The Best Tonneau Cover
It’s easy to see why the best tonneau cover is great: protecting your belongings from the elements and improving your gas mileage at the same time is just about as good as it gets. It’s important to know that not all tonneau covers are created equal, though–and how to get the best tonneau cover for your truck.
If you’re like me, your truck is your baby, and you want to keep it safe even though you run it hard every day. You’ll also want to keep a little extra money in your wallet when you can. This article gives you all the tips and tricks you need to find the best tonneau cover, as well as the most convenient and durable, to fit your needs and your budget.
In addition to in depth reviews of the top five tonneau covers on the market right now, I’ve got a buyer’s guide to help you get the most value for every dollar you spend–helping you save money by getting the best tonneau cover the first time, instead of something you’ll have to replace in six months.
Check out this comparison table for a bare bones look at what makes these tonneau covers the best of the best, and how they stack up against each other. While I’ll go into a lot more detail later on, this table’s a great place to compare the top tonneau covers head to head.
The Extang Trifecta 2.0 Tri-Fold Tonneau cover offered by the Truck Hero Company is one of the newer truck bed covers on the market, being a complete redesign of the original Trifecta soft tri-fold tonneau truck bed cover.
This tonneau cover has quite a lot going for it in terms of innovative new features, one of my favorites being its intuitive, easy to use, and tough clamping system.
The clamping system is made up of two sets of highly specialized parts:
- Jaw Grip clamps to secure the tonneau cover to the bed at the cab end directly on the bed flanges, meaning you won’t have to do anything to your bed caps that might damage them
- EZ-Lock Clamps that unlock without much effort and lock themselves automatically as a safety precaution, which keep your tonneau cover secured at the tailgate
While many high-end tonneau covers these days offer a quick, no tools required installation, slapping this tonneau cover on my truck was about as easy as it gets.
Of course, once I got it on the truck I had to do a little driving to make sure the thing really worked. I wasn’t disappointed, even during the winter.
While some tonneau covers simply won’t hold up to snow, this one is built thick and tough.
The whole frame is constructed to maximize strength and fit perfectly to your truck bed.
On that note, though, there is one drawback I need to tell you about. Just as not every tonneau cover design isn’t the same quality, not every model in the Trifecta 2.0 series is exactly the same.
While differences of size and weight are obviously necessary when designing tonneau covers to fit the beds of different models of trucks, I noticed (because I ordered three different Trifecta 2.0 covers for testing) that there’s a not insignificant difference in the thickness of the cover itself between one model and the next.
While any of the Trifecta 2.0 covers is still tougher than the average tonneau cover out there, the fact that there were noticeable differences between different versions put me off just a bit. It’s not a huge thing, but I thought it was worth mentioning.
One thing that doesn’t change from one version of this model to the next is its look–and this tonneau cover looks great. Its fabric cover is leather grained for both toughness and aesthetic appeal, and it has a nice low profile look despite its thickness.
Of course, the low profile isn’t just for appearances, but to improve the aerodynamics of your truck. While any old tonneau cover should boost your gas mileage at least a bit, the Trifecta 2.0 does a great job in this department.
For anyone that has the cash for it and wants a great tri-fold tonneau cover, I couldn’t recommend this model anymore. While the price is fairly high and there is some slight difference in cover thickness from truck to truck, the design is extraordinary and offers great protection against the elements as well as improved mileage.
On top of that, it’s super easy to use and secure thanks to its thoughtfully engineered hinges–meaning it’s great both for the most experienced among you and those of you who’ve never owned a tonneau cover. That’s my best tonneau cover for F150.
This tri-fold tonneau cover from Tyger Auto offers some serious toughness at a steal of a price and boasts easy no-drill installation for most trucks to boot.
What’s not to love?
When I first purchased this truck bed cover, I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical that something priced this much lower than the market average could offer any real protection.
However, once I’d gotten it on my truck bed I was really impressed with its performance.
While the installation takes a bit more time than with some other models–I’ll get to why in just a minute–once it’s on there it sits tight and seals well. Obviously, that’s pretty much the most important thing when it comes to tonneau covers.
The reason that this cover takes a bit longer to install than some others is that it doesn’t seal quite as tightly right out of the box. However, there’s plenty of foam tape included to seal the gaps.
