How to Choose a Flat Truck Bed Cover - A Buyer’s Guide

Posted by Nick Kallergis - March, 13

Truck Bed Cover

If you’re in the market for a flat truck bed cover, or tonneau cover, there are a few things to consider to make this crucial decision as a pickup truck owner.

Not only does it protect your cargo from theft and the elements, but it also enhances your vehicle's overall aesthetics and fuel efficiency. This guide aims to provide you with all the information needed to make an informed choice.

Why Buy a Flat Truck Bed Cover?

A truck bed cover is more than just an accessory; it's an investment in your vehicle's functionality and security. With the right cover, you can safeguard your cargo against weather and theft, improve your truck's aerodynamics, and even boost its resale value. This guide will explore the different types of truck bed covers available, their key features, and how to choose the best one for your needs.

Reasons Not to Buy a Flat Truck Bed Cover

If your lifestyle and activities require a bit more flexibility and you want to increase your cargo space beyond the bed height up to cab height or beyond, consider options such as a truck bed cap or topper. These options allow you to double your cargo space, camp or sleep inside your truck bed, and some even have carrying capabilities for extra cargo or camping equipment such as roof top tents.

But if you just need to cover your cargo up to your bed height, read on about the many options to choose from and important features to consider before you buy.

Types of Truck Bed Tonneau Covers

Soft Roll-Up Covers

Soft roll-up covers are favored for their flexibility and ease of use. Made from durable vinyl or canvas, these covers roll back to provide full bed access and can be secured at the rear when closed. They're ideal for truck owners looking for a lightweight, cost-effective solution.

Hard Folding Covers

Constructed from materials like aluminum, fiberglass, or hard plastic, hard folding covers offer superior protection. They typically fold into two or three sections, allowing partial or full bed access and can be locked in place for added security.

Retractable Covers

For those seeking a high-tech solution, retractable covers slide back into a canister at the front of the bed. Available in various materials, including aluminum and vinyl over aluminum slats, these covers offer a balance between security and ease of access.

Hinged Covers

Hinged covers provide a solid, one-piece solution that lifts up from the rear of the truck, similar to a trunk. Often made from fiberglass or plastic, they offer excellent protection and can be painted to match your truck, but they may limit the height of cargo you can carry.

Snap Covers

Snap covers are the simplest and most affordable option. These vinyl covers attach to the truck bed with a frame and can be tensioned and snapped into place. While they offer basic protection and easy access, they may not be as secure or durable as other options.

Key Features to Consider


The material of your truck bed cover impacts its weight, durability, and security. Aluminum and fiberglass offer strength and durability, while vinyl provides flexibility and a lower cost.


If security is a priority, look for covers with sturdy locking mechanisms and consider hard covers over soft ones. Some retractable and hard folding covers offer enhanced security features, such as integrated locks that tie into the truck's tailgate lock.

Ease of Installation and Use

Many truck bed covers are designed for easy installation, requiring no drilling or permanent modifications. Consider how frequently you'll need access to your truck bed and choose a cover that can be easily operated according to your daily needs.

Weather Resistance

A good truck bed cover should protect your cargo from rain, snow, and sun. Look for covers with weather seals and water drainage systems to ensure your belongings stay dry.


Make sure the cover you choose is specifically designed for your truck model and bed size. A proper fit is essential for effective protection and aesthetics.

Considerations for Choosing the Right Truck Bed Cover

Assess Your Needs

Your primary use for the truck will guide your choice. If you frequently carry tall cargo, a roll-up or retractable cover might be best. For maximum security and protection, a hard folding or hinged cover could be the right choice.


Prices vary widely among truck bed covers, from affordable snap covers to premium retractable models. Determine how much you're willing to spend and consider the cover's features and durability to ensure it represents good value for your investment.


The right truck bed cover should enhance your vehicle's appearance. Consider the finish and style of the cover and how it will look on your truck. Some covers can be painted to match your truck's color, offering a seamless look.


Consider the maintenance required to keep the cover looking good and functioning well. Vinyl covers may need regular cleaning and conditioning, while hard covers might only require occasional washing.

Popular Truck Bed Tonneau Cover Brands

Brands like Tuff Tonneaus, TruXedo, BakFlip, and Retrax are known for their quality and offer a range of covers to suit different needs and budgets. Researching these and other reputable brands can help you find a cover with a solid warranty and customer support.

Installation Tips

While many truck bed covers come with all the necessary hardware and detailed instructions for DIY installation, some might benefit from professional installation to ensure a perfect fit and operation. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully to avoid damaging the cover or your truck.

Maintenance and Care

Regular maintenance can extend the life of your truck bed cover. Clean it with appropriate cleaners to prevent damage to the material, and check the hardware periodically to ensure everything is tight and functioning correctly. For retractable and folding covers, ensure the tracks or hinges are free of debris and lubricated if necessary.

Closing Thoughts

Choosing the right truck bed cover involves considering your specific needs, budget, and the desired look for your vehicle. By carefully evaluating the types of covers available and their features, you can make an informed decision that will enhance your truck's functionality and style for years to come.

Remember, this accessory not only protects your cargo but also contributes to your vehicle's overall value and performance. If your lifestyle and activities require a bit more flexibility and you want to increase your cargo space beyond the bed height, consider options such as a truck bed cap or topper.

Though they are generally more of an investment, these options allow you to double your cargo space and some even have carrying capabilities for extra cargo or camping equipment such as roof top tents.