Best Affordable Tonneau Covers (2024 Ultimate Guide)

Budget Tonneau 2

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Best Affordable Tonneau Covers Summary

  • The Gator SRX, TruXedo TruXport, and Extang Trifecta 2.0 are among the best affordable tonneau covers today.
  • Only one potential option is over $600; otherwise, the tonneau covers here range between $300 and $500.
  • The most affordable tonneau covers will have one of two styles: soft rolling or soft folding.

Best Affordable Tonneau Covers

These will fit a variety of trucks, from midsize to half-ton and up to HD models from the Big Three.

Gator SRX
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The .75-inch overall height provides a low-profile look.

TruXedo TruXport
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Support rods run the length of the bed to prevent sagging.

Extang Trifecta 2.0
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Redesigned for increased functionality and durability.

Automoblog Review & Evaluation Process

RealTruck sent each tonneau cover on this list to our research team in Raleigh, North Carolina, for testing and fitment. Our Detroit-based team then met with RealTruck on three separate occasions to better understand the different types of tonneau covers they offer and what questions customers have about picking the right one for their needs and budget.

While selecting the options for this list of the best affordable tonneau covers, I drew on my prior automotive retail experience selling Ford F-150, Super Duty, and Ranger trucks at Sioux Falls Ford in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. During my time there, I received sales training for truck accessories, including bed rails, nerf bars, and tonneau covers.

In addition to my work at a Ford dealership, I fell back on my prior experience on Chevy’s National Truck Team, a large-scale experiential marketing program that traveled the United States.

As part of that team, me and my colleagues interfaced with pickup truck owners from all walks of life, often meeting them at important events such as the Daytona 500, Luke Bryan Farm Tour, and NFR in Las Vegas. Many of the owners we spoke with were of the DIY mindset and shared stories about how they took a mass-produced product like a Silverado and made it “my truck.”

In the following article, you will find some information about which kinds of tonneau covers are available, the advantages and drawbacks of those different types, and a brief guide on how to select the right option for your truck.

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Affordable Tonneau Covers Overview

This list of the best affordable tonneau covers should not be interpreted as cheap. Our top four options have thousands of positive reviews on the RealTruck website and are staff favorites as well as customer favorites. Options on this list, like the Extang Trifecta 2.0, have undergone significant revisions to increase their ease of use and service life, and each cover here is made from a combination of heavy-duty materials.

As for what is considered an affordable tonneau cover relative to all the options on the market, we believe the $300 to $500 price range constitutes affordability without sacrificing quality. That said, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Soft vs. Hard Tonneau Covers

In this price range, there are no hard folding tonneau covers. Everything will have a softer vinyl top, so theft and puncture protection (like from a knife or blade) won’t be on the same level as a hard folding or retractable cover.

However, the manufacturers on this list have gone to great lengths to ensure their covers and tarps provide top-tier weather protection and have engineered their frames to withstand snow and rainwater accumulation.

Soft Roll-Up (Full Bed Access) vs. Soft Tri-Fold (2/3 Access)

On this list, the Gator SRX and TruXedo TruXport are soft roll-up options that give you full bed access, whereas the Gator SFX and Extang Trifecta 2.0 are soft folding covers, meaning you will have 2/3 bed access (also called soft tri-fold covers).

However, a benefit of a more affordable tonneau cover is the ease of installation and removal, especially with the soft folding options on this list. Should you need full bed access, you can unlatch the tri-folding soft covers and have them off in a jiffy.

Inexpensive Tonneau Covers for Occasional Use

If you only need a tonneau cover for one-off occasions, jumping beyond the $500 price point is unnecessary.

While even the best hard folding tonneau covers have their benefits, if you need your bed uncovered for most of the year, minus those few rare instances, stick with something on this list. The soft covers here (especially the tri-folding ones) will be much easier to install and remove.

