Nuts & Bolts: Truck-Bed Covers

Mountain Life
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Mountain Life

The latest trucks mayseem car-like, with four doors and ample cargo space, but even Ford's SuperCrew Cab won't fit five passengers and all their ski gear. ("Honey, do you really need to bring two pairs of boots?") So how to keep equipment safe in the back bed? Rain, snow and road salt are bad. Having your $800 Elans ripped off is worse.

The smart money is on hard tonneau covers, which represent a $250 million niche in the aftermarket accessory world.Tonneaus fit over the bed, effectively turning it into a massive trunk. Hydraulic arms hold the cover open. The original versions were made of fiberglass-obtrusive and hard to remove-but new generations are extruded plastic. They only weigh about 50 pounds, yet are tough enough to stand on. Most fit without drilling and lend a sleek look. More importantly, they lock both the cover and the tailgate. Look for them from manufacturers such as VersaCover (888-377-2268,versacover.com), which offers sliding dust covers on the locks, ensuring that they won't freeze over and leave your equipment really secure-even from you. Expect to pay around $600.