The Best Tonneau Cover Reviews for 2018
No matter what your budget or needs are, there is sure to be a model on the market that will exceed your expectations. We’ll be taking a look at the best tonneau covers on the market. We’ll show you the differences between them, and help you find the one that meets your needs.
Why a Tonneau Cover?
There are very few products that can improve the functionality of your truck as much as a tonneau cover. While Truck Caps (Also known as Truck Shells, Canopies) are useful, they have some drawbacks. They’re big, heavy, difficult to remove and take up space if you’re not using them. And, they’re often much more expensive than a tonneau cover. In our opinion, it also completely ruins the aesthetic of your truck.
Tonneau covers by comparison, are extremely handy additions to your truck without those negatives. They’re easy to open and close when you need protecting your cargo from the elements, easy to remove if necessary, and much more affordable. One other great benefit most people don’t realize is improved fuel economy thanks to the reduced wind drag with a covered box.
Choosing a tonneau cover can be overwhelming because there are so many different types available. So, we’ve done the research for you and laid out our favorite models for you to choose from, in addition to a few things you should be looking for to decide which one is best for your truck.
The 5 Best Truck Box Tonneau Covers Reviewed By Our Experts
The products in this category are designed one of two ways. Either they are universal fit, where some component can be adjusted to fit virtually any truck box. Others are sold as kits, where each product will have several different versions, each one fitting a specific truck. Products in this category are generally more affordable, although you don’t get as many truck specific features.
1. Best Overall: Tonno Pro Tri-Fold
Pros: Lightweight, strong, affordable
Cons: Hinge hump/not enough clamps
The tri-fold design is arguably the most popular type of cover we see. The back clips firmly into place at the back of your truck box, and a rigid frame has three pivot points that allow you to fold the it up like a piece of paper. Many consumers rely on the tri-fold design as it makes for an extremely rigid construction while remaining lightweight. This style is ideal for people who want to have their box either fully open or fully closed. They generally do not latch at the inner folds, so if you want it to be secure you have to keep it at either the beginning or the end of its extendable range. Another benefit of this design is just how lightweight it is. Anyone using a smaller truck (half ton or smaller) will appreciate the fact that there is no added weight. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not strong. Tonno Pro has reinforced it in all the right places, so the covering material itself remains taut and rigid. Tonno Pro products are known for remaining high quality, while being very affordable. If you’re looking for an inexpensive way to protect your truck box, this is one of the first models you’ll want to consider.
2. Runner Up: UnderCover Tri-Fold
Pros: Easy install, low profile, hinges up fully
Cons: May leak a little in heavy rain
While it’s not the cheapest model in our list of reviews, this is certainly one of the most highly rated. The unique sliding mechanism used in Undercover’s unique products makes it extremely easy to open and close the box of your truck. You simply lift the lever, and push the cover towards the cab. Because there is no external frame (all of the structural supports run along the sides of your box) this model is extremely low profile. Installation is particularly easy on this model. It only requires three bolts per side to be installed. This is a project that you can easily do yourself in an hour. Once the mounting points are in place, the cover can be completely removed in seconds without any tools. Customers have regularly commented on the build quality. While the three sliding panels are all sealed nicely against each other, it is possible they leak and let some water in in especially heavy rain. Undercover products are generally favoured by people with larger trucks and extended boxes. We’ve found that cheaper models aren’t able to protect a large area while remaining rigid. With this in mind, an Undercover is a purchase you won’t regret.
