Is A Tonneau Cover Worth It?

A pickup truck is very useful for specific jobs. But what if you need to secure your belongings in the truck bed and you do not want to worry about them getting stolen. Utilizing the extra space can be easily done with a Tonneau cover. They are readily available, custom-designed for any truck, and offer great security.

But where do you start? What should I look for in a Tonneau cover? Is a Tonneau cover worth it?

What Is The Purpose Of A Tonneau Cover?

The purpose of a Tonneau cover is to provide security for your pickup truck bed, improve gas mileage, and add greater usable storage space.

A Tonneau cover will cover your truck bed so you can keep things in there without having to keep an eye on your vehicle. Before you could throw anything you want in there but when leaving your car for an extended period of time you would transfer your things into your truck cabin and then back to the bed when you start driving.

Even in safer areas, there is always the chance of someone coming along and grabbing something in your bed. Opportunistic crimes can and should be easily avoided.

Should I Get A Tonneau Cover?

Yes, you should get a Tonneau cover. They are cheap, easy to install and remove, and lockable give you more security and flexibility with a pickup truck. You should get a Tonneau cover if you want added protection for your personal items stored in your truck bed.

The purpose of a Tonneau cover offers a lockable storage option for your bed where you can forget about having to move things around. When you do not need to use the entire truck bed you can pop the Tonneau cover on your bed and have the flexibility to store more stuff. Then simply remove it and store it in your garage when you really want to take advantage of the space.

Also, a Tonneau cover can increase gas mileage with a more aerodynamic truck profile. Though, be careful here, because with most models the more streamlined profile will not compensate for the added weight of the truck cap cover, nor the weight of the extra crap you will be much more open to store in it.

Is Soft Or Hard Tonneau Cover Better?

You have to ask yourself what you need. Tri-fold, roll-up, or hard top Tonneau cover? It depends on what you want. A soft or hard Tonneau cover can provide more value to someone who wants certain things. Do you live in a state with harsh winters? Check out my write-up on the best soft Tonneau covers in winter. Here are some advantages of a soft Tonneau cover:

  • Cheaper
  • Easier to install and remove
  • Easier to store when not in use

There are some advantages of a hard Tonneau cover that soft covers will not be able to do:

  • Very secure and lockable
  • Color matching
  • Very durable
  • Washable
  • Completely weatherproof
  • Easier to operate
  • Sleeker looking

If you are OK with a more temporary Tonneau cover and you don’t need to use all the features you should be able to get away with a softcover. This way you can save a lot of money.

Then again, a “set it and forget it” more secure tri-fold Tonneau cover or even a foldless “full tilt” truck bed cover attached with hydraulic lifting supports will work amazingly well seemingly factory installed. But this will cost you much more.

Are Tonneau Covers Secure?

Yes, Tonneau covers are secure.

Every single one of them offers a better level of protection than an open bed. With the folding soft truck bed covers, though, they are still easily accessible. They are made of vinyl and sometimes reinforce with aluminum panels. This vinyl can be easily cut with a box cutter within seconds. It is better than nothing, though only slightly better.

A locking hard tonneau cover is very secure. It can be as or more secure as your truck’s cabin door. They can come with a lock and key and they are designed to be stood on and some you have a respectable load capacity. Each Tonneau cover is different and some are very secure while others are much less so.

Diamondback Covers HD bed cover with 1,600 lb load capacity

Do Tri-Fold Tonneau Covers Leak?

Yes, they do. Tri-fold covers are fitted to each truck bed, though, the manufacturer doesn’t design a truck bed to be waterproof. In fact, they design drains into the truck bed to compensate for water. A tri-fold Tonneau cover leaks but it will keep most rain out. In light rain, it may completely seal off moisture collection.

A tri-fold Tonneau covers leaks but it does an excellent job of keeping the rain out overall. Unless you live in Hawaii where it can rain 500 inches per year a tri-fold Tonneau cover won’t leak enough to make your life hell for quite a while.

Do Tonneau Covers Keep Water Out?

Hard Tonneau covers will keep water out of your truck bed. Like I stated before soft covers are limited in their protection, though they will do a great job. Hard Tonneau covers will seal near 100%.

