Whether you’re hauling materials to the job site, transporting your motorcycle, ATV or off-road vehicle, or moving your drum kit to the next gig, your truck bed is constantly taking a beating.
The good news? By using a combination of bed liners, covers, hardware and accessories, you can not only protect your truck bed, but you can also move your cargo around with greater ease, keep it safe and even improve the value of your truck.
First, let’s looks at all your options.
- Truck Bed Mats
- Drop in Bed Liners
- Rug Liners
- Spray On Liners
COVERS AND HARDWARE
- Truck Covers
- Tonneau Covers
- Truck Bed Organizer
- Anchor Points
RAMPS AND ACCESSORIES
- Loading Ramps
- Loading Accessories
1. Truck Bed Mats
One of the easiest and least expensive options available to protect your truck bed and prevent cargo from shifting is to use truck bed mats. These are removable mats made from rubber, plastic or other durable materials. Simply unroll and lay out across the bed of your truck. Truck bed mats are also popular because they are flexible and can be used outside of your truck bed.
- Offer some short-term protection
- Easy to clean
- Affordable compared to a bed liner
- No installation, just roll and go
- Removal is simple, making them a good non-permanent solution
- You can pair the truck bed mat and a tailgate mat together for more protection
- They are a lower quality and don’t last as long as bed liners
- Cargo might slip as the bed mat moves around.
- If the mat doesn’t fit properly, it might shift while you’re in motion which can cause damage to your truck bed and its cargo
- Truck bed mats don’t offer protection to the sides of the bed
- Corrosion can build up beneath the mat, as it’s not watertight, so moisture and water get trapped, leading to rust
2. Drop in Bed Liners
Probably the most common solution, a drop in bed liner uses pre-cut plastic or rubber sheets to provide a protective cover for your truck bed. These can often be purchased in sizes that fit most commercial trucks.
- Protects your bed from dents and dings when cargo is loaded and unloaded
- Inexpensive, can be purchased for less than $200 in many cases
- Easy to install and can be attached with adhesive or tie-downs
- Removable/transferable to your next truck
- Poor quality liners can leave voids between the liner and bed, which can crack over time
- Water can seep into the gaps between your liner and your truck bed, leading to rust and damage
- Non-adhesive or non-textured surface means your cargo can slide around during transport
- Liners can buffet in the wind or shift when cargo is in the bed, scuffing the paint underneath
3. Rug Liners
Rug liners work much the same as the drop in liners. The key difference is that they are made from polypropylene and covered in carpet-like polyester fibers. This gives them the advantage of being durable and weather-resistant, while the carpet-like surface provides extra protection for your cargo. Rug liners are a good choice if you use your truck bed to transport potentially fragile objects, musical instruments or pets.
4. Spray On Liners
A spray on liner uses a polyurethane elastomer spray to create a rubber-like second skin that covers your truck bed. There are various colors, styles and textures available for spray-on bed liners, from a hard surface to a softer surface with greater grip.
- Spray on bed liners are incredibly durable and resistant to corrosion
- The second skin of a spray on liner helps to reduce traveling noise
- Will last much longer that mats and liners
- A spray-on bed liner has excellent adhesion, making it watertight and preventing rust underneath the liner
- Increases the resale value of your truck
- Spray on liners are expensive and may require professional installation
- To apply the liner, you need to strip away the paint, voiding the warranty
- Unlike mats or drop-in liners, once the spray on liner is in, it can’t be removed and re-used on your next truck
Covers and Hardware
So far we’ve been looking at the benefits of bed liners, but what about the top of your bed? There also are options available to protect your truck bed before anything touches your bed liner.
5. Truck Covers
One of the easiest ways to protect your truck bed is to use a quality cover. Using a cover when your truck isn’t in use is a great way to protect it from rain, snow ice, UV-radiation and as well as environmental pollutants like dirt, grit, pollen, tree sap, bird droppings.
Look for covers that are breathable or have air vents sewn-in, this will help prevent condensation from contributing to mold, mildew or rust. Also, make sure your cover is designed to stay in place in windy conditions.
- Easy to use and store
- Keeps the whole truck clean
- Can’t be used on the road
6. Tonneau Covers
These covers act like a cap that fits over your truck bed. They can be made of hard or soft materials and their purpose is to protect cargo in the bed of a pickup truck from the elements and from prying eyes. The cover is also used to conceal items stored in the truck bed when the vehicle is unoccupied.
- Acts like a convertible top for your truck bed, providing extra protection from the weather
- Serves as a theft deterrent, especially if you have a locking cover
- Adds extra style and value to your truck
- While prices may vary, they typically run between $200- $1,000+.
- You may not be able to add or access other truck accessories, such as tool boxes or bed rails
- Require careful installation or you run the risk of the cover not working properly. If you’re unsure of how to install the cover, you may need to pay a professional
7. Truck Bed Organizers
Truck bed organizers are a bit like the under-bed storage system in your home or the dividers in your tool drawers. Made from metal, steel or plastic, they create a series of compartments in your truck bed that keep your cargo from sliding around. That way, you don’t have to worry about tipped over boxes, loose tools or spilled grocery bags.
- Great for organizing your truck
- If you use your truck to transport smaller items on a regular basis, a bed organizer can help you find what you need in a flash.
- Can be custom built to fit your truck bed
- Can include slip-proof mats to further protect your truck bed
- Once installed it may be hard to remove an organizer. If you have an especially large load, it may get in the way
8. Tie-Down Anchors
If you haul any kind of large cargo, or if you transport off-road vehicles like ATVs, UTVs or dirt bikes you will have to secure it with some kind of tie-downs.
To attach these tie downs to your truck, you’ll need to have secure anchor points. Some of these can be attached temporarily, while some will need to be permanently connected to the bed or rail of your truck. This may require drilling holes that connect with a backing plate.
Types of Anchors and Anchor Systems
Clamp to a pickup truck or trailer rails and can be positioned anywhere along the rail
Mount in pickup truck stake pockets to create an easy-to-access tie-down point
Attach to a flat surface and provide a tie-down point for rope. They usually have a ring or open hook to attach a tie down
- Surface-mount anchors/ Recessed anchors
Attach to the surface of a truck bed or trailer and have D-rings that fold or retract out of the way when not needed
- Track systems
Use strips of track that can be mounted on flat surfaces of trucks. These strips can receive special, snap-in connectors.
Ramps and Accessories
9. Loading Ramps
Protecting your truck bed starts before you load it.
If you’re transporting heavy vehicles like motorcycles, ATVs, UTVs, golf carts or snowmobiles, you can easily damage your truck during the loading and unloading process. One key way to prevent damage is to use a good quality loading ramp.
When selecting a ramp, you’re buying more than a piece of metal. Having a well-constructed ramp allows you to avoid injury while loading and can help protect both motorcycle, ATV, UTV and other vehicles as well as your truck or trailer.
Using a well-designed loading ramp can also help you to avoid scratching or denting your tailgate and truck bed during the loading process.
There are a lot of factors to consider when selecting a loading ramp, so to help you we’ve created a more detailed guide.
10. Straps and Accessories
Having the right straps and accessories can also make a difference. Using straps with galvanized ratchets allow you to create a taut connection between your cargo and your anchor points.
If you’re transporting a motorcycle or dirt bike, you might also want to consider using a wheel chock to keep your vehicle in place.
Build a Better Truck Bed
If you’re ready to put your truck to use while protecting your truck bed, using these options will help you to load, unload and hit the road with a minimum of damage to your truck and your cargo. They will also provide the peace of mind knowing that you’re preserving the long-term value of your truck.