BEST TONNEAU COVERS (WE COMPARE 12 TYPES)
The best tonneau cover for you depends on your needs, how you plan to use your bakkie, what features are important to you, and your budget. We looked at cost, customer reviews, style, and performance test results to find the best options on the market.
Q: By the way, where in the *&$% did the word "Tonneau Cover" come from?
A: It's French, for the part of a car open to the air with no seats. Go figure.
WHAT MAKES A DAMN GOOD TONNEAU COVER?
When you’re shopping for a tonneau cover, you want it to look great and keep out rain, snow, and debris, right? And if you’re hauling around stuff you don’t want stolen, like tools or guns, you want to lock that down and keep it safe from thieves - and your kids.
But you also want a convenient way to get to it. Getting all of those things together can be tricky! What you’re looking for in a tonneau cover depends on your budget, what you use your truck for, and how much security you need. As an added bonus, you’ll save on gas! Tonneau covers make bakkies more aerodynamic and increase fuel economy. And that makes bakkie owners happy.
Before we get into detail about the different kinds of bakkie bed tonneau covers to see what they offer and how they will work for you, here’s a short list of our picks.
OVERALL BEST TONNEAU COVERS IN EACH CATEGORY
- Form and Function: DECKED
- Soft Roll-up: Taunotent
- Soft Folding: Xpert Covers SA
- Hard Roll-up: Deckel Sport
- Hard Folding: Tonneau King
- Retractable: Securi-Lid
- Full Shell/Painted: Rigidek
TOP TONNEAU COVER FEATURES
The tonneau cover that works best for you depends on why you want one. If you need to keep groceries dry, an inexpensive soft cover will do. If you’re hauling around expensive gear, security is worth the extra investment. And if you want to use your work Bakkie to haul gravel or go camping on the weekend without unloading all your tools, there’s really only one good option: DECKED.
- Protection: The number one reason to buy any kind of bakkie bed cover is to protect tools and gear from the weather, acts of God, and morons.
- Durability: If you’re going to spend the money, you want something that will last.
- Ease of use: You want access to your tools and gear - You can put things in, but can you get them out?
- Cost: Price points vary wildly, from a couple hundred bucks for a soft cover to over a thousand for a full shell.
- Security: protect your gear from jerks that steal stuff.
- Function: Is yours a work bakkie or a fashion accessory?
- Enviability: You’re proud of your ride. You want a cover that makes your bakkie look tough - and your friends jealous.
THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE BUYING
Size matters: Before you get too sold on a tonneau cover, make sure it is made to fit your bakkie. Bakkie bed sizes differ by make and model. If the cover doesn't fit perfectly (length, width, and compatibility), you’ll have problems.
Accessories: It’s important to make sure your tonneau cover is compatible with your bed liner, and you also need to consider installation design if you use racks or need to access tie-downs. Some types of covers block access to those features.
90% OF TONNEAU COVERS HAVE SOME SERIOUS SHORTCOMINGS:
- Not many actually provide a totally dry bed in inclement weather
- No real security if tailgate isn't locked/doesn't lock
- Cargo is inaccessible if not located at tailgate
- Tonneau must be open to access cargo
- Typically unusable payload capacity (storage on top of cover)
- No way to organise and secure your stuff
- Items slide around uncontrolled if not tied down
That’s why we created DECKED. It’s a whole new thing to fix all of that. Our system works with or without a tonneau cover to make your bakkie bed fully functional, secure, weatherproof, and totally accessible. More about that later.
To help you decide what you need, here are the different types of tonneau covers with their pros and cons.
DECKED: MULTI-FUNCTION TONNEAU
We created DECKED because we loved some of the functions of tonneau covers, but really hated the CONs side of the equation. We didn't make it for sidewalk appeal, we designed it to keep your stuff dry and secure and still give you full use of your bakkie bed.
- Keep your cargo dry and secure under any weather conditions.
- Secure even when the tailgate is unlocked/not lockable.
- Unrestricted use of bakkies bed footprint.
- 907Kg payload with tie-down points for real cargo carrying capacity.
- Access items stored in full bed-length drawers without climbing into the bakkie bed.
- Limitless organization options.
- Added surface area by elevating above the wheel wells (easy to load larger items)
- More affordable than most high end tonneau covers.
- Reasonably easy assembly and installation.
- Easy and quick to remove and reinstall.
- Storage and organization accessories available.
- Made in the USA from recycled materials.
- More expensive than cheap tonneau covers.
- Assembly more involved than cheap tonneau covers.
The DECKED storage system is a tonneau cover in reverse. It not only increases the security of the stored items in the bed of your bakkie, it helps organize your cargo and gives you more ergonomic access to it than any other tonneau cover product on the market. Ultimately, a DECKED storage system is not the right product for everyone, but that’s only because everyone doesn’t drive a bakkie.
