If you own a pickup truck, you obviously appreciate a well built and strong piece of machinery that can carry a heavy load. Not only can these durable vehicles carry construction materials, farm animals, and people. They get you over rough roads and severe weather all while protecting you and your load along the way.
One way to enhance your pickup is to equip it with a retractable tonneau cover to keep your load safe, secure, and protected from the elements. There are several types of retractable tonneau covers on the market, and the best one for you all depends on how you plan to use it, what types of loads you carry, and how often you access your truck bed. Here are a few tips on what to look for in the best retractable tonneau cover and a few reviews to help you start shopping.
Top 5 Best Retractable Tonneau Cover
Roll-N-Lock LG447M – Best Retractable Tonneau Cover For Dodge Ram 1500
One of the more advanced retractable covers on the market, the Roll-N-Lock allows you to close or open the bed cover in seconds. Made of vinyl over aluminum laminated construction, this rigid, hybrid cover gives you everything you want in a truck bed cover. You don’t have to worry about snaps, rolls, bundles, crossbars, or fabric shrinkage with the Roll-N-Lock.
Versatile and sophisticated, the Roll-N-Lock keeps your load secure with an interlocking hinge that is joined to the Roll-N-Lock slat. With the geometry of this specially designed hinge, this retractable tonneau cover is smooth, quiet, and strong that has a compact and non-binding movement. Each slate is inseparably locked together. But when they are yet rotated, there is no contact between the metals.
Using a torsion spring drive contained in a three-inch aluminum reel, you will get many years of reliable use. Simply turn the lock-lever to open the Roll-N-Lock. And use the handy built-in pull strap to open the cover. With the ratchet-style locking mechanism, you can latch the cover into place at a fully closed position or at the ¼, ½, ¾ positions.
RetraxPRO MX – Most Watertight Retractable Tonneau Cover For Ford F150 (09-14)
Similar to the RetraxONE, the RetraxPRO bed cover has more strength thanks to its industrial-grade aluminum construction allowing it to distribute loads of over five hundred pounds. You also get a limited lifetime warranty so once it is installed.
So you won’t have to worry about it once it is on your truck. It also features Sealed-For-Life Bearings giving it a one-handed operation. That is super smooth with sealed ball-bearing rollers that are mounted onto every section.
Easy to Use
Always looking good and sealing tight, the RetraxPRO has an overall streamlined appearance. Unlike soft covers that tend to bulk up when rolled, giving you a dependable and firm seal that keeps out water and the elements. It is also key-lockable no matter what position it is in along the railing giving you flexibility and helping to keep your load secure.
The RetraxPRO is very strong and simple to use. It is perfect for 5th wheel towing and will improve your mileage by up to 10%. Requiring no maintenance, this cover will not fade and is UV protected.
Pace Edwards Switchblade – Best Stylish Retractable Tonneau Cover For Silverado & Sierra
With a low-profile fit, the Pace Edwards Switchblade sits flush with your bed rails giving you a custom-designed for a perfect fit. Constructed with aluminum panels, this bed cover has a padded polymer finish making it functional as well as stylish. It is easy to use and comes with a full-length pull strap making it easy to close and open it with one hand. So you won’t have to climb into the bed or walk around your truck to grab the handle.
With the additional durability of ArmorTek, you get high quality and weather-resistant finish. Giving it a soft-top look, this secure cover is able to withstand the elements ensuring long-term use. Using built-in channels, water is funneled down the mounting rails and out of the bed through drain tubes. Featuring a continuous tension spring, the Switchblade smoothly rolls into the canister. But it cannot lock every twelve inches like other bed covers due to its low-profile design.
GatorTrax Retractable tonneau cover – Best Durable Retractable Tonneau Cover For Toyota Tundra
Perfect for those that want the unfolded type of bed cover, the GatorTrax is an affordable bed cover that comes with limited warranty support. Made of one piece of LEXON, this lightweight cover also protects the cover from UV rays. Constructed with powder-coated aluminum material, this bed cover requires little maintenance.
