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Roll-Up VS Tri-Fold Tonneau Covers

Roll-Up VS Tri-Fold Tonneau Covers

Many pickup truck owners are considering a tonneau cover.  But choosing the right one can be confusing, especially if you've never used one before. Tri-fold and roll-up tonneau covers are great choices, and this guide can help you find the best fit for your vehicle.

Tri-fold tonneau covers

Tri-fold tonneau covers come in two primary styles: hard and soft. Hard covers feature three heavy-duty panels made of impact-resistant polycarbonate, composite plastic or aluminum. Alternatively, soft covers consist of panels of marine grade vinyl or canvas stretched over a rigid aluminum frame. Tri-fold tonneau covers are more popular because they are easier to open. They also offer greater durability and security with advanced locking mechanisms. Tri-fold covers provide better protection for your vehicle's cargo and are easy to open with a simple motion.

tri-fold tonneau cover


  • Easier to open
  • More durable than rolling truck bed covers
  • Provides more security
  • Supports cargo on top
  • Stylish, low-profile designs
  • Easy to install
  • Weather resistant
  • Intuitive operation


  • Blocks rear view when fully open
  • More expensive than roll-up tonneaus
  • Not available for some very old trucks
  • Some models restrict cargo access
  • Soft covers are less secure

Roll-up Tonneau Covers

Roll-up tonneau covers are offered in two different sub-styles: hard and soft. While both styles typically feature a marine-grade vinyl or canvas outer shell, hard roll-up covers include an interlocking aluminum, polycarbonate, or composite slat system for additional reinforcement; soft roll-up covers rely solely on the soft outer shell for protection. Roll-up tonneau covers offer more versatility than tri-fold tonneau covers, but you will not experience the same quality and safety. Roll-up covers are a less expensive alternative. They offer a lightweight, low-profile design for easier storage and handling.


  • Very lightweight
  • Easier to store
  • Soft covers are relatively inexpensive
  • Offer unrestricted bed access
  • Slim, low-profile designs
  • Weather resistant
  • Intuitive operation
  • Greater availability for old, vintage trucks


  • Takes more time to open and close
  • Hard covers can be expensive
  • Soft covers are susceptible to cuts, tears and punctures

How much weight can a tonneau cover hold?

Tri-fold tonneau covers

The exact weight they can hold depends on the brand and the design of the cover. On average, you will get more weight support from these covers compared to any roll-up tonneau cover design. You can expect your tri-fold tonneau cover to hold anywhere from 100 to 1,000 lbs. This includes placing cargo on top of the cover to increase the storage capacity of your truck.

Roll Up Tonneau Cover

The average weight that a roll-up tonneau cover can hold is between 50 and 150 pounds. Most covers will be under 100 pounds, but some of the premium roll up covers have more capacity to hold extra cargo.

Safety and Security

Security of Tri-Fold Tonneau Covers

Soft tri-fold covers are more theft deterrent than theft prevention due to their soft vinyl or canvas shell. Like soft roll-up covers, a pocket knife or box cutter can cut through soft tri-fold covers. However, rigid tri-fold covers are far more secure. Although they don't typically come with locks, the built-in latches secure the cover in place. With the tailgate locked, your cargo is safer in the bed than in the cab!

Roll-up tonneau cover security

Like weight, the security of a tonneau cover depends on its construction. For example, soft roll-up tonneau covers are less secure than hard roll-up covers because of the soft outer shell. It only takes a thief with a sharp blade to cut through the outer shell and gain access to your cargo.

Hard roll-up tonneau covers are far more secure with cut, impact and puncture resistant aluminum, polycarbonate or composite interlocking slats. While it is rare to find a hard roll-up tonneau cover that locks with a key, most feature rolling locking rails that secure the sides of the cover to the bed. Your cargo will be safe and secure under a hard roll-up tonneau cover, especially when paired with a locking tailgate!


Tri-Fold Tonneau Cover Installation

Tri-fold tonneau covers also offer easy and intuitive installation. Soft tri-fold covers often feature quick-release, tool-free clamps that allow you to install and remove the cover in seconds without any tools!

Roll-up Tonneau Cover Installation

Roll-up tonneau covers are typically quick and easy to install with clamp-on, no-drill side rails. Once you install the side rails, secure the cover to them, align the latches, and you're done!

Knowing which cover option to choose isn't an easy task. There's no one objective option that's better than the rest. The right decision depends on what you want for your own vehicle and which cover seems to best fit your needs.

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