What is a Tonneau Cover?

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A tonneau cover is a piece of material that covers a tonneau. A tonneau is an opening in a vehicle such as a passenger seat of a roofless car or the box of a truck.

In the modern world, you can rarely find a home without a truck or two.  Well, apart from helping with the navigation, having your truck has more benefits than you can try to imagine. For instance, with a truck at your disposal, you can deal with tons of luggage that your small car can’t handle.

Talk of large electronics, for instance, or groceries, with your truck, you don’t have to spend your cash on deliveries. But, you really want to know what is a tonneau truck bed cover.

Today it’s my pleasure to cover all the different types of covers, brands, and all FAQ that come up about them.

What is it?

snap tonneau on classic

tonneau for elcamino

In short, a tonneau cover is an area in a car or truck that is open at the top. Tonneau is actually french for cask or a barrel-like container made of wood, metal, or plastic. 

The fact that trucks are convenient means that they deserve some tender care like it’s with the car you use daily. Pickup trucks, for example, are designed with an open back. Often, and based on how you use them, your luggage may be vulnerable to theft.

The fact that trucks are commonly utilized off-road means that you may bring along unique pieces of equipment as well. Unless you don’t value your tools, you can’t stand having them damaged by the rain or exposure to the sun. 

It’s at this point that you need a truck tonneau cover. Currently, you can hardly spot a truck without this particular piece. Truck tonneau covers come in various designs and styles. Therefore, they can easily be used as an upgrade to your truck’s appearance.

Depending on the design, this fantastic enhancement can give your car a sleek look. Some of the covers can be painted to match your vehicle’s theme, hence leaving your whole truck looking extra fantastic. 

Benifits of a tonneau cover

Apart from boosting your truck’s security and appearance, installing a bed cover contributes to reducing the drag. Not long ago, a study by SEMA revealed that adding this unique feature helps boost the gas mileage by about 11.81%. Therefore, it means that you can save up to $200 per year on gas. 

How is the bed cover related to the car’s fuel consumption, you may ask? Well, as said earlier, the cover helps create that sleek design.

tonneau cover hardt tri fold

As a result, this design reduces the aerodynamic drag on the pickup, and that means that you won’t waste gas. Apart from saving on gas money, you get to save money that you could have used to buy items that you lose after leaving them in the open space for the thieves to see. 

As stated earlier, trucks are efficient when it comes to multiple usages. For example, they can be used to ferry things such as ladders, kayaks, and mobility solutions.

Installing a bed cover

Installing a bed cover works better when it comes to establishing an off-road beast from the same truck. The cover also does help increase the versatility nature of the truck. 

What is a tonneau cover

Things to consider?

Today, the market is filled with different bed covers to add to your truck. They come in various styles and designs. If you are a first-timer, you might find it challenging to find that one cover you need. When it comes to buying the perfect cover, the first thing you ought to consider is your taste and preference.

Like, you should go for a design that you like. You must find things such as the paint on the cover. A perfect cover should have a color that matches the entire truck.

When buying a cover for your truck’s bed, another thing to consider is maintenance. Remember, a truck cover should be installed to help with enhancing the truck, and not turn into another hustle. Hence, you must go with one that is easy to clean with a simple soap or water solution. Besides, a perfect cover shouldn’t cost you much when it comes to regular maintenance. 

With the stiff economic standards, another thing you ought to consider when acquiring a bed cover is the cost of buying. Different styles come at different prices. That means that you might have a problem choosing between the prices. When it comes to prices, it would be best if you considered a limit that meets your budget.

Don’t go for a price tag that will leave a hole in your wallet. When jugging in between the prices, you should choose a reputable brand in the market before picking an item with a price tag that matches its features.

Also, you must consider the time needed to install the cover, once acquired. Most covers need between ten minutes to one hour for the installation process to be completed. The timeframe is dependent on how easy it’s to add the required accessories to enable the installation. You should go for that cover that doesn’t consume too much of your time. 

