We’re revisiting a favorite here on The Engine Block: tonneau covers. I know what you’re thinking. What more could we possibly have to say about such an appealing exterior accessory? Well, a lot actually. And you know why? Because it’s an incredibly lucrative market segment that has yet to reach its full potential.
According to Ford, in 2018 the company sold an F-series truck every 29.3 seconds, with the majority of those sales happening in the U.S. And that’s just Ford. GM and RAM aren’t far behind America’s best-selling truck—holding the #2 and #3 spots respectively. So, what do these numbers signify? Despite the growing popularity of pickup accessory upgrades, there are still a lot of naked truck beds on the road. Additionally, SEMA reports that among young accessorizers (aged 16 to 24) only 18% of respondents had made exterior accessory mods to their car or truck, with just 2% reporting they had installed a tonneau cover. That spells huge potential…
Several manufacturers are making the choice easier. With a variety of stylish tonneau covers that offer a host of innovative features, the following aftermarket brands under the reputable Truck Hero name are capitalizing on a ripe segment. Allow us to introduce you.
UnderCover’s Got You Covered
We’ve talked at length about the incredibly versatile UnderCover Ridgelander and its clever accessory kits. Ideally suited for outdoor adventurers with an active lifestyle, it’s an excellent option for any truck owner—young or old—who seeks maximum protection and cargo management.
For those who seek something a little less comprehensive, but still demand quality construction and a sleek low-profile design, UnderCover’s newest offering, the ArmorFlex, fits the bill perfectly. Expanding upon the brand’s best-selling unit, the Ultra Flex, the ArmorFlex features the same heavy-duty aluminum construction and matte-black finish, convenient tri-fold design, dual-action tailgate seal, and generous 5-year warranty. However, this cover also sports a LINE-X® specialty automotive coating, offering superior protection from dents and scratches.
Solid and sleek, the UnderCover ArmorFlex lends a certain maturity and cachet to any ride. It’s like slapping on a bumper sticker that says, “This truck goes to private school.”
Advantage Truck Accessories Gives New Buyers an Advantage
If we’re specifically talking young accessorizers though, we should keep budget in mind. Advantage Truck Accessories makes the perfect gateway drug for those looking to elevate their truck bed protection. Its prices are much more accessible for fiscally conservative truck owners, without ever sacrificing quality or convenience. In fact, Advantage is the original manufacturer and designer of folding tonneau covers, introducing its first product to the aftermarket in 2002. (It’s safe to assume these guys know what they’re doing.)
Advantage Truck Accessories’ original soft tri-fold bed cover still stands as one of the best in its class. Constructed of heavy-duty aluminum and either rugged vinyl or fade-resistant premium canvas, the Torzatop offers sturdy, UV-protected and tear-resistant coverage with a leather-grain or matte-black finish. The product comes fully assembled and ready to install right out of the box, with a simple clamp-on design that takes only minutes.
Affordable, sturdy, and convenient, this is a great option for truck buyers still looking to get their feet wet with tonneau covers.
Extang Can Hang
Looking for a good price point and a great deal? Then look no further than the Extang Trifecta 2.0. As the latest release in the brand’s line of soft folding tonneau covers, according to the company, the Trifecta 2.0 is “sexier, stronger, and smarter” than its original best-selling tri-fold cover. (We’re inclined to agree.) With sleek lines and soft curves for a more cohesive look, a heavy duty frame and tarp for added strength and security, and a new clamping system for easier installation and operation, all wrapped up in a crazy fair price, this cover gets a big, shiny stamp of approval.
Further sweetening the pot? Until March 15, 2019, Truck Hero is rewarding customers with either a $50 mail-in rebate (Canada only) or free Husky Liner floor mats with purchase (America only). Designed, manufactured, and assembled in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the Extang Trifecta 2.0 is also available in a sturdy tool box-accommodating model, as well as a premium Signature Series style.
And talk about longevity. These guys have been in the game since 1982! Just think how hard it was to sell tonneau covers back when people were still tossing their kids in the truck bed.
