If you have been shopping around for a truck tonneau cover, then you know the options of colors, brands, even prices can be overwhelming. But really there are two basic types: soft vinyl tonneau and hard plastic or fiberglass tonneau. Both have their benefits and deficits.
I would say a hard cover is more of a security investment. Hard tonneau covers are secured with front and rear key lock – making it a lot harder for someone to break in, but with hatches at both ends provides easy access for the truck owner. I would usually recommend a hard tonneau cover for anyone who keeps a lot of expensive equipment or tools in the truck bed – especially over night.
But hard truck covers are also a much more long term decision. Since they fasten directly to the truck frame, we do have to drill a few holes in the truck bed – which shouldn’t ever be a problem. Reputable shops use a process that ensures no rust will develop at the drill site. But this also makes hard tonneaus pretty much a permanent accessory to your truck.
A soft tonneau cover, on the other hand, is easily removed and reinstalled. You can remove the entire tonneau with the snaps without disassembling the frame at all. However, for this reason it is also a lot less secure than a hard cover – I would recommend a soft tonneau for anyone who is just trying to keep the truck bed clean and dry and protect their belongings inside from the elements.
Since the soft tonneau’s frame is attached to the truck with mechanical clamps it causes no permanent damage to the truck bed. This feature makes it ideal for a leased vehicle, or if you want to use the same tonneau for another truck. I had used the same soft cover on three different trucks over a period of eight years and (take into account the harsh New York winters) and the only damage it incurred was a small tear. Because soft tonneau covers are made of vinyl, small nicks and scratches to the material don’t show up as they would on a hard painted tonneau.
One of the best benefits of both types – a tonneau cover will improve the gas mileage of your pickup truck. The cover keeps the air from cupping into the bed of the truck, preventing the drag created by the shape of an open pickup truck. A cap can perform the same functions as a tonneau: keeping the bed clean and dry, and improving aerodynamics. But caps are made of different materials that tend to show their age a little more with dent and dings, and the materials can rust. I have found most cap owners have chronic problems with the tailgate glass because cap glass is not reinforced with the same standards as the passenger cab.
But overall the tonneua covers give the truck a really sleek appearance, improve gas mileage and help to keep the truck bed in good shape. It would improve the resale value of your truck, whether or not you sell it with the tonneau.