Lastly, you should consider the cover’s durability and reliability. A perfect option should serve you for the longest time possible. Therefore, you must choose a cover that matches how you intend to use the truck bed. Go for covers made from harder materials if you are looking for something that will serve you until every penny is used. 

What is a tonneau cover

Different types of tonneau covers

By now, you know what is a tonneau cover and its benefits to the truck. Also, you are informed on the shopping tricks to utilize when out there shopping for the right item. However, you may still find it a bit confusing as these bed covers come in various designs. Here are the common types of truck bed covers that you are likely to see in the market today. 

Folding tonneau cover

Today, these are the most popular truck bed covers you are likely to see in the market. The high chances are that the covers gain popularity because they come in several designs. There is the trifold design, a model that usually folds into three sections. There is also the bi-fold design, which folds into two parts.

Although the two models are the most popular, there are other designs and which fold in more than three sections.

The folding bed covers can either be hard or soft. Therefore, when you talk of a hard trifold design, it means that the cover in question folds into three sections and is designed from a hard material. Folding covers made from hard materials are popular because of their versatile use. One advantage that comes with using this type of bed cover is its folding property.

This folding feature means that you can gain access to a part of the truck’s bed without having to uncover the entire bed. With that said, it means that you can easily carry small items and big ones without having to expose the section with the small ones. 

Roll-up tonneau cover

Another tonneau cover that you are likely to find in the market today is the roll-up or rolling bed cover. As its name suggests, this is a type of bed cover that rolls upon itself. You can simply say that it rolls the same way that you would roll a mat. These tonneau covers also do come in the soft version and the hard version. Therefore, when buying, you must ensure that you go for a version that suits your needs.

When it comes to pricing, the hard designs are much costly as opposed to the soft types. Therefore, if you are working with a tight budget, you can go with the soft ones. However, if you are looking for a bed cover that will serve you until every penny counts, pick the hard design.

Besides, a hard roll-up Tonneau offers excellent security to the items stored on the truck bed. One amazing about using this type of bed cover on your truck is that folds do not limit you. In other words, you can expose the truck bed to preferred extends from the open end to the bulkhead. Hence, you will be left with a more versatile cover. 

Here is a review of the top 5 rolling tonneau covers.

Retractable tonneau covers

If you are looking for a bed cover that functions similarly to a roll-up cover, you should consider a retractable cover. This type of truck bed lid is unique in that it pulls back itself into a container at the front end of the bed. This type of bed cover does come designed in different materials. For instance, the lid’s exterior can be made of aluminum, polycarbonate, or vinyl covering. 

When you choose the Retrax Retractable Cover, for instance, you will realize that it has aluminum i-beams embedded into the polycarbonate sheet to boost strength. This kind of enhancement gives your car a clean appearance.

When using this bed cover, there is the benefit of enhanced security. Besides, the idea that you don’t have to remove the cover to access the truck plays a significant role. It means that if your truck has hitches, you won’t have any problems when the towing is needed, for example. 

Read more: Retractable vs Tri-fold Tonneau Cover

Hinged tonneau cover

A hinged tonneau cover is also another cover that you are likely to find installed in many trucks. This type of truck bed cover is simply a lid supported on hinges. This cover is usually opened in the same you open your truck’s trunk. It’s a typically solid one-piece, and that means that it doesn’t fold or retract at all.

So, you push it up to reveal the truck’s bed. These types of covers usually come in either hard or soft designs. Therefore, you must consider that one design that matches your budget and use.

One benefit that comes with adding this truck bed cover is that it helps enhance the look of your vehicle. The fact that the cover doesn’t fold gives it a visual attractiveness. It looks classy, and that’s why most drivers find it a worthy investment. You can have the cover painted the same color as your vehicle.

