Which is Better: Roll Up vs Tri-Fold Tonneau Covers

Here is a rundown of roll up vs trifold tonneau cover

A tonneau covers is one of the first aftermarket accessories that every truck owner thinks to get. But with many types on sale, it is becoming very challenging to decide which one to get for your truck bed.

Here is a simple summary to help compare roll-up vs tri-fold tonneau covers.

Roll Up Tonneau Cover and How to Use It

There are two types of roll up covers we will cover: the hard folding and the soft roll up. These two do not have many differences.

  • The soft roll up is manufactured using vinyl fabric.
  • The hard ones are manufactured using vinyl material on the top. The bottom has aluminum panels on the underside.

The hard ones are more secure and have better durability. Hard tonneaus will be pricier because of the heavier duty materials.

Compared to the tri-fold cover, a roll up cover is very simple in appearance as well as operation. When you need to hit the road and want to secure your cargo, just roll the cover out and latch it to your truck bed.

When it comes to accessing your cargo, the process is just as simple. Roll it up and strap it against your cab. These tonneau covers are compact and lightweight, making it easy to stow in an open position. Driving with it open and against your cabin will not be a problem.

This makes it even easier for you to haul large cargo like furniture . You will not need to waste any time on removing the cover. Most roll-ups are fitted with velcro along the edges. You can seal it effortlessly with the heel of your hand.

The installation of this category of covers is incredibly easy and it will take roughly half an hour. It uses clamps with no drilling necessary. It installs away from the rails, creating a low profile appearance.

Roll-up tonneau covers are usually a bit cheaper. The reason is because manufacturing them is much easier than manufacturing a tri-fold. It takes less time, effort and materials to manufacture a roll-up cover.

On the downside, roll up covers tend to take longer to open and close. This is because you need to roll them manually, then strap them against the cabin. When closing them, you roll them out and go on both sides, sealing the velcro.

While this does not take much effort, it does take more time as opposed to tri-folds.

For a tri-fold, you simply need to fold three times and strap down.

This type of cover is the best choice for any hauler in need of a sleek look for their vehicle.

If you own an older truck, you are also in luck. Roll-ups are available for more older and harder to find trucks.

Benefits of a roll-up tonneau cover

  • Easier installation and removal
  • Offers full truck bed access by rolling up and sitting compactly against the cabin.
  • Very lightweight.
  • Easier to store thanks to its compact size and lightweight.
  • Has a low profile design that lays flush with the truck bed rails. This offers a sleek and aerodynamic appearance.
  • Cheaper because it’s easier to manufacture.
  • More availability for old, vintage trucks.

Cons of roll-up tonneau cover

  • Not as sturdy as a tri-fold, unless you go with a hard tonneau, which is more expensive.
  • Less secure compared to a tri-fold.
    • Roll-ups usually have locks so breaking into them is not very easy (but it is possible). Someone can use a knife to cut through the vinyl material and access your valuables. Again, this is not the case with hard roll-up tonneau covers.
  • Takes longer to open and close. You have to manually roll it out and hand-seal the velcro on both sides.

What is the best roll up tonneau?

The best quality bed covers come from Truxedo, TonnoPro, WeatherTech, UnderCover, and Access. Here are a couple of examples of this type of truck bed cover that you can consider.

TonnoPro LoRoll Roll-Up Tonneau Cover (Soft)

The TonnoPro LoRoll Tonneau Cover has the common features of a soft roll-up tonneau cover. Additionally, it has:

  • an advanced tension control
  • a WeatherTite seal to make it resistant to the elements
  • a limited lifetime warranty.

BAK Revolver X2 Tonneau Cover

The BAK Revolver X2 Tonneau Cover has:

  • an ultra-flush, low profile design
  • a patented Rotational Locking Rails that offers ultimate security
  • supports 400lb of evenly distributed weight
  • 3-year limited lifetime warranty

Tri-fold Tonneau Cover and How to Use It

Folding covers are available in two different designs. There are the hard tri-folds and the soft ones. The hard tri-fold is more heavy duty, with a sturdier and more rigid frame than the soft tri-fold. As you would expect, a soft tri-fold is more lightweight. It requires less effort to remove.

One feature that stands out in every tri-fold tonneau cover is their sturdiness. The construction of a tri-fold tonneau is typically divided into two parts. The top and outer part is usually a tough vinyl fabric material.

This sits on the inner part, which may be aluminum rail panels, rigid fiberglass or super hard plastic. These two layers work together to make a strong cover with longer durability.

The hard folding tonneau cover is strong enough to carry some cargo on top. This is because of the outstanding strength of hard folding tonneaus.

