solution to use WD-40. Unfortunately, this is not a great idea because it can damage the tonneau cover if it comes in contact with the topcoat. The same goes for any petroleum derivative or products that contain silicone.

The only real way to beat this is to park in a heated garage until all the ice melts and the moisture evaporates. Unfortunately, not everyone has that option. So, if you can’t park in a warm location, use your better judgment on dealing with the frozen tonneau cover so that you won’t harm it or your truck bed.

Significant Mention: Any melted snow that turns to ice should be brushed off the top of the cover. There is a lift force behind the truck’s cab, and large chunks of ice lift off and go flying behind the truck and could hit the following vehicle.

I hope you enjoyed this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. If you still find yourself wanting to learn more, read our blog “Tri-Fold or Roll Up Tonneau Cover – Which one?”

Another good read: Retractable bed cover vs tri fold

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