Tailgate Pad vs. Blanket – Which is the Ultimate Accessory for Your Pickup Truck?

Are you trying to find the best way to transport your mountain bikes in your truck?

Two popular options are tailgate pads and blankets.

Both have their pros and cons, and in this article, you'll learn the differences between them and help you decide which option is best for your needs.

Bikes placed in the back of a pickup truck

Tailgate pads are designed specifically for transporting bikes in the bed of a truck.

They attach to your tailgate and provide a cushioned surface for your bikes to rest on. Most tailgate pads come with straps to secure your bikes in place.

On the other hand, blankets are a more versatile option that can be used for various purposes, including bike transportation.

They are typically less expensive than tailgate pads and can be easily folded and stored when not in use.

So, what are the pros and cons of each option? Here's a closer look.

Pros and Cons of Tailgate Pads

Here are the pros and cons of tailgate pads to help you decide if they are the right choice for you:

Understanding Tailgate Pads and Blankets

Tailgate pads are a cushioned mat that attaches to your truck's tailgate.

They are designed to protect your bike and your truck from scratches and dings while in transit.

Blankets, however, are just that — blankets you drape over your tailgate and bike.

While blankets are a cheaper option, they do not offer the same level of protection as a tailgate pad.

Pros of Tailgate Pads

Tailgate pads offer several benefits, making them popular among mountain bikers. Here are some of the pros of using a tailgate pad:


Tailgate pads are made from heavy-duty vinyl, which makes them durable and long-lasting.


Tailgate pads are easy to install and remove, making them convenient for transporting your bike.


Most tailgate pads are weather-resistant to withstand rain, snow, and other harsh weather conditions.


Tailgate pads take up minimal space in your truck bed so that you can transport other gear alongside your bike.

1UP Compatible

If you have a 1UP USA bike rack, many tailgate pads are compatible with this popular brand.

Also read: Tailgate Pad vs. Bike Rack: Which To Choose?

Cons of Tailgate Pads

While there are many benefits to using a tailgate pad, there are also some drawbacks to consider. Here are some of the cons of using a tailgate pad:


Tailgate pads can be heavy, making them difficult to install and remove, especially if you do it alone.

Limited protection

While tailgate pads offer some protection, they do not protect your bike or a bike rack.

A bike rack may be a better option if you're traveling long distances or on rough terrain.

Also read: Top 10 Bike Racks For Your Pickup Truck


Tailgate pads can be expensive, especially for a high-quality, heavy-duty model. If you're on a budget, a blanket may be a more affordable option.

Pros Cons
Durable Heavy
Convenient Limited protection
Weather-resistant Expensive
Space-saving 1UP Compatible

Pros and Cons of Blankets

Blankets are a popular choice for transporting bikes in a truck bed.

They are affordable, lightweight, and easy to use. However, there are also some drawbacks to using blankets.

Here are the benefits and drawbacks of using blankets to transport your bikes.

Pros of Blankets


Blankets are generally cheaper than tailgate pads, making them a more budget-friendly option for transporting bikes.


Blankets are lightweight and can be folded up for easy storage when not in use.


Many blankets are made from durable materials that can withstand wear and tear from bike transportation.


Blankets take up less space than tailgate pads, which can be useful if you have limited storage space.

Cons of Blankets

Less convenient

Blankets can be less convenient than tailgate pads, as they require more effort to secure the bike and can be more difficult to access.

Less protective

Blankets do not offer as much protection as tailgate pads, as they do not have the same level of padding to cushion the bike during transport.

Less secure

Blankets may not be as secure as tailgate pads, as they can shift during transport and potentially damage the bike or the truck bed.

Pros Cons
Affordable Less convenient
Lightweight Less protective
Durable Less secure

Comparing Tailgate Pads and Blankets

Feature Tailgate Pads Blankets
Cost More expensive Less expensive
Weight Heavier Lighter
Protection More protective Less protective
Security More secure Less secure
Versatility Less versatile More versatile
Space-efficiency Less space-efficient More space-efficient
Ease of use Easier to use More difficult to use

Both have pros and cons; which is right for you depends on your specific needs and preferences.

Tailgate Pads

Tailgate pads are designed to protect your bike and your truck.

They are made of durable materials like PVC tarpaulin or 600D tarpaulin and feature a down tube cutout and grommet for easy access to your tailgate handle.

They also have straps to secure your bikes and a cable lock to deter theft.

One of the main advantages of tailgate pads is that they are specifically designed for bikes.

