Dodge Ram Tonneau Cover Buying Guide
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Dodge Ram Tonneau Cover Buying Guide

Writer John Linden

From snowy mountain tops to muddy fields and everything in between, your Dodge Ram is made to tackle head-on every challenge you put in front of it. So when considering significant additions to your truck, it is essential you ensure that whatever you put on is designed and made to both better you and your trucks capabilities. You don't want to hinder the exceptional design and utility options you enjoy. A Dodge Ram tonneau cover (a flat or low truck bed covering) needs to work with you and your truck, not just look the part.

Dodge Ram trucks are used for a broad and diverse range of jobs all over the United States every day. This prolific worksite usage has led to an equally vast array of tonneau covers to assist and benefit these trucks in their tasks. What this means for you is that there is likely quite a few tonneau covers out there that have been designed with your specific needs in mind. From added security to weather resistance and cleaner storage, the options in Dodge Ram tonneau covers is immense.

While there is no single “best” Dodge Ram tonneau cover, there likely is a style and material that is going to benefit you the most.  Our goal here is to present you an overview of the Dodge Ram Tonneau Cover industry. Rather than review hundreds of brands, we are going to help you pinpoint exactly what material and cover style is best suited to your needs, significantly reducing the time you’ll waste sorting through all of that other noise. (We are also going to kill an ongoing myth about tonneau covers while we are at it -so stick around).

Guide Contents

  1. What is a Tonneau Cover? What is a Tonneau?
  2. 3 Benefits of Tonneau Covers for Dodge Ram
    1. The Protection of your tools,luggage, etc.
    2. Increased Security
    3. Value Retention
    4. Other Tonneau Cover Facts:
  3. Types of Tonneau Covers for Your Dodge Ram
    1. Retractable Tonneau Covers
    2. Electric Tonneau Covers
    3. Soft Roll Up Tonneau Covers
    4. Soft Folding Tonneau Covers
    5. Hard Folding Tonneau Covers
    6. ‘High-Impact Plastic’ Tonneau Covers and Painted Fiberglass Lids
  4. Before you Buy Your Dodge Ram Tonneau Cover
    1. How to Measure Your Truck Bed for a Tonneau Cover
    2. Choosing the Right Tonneau Cover for your Dodge Ram
    3. A Quick Look at the Popular Tonneau Cover Materials
  5. In Conclusion

What is a Tonneau Cover? What is a Tonneau?

Most people understand what a Tonneau Cover is; a  hard or soft cover used to protect an open area of a vehicle. In a truck, it covers the bed, while it is also the name for soft cover piece used to preserve the uncopied passenger seats in a convertible.

Dodge Ram Tonneau Cover Buying Guide
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But what is a tonneau?

A tonneau is just another word for an area of a car or truck that is open at the top. This applies to both cargo and passenger spaces. For our uses, we are referring to the bed of your Dodge truck.

A tonneau cover is usually built to maintain the existing body lines of your truck -meaning it is flat or flush to the top of your truck bed wall. These flat bed covers come in both soft and hard materials and can be moved, rolled up or otherwise manipulated in a variety of ways (depending on brand and style). These covers are most popular with those who need to maintain security and prevent the elements from getting into the truck bed, -hauling large amounts of tools from site to site for example.

Three Benefits of Tonneau Covers for Dodge Ram

The benefits of tonneau covers can be as varied as there are options out there. Some unique brands have extra bells and whistles, some do not. Regardless, these are the three major benefits most commonly touted by those who buy tonneau covers.

1.    The Protection of your Tools, Luggage, etc.

The most popular need that drives purchasing of tonneau covers is the desire to keep the objects you are transporting safe from the elements. Whether picking your daughter up at the airport in the rain or trying to keep the snow off our tools, keeping the elements out can do wonders for the objects on the inside. This improved longevity also reaches to the bed floor itself, helping it last longer. Certain Areas like Seattle or Ohio, I can say from experience, require some sort of year-round elemental protection if you are working out of your Dodge.

