When getting ready to hit the road, RVing is all about space. How much can I bring along? Where will it fit? And where can I store things like an AC generator or firewood that I don’t necessarily want inside the trailer? The answer to that one is simple: the bed of the pickup when used as a tow vehicle. The truck bed is often the unsung hero of packing; awkward or dirty items generally wind up back there, as do many last-minute “Oops, I almost forgot!” items.
Whatever does wind up in the truck bed (keeping within the truck and trailer’s weight limits, of course) will likely need protection from the elements. And the easiest way to do so is with a truck bed cover, whether it’s a tonneau cover (retractable or foldable) or even a fiberglass truck cap. A truck bed cover is a wise investment with the very fortunate side effect of improving aesthetics with sleeker lines. And although there isn’t really any concrete evidence, the cover manufacturers say their products may possibly nudge up your vehicle’s mpg a tad by improving aerodynamics and reducing drag.
When selecting a truck bed cover, you need to take several things into consideration. Will you ever need to stack cargo up higher than the bedrails? Do you tow a fifth-wheel? Are you willing to drill holes in the bed, or would you prefer a no-drill installation? There are quite a few questions to ponder, but chances are you can work them out quickly.
The caps are available in a variety of configurations. Soft tonneau covers are great to provide some protection from weather, but won’t necessarily be watertight and can’t completely secure the contents from theft. Lockable flip-top covers offer peace of mind from grabby people, but may limit your ability to carry large, bulky items. Hard, retractable covers are a great way to provide protection and flexibility, but you often have to open your wallet a bit wider than for the others. Some hard tonneaus and caps will need to be painted to match the truck’s finish, which will up the cost.
Each type of truck bed cover requires a bit of maintenance. While the hard covers are generally treated the same as the truck’s exterior, the softer vinyl tonneaus may eventually shrink and/or expand in the weather, which can necessitate occasional adjustment of the mounting. Also, it’s important to prevent any standing water on a soft tonneau, as that could lead to staining and/or cover damage. UV light is a definite threat to soft covers (think awning) and can damage them over time. Proper care, including spray-on protectant, can help prevent damage.
To assist with your search, we’ve gathered a number of products that rate well in terms of craftsmanship, usability and overall value.
The Access Lorado Roll-Up Cover from Agri-Cover is a soft, roll-up tonneau featuring a sleek, low-profile design. The Access is fully sealed on all four sides to keep weather out, and includes what the company calls an Element Seal gasket to provide extra protection at the front of the bed. The Lorado cover’s vinyl is UV-coated on both sides, offering even more weather protection.
The cover keeps your gear secure with a dual-locking system that locks and releases with one motion. The Lorado comes with premium nylon storage straps that keep it from rubbing against the cab when rolled up.
Agri-Cover | 866-414-5422 | www.agricover.com
The Hard Hat from Advantage is a soft-to-the-touch vinyl tri-fold tonneau cover that features a hard, protective inner shell. The specially engineered poly-fiber panels are covered with multiple layers of exterior-grade, UV-coated, tear-resistant, weather protected vinyl that offers maximum security, according to the company. The Hard Hat’s tri-fold design is simple to install and use.
Advantage Truck Accessories |800-773-3110 | www.advantagetruckaccessories.com
The Extang EnCore Tonno hard-panel, tri-folding cover features Bolt one-key lock technology. The front panel can be coded to match the truck’s ignition key (available on most models) for access from both the front and rear panels. Each Bolt lock features a six-plate tumbler sidebar, automotive-grade weather-resistant shutter and larger cylinder to ensure security. The 1-inch-thick panels on the EnCore are made of fiberglass reinforced plastic, which the company claims provides superior dent and fade resistance.
