If you drive a truck, a tonneau cover should be high on your list of desired accessories. Tonneau covers fit over the bed of a pickup truck and are available in a wide range of materials and styles. In addition to looking great, tonneaus offer a number of benefits for anybody that drives a pick-up.
Security: A tonneau cover provides security for the items in your truck bed by keeping them hidden from view and, in some cases, locking in place so that a key is required in order to access the bed of the truck.
Protection: Because a tonneau covers the entire bed of your truck, it also provides protection from harsh elements like heavy rain, snow and ice.
Fuel Economy: Tonneaus cover the entire bed of the truck, so tailgate wind drag is eliminated resulting in fuel economy increases of 5% to 10%.
Appearance: Tonneau covers offer great visual styling for your truck and, because there are so many styles, provide an easy way to add a custom touch to your ride.
Soft: Soft tonneaus are made from coated fabric or vinyl and provide durable and flexible coverage for your truck’s bed. Many soft tonneaus have the added benefit of rolling up when not being used and are often held in the rolled position just behind the cab by a retaining strap. Soft tonneaus are offered by companies like Access, Extang and Bestop.
Hard: Hard tonneaus are rigid and may be constructed of a variety of materials, including plastic, aluminum and fiberglass. Hard covers offer more security than soft covers, but often make it more difficult to use the bed to haul larger loads, as they cannot be rolled up and out of the way. Many manufacturers have engineered clever methods for quick removal and installation in order to address these concerns. Companies that offer hard tonneaus include Undercover, Extang and BAK.
Folding: Folding hard covers offer benefits similar to a roll-up soft tonneau while maintaining the security and durability associated with hard covers. A folding hard cover is usually divided into two or three folding panels that can be lifted up and out of the way for access to specific areas of your truck bed or to provide additional clearance for items that may not fit under the tonneau. BAK, Extang and Bestop all offer excellent folding hard covers.
Retractable: Retractable hard covers truly offer the best of both worlds. Retractable hard covers are constructed of multiple narrow rigid panels (like a roll-top desk or bread box) that can retract into a canister mounted at the rear of the cab. Retractable covers offer the convenience of a roll-up soft tonneau—as the entire truck bed is made available when the tonneau is fully retracted—while offering the strength and security of a hard tonneau when the unit is closed, covering the tire bed. Retractable tonneaus come in both manual and powered versions (it is cool to push a button to open and close your tonneau). Pace-Edwards and BAK make quality retractable tonneau covers.
Whatever you want for your truck, there is a tonneau cover to suit your needs (and most can be easily installed with common hand tools). If you don’t already have a tonneau on your truck, do yourself a favor and get one—you won’t be sorry.
Andy Sheehan is a blogger, aspiring novelist, and relentless hoon. He plans to will his 2002 Subaru WRX Wagon to his firstborn, plans his daily commute around the swoop of its roads, and doesn’t plan to ever buy an automatic. A cool-car omnipath, he loves the common Mustang or Chevelle, but hunts for the weird and wonderful Velorexes and Cosmos of the autoverse. And when he can afford a garage, he’s going to turn an MX-5 into a race car.