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Retractable Tonneau Covers: A Secure Way to Stow Your Cargo Without Blocking Your Rear Window!
If you're like us, you use your truck bed a lot, so it's important to consider the advantages and disadvantages of each type of cover when choosing your new truck bed cover. That's why we really like the retractable tonneau covers. They're durable, good looking, extremely secure and don't block your rear window when the cover is fully open.
Retractable tonneau covers are typically made from powder coated aluminum or black polycarbonate which is essentially a hard plastic. Their innovative design allows the cover to roll up into a canister at the truck bed when fully open. Unlike a hard folding tonneau cover, this design allows for complete visibility through the rear window.
One thing to consider when deciding if a retractable truck bed cover is right for you is bed space. Although convenient, the canister does take up approximately 12" at the front of your truck bed. If you've got a small truck like a Ford Maverick or a Jeep Gladiator a different you may want to consider a different type of truck bed cover
How Much Should I Expect to Pay for a Retractable Tonneau Cover?
Whether you're looking to protect your truck or just want to have some extra bed access, retractable tonneau covers are a great option. They offer a durable, water-resistant seal that keeps dirt, mud, and debris out of the bed while keeping your cargo protected. They're also a good option for people living in snowy or icy areas.
Depending on the type of cover you purchase, you may be able to pay as little as $900 for a basic retractable tonneau like the Gator Recoil. However, the higher end models like the RetraxPRO start at around $1999. If you’re looking for a retractable tonneau cover with all the bells and whistles a few manufacturers make a power retractable cover that opens and closes with a wireless remote control. Expect to pay anywhere from $2100 all the way up to $3700.
Retractable Tonneau Cover Features
Retractable covers are the perfect choice for people who want a tonneau cover that offers all the best features. They are easy to install and require little skill and only basic hand tools. Most retractable covers will have their own locking mechanism, which makes it easy to secure items in the truck bed. And many models allow you to lock the cover at any position along the rail, so you basically have infinite riding positions.
These covers also help reduce fuel consumption. In fact, research from the Specialty Equipment Market Association shows that a tonneau cover can increase fuel efficiency by up to 1.8% by reducing wind drag.
Many models like the Retrax XR series have integrated T-slot rails which allow you to add a truck bed directly to the cover. These T-slot rails work with racks from most manufacturers including Thule, Yakima and Rhino Rack.
Another feature that’s unique to retractable tonneau covers is the option to have a power model. With models like the Retrax Powertrax opening and closing the cover is as easy as pushing a button on the included wireless remote.
Are There Any Disadvantages to a Retractable Truck Bed Cover?
Having a retractable cover for your truck is a great way to protect your cargo and keep the bad weather out. But they do have a few disadvantages as well. One of the biggest drawbacks with this type of cover is the space the canister takes up in the bed. Most models will have a canister that measures 12-inches square, which means your truck bed just got a foot shorter. With truck like the Ford Maverick and Jeep Gladiator having short beds to begin with, that extra foot could be a deal breaker.
The other major drawback to retractable truck bed covers is cost. The most cost-effective models like the Gator Recoil will start at over $900 and go up to over $2600 for models like the Retrax Powertrax. Many manufactures will do mail-in rebates multiple times per year, so if you want to save a buck keep your eye on their websites.
What Material is Best for a Retractable Tonneau Cover?
Choosing the best retractable tonneau cover for your truck will depend on a number of factors. One of the biggest choices you’ll need to make is the material your covers is made from. Retractable tonneau covers are either made from aluminum or polycarbonate. There are advantages and disadvantages to both materials.
Polycarbonate covers like the RetraxONE are among the most economical and lightweight retractable covers on the market today. The downside to these covers is durability. They’re more prone to damage such as cracking and scratching than the aluminum models so factor that into your decision.
The majority of retractable tonneau covers are made from powder coated aluminum. The aluminum models are much more durable than the polycarbonate covers. That durability comes at a cost though. Models like the RetraxPRO start at $1999.
Are Retractable Truck Bed Covers Hard to Install?
Whether you're replacing your existing truck bed cover or installing one for the first time, there are a few things to know. These tips will help install a retractable tonneau cover correctly.
The best way to install a retractable tonneau cover is to follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions. These can vary a bit by manufacturer, but they should all be pretty similar.
To install a retractable tonneau cover, you'll need the following parts: rails, cannister, C-clamps, and the corresponding hardware pack. All of these items should be included with your tonneau cover. It’s best to verify they’re all accounted for before starting the installation process.
To install a retractable tonneau cover, first attach the tonneau cover rails to the cannister. Then attach the cover plate to the top of the canister. When the cover is assembled grab a buddy and lift it onto the truck bed making sure to position it correctly, so the weather stripping seals properly.