Brand & ModelStyle & Price Range
Gator SRXSoft Roll-Up (Full Bed Access) – $290 to $310
TruXedo TruXportSoft Roll-Up (Full Bed Access) – $300 to $380
Gator SFXSoft Folding (2/3 Bed Access) – $300 to $320
Extang Trifecta 2.0 Soft Folding (2/3 Bed Access) – $480 to $500

Tonneau Covers 101

In the section below, we cover (no pun intended!) some basics on this popular truck accessory, including different types of tonneau covers and what to look for before you make a purchase. If you think this information will be helpful, click on the “show more” arrow.

If you already have a good handle on tonneau covers in general, you can skip this section and go right to the options on this list, starting with the Gator SRX.

What Is a Tonneau Cover?

A tonneau cover is a soft or hard covering that protects a truck’s bed and cargo from the elements, theft, and other sources of damage. Tonneau is the proper (read: fancy) term for a truck bed, originally meaning “cask” or “barrel.” In other words, a tonneau cover is just a truck bed cover by its trade name.

Types of Truck Bed Tonneau Covers

Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the type that’s best for your truck will depend on how you use it, your budget, and other factors, such as weather resistance. For example, we live in Michigan, so we look for something that can withstand brutal winters.

Here are the most common types of tonneau covers:

  • Roll-up tonneau covers: As the name implies, these covers roll up when you need to access the truck bed. You can find both soft roll-up tonneau covers made of lightweight, flexible materials or more rigid hard roll-ups. Some rolling truck bed tonneau covers, like the BAK Revolver X4S, use aluminum slats and locking rails to give it an extra layer of security and durability.
  • Folding tonneau covers: The most common types are hard tri-fold tonneau covers, which feature three folding sections. Some tri-fold hard covers, like the Tonno Pro, can be installed and removed within a few minutes without any tools. Other hard folding covers, like the BAKFlip-MX4, may require minor drilling during installation.
  • Retractable tonneau covers: These covers retract into a storage canister installed near the front of the bed. Some are operated manually, while others use an electric motor to retract them. Some retractable options from Retrax, like the PRO XR, are compatible with T-slot accessories from Rhino-Rack, Yakima, and Thule.
  • Hard tonneau covers: Typically a one-piece construction that acts as a lid or shell. Often, they are installed with hinges that allow you to pop them up and are supported by gas struts.

What To Look For In a Tonneau Cover

When you shop for a new bed cover, there are several things to consider to make sure you’re getting the best option for your truck. These include:

  • Build Quality: The quality of your tonneau cover makes a big difference in how well it functions and how long it lasts. Look for covers that feature durable materials and have positive reviews for how well they’re made. If a brand offers a limited lifetime warranty on its covers, it’s a good sign.
  • Functionality: The best cover for you depends on how you use your truck. For example, a puncture-resistant hard tonneau cover is a good option for skilled trade workers hauling expensive tools in the bed. If you will only use a tonneau cover occasionally, look for something that can be installed and removed in a few minutes.
  • Weather Protection: The covers that offer the best protection from the elements use premium materials such as powder-coated aluminum and marine-grade vinyl and fit your truck bed seamlessly. That seamless fit also lends itself to a low-profile look in addition to a weatherproof design.
  • Ease of Installation: Depending on the cover, a standard hand tool set may be required, although some can be installed without any tools at all. Some retractable tonneau covers will likely need a few more items from your toolbox to be correctly installed.
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Gator SRX (Soft Roll-Up)

The Gator SRX made our best tonneau covers of 2024 list and was our top pick for an affordable option. We always joke and say that even if you are a Tennessee Volunteers fan, this is one Gator you won’t mind having around.

With a tremendous value-for-dollar proposition, the Gator SRX is a surefire bet if you are looking for a tonneau cover in that $300 price range. 

What We Like

The Gator SRX has a marine-grade vinyl top and aluminum side rails and bows, a combination that provides increased durability and protection against the elements. Automotive-grade hook-and-loop fasteners secure the SRX to both sides of the bed. Meanwhile, bulkhead and perimeter seals help prevent moisture from seeping in. 

Unlike other soft covers, the Gator SRX mounts inside the truck bed. The result is a sleek, low-profile look as the SRX boasts a .75-inch overall height compared to the 1.5-inch height of the TruXedo TruXport. 