By doing so, you help boost the appearance even further. If you intend to go for this cover, you must know that you will be limited to how you use your truck. With the cover, every cargo has to be inside the bed. Therefore, it means that you can’t ferry awkwardly shaped cargo. Otherwise, the cover will have lost its meaning. 

Snap tonneau cover

This type of bed cover consists of two major parts. There is usually the aluminum frame and which is generally attached to the truck bed. Then, there is the vinyl cover that snaps to the attached frame. A snap cover allows easy and quick access to the truck bed. Like the other bed cover mentioned, this cover can as well be made of hard or soft material.

One fantastic thing about adding this bed cover is that it allows you to access the bed from any part of the bed. With that said, it means that you can load any sought of cargo regardless of the height and size. 


Toolbox tonneau cover

Having a toolbox is inevitable when it comes to owning a truck. Well, with the many off-road activities you perform using the truck; the gear is ok if it came in handy. When it comes to shopping for the right bed cover for your vehicle, there is always the question of whether the acquired cover will work with the toolbox. 

The good thing about the most cover in the market today is that they can work with your toolbox. However, you can’t ignore that there are some t don’t. Well, that’s where tonneau covers with integrated toolkits come into the picture. These types of covers are much popular amongst truck owners.

One significant benefit that comes with picking this truck bed cover is that it allows you to enjoy the benefits of a truck bed cover while not missing the importance of a toolbox. 

Locking tonneau covers

As said earlier, trucks help much when it comes to the transportation of heavy or awkward items that your car can’t accommodate. However, the fact that the truck bed is open means that whatever you ferry is exposed to the eyes of any thief. As it’s the case, you will have to leave your truck in the open once in a while. That’s where you bring in a bed cover to help cover your valuable items. 

Although these covers are known for covering your items against external factors such as rain, they offer more than that. Security is one of the primary reasons why you should invest in this feature.

You must know that by installing a locking tonneau cover, you restrict the unwanted parties from accessing what’s on the truck bed. You must understand that all covers in the market today don’t offer security. Therefore, you must consider this type of cover if you intend to safeguard the cargo on your truck bed.

Read more about the best locking truck bed covers.

Hard tonneau covers

When acquiring your first ever tonneau cover, you have to choose in between hard and soft covers. Well, a hard cover is the most recommended bed lid. If you are looking for something to offer the best security for your items, this is the way to go. With a lock, a hard cover can act as a vault. 

Hard tonneau covers are the most preferred covers by people as they help in enhancing the car’s aesthetic. They are easy to paint, and that helps much with matching the truck’s appearance. If you don’t use your truck to haul plenty of cargo, you can choose to go with this hardcover as it suits most light needs. 

If you are much interested in the folding designs applied to the covers, then you shouldn’t worry when dealing with a hardcover. The good thing is that there are hard covers, and they fold with much ease. For instance, there are those truck bed covers made of three to five hard plastic panels.

With this design, it means that you can, therefore, access the parts of your truck bed with fewer hustles. In comparison to full Tonneau lids, hard covers are a bit cheaper. Therefore, if you are low on funds, and you want a quality enhancement, don’t hesitate to consider the hard covers. 

Soft tonneau covers

Today, you are likely to find most trucks fitted with soft covers. Well, these designs act as a suitable option for many truck owners based on affordability. This type of truck bed cover comprises two parts. There is a sturdy aluminum frame, which is fitted on the truck’s frame. Then, there is a top cover, which is made of vinyl. 

Soft tonneau covers are easy to work with first because they are lighter. That means that when it comes to the installation and removal, you don’t have to put in much sweat. Another thing to note is that this cover gives your car the slick and smooth look that you desire. The covers can be customized uniquely to fit your truck. 

Hard vs. soft tonneau covers

If you aren’t new to the world of open vehicles, then you may not have a problem differentiating between a hard and softcover. The truth is that these two types of covers can be confusing for beginners. Most truck owners believe that hardcovers are one-piece, supported by hinges. Whereas, they assume that soft covers are foldable. Well, the assumption is somewhat correct to some extent. 