3. Unique Option: BAKFlip G2
Pros: Lockable, effortless opening with pull-system
Cons: Glue on seals may fail over time
Given the state of the world economy, you don’t see a lot of products made in the USA anymore. BakFlip is one of the few companies that does all of their manufacturing in the USA. In all of our reviews, we’ve never seen a product built to such a high standard. The G2 is BakFlip’s second generation of it’s best selling product, and has achieved notoriety among truck enthusiasts. One of the biggest benefits of the G2 is the fact that it uses a pullstring system to close. Manufacturers are often forced to make a difficult decision when it comes to this area of design. The tighter, stronger and more heavy duty a tonneau cover is made to be, the longer it will last. But, this also makes them more difficult to close since they are heavier and tighter bound. Because BakFlip’s covers are built to the highest standard, they would normally be very difficult to close on their own. But the system includes several levered pullstrings that only require a slight wrist movement to lock the cover in place allowing it to stay stable on your truck for a long time. One of the things we like about the Bakflip is the level of theft protection it offers. Soft covers can be broken into just by cutting the vinyl, but the hard top of the Bakflip G2 means that somebody would have to try really hard to crack in. And, to further enhance security, it’s also boasts a keyed lock on the front. But the best part about this lock is that it’s made using manufacturer standard locks. We’d suggest a quick trip to the locksmith, $15 which will allow you to have it re-keyed to match your truck keys. This is one less key add to your key ring, and you’ll never be stuck fumbling around trying to find the right one. Because the Bakflip G2 gives you quick access to the box of your truck any time you need it, it is relied on by contractors and outdoorsmen all over the world.
4. Honorable Mention: APS Soft-Top
Pros: Lightweight, affordable, weatherproof
Cons: Less secure, flimsier
APS made their mark on the industry with a high quality roll-up model that didn’t break the bank. They use a high quality dual-coating vinyl that has a leather-like appearance. In all of our reviews, we’ve consistently found that this material strikes the perfect balance between affordability and durability. This material won’t crack or split with use, making it an ideal choice for anyone who intends to keep their truck for many years. This is not something we commonly find with affordable products like this. Usually you’re stuck with something inferior unless you’re willing to throw down some serious money. But the simple design of the APS allows them to manufacture a high-quality cover inexpensively, allowing you to get the best bang for your buck. One of the reasons we like roll-up style is the fact that you can protect exactly what you need. This particular model comes with two sets of ties. If you’re carrying something that extends above the box a little bit, you can simply roll it up to the exact spot you like. This results in the most coverage possible, at all times. This is something that just isn’t possible with hard covers, or ones with fixed joints. Another benefit of the roll-up style is how lightweight it is. This particular one can be rolled on or off in a matter of minutes, making it easy to remove for cleaning or any other purpose. Even though these are often considered the cheaper style, our tonneau cover reviews have always had nothing but good things to say about this style.
5. Best Hard, Non-Folding: Undercover
Pros: Lightweight, affordable, weatherproof
Cons: Less secure, flimsier
Before flexible vinyl become economically feasible for manufacturers to use, hardtops were the models to have. These units featured a steel or fiberglass cover, and a high end hydraulic system to lift the bed cover. Today, fiberglass is generally preferred over steel as it can produce almost the same level of rigidity, but it’s lightweight nature means that your fuel economy isn’t negatively impacted. When you buy a fiberglass tonneau cover, you’re buying something that’s built so tough you could stand on it. This type of tonneau cover is favored by individuals who want to carry valuable cargo in the back of their truck. You’re able to chuck anything you want, from tools to groceries, and know that they’ll remain safe. And we’re not just talking about damage that can occur while driving. They are theft resistant since it’s impossible to break in with a knife or sharp object. Hardened fiberglass is notoriously tough, and capable of withstanding the abuse of almost any type of daily use, making them one of the most common types of tonneau covers in the construction industry. One of the things that people love about these covers is that they can often be purchased with the same type of paint and finish as your vehicle. Matching these two components together creates a sleek look that is unparalleled but almost any other product on the market. UnderCover is a very large company, and they already produce plenty of different styles designed to fit almost any truck body universally. The installation does take a little longer, but it will more than pay for itself in durability and longevity. One of the best parts about the installation is the fact that it doesn’t require any new holes to be drilled. Each model is personalized to take advantage of the existing fascia in place on your truck. This way, it’s not going to affect the resale value of your vehicle.
Types of Tonneau Covers
Before we get into the specific models to review, it’s important to understand the different types available. In these next few sections, we’ll be taking a look at the different options available to truck owners. We’ll help you understand the differences between them, and then we’ll help you find a model that fits your vehicle.
