What is a Tonneau Cover?
Tonneau covers are essential for anybody who wants to get maximum security for the cargo in the bed of their Ford F150., and also protect them from the elements. Commonly referred to as a truck bed cover, tonneau covers can completely transform your truck bed. They come in many different styles; Roll up covers, retractable covers, tri-fold covers and hard covers. Each type has their own benefits, and its important to choose the right tonneau cover to suit your needs.
Benefits of installing a Tonneau Cover on Ford F150
Protection from the elements
The truck bed is one of the main assets of an F150, and without a tonneau cover it is wide open to damage from mother nature. Everything from rain, sun damage and debris will have your new Ford looking like an old beater in no time. A tonneau cover prevents this from happening and shields the truck bed from the elements. It will also protect your cargo when transporting in the rain.
Security against thieves
Having a nice big space to throw your tools, luggage or whatever you may be hauling around in your Ford is great. But without a tonneau cover you are leaving your truck wide open for thieves to take what they want. That is why it is necessary to purchase a locking tonneau cover, especially if you will be carrying valuable goods. Even if you are only running into the supermarket to get a drink, this is more than enough time for a thief to make his move.
If you are like myself, you use your truck for both, work and leisure. After a days work, your truck bed can be a bit on the trashy side. This may not be a problem for most, but someone places you go will have you wanting your truck respectable looking. Who has the energy to start cleaning their truck after work? Not be any, thats for sure.
Better Fuel Economy for your Ford
This is one advantage of having a tonneau cover that many people don’t realise. As you know, car manufacturers spend a fortune trying to make modern cars more aerodynamic. Yet, here we are driving around with the most non-aerodynamic thing we could. Adding a tonneau cover helps reduce drag from the open truck bed. This has been proven to increase fuel economy.
The last main benefit of having a tonneau cover, is that they look darn good! Many people buy them for this reason alone, with the painted hard covers being the most attractive. They give your F150 a unique, streamlined look that transforms the entire look of your truck.
Types of Tonneau covers for Ford F150
Below are the four main types of tonneau covers for your Ford. Each one has their own benefits, and the price range varies significantly. For each type of tonneau cover listed below, I have included the best available cover on the market. I have compiled this list through extensive research, along with my own personal experience over the years.
Roll Up tonneau Covers
Roll up tonneau covers do exactly as the name suggests. This type of cover are usually made from a vinyl material or similar fabric. This fabric is generally scratch resistant and very durable. Roll up’s can be easily folded away when not in use. They can be pulled aside in a matter of seconds in order to gain access to your cargo. There is no need to fully remove then when putting things into or out of your truck bed.
Installation is simple and will only take a minute. It is important to note that these type of covers will not provide much in the line of security for your Ford. They are usually held down with straps, latches or clips, and provide no means of locking. They are an affordable option to cover and protet your truck bed.
The Truxedo Lo Pro truck bed cover has a sleek, low profile design that is aesthetically pleasing, easy to use and very affordable. From my experience, this particular tonneau cover has the best heavy duty fabric out of all the roll up covers I have seen.
It features automatic tension control, which keeps the cover tight at all times. This prevents the cover from sagging in the middle and holding any water. The great thing about this cover is that it allows the auto tailgate to function perfect. It has strong Velcro on the sides that keep it firmly in place on your truck bed
Overall, this is the best bang for your buck when it comes to roll up covers. A quick read of the reviews on Amazon will clear up any doubts.
Retractable Tonneau Covers
Retractable tonneau covers function in a similar way to retractable house blinds. They make accessing the truck bed simple to do even with only using one hand. They are usually made with a strong but lightweight material, and have an efficient aerodynamic design. you can have your truck bed fully opened, without the need to remove this cover. Once fully retracted, they sit inside a small canister at the front of your truck bed.
Most high quality retractable covers feature a lock and key. This is perfect if you’ll be hauling valuable goods.
Installation of this type of tonneau cover should take between 1 -2 hours, and do not require any drilling.
A good quality retractable cover will set you back a fair amount more than a roll up. But, if it is within your price range, it is by far the better option.
Roll-N-Lock Retractable Tonneau Cover Ford F150
When it comes to retractable tonneau covers for your F150, Roll-N-Lock runs the show. I wouldn’t recommend any other brand for them. Both the ‘M’ series and ‘A’ series are the highest quality retractable’s I have seen. These are the only cover that provides a four point locking system. This allowss maximum security if your cover is fully closed or partially open.