As the name suggests, hard truck covers are designed to protect the items you may have placed on the truck bed. Although most hard covers come as one piece supported by the hinges, there is also a category that can easily be folded. Today, you can find hardcovers with three to five folds.

Therefore, if you are looking to enjoy the folding nature of a truck bed cover while considering the security, you can consider these heavy-duty covers. 

On the other end, soft covers are foldable or retractable and are the most common as they come cheaply. As opposed to the hard bed covers, soft covers are made of aluminum frame and a vinyl top. The vinyl top is easy to break in. Therefore, if you mind the safety of the items you ferry using the truck, this may not be the ideal option to consider.

The aluminum and vinyl used to create this truck bed cover are usually light. Therefore, working with this kind of cover is quite easy. For instance, installing this bed cover is quite easy and economical as compared to the hard truck covers, which are bulky and more expensive. 

Read more about Tri-Fold VS Retractable Tonneau Covers

TruXedo Truxport Soft Roll Up Truck Bed Tonneau Cover - truckupgradesadvisor.com

Different brands of tonneau covers


The Tyger brand is one of the most common brands, with a tri-fold design dominating the market. These covers are usually made of strong marine-grade vinyl. The design leaves your truck fresh and with the contents on the truck bed secure from external elements. The covers from Tyger are usually easy to install by yourself and fit different trucks without any overhang. 

When it comes to fuel efficiency, these covers help much as they make your truck more aerodynamic. The brand is quite affordable as compared to other high-quality models in the market. Unfortunately, these covers are known to become loose with time. But, before it comes to this point, the cover will have served its purpose to the fullest.


Another popular brand to consider when shopping for a truck bed cover is the TruXedo TruXport Roll-up cover. This cover is somewhat similar to the Tyger brand when it comes to functionality. The only difference is that this cover rolls up while that Tyger folds into three separate sections.

With the roll-up functionality, it means that you don’t have to obliterate the cover when you are transporting tall or awkward objects. The cover is also easy to install by yourself as there is no drilling needed. The cover is light in nature and hence gives your truck that slim design that you would want in your pickup.

I think you’ll like this review of the TruXedo Truxport tonneau cover.


The MaxMate truck bed cover is also another tri-fold cover to consider if you are looking to consider a tri-fold design. The cover is made from marine-grade vinyl, which features rust-preventive powder frames and stainless steel clamps. When you order the cover, it comes preassembled.

Therefore, you won’t experience any trouble when installing. There is no drilling needed to carry out the installation. As compared to the other soft covers in the market today, this brand doesn’t offer a sleek design. 


The Lund Genesis Elite Roll-up cover is also a must-consider when shopping for a roll-up cover that will serve you in the best way possible. The cover is made up of quality twill texture that has been designed to resist UV rays, dust, dirt, water, mold, and water.

The material used in this particular lid makes it easy to clear away the dirt. The rolling up feature means that you can easily access any part of the truck bed or ferry larger objects with fewer hustles.

The cover is easy to install and comes at a friendly price. Although designed from soft vinyl materials, the truck bed cover doesn’t offer a sleek look on your truck after the installation.


Tonno Pro truck bed cover

Another tonneau cover that you can’t fail to mention is the Tonno Pro Tri-folding cover. It has become one of the fastest-thriving truck bed lids, and for a good reason. One thing, the cover comes completely assembled, and that means that you won’t have any trouble carrying out the installation. It will take you not more than fifteen minutes to install it as there is no drilling involved.

Adding this feature to your truck guarantees security and protection to the cargo you ferry using the truck. Besides, the folding functionality allows you to access and ferry any sort of luggage using your truck. 


The Bestop truck bed covers are one of the fastest and easiest bed covers to work with as they are easy to install and remove. The cover’s frame and latching are attached to the fabric and thus allowing a quick-stack folding design. The cover needs no bed rails. The cover offers both functionality and aesthetics when added. 