Dodge Ram Tonneau Cover Buying Guide
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Vinyl covers are very water resistant, but they are not totally waterproof. The only genuinely waterproof tonneau cover will be the ones made of a single solid piece of hardened material (fiberglass).


2.    Increased Security

Just like window tinting, by obscuring the objects in your truck you can avoid a large number of theft issues. Sometimes merely trying to be out of sight or mind is not enough and you will have to invest in a hard tonneau cover with a locking mechanism. At either rate, a well-made tonneau cover will give you an extra layer of security when you are moving items around.

Dodge Ram Tonneau Cover Buying Guide
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3.    Value Retention

By avoiding break-ins, reducing the wear and tear from rain and snow, and stopping the sun from beating down on the bed of the truck, a tonneau cover goes a long way in helping your vehicle to retain its overall value. Over a long enough period of time, a tonneau cover becomes an investment in the effective, productive lifespan of your vehicle.

Other Tonneau Cover Facts:

Aesthetic benefits over other bed coverings

Unlike other forms of bed coverings, a tonneau cover does not obscure the original lines of your truck. This makes tonneau covers a favorite for those concerned about maintaining a certain aesthetic.

The Myth: While we are here, it is worth talking about gas mileage. Almost every major company trying to sell you a tonneau cover will claim that these covers will give you better gas mileage. According to studies done by Consumer Report on a 2013, Dodge Ram found these claims have no science to back them up (quite the contrary actually). Be sure to double check who you buy your products from, and be sure they won’t just say anything to get you to make a purchase. I legitimately love having a tonneau cover on my truck, but I don’t need to make up reasons to justify its purchase  It helps me enough in the real world,

Types of Tonneau Covers for Your Dodge Ram

Retractable Tonneau Covers

Average Price (Out of 5): $$$ - $$$$

Retractable tonneau covers are a bit more expensive than their soft material or stationary brethren. These retractable covers are similar in design to the roll-up metal slat doors you will find in front of many commercial garages and businesses. Having a solid aluminum slat cover that you can remove allows you the best of both security and versatility. Protect your tools from the elements and thieves, but also make space for large loads. There are various glossy and matte finishes available that allow you to customize the final look.

There is typically a canister or tube placed at the cab end of the bed that the cover rolls up into. These covers don’t take up much space, usually less than a foot of bed area. There is a warning however; the water seal on these types of covers is much less effective over time, and sometimes they never really are on the lower end. High-end retractable covers give you an even wider range of versatility, allowing you to lock them into place at different stages of being rolled up. Better covers are also typically better at keeping out the elements, especially after a few months of sitting on the truck.

If you are going to invest in a retractable cover, spend the time to make the extra step into the more versatile and durable brands.

Electric Tonneau Covers

Average Price (Out of 5): $$$$$

Electric options are the generally the most expensive and most elaborate of tonneau covers. Similar to retractable covers, but with button operated retraction and extension functions. If you are looking favorably at a retractable tonneau cover but think you would greatly benefit from a hands-free operation function, then you will want to consider an electric retractable tonneau covers.

Soft Roll Up Tonneau Covers

Average Price (Out of 5): $

These are the least expensive options, but that doesn’t mean the right cover won’t get the job done with the best of em. If you are willing to put in a little elbow grease from time to time and make sure to buy the right brand cover, your soft roll-up tonneau cover can be as useful as the best electric cover. While a softcover can never really offer the same level of security as a hardcover, they are often just as good (if not better) at keeping out moisture, bugs, and other elements.

Soft covers (when used correctly) are able to stay sealed better than many slat style hard tonneau covers. Of course, the more water resistant the material, the better it will be at this task as well. Remember though, vinyl and other soft covers are very water resistant, but they are not totally waterproof. The only genuinely waterproof tonneau cover will be the ones made of a single solid piece of hardened material (fiberglass).

Most soft roll-up covers are attached by a series of snaps lining the truck bed.

An access roll-up cover is made with some extra features to make it more viable in extremely cold temperatures and are more able to handle harsher climates and jobs. An access cover is also referred to as an “all season cover.”