Do Tonneau Covers Save Gas

A detailed report from Youtuber “Boats and Engine”

Tonneau covers will maximize the aerodynamic profile of your truck bed. Without a cover, there is a space of air that is jumbled around causing turbulence and increased drag. I did a complete write-up driving with your truck tailgate up or down here.

With the truck tailgate up it minimizes this turbulence, but only so much. With a truck bed cover, it eliminates almost completely the pocket of air that collects and disturbs the smooth flow of air passing around the truck body.

Tonneau covers save gas more than a cab because they offer a lower and smoother profile than a full truck bed cab. The weight difference is much greater, where the added aerodynamics and weight provide much more gas savings.


Can You Use Armor All On Tonneau Covers?

NO. Do not use Armor All on your Tonneau Cover. It is made of vinyl and a product like Armor All is not designed to clean and protect the vinyl. It will of course work fine in the short term. In the long term, your truck cover will degrade much quicker. Some covers’ warranties do not cover the use of Armor All. Though, good luck trying to prove this.

To be sure you should use cleaners that are designed for use with vinyl. There are many on the market and each is marginally better than the last. Find one that works with vinyl and is sold at a reasonable price and go for it. Amazon has a great selection and reliable reviews that will make you confident in your purchase.

What Should I Look For In A Tonneau Cover?

There a basically two mainTonneau cover styles. Each one can be a great purchase. Typically you want to look for a few characteristics when buying a Tonneau cover:

  1. Tri-fold or Hardcover?
    1. A tri-fold is cheaper because it is lighter and more temporary. It is a better choice for less demanding and less consistent use. A hardcover can be more permanent and offer more security. It can be stacked and will generally last much longer. But it is more expensive.
  2. Utility
    1. Are you using it for security? Or do you want a casual easy to flip open cover that will help save money on gas? You may not need to buy an expensive truck cover if you will be storing it more than using it.
  3. Appearance
    1. Looks do matter. Most Tonneau truck covers are black. You can find countless covers that fit your bed, that are easy to install, and won’t break the bank. Though you can make your truck stand out with a more expensive cover painted to your truck matching the manufacturer’s color code (Anvil is my first choice).
  4. Accessibility
    1. Accessing your stuff is important. You need to have the ability to get in and out at a moment’s notice. Some are easier than others and some can be opened, closed, and locked using one hand. Others need you to lock/unlock the truck bed, unscrew multiple securing latches, and fold away the panels. Some come with very handy lights as well.

What Is The Best Tonneau Cover For The Money?

There are many on the market that will make you happy. Usually, you get what you pay for and any Tonneau cover that lasts 5 years or longer you will get your money’s worth. Some top Tonneau covers I find give you the best value are:

  • Best Trifold cover: Tyger Auto T3
    • Great value, easy install, subtle look, and it may not last as long as more expensive models
  • Best Folding Cover: TruXedo Truxport
    • Best value of price to function, quality, easy install, easy to break into
  • Best Hard Cover: Undercover Elite LX
    • Light fiberglass construction, color matching, spotlight, cramped storage near the cabin
  • Best Folding Hardcover: Diamondback Cover HD
    • Best weight rating, best construction, best materials, expensive

Why Is It Called A Tonneau Cover?

Tonneau is French for “barrel“. In France, they would call an open-air horse-drawn carriage a “Tonneau” rounded and resembling a wooden barrel. When covered it became known as a “Tonneau cover” and the rest is history.

Tonneau Horse Drawn Carriage

Today, we now use Tonneau Cover to be synonymous with a truck bed cover much like Saran Wrap is used with “plastic wrap” or Band-Aid is with minor “cut self-sticking bandages”.

1903 Cadillac Tonneau. Source: Smithsonian

So, is a Tonneau cover worth it? Yes, it is. There are many uses for a truck bed cover and Tonneau covers are the leading brand. They provide great value for the money and offer you greater flexibility in use for your pickup truck.

You can now make use of all of your entire truck and feel at ease with keeping your items out of sight and secure with the flick of a key or more if need be. 

Thanks for reading and stay dirty