Tri-Fold Tonneau Covers: What’s The Best?

You have been looking for a tri-fold tonneau for your truck and have realized that there are a lot of them on the market. Now the challenge is deciding on the best one.

Tri-fold tonneaus as the name suggests, are truck bed covers that fold as 3 separate sections. As a folding tonneau cover, a tri-fold tonneau will give you access to as much or as little of the truck bed as you like.

I’ve created this guide to help you identify the different types of tri-fold tonneau covers and what differentiates the cheap folding tonneau covers from the expensive ones. 

This guide also highlights features of the Truxedo Deuce, which is both a folding and rolling tonneau cover. 

As always, if you have any questions feel free to text our team at 281-761-6097.


What Makes Tri-fold Tonneau Covers So Great?

Folding tonneau covers are probably the most popular type of truck bed cover out there. While there are other folding tonneaus such as quad-folds, the tri-fold tonneaus are more popular and highly sought after by truck owners.

But what makes tri-fold tonneaus so great?

Easy To Install and Remove

The no-drilling requirement in tri-fold tonneaus makes them easy to install and take off. 

Instead of drilling installation, they use a clamping system that securely keeps them to truck rails. While some tri-fold tonneaus may require two people to lift on the truck bed, most of them typically take one person to install. 

Removing tri-fold tonneaus is also as easy as installing them. In most of them, you can fold one of its sections, and the rest of the tonneau cover unhooks or un-clamps from the rails. 

Offers Great Versatility

You are headed home and you remember you need to pick up something from the hardware store. Or, someone calls you and asks for your help in hauling something (every truck owner has experienced this, right)?

Tri-fold tonneaus promise you unmatched versatility in such a situation. You simply fold up your tonneau either once or twice, depending on the size of the cargo, and put the cargo in the truck bed.

If you need to stop somewhere for a bite to eat, the cover will cover up whatever you are hauling, and keep it safe from prying eyes.

When you hear of three different driving positions offered by tri-fold tonneaus such as the UnderCover Ultra Flex, think versatility. Tri-fold cover allows you to haul complex cargo because of its versatility. 

Strong And Excellent Security

Every truck owner looks for a tonneau cover that promises strength and durability while providing cargo security.

But truck owners who have tri-fold tonneaus can attest to one thing- the rigidity of these tonneaus. The construction of tri-fold bed covers uses strong and rigid materials that make them hard to cut through.

For example, the BAKFlip FiberMax has a fiberglass reinforced polymer panel top skin that makes it not only strong but also rigid. The sturdiness of tri-fold tonneaus offers cargo security for truck owners. 

What Is the Difference Between Soft Folding and Hard Folding Tonneau Covers?

Tri-fold tonneaus are either soft folding or hard folding. The difference results from the material used for construction. 

Most soft folding covers are made using soft vinyl tops while hard folding tonneaus are made using aluminum or composite. 

The table below compares soft tri-fold tonneaus with hard tri-fold tonneaus highlighting their key features and benefits. It also gives our featured top picks for each type:

FeatureSoft Tri-Fold Tonneau CoverHard Tri-Fold Tonneau Cover
Construction material Canvas, polyester, and vinyl Aluminum and Composite
Durability and resistance GoodBest
Top panel lookSmooth black finishRugged look
Profile typeStandard profileLow-profile
Weight15-35 Lbs50-110 Lbs
Top pickExtang Trifecta 2.0

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BAKFlip F1

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Here are some of the differences between the soft and hard folding covers:

Construction and Top Material

Soft tri-fold bed covers are made using soft materials such as canvas, polyester, and vinyl. These make them lightweight and easy to install and remove.

Hard folding tonneaus are made using hard materials such as aluminum or a composite that make them sturdy and durable. 

Durability and Resistance

Both soft tri-fold and hard tri-fold tonneaus are durable and resistant to scratches and dents.

However, there is a slight difference in durability and resistance because of the material used in their construction. 

For example, aluminum panels in hard tri-folds such as the BAKFlip MX4 make it an all-season tonneau cover as it can be used in extreme weather conditions.

The vinyl panels used in soft folding covers are not as durable and dent resistant as the hard construction material in the hard folding tonneaus.

If you are looking for a tri-fold tonneau cover that cannot be easily cut, then the hard tri-fold is the best option.


While both soft folding and hard folding truck bed covers keep your items protected and secured, the hard folding tonneaus are more secure.

