Troubleshooter: Does your pickup really need a bed cap?


As pickup trucks continue to fly off dealer lots, more Canadians are climbing into the cab for the first time and leaving behind their sedans, hatchbacks, SUVs and crossovers. It’s hard to blame them when automakers are packing more luxury features and high-tech safety gear, along with efficient and responsive powertrains between the bumpers.

But those massive, uncovered truck beds leave a lot to be desired in terms of securing and protecting cargo not only from the worst our weather can dish out, but also the light fingers after valuables. Tonneau covers can solve a lot of these concerns, but not all. A bed cap could be a better solution, but many shoppers shy away from them mostly because of perceived higher costs.

One size doesn’t fit all

Regardless of if it’s a bed cap or a tonneau cover, these parts are made specifically to fit different sizes and shapes of pickup truck beds — and no, there are no standard configurations between makes and models. So, a cover or cap from a Ford F-150, for example, is very unlikely to properly fit a GMC Sierra. Like any other accessory or feature you might consider adding to your ride, doing a little research and asking the right questions will go a long way to ensure you’re satisfied with the results.

Busting the cost myth

New aluminum caps start at less than $1,500. It’s very easy to surpass that price point with a simple, hard-folding tonneau cover, not to mention one-piece fiberglass covers average around the $2,000 mark. Quality fiberglass caps mostly start at the $2,000 mark, but can easily hit $10,000 for commercial-grade units complete with roof-racks and a multitude of access doors and cubbies. Leer is one of the largest bed cap manufacturers, with a relatively good reputation for durability and a wide range of options.

Why a bed cap instead of a simple tonneau cover?

Bed caps have two major advantages: protection and function. They’re far more water resistant than almost any tonneau cover, with the exception of one-piece units. They’ll stand up to ice and snow build-up, making them ready for Canadian winters. There’s also the obvious benefit of being able to carry taller objects while still protecting them against the elements. Finally, and most notably, they’re more theft-resistant than a lot of tonneau covers, especially fabric roll-up units.

A few tips you shouldn’t ignore when buying the right bed cap

If you park your truck in a garage and you’re thinking about an extended height cap, check your clearance. If you ever think there might be a time you’ll need to temporarily remove the cap for any reason, remember it’s best done with four people — one at each corner.

Don’t cheap out and buy a unit without side windows, either, because you’ll find out quite quickly how it’s hard to drive a truck with exceedingly large blind spots on both sides. Many DIY types also forego wiring up a cap’s interior light and high-mount stop lamp when installing; while interior lights might seem to be optional, a working third brake light isn’t and leaving it inoperative might earn you a traffic fine.

Finally, remember to lubricate the cap’s lock cylinder regularly, especially in winter.

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