Generic vs. Model-Specific
There are two types of tonneau covers that you can buy: generic and model-specific.
Generic tonneau covers are made to universally fit any truck. As a result, they may include components that adjust to fit any truck box regardless of the size or shape of it.
Model-specific tonneau covers are sold as kits, with several different versions, each designed to perfectly fit a specific year, make and model.
There are pros and cons to opting for either type. If you’ve opted for additional features on your truck such as the built-in tailgate inverter of the GMC 2500 or the raised ladder rack in the F250, you might want to consider one of the truck specific models we’ve outlined further below. But in general, most people are very happy with their generic model. And, since they’re also more affordable since they are manufactured in higher quantities, that’s usually what we suggest.
Hard Top Folding vs. Soft Top/Rolling vs. Single Piece Hard Top
We used to have these categories as separate, but almost every single hard top cover folds over on itself, while almost every soft-top cover rolls up, so, we combined them. There are also the single piece hard top covers that are typically made from a single piece of fiberglass that’s built to match your truck. These are the least popular for a few reasons, so we don’t often see them much.
Each of these types has their own set of pros and cons, but in general we prefer hard top covers. Soft-tops are generally cheaper and lighter, but we think the security and durability of a hard top overrules the price difference.
All it takes is someone with a sharp blade and the right motivation to easily find their way into your soft top to get at whatever you might have stored in there for the night: groceries, camping gear, or anything else potentially valuable. Get the hard cover – it’s worth it.
Truck Specific Tonneau Cover Reviews
Looking for something that’s designed with your exact vehicle in mind? Truck-specific tonneau covers are specifically designed for one model of truck, so there is no adjustment or changes that need to be made in order to get a great fit. This makes them easier to install, and they often come with additional features that better suit the unique packages offered with your vehicle. If you’re the type who would never own a base model truck, then these truck-specific reviews will help you find models for the most popular trucks on the market.
Ridgeline Tonneau Covers
Honda’s unique unibody truck is lightweight and comfortable to drive, but it’s unique box shape has made it difficult to find a decent toneau cover. If you’re looking for an affordable Toneau cover, The Rugged Liner E3-HRL05 fits the box shape of the ridgeline. It’s very similar to the tri-fold design, but uses only a single folding point. Although it’s categorically a bifold cover, the level isn’t in the center. This allows you to lift a section of it up, throw in your groceries, then close it all with just a single hand. Currently, this is the best value we’ve seen on the market, and we highly recommend it for ridgeline owners.
GMC Canyon Bed Covers
The Canyon is a powerful truck in a small body, making it difficult to custom fit toneau covers designed for larger vehicles. If you’re a canyon owner, we’d suggest that you check out the TonnoMax Roll-Up Low Profile Bed Cover. This design is unique to the light GMS trucks, and is specially engineered to fit its smaller profile. Buyers have found that it’s much more lightweight, and doesn’t bunch up in the middle like some of the smaller vinyl covers. With its roll up design, it’s easy for you to open and close it. Plus, it’s all metal locking mechanism means that it will snap into place for many years to come, without sustaining any damage.
There are lots of competing roll-up models on the market, but we’ve always found that the best ones have a few key features. First, they’ve got tie-down cords so that you can leave the cover partially open if you’re carrying something that extends above the box of your truck. When you’re using a compact truck like the GMC canyon, this is especially important.
F150 Bed Covers
With the Ford F150 being one of the bestselling trucks in America, it’s not surprising that there are more than a few options available to consumers. The F150 is one of the most customizeable trucks on the market, with many of the factory options focused on the tailgate. For this reason, it’s important to find one that doesn’t interfere with the usability of these features.