Easy to transport, the durable Gatortrax features a sealed ball-bearing that lets you easily access the cover. You also get a unique tracking system that lets you stabilize your load as you drive. Plus, this lightweight cover has a secure locking mechanism to keep your load safe.
Able to lock in any position with a key, the GatorTax features sealed ball bearings that need no maintenance and won’t freeze. The spiral track system in the canister has no moving parts so it won’t jam. And the clamp on rails provides an easy installation with no cutting or drilling needed. The compact canister takes up very little space in your truck bed.
Durable and Lightweight
GatorTrax Retractable Tonneau Cover – Easiest to Install Retractable Tonneau Cover For 2015-2018 Ford F150
Durable and well-built, the GatorTrax Retractable tonneau cover is constructed with durable, powder-coated aluminum slats that feature a textured matte finish that can stand up to the elements. Offer the most protection when it is retracted, the slim canister design will not take up a lot of room in your truck bed. With the quick-release handle, closing and opening the retractable cover is handy and easy.
The GatorTrax Cover also has a secure lock keeping your load safe while sealed ball bearings allow you to easily close and open the cover. These ball bearing will never freeze and require no maintenance. Plus, the spiral track system on the canister was designed with no moving parts so it will never jam. And the clamp-on rails install without the need for cutting or drilling.
Lightweight and Durable
Constructed out of LEXAN, the same material used to construct the cockpits in a fighter jet, this polycarbonate is lightweight and durable. It can withstand temperatures up to 200℉ as well as moisture and UV rays.
Best Retractable Tonneau Cover – Buying Guide
Protection from the Elements – This is an obvious benefit. When covering your load, you want it all to be protected again bad weather and to stay secure.
Style – Aesthetics is also a nice benefit as many manufacturers these days design their retractable tonneau covers so that they look good on your truck. When you choose one of the stylish covers, you can definitely help increase the look of your truck.
Bed Protection – Since the bed of your truck tends to be pretty sensitive, a cover that can protect it is always a plus.
Gas Mileage – Many manufacturers use the claim of improved gas mileage when they are selling their retractable tonneau covers. Even though it isn’t actually proven, this can be a huge plus and help keep your monthly gas budget down.
Theft Protection – Cargo tends to be a target for thieves when they see it unprotected. Using a retractable tonneau cover can help prevent anyone from getting into your truck bed and taking your belongings. If you have a retractable tonneau cover with an integrated locking mechanism, you can easily keep your load secure no matter what position it is in.
Plus, many of the covers today are made of a vinyl laminate, hardened plastic, or reinforced aluminum that will keep thieves away. It is always a good idea to keep valuables safe and locked up in the cabin of your truck. Your next best alternative is the protection by a retractable truck bed cover is your best bet.
Conceals Loads– Sometimes you may have a load that you want to keep private or confidential in the back of your truck. Having a retractable tonneau cover can help prevent anyone from knowing what is in your truck.
Versatility – You can cover either a small or large load of cargo with a retractable tonneau cover. As long as it can fit into the bed of the truck of course. A retractable tonneau cover will move easily back and forth on a smoothly designed track that attaches securely to the sides and front of the bed rails.
Most covers are able to hold up to five hundred pounds of weight distributed evenly and roll up easily into a storage box. That has a small footprint of between ten and twelve square inches in the front of the truck bed.
Multiple Opening Positions – Most retractable tonneau covers can be secured in several positions along the rails of your bed easily allowing you to make room for large or small cargo while also keeping other gear safes under it. Retracting in just a second, a retractable tonneau cover helps in almost any situation where you need it to be either closed, opened, or partially opened.
Low-Profile & Aerodynamics – Most retractable tonneau covers are able to claim a low profile due to their custom design. Giving your truck a sleek and luxurious look, the exterior will also see an increase in its aerodynamics with many boasting an increase of 10% in fuel efficiency. Depending on the vehicle, not every situation will see the same gains.
Spiral Storage Canister – A spiral track storage canister is one of the reasons these retractable tonneau covers can have a low-profile. Integrated into its design, a spiral track storage canister is found at the bulkhead of your truck bed. And usually only takes up between ten and twelve square inches. Sliding on durable sealed bearings, the cover is easily stored securely out of the way and out of any bad weather when it is rolled up.
