5 Most Popular Types of Tonneau Covers for Your Truck

Discover the different types of tonneau covers that you can invest in for your pickup truck together with their best uses.

Different types of tonneau covers installed on trucks
Different types of tonneau covers installed on trucks
Resource: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dB8iOGE-Qkk

Truck owners can choose from several different types of tonneau covers. This post will provide you will all the information you need to know about these tonneau cover types. Apart from highlighting the features, we will also specify the advantages and disadvantages of each type. Let’s get started!

Types of Tonneau Covers

Tonneau covers secure your truck’s truck bed. They’re usually sold as aftermarket add-ons and made from either hard or soft materials. Their designs also vary, which requires a careful approach when considering the type to buy for your truck. Aftermarket tonneau covers are available in these main types:

  • Roll up tonneau covers
  • Folding tonneau covers
  • Retractable tonneau covers
  • Hinged tonneau covers
  • Specialty tonneau covers
A soft roll up tonneau cover
A soft roll up tonneau cover
Resource: https://www.jeepgladiatorforum.com

1. Roll Up Tonneau Covers

As the name implies, this type of cover rolls up so you can access your truck bed. A roll up tonneau cover consists of a material stretched over a metal frame for support and that attaches to the tuck bed by means of clamps and other fasteners. Their main advantage is that they’re easy to use. A rolling tonneau cover will also either be a hard or soft type.

Soft Roll Up Tonneau Cover

A soft roll up tonneau cover is made using a soft material such as vinyl or canvas. For support, it uses a frame of cross bars that bolt to the truck bed. These tonneau cover types are lightweight, easy to open and close, and affordable in price. The most basic soft, roll up cover uses snaps and is called a snap tonneau cover. Although a cheaper option, it isn’t as secure as the other types.

Hard Roll Up Tonneau Cover

Hard roll up tonneau covers are called so for using a hard material. Most feature a segmented assembly and parts that roll onto one another. A hard, rolling tonneau cover offers the advantage of better security than the soft types. However, they cost more and weigh more. They’re, therefore, more preferable if you use your truck for work or to haul valuable cargo.

A folding tonneau cover
A folding tonneau cover
Resource: https://www.ranger5g.com

2. Folding Tonneau Covers

A folding tonneau cover is made of several panels of hard or soft material that fold on top of the other when you need to access the truck bed. A majority of these types of tonneau covers have 2 or 3 panels and only a few have more. The two fold and trifold tonneau covers are the most common types. Just like the roll up types, folding covers may be made from either a soft or hard material.

Soft folding Tonneau Cover

A soft folding tonneau cover is lightweight and easy to use. However, it does not offer the same level of security as the hard type. Many people use them when truck bed security is not a major concern, such as when transporting non-valuables and over short distances. It’s also a good option if you only use the truck bed occasionally.

Hard folding Tonneau Cover

A hard folding tonneau cover securely attaches with clamps or hinges for complete security that also offers the best protection from rain, snow, and mud. These covers are mostly made from aluminum or vinyl coated aluminum slats. A built-in lock on these models makes them even more secure.

Manually-operated retractable tonneau cover
Manually-operated retractable tonneau cover
Resource: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTiug8C2Okw

3. Retractable Tonneau Covers

This type is named so for using a retraction mechanism to open and close. It’s basically a sliding tonneau cover made of several panels (or a frame supported fabric) that glide on a track as the assembly retracts toward the cab side. Most often, retractable tonneau covers are grouped by the type of mechanism and come as either electric or manual.

Manual Retractable Tonneau Cover

This uses a manual system to retract the tonneau material and comes with a handle to pull the cover assembly. Apart from requiring effort to open, these types of tonneau covers will always look great on your truck, plus they’re available in different materials.

Electric Retractable Tonneau Cover

The electric tonneau cover uses a powered system to open and close, making it the sleekest of all tonneau cover types. These types of covers come with a small remote control (key fob style), which is basically a button that you press to operate the retracting mechanism.

A hinged tonneau cover
A hinged tonneau cover
Resource: https://www.coloradofans.com

4. Hinged Tonneau Covers

This is a tilting tonneau cover. The hinged tonneau cover usually attaches right where the truck bed and cab meet, using hinges that allow it to fold down like a tailgate. This style usually has clamps to secure the cover in place, along with an integrated handle for easy access and rods to support it when in the tilted position.

Hard Hinged Tonneau Cover

Most hard, hinged tonneau covers are a solid shell made from a hard material such as molded plastic or fiberglass. The design of these covers allows for sleek styles, plus you can easily custom-paint the material to make the cover even more attractive.

Hinged Soft Tonneau Cover

Some hinged truck bed covers feature soft materials. In order to allow tilting them as a one-piece tonneau cover, they’re usually equipped with an internally placed frame for support. Soft, hinged covers do not provide the same level of protection as the hard types, but are more affordable.

Tool box tonneau cover, folding type
Tool box tonneau cover, folding type
Resource: https://www.f150forum.com

5. Specialty Tonneau Covers

Specialty tonneau covers are designed with innovative features like lights, racks, toolboxes, locks, or even solar panels. You can find covers that have air vents, secure storage compartments, or even net enclosures. Below is a list of the most popular types of tonneau covers in this category.

Tonneau Cover with Toolbox

A toolbox tonneau cover comes already equipped with a convenient box to store your truck’s tools. The box is usually situated at the side of the cab, which allows you to access the truck bed without obstruction. A tonneau cover and toolbox combination is an excellent choice for mechanics and DIY-ers.

Tonneau Cover with Rack

A tonneau cover with rack means a more versatile cover. It allows you to transport irregularly shaped items or large things that may not fit inside the truck bed such as bikes. These covers are also a good option if you have to transport things that extend above the truck bed.

Tonneau cover with Lock

These types of tonneau covers offer improved security to keep away thieves and are usually made from hard materials such as aluminum and molded plastic. A latching mechanism prevents anyone from opening the tailgate, which means your items remain protected from theft.

Tonneau Cover with Light

A tonneau cover with light means a cover that includes LED lights. The lights are normally powered by rechargeable Li-ion batteries, and remotely operated. Tonneau cover lights illuminate the truck bed to make things more visible, especially when using your truck in the dark or in low-light conditions.

Solar Tonneau Cover

This is a recent type of cover that features solar panels to generate electric power. The solar tonneau cover is not yet popular, plus it mostly fits specific situations. Nevertheless, it’s still an option in the tonneau cover market.


Aftermarket tonneau covers offer plenty of flexibility and customization options. From paintable material to specialty features, you can easily select a tonneau cover to suit your personal style. Many types of tonneau covers also come with locking storage compartments to keep your items safe. Most covers are designed to fit a variety of pickups, too, allowing you to find the perfect style for your needs.

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