How It Works

The manually-controlled tension system allows the Gator SRX to expand and contract as seasonal temperatures change from warmer to cooler and vice versa. There are four user-adjustable points or positions (the SRX is pre-set to Position 4, or the Minimum setting). The gallery above includes a screenshot from the owner’s manual that shows how to set the tension system. 

Installation is straightforward, as the Gator SRX will mount to the bed rails without cutting or drilling. No special or unique tools are required, just a standard socket wrench set.

Drop your tailgate and pull the latch on the driver’s side to unroll the cover. Nylon straps and hooks secure the SRX against the back of the cab, giving you full bed access for taller cargo without obstructing your view.  

Gator SRX (Soft Roll-Up)
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Heavy-duty vinyl cover rolls up for full bed access when needed.

Tension control system allows the SRX to expand and contract as temps change.

The .75-inch overall height provides a low-profile look.

Limited lifetime warranty on the frame, 10-year warranty on the tarp.

TruXedo TruXport (Soft Roll-Up)

During my early years in the automotive industry at Sioux Falls Ford, I sold more than a few TruXedo covers as accessories for new F-150 and Super Duty trucks. Since TruXedo is headquartered in Yankton, South Dakota, it’s an incredibly popular tonneau cover for truck enthusiasts across Siouxland (Sioux City, Iowa area) and the Sioux Empire (Sioux Falls, South Dakota area). 

TruXedo covers could be quickly installed in our body shop while we did paperwork with the customer. We were lucky at Sioux Falls Ford as our upper management did not believe in meaningless and superfluous add-ons during the sale (like the famous TruCoat scene in Fargo). Aside from the standard Ford extended warranty during the paperwork process, the only other accessory we presented for new trucks were TruXedo covers. 

Affordability, durability, and a local presence in South Dakota set TruXedo apart for us as a dealership. However, you don’t have to live anywhere close to Sioux Falls to enjoy the benefits of a TruXedo tonneau cover.  

What We Like

The TruXedo TruXport combines a marine-grade vinyl top with a robust aluminum frame. Support rods run the length of the bed to reduce dipping and sagging that may result from rain and snow accumulation on the vinyl. 

Likewise, a factory pre-set tension control system will keep the TruXport in place as the seasons change. According to the TruXport installation manual, the cover may appear looser in colder weather and tighter when hotter, but there isn’t a need for owners to ever adjust the tension, given the factory pre-set.  

As a soft roll-up cover, the TruXedo TruXport secures nicely at the back of the cab, giving you full bed access without blocking the rear window.

How It Works

If you have a locking tailgate, the TruXport will also lock in place to help deter snoopers. To unroll the cover, simply drop the tailgate and release the two paddle latches (one on each side). 

Installation is straightforward and can be done in about half an hour. No drilling or special tools are necessary. Just have a 1/2″ wrench or socket and a pair of scissors handy (a utility knife works, too). Otherwise, everything else you need for the installation is included during shipping.

Depending on your truck’s make and model, the TruXport usually costs between $300 and about $380, not counting any deals or promotions. 

TruXedo TruXport vs. TruXedo Pro X15

If you like the TruXedo brand and prefer a soft roll-up cover, the Pro X15 could be considered a more premium option versus the TruXport. However, the Pro X15 requires you to stretch your budget a bit more, as it retails between $600 and $650. 

The Pro X15 has a matte black woven fabric top, powder-coated aluminum side rails and support bows, and a one-finger single trigger latch (versus the dual latch of the TruXport).

With its 15-degree side rails, the Pro X15 offers that low-profile design some truck owners prefer. While the TruXport will rest about 1.5 inches above the bed, the Pro X15 mounts to the inside of the truck bed (once installed, it sits nearly flush with the bed). 

Since we are focused on the most affordable tonneau covers for this list, we still recommend the TruXedo TruXport over the Pro X15. If you want a high-quality tonneau cover without breaking the bank, stick with the TruXport. However, if you can justify the extra money, then maybe consider the Pro X15. 

TruXedo TruXport (Soft Roll-Up)
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Combines a marine-grade vinyl top with a robust aluminum frame.

Support rods run the length of the bed.

Factory pre-set tension control system keeps the cover taut as seasons change.

