When I wanted a new truck bed cover for my 99 Sierra, I ran across quite a dilemma. Do I save a few bucks and buy the Undercover Tonneau Cover my buddy has? Or, do I blow his truck away with a custom painted truck bed cover from Gaylord’s? The internal struggle was quite wrenching.
A guy at the local truck parts place once told me that I was wasting my cash and time by buying a tonneau cover. His theory was that nobody west of the Rockies needed to cover their bed, because snow was the only thing worth keeping out of the payload. He figured that water would get past a cover anyways, and probably dry out fast. Knowing he was a fool, I bought one anyways—a cheap, soft one. So, when I went through a round of having pieces of my vinyl tonneau stolen about a month later, I returned to grill the same idiot again. After all, if nobody needed one here, and nobody wanted one here, then why was my cover worth treating like a Sprint in the salvage yard? He had no reply, just a stupid grunt.
My next step had two parts: 1. find a new truck parts shop with fewer blowhards (after all, I could just go to Kragen for that kind of entertainment), and 2. Pick a cover without loose, accessible or soft parts that could be picked clean like strands of meat dangling from a hot wing. I arrived at a hard truck bed lid as my best option. They cost considerably more than the vinyl designs, but I discovered that you really get what you pay for. On the flipside of the price tag, they also look many times better and are infinitely more secure—which was now my de-facto area of greatest need.
The first one I looked at was getting a custom Gaylord truck bed cover. There are many brands out there making a truck bed cover in this style: fiberglass construction, gas strut lifts, keyed opening, and custom paint matching. There’s no question that a lid like Gaylord’s makes is quite impressive; the price is just a bit tough to tackle—roughly 6 times higher than the softy cover I was replacing. And, it’s heavy, which means a few drawbacks for hauling a large load. First, you have to lift off the truck after undoing the struts and hinges. It’s a two-man job for certain. Then, there’s finding a place to hang the lid where the paint won’t get jacked up. I had such a place to hang the cover, and a wife who loves to prove she can handle lifting from time to time. All I had to do was get comfortable with the price.
I decided to take a look at my friend’s bed cover. He found his receipt for it so that he could tell me the brand (it was a gift, so he didn’t really know it himself). It was called an Undercover tonneau cover, and it’s much different than the Gaylord’s, despite initial similarities. First, the Undercover wasn’t smoothly painted to match; it was actually kind of rough to the touch. No big deal, I thought, because the black surface would look fine with my dark blue GMC, and it has to cut several bills off the price tag. It’s also not fiberglass, but a lighter plastic material, making removal a one-man gig. That’s another bonus, but it also contributes to the cover looking a little flimsier, and a lot less like a custom, professionally crafted item. The price tag on the Undercover (about half of the Gaylord cover) started to look nicer and nicer.
I thought about how I used my truck, which didn’t provide many answers. While I don’t carry big stuff that often, and my bed isn’t usually full, I do like being able to use my truck like a real truck when I need to. That means not worrying about scratching my lid the way I worry about the rest of the paint. Speaking of paint, I wasn’t sure how I felt about looks. I like to keep my truck sharp, but it’s hardly one of those decked-out rigs with $20K in extra work done that makes you either whip your head around or just shake it. So, a custom painted cover isn’t a must, but it wouldn’t look that bad.
Ultimately, I picked the Gaylord truck bed cover, and I did it for two reasons. First, I couldn’t get the same thing as my buddy has. Second, I was due for a prostate exam later that week, and figured I’d treat myself to the nicer lid if I survived.
Picking between Gaylord truck bed covers and the Undercover tonneau cover was quite a dilemma, but ultimately I ended up happy (and still kind of sore).