What's The Difference Between A High-End And Entry-Level Tonneau Cover?

Posted on: 31 January 2022


Tonneau covers are an excellent way to add additional utility, privacy, and safety to your truck. If you frequently haul items that need weather protection, a truck bed cover is a truly must-have item. However, purchasing one of these covers can be anything but straightforward. Not only are there numerous brands and models available, but these options come in a wide variety of prices.

If you're trying to decide which one might be best for your truck, you're probably wondering whether a higher-priced model can justify its cost. As with most vehicle modifications, the answer will depend on your specific needs. Understanding how these models differ from one another can help you make a decision that will fit your budget while providing the protection you need for your truck.

Standard Features for Entry-Level Models

Entry-level tonneau covers typically feature less rugged construction with less flexible designs. Many of these covers use vinyl, which is a relatively durable, long-lasting, and attractive material. However, vinyl lacks rigidity, so you shouldn't expect most entry-level tonneaus to support much additional weight. This limitation may become an issue if you live in an area with heavy snow or rainfall.

Covers at this end of the market may also lack some flexibility available on higher-end models. For example, you'll want to consider how the tonneau opens and closes. More affordable covers may only have open and closed positions, forcing you to choose between leaving your bed covered entirely or exposing the whole box.

Finally, it's worth carefully examining how to install these models on your truck and how much space they leave available when open. Some covers may not open fully, removing vertical access from your truck's bed nearest the cab.

Standard Features for High-End Models

High-end models generally offer more strength, flexibility, and protection. Aluminum covers may be available in folding or sliding designs, for example. Since aluminum is a far stronger material than vinyl, these can be a good choice if you need to protect the gear in your truck. The higher weight capacity found in top-end models also adds more versatility to these covers.

Sliding canister designs are another innovation you'll typically only find in higher-end models. Instead of folding, these tonneau covers slide back into a canister near the bed. This style allows you nearly complete vertical access while also providing the flexibility to open the cover partially when needed. If you need to haul tall gear while leaving some of your bed protected, these covers are a good choice.

While these features can make for a much better experience, you should still carefully consider your use cases. If you only need light weather protection or intend to remove your cover frequently, you may not need to splurge for a higher-end model. On the other hand, higher-end models are more suitable when you need the flexibility and strength that can only come from an all-metal design.