Best Tri-Fold Tonneau Covers

Best Tri-Fold Tonneau Covers

Tri-fold tonneau covers are popular with truck owners. These hard-panel models hit that middle ground, offering good security, but at a lower price. All the tonneau covers open easily and go back into place just as quickly. While the soft-cover versions don’t offer the protection of their hard-panel brothers, they do conceal contents. Remember, out of sight, out of mind.

All the models reviewed here look good and stand up to daily use. Even after a few years, they continue to function well. Read on and learn the details.

Here is a quick rundown of the models.

Tyger Auto T3 Best entry-levelSleek and attractive. Keeps its looks. Easy to install and holds up to everyday useIt’s a soft-cover, so security is minimalThis is a great entry-level tri-foldCheck Price
Gator EFX Best mid-rangeSturdy construction and the ease of operation offered by cable-pull latches. Some complaints of parts coming loose or not fitting completely well, but this is the exception rather than the rule. A nice-looking cover with a bit more quality. Check Price
BakFlip MX4Best choiceSmooth operation and all three panels fold up for almost total truck bed accessThis is a nice tri-fold, hard-panel tonneau cover, but the price point is highBeefed up panels and construction supports 400 lbsCheck Price


Best Tri-Fold Tonneau Covers: Reviews & Recommendations

Tyger Auto T3 Soft Tri-Fold

BRAND: Tyger
FINISH: Soft-textured black
MATERIAL: Dual-coated vinyl
WARRANTY: Limited lifetime warranty for US customers
PRICE: Check Price

The Tyger Auto T3 is an entry-level tri-fold tonneau cover, but you may go no further because it is worth every penny. Three years later this baby still looks brand new. Release the clamps at the back panel where the cover rests on the tailgate and it still wants to pop up. That’s how tight and flat this cover remains.

One of the nicest features of this cover is that it comes out of the box in one self-contained unit. All clamps and straps are attached and ready to use. It goes on in minutes. The Tyger T3 requires no adjustment or fine-tuning.

This tonneau cover is made from durable, dual-coated vinyl, stretched over an aluminum frame. The frame supports it along the edges and incorporates two lateral pieces extending across the bed under the cover for extra support and to keep it flat. The folding hinges are durable and built for everyday use.

The Tyger T3 folds up in seconds, folds out again and securely fastens in place just as quickly. When folded, the entire assembly rests on the last panel, held secure by straps that quickly attach and detach.

If there is a drawback to this tri-fold tonneau cover, it’s that the panel up against the bulkhead of the truck does not allow full access to the bed of your truck. Remember, though, that the entire Tyger T3 cover, as one unit, comes off as quickly as it goes on, and it stores in a handy carrying bag that it originally came with. Some truck owners don’t like the clamps. They would rather have the convenience of cable pull releases for the panels, but remember, you can’t beat the price.


DNA Motoring Solid Tri-Fold Tonneau Cover

BRAND: DNA Motoring
FINISH: Powder-coated black
MATERIAL: Aluminum with a composite core
PRICE: Check Price

This solid tri-fold tonneau cover from DNA Motoring gets you into the world of hard-cover tonneaus at a great price, and for the money, it is attractive and does the job.

The cover is made from durable, powder-coated aluminum skin, top and bottom, that sandwiches an interior of composite honeycomb material. The result is a hard-panel tri-fold that supports 350 lbs. of distributed weight and looks good doing it.

The attachment to your truck bed comes from a series of quick-release camlock clamps. Three clamps on each side are all you need to pull this hard-panel tonneau cover tight and give you very few leaks. Those camlock clamps are only accessible from inside the bed of your truck. With a locking tailgate, your cargo is out of sight, out of mind, and a thief has to think twice and have a prybar in his back pocket.

Want to open up your truck, either to carry something or get at cargo inside? A quick flip of the camlock on either side and you can fold over the panel. Do it again with the second panel and fold it all the way back and fasten it with the straps and you can drive safely with the bed nearly completely accessible. Your DNA Motoring tri-fold tonneau cover stays in place and is safe.

Installation takes 30 minutes the first time. Removal (for those times when you need the entire bed) and subsequent installations require far less time because you know what you’re doing.


Gator EFX Hard Fold Tonneau Cover

BRAND: Gator
FINISH: Powder-coated black
MATERIAL: Aluminum
WARRANTY: Three years
PRICE: Check Price

The Gato EFX Hard Fold is another great entry into the category of tri-fold tonneau covers. It features separate side rails. Add sturdy aluminum panels and you have a solid tri-fold cover that will support up to 300 lbs. of distributed weight.