Extang Corp. | 800-877-2588 | www.extang.com
The 100XQ is a fiberglass truck cap with solid, one-piece expanses of tinted glass for the windows. The side windows offer a crank-out feature and screens for ventilation. The rear door features fitted hidden hinges and the exclusive LEER Twist Handle lock and automotive-style rotary latches, allowing an easy upgrade to optional keyless remote operation. The cap is finished in automotive-quality paint mixed to match the truck.
Popular options for the 100XQ include a factory-mounted Thule roof rack system, a ceiling-mounted interior gear net, an integrated locking storage box, a three-outlet 12-volt DC Powerblock for accessories and a wide range of other storage options.
LEER’s 550 Series fiberglass tonneau is a low-profile cover that is subtly curved to shed water. The 550 is equipped with some pretty impressive hardware, including the front FlexSeal that unfolds to cover the gap between truck cab and bed, and the Super Lift Assist, which is a set of articulating arms that add leverage to make opening and closing easy. The lock and latch system includes a shroud to protect lock linkage and wiring, and the 550 is factory-prepped to accept optional keyless remote operation.
LEER | 574-522-5337 | www.leer.com
Pace Edwards Retractable Truck Bed Covers provide secure storage to maximize a truck’s hauling potential. Plus, the rugged no-drill installation is designed to accommodate fifth-wheel hitches, with plenty of room to store tools and additional cargo.
The Bedlocker Electric offers hands-free remote operation via a powerful electric motor that wires into the truck battery. The cover opens/closes in less than 30 seconds, and can be paused at any time. The low-profile blanket design retracts into a canister box at the front of the truck bed, and a manual override release lever provides peace of mind in case of lost remotes or dead batteries.
The JackRabbit provides owners with the traditional tonneau look plus ultimate convenience and security. The JackRabbit has a padded, weather-resistant top bonded to rigid aluminum panels, but it also offers some additional features. The exclusive Continuous Tension Spring allows the cover to open automatically when the latch mechanism is turned, and close easily with the use of the pull strap. The JackRabbit can be locked to secure your items, and the cover can be held open/closed every 12 inches along the side rails for additional versatility.
The Full Metal JackRabbit offers the features of the JackRabbit with the additional benefit of an all-metal deck comprised of black powder-coated, aluminum panels sealed by patented silicone weather hinges.
Pace Edwards | 800-400-2806 | www.pace-edwards.com
The PowertraxPRO retractable pickup bed cover opens and closes electronically using a key fob. Just press a button to open and close the cover, which locks in any position along the rail using an electromagnetic brake. The cover is constructed of heavy-duty aluminum slats, which are connected by flexible hinges to create a durable and weather-tight seal. The glossy black powder-coated PowertraxPRO also has an integrated LED cargo light on the canister that is operated by the key fob, which features an auto shutoff.
Retrax | 800-206-4070 | www.retrax.com
The M Series retractable tonneau features vinyl-over-aluminum construction for increased durability. Each slat on the cover is joined by an interlocking hinge, which the company claims leads to smooth, non-binding operation, as there is no metal-to-metal contact. The cover is installed using a clamp-on track and features recessed drain fittings to prevent water build-up. M Series tonneaus also feature an integrated tailgate lock for added security.
Roll-N-Lock Corp. | 800-952-7655 | www.rollnlock.com
The inside-mount LoPro QT tonneau installs easily to provide a low-profile appearance and to maximize bed usage. Automatic tension controls keep the cover tight while the free-floating hook-and-loop system moves on the rail to reduce wear and tear. The one finger trigger latch releases quickly to open the cover, and the side and corner sealing help keep the elements out while the cover is closed.
TruXedo Inc. | 877-878-9336 | www.truxedo.com
The low-profile UnderCover LUX adds cargo protection and enhances the look of any truck. Styled ribs, soft corners, contoured edges and a spoiler give this hard tonneau cover a sleek look. The lighted, lockable lift-up cover also features hidden hinges for improved looks. The LUX comes from the factory painted to match the truck.
UnderCover | 866-900-8800 | www.undercoverinfo.com