Trucks 101: Truck Beds Defined May 15, 2015

The bed is really what makes a truck unique. It’s this part of a truck that allows you to haul anything from a load of rocks to a set of furniture or even valuable antiques easily and safely. There are a few different styles of truck beds out there that give you not only versatility in hauling, but a different look and feel as well. Knowing what a truck bed is can help you decide on one to buy and even just help you understand trucks a little better.

Short Bed

Easily one of the most popular styles of truck beds, the short bed is generally around 5 to 6-feet long and provides the best of both worlds. Short beds give you the ability to haul quite a bit of material while keeping short enough to make backing up and parking as easy as possible. The downside to the short bed however is the common need to have just a little more length for larger hauling tasks. This is why bed extenders have become popular with short bed owners. These lock into the bed with the tailgate down to basically make the lowered tailgate part of the bed itself, with the extender becoming the new end to the bed.

Standard Bed

A standard bed, or long bed is rarely used as a daily driver. These can be 7-8 feet long and can be somewhat unwieldy for an inexperienced driver. While more than your average truck owner needs, this extra length is perfect for larger loads like sheets of drywall and plywood.

Flareside Bed

One style of bed that has fallen out of popularity is the flareside, or step side bed. These beds leave the wheel wells outside of the bed, allowing it to be a perfect rectangle. This gives the bed of the truck a rounded look that is no longer desired, but many can still be found in older models today.

Special Bed Types

There are quite a few other bed styles out there, but most of these require aftermarket work to get them. These include the utility body, which is a bed that has a bevy of built in tool boxes with a much smaller cargo area. Easily the most popular of the specialty bed types, the utility body is most often seen in electric company trucks, plumbers, and other professionals. 

There are even beds that convert a standard truck into a tow truck or box truck. These allow a standard full-size truck to gain a host of other uses that it just couldn't do with a standard bed.

Bed Covers

No matter what type of bed you have, bed covers are a great way to keep your truck looking great while protecting anything you store in the bed. Unlike an SUV or even a car, items left in the bed of the truck are open for the taking unless you secure them in some way, which is where bed covers come into play.


First, there’s the Soft Tonneau Cover. These covers usually snap into place and stretch tight over the bed of the truck. These offer a low level of security but look great and of all the other covers listed, is the least expensive.


A Roll-Up Cover Is similar to the soft tonneau cover, but instead of snapping into place, these are retracted into a roll at the top of the bed by the cab. This means the cover itself is still soft, but it is secured on all sides, making it more secure than the standard tonneau cover.


Like the roll-up cover, the Folding Cover retracts, but unlike the roll-up, this is a hard cover that folds a few times onto itself to be stored away. These are slightly more difficult to take off than a roll-up cover, but offer the added security of a hard top on your bed.


If you like the ease of the roll-up cover but the security of the folding, then the Retractable Cover is what you’re looking for. These high-impact plastic lids roll up into their own storage until at the top of the bed by the cab. When rolled out they are solid and offer a fairly high level of protection to items in the bed.


If you don’t need your cover to retract and want even more security, then a Lid Cover is the answer for you. These painted fiberglass tops are painted to match the color of your truck and open up like the hood of a car or truck with built-in pistons to hold it up.


The final word in truck bed covers is the Truck Cap. A truck cap gives you additional height in the bed while keeping it locked and covered. A truck cap can come in many styles including fiberglass, aluminum, and commercial duty aluminum with built-in ladder racks included.


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