Tonneau Covers: Hard Top or Soft Top?
Most of us who have a truck bought it for the purpose of hauling pretty much anything that might come up. Often times we want to keep stuff in the bed while keeping the elements and unwanted guests out. One of the most common ways to accomplish this (besides a less attractive cab for the bed) is a tonneau cover. So which one do you choose? The first most common question is whether to go with a roll-up soft cover or a folding hard cover. So let’s compare the two. Our examples are the Extang brand Encore Trifold hard cover and the Tonno Pro brand Lo-Roll vinyl soft cover.
Both of these tonneau covers keep the elements and unwanted people or animals out as well as improve gas mileage by around 10% (advertised). They also both have powder coated aluminum frames. However, from here they differ quite a bit.
The Extang Trifold has three wide hard-top panels with rubber corners that fold for easy access at both the front (by lifting the panel) and the rear (by folding the panel) creating large openings for easy access and are 1” thick. The panels are coated with SunStrong treatment to shield against UV exposure and to keep the cover cool and completely cover the tops of the bed rails. Installation is very easy as the cover self-positions with self-locking pins and removal is just as simple. Extang also has a unique side rail sealing design for superior weather protection. The cover is lockable via a rotary latch at the front panel and a “SecureShut” latch-lock at the tail gate. Extang offers a 3-year warranty on all of the components for their Encore line of covers. The cost for these covers is around the $900-$1000 range.
For a visual tutorial on the Extang Encore Trifold Cover, check out this YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-GY0XA-Sg-c
Conversely, the Tonno Pro Lo-Roll Premium Vinyl Roll-up Tonneau Covers are mounted inside the bed rails which allows the use for ladder racks, bed rails, tie downs, etc. if desired. Installation requires no drilling and only a 17mm socket and ratchet and takes about 20-25 minutes to install The Vinyl has a weight of 24 oz and is double-sided for improved durability. It can be rolled all the way up to the cab providing full access to the bed. Tonno Pro offers a 10 year warranty on vinyl and limited lifetime warranty on all other components. The cost for these covers is in the $250-$300 range.
For a visual tutorial on the Tonno Pro Lo-Roll Cover, check out this YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zLnQNcTJOjQ
So now which one are you leaning towards? The hard covers are significantly more expensive than the soft covers due to the cover material. However, they are stronger, offering greater protection and will not need any maintenance from sagging. If you are looking for a budget cover, need to use the stake pockets on the bed rails, or like the soft vinyl look, then the roll-up covers are for you.