In the varied world of 4X4 customisation, tonneau covers stand out as both practical and stylish additions to dual cab utes. Serving a myriad of purposes, from protecting cargo to enhancing the vehicle’s aesthetic appeal, tonneau covers are a versatile and essential accessory for owners of utes, big or small. This guide aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of tonneau covers, delving into the various styles, their advantages and disadvantages, and key considerations for choosing the perfect cover. Whether you’re a first-time buyer or a seasoned upfitter, this guide is your go-to resource for everything you need to know about tonneau covers.
Understanding Tonneau Covers
Who Needs Tonneau Covers
Tonneau covers, also known as bed or tub covers, are not just for the aesthetic-conscious ute owner; they are a necessity for anyone looking to enhance their vehicle’s functionality. They effectively split the difference between the volume of storage space of a ute, and the weather sealing of a wagon. They cater to a range of needs – from tradies securing tools to outdoor enthusiasts protecting gear from the elements, even just giving you somewhere to stash your groceries out of the sun. Essentially, if you use your ute tub regularly and need to safeguard its contents, a tonneau cover is an indispensable addition.
How Tonneau Covers Enhance Vehicle Utility
The utility of tonneau covers extends beyond just covering cargo. They enhance fuel efficiency by reducing aerodynamic drag, provide security against theft, and offer protection from weather elements like rain, heat, and excessive sunlight. Moreover, tonneau covers can increase a ute’s resale value, making them a wise investment for any ute owner.
What’s Right for Your Ride
Styles of Tonneau Covers
Folding Covers: These are segmented into panels that fold back, offering quick and easy access to the ute tub. Ideal for those who need frequent and full tub access. Pros include easy installation and partial tub access without full removal. However, they can obstruct rear-view visibility when fully opened.
Retractable Covers: These covers glide back into a canister at the front of the tub, offering a sleek look and easy operation. These offer a sleek design and durable construction but are typically more expensive and can consume tub space due to the canister.
Roll-Up Covers: Made from durable fabric, these covers roll up toward the cab, providing full tub access. They’re a lightweight and cost-effective option. Budget-friendly and easy to operate, their downside lies in less robust security compared to hardcovers.
Material and Durability
Tonneau covers are made from a variety of materials, including aluminium, fibreglass, vinyl, and plastic. The choice of material impacts durability, security, and weight. Aluminium and fibreglass offer high durability and security, while vinyl and plastic are lighter and more affordable.
Four Questions You Need to Ask
When selecting a Tonneau cover, it’s crucial to consider the clearance it offers. You need to ensure that the cover accommodates any cargo you plan to carry or storage systems. For instance, roller draws and fridges on slides may impact on retractable covers that roll under the top of the tub, but covers that roll on the top may still clear.
Sealing and Weather Protection
A key function of tonneau covers is to protect your cargo from the elements. Look for covers with reliable sealing capabilities to guard against water, dust, and snow. Proper sealing not only protects your gear but also prolongs the life of the cover.
Styling and Aesthetics
Tonneau covers can significantly enhance the overall look of your vehicle. Consider the style that complements your ute’s appearance. Whether it’s a sleek retractable cover or a rugged roll-up, the right choice can elevate your ute’s aesthetic.
Think about how the cover will integrate with other accessories on your ute, like racks or toolboxes. Some covers are designed with compatibility in mind, offering versatile solutions for custom setups.
Spotlight on Popular Brands
Retrax is renowned for pioneering sturdy, retractable covers that offer a blend of security and style. There’s a range of options to choose from with industrial-strength aluminium or a robust polycarbonate construction, as well as both manual or electric opening versions. The XR models allow additional storage above with the T-slot racks allowing for fitment of cross bars above the tonneau, somewhere you can mount or store bulky items like swags, roof top tents, or mountain bikes. Available for most popular utes on the market Retrax are a top choice for ute owners seeking durability and ease of use. They excel in offering robust security features and a user-friendly retractable mechanism, lockable in any position that doesn’t compromise on tub space.
Extang specialises in soft- and hard-folding tonneau cover designs. Their covers are celebrated for their ease of installation and user-friendly operation. Both options boast effortless functionality with easy multi-position folding, allowing you to customise your cargo space on the fly. Extang’s commitment to quality and versatility makes them a popular brand for most utes on the market . Their covers are an excellent choice for ute owners who prioritise ease of installation and versatility. Whether you’re after a sleek, low-profile look of a soft folding cover or the rugged strength and security of a hard folding option, Extang has you covered.
BAK offers a range of hard-rolling and hard-folding bed covers, known for their durability and sleek designs. Their covers, compatible with many ute models, provide maximum security, all-weather protection and resilience, making them a reliable choice for both personal and professional use.
UnderCover’s low-profile, hard-folding bed covers are favoured for their lightweight yet strong construction and easy installation. They cater to a range of preferences and ute models.
Installation and Maintenance
While installation varies by brand and style, general guidelines include ensuring proper alignment, securing all fittings tightly, and following the manufacturer’s instructions. Most covers will require basic tools and a second person for installation.
Regular cleaning, checking for wear and tear, and ensuring proper sealing are key to maintaining your tonneau cover. It’s also advisable to lubricate moving parts periodically to ensure smooth operation. Ensure you follow the manufacturer’s guide to maintaining and maximising the life of your tonneau cover.
Get Yourself Covered
Tonneau covers are more than just an accessory; they’re a functional and aesthetic enhancement to your ute. Whether you prioritise security, style, or durability, there is a tonneau cover out there to meet your needs. Brands like Retrax,Extang, BAK and UnderCover provide outstanding options. Remember, the best tonneau cover is one that aligns with your specific requirements and lifestyle.