Which is Better: Hard or Soft Truck Bed Covers?

/ / Car Accessories
Black truck bed cover

A pickup truck is great for hauling small to mid-sized loads around, but there’s a bit of a risk with using one that you don’t get from full, covered trucks. Namely, there’s an ever-present risk that you’ll hit a bump and everything will go flying out of the bed. The best way to prevent this from happening is to utilize tie-down tips and tricks to properly secure your load in the bed and shore it up with the right kind of bed liner. That said, if you’re looking to add an extra layer of safety to your truck, you’ll want a truck bed cover, too, also known as a tonneau cover.

To properly adapt your truck bed for your needs, you can employ a truck bed cover both for protective and aesthetic purposes. The only catch is that not all truck bed covers are made equal — specifically, there are a variety of different covers available made of materials that vary in softness and density. Are you exploring some of the highly-rated truck bed covers and aren’t sure whether to get a hard cover or a soft one? Let’s take a look at the differentiating facts.

Hard covers

Bak hard truck bed cover

Hard truck bed covers are usually made of heavy-duty, highly durable materials to give your bed the utmost protection. This includes materials like fiberglass, thick plastic, or even solid aluminum panels. Parts like rims and hinges may be coated with substances like vinyl for a little extra flexibility, but overall, solid design is the name of the game.

These kinds of solid coverings effectively transform your truck bed into a solid box; no matter how much the contents of your cargo rattle around, they won’t be able to budge the cover, which means they’re staying right in your bed where they belong. Some hard covers also come with nifty built-in bonuses like slide-out shelves and panels, which makes it easier to remove the cargo without needing to detach the entire cover every time. Since they’re made of solid materials, hard covers are usually either foldable or retractable, though depending on their precise makeup, they may be rollable as well.

Soft covers

Autosaver88 soft truck bed cover

Soft truck bed covers feature a basic design that’s easy to install, roll out, and roll up. They’re usually made of simple vinyl fabric or canvas just thick enough to provide a simple protective layer while still being lightweight and flexible. When pulled taut over your truck bed, they can hold small objects in place, as well as defend the bed from elements like rain and mud.

The big appeal of a soft cover is the ease of access. Since they’re made of simpler materials, they’re easier to lift, move, and install. When you need to access your truck bed, you can just throw the flap back, grab what you need, and close it back up. The light weight of a soft cover also means it produces less of a burden on your truck’s overall weight, which means you get the protection you want without noticeably affecting your vehicle’s handling or fuel economy.

Which is better?

White pickup truck with bed cover

There’s no objective right answer in the decision between hard and soft truck bed covers. The kind you should get depends heavily on the kind of hauling you’re doing with your truck, not to mention your preferences with pricing and security.

As you may expect, a hard bed cover is generally more secure than a soft one, both in terms of hauling and privacy. After all, it’s a lot harder for an errant point in your cargo to poke through a solid sheet of fiberglass than a sheet of vinyl fabric. Additionally, a hard cover completely blocks your cargo from casual sight, which is vital if you’re hauling anything important or valuable that you don’t want passers-by to put their mitts on. Similarly to the pointy cargo, it’s also harder to break into a hard cover from the outside, as opposed to a soft cover that someone could potentially tear into.

On the other hand, soft covers are better from an economical perspective. Since they use thinner, simpler materials, a soft truck bed cover will usually only run you a few hundred dollars, whereas a hard cover can cost as much as several thousand for a high-end model. Since they weigh less, a soft cover also means you can safely haul more cargo which, depending on what you’re using your truck for, could mean money earned and saved. Soft covers are nice if you want some basic protection, but don’t need to get too intense about it.

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