Gator Covers has a great reputation for making high-quality aftermarket products for truck beds. A quick internet search will reveal high ratings for just about every one of their products and their line of roll-up tonneau covers is no exception. But how much stock can you put in a random customer’s Amazon review? We weeded though the positive and the negative by taking a hard look at four of their roll-up covers: Gator SRX, Gator SR1, Gator SR2, and the Gator HR1.
- Heavy-duty vinyl
- Industrial grade hook and loop fastening
- Trigger latch opening mechanism
- TruXedo TruXport
- Tyger Auto T1
- MaxMate Soft Roll Up
What We Like
- Strong crossbar support
- Full bed use
- Tough yet flexible vinyl
What We Didn’t Like
- Doesn’t always roll flat properly
- Lacking in bed security
Overall Design and Construction
The Gator line of soft tonneau covers are all constructed with heavy duty vinyl, with a varying thickness and makeup between the four models covered in this review. The differences are broken down below, but for the most part, these covers all fit snuggly over the bed via strips of industrial grade hook and loop to form a watertight seal.
The Gator SRX is made of commercial grade vinyl. It sits approximately ¾ of an inch above the bed and seals above the bed rails. The vinyl surface has a slightly textured grain finish. Three crossbars provide both tension and support to the cover so that it stays flat. It comes with a one-year warranty.
Building on the SRX design, the Gator SR1 is made of a thicker, marine-grade vinyl with the same textured finish. The only other difference is that it is backed by a five-year warranty.
The Gator SR2 goes even further. The cover itself is fashioned of double-coasted heavy-duty vinyl which attaches to the bed on the inside of the bed rails. It also includes an integrated tension adjuster bolt at the front of the cab to help ensure a perfect fit. Like the SR1, it has a five-year warranty.
Finally, we have the Gator HR1. Unlike the others, the HR1 is more like a hybrid of both a soft and hard tonneau cover. Instead of crossbars, it has rows of aluminum slats that are bonded to the industrial vinyl surface. It is backed by a three-year warranty.
While there are several options to chose from in the Gator tonneau cover family, there isn’t much in the way of features in any of the models. But that doesn’t appear to be their selling point. It’s all about the design and the simplicity of it. But there a couple features that do bear mentioning.
All models except the HR1 are equipped with trigger latches at the cover’s rear. This trigger pops open the cover with a simple pull. The HR1 instead has a cable latch under the rear lip that offers a similar function. These are only accessible when the tailgate is open, otherwise the cover cannot be opened.
Once the cover is rolled up it is secured at the front of the bed by a pair of hook straps that allow full access to the bed. With the hooks secured, you are able to drive safely. The HR1 functions the same, but with buckles instead of hooks.
If you are looking for a cover that gives you the use of your entire bed, any time you want it, a soft, roll-up tonneau cover is almost always a sure bet. All five of these Gator models give you this with veritable ease. Just pop, roll, and go.
Another advantage that comes with the Gator covers is protection from the weather. As long as you ensure that the cover is sealed right along the bed rails, you’ll find that the bed will stay dry. No leaks like you’ll find from other types of tonneau covers. This also means that there are no drain tubes to contend with.
There is a short list of things you may find with the Gator covers. The most notable one is managing the crossbars when unrolling the cover. If they aren’t set just right long the bed rails, then the cover may not latch in place. This, of course, can be frustrating when you are in a hurry.
While the protection against the elements is a major plus, moisture can pool on the surface. So, if the cover is wet and you need to get in, you have the choice of either crawling into the bed or rolling it back and potentially creating a mess.
Security goes only so far with the Gator covers, or any soft cover for that matter. The cover can’t be opened when the tailgate is shut, but the vinyl can protect the contents of your bed only so much. The Gator HR1, because of its aluminum slats, performs much better in this regard.
Finally, is weight capacity. You can’t stack anything on the Gator covers (though you probably wouldn’t want to anyway). They are rated to hold rain or a load of snow, but not much more. Again, the Gator HR1 is an exception. It can hold up to 400 pounds of cargo.
Getting the Gator covers out of the box and on to your truck bed is about as easy a task as you are going to find with roll-up tonneau covers. Gator estimates that it should take no more than an hour to install your cover, and we found this to be a generous estimate. If you’ve done any routine assembly in your home, then there should be no challenge putting any one of these covers into place.
All that’s involved with installation is putting the rails in place, setting the header bar in place, and tightening it all down with a ½-inch wrench or socket. After that, your pretty much good to go.
Choosing one of the Gator line of roll-up tonneau covers really comes down to price and security, because everything else about them is self-evident. They are all easy to use, and they all protect your bed and its contents from the weather. The rest is about the level of vinyl durability, or in the case of the Gator HR1, aluminum slats. No matter what one you chose, we consider the Gator tonneau covers a great buy.