Where this cover really excels is in the cable-pull releases on both moveable panels. They make for a quick release of the panel. Flip the panel over and the next panel is also secured. Pull the cables again, and everything flips over to rest on the last panel. When you want to close the bed of the truck, the panels flip down just as quickly.

The cable pull on the second panel is a handy feature if you drive on highways characterized by stiff crosswinds. Those crosswinds have been known to get under and lift up the panels and get them vibrating, causing damage to adjacent trim parts. This doesn’t happen with the Gator EFT Hard Panel, though. All the panels are anchored and not going anyplace. Everything is tight and secure.

To guard against leaks Gator has engineered drain tubes into the assembly where it meets the bulkhead. Excess water in the channels is guided through the tubes and out the bottom of the bed through holes made especially for that purpose.

You do have to sacrifice access to your entire truck bed with this tonneau cover. The last panel remains horizontal across the truck bed, preventing full access. There have also been some complaints of parts coming loose or not fitting completely well, but this is the exception rather than the rule.


BAKFlip G2 Tonneau Cover

FINISH: Powder-coated black
MATERIAL: Aluminum
WARRANTY: Three years
PRICE: Check Price

Getting into the higher price point of tri-fold tonneau covers, we are at the BAK Flip G2, a tri-fold design that looks smart and performs well.
The BAKFlip G2 gives you a choice. All three panels will flip up on the G2 and rest against the cab of the truck, held in place by locking rods. This provides you almost full access to the truck bed, save for about six inches against the bulkhead. If you don’t like the panels up against the cab (some truck owners don’t like that the panels block your vision out the rearview mirror), and your load permits, you can leave the last panel in place with the folded panels on top of it. The BAKFlip G2 includes straps to hold these in place.

The aluminum panels sandwich a composite inner core, giving you a tri-fold tonneau cover that supports 300 lbs. of evenly distributed weight. The semi-gloss panels retain their good looks even in the harshest of climates. Wash them like you would the rest of your truck. You don’t even have to apply a preservative.

The panels and side rails and the hinge areas of this tri-fold feature quality weatherstripping and close tolerances, keeping leaks down to a minimum. Providing even more protection, the BAKFlip G2 provides a draining system of tubes that channel water from the side rails through drainage tubes and down through the bottom of your truck bed.

Price can be a barrier for the BAKFlip G2. Depending on the truck you are installing it on, and where you purchase it, you can spend upwards of ~$1,000. But for many the BAKFlip name and reputation justify the extra expense.

We also found that a design flaw of the BAKFlip G2 is the cable release on the rearmost panel. If you are not careful when you reach for the cable-pull release, you can push the cable into the end trim, where it is difficult if not impossible to retrieve without a pair of needlenose pliers. You can remedy this problem easily, though, with a piece of weatherstripping tucked in behind the cable.


BAKFlip MX4 Tonneau Cover

FINISH: Powder-coated black
MATERIAL: Aluminum
WARRANTY: Five years
PRICE: Check Price

At the high end of the tri-fold tonneau cover category is the BAKFlip MX4. This model features a top and bottom layer of upgraded aluminum, surrounding a composite inner core that supports 400 lbs, which is just about as much as anyone would want or need. In fact, this panel assembly is so strong that a full load will not even bow the back rail of the BAKFlip MX4. You can still effortlessly open and close the tailgate.

Also, panels lock into place and release just as quickly with cable-pull latches.
Everything else about the BAKFlip MX4 oozes quality, including quality weatherstripping using high-tech EPDM rubber. This same rubber protects the hinges and keeps everything from leaking or weathering prematurely.

BAK engineers continued their quest to minimize leaks by designing side rails that drain out the back, or into draining tubes located at the bulkhead that channel out through the bottom of your truckbed through pre-drilled holes.

Like other BAK models, the BakFlip MX4 gives you a choice of either folding up two of the panels and securing them in place with straps designed for the purpose. You can take it one step further and fold all three panels so that they rest against the rear back of your truck. Locking prop rods keep everything in place.

The about $1,000 price tag might make some people hesitate. For those truck drivers who want durability, though, it’s an investment they are willing to make.

Update: for more details, read our Bakflip MX4 review


Final Verdict

Best entry-level
If you’re not concerned about security, you can’t beat the price point of the Tyger Auto T3 Soft Tri-Fold. It looks good and it conceals the contents of the bed.

Best Value
DNA Motoring Solid Tri-Fold Tonneau Cover hits all the numbers. It’s a hard-cover tonneau with a capacity of 350 lbs., and the price is right. What’s not to like?

Best mid-range
The Gator EFX Hard Fold takes this distinction. Lots of quality in this hard-panel tri-fold. Built in the US.