Pretty much every truck bed cover besides the custom ones will require a bit of seal tape for minor gaps, so this isn’t a big flaw on the part of this manufacturer. This one just requires a bit more labor at the beginning than some of the other top five models to get it sealed properly.
There’s one standout feature I want to mention with regards to this cover before I wrap up this review. The crossbars on this thing are great.
In addition to keeping the fabric tight and secure while folded down, they keep it stretched taut while folded up.
This truck bed cover is available at a very low price without sacrificing many of the features that make the best tonneau covers stand out from the competition. While the install is a little tougher, it works great once it’s on, and is built to last from tough materials.
I recommend this tonneau cover to anyone who’s on a tight budget first and foremost, simply because it’s one of the best models out there at a more affordable price point. I’d also recommend it to anyone looking to maximize their fuel economy due to its lightweight construction and extremely low profile. Probably, the best tonneau cover for RAM 1500.
While it still requires a bit more work to stow away than a tri-fold model, it also offers more space efficiency.
The ease of operation isn’t the only thing that makes this product stand out. It’s also tough, with a thick sheet of leather grain vinyl designed to withstand the elements.
On top of that, it forms a great seal to keep dust and water out of your truck bed.
This product achieves its great looks and superior protection from the elements through an automatic tension adjustment system, which really seems to be the product’s standout feature and mostly succeeds.
I say “mostly” because the tension adjustment isn’t as automatic as it seems at first glance, and actually requires a fair bit of fiddling around to get the tension of your cover exactly where you want it.
That being said, this isn’t a huge knock against this tonneau cover, as the tension system works exceptionally once it’s completely set up.
I recommend this tonneau cover to anyone looking for something that makes their truck look absolutely fantastic. It’s also a great choice for anyone who has a bit more to spend than the budget options are being sold for but isn’t comfortable springing for the highest end products.
I wouldn’t recommend it as much to inexperienced users because tweaking the tension control system requires a bit of tinkering, but once it’s all set up this unit provides supreme protection.
Of course, I’d also recommend it to anyone who has their heart set on a roll-up tonneau cover, as it’s one of the best (and most affordable) roll-up truck bed covers on the market today. I consider this one to be the best tonneau cover for Rambox.
There isn’t much in the world that’s tougher than a gator, so this manufacturer obviously has big shoes to fill. With a name like that, I was excited to test this company’s products–and the price was right, too.
This 30-pound tri-folding tonneau cover offers some serious protection from wind, rain, and that ever-present road dust, and also boosts your truck’s fuel economy by a good amount.
As soon as I started unboxing this cover, I was impressed by its toughness, specifically in terms of the vinyl used for the main cover itself.
In addition to its toughness, the vinyl also looks great, featuring an attractive textured finish that will make your truck stand out in the crowd. This textured finish helps the Gator brand live up to its name.
It’s not all about looks and strength, though. This unit also packs plenty of convenience and value, with a very quick installation at a much lower price than much of the competition.
I thought I may have gotten a slightly defective unit at first, but after doing some research and purchasing a second one for review, I found this is a common, if very small, flaw.
Additionally, the straps that hold the unit closed when it’s in its folded position rely solely on velcro and do not have any kind of external buckling system. While this isn’t generally a problem, it may be cause for hesitation if you anticipate encountering a lot of snow in your truck.
I recommend this tonneau cover to those looking for a particularly easy installation process or to anyone who’s on a tighter than average budget but still wants a great product. My best tonneau cover for Tacoma.
While it has a few flaws, ultimately it performs much better than most anything else at this price range and plenty of covers that cost twice as much.
Last but certainly not least, let’s take a look at this offering from truck accessory brand Max Mate. Like many of the best tonneau covers, this one relies on a simple tri-fold design but seeks to improve it in several small ways.
One of the best features in my mind actually doesn’t have a lot to do with the cover itself.
While installing the Max Mate Tri-Fold cover on one of my trucks, I could easily see why they’re so confident. In addition to sturdily constructed crossbars and truly top-notch vinyl, the unit offers an extremely simple installation process.
The clamps are very solidly made, too, and consist of stainless steel to ensure that the hold on the rail is secure. This is obviously an important feature: you don’t want your tonneau cover flapping around while you’re going up the road!