Five-year warranty with lifetime installation support.

Gator SFX (Soft Tri-Fold)

Like the SRX above, the Gator SFX tri-fold also made our list of the best tonneau covers in 2024.

Since it comes pre-assembled, installation and removal can be done practically in your sleep. The Gator SFX is ideal if you want your bed uncovered most of the time but find yourself needing a cover on those one-off occasions, whatever the reason. While the others on this list will install with minimal headache, the SFX has them beat regarding how quickly it can be put on or removed.

The only potential drawback is that you won’t have full bed access with the SFX since it’s a tri-fold cover (when it’s open and secured, you will have 2/3 bed access). If you like Gator covers but need full bed access, you will be happier with the soft-rolling SRX. 

However, if 2/3 bed access isn’t a deal breaker, if you only need a tonneau cover occasionally, or if you simply prefer the tri-fold design, the Gator SFX is a solid choice that still keeps you within that $300 price range.   

What We Like

Key features include marine-grade and tear-resistant vinyl, a rigid aluminum frame, and foam rubber seals on all four sides to prevent moisture from getting inside the bed. As a bonus, the Gator SFX comes with a universal tailgate seal to help keep dust, water, and debris away from your cargo.

Despite its affordable price tag, the SFX benefits from some new design changes, making it more efficient and durable over the long haul. 

How It Works

Speed Klamps and Monster Bows are among the most significant updates.

The two spring-loaded Speed Klamps replace the traditional lever-style clamps for tightening and securing the cover under the bed rails. The spring-loaded design of the clamps allows you to pull down only once to move them and secure the cover. Likewise, the new clamp design pulls the tri-fold cover tighter to the bed to reduce wind noise and buffeting at higher speeds.

Meanwhile, the Monster Bows underneath are more robust, helping to reduce downward flexing under the weight of rainwater or snow.

Gator SFX (Soft Tri-Fold)
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Tri-fold cover comes pre-assembled for easy and fast installation and removal.

Updated Speed Klamps and Monster Bows provide efficiency and durability.

Includes a universal tailgate seal for your truck bed.

Limited lifetime structural warranty, 10-year warranty on the vinyl.

Extang Trifecta 2.0 (Soft Tri-Fold)

As the name implies, the Trifecta 2.0 is the next generation of Extang’s popular tonneau cover. The changes made by the Extang engineering team centered on increased weather protection, seamless operation, and longevity. Extang also extensively weather-tested the leather-grain vinyl to ensure this tri-folding soft cover could handle any condition.      

If you are looking for a tonneau cover within that $500 ballpark, the Trifecta 2.0 gets our stamp of approval, especially with its laundry list of updates. 

What We Like

Upgrades for the Trifecta 2.0 compared to the original Trifecta include a more rigid aircraft-grade aluminum frame for increased durability, new clamps for easier opening and closing, and redesigned “dual-pivot MAX hinges.” The new hinges reinforce the folding and unfolding points (i.e., heavy-use areas) for more effective operation and sealing over the cover’s service life. 

Likewise, Extang also redesigned the corners of the Trifecta 2.0 to minimize sagging and drooping as temperatures change (you might see this listed as the “corner-tuck system” by Extang). 

Extang’s patented triple fin seals are a hallmark of the soft-folding Trifecta 2.0. Engineered beyond OEM spec to provide maximum protection against the elements, your gear should stay clean and dry inside the bed. The seals don’t attach with glue either, making replacement easier if needed in the future. 

How It Works

If you have a locking tailgate, the Trifecta 2.0 will also lock in place for increased security.

Pull down on the spring-loaded clamps on both sides to operate the cover (the clamps will self-lock and stow when not in use). The Jaw-Grip clamps at the front let you quickly remove the Trifecta 2.0 for full bed access.  

No drilling or special tools are required to install the Trifecta 2.0, although you might need a utility knife. RealTruck’s installation video has tips for positioning the front Jaw-Grip clamps near the bulkhead (that video details the installation on a Toyota Tundra).  