American Tonneau Company

The American Tonneau Company is also another brand to consider when shopping for a quality tonneau cover to add to your truck. The company is known for its popular tri-fold designs. This cover needs little time to install as it comes already assembled. It fits perfectly at the edge of the truck hence offering a waterproof and airtight seal.

The truck bed cover is easy to clean and thus suitable for those looking for a maintenance-free option. However, you must be ready to spend a considerable amount of money as these covers tend to be a bit costly. But, the price is worth every penny as the cover offers the quality service that you can expect.


Another notable brand in the market is undercover. The undercover Flex Hard folding truck bed cover is the most prominent cover from the company. Well, as the name suggests, this cover is somewhat special. It features a slim design, and that easily fits into your pickup bed.

After the installation, this truck bed cover looks as though it was installed by the truck manufacturer. The undercover truck bed covers are easy to install by yourself as they need no drilling. 

The cover folds three times hence allowing you easy access to any part of the truck bed without any struggles. It also comes with rods to keep it tilted upwards when you are placing or removing items on the bed. The undercover covers are efficient as you can drive around with one or two of the sections tilted upwards.

With this functionality, it makes it easy to ferry large objects. One downside that comes with investing in this cover made in the USA is that you will have to part with some good cash. Well, with the many advanced features, the price is worth every penny. 

Truck tonneau covers FAQs

Are tonneau covers universal?

When it comes to dealing with tonneau covers, there is always the question of whether they can be universal. Well, unfortunately, the answer is no. Remember, every cover is built with the exact measurements needed to match a specific truck make or manufacturer. 

Therefore, unless the truck’s measurements match those of the cover, there is no way you can use a different cover. Therefore, when shopping for the cover for the first time, don’t get confused. Be sure that you get a cover designed specifically for your car model or make. 

Read more on Are Tonneau Covers Universal.

How do you measure your truck for a tonneau cover?

Finding the right cover for your truck isn’t a straightforward task. You need to be sure that you are getting the right one. Apart from the design and model, there are other factors you ought to consider. The size of the cover is one primary pointer that you can’t ignore. Remember, trucks come in different designs and models. 

Therefore, you expect the protection you get to match your truck. The fun thing about these covers is that most of them come preassembled and matching your specific vehicle.

Therefore, when shopping, you only need to state your truck model and make. With these details, the manufacturer will issue you with the right cover that you need. However, that’s always the case as there are instances when you are required to measure the truck by yourself to help with customizing the cover. So, how do you go about measuring the truck for the installation of a new cover?

To collect the actual measurements, you need to start by placing the measuring tape at the wall-like structure that blocks the cargo from reaching the driver. With the end of the tape measure attached to the end, move along the bed rail to the truck’s tailgate. That’s the actual measurement. However, most manufacturers have their items defined in inches.

Therefore, you should convert the recorded measurements into inches before heading to the auto store to get the upgrade. To turn the units collected into inches, divide the registered number by 12. 

When dealing with the collected units, you must have in mind that most bed manufacturers usually round their sizes. Therefore, you must pick an option that is closest to the one you just resources. With the right measurements, it becomes much easy to get the right accessories that fit your truck bed. 

How much do tonneau covers cost?

A truck bed cover is one of the most common accessories that you can add to your pickup truck. This fantastic feature plays a significant role in enhancing the security of the items stored on your truck bed. Depending on the model and design, the accessory can help with improving the truck’s appearance while cutting down the truck’s fuel consumption. When it comes to finding the cover, there are many factors to consider, among them the initial cost.

  Today, you will find various types of truck bed covers in the market. The prices of these covers are dependent on the design, specifications, and material used. Say, for instance, the soft covers usually cost between $150 and $550. The hardcovers, on the other end, tend to be a bit pricey because of their added benefits. For the hardcovers, you can expect a price tag of up to $2000. 