Besides the sturdiness, tri-folds also offer better security. They can usually be locked, and cutting through them is much more difficult. For most folding covers, you have to open the tailgate first before you can be able to open the cover.

While this may sound inconvenient, it is a plus on security. Most tailgates have a lock, so thieves will need to have the key to access the cargo. Both features combined give tri-folds an edge in security.

As the name suggests, this type of tonneau can fold at three different positions. Whether you want to haul in furniture, a bike, or any other gear, simply fold the cover to the end and load in your cargo.

As a truck owner, one thing to keep in mind is that a tri-fold doesn’t always allow you complete access to your cargo. The last panel on a tri-fold flips up and will need to rest against your cabin. For some tonneaus, this may beat against the window unless it is securely held.

This isn’t a problem with BAK tonneau covers, which are a premium option. BAK tonneaus open fully and have a mechanism to secure itself against the cabin. This gives you full access to the truck bed.

When installed, tri-fold tonneau covers sit a few inches above the truck bed. Most people don’t care, but if you want a flush look, you will need to keep in mind the profile height. Rolling covers are all low profile, and tri-folds sit a little higher above the bed rails.

If you’re a truck owner that wants a rugged look, the hard fold tonneaus can create a tough and bold appearance.

Even if you don’t plan on using your truck bed often, it is advisable to keep your tonneau installed. You can save gas mileage when driving with a tonneau in the closed position. Plus, you never know when you may need to hide some cargo while you hop in to a restaurant for a quick bite.

Benefits of tri-fold tonneau cover

  • Very sturdy.
  • Durable.
    • Tri-folds are built to withstand a lifetime of abuse from the elements. They are more durable than soft roll-ups.
  • Easier to open.
  • Hauling flexibility
    • Since tri-folds can open a third way, half-way and fully, it is easy to carry cargo of different sizes.
  • Bold and rugged look.
    • Sometimes preferred by some truck owners
  • Top security.
    • Once locked, it is virtually impossible for someone to cut their way through the tonneau to access your cargo.
  • Supports cargo on top.
    • Hard tri-fold covers allow you to carry some cargo on top of them.

Cons of tri-fold tonneau covers

  • Can be a little more difficult to install and remove.
    • This is because they weigh more than a soft roll-up cover. This is not a problem if you plan to keep it installed, which most people do.
  • Installs on the side rails, making it difficult to use other accessories like racks.
  • More expensive since they require more time, effort and materials to manufacture.

Which is the best tri-fold bed cover?

Like roll-up bed covers, there are several companies that manufacture top notch tri-folds. TonnoPro, Access, WeatherTech and Lund are the most popular. Out of the many tri-fold choices you have, a good example would be:

TonnoPro TonnoFold Tri-Fold Tonneau Cover (Soft)

This bed cover features a tear-resistant, dual coated vinyl tarp. It is constructed on top of tough aluminum frames. The frames are super lightweight, keeping the weight of the cover to just 30 pounds.

The material has four stitches per inch, making the vinyl highly durable. A special thread coating gives it extra weatherstripping. It also comes with a limited lifetime warranty.

TonnoPro HardFold Tri-Fold Tonneau Cover (Hard)

This tri-fold has a heavy duty marine-grade, 24.5-ounce double coated vinyl tarp. This heavy duty vinyl material is more difficult to cut through than cheaper options.

The truck bed cover weighs less than 70lbs but can support up to 350lbs of evenly distributed weight.

It comes pre-assembled. It is backed by a manufacturer’s limited lifetime warranty.

Roll-up vs tri-fold tonneau cover: which one do you need?

Both roll-up and tri-fold tonneau covers are perfect choices. They are easy to use, they look appealing, and they both offer protection to your cargo.

But they are popular for different features. They have different benefits for different truck owners, with different requirements.

The first step to finding the right cover for yourself is knowing what your needs are.

  • What are your priority features in a tonneau cover?
  • Do you prefer easy operation to sturdiness or vice versa?
  • Do you intend to do heavy duty hauling or just the usual gear?
  • Do you prefer rugged or sleek looks?
  • Do you often need full access to your truck bed or not?
  • Is durability a priority to you over price or vice versa?

Answering these questions and many more will land you the right choice. For example:

  • If you store valuable equipment in your truck bed and:
  • Safety is your number one priority

Then the tri-fold is your ideal cover.

  • If you are looking for a cheaper option and:
  • Need more flexibility in your tonneau and:
  • Don’t mind the extra effort to open and close a rolling cover

Then the roll-up cover is your ideal cover.

Remember, these are not the only types of tonneau covers. There are also retractable tonneau covers, hinged, and electronic bed covers.

Shop All Tonneau Covers