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Sierra Tonneau Covers Overview

By:  Connor MC  / Sep 24 2019
Sierra Tonneau Covers Overview

Through experimentation, I have recently found that cooking my chicken in the oven with a covered casserole ditch produces a juicer, tastier dinner. In other words, a covered casserole dish is better than an uncovered dish, and a similar concept applies to pickup beds. With this in mind, one of the most cost-effective add-ons for a GMC Sierra has to be a tonneau cover. Low on bling and not even registering on the performance scale, nonetheless a tonneau cover does score big on the practicality front – keeping moisture out of the bed and any cargo dry (contrarily, a covered casserole keeps the moisture in) and protected from poor weather.

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Tonneau covers are a great way to keep your cargo from quick fingers and provides a slick look to your Sierra. With the number of options available, you'll be sure to find a solution that fits your needs.

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What are the Benefits of a Tonneau Cover?

The ability to leave items in the bed when driving around in a thunder or snow shower is severely underrated especially when dealing with moderately sized items. Without a tonneau cover, you’ll be forced to throw these boxes in the back seat (if you have one) in order to stay dry. This is certainly doable, but carries extra hassle.

Furthermore, a bed cover on your Sierra can provide extra security. Many tonneau covers can integrate with a locking tailgate, effectively sealing off any cargo out of sight and away from sticky fingers.

Finally, there is the aspect of fuel economy. By covering up that big box in the back, you are streamlining the rear end of your Sierra and thereby reducing drag, which can have a positive impact on fuel economy.

The Three Types of Sierra Tonneau Covers

Fold-up tonneau covers are built with multiple sections that can be flipped up and out of the way to give access to various areas of the bed without having to lift the entire cover. Most of these bed covers feature a vinyl outer layer that is supported underneath by a beefy aluminum frame. The most popular models are a tri-fold design (sectioned into three folding panels) with the occasional single-fold and quad-fold also popping up on the market. Many models can fold from both the front and rear, meaning it is not necessary to fold away the entire cover, for example, in order to access the front portion of the bed. Heavy duty versions of these folding covers may feature a backing panel installed between the frame members and underneath the vinyl, thereby providing a reinforced table-top like surface on which you can place fairly heavy items as you organize the cargo in the bed.

Roll-up Covers Explained

Roll-up tonneau covers: Roll-up tonneau covers are very popular these days because they are highly effective at keeping the bed protected from weather and can be installed as a low-profile system that does not protrude up above the top of the box. These types of Sierra tonneau covers use a heavy-duty vinyl that rolls up along the bedrails towards the cab of the truck. Roll-up covers make access to the rear of the bed very easy but do require they be rolled up entirely to expose the front area. Comparatively speaking, a vinyl roll-up cover is not as strong as a tri-fold cover. However, there are hybrid roll-up covers that are made using small aluminum slats. These slats provide excellent strength and rigidity like a hard-top tonneau but can still be rolled up and tied out of the way. Any framing and latching components are ideally made from aluminum in order to keep wait down and are likely epoxy coated in order to keep corrosion at bay.

What is a Hard Top?

A hard-top tonneau cover is perhaps the most classic of tonneau cover styles. Made as a one piece cover, they are traditionally made from fiberglass and are painted to match the color of your Sierra. Being one piece and made from fiberglass, they are quite strong but heavy, using gas-struts to help lift the back end off the tailgate. Removing the cover entirely would realistically take two people to do it. This type of cover is less prominent in this day and age, and is more likely to be ordered as a dealer accessory as opposed to from the aftermarket.

What Size Bed Do I Have?

GMC Sierra pickup trucks, for all eternity (at least from 2007-2018), have come equipped with three different bed sizes. A short box Sierra measures in around 66 inches (approx 5.5 ft), a regular box is 77 inches (approx 6.5 ft) and a long box is 98 inches - a full 8 ft. If unsure of which bed your Sierra has, determining the size is easily accomplished as follows. If you enjoy doing some research on the internet, you can use the VIN or the RPO codes to decode which bed size you have. If those do not prove fruitful (or you seek a faster way), grabbing a traditional tape measure is sure to do the trick. When manually measuring the length of your bed, measure the inside length (do not measure the full width of the tailgate or up flush to the cab). The measurement you get may not be exactly as above, but it will certainly be close enough to accurately deduce which size bed your Sierra pickup truck is packing. Granted, despite GM keeping bed nomenclature the same over the years, a GMT800 (1996-2006) short box is different from a GMT900 (2007-2018) short box and are thus not interchangeable. Therefore, always order a tonneau cover by box type and year – not just box length.

Pyrex vs Non-pyrex

The Sierra pickup truck aftermarket is full of choices for tonneau covers. That said, it is worth spending a few extra dollars on a quality cover versus just picking up the cheapest option. Pyrex is considered to be a high quality casserole dish manufacturer, and based on personal experience their dishes are durable and long lasting. Buying a cheap tonneau cover is similar to purchasing a cheap casserole dish. Both are exposed to elements and may work well for a year or two, but soon thereafter will crack, deform and overall deteriorate and become ineffective. A quality tonneau will utilize weatherproof heavy duty materials, any and all stitching will be double-looped and any metal bits treated for corrosion. Anything less is asking for short term replacement.

Fitment includes: 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, Denali, Hybrid, SL, SLE, STL, WT, XFE