The Ultimate Guide to Tonneau Covers

Tonneau ute covers have come a long way in the last 50 years, and there's a lot of options for the modern ute. In this article, we're going to review the different covers on offer, and how to select the right tonneau ute cover to fit your vehicle. 

What is a Tonneau Cover?

A tonneau (pronounced torno cover) cover is commonly a soft vinyl or canvas covering applied to a ute tray or tub to improve aerodynamics and load restraint. The word tonneau originates in France is used to describe a barrel, or barrel shaped item. These day’s tonneau covers and ute covers in general include soft coverings, hard lids and roll tops.

So Why Is It Called a Tonneau Cover?

Some of the first passenger vehicles had an open passenger compartment, that were shaped like a barrel. These were referred to as Tonneau’s, and therefore Tonneau Covers were used to protect the compartment when not in use. 

Types of Tonneau Covers

These days, there’s a lot of choice for covering your ute tray and tub. Each have their own strengths and weaknesses.  The most common options:

Rope Tonneau Covers

Rope Tonneau Covers use elastic cord to secure the soft vinyl cover factory ute hardware like hooks, or after-market hooks and buttons. Given the rope is actually elastic cord, it will wear over time and require replacement.

Bunji Tonneau Covers

Bunji Tonneau Covers use elastic bunji loops to secure the cover to buttons and hooks installed with the cover. Some vehicles come with buttons on the ute from the factory, but most will require installation with your cover.  The elastic on the bunji loops will fatigue over time, and require replacing. It’s an easy process with parts from our tonneau accessories range.

Clip On Tonneau Covers

Clip On Tonneau Covers are a clean option with lower maintenance costs with no elastic cord or bunji loops. Some utes will have clip on rails as a factory standard, meaning all you need is the cover to clip in. If not, your cover will come with rails that you will install to hold your cover in place.

No-Drill Clip On Tonneau Covers

No-Drill Clip on Tonneau Covers are the latest innovation that significantly reduce installation time and remove permanent changes to your ute like drill holes. These covers are perfect for new utes where the last thing you want to do is drill a hole in the side of it. They perform really well in the elements and can be installed in under 30 minutes.

Hard Tops or Ute Lids

Hard tops are one of the most secure options for covering your ute tray. They’re difficult to penetrate and usually have a locking system meaning your gear is secure. They’re more expensive than most, but a great option for suitable vehicles.

Roll Top Ute Covers

Roll Top Ute Covers are a new innovation that provide high security and accessibility for utes. The downside of hard lids is accessing the top section of your tray is restricted as the lid only opens a small amount. With roll top covers, you can access all of the tray when retracted, meaning you can top load large items, and easily retrieve items from under the back window. Our range of Roll Top Covers are Electric, and can be controlled from your phone. This reduces manual load and increases security as you can check on it at anytime, from anywhere.

Canopies (not exactly a tonneau but very popular)

Whilst not a tonneau cover, canopies occupy a large percentage of the market, and for good reason. Ute canopies double storage volume, will last a long time in the elements and are easy to install and remove at any time. The limitation of ute canopies is whilst they often have a lock, the windows are easily broken and many tradies will know someone that’s lost tools from their canopy. We recommend the darkest tint on your canopy windows to increase security.

How to Choose the Right Type of Tonneau Cover?

Choosing the right tonneau cover for you ute comes down to four things; security, installation, price and availability.

Security

What level of security do you need for your ute?

  • Will you be storing tools or valuable items in your ute?
  • Do you need the ability to lock your ute tray
  • How well do you need to protect your load from the elements

Installation

Tonneau covers are generally DIY friendly for installation, but they can vary a great deal in terms of tools, time and experience required.

Basic Bunji and Clip On Tonneau Covers will often require drilling into the ute to attach bunji buttons and rails, so factor this in if you’re not comfortable with these tools or drilling holes in your tray.

No-Drill Clip On Covers can be installed in under 30 minutes with no tools and no drilling into your ute. They’re a great option for simple installation of a high quality ute cover.

Hard lids will require a some tool expertise and an extra set of hands to install. This one can fall into DIY and trade installation depending on your experience

Roll Top Ute Covers will require tool expertise and a few hours of your time, but can be done by yourself or specialist technician.

Canopies are generally easily installed and removed with just an extra set of hands.

How Much Is a Tonneau Cover?

As always, budget is important in picking your vehicle accessories. They can range from $150 to $2000+ for hard tops, roll tops and canopies. You can see our Supply Works' full range of Tonneau Covers for pricing here.

Availability

The last important factor in your cover your ute tray is availability. The premium and high security options are generally only made for newer utes. If you own a classic ute, you’ll only have a non-genuine replica tonneau covers to suit. The other element is popularity. The most innovative and varied tonneau covers are made for the most popular brands like Ford or Toyota. Brands like LDV or Proton will get a simpler range made for them.

Cover Type

Security

Installation

Price

Rope Tonneau Cover

Weak

Common sense DIY

$

Bunji Tonneau Cover

Weak

Common sense DIY

$

Clip On Tonneau Cover

Weak

Common sense DIY

$

No-Drill Tonneau Cover

Weak

One eye closed

$$

Hard Lids

Strong

Medium Difficulty

$$$

Roll Tops

Strong

Challenging

$$$

Canopies

Medium

Common sense DIY

$$$

 

Selecting the right Tonneau Cover

If you’ve selected the style of cover, you still need to get the right cover for your exact year, make, model and variation. When purchasing a ute cover, you will need:

  • Manufacture year (month may also be required)
  • Make and Model
  • Body and Cab Style (Dual cab, single cab etc)
  • Does it have sports bars
  • Does it have a headboard

Sports Bars

 

Sports Bar Example

Headboard (white bars)

 

Contact Us

Once you have this information, you can confidently pick the right cover.

If ever in doubt, you can contact our team via phone on +61421190490 or send us a message and we’ll help you choose the right tonneau cover!