The Best Cargo Bed Covers For Trucks

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Here's what to look for when searching for the best cargo bed cover for your truck

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Pickup trucks are highly versatile and practical vehicles that offer plenty of benefits when it comes to driving, transporting, and hauling capabilities. It's no wonder the pickup truck is the most popular vehicle type in the USA. With that said, an open truck bed does have its disadvantages, too, in the aerodynamics of the vehicle, security for whatever is stored in the bed, and a lack of protection from the weather. Fortunately, there are various cargo bed covers available for trucks that add even more versatility, security, and even style. Cargo bed covers can take on different forms and functions, so there are some considerations one will have to take into account when shopping for the right one.

Truck Bed Cover Honda

The Different Types of Truck Bed Covers

A bed cover secures the open cargo bed on a pickup truck, and there are a variety of options available in various hard and soft materials. Hard covers are usually quite rigid and durable and can be operated via a rear-mounted hinge, while softer covers are seamless and lightweight and can be folded or rolled up by hand. The different types of truck bed covers all cater to different requirements, so it's important to keep in mind what your truck will be used for the most, considering the cargo bed in particular. Here are the different types of truck bed covers, their pros and cons, and what they're best used for:

  • Folding: These are probably the most popular types of covers on the market, and are of the more modern and versatile options. There are various kinds of folding covers including tri-fold bed covers which are flat bed covers that fold into three sections. The folding sections are beneficial for when you want access to just a portion of the truck bed while keeping the other sections covered. This also comes in handy when you're transporting large or oddly shaped cargo that may not fit under certain sections of the cover.
  • Hinged: Hinged covers are like truck bed lids where one side is attached to the bulkhead of the cargo bed so it can be lifted and locked. Hinged bed covers for trucks are some of the better-looking options, especially when painted, though they aren't quite as versatile as softer options. It's difficult to store large or oddly shaped cargo because of the hinge system and the lid is rather difficult to remove if you do need the additional space in height. It's quick and easy to use, however, and one of the safest options.
  • Rolling: As one would roll up a floor mat, roll-up bed covers can be rolled all the way up to the bulkhead of the pickup truck to allow access to the cargo box. This type of cover offers similar benefits to the folding cover as it allows for partial or full access to the box depending on how much space you require. It's arguably a little more versatile than a folding cover as it isn't subject to the preset folds as it isn't segmented. The folding covers are more protective, however, as they are typically constructed of a hard material while the rolling cover will be soft.
  • Retractable: These types of covers retract into themselves at the bulkhead of the pickup truck they're installed on. Their usage and functionality is similar to that of the rolling covers only their mechanisms make them quicker and easier to open. A retractable truck bed cover allows one to store large or awkwardly shaped cargo and uncover the cargo one needs access to while still protecting the other cargo. These can be used with an electric motor that will retract the soft material cover with a push of a button.
  • Snap: Made up of an aluminum frame that clamps onto the truck bed and a vinyl cover that snaps into the frame, snap covers allow for open access to all or only a section of the truck bed. A soft, stretchy material is usually used for these types of covers. They can oftentimes be rather difficult to manage and are not the best in terms of waterproofing.
  • High-Impact: High impact truck bed covers are typically constructed out of a hard plastic material and act like a lid to the cargo bed. These usually come with an undercover of sorts that can be used to attach various types of accessories to and of which can be locked. These are great for people that travel around with a toolbox and other valuables.
  • Fiberglass: Fiberglass truck bed covers are ideal for the driver in search of effective cargo bed protection and a cover that can easily be painted. They are hard and durable and can be painted in the same color as the truck so as to blend in seamlessly. Some variants can be bought with a quick release mechanism that makes the cover easy to remove, others can be removed using mounting clamps. These covers usually prevent the tailgate from being opened as a security feature, too.
Soft Folding Truck Box Cover Ford
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Tips for Choosing the Best Truck Bed Cover

Here are some helpful tips for you to consider when choosing a truck bed cover:

  • Consider your core requirements: Each of the different types of truck bed covers will offer different qualities such as ease of access to the cargo bay, full and partial protection, and security to prevent theft. You will want to consider how often you will be accessing the bed on your truck, the weather in your region, and the kind of items you will be transporting.
  • Consider the elements: A hard cover is going to offer a lot more protection from the elements than a soft cover will. So if you live in a region with a lot of inclement weather, consider a hard waterproof cover for your truck as a priority.
  • Consider potential accessories and their compatibility: These covers are designed with different accessories in mind, something like the Jeep Gladiator will have a lot of optional attachments. There are also some trucks that come with a tool box attachment. So before you choose a random cover, take into consideration what accessories you may need and then search for those covers that are compatible.
  • Check the level of maintenance required and ease of use: Most truck bed covers won't require much maintenance at all, though any cover that uses an electric motor or retractable covers may need some attention to stay in good working order. Similarly, choose the one that fits in with your needs - if you're going to be accessing items off the back of your truck at every stop, choose something that flips open and closed quickly, easily, and without hassle.
  • Check the installation requirements: All trucks are designed differently and so one will have to ensure that the cargo bed cover they want is compatible with their truck. This is often also offered as an optional extra from the dealership if you are buying new. For example, Ford trucks offer a wide variety of add-on hard and soft covers that can be specified at purchase.
Hard Folding Pickup Box Cover Honda
Trucks Box Cover Hard Folding Honda

FAQs

What’s the best cargo bed cover for trucks?

Each and every truck bed cover has its own pros and cons, so there's no real way to determine which one is the best all-round. Tri-folding and roll-up covers seem to be the top covers for trucks in the USA in terms of popularity, but ultimately what you choose will come down to your personal requirements.

How long does it take to install a truck bed cover?

This depends on the type of cover that's being installed. Some are easy and can be done at home in a matter of minutes while others will need to be installed by a professional. Consider adding this as an optional extra when purchasing new.

Do cargo bed covers improve fuel economy?

In some cases, yes they can. A lightweight and well-fitted cargo cover can improve the aerodynamics of the truck and subsequently improve fuel economy, but usually only by a small margin.

Are hard or soft bed covers more expensive?

The average price of a hard bed cover in the US in 2021 is higher than that of a soft bed cover, and while price is important to remember when you choose a cover for your truck, durability must be considered too - hard covers tend to last a little longer.

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