One of the great benefits of owning a pickup truck is having the ability to haul your gear. This is especially important when heading out on a beach excursion. It always includes taking a bunch of gear along with the passengers and food, snacks and drinks.
A pickup truck bed quickly gets filled up with a cooler and a small grill. Add in the beach chairs, umbrellas, boogie boards, towels, and more. One of the best ways to protect that gear from the blazing sun, wind, and unexpected rain is to have a tonneau cover over your truck bed. It also keeps your gear from prying eyes when driving on the beach.
What is the purpose of a tonneau cover?
Very simply a tonneau cover is a flat material (can be hard or soft) that is installed on top of your truck bed to protect it and whatever you are hauling from the elements or theft. In addition to protection, this type of cover will definitely make your truck look better and may improve your vehicle’s mileage.
What are the different types of tonneau covers?
Tonneau covers basically fall into two categories – hard top or soft top. They then fall into a rollup or folding version. Like many truck accessories, there are numerous variations, multiple manufacturers, different price levels, and endless retailers. You need to determine what you need (ie. looks, security) and do your research. We always find Amazon a good place to start. They usually sell all the available options and gives you a great idea of product descriptions and reviews in one spot.
What is the best tonneau cover?
Our Toyota Tacoma has a BAKFlip MX4 cover. It is a hard-top folding cover that blends into our truck’s sleek look. This cover has a three-fold design, and the hinged covers and latching mechanism are very easy to use and can be opened from the other side of the bed. Per the manufacturer “the MX4 can hold up to 400lbs of evenly distributed weight and is backed by a 5-year, hassle-free warranty, plus the BAKFlip MX4 is proudly made in the USA”.
For us, it’s a more robust system than what a soft top rollup system offers. One of the best features of this system is the ability to open the cover partially or fully opened depending on what we are hauling. This cover is secure as each of the strong aluminum panels lock as soon as the cover is partially or fully closed. The cover can’t be cut easily with a utility knife like a soft cover and the cover can’t be opened easily when the tailgate is locked. This security is important to us as we love to leave the truck for periods of time. We love to explore the beaches we visit to check out the water, surf conditions, any piers, parking, and available amenities.
Problems with Tonneau Covers
Knowing that the beach gear is safe in the truck bed is a good feeling as we walk the beach. Although this folding tonneau system is great, it does have a few minor negatives. When I fold up the system completely it leans against the rear of the cab and blocks the rearview vision/mirror. Fortunately, it doesn’t cover the rear cab brake light which is important. Also, like many tonneau covers it is not 100% waterproof and prone to leaking, especially in hard Florida rain. So watch what you plan to store in the truck bed. Beach blankets and towels will do better in the back seat.
Do tonneau covers improve gas mileage?
You may have heard that these covers can reduce the drag and turbulence that can happen from an open truck bed. Tonneau covers were designed specifically for convenience, not to enhance the performance of a pickup. However, a tonneau cover will have some impact on your overall gas mileage. When the truck operates with a cover, the wind cannot penetrate the bed and this may result in paying a little less at the pump. How much does a tonneau cover cost? Hard tonneau covers cost more than soft ones. You could pay between $500 to $900 for manual covers and up to $2000 for an electric folding cover. Get the one you love and enjoy your road trip to the beach!
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Susan and Bruno are travel bloggers. We write about Florida beaches on every coast. Our opinions only.