Jim Maragliano is a contractor in Bergen County, N.J., who recently solved a problem that bedevils tradesmen who drive pickups: how to protect the contents of the truck bed without using a cap. Caps have their place, but they hold far less weight than freestanding racks and are difficult to remove when you need to haul things too tall to fit inside. For these reasons, Maragliano outfitted his truck with a cross box, side boxes, and a rack. This was only a partial solution, however; tools too large for the boxes still rode unprotected in the bed, so he had to pull over when it rained and wrap them with a tarp.

Not long ago while building an outdoor kitchen, Maragliano was struck by the similarity between the waterproof fabric cover on the grill and the cover on his boat. A light bulb went off and he decided to make something similar for the back of his truck. He found an upholsterer who was willing to do the project for a reasonable price, and between the two of them they devised a removable fabric cover for the open part of the truck bed. The cover is held in place by snaps; the female sides are crimped onto the fabric and the male sides are fastened to the boxes with sheet-metal screws.

Fiberglass ribs (1/4-inch-by-2-inch battens) span the bed and clip into receivers on the side boxes. They bow into place and support the top like the ribs on a Conestoga wagon. The ribs and cover can be quickly removed and stowed in one of the boxes when not in use.

The cover is not completely watertight — the bottom of the bed still gets wet — but rain doesn’t fall on the top of Maragliano’s tools. And he no longer has to worry about getting a ticket for driving with an unsecured load, because the cover secures the contents of the bed. Material and labor for the cover came to about $400, though the fellow who made it said he would charge more if he did one again.

Special thanks to Greg DiBernardo for providing photography.