They have the appearance of a soft truck bed cover, with the strength and durability of a rigid cover. This is thanks to unique vinyl-over-aluminium laminated construction. It also features a high quality, heavy duty torsion spring housed in a 3″ aluminium reel. This ensures years and years of reliable use, without the need to service.
Don’t get me wrong, these are rather expensive when compared to roll up covers. But if your looking for maximum security and ease of use, these are an invaluable investment, that will protect your cargo and truck bed for many years to come.
Tri-Fold Tonneau Covers
If the retractable tonneau covers is out of your budget, then a Tri fold cover may fit the bill. As the name suggests, the are a folding cover with three sections. They make accessing the truck bed simple and fast, without the need to remove the cover. They are available to purchase in both hard or soft form, with the hard type tri fold weighing a considerable amount more.
These covers offer easy installation, and are a cheap way to make your truck look good while also protecting your cargo. They will also increase your MPG by upwards of 15%
Here is the best Hard tri-fold cover and the best Soft tri-fold cover.
The BakFlip G2 is my favorite choice when it comes to hard Tri-fold covers. Although, there are plenty of options when it comes to tri-fold covers by Bak Industries. This is one of the most common covers you will see on an F150. This is due to the outstanding quality of the design and materials used.It also comes with a full years warranty.
All the panels flip open in the same direction, which allows 100% access to the truck bed. The BAKFlip is built from extremely tough, scratch resistant UV-Protected aluminum panels. My wife has had one of these on her truck for four years now, and it still looks like new. The fact that she uses UV protectant spray every now again probably helps.
One of the great things about this particular tri-fold, is that it does not interfere with stakehole pockets on your truck, so it works perfectly with side rails, headache racks, tie downs, overhead truck racks, etc.
Hardcovers are usually rather heavy, but the total weight of this one is only 40lbs. It is also completely watertight.
The Tyger Auto Tri-fold Cover is made of dual coated 24oz marine grade vinyl. It has heavy duty aluminium powder coated frames, and comes with stainless steel clamps for easy installation and great durability.It has horizontal crossbars offer support and conveniently fold up with the cover providing full bed access.
Installation takes about an hour. There is no need to drill any holes to install. One thing I will suggest is getting a second pair of hands to help you. It can be done on your own no problem, but two people would make it easier to secure both sides at the same time.
This cover provides ultimate protection from rain. I found this out the first day I installed it, driving 300 miles in the lashing rain. I have also had it on while getting an automatic car wash with no leakage whatsoever.
Overall, you can’t really go wrong with this cover. It is genuinely great value for the price.
Hard Lift Back Tonneau Covers
Last, but certainly not least, is the hard top cover. These covers are expensive, but are by far the best looking and offer the best rain protection. These are solid, 1-piece hinged designs that give a sleek appearance with no seams. They usually come in lightweight ABS (super strong!) or fibreglass. They are generally painted the same color as the truck. The hard covers lift up with the aid of two hydraulic rams, and have a rear locking point.
If its optimum security, coupled with the best looks that your after, then look no further than the UnderCover Tonneau cover. Seriously, this type of cover is by far the most aesthetically pleasing, one painted and polished to match your truck.
There is a premium carpet lined underside, topped with flawless paint to match to make the UnderCover the sharpest tonneau on the market. Engineered to provide a precise fit and finish to your truck bed.
Made from a high quality ABS material, which is both lightweight and strong enough to stand on. And yes, I have stood on it!
This cover is on the top end of the price range, but if it is within your budget, it is a top end upgrade.
Do Tonneau Covers require any Maintenance?
Tonneau covers are generally very maintenance free. All that is really necessary is keeping them clean.
One thing that I would suggest for vinyl tonneau covers, is using a UV protectant spray from time to time to keep your cover in good shape. This will prevent any sun damage and keep the tonneau looking like new.
The only other maintenance I would suggest, is if you have a retractable cover. It is good practice to lubricate the mechanism every so often to increase lifespan. This is not necessary if it has a sealed ball bearing mechanism.
Overall Thoughts and Conclusion
Whether its for security, protection looks or increased gas mileage, I hope this post has helped you make the all important choice of choosing the right tonneau cover for your needs.
If you have any installation queries, you will find tutorial videos on YouTube showing how to install all the covers listed above.
If you would like further advice on any tonneau cover queries you have, you are more than welcome to shoot me a message. Like I said, I have plenty experience with all the different options and would be glad to help.
So, youve made it this far. Whats your thoughts on this post? Is there anything you feel I missed out on? Do you agree with my choices of the best tonneau covers for each type? Drop a comment below and tell me what you think.
And remember, keep on truckin’ mother truckers!