There are plenty of good reasons to get a truck bed tonneau cover: Maybe you want to keep rain and snow off of your gear. Maybe you want to keep your cargo away from prying eyes. Or maybe you just want to add a custom vibe to your pickup truck.

Whatever the reason, the most important step is making sure your tonneau cover will fit right first.

But since trucks often feature different cab and bed configurations, simply knowing your pickup’s year, make, and model isn’t always enough—you need to know exactly what your truck’s bed size is.

So before you begin shopping for the best truck bed tonneau cover for your pickup, grab your tape measure along with a pen and paper, then hop into the cargo box, because it usually boils down to one critical spec: the length between your truck’s bulkhead and the tailgate.

And we’ll show you exactly how to take that measurement.

(Image/Summit Racing)

Start at the very front of your truck bed’s cargo box. The front panel is called the bulkhead, and there’s usually a little space between the bulkhead and the rear of the truck cab’s passenger compartment, so you have room to connect your tape measure.

Put the tape measure edge on the very front of the bulkhead as shown in the photo above. This is where the tonneau cover bed length measurement begins.

(Image/Summit Racing)

(For this next part, make sure the tailgate is closed first.)

With the tape measure secured to the front of the truck bed bulkhead, pull it down the bed’s side to the tailgate.

The measurement you’re taking is right at the beginning edge of the tailgate when it’s shut.

Write that number down—this is your truck bed’s length, in regard to the proper tonneau cover size. As an example, you’ll see in the photo below that the bed length for this particular truck is 67-3/4 inches.

(Image/Summit Racing)

One other thing: If you’ve got an extra thick drop-in or spray-on bed liner, bed rail cap, or tailgate cover, then it’s important to compensate for that space by deducting its thickness for your final measurement.

Want to see this entire process in more detail?

The fine folks over in Summit Racing’s tech department made a quick video that’ll give you a better look at how to measure your truck bed length. The entire video is just about two minutes long and it’s definitely worth the watch if you’ve got a truck bed tonneau cover upgrade planned for your pickup.

Check it out below:

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