Truck Caps vs Tonneau Covers

Posted by Holly Cherry - March, 15

Truck Topper vs Tonneau Cover

When it comes to enhancing the functionality and appearance of your pickup truck, choosing between truck bed toppers and tonneau covers is a common dilemma.

Both options offer unique benefits and drawbacks, catering to different needs and preferences. This guide will explore truck bed toppers versus tonneau covers in detail, helping you decide which is better for your specific situation.

Understanding the Basics of Truck Toppers and Tonneau Covers

What Are Truck Bed Toppers?

Also known as truck caps or camper shells, truck bed toppers are hard or soft enclosures that cover the entire bed of the truck, extending from the top of the truck bed to the roofline of the cab or higher. They provide a secure, weatherproof space for cargo or even accommodation for camping.

What Are Tonneau Covers?

Tonneau covers are flat, covering just the bed of the truck without extending above the bed's sides. They come in various materials, including soft vinyl, hard plastic, fiberglass, or metal, and can be retractable, foldable, or hinged, offering easy access to the truck bed while protecting the contents from the elements and theft.

Pros and Cons of These Two Truck Bed Accessories

Truck Bed Toppers


  • Increased security for cargo with lockable windows and doors.
  • Additional vertical space for taller items or even sleeping arrangements.
  • Load-rated toppers provide more cargo and carrying capacity.


  • Can be more expensive than tonneau covers.
  • Hard shell toppers may require professional installation.
  • Reduces visibility and may affect truck aerodynamics, potentially impacting fuel efficiency.

Tonneau Covers


  • Sleek, low-profile design.
  • Versatile options for opening and securing the truck bed.
  • Generally easy to install and remove.


  • Limited space for cargo height.
  • Less secure than a lockable truck bed topper, especially the soft cover models.
  • No carry capacity like some integrated rack system toppers.

Installation and Maintenance

Tonneau covers often offer simpler installation, with many models designed for DIY setup. Truck bed toppers may require professional help, especially for ensuring a proper seal and fit.

Both toppers and covers require regular cleaning with mild soap and water. Check seals and hardware periodically for wear and ensure moving parts on tonneau covers are lubricated and functioning smoothly.

Impact on Vehicle Use and Value

Toppers offer more versatility for transporting taller items and can be customized for camping. Tonneau covers provide a sleek look and are ideal for general cargo protection.

Tonneau covers can improve fuel efficiency due to their aerodynamic design. Toppers may slightly reduce fuel efficiency because of the added weight and wind resistance.

Both options can increase your truck's appeal and potential resale value, especially if they're well-maintained and match the truck's aesthetic.

How to Choose The Right One for Your Truck 

Consider the following factors when deciding between a truck bed topper and a tonneau cover:

  • Primary Use: If you need secure, weatherproof storage and don't mind a permanent fixture, a topper is ideal. For flexible bed access and a stylish look, choose a tonneau cover.
  • Budget: Tonneau covers generally offer a more cost-effective solution with various price points. Toppers are more of an investment but provide added functionality.
  • Aesthetics: Consider how each option complements your truck's appearance. Tonneau covers offer a sleek, streamlined look, while toppers can be matched to your truck's color and style but change the profile of your vehicle.

See our guide: How to Choose a Truck Bed Cover

The choice between truck bed toppers and tonneau covers depends on your specific needs, budget, and style preferences. Toppers provide secure, versatile space for cargo or camping, while tonneau covers offer an aesthetically pleasing solution with easy access to the truck bed. 

By considering the factors outlined in this guide, you can make an informed decision that enhances the functionality and appearance of your pickup truck, ensuring satisfaction with your investment.

Written by Holly Cherry