The Lock and Roll is uniquely designed in the sense that there is a dedicated storage area below the top of the cover. All you have to do is release the clamp, roll it up, and slide it into this storage compartment. Beyond a small bar below your rear window, you’ll never even notice that it’s there! But when you need it, just pull one lever and it easily extends the entire length of your box. There are two locking points at the back, so if you’re using the tailtage ladder rack you can lock it in place while still leaving an opening for the rack. The ultra low profile and light weight ensure that you’re not dipping into your comparatively small hauling capacity, allowing you to make the most of your truck.
How to Choose the Right Tonneau Cover
Selecting a tonneau cover can be a bit of a double-edged sword. One the one hand, you’re about to pick up one of the most useful accessories for your truck that money can buy, but on the other hand there are a lot of options to choose from. Should you start browsing for something made for your specific truck, or should you browse by brand?
The answer to this question really depends on what kind of truck you have. Full size trucks generally have very few differences between them. Most of the major brands have a version that is designed to work with all major models. It’s only the compact trucks, or ones that have a unique box design that need to look for models specific to their vehicle.
The next question you’ll have to answer is what type to get. If you’re worried about security and the look of your vehicle, a hardtop is the way to go. These are the most durable of any on the market, and can often be purchased with custom paint jobs that match the exact color scheme of your truck. Some people like to match, while others choose a new color that can bring your new truck to life.
If you’re concerned about budget, a roll up cover is the way to go. They very affordable, and extremely versatile. You can roll it to the exact length you want, then tie it down. Even though you’re saving boatloads of money, most covers are made with a high quality dual layer vinyl that can withstand many years of use without wearing out.
Your final option is hinged models. Generally, these are sold as tri-fold covers and feature two hinges, each placed a third of the way down the cover. But you can also get single fold covers which are easier to open, even when you’re only using a single hand.
How to install a tonneau cover
Tonneau covers are easily one of the common, and useful mods you can get for your truck. As with any external mod, installing a tonneau cover requires a bit of how-to knowledge. The installation process will also be different depending on the style and brand of tonneau cover you get, so keep this in mind. If you’re not sure what kind of tonneau cover is best for you, you can read more about that here.
Tonneau covers generally come with rails that are meant to be attached to your truck bed. This improves security and helps with the installation process. So the first step is usually to install these rails. Rail installation is pretty straightforward, but if you use over-the-bed rail liners on your truck, it can be a bit trickier. You might have to puncture holes in the rail liners in order to properly install the tonneau cover rails.
Next you’ll want to align the tonneau cover. It’s important to get the alignment right because tonneau covers are designed for an exact fit, and if anything is out of place, it simply won’t close properly. Once aligned, tighten all the mounting hardware until the rails are loosely held in place. You don’t want to tighten everything right away, just in case something is misaligned. Check that everything is lined up properly, then proceed to fully tighten the mounting hardware.
Some tonneau covers include tailgate or cabside seals. These should be installed after the mounting hardware is tightened, but before you install the top of the tonneau cover. At each step, it’s important to double check your alignment to avoid running into problems later down the line, which could require you to undo work you’ve already done.
Next you’ll set the tonneau cover on top of the rails and make sure everything is in place. This is good time to make adjustments if need be. Once everything is installed, do a final check on the alignment. Sometimes misalignments can be easy to miss, so there’s a few things you can look out for. You want your tonneau cover to be sitting nice and flush on the gasket, but you don’t want to see excessive compression. If either is the case, try to realign the rails until the tonneau cover sits properly.
Some tonneau covers also come with drainage tubes, which are straightforward to install once the cover is set. Simply connect them to the cover and route them to the corners of the truck bed.
Keep in mind, there are many different styles of tonneau covers, and the installation process for each one will be slightly different. Tonneau covers will usually come with instructions, so it’s always best to follow those for the best results. The most important part about installing a tonneau cover is having your alignment right. Most people have a hard time installing their covers simply because they’re rushed, or they don’t double check the alignment. As long as you take it slow and visualize the installation before securing anything too tightly, the installation process should go pretty smoothly.
If you haven’t found what you’re looking for, drop us a line in the comments. We’re excited to hear your feedback, and we’ll be happy to respond to all inquiries directly.