The DECKED storage system features two full bed-length weatherproof roll-out drawers rated for 90kg each. They provide full access to all of the gear in your bed, including the center and forward most portion of the bed, where all other tonneau covers make accessibility difficult. Each drawer is independently locked and a locking tailgate provides double the security over any other tonneau cover available.
The durable high density polyethylene (HDPE) deck is capable of holding 907Kg of evenly dispersed on-top cargo and the platform sits below the bedrails to help contain any loose gear. Multiple tie-down points can be added to the top of your DECKED storage system for securing a motorcycle, ATV, refrigerator, or anything else. Rack systems can also be mounted to the top of your DECKED storage system with the Core Trax or T-Track mounting system. DECKED is fully customization for your gear and the unit is easy to remove or install in 15-20 minutes. Every DECKED storage system is made in the USA from 100-percent recycled HDPE and steel and comes with a 3-year warranty.
DECKED WITH A TONNEAU
DECKED is also a great complement to a lot of tonneau covers. Typically one will have about 250mm of space on top of the system below the tonneau cover to store other items that might not want to be in a drawer. It is not compatible with every style of tonneau but is with a majority. The DECKED System is 300mm tall so you will just need to measure whatever you are looking at and make sure there is the difference between the bed rail height and 300mm clearance to let your tonneau operate if you go that route.
Soft roll-up tonneau covers are generally inexpensive, with easy installation and simple use. Soft bakkie bed covers are installed on rails attached with clamps. Like the name says, you just roll them up.
There are two installation styles, top mount and flush. The top mount style covers your pocket holes, so you won’t be able to use tie downs and ladder racks and such without removing the whole thing. You will be able to use tie downs with a flush mount soft cover.
- Simple to install and use.
- The least expensive option.
- Effective at hiding the contents of your bakkie bed from casual lookers.
- Moderate level of protection from the elements especially direct UV exposure.
- Can be rolled up to use the entire bakkie bed without a cover.
- Limited security and protection. Your stuff may be safe from prying eyes, but an 8-year-old could break in.
- Most of them close with velcro fasteners. Easy to peek inside and open or slice open.
- Material can be temperamental in extreme seasonal weather.
- Minimal payload - a snow storm can collapse one, and forget putting cargo on top.
- Items in the bed inaccessible unless secured at tailgate end.
- For the budget shopper, this is the entry level price point. If you do decide to go. This route, it’s a good idea to find a product with a great warranty.
THE BEST SOFT ROLL-UP OPTIONS
The first lockable soft bakkie cover in South Africa, designed with an ultra-strong aluminium frame which closes from the inside and locks with the tailgate.
***Compatible with DECKED
The Taunotent covers is one of the highest quality soft rolling tonneau covers available. An aluminium rope section is attached to the front of the load bin into which the tonneau cover slides, holding it taught. An aluminium rail is mounted to the top of the load bin on two sides using clamps to hold it in place. The aluminium rail on the top of the tailgate is held in place with two plastic corner pieces which inserts into the black rail on either side and then into the side rails. The corners are then held in place by tightening the screws. The high quality tonneau cover comes with a 6 months warranty and are weather tough.
***Compatible with DECKED
HARD ROLL-UP TONNEAU COVERS - A STEP UP IN QUALITY AND FUNCTIONALITY
Hard roll-up covers combine the access of a soft roll-up with the increased security of a hard tonneau. Since they are bulkier than a soft roll-up, they take up more space when open, and may obscure your rear vision. Typically, they’re constructed of aluminium slats covered with high grade vinyl, making them durable, tear-resistant, and capable of supporting up to 181kg of evenly distributed weight.
- Easy to install
- Aluminum frame supports wrapped in vinyl or other material provides rigidity.
- More functional than soft rolling.
- Improved security.
- Decent protection from elements but not waterproof.
- Easy to deploy and retract.
- While more expensive than soft rolling, they’re still pretty affordable.
- Most advertise a 181kg payload, good for snow.
- Payload option but no tie-downs.
- Vinyl cover can be ripped or frayed if you did carry a payload.
- Questionable protection from the elements.
- Everything that is not strapped down will slide around.
- Items not at tailgate end are unreachable without crawling into bed or rolling the cover fully open.
- Takes up forward bed space when open.
THE BEST HARD ROLL-UP OPTIONS
Tonneau King Cover offers the user options when it comes to how far back they want to roll the cover up. It's very easy to operate and has a slick locking mechanism at the tailgate.
***Compatible with DECKED
SOFT FOLDING TONNEAU COVERS
Soft folding bakkie bed covers are constructed of heavy-duty vinyl stretched over an aluminium frame. They can be installed in minutes using hand-tightened clamps, no tools required. The tri-fold design allows you to uncover up to two thirds of your bakkie bed when open. To access the entire bed, you must remove the cover.
- Most affordable in the folding cover category.
- Very easy to operate.
- Lighter than hard folding or retractable covers.
- Can be opened or closed by one person on the side of the truck.
- Poor security.
- Prone to flapping in the wind.