Types of Retractable tonneau cover
1. Soft Top Retractable tonneau covers
A classic design is seen that has been seen on many trucks for years, the soft top retractable tonneau cover is typically made from a heavy-duty tarp made of leather grain. Attaching to the bed with tongue and groove weather stripping, Velcro, or snaps, the soft top cover is available in a folding design that uses a hinged frame that will open in sections.
Other types of covers open by rolling the tarp up against the truck cab. This type of retractable tonneau cover gives you the benefit of having full access to your entire truck bed which is handy when hauling larger cargo.
2. Hard Retractable tonneau covers
While a soft retractable tonneau cover will give you the basics as far as keeping cargo out of sight and weather protection, you can’t beat the complete security you get from a hard retractable tonneau cover.
Locking up with the tailgate of the truck, your load becomes totally safe and secure. It is almost like a huge durable lid for the back of your truck. Which can also be painted and customized to match the rest of your truck.
3. Folding Retractable tonneau covers
A hard retractable tonneau cover tends to be bulky and large. So it might be wise to consider a folding retractable tonneau cover. Using three to five panels, a folding truck bed cover folds together giving you an easier to closing and opening the truck bed.
You can also get a 5th wheel hitch with some of these products while others will fold all the way to the truck cab. So you have complete access to your truck bed without worrying about removing the cover. Since these covers use a hard-paneled design, it will give you the protection you want from a hard retractable tonneau cover without dealing with the weight of just one piece.
Folding tonneau covers are also available with a handy flip-to-open design that gives you a vinyl tarp look. Using three-panel frames, this folding cover has a slick black vinyl tarp that stretches over the panels for a soft tonneau look. This is a nice affordable option for those truck owners on a budget.
4. Retractable tonneau covers
Featuring a series of narrow planks, retractable tonneau covers close and open like a garage door giving you secure protection for your load as well as durable strength to withstand heavy snow and incredible water sealing.
You also get a low-profile look with a retractable cover due to its in-rail design that fits flush to your truck. A canister sits behind the truck cab to store the cover when it is rolled up.
Available in both electronic and manual designs, retractable tonneau covers are convenient options for those that haul of a lot of loads. A manual model will come with positions on the rails that auto-latch letting you lock the cover when it is partially open.
With an electronic retractable cover, you get a canister that is motorized that will roll up the cover automatically. It will also allow it to stop anywhere on the rails while some units come with a remote control so you can open your cover from a distance.
5. Toolbox Retractable tonneau covers
Designed to be just a little shorter than your truck bed, the toolbox retractable tonneau cover will accommodate your over-the-rail truck toolbox. Not only do you get the security and protection you want from a retractable tonneau cover. But you also get convenient access to your toolbox. You can even find some covers that incorporate the toolbox into its design.
Features of a Retractable tonneau cover
Constructed of a unique material that is durable yet flexible enough to roll. All retractable tonneau covers are different but they typically use aluminum planks that fit from one-bed rail to another.
Padded polymer vinyl – Offering either a textured or smooth padded vinyl surface that fits over the aluminum cover sections. A padded polymer vinyl cover features a continuous smooth look that doesn’t include the appearance of a sectioned rolling door.
Powder-coated aluminum – Using a heavy-duty powder coat, a powder-coated aluminum cover gives you total corrosion and rust resistance. With a durable finish that can withstand both the hot sun and bitter cold. This material features a great utility style that combines appearance and strength.
A retractable tonneau cover will roll up into a sealed canister behind the truck cab keeping you cover clean while it is stored on a spring-loaded roll. These systems also come with a draining system to channel out any moisture that may be on your cover when it is rolled up.
These channels are normally small water lines that run to existing drainage holes in the bottom of the bed. Some may even need minor drilling to create holes that the drain hoses can use.
A retractable tonneau cover will mount flush inside the rails of your truck bed. Covering the slides entirely without sticking out over the top of the truck bed. Creating the most low-profile truck cover available, it also features smart latching positions on the bed rail that is created to lock the cover part of the way open.