BAK’s Got Your Back
BAK Industries offers the best of both worlds to burgeoning tonneau cover customers: “The strength and security of a hard cover with the convenience and ease of access of a soft cover,” says the company.
Its newest offering, BAK Revolver X4, uses a rolling cover design, constructed of heavy-duty aluminum slats covered by an industrial-strength matte-finish vinyl. When closed, users get a sleek, low-profile look that sits tight and flush across the bed. And when open, the cover rolls up tight for 100% bed access without blocking any rear views. Even better, the Revolver X4 uses a simple clamp-on installation that takes only minutes.
Also new from BAK is the Vortrak line of retractable tonneau covers. Constructed of vinyl-covered, solid aluminum slats, the Vortrak cover retracts and rolls up into a spring-loaded canister at the front of the truck bed for easy and concealed storage. The cover can also be locked into place in two additional locations along the track, allowing for full or partial bed access.
Durable protection with an innovative design, these are great options for truck owners seeking tonneau covers as clever as themselves.
Also offering uncompromising durability in a convenient roll-up design, is TruXedo’s newest offering—the Sentry. Sporting industrial grade vinyl with a striking leather grain finish over heavy-duty aluminum slats, this tonneau cover guards your truck bed with strength and security to rival an actual sentry.
The quick-release system makes it a breeze to use, while the slam latches ensure it stays in place. And the flush-mount, extra-low profile gives a sleek and seamless look. The entire cover rolls up tight and sits up against the cab, providing full bed access without blocking any rear views or third brake lights.
Those looking for a more matte finish, can check out the Sentry CT. With all the same great features, it employs a premium dirt and UV-resistant woven fabric instead of vinyl. (If only actual tuxedos were that resilient, eh?)
Leading the industry in single-piece, fiberglass truck toppers, A.R.E. has been quick to innovate tonneau covers as well. New to the lineup is the DoubleCover, the first and only bed cover that works two ways: lifting for quick access and retracting for full access. Great for people who like to have their cake and eat it too, the DoubleCover makes it so you don’t have to choose just one style when two will do. Constructed of sturdy aluminum with a matte black finish, the DoubleCover adds a sleek and polished look with maximum functionality.
Also providing form and function (as its name implies) is the Fusion, a paint-to-match tri-fold cover that’s easy to install, easy to use, and adds style and security at a competitive price. Sporting a similar construction of quality grade aluminum, the Fusion is great for those truck owners seeking a truly seamless look.
Retrax Gains Traction
Not to be outdone, Retrax has four new tonneau covers on the market. Sitting at the top of the budget, each one builds upon the brand’s premium retractable aluminum truck bed cover, the RetraxPRO MX.
The RetraxONE XR integrates a cargo-carrying Trax Rail System that still allows for full cover functionality. Playing well with most T-slot rack accessories from Rhino Rack, Yakima, and Thule, it offers protection and versatility all in one. And the cover features a one-piece construction of durable polycarbonate to eliminate the breakdown of any joints or hinges. Customers seeking a heavier duty system can upgrade to the aluminum RetraxPRO XR.
Next up the line are the Retrax PowertraxONE XR and the Retrax PowertraxPRO XR, also separated by their polycarbonate and aluminum construction. Featuring the same cargo-friendly Trax Rail System, these tonneau covers take the accessibility a step further by utilizing a remote keyfob to electronically open and close the cover. An electromagnetic brake allows it to lock in any position along the rail, and an integrated LED cargo light illuminating the bed is also controlled via the remote.
Designed for the most discerning of customers, the new Retrax covers offer industrial strength and premium style, all at the touch of a button. An ideal option for those who want to be the belle of the tailgating ball–or who just hate it when manually opening the truck cover causes their monocle to fall out.
Still not sure what’s right for you? Head over to Truck Hero’s website and try out the interactive cover-builder to help you narrow down the search and secure the one that best suits your truck.