Soft Folding Tonneau Covers

Average Price (Out of 5): $$

Soft folding tonneau covers are similar to soft covers in all of their major benefits and concerns -the main difference here is the addition and removal of the cover itself. A traditional soft tonneau cover needs to connect through a truly annoying large number of snaps. In the extreme cold, these snaps can be outright brutal. Folding covers simplify this process by stretching the cover over sectioned panels that are unfolded and folded when the cover is applied or removed. It makes the whole process much faster. Very popular with those needing to rotate between more massive cargo hauls and cover usage.

Hard Folding Tonneau Covers

Average Price (Out of 5): $$$ - $$$$

Hard folding bed covers function and are utilized more or less the same as soft folding covers except that they are made from an aluminum or fiber-reinforced plastic. This is a nice compromise between the (usually costlier) hard retractable tonneau covers and the various soft cover styles. If you want something simple and practical but still require the added security of a hard material.

Dodge Ram Tonneau Cover Buying Guide
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‘High-Impact Plastic’ Tonneau Covers and Painted Fiberglass Lids

Average Price (Out of 5): $$$ - $$$$$

‘High-Impact Plastic’ Tonneau Covers and Painted Fiberglass Lids are extremely popular bed lids due to their great security features, near perfect weatherproofing, and their low visual profile.

The plastic covers typically weigh upwards of 60 lbs. and can be removed with a little effort. While these tops limit the way you can access your truck bed, they often have added storage compartments and shelves lining the inside.

Fiberglass lids are made to look just like the rest of your Dodge Ram and therefore much more visually appealing -and expensive Fiberglass lids will weigh around 100-130 lbs. And can be removed if you have a place to keep it safe in the meantime. These tops also have added storage and security features.

Before you Buy Your Dodge Ram Tonneau Cover

Now that you have an idea of what is out there and which tonneau cover will likely best fit your Dodge Ram and how you utilize it we can make sure you avoid some common pitfalls and hang ups.

How to Measure Your Truck Bed for a Tonneau Cover

Dodge Ram Tonneau Cover Buying Guide

When figuring out what prices and products you should be looking at, start with the exact parameters of what you need. In this case, you will want to get the measurement of your truck bed.

Measure your bed from inside the bulkhead to the inside of the tailgate. Or stated otherwise: From far wall to wall (lengthwise).

For Dodge Ram there are quite a few possible sizes. Check your measurements against a reference chart like this one or this one to ensure accuracy.

Choosing the Right Tonneau Cover for your Dodge Ram

This is merely restating what was said before. Make sure you account for your personal needs. A soft cover may give way under heavy snow piling on top of it, a hardcover may be the only way to keep your tools safe, and so on adequately.

Dodge Ram Tonneau Cover Buying Guide
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A Quick Look at the Popular Tonneau Cover Materials

Fiberglass

High cost but sturdy and beautiful. These blend seamlessly with your truck. These also add the benefit of being the most resilient against the weather and intruders. The hard material is often utilized to hold extra carrying compartments.

Vinyl

Vinyl is a great material to keep your stuff dry. There is a reason these forms of bed covers are extremely popular. Vinyl bridges the gap between soft versatile covers and great weather protection.

Aluminum

Lightweight but tough, aluminum will keep your bed safe without weighing down your Dodge. Easy to use and highly effective.

Molded Plastic/ABS

Molded plastic and ABS tonneau covers are extremely tough and weather resistant - but are still  lightweight and easy to move around. This material is really the best of many worlds for its ability to take an impact, ward off intruders, ignore rain and snow and really come in almost any configuration the manufacturer wants. Some also come with a top vinyl layer to give the same look as the body of your Dodge.

Canvas

Cheap and lightweight, these are great for occasional or impromptu usage.

In Conclusion

There is no perfect tonneau cover for a Dodge Ram, but there are definitely better or worse choices for your specific needs. You will often “get what you pay for” when it comes to these sorts of additions, so a little investment in a better tonneau cover now can really pay off a lot in the long run.