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Tonneau Cover vs. Canopy: Which One is Better?

Toyota Hilux with canopy in the camping lodge.

Have you recently bought a truck or SUV? Fantastic! Now you need to decide if you should get a canopy or tonneau. The tonneau versus canopy debate has been raging for years. I don’t think anyone has won it hands down. That said, I’ll also weigh in and argue my point with this article. I hope it helps you to make the right decision.

In this article, I compare the pros and cons of tonneau covers and canopies. I tell you which one will prevent damage to your cargo, improve the aesthetic of your truck, or retain the value of your car. And so on.

But before I dive in, first things first:

Is it worth it to have a tonneau or canopy? 

Close-up of Trifecta with tonneau.

I believe that tonneau covers and canopies are worth every cent. But each has a host of pros and cons, which this article will address. Whether you want a new fiberglass canopy, new aluminum canopy, ABS tonneau covers, or pre-owned canopies, you can have them. They are by far the best way to secure your luggage and your car. 

Let me compare how the two differ: 

Tonneau 

White Ford Raptor with tonneau cover.

Tonneau covers have improved significantly over the years. Today, most car dealers offer tonneau covers as an optional extra you can purchase with your truck. For instance, when you buy a Ford, Mahindra, or Toyota, you’re likely to get one of those with a tonneau. 

Tonneau covers come in various shapes, sizes, or materials. Some are cloth-like materials that you stretch over your cargo. What I’ve noticed about most cloth-like tonneaus is that they fade over time.

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And there is a good explanation for this: the sun’s rays are constantly beating down on them. It doesn’t matter if you have a soft roll-up tonneau cover, a hard roll-up, a deck system, a hard lid, or a hard folding. It will fade over time.

Lifestyle

Your lifestyle will determine what kind of tonneau you should buy. For example, if you want to protect your tools from rain, a soft tonneau will be perfect for you. But if you frequently travel around with an expensive machine, you may need a hard folding one.

Let’s look at some pros of having a tonneau. 

Pros

  • It is much easier to install on your own.
  • It protects your tools and gear from thieves, the weather, or the wind.
  • Tonneaus are user-friendly. You can fold or unfold them without struggling.
  • They keep your items out of sight.
  • Tonneaus will make your friends jealous.
  • It retains the value of your truck or SUV.

Cons

Tonneaus have some serious shortcomings as well. 

  • Very few tonneau covers can handle the significant weight on top of them.
  • The sun will reduce the quality of your tonneau. 
  • Tonneaus are not as spacious as canopies, which means you’ll struggle to organize your truck bed. 

Canopy 

Mitsubishi Triton with canopy.

A canopy is an ideal accessory for keeping the bed of a truck safe and dry. Not only is a canopy durable, but it protects your truck over time. Types of canopies that you may find include fiberglass canopies, aluminum canopies, and steel canopies. 

While a canopy comes in handy if you want to store a couple of small pieces of gear in your truck safely. It is not efficient at hauling something big like a motorbike. There is more: This study reveals that you’ll save on fuel costs when driving a pickup with a canopy, as it reduces wind drag.

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Another benefit is that you can get a canopy that comes equipped with opening side windows. So next time you want to take out something, you can slide open the window. Then take out whatever you want. And if it’s too dark, you don’t need to use a torch. Your canopy has an internal LED light to help you see clearly. 

Let’s look at the pros and cons of a canopy.

 Pros

  • Canopies give your truck or SUV a stylish look. 
  • They’re much roomier than tonneaus.
  • You can get central locking on canopies.
  • A canopy will transform your truck from an open bed to an encased room.
  • Some canopies are primarily sturdy enough to handle trade work.

Cons

  • Canopies are generally larger and cumbersome.
  • You can’t install a canopy on your own. In most cases, you will need someone to help you. 
  • A canopy is much more expensive than a tonneau.

Final Thoughts 

Lastly, if you’re still unsure about what to purchase between a canopy and a tonneau, use price as your deciding factor. But always keep this in mind, a canopy is the most expensive accessory cover option for your truck.

Expect to pay anything from $1995 to R3,000 for a Bulldog truck canopy. In contrast, a tonneau cover will cost you only $389. That said, your lifestyle will determine which option will work for you. Based on the price alone, tonneau seems to emerge as a winner. However, one of the significant drawbacks of the tonneau is that it is not spacious like a canopy. Do the math and make your own decision!