The Jaw-Grip clamps make the Extang Trifecta 2.0 somewhat unique among tri-fold covers. During the installation, as the Jaw-Grips tighten, they squeeze both sides of the clamp together against the bed cap, drawing the cover down to that point. For most trucks, this means you should not have to do any trimming of the bed rail cap (the exceptions, which include some Ford and Ram models, are outlined in the installation manual).  

Extang Trifecta 2.0 vs. Extang ALX

If you like Extang covers and don’t mind stretching your budget a bit further, the ALX soft tri-fold is an excellent choice. Retailing between $530 and $550, the ALX features a pebble-grained Ancona fabric cover, an auto-latch system for easy access, and T-handle clamps for quick removal for full bed access. 

Since we are focused on the most affordable tonneau covers for this list, we still recommend the Trifecta 2.0 because it will keep you at or below that $500 mark despite its lengthy list of performance upgrades. However, some truck owners may consider the ALX to have a more upscale look because of the pebble-grain fabric.

The ALX’s auto-latch system (also called an auto-locking mechanism by owners) replaces the more traditional tension handle setup. Since the tension handles are absent, the auto-latch system allows the ALX to function like a hard folding tonneau cover, even though it has a softer top. 

Extang Trifecta 2.0 (Soft Tri-Fold)
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Next generation of Extang’s popular Trifecta tonneau cover.

Performance updates for the Trifecta 2.0 include increased weather protection, seamless operation, and overall longevity.

Jaw-Grip clamps allow for quick and easy removal.

Limited lifetime warranty with lifetime install support.

Best Affordable Tonneau Covers Conclusion

Like many consumer products today, shopping for the right tonneau cover can sometimes be overwhelming. Like the cereal aisle in the grocery store, it can feel as if the options are endless. The good news is that affordable tonneau covers exist, and the ones outlined above are the best on the market.

You Can Stretch, But It’s Not Necessary

The two Gator options keep you in the $300 range, while the TruXedo TruXport will keep you under $400. If $500 is okay with your budget, the new and improved Extang Trifecta 2.0 is a good pick.

If you can stretch your budget a bit further, the TruXedo Pro X15 is our top pick, but if not, those other four will do the job just fine. If you can avoid it, there isn’t any need to trend towards that $600 range.

Consider Bed Access

Take a minute to think about which style best suits your needs and preferences.

The Gator SRX and TruXedo TruXport are roll-up options that give you full bed access, whereas the Gator SFX and Extang Trifecta 2.0 are folding covers, meaning you get 2/3 bed access (luckily, they can be removed quickly for full bed access).

Either way, the most important thing is finding a cover that adds to the enjoyment of owning a truck. Each affordable tonneau cover on this list will help you do just that.

Carl Anthony is the Managing Editor of Automoblog and the host of AutoVision News Radio and AutoSens Insights. As a respected automotive industry thought leader, Carl has appeared on numerous podcasts and radio shows, including Wrench Nation, Cars Yeah, The Car Doctor, and Brains Byte Back, in addition to appearing as a regular contributor on MotorMouth Radio on WHPC 90.3 FM. His work can also be seen and heard 24/7 on the Automoblog YouTube channel.

Best Tonneau Covers: FAQ

What is the highest-rated tonneau cover?

The highest-rated tonneau cover in our 2024 study is the BAKFlip-MX4. The BAKFlip-MX4 offers a good balance of durability, security, and low-profile aesthetics at a competitive price.

What are tonneau covers made of?

Tonneau covers are made of many different materials that tend to vary by the type of cover they’re used in. Some of the most popular materials include fiberglass, powder-coated aluminum, and marine-grade vinyl.

How does a tonneau cover form a seal with my truck bed?

There are several different ways a tonneau cover can form a secure seal. Some use latches to lock them into place, while others use hook-and-loop strips that hold the cover down. Other covers incorporate rubber seals and drain tubes to channel water away from the bed.

Does a tonneau cover improve gas mileage?

Tonneau covers may improve your truck’s gas mileage. This is because they decrease wind resistance as air passes over the top of your vehicle and into the truck bed. With a tonneau cover installed, your truck will be more aerodynamic, and that could translate to better fuel economy, depending on how you drive and whether or not you are towing or hauling a payload.