A soft tri-fold cover will certainly keep your cargo secure but if someone wants to cut through it, its security is not guaranteed.

The hard folding bed covers, on the other hand, promise security because of the hard material used in their construction. For example, aluminum panels in the BAKFlip MX4 make it hard to cut through thus offering maximum security. 

All folding tonneaus can also be used with locking tailgates that require releasing from the underside thus offering extra security to your items. 

Some hard tri-fold tonneaus have other added features such as a built-in lock in Extang Encore that keeps the cover in place when the tailgate is down.

How the Cover Looks Like on the Truck

Soft folding and hard folding covers look different on your truck. And this is attributed to the material and finish used in their construction.

Soft folding bed covers have a smooth uniform look. Here is a photo of the smooth look on a TonnoPro TonnoFold tri-fold tonneau cover:

TonnoPro Tri-Fold Cover

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Soft folding tonneaus are mostly black. 

Hard tri-fold tonneaus have a rugged texture. This is because of the high-grade aluminum or composite used in their construction. If you like a rugged textured look, then a hard folding tonneau cover is your best option.

Here is a photo of the rugged and low-profile look on an UnderCover Flex tonneau cover.

UnderCover Flex- Rugged, low profile look

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Soft-folding tonneaus belong to the standard profile category because they are installed an inch or 2 above the truck’s rails. 

Hard tri-folds are low-profile since they sit slightly above the truck’s rails giving your truck a very streamlined look. 

The Cost Difference

Looking for an economical way to protect your cargo? A soft tri-fold tonneau cover is your best option because most of them are typically under $800, and start as low as around $250. 

Hard folding tonneaus start at $500 and some cost $2500. If you are not limited by budget, a hard tri-fold cover is a better option for your truck. 

Headshot of Alan

From Alan, Founder of PartCatalog:

When someone asks our team what the best folding tonneau is for their truck, we always recommend hard tri-folds for their increased security and durability.

But if you are on a budget and need a folding cover for your truck, soft tri-fold tonneaus would be the best option. 

Is There Any Tonneau Cover That Is Both Folding and Roll-up?

Yes. The TruXedo Deuce is both folding and roll-up tonneau cover.

TruXedo Deuce Tonneau Cover

TruXedo Deuce tonneau cover

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Here is a table showing the key features of the TruXedo Deuce tonneau cover:



Main Benefit

Soft Roll-up

Soft roll-up feature of a TruXedo Deuce tonneau cover

It is a soft rolling tonneau cover

  • Opens and closes quickly
  • Sleek look
  • Lightweight

Fold-up front section

Fold-up front section feature on a TruXedo Deuce tonneau cover

The front section can be folded

  • Easy access to the truck bed
  • Keeps the rear closed 

Anodized single trigger latch

Anodized single trigger latch on a TruXedo Deuce tonneau cover

Only one finger can open it

  • Easy to operate

Door latching system

Door latching system on a TruXedo Deuce tonneau cover

Features a door latching system at the front

  • Ease of truck bed access from either side of the truck

Automatic tension control

Automatic tension control on a TruXedo Deuce tonneau cover

Patented with an automatic tension control near the tailgate

  • Stays tight on the truck bed
  • All-weather

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TruXedo Deuce is really unique as it is both a folding and a roll-up cover. It is made of vinyl and its frame material is aluminum making it strong and durable. 

The soft-roll-up feature makes TruXedo Deuce feature the benefits of a soft roll-up cover such as opening and closing quickly, full bed access, and a stylish look. 

If you need to quickly access cargo at the front of your truck toolbox, the hinged front section gives you that flexibility. 

Also, the fold-up front section keeps the rear closed as you access your cargo. This is helpful since accessing the front cargo does not expose the rear cargo.

The front hinge part can be operated from either side of the truck- driver or passenger side because of the door latching system. 

This is very helpful whenever you carry large items that would otherwise not fit with the tonneau cover on your truck. 

Like all TruXedo tonneau covers, the Deuce has a tension system that makes it not only fitting but also tight in all weather conditions keeping your items protected from the elements.

The TruXedo Deuce requires no drill installation. This makes installation a breeze. It is also easy to remove from the truck bed. 

The TruXedo Deuce can support up to 250Lbs of evenly distributed weight. This allows you to carry some extra cargo on top of your bed cover when need be.   

Have a vintage truck? And want a folding cover but retain the roll-up features you are used to? Buy a TruXedo Deuce today. 