Some of the more basic models will come with pre-set positions at specific intervals to give you a part-open cover use. If you purchase a remote-controlled or motorized retractable tonneau cover, you can stop them at any position along the bed rails. This type of stopping mechanism is perfect when you need partial access to your truck bed for uses like a fifth-wheel hitch.
Providing excellent security, retractable tonneau covers have a hardcover design when it is unrolled. Keeping your cargo out of sight, a potential thief will not be able to open without a key. There are some models that have a keyless lock found under the cover. But it can’t be undone unless the tailgate is down.
Your cargo can always be accessed when you drop the tailgate since retractable tonneau covers don’t cover the tailgate or lock it.
Keep in mind while this is a handy feature, you can’t completely secure your load unless your tailgate can lock. You can even find some models that have a wireless keychain remote for simple one-touch unlocking and locking that can actually be wired into your vehicle door locking system.
If you live in snow-prone areas, remember to sweep or brush snow off your cover before you open it. If you leave the snow on it and then coil the cover, snow will fall into your truck bed and all over your load. It can also cause moisture to get into the lidded canister and the planks which can cause the moving parts to break down over time.
If you deal with a lot of snow and rain, you don’t have to worry about your retractable tonneau cover opening, but it will help if you choose one with powder-coated aluminum planks for areas that see severe winter weather. Either a powder-coated or a padded polymer retractable cover will work for those living in milder climates.
There are degrees of low-profile designs when considering a retractable tonneau cover. All of them will sit flush with your truck bed rails, however, some come with canisters that sit higher in your truck bed. You need a model with a sunken canister that sits low in your truck bed to have a completely flush retractable tonneau cover.
Considerations When Choosing A Retractable Truck Tonneau Bed Cover
What if you need to take the cover off?
You may have to take your retractable tonneau cover off depending on how you will use the cover. If you have severe conditions that require taking the cover off at specific times of the year or you have to carry a larger item that needs to use the entire bed of the truck, make sure to choose a cover that is easy to install and remove.
Otherwise, you will spend a lot of your time installing the cover over and over again. Remember that if you know you will be keeping your cover on most of the time, then the installation process won’t matter as much.
What if your truck has a bed liner?
If you have a bed liner on your truck, it can affect whether or not you need a retractable cover. Depending on whether the bed liner is under or above your rail can cause issues for your retractable tonneau cover. If it is over the rail, you could have issues installing it since it won’t fit as tightly as you will want.
If the bed liner is under the rail, you won’t have any issues installing a retractable tonneau cover. Make sure to check the measurements of your cover if you do have a bed liner and also see the bed liner in person if you’re aren’t sure of the measurements. When choosing a retractable tonneau cover when you have a bed liner, it is always better to buy the cover from an actual store and not online.
Do they need a lot of maintenance?
Any type of truck bed cover will need to be cleaned. But, if you have a hard retractable cover, you will have to clean it more often. You will also have to regularly clean the canister and rails of a retractable tonneau cover. Plus since they close and open, they will easily pick up debris, grim, and dirt. So it is important to keep up regular maintenance to make it works properly. Other types of covers will not need to be cleaned as often.
Since the variations between retractable tonneau covers tend to be slight, they can still make a big difference in your enjoyment of the bed cover. Depending on the type of material, the latching points, and how well the locking mechanism is, you cover can either be a convenient addition to your truck bed or a waste of money.
Also, remember the other features like remote controls and fully motorized retractable tonneau covers that can make them even handier. When choosing a retractable tonneau cover, also consider:
- What low-profile design degree you prefer?
- How severe is the weather in your area?
- Can a remote control benefit how you use the retractable tonneau cover on your truck?
- Would a toolbox retractable tonneau cover be useful for you?
Choosing the best retractable tonneau cover for your truck bed is easier than you think. Make sure you know how you plan to use it, what low-profile design you like the best, and what features you want on your cover. Once you know what you are looking for, you shouldn’t have any problem finding the best retractable tonneau cover for you and your truck.