- No real payload capacity - heavy snow or your drunk uncle will go right through it.
- Poor weatherproof qualities.
- Most block the rear window when folded up and will need to be removed.
- Lack of durability; will rip easily.
THE BEST SOFT FOLDING TONNEAU COVERS
Like all soft folding tonneau covers, the Tonneau King is a good middle ground for those looking to get the bed covered and protected. It’s lightweight and easy to use. A major advantage is the quick install.
XPERT COVERS SA
Xpert Covers SA gives you the convenience of a tri-fold hard cover with the lower cost of a soft cover. The tonneau cover provides security when goods are kept in the loading bin. The cover also helps to keep excess water and wind out of the loading bin. Xpert Covers SA manufacture, supplies and fits an affordable products of high quality and durability. A tonneau cover improves the overall look of the bakkie.
HARD FOLDING TONNEAU COVERS
Hard folding tonneau covers may be constructed of aluminium or composite panels with a high gloss, matte, or textured finish for rugged good looks. Most have tri-fold design and payload capacity. Our favorite Tonneau King model features flip-up wings fixed to inges on a center bar for full accessibility.
- Rugged; more durable than soft folding.
- Easy to install and remove.
- Improved weatherproofing compared to soft folding.
- Added security and durability.
- Payload: Even if it snows three feet, your cover won't collapse.
- Tonneau covers that fold up block rear window view when open.
- Tonneau covers that fold down require rearranging cargo to operate.
- Secure only if the tailgate is locked/lockable.
- Can be expensive.
- Despite added payload, usually no cargo tie-down points are available.
- Top load has to be removed to access bed cargo from top.
- Not compatible with most ladder racks or other bed rail mounted accessories.
- No organization options.
- Items not tied down will slide around; you'll have to crawl inside bed or open cover to retrieve them.
Tonneau King Supreme is by far the most robust, high quality of the hard folding tonneau covers. These things are built to go to war. And they look cool.
The most inexpensive hard cover available on the market. Uniquely designed with top grade materials which offers you the stylish look along with the security at once.
TONNEAU KING HARD
The hard tri-fold cover has the rugged exterior look which makes most bakkie models look fierce. The popular among the kitted raptor-like bakkies.
RETRACTABLE TONNEAU COVERS
High-tech retractable tonneau covers slide away in seconds to provide full access to your bakkie bed. They offer all the convenience of a soft top and the enhanced security and protection of a hard top, without restricting access to your full bakkie bed.
- Gadget geeks love the tech
- Reasonably good weatherproof characteristics; best of the rolling category.
- Automated versions are available for extra convenience and cool factor.
- Good security, but only if your tailgate locks.
- Typically robust materials.
- Look less clunky than rolling tonneau covers.
- Storage canister for tonneau cover eats up valuable bed real estate when retracted
- A lot of moving parts which can and do fail; especially automated
- Typically very spendy
- Complex installation, including frequently adding drain tubs
- Tailgate must be locked to gain added security
- Again all your stuff slides around; and must be opened to reach items not near the tailgate
THE BEST RETRACTABLE TONNEAU OPTIONS
216 Securi-Lid offers the original Roll-Top Cover with tail gate locking system designed to fit all standard vehicles. It's a security accessory offering a quick and easy way to safely lock away your load. Roller system allows for accessibility from all sides. Mounted on top of the load box, the Roller-Top Cover allows for maximum internal loading capacity. The integrated Slide Rail Channel accommodates the mounting of accessories, such as Fastening Rings and a variety of Racking Systems. Available in two Colors - Black and Silver.
FULL SHELL TONNEAU COVERS
Also known as painted covers, full shell covers offer the best bakkie bed security on the market. The cover overlaps the tailgate and locks, so the tailgate cannot be opened without unlocking and opening the cover. They’re attractive, weatherproof, and secure, but also limit the functional use of your bakkie bed.
- Conceals the entire bed of bakkie and provides a tailgate seal.
- Maximum security in tonneau category.
- Best weatherproof option in category.
- Paint matching usually available for your bakkie.
- If it's your thing, they look cool.
- Most allow for mounting racks and other accessories.
- Bulky, heavy, and cumbersome.
- Inability to load large items taller than wedge will allow. If you plan to move furniture ever, it’s not gonna happen.
- If you load stuff on them, they will mark and scratch.
- No tie-down options.
- Cargo will slide around in bed. If cargo slides to the front, you’ll have to crawl in to get it out.
- Driving with the cover open to accommodate tall cargo obscures your rear view and wrecks your aerodynamics and gas mileage.
BEST FULL SHELL TONNEAU COVERS
The Deckel Sport is a ridged & secure load bin cover. Designed to be lockable, roll bar compatible and stylish. Deckel Sport tonneau covers gives you the freedom to load your bakkie and not worry about your accessories getting stolen. Deckel Sport intends on leveraging its new process to supply fiberglass products.
***Compatible with DECKED