Pros and Cons of Tri-Fold Tonneau Covers

Tonneau covers have evolved significantly since their inception, initially designed to shield cargo from the elements and prying eyes. Among these, tri-fold tonneau covers have gained popularity for their practicality and efficiency. They offer truck owners a reliable means of protecting their truck beds while enhancing vehicle aesthetics.

Types of Tri-Fold Tonneau Covers

Tri-fold tonneau covers are predominantly available in two types: hard folding and soft folding.

Hard Folding Covers

Constructed with robust materials like aluminum or fiberglass, hard folding covers are revered for their durability and security. Their rigid design resists tampering, making them a steadfast choice for protecting valuable cargo.

Soft Folding Covers

Soft tonneau cover installed on Ford
Soft Trifold tonneau cover

Soft folding covers, usually made of vinyl or canvas, offer unparalleled flexibility and ease of use. They are lightweight, easy to operate, and provide sufficient protection against environmental factors.

Now, each type has its merits and demerits, with hard covers offering better security and soft covers providing ease of handling, impacting their suitability for various truck models and cargo types.

Now, for the sake of simplicity, its best we do the soft covers pros and cons separately, here’s the link to that:

Pros of Tri-Fold Tonneau Covers

These advantages make tri-fold tonneau covers a popular choice for truck owners who prioritize security, protection, and style. Whether for professional use or personal preference, these covers offer a blend of functionality and visual appeal.

Additional Security

  • Locking Mechanisms: Both hard and soft tri-fold tonneau covers are typically equipped with locking mechanisms. This feature is crucial in enhancing the security of the cargo. The hard covers, due to their rigid construction, often offer a higher level of security. They are more resistant to break-ins and attempts at forced entry. On the other hand, soft covers, while not as secure as hard covers, still provide a significant upgrade in security compared to an uncovered truck bed. The presence of a cover itself acts as a deterrent to potential thieves.
  • Material Strength: The materials used in both hard and soft tri-fold covers contribute to their security features. Hard covers are often made of robust materials like aluminum, fiberglass, or hard plastic, which are difficult to cut through or break. Soft covers, although less sturdy, still offer protection due to tear-resistant fabrics.
  • Secure Latching: The latching systems on these covers are designed to securely lock the cover to the truck bed, preventing unauthorized access. This is particularly important for truck owners who frequently carry valuable tools or cargo.

Protection from the Elements

  • Weatherproofing: Tri-fold tonneau covers play a pivotal role in protecting cargo from various weather conditions. They are particularly effective against rain, snow, and the damaging effects of prolonged exposure to sunlight. Most covers come with weather seals that prevent water seepage, thus keeping the cargo dry during rainy or snowy conditions.
  • UV Protection: The materials used in these covers often include UV-resistant properties, protecting the cargo and the cover itself from sun damage. This is especially beneficial for truck owners who live in areas with high UV exposure.
  • Wind Resistance: When driving at high speeds, an uncovered truck bed can lead to cargo damage due to wind. Tri-fold covers help in securely keeping the cargo in place, reducing the risk of wind damage.

Aesthetic Appeal

Sleek Finished Hard tonneau cover
Hard trifold tonneau cover’s polished top
  • Variety of Finishes and Styles: The aesthetic appeal of tri-fold tonneau covers is a significant factor for many truck owners. These covers are available in a variety of finishes, including matte, gloss, and even custom colors. This variety allows truck owners to choose a cover that complements the style and color of their vehicle.
  • Enhances Vehicle Look: A well-chosen tonneau cover can significantly enhance the overall look of the truck. It adds a sleek, finished appearance, making the vehicle look more polished and professionally outfitted.
  • Personalization: With the wide range of styles available, truck owners have the opportunity to personalize their vehicle’s appearance. Whether they prefer a rugged, utilitarian look or a more refined, sleek appearance, there is a tri-fold cover to suit their aesthetic preference.