They offer a secure and stable platform for your bikes and can accommodate multiple bikes simultaneously.

They are also easy to install and remove and don't take up much space in your truck when not in use.

However, tailgate pads can be heavy, which can be a concern if you have a backup camera or need to lift the tailgate frequently.

They can also be expensive, especially if you opt for a high-end model.


Blankets are a more affordable and versatile option for transporting your bikes.

They can be made of various materials, from simple fleece blankets to heavy-duty moving blankets.

They are lightweight, easy to store, and can be used for other purposes besides transporting your bikes.

One of the main advantages of blankets is their versatility. They can protect your bikes, your truck, or any other items you need to transport.

They are also very lightweight, which makes them easy to handle and store.

Blankets can also be more space-efficient than tailgate pads, which can be folded and stored in small spaces.

However, blankets can be less secure than tailgate pads, as they don't offer a stable platform for your bikes.

They can also be more prone to rubbing and scratching, damaging your bike's paint.

They don't come with straps or locks, so you must provide your own.

Popular Brands and Materials

When choosing a tailgate pad or blanket, you'll first want to consider which brands and materials best suit your needs. Here's an overview of some top options:

Tailgate Pads

Many top tailgate pad brands like Dakine, Race Face, and Yakima use heavy-duty vinyl or tarpaulin materials. These resist wear and provide thick cushioning up to around one inch thick.

Popular attachment systems include straps that loop onto the tailgate edges or anchor to tiedown points in the truck bed. Some also have non-slip surfaces to grip directly to the tailgate.

High-end models from Dakine and Race Face offer useful features like mesh pockets for storage and u-locks to secure bikes.

Cheaper options from Xsport and Leader Accessories have simpler designs but get the job done.


For blankets, common materials include fleece, cotton, polyester, and special moving blankets made from thick quilted cotton or recycled materials.

These range from around 1/4 inch for basic fleece to 1 inch thickness for premium moving blankets.

Most blankets do not have any built-in attachment system and simply drape over the tailgate and bikes. Some brands like Real Truck offer grommets to connect tie-down straps for a more secure setup.

Affordable options are available from places like Harbor Freight and furniture stores. Higher-end moving blankets from PODs and U-Haul also work well but are pricier.

Let me know if you would like me to expand on any of the details around brands, materials, or attachment methods for tailgate pads and blankets.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some alternatives to using a tailgate pad for transporting bikes?

There are a few alternatives if you don't want to use a tailgate pad. One option is to use a hitch-mounted bike rack. Another option is to use a roof-mounted bike rack. Both options can be more expensive than a tailgate pad, but they offer unique benefits.

Will a tailgate pad scratch the paint on my truck?

A tailgate pad can potentially scratch the paint on your truck if it is not installed properly.

However, most tailgate pads have padding that helps protect your truck's paint.

It's also a good idea to ensure your bike is secure and not moving around while driving.

Can I transport a road bike on a tailgate pad?

Yes, you can transport a road bike on a tailgate pad.

However, you should ensure the bike is secured properly and not moving around while driving.

Road bikes are generally lighter than mountain bikes, making them easier to transport on a tailgate pad.

What is the Latchit Rack, and how does it compare to a tailgate pad?

The Latchit Rack is a bike rack that attaches to your truck's tailgate. It is similar to a tailgate pad in that it allows you to transport your bike in the bed of your truck.

However, the Latchit Rack is designed to be more secure and easier to use than a traditional tailgate pad.

What type of bike lock should I use when transporting my bike on a tailgate pad?

When transporting your bike on a tailgate pad, using a cable lock or a U-lock is a good idea to secure your bike to your truck.

This will help prevent your bike from being stolen while you're driving.

Make sure to lock your bike to a secure point on your truck, such as the tie-down points in the bed.

Making the Final Call

Choosing between a tailgate pad and a blanket depends on your specific needs and preferences.

Both options can protect your bikes during transport if used properly.

Tailgate pads offer more cushioning and protection, while blankets provide a budget-friendly solution.

Consider factors like cost, ease of use, and desired level of protection when deciding which option is best for you.

With either option, fasten your bikes to prevent damage securely.

You've got this — choose the option that fits your situation and hit the road ready for adventure!

For more of your truck transportation needs, also read:

10 Best Ram Truck Bed Covers (Tonneaus)

How Much Weight Can A Truck’s Tailgate Hold?

Will A Motorcycle Fit In A Truck Bed?

Are Truck Bed Extenders Universal?

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