Buying Guide: Things to consider as you look at tri-fold tonneau covers

Not really full bed access and less vision

A number of the tri-fold tonneau covers are designed such that the third panel, up against the bulkhead of the truck bed, is stationary. The maximum bed you get is about two-thirds. If your task requires the entire bed, you may need to uninstall your tonneau cover and store it in your garage for a day or so, even though they say that when you fold up the last panel, you get access to the full bed, that is not completely true. The folded panels take up four to six inches. Also, for those models that do allow the panels to fold up against the back of the cab, you lose any vision out of your rearview mirror. Chances are, though, whatever you’re carrying is large enough to at least partially block that view anyway.

Easy removal

You may encounter a situation in which you want to remove the folding hard tonneau cover for a trip or errand. All those we reviewed are easy to remove, thus giving you the full truck bed. Although some models say you can do the installation with one person, count on two. Installations take about an hour or less in many cases.

Drainage, and water-resistant vs. waterproof

Drainage tubes featured on some of the hard-panel folding tonneaus can be dislodged by cargo sliding around the bed. Routinely check the tubes to make sure this has not happened.

There is a difference between water-resistant and waterproof, and few tonneau covers are waterproof. The instructions are usually carefully worded to avoid making that promise. Water is good at getting into places it is not supposed to be. In our reviews, we experienced minor leakage problems and heard of a few others, but enough water at the right angle will eventually trickle in. We suggest you check your truck bed routinely for any leaks, especially right after installation.

Molding and insulation do wear out, Especially if you open and close that folding hard-panel tonneau cover a couple of times a day. After three or four years the insulation might get thin. Try to keep debris, dirt, leaves, and other junk off the molding. It will accelerate the process. And if it does wear out, most moldings are easily replaced.

If you use a professional installation, research your installer as carefully as you researched the tonneau cover purchase. Obviously, some installers are better than others. Regardless of who does it, expect that you might have to add some molding, or trim a part for that exact fit.


We have seen tonneau covers lasting years and still looking good, but you still want to do what you can to keep it looking brand new. There are a variety of matte cleaners on the market to help you keep that like-new look as long as you can. Apply them regularly. Check the rails often, making sure everything is tight. Nuts and bolts will loosen over time. If you hear or see a vibration that wasn’t there before, check it out. Check the rails regularly for excess debris that might prevent a smooth operation.


Frequently asked questions

These tonneau covers are made from aluminum. Aluminum is not that strong, is it?

This is not your grandmother’s aluminum. These are high-grade aluminum alloys that are much stronger and have the added benefit of being lightweight. Many of these aluminums are used in aerospace, and the FAA does not mess around.

How theftproof are these tonneau covers?

Like waterproof, there are few things that are theftproof. If someone wants through your tri-panel tonneau cover badly enough, they will figure it out. Thieves are opportunistic people. If you make life difficult for them, they will move on to the next truck. That’s what you want to accomplish, and most of the time it does not take much.

What’s the difference between cable-pull releases vs. camlock clamps

They both accomplish the same thing. But you can’t beat the cable-pull releases for ease of use. They are quick, and even if there is a cable-pull release at both ends, one release usually unlocks both sides. The downside is that a knowledgeable thief with a piece of hooked wire can slip it under the rear rail of the tonneau cover, grab the cable, and release it, providing full access to the bed of your truck.

The camlock clamps need space to be released. If the bed of your truck is full to capacity, this means you might have to offload some of the cargo to get enough clearance. Also, they are not quite as clean as the cable release. The clamps are, however, a bit more tamper resistant.
Again, remember, few tonneau covers are theft-proof, only theft-resistant.

How do I clean my tonneau cover?

Whenever you wash your car, wash the tonneau cover in the same manner. Running it through the car wash should not be a problem. Many of the DIY car washes have foaming brush extensions. Those work well, too. Use a matte cleaner regularly. Lots of retractable tonneau covers go on work trucks to secure tools and materials. Try to keep from spilling paint and solvents. Look at your directions for specific cleaning instructions. WARNING: if you are going to get leaks, the high pressure of a car wash will do it. If you absolutely don’t want it wet, take it out of the bed of your truck before going through the car wash.

I just installed the tonneau cover and the locking mechanism is tight, and other actions are tight.

Especially right after installation, locking mechanisms and other actions can be stiff and difficult to operate until they wear in. Pay attention to the instructions. Unless indicated, do not lubricate anything.

I see different prices around for the same cover?

This is not uncommon. Manufacturers and dealers run specials, or they might discount prices if they have excess inventory. We recommend you shop around the various sources. Watch refund and exchange policies, as well as what kind of service they have. The best ones list a phone number. If they do not, or encourage email through the website, send them a question about the product. See how their response times are.