Cons of Tri-Fold Tonneau Covers

Now no product is perfect, of course, and that’s very true for these covers as well, as they have:

Limited Access to Truck Bed

  • Restricted Bed Accessibility: One of the primary drawbacks of tri-fold tonneau covers is their impact on the accessibility of the truck bed. When these covers are installed, they can limit the ability to use the full bed space, especially when needing to transport large or tall items. While some tri-fold covers can be partially opened to provide limited access, they typically do not allow for complete use of the truck bed without removing the cover entirely.
  • Inconvenience for Frequent Access: For users who need frequent and full access to their truck bed, this limitation can be a significant inconvenience. It requires planning and adjustment, especially when carrying items that are taller than the height of the cover when folded.

Appearance Issues

Hard Trifold tonneau cover
Hard tonneau cover rough top
  • Non-Flush Fit: Some tri-fold tonneau cover models may not align perfectly with the truck’s profile. This misalignment can create a gap between the cover and the bed rails or may cause the cover to sit slightly above the level of the bed rails, impacting the overall aesthetics of the vehicle.
  • Aesthetic Mismatch: In some cases, the material or finish of the tonneau cover might not perfectly match the truck’s design, leading to a visual mismatch. This can be particularly noticeable on trucks with specific design lines or custom paint jobs.

Installation and Removal Challenges

  • Complex Installation Process: Particularly with hard tri-fold covers, the installation process can be cumbersome and time-consuming. It often requires tools and mechanical knowledge, which might not be suitable for all truck owners.
  • Difficulty in Removal: Removing a hard tri-fold cover can be challenging, particularly due to its weight and size. This can be a significant issue for users who need to alternate between using and not using the cover frequently.

Potential for Bubbling and Leaking

bubbles in soft trifolding tonneau cover
Bubbling in soft tonneau cover
  • Risk of Leaks: Over time, the seals of tri-fold tonneau covers can wear out, leading to potential leaks. This is especially problematic in areas with heavy rainfall or snow, as water seepage can damage the cargo.
  • Bubbling Issues: Some covers, particularly those with vinyl material, might develop bubbles due to exposure to extreme temperatures or UV rays. This bubbling not only impacts the appearance of the cover but can also reduce its effectiveness in protecting the cargo.
  • Maintenance Requirements: To address these issues, regular maintenance and occasional repairs might be necessary, adding to the overall cost and effort of owning a tri-fold tonneau cover.

Extang Encore: This cover is distinguished by its durability, one of the strongest in the tri-fold category. It’s made with resilient materials, ensuring it withstands wear, tear, and environmental elements. The cover also features effective weatherproofing and UV protection, maintaining its condition over time. For an in-depth review, you can visit the Extang Encore Review.

Gator EFX: Recognized for its affordability, the Gator EFX offers a good balance of quality and value. It’s an excellent choice for those looking for a cost-effective yet reliable tonneau cover. To learn more, see the Gator EFX Review.

BAKFlip MX4: This cover is well-known for its aesthetic appeal. It features a sleek, low-profile design with a stylish jet-black matte finish, enhancing the look of your truck. For further details, the BAKFlip MX4 Review is available.

LOMAX Stance: Praised for its ease of use, the LOMAX Stance is known for its quick installation and lightweight design, making it user-friendly and convenient to handle. For additional information, check out the LOMAX Stance Review.

BAKFlip F1: Ideal for those needing a robust cover, the BAKFlip F1 is resistant to dents and scratches, thanks to its Fiberglass Reinforced Polymer top. It’s especially suitable in harsh weather conditions. For more insights, visit the BAKFlip F1 Review.

Extang Solid Fold 2.0: Known for its high security, the Extang Solid Fold 2.0 features durable EnduraShield panels and a design that makes it tough to breach when the tailgate is locked. Further details can be found in the Extang Solid Fold 2.0 Review.

Remember, while these tonneau covers add a layer of security, it’s always advisable to take additional measures for safeguarding valuable items in your truck bed.


In summary, tri-fold tonneau covers present a balanced blend of security, protection, and style. However, their selection should be a thoughtful process, considering personal requirements and the specific demands of one’s truck and cargo.