On top of all these excellent features and benefits, this model is available at one of the lowest prices on the market, so those of you who like to stretch every dollar like I do might just fall in love with this one.
While I’m not worried about this breaking the water seal or damaging anything underneath the lightweight crossbar, it does seem to lower the aerodynamic efficiency of the truck, meaning that you might end up losing out on some of the gas mileage benefits of having a tonneau cover.
I would recommend this unit to anyone looking for a quick, cheap way to get a great tonneau cover to protect their cargo from the elements. Between the low price, the simple install, and the confidence the brand has in their product, this just might be one of the best values on the market.
While the issue with the middle crossbar irritated me a bit, it came up only under extra tough testing conditions–and even then didn’t seem to have any effect on the overall durability or efficacy of the unit in terms of protecting goods in the bed. If you own a Tundra Crewmax this one is probably the best tonneau cover.
The best tonneau cover has a lot to offer. However, it’s not always easy to tell which specs are most important and which extra features you really need. While simply grabbing the most expensive thing on the market might net you a decent product most of the time, it’s not something everybody can do.
In this section, I’m going to break down all the specs and features for you to help you figure out what you really need in a tonneau cover, so you can find the best tonneau cover to fit your needs and your budget.
I’ll also help you out when it comes to caring for your tonneau cover and getting the most out of it for years to come.
Fold or Roll?
It’s one of the oldest debates among truck bed tonneau cover owners: is a folding or rolling tonneau bed cover best?
Of course, as with a lot of debates like this, it’s less an issue of one being better than the other and more one of personal taste. Folding and rolling models each come with their own advantages and disadvantages.
Here’s a big difference: when you need to haul something with a relatively high profile, you’ll have to either roll or fold your tonneau cover back to accommodate it. With roll-up tonneau covers, you can roll the cover all the way back so that it doesn’t take up any space in your bed, or at least only a few inches.
Fold up tonneau covers, on the other hand, will always take up the front third or so of the truck bed, meaning you won’t be able to haul some items even with the tonneau cover folded.
Again, it all comes down to personal preference. If you think you’ll haul very large or awkwardly shaped loads most of the time, you may want to invest in a roll and latch tonneau cover.
If you’ll haul smaller loads more frequently, a folding cover may be the best way to go.
What’s Weight Got to Do With It?
You’ll notice when looking into the best tonneau cover in depth that weight can vary from one cover to another quite a bit. While with many other products the weight isn’t very significant, with tonneau covers it matters a lot.
While it’s not the end-all-be-all of quality and workmanship, the weight of a tonneau cover can tell you a lot about its usability, durability, and versatility.
You don’t want something that’s too heavy to easily install and to roll or fold regularly as needed. At the same time, anything suspiciously light may also be of low quality.
Again, it’s not something that should make your final decision for you, but the weight of a given tonneau truck bed cover is something every serious truck owner will consider at least a little bit as a part of their decision-making process. I know I sure did while I was writing this article (and trying all these covers out on my own trucks).
Measure Twice, Buy Once
You might think this sounds silly, but you need to be careful to get the best tonneau cover for your truck.
While it doesn’t sound like something many people would overlook, I need both hands to count the number of people just among my friends and family who have bought the wrong size tonneau cover. They all either had a bad time trying to get it on or a bad time trying to get it returned.
While any reputable dealer will certainly give you a refund for your tonneau cover, you might have to pay for return shipping. On top of that, it’ll be a huge waste of time, and you’ll have to deal with the embarrassment of telling a customer service rep (who may just be a real truck person like you) that you bought the wrong cover.
Tonneau covers are supposed to fit like a glove and sit tight as a drum on top of the truck bed, in order to keep rain, snow, dust, and whatever else off of your possessions and your bed liner. If you end up with the wrong size of cover, that’s not going to happen.
Care and Maintenance
Caring for a good tonneau cover is pretty easy, but it’s also something that too many truck owners out there overlook. While it can sometimes be tedious, taking the time to properly maintain your truck bed cover once you’ve bought it is one of the best things you can do to keep it in the best shape for as long as possible.
Believe it or not, cleaning your best tonneau cover regularly is one of the most important aspects of keeping it in tip-top shape for years to come.