TruXedo Deuce comes with a lifetime warranty on material and workmanship. 

Top Features

  • Hybrid functionality
  • Fold-up front
  • Easy to operate
  • Good value
  • Lifetime warranty
Headshot of Lisa

Fast service

The shipping was very fast and the cover is excellent, easy to put on, and works great.

-Lisa F.

How Do Cheap Folding Tonneaus Compare To  Expensive Ones?

In your search for a suitable tonneau cover for your truck, you must have noticed that there are cheap and expensive tonneaus. 

But how do cheap truck bed covers compare to expensive ones? 

The less costly tonneaus such as the TonnoPro Hard folding covers do not have the extra features such as full bed access that are available in the costly hard folding tonneaus. 

Another difference is the warranty. Less costly soft folds have a limited warranty while some hard folding tonneaus can have up to a lifetime warranty. 

While soft folding tonneaus are generally less costly, some hard folding tonneaus are cheap compared to other hard folding tonneaus.

Comparison of TonnoPro TonnoFold and Extang eMax

The table below compares TonnoPro TonnoFold and Extang eMax which are both soft tri-fold tonneaus. You will identify the specific features that bring a price difference. 

FeaturesTonnoPro TonnoFold
Extang eMax
Material Vinyl tarp with powder-coated aluminum frame

Vinyl tarp attached to an aluminum frame

ProfileLow profileUltra low profile
Weight30 Lbs30 Lbs
UV and Weather ResistanceGoodBetter
Dent/scratch resistanceGoodBetter
Additional accessoriesNoneA secure shut latch system
Warranty3-year fabric & Limited lifetime frame warrantyLifetime
Starting price$289$469
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Differences between these hard folding covers: Extang eMax and TonnoPro TonnoFold

The Extang eMax tonneau cover is pricier than the TonnoPro TonnoFold cover because of its added features. For example, it allows front access to the truck bed, something not present in TonnoPro TonnoFold.

Unlike TonnoPro TonnoFold with a 3-year warranty, Extang eMax tonneau attracts a lifetime warranty on material and workmanship. 

But it does not mean that TonnoPro TonnoFold tonneau is not a good cover. It has its key features such as coming fully assembled which makes installation a breeze. 

Comparison of TonnoPro Hard-Fold and BAKFlip CS-F1

The table below compares TonnoPro Hard-Fold and BAKFlip CS-F1 which are both hard tri-fold tonneaus. You will identify the specific features that bring a price difference. 

FeaturesTonnoPro Hard FoldBAKFlip CS-F1
MaterialAluminum panels coated  with a vinyl tarpSolid EPS plastic core between aluminum panels
Profile Low profileLow profile
Weight65 Lbs100 Lbs
Carrying capacityUp to 350 LbsUp to 500 Lbs
UV and weather resistanceStandard resistancePremium resistance
Dent/scratch resistanceStandard resistancePremium resistance
Additional accessoriesNoneSliding tie-downs, Contractor series rack system
WarrantyLifetime3 years
Starting price$549$1769
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Differences between the TonnoPro Hard-Fold and the BAKFlip Contractor Series F1:

The construction material used in the BAKFlip CS-F1 makes it a premium choice for truck owners who are not on a budget. Unlike the TonnoPro Hard-Fold that has no rack system, the BAKFlip CS-F1 tonneau comes with a contractor series rack system.

The contractor series rack system makes it easy to haul long cargo leaving space in the truck bed for more cargo. 

If you are looking for a hard tri-fold bed cover that only meets standard features, a cheap folding cover such as TonnoPro Hard-Fold cover is a good option. But if you are not limited by budget and want a cover that gives you durability, versatility, and a rack option, the BAKFlip CS-F1 is a good option.

Headshot of Scott

TonnoPro Review

I am very satisfied with this product. seems to be made well and looks good on my pickup. This is actually my second cover, I have gotten many years out of my last TonnoPro cover. My last cover was starting to show its wear. It was around 14 years old and started to need some attention, a hinge or two required replacing, and some of the material in the joints and a little faded. I would highly recommend it. It fits my needs well. Thank You

-Scott R.


More Reading

Now you have an overview of soft tri-fold and hard tri-fold tonneaus to help you decide the best folding tonneau cover for your truck.

We also have great options for rolling tonneau covers that you might be interested in. 

Frequently Asked Questions