Which is Better For You a Tri-fold or a Roll-up Tonneau Cover?

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A roll-up tonneau cover is better if you want ease of use because it can be rolled up with one hand, and a tri-fold is the better choice because it takes less space and is easy to remove should you need your entire truck bed for large items.

A tonneau cover is an essential addition to your truck for safety and security reasons. However, it can also be a major inconvenience if you don’t get one that fits your needs perfectly.
About 68% of people tend to choose a tri-fold over a roll-up tonneau cover.
By the end of this article, you’ll have a clear understanding of what type of bed cover will suit you and your situation best.

Let’s dig in.

Hard Tri-Fold Tonneau Covers

Which is Better Roll-up or Tri-fold Tonneau Covers

Hard folding covers are made with aluminum panels with a vinyl material on top and polypropylene cores durable and resilient.

Some hard tonneau covers can support up to 350 lbs should you want to carry some cargo on top.

These truck bed covers are the favorite of truck owners. They are near the top of the list for security because they are lockable and the rigid material used is difficult to cut through.

When folded up, you will have access to your entire bed. The only problem is the pannels stand up at your back window, hindering your view when backing up.

Hard tonneau covers usually sit a little bit above the bed of the pickup. Some people rather have a low profile look and go with a hard roll-up cover because it sits on the bed rails and is flush with the bed, but that’s up to your taste.

This cover style typically rests on the top of the bed and blocks access to the stake pocket holes.

Removal may be necessary when hauling a motorbike or a quad; I recommend checking with the manufacturer before purchasing one.


  • More secure
  • More sturdy
  • More durable
  • 100% Bed access – depending on the style/brand
  • 20-minute installation
  • Cuts down on fuel consumption

The downside

  • Cost more than a soft tonneau cover because of the materials used
  • Rearview is blocked when fully open
  • Handling is more difficult because they weigh more
  • Not low profile 
  • Blocks stake pocket holes
  • Blocks the view out the rear window

Situations they might be best for

  • You need to keep cargo safe from thieves
  • You don’t need to haul large cargo frequently 
  • You need to haul cargo on top of the closed tonneau cover 

If a tri-fold tonneau cover is for you, I think you’ll like this BAK BAKFlip review I wrote.

Hard Roll-Up Tonneau Covers

hard roll up vs hard tri fold

A perfect combination of strength and accessibility. They are sleek looking and stylish, and secure.

With proper installation, they can be waterproof. Please do some research and find a brand with a good reputation and good design.

Most of these tonneau covers are made of aluminum, polypropylene, and fiberglass and are much more durable than their soft counterparts, so you won’t have to worry about punctures.

Even tho they roll up to the front of the bed, they still cover a small portion of the bed. Therefore, you may have to remove it to haul large items like furniture, motorcycles, etc.

But, it’s effortless to remove and replace and fit in the pickup truck’s bed if there is space left over from the cargo.

Most brands have a well-designed product that makes installation a breeze with two side rails, both with three clamps each. The cover sits on the rails, and there are header slats that slide over; boom, it’s installed!


  • Doesn’t block the entire rear view
  • Easy to open and close with one hand
  • Secure – hard to break in due to the rigid material and lock
  • Full access to stake pocket holes for other accessories
  • Can support up to 400lbs if you need to haul something on top of it
  • Doesn’t block stake pockets 

The downside

  • Hard to find
  • Doesn’t offer full bed access for large cargo
  • More expensive than soft roll-ups

Situations they might be best for

  • You need to keep cargo dry
  • You need to keep cargo safe from thieves
  • You like the sleek look

Looking for the Best Hard Roll-up Tonneau Covers

Soft Tri-Fold Tonneau Covers

soft tri fold vs soft roll up

Most truck owners love these too because they are lightweight and easy to handle. Less weight plus aerodynamics also means better gas mileage. 

They come entirely pre-assembled and install in a few minutes – no tools required. Just use the hand clamps at the front and rear of the tonneau cover, and you’re ready to go.

They come in different materials and traditional vinyl or trill rag top fabric, depending on the brand you prefer.

Most tri-folds don’t after full access to the bed of the truck. So it will need to be removed to haul oversized cargo. The plus side – it’s light and easy to handle, and it might fit in your back seat if it’s empty.

They are more of a deterrent than a secure cover because they are soft and easily cut into. However, if you want to keep cargo out of the elements and save a few bucks, then maybe this is your best bet.

Like the hard tri-fold cover, it will also cover the stake pocket holes, making it impossible to add a truck bed rack and other accessories that use the pocket holes.


  • Lightweight and easy to handle
  • More sturdy than a soft roll-up
  • Rugged look 
  • Weather-resistant

The downside 

  • Installation is  more challenging because of the rails
  • Little more difficult to remove than roll-ups
  • Blocks stake pocket holes

Situations they might be best for

  • You need to keep things out of eyesight and out of the elements
  • You like the bold look

Soft Roll-up Tonneau Covers

tri fold or roll up

Some roll-up covers sit inside the edges of the bed; others sit on top of the bed and will cover your stake pocket holes. 

They offer the sleek low profile look that many prefer.

When you need 100% access to your pickup truck’s bed, all you have to do is roll it up to the front of the truck. 

Compared to a tri-fold, the roll-up cover takes a little longer to open and close because you have to roll it out and seal it with velcro manually.


  • Very lightweight
  • Easy to use
  • 100% truck bed access
  • Easy to remove and store
  • Lowest cost of all tonneau covers
  • Looks sleek

The downside

  • Not very secure from break-ins
  • least sturdy
  • Not as easy to open and close

Situations they might be best for

  • You’re on a tight budget and need something to keep your cargo covered 
  • You like the sleek look 

Final Verdict – Roll Up VS Tri-fold tonneau

If you use the bed of your truck a lot, then maybe a tonneau cover will be a nuisance. 

One thing I need to point out (I’ve personally made this mistake) you should, at all costs, avoid buying a tonneau cover designed for another truck. they are NOT universal.

As with any purchase (IMO), it’s always best to buy quality. Even if it cost more, you will save $ in the long run because you won’t end up replacing broken products. 

Before you pull out your card, take some time and measure your bed not once but twice at a minimum to ensure you order the correct size. 

Now you know why you need/want a tonneau cover
  • Do you want ease of use or sturdiness?
  • Are you hauling a lot of large cargo or just small stuff?
  • What’s your preferred look – sleek or rugged?
  • Are you willing to pay more for durability and security?

There are other types of tonneau covers to consider – retractable tonneau covers, hinged, and electronic.

I hope this article answered your question – Which is better tri-fold vs roll-up tonneau cover? – and helps you get closer to making a decision.

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