Next use the included clamps to attach the cover to the truck bed rails. Open and close the cover a couple of times to ensure the proper fit and function. If the cover sticks, there are multiple adjustment points on the rails to move them closer together or farther apart.
Once you’ve got the cover adjusted properly attach the included drain tubes to the cannister and run them through the factory drain holes in your truck bed. This will complete the installation.
Check out our list of the top rated retractable tonneau covers below!
1. RetraxPRO XR Tonneau Cover
Whether you need to haul gear or simply need a place to store your outdoor recreational equipment, the RetraxPRO XR Tonneau Cover can provide you with the functionality and durability you need to keep your gear protected from inclement weather. Built with double wall aluminum slats and a matte black powder coat, this retractable truck bed cover can protect your gear and maintain its strength while in motion.
The RetraxPRO XR Tonneau cover is built with an integrated T-slot rail, allowing you to customize your pickup truck bed. This unique rail system will accommodate rack systems from major manufacturers like Yakima, Thule and Rhino Rack. The RetraxPRO XR's Trax Rail System doubles the cargo capacity of your truck as it allows you to mount gear on the top of the bed cover. The RetraxPRO XR also features a spiral track system that prevents the track from folding on itself. This allows the cover to glide effortlessly along the rail ensuring longer cover life and maximum versatility for cargo management.
For extra security, the RetraxPRO XR uses its own locking system. That, in combination with a locking tailgate, provides the ultimate in security and protection for your cargo. The design features a low-profile canister and ball bearing rollers for smooth, effortless operation. The cover also comes with a convenient handle, making it easy to pull it closed
The RetraxPRO XR also includes a lifetime warranty, so you can rest assured that you are getting a product that will last for years. The design is made with heavy-duty aluminum slats that are powder coated for maximum durability. The cover also features neoprene compression seals to provide excellent protection against rain and snow. The cover can support up to 500 lbs evenly distributed.
The RetraxPRO XR's unique engineering features make it one of the easiest tonneau covers to open and close. It's also designed to improve aerodynamics when in motion and plastic drain tubes that channel water out of the truck bed and away from your valuable cargo.
2. RetraxPRO MX Tonneau Cover
Whether you're looking for a cover to help secure your cargo or simply want a way to keep out the elements, a Retrax PRO MX tonneau cover is a great choice. These tonneau covers are made of impact-resistant aluminum slats and feature a sleek, low profile design. They also feature a water-tight seal to protect your cargo from moisture.
The Retrax PRO MX tonneau covers come with a powder coat matte finish, which helps protect them against scratches and dings. The matte finish is also UV-resistant, meaning that the finish will not fade over time. In addition, Retrax PRO MX covers have a sealed ball-bearing roller system that glides smoothly over the rail, avoiding the use of Velcro and springs. The rollers also allow for easy access to the truck bed, since you can unlock and lock the tonneau in any position.
These covers are available in a variety of models that are sized to fit most trucks on the road. They also come with detailed vehicle-specific installation instructions. The covers also feature a built-in water drainage system, so you won't have to worry about water collecting in the bed of your truck.
The Retrax PRO MX tonneau handles up to 500 pounds of distributed weight. It features a sleek, low-profile design, which makes the cover glide easily over the rails. The sleek design also keeps wind drag to a minimum, which means that your fuel efficiency increases. The hinges, clamps and rails are also designed to blend with the design of your truck. The cover also comes with a locking mechanism, which allows you to lock the cover and the tailgate for double security. The lock is easy to operate and requires only a push of a button.
Made in the USA, the Retrax PRO MX features a lifetime warranty against defects in materials and workmanship.
3. Pace Edwards JackRabbit Tonneau Cover
If you're looking for a tonneau cover to keep your cargo dry, secure, and out of the elements, Pace Edwards Jackrabbit Tonneau Cover is the right choice. This durable and water-resistant cover features a weather resistant ArmorTek deck and high-quality aluminum slats. It also features a latch-n-lock handle system and Continuous Tension Spring technology, which allows the cover to open and close with ease.
The tonneau cover includes a pre-assembled head canister and side rails. The side rails are rigid and help ensure a smooth transition from open to closed position. The rails also have drain tubes to prevent water from freezing in them. The rails mount flush to the truck bed rails for an OEM look. The JackRabbit canister is made of a proprietary poly/epoxy composite material, which is dent proof and rust proof.
The Jackrabbit cover comes with a convenient pull strap, which extends from the tailgate to the bulkhead. The strap is activated by the handle at the tailgate. This feature allows you to carry longer items closer to the bulkhead without lowering the tailgate.
The JackRabbit canister is made from a durable poly/epoxy composite material, which has a continuous tension spring to allow the cover to open and close with ease. The canister is designed to stand up to years of impact stress