The very first tonneau covers were designed for horse-drawn buggies. Back then, the primary concern of most drivers was rough and bumpy terrain sending their cargo over the walls of the bed. Since early tonneau covers were basically tarps, the added benefit of weather-protection emerged. For working class buggy-drivers, it was mission accomplished.
When pickup trucks started to take over the roads, tonneau covers were adapted to suit. As more drivers opted for wheels with increased capabilities, new needs presented themselves, and with modern times came modern problems. Trucks were no longer seen as farm vehicles. Drivers were loading up an ever-growing assortment of valuable items, and wandering far from the safe confines of home.
In the 1960s, a more secure truck bed cover was introduced in the form of a locking fiberglass tonneau cover. While early locks didn’t provide fort knox level security, the added layer made for a more peaceful night’s sleep for customers willing to sacrifice a bit of their truck’s function. Most everyone else, especially those who needed a truck for more traditional reasons, stuck with some variation of the old tarp or an open bed.
Close, But Not Secure
Now? Trucks rule the roads of America and the competition isn’t close. The top three selling vehicles in America are pickups, as are five of the top ten. It’s not just the volume that’s changed, but also how trucks are used. They’re our daily drivers and adventure-mobiles. We park them at the airport and trailheads for hours and days, loaded with at least a few things we’d hate to lose. They’re not limited to hauling feed, tools, and livestock, but now serve as buggies for camping, fishing, and hunting gear, golf equipment, coolers of beer, and all our kids’ sports equipment. Maybe it’s just us, but our trucks are always full of stuff, and we’re driving them more miles each year. Reliable security is needed more than ever.
How have tonneau cover manufacturers responded to all that demand? Not well.
Nearly every tonneau cover manufacturer uses the same components. We were guilty of using the same too until we learned of a better way. Many current “locking tonneau covers” are fitted with an almost-universal lock cylinder paired with a key that’s readily available on Amazon whether you own the corresponding lock or not. Other manufacturers, and their customers, are generally satisfied with the level of security provided. Is it because they’ve gained peace of mind? Probably not, but they make a concession the way we all have to, between price and quality. Those parts and components everyone’s using are cheap. Look around at the options available for your pickup and you’ll discover “cheap” is the reason other companies have failed to put much distance between themselves and the tarp they’ve worked to replace.
In the decades since the launch of locking fiberglass covers, there’s not much to report from the world of secure bed covers. Locking tri-fold or folding covers now dominate the tonneau cover market in units sold, but it’s not because they’re a quality product. Locking tri-fold covers are easily broken into with a coat hanger, struggle to seal out weather, and rarely last as long as the trucks they’re placed on. So why do people buy them? For the same reason their manufacturers choose the components they do…cost.
We’ve never been willing to make that concession, and we certainly didn’t get into this business just to throw our hat into the ring of unimpressive tonneau covers. There’s a sea of those, all of them chock-full of horrible trade-offs. Those trade-offs were what led one of our founders to build his own cover. Because he wanted real security, real peace of mind. And everything else, too.
Built For Security
Security is crucial in our daily lives, but it’s often taken for granted. Right now, somewhere in America, a home is being broken into. Tomorrow, the neighbors will install cameras. That’s how things tend to go. It’s not a risk until it is.
In the fall of 2002, a kid from rural Pennsylvania learned the hard way that the world is home to at least one no-good thief. While wrapping up his engineering degree at Penn State, Matt Chverchko approached his truck to discover that some gear had been stolen from his pickup truck’s bed. Unfortunately, Matt’s experience is too common. Gear isn’t cheap and thieves know it as well as you do. According to a survey conducted by the Outdoor Industry Association, outdoor enthusiasts reported a total of 5.6 million incidents of outdoor gear theft in the US alone in 2018, resulting in an estimated loss of $1.4 billion. That’s 2018 data, and the problem only seems to be getting worse.
Matt was sure he needed a locking truck bed cover, so a tarp or roll-up cover wouldn’t do. And he had even less interest in sacrificing his truck’s utility for the minor improvement in security offered by fiberglass covers. Shopping and searching for a trustworthy tonneau cover left him disappointed, so he began designing and building a cover of his own. Because that’s the type of guy he’s always been. And as you’d expect from a pissed off engineer on a mission, he overbuilt the thing a bit. In doing so, he built a secure tonneau cover that was worth forming a team and company around.
Metal is Better
There are easier materials to form into a bed cover than aluminum, but easy was never the goal. In fact, in our neck of the woods it’s a four letter word. What was the goal? Peace of mind. And peace of mind wasn’t achievable with materials that could be cut through with a knife. A cover is only as secure as its weakest link. Vinyl, fiberglass, and plastic are weak links. They’re not just weak links in terms of security, but also in usefulness. Our founders, both engineering students at the time of our launch, hadn’t yet learned what “couldn’t be done”. Their trucks leaned more toward the farm truck end of the fancy truck spectrum, and they demanded added versatility in place of limitations. Matt wanted a weatherproof cover that he could carry heavy cargo on, gave him access to his bed, with enough security to drive the most determined thieves insane.
The DiamondBack HD, our best selling cover, is constructed of lightweight .100 3003 alloy aluminum, not vinyl, ABS plastic, or fiberglass. We use lasers to cut the panels down because we have to. Seven structural studs are welded to the underside for added rigidity and durability.
Ever handle a cash box that could be opened with or without the key? Without the right lock in place, all that toughness doesn’t mean a thing.
Our locks are unrivaled. Zinc-coated stainless steel lock rods extend underneath the bed rails of your pickup like a deadbolt, and are operated by a stainless steel handle, which can only be budged after being unlocked with a one-of-a-kind, multi-angle laser-cut key. After all, we are working to build the absolute best heavy-duty locking truck bed covers.
We’ll Never Stop
We’re a team who likes to keep moving, to get shit done. The great thing about aspiring to be the best, is that the best is fluid. The bar is always being raised, often by us, and sometimes by our competition. The challenge is good for us because if there’s a better way, we absolutely want to know it. We work to make our customers happy, to give them peace of mind. And we know that our best tool in helping you to that end is building the best locking tonneau cover on earth.