One of the most common ways that tonneau covers die is through punctures. Sometimes freak accidents happen like a big chunk of glass falling from somewhere and piercing your cover, but more often than not it’s due to poor maintenance and constant friction with the grime of the road.
Additionally, letting your tonneau cover get grimy can lead to water buildup that can cause corrosion of metal parts like the clamps–and trust me, that’s not something you want to deal with.
To wash your tonneau cover effectively but not damage it in the process, be sure not to leave any soap residue on it after rinsing. You can either wash it by hand or do it at the car wash with the rest of your truck.
However, you should avoid petroleum, silicone, and citrus based cleansers, as these might be too harsh for most tonneau covers (even the really tough ones) over time.
Additionally, keep an eye out for special vinyl protectants and other products made specifically for tonneau covers. In addition to protecting your cover from the buildup of dust from the road, they’ll give it a great looking shine.
Inspecting for Damage
You don’t necessarily need to spend hours staring at your best tonneau cover every time you hit the road, but inspecting the truck bed cover periodically for damage can help you help it last longer.
A little tear here or there or a clamp that’s been knocked loose may be an easy problem to fix, but one that can grow and cause more serious damage if just left alone.
I always find it best to inspect the tonneau cover at the following times:
- Before and after any long road trips
- Every three months at most if you haven’t checked it for any other reasons
- Before and after hauling anything bulky or sharp
- Every time you take your truck to the car wash (or hose it off in the driveway)
- Before storing your truck for any long period of time (like a bad winter) and before taking it back out again
You can also take a quick glance at the clamps and any moving parts any time you fold or roll up the tonneau cover since you’ll need to look at it at least a bit to see what you’re doing anyway.
Keep in mind that the best tonneau cover won’t get damaged very easily, so if you do your research and make sure to get a good product the first time, this shouldn’t be a huge problem for you.
In addition to obvious signs of wear and damage, you’ll also obviously want to check that the tonneau cover is still firmly locked in place. Having a tonneau cover come unmoored while you’re on the road can not only be bad for your investment but a serious safety risk too.
Other Tips and Tricks
Here are few more tips and tricks that’ll help keep your tonneau cover looking and working great for as long as possible:
- Read all the instructions that come with the cover before installing and use. It might be boring, but there’s good stuff in there.
- If you’ve never installed a tonneau cover before, have a more experienced buddy lend a hand or give you some tips.
- Never rush when folding or rolling up your tonneau cover. You don’t want to take forever, but spend enough time that you know the job’s done right every single time.
I hope this buyers’ guide has helped you figure out exactly what you’re looking for in a tonneau cover, and maybe even taught you a little bit about how to properly care for a tonneau cover along the way.
Before you go and make your final purchase, I’ve got a bit more advice for you, including my top choice for the best tonneau cover on the market.
Well, we’ve come a long way. I hope you’ve learned something in the process.
I know I sure have learned a lot since I started researching the best tonneau covers on the market and purchasing the first few models in review.
I think I’ve learned enough to tell you which of these top five tonneau covers is the best tonneau cover on the market right now. However, you should keep in mind that what’s best across the board may not necessarily be the best for you.
When it comes to deciding which tonneau cover you end up purchasing, it’s important to consider all the specs and features that are closest to your heart, as well as how much cash you have on hand.
For my money, though, the best tonneau cover on the market today is the Extang Trifecta 2.0 cover. While I was already impressed with the original Trifecta, which was my standard tonneau cover for my Durango, the Trifecta 2.0 improves on the already great design in a variety of ways.
While the price can be a bit steep, I still strongly recommend it for its excellence in the following areas:
- Extremely sturdy crossbars and hinges
- Great fuel economy performance
- Extraordinarily high durability and protection, even in snow and heavy rain conditions
- Great looks and simple operation
Any of these top five tonneau covers would make a great purchase, but only one will be the best for you. Like I said, I started this whole project by researching over 20 tonneau covers and seeing what the rest of the internet had to say, before I tried them all myself and brought the results to you.
I hope this article has helped you find the right tonneau cover for your needs and your budget. If I missed your favorite model or you have a great experience with one of these truck bed covers that you want to share, give me a holler in the comments.