Are Tonneau Covers Waterproof?

Undercover hinged tonneau cover weather sealed

A pickup truck? Why yes, please! Just let me finish up this slice of apple pie, say the Pledge of Allegiance, and change into my American flag undies so we can head out to a baseball game. Man, patriotism has never been so practical! Pickups these days are half utility, half luxury cruiser, and half family hauler.

The downside here, though, is that big open bed doesn’t really offer any protection against weather (or sticky fingers). That’s where a good truck bed cover comes in. Wide-open to haul a refrigerator, band saw, or refrigerated band saw, and then you can close it up to make for a giant secure trunk when you need to keep your expensive gear safe and dry.

That brings up the question though, are tonneau covers waterproof? Which kinds offer the best weather protection? The short answer is yes. The long answer takes a little more explaining.

One Piece Hard Tonneau Covers For Optimal Water Resistance


No tonneau cover on its own is ever going to 100% keep all moisture out of your truck bed because the tailgate itself has gaps in the sides and bottom (more on how to fix that below). However, as far as sealing the top of the bed is concerned, a one-piece hinged tonneau cover is your best bet.

Hinged tonneau covers have one uniform sealing surface that doesn’t have to bend or fold up, plus many use a clamshell type design that overlaps the sides of the bed and tailgate. This keeps everything about as dry as you can ask for. As a bonus, many covers like from UnderCover and Ranch Fiberglass can be ordered painted to match your factory paint, making it look like it left the factory that way.

The downside here is that hinged tonneau covers can’t fold or roll up out of the way to accommodate larger cargo, so you’ll have to remove it completely if you need to haul something big.

Hard Roll-Up & Retractable Tonneau Covers For Good Resistance

If we’re going the Goldilocks approach, these are the best compromise for most people. Good rubber sealing along the edge for when you close everything up, and then a wide open truck bed for when it comes time to do truck things. Hard folding tonneaus are probably the most popular here, offering great security, and still offer a good seal along the hinges.

Retractable covers are a bit harder to seal up, which is why they feature drip rails that will capture the water that does make it through and funnel it down drain tubes on either side of the cover.

The downside between these options is that the seals aren’t always able to get every little bit of water at the hinges, but they do well enough for most people’s needs. There are a few other minor concessions to make with these, such as the fact that hard folding tonneau covers often have to block much of the back window in order to fold out of the way of the whole bed. Retractable covers won’t block your view when rolled up, but the canisters do take up a little bit of space at the end of the bed. Not a dealbreaker for most, but something to keep in mind.

How You Can Further Increase Water Resistance

AutoAnything Select Tailgate Seal

Like I mentioned before, your tonneau cover can only seal off the top of the bed. Your tailgate was not designed to be watertight at all, actually quite the opposite, as manufacturers leave a gap at the bottom of the tailgate in order to prevent your truck from becoming an unwitting swimming pool every time it rains.

That’s why most tonneau manufacturers also sell tailgate seals, which are just flexible rubber gaskets that you stick on in order to close up those gaps on the sides and bottom. This is the only way you’ll get a truly watertight truck bed.

Have any tips for keeping your truck bed sealed up, or questions on a solution for your own truck? Drop a comment below!


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