Roll Up vs Tri Fold Tonneau Cover: Which is Better?

When looking for a tonneau cover for the trunk of your vehicle, you’ll definitely come across two options: a roll-up tonneau cover and a tri-fold tonneau cover. 

Although their functions are essentially the same, there are some pretty big differences between the two types of tonneau covers that you get in the market. They differ mostly in how you assemble or disassemble them, and also in how you use them, but they are used for the same purpose of keeping your cargo safe and protected. 

However, if you want to compare between them, tri-fold tonneau covers seem to be slightly more popular than roll-up tonneau covers, and this is mainly because they are easier to use. 

It is also very easy to compare roll up vs tri fold tonneau covers because although they are both used for the same purposes, they are very different from each other in a number of important ways. 

What are Roll-up Tonneau Covers? 

Roll-up tonneau covers are simply one type of retractable tonneau cover used to protect your cargo and other belongings at the back of your truck or van.

With these tonneau covers, whatever is in your truck bed will stay inside, protected and safe from dust, rainwater and external harm. 

Roll-up tonneau covers are named so because they need to be installed to your truck body, and the cover can later be rolled up to a side when you need access to what’s inside your truck bed. They usually need to be handled manually and might need a lot of time. 

These kinds of tonneau covers can be made from both hard and soft materials, making it different to open and close. While soft roll-up tonneau covers are lighter and easier to roll by hand, the hard ones require more effort and strength. 

What are Tri-fold Tonneau Covers? 

Tri-fold tonneau covers, as the name suggests, are tonneau covers that can be folded back into three sections for you to access your cargo.

They, too, are installed on the truck cover and can be opened and closed whenever needed. In fact, it is much easier and faster for tri-fold tonneau covers to be folded in and out compared to roll-up covers. 

Tri-fold tonneau covers can also be made from hard and soft materials. The hard tri-fold tonneau covers are sturdier and have a more rigid form.

Instead of being soft enough to roll into a heap, they are sturdy enough to be able to carry weight on them. Even the softer tri-fold tonneau covers are sturdier than roll-up tonneau covers and can carry some weight. 

Because of the sturdiness of the tri-fold tonneau covers, they give excellent security and support to most kinds of cargo and belongings being carried in a truck bed. 

Roll up vs Tri fold Tonneau Cover: How are They Different

Tri fold vs Roll up tonneau cover

There are, actually, quite a few differences between these two types of tonneau covers.  


On average, roll-up tonneau covers are more easily available everywhere. This may be because they are the ones that are most popular and most used by truck owners everywhere. 

Roll-up tonneau covers are more widely available for the older models of trucks and cargo vans. This means that if you have a new vehicle or a new model, it might be tough to find a model suited to your vehicle. 


At the same time, roll-up tonneau covers are relatively much cheaper than the tri-fold ones. However, this is only for the standard roll-up tonneau covers that need to be manually opened and closed, and not the premium ones that are automatic.

For a modest budget, standard roll-up tonneau covers can be a wonderful choice compared to the pricier tri-fold ones. 

Ease of Use 

Tri-fold tonneau covers happen to be much easier to operate, open and close, by everyone. They are definitely easier to use compared to standard roll-up tonneau covers that need to be opened and closed manually.

As opposed to manually using your arms and all your strength to roll up the entire tonneau cover, with a tri-fold one, you’ll only need to fold the cover into three segments. 

Even when the tonneau cover is sturdy and made with heavy materials, they can be easily and quickly opened and closed as opposed to manually rolling up the roll-up tonneau covers. 


Tri-fold tonneau covers are also faster to open and close, as they’ll only need to be folded three times. With roll-up tonneau covers, in order to utilize the whole truck bed, the entire roll-up tonneau cover needs to be manually rolled into one side. This takes time, strength and a lot of effort. 

Compared to that, it takes only a few seconds to completely fold up the tri-fold tonneau cover and even keep it standing at the side. 

Ease of Access 

With roll-up tonneau covers, the apparatus to roll it is usually at one particular side. This means that the specific side needs to be kept clear of intrusions when it’s time to open the tonneau cover, which is not a problem with tri-fold tonneau covers.

These covers can be opened from any side as they don’t have any special latch, lock, or key to open. 

Locking System 

Roll-up tonneau covers are usually locked with velcro or snaps, which are all time-consuming to operate and take a lot of effort.

Although the premium roll-up tonneau covers don’t require a lot of mechanisms to open and close, they also happen to be quite expensive compared to the regular and standard ones. 

With tri-fold tonneau covers, the cover also needs to be adjusted and fastened with a lock, velcro, latches, or padlocks. This can also be considered a time-consuming effort for some people, but a necessary one if you want to keep your cargo protected. 

However, between roll-up and tri-fold tonneau covers, it is the tri-fold ones that can be used without the need to lock or attach it.

Because the tri-fold tonneau covers are heavy and come with a sturdy frame, they can simply stay on top of your cargo without any weight or locking mechanism needed. 

Tri Fold vs Roll Up Tonneau Cover: Which One to Choose?

Used for the same purpose, tri-fold and roll-up tonneau covers are completely different from each other in a lot of aspects. While roll-up tonneau covers are cheaper, tri-fold covers are sturdier and more trustworthy. They are also easier to use, open, close, and lock compared to roll-up tonneau covers. 

Besides, it is easier to find tri-fold tonneau covers if you have a new vehicle or a new model; tri-fold covers are also faster and easier to install, operate and use in every way. 

Therefore, in the comparison of roll up vs tri fold tonneau cover, tri-fold tonneau covers are a better choice. 

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