    Although adding truck bed covers plays a significant role, it would be best if you didn’t let the installation mess with your financial plans. It’s recommended that you stick to a design that matches your budget. However, the cover you choose should serve your needs as expected.

Besides, you can consider the various brands in the market as they come with different price tags. Your most preferred option should be a cover from a reputable brand with a price tag that matches your budget. 

Are truck bed lids easy to withdraw?

Installing a tonneau cover is considered to be one of the most significant investments you can ever perform on your truck. With the many benefits that come with introducing the lid, you can’t undermine the idea to have one when the idea comes knocking. Although these covers tend to offer countless benefits, there are times when they become a hindrance to the truck’s performance. 

For instance, depending on the type of cover installed, you may find it hard to carry large or awkward cargo like dirt bikes. At this juncture, you need to ask if the added Tonneau is easy to remove or not. Besides, with time, the cover is likely to get worn out. When that time comes, you will need to remove the old cover for replacement. 

Well, the process of removing a bed cover is dependent on the design in question. You must consider that some types of covers come fastened with strong adhesives, tapes, and others that are fixed to your truck’s frame. Others don’t even require any removal as they can be rolled up like a mat.

Therefore, if you find out that you will have to remove the cover now and then, it would be best if you chose a model that is easy to install, as well as, remove when the need arises. 

Can you drive with a tri-fold tonneau cover open?

Today, most trucks you will find on the road are equipped with a tri-fold tonneau cover. Well, the fact that these covers can be folded into three sections helps improve the functionality. With this property, it means that you can access any part of the truck bed without having to remove the entire cover. 

There are instances when you need to carry around large items, which force you to leave some part of the bed open. The question is, can you drive the truck around with the tri-fold cover open?

The answer is yes. You can do so. But, you can never do so with only the rear panel open. For this to work, you have got to ensure that the first two panels are folded up into one another. Either way, you can remove the entire cover leaving the bed open. 

What are hard tonneau covers made of?

The most recommended covers are the hard tonneau covers. Well, with the hard nature, this type of truck bed covers guarantees a long-time period of use. Besides, hardcovers favor many truck usages. 

These particular lids are usually made of fiberglass, aluminum, and hard plastic. They are a bit pricey as compared to the soft ones. However, you can find hardcovers made from hard plastic as their price tend to be a bit lower. 

Polycarbonate is used to make the hard plastic tonneau covers. I compared aluminum to polycarbonate covers if you are interested.

Does a tonneau cover increase mpg?

The answer is somewhat yes. Not long ago, SEMA conducted a study about the effects of bed covers on aerodynamic drag. According to the reports installing these accessories help lower the drag 4.2-7. 

However, the reduction is dependent on speed. However, this doesn’t clarify how the covers may help with fuel savings. But, one thing to note is that, practically, a reduction in aerodynamic drag helps improve fuel efficiency. 

I wrote an article about what saves more fuel a tonneau cover or a truck cap that you’ll find interesting.

Can the tonneau lids keep the water at bay? 

One of the most common questions that you will hear truck owners asking is whether they are waterproof, water-tight, or something close to that. Well, there is no straight answer to this inquiry as the cover’s functionality is dependent on how you install the cover and the design.

 Therefore, it would be inaccurate to describe a tonneau cover as 100% waterproof. Covers that come as a single piece, supported around the hinges, are considered to be the most efficient when it comes to preventing water leakage. 

Read more about tonneau covers being waterproof.


Installing a tonneau cover on your truck or any other open vehicle is an excellent investment. The cover serves the purpose of enhancing the security within your truck. Besides, it helps improve the truck’s appearance. Today, you will find various types of truck bed covers on the market. 

The various types of covers in the market offer different benefits. Some designs are considered for their ease of use while others are preferred for their classy look. With every model having its upsides and downsides, you must go for an option that matches your requirements.

By reading this article, you will learn almost everything you need to know about these accessories. With this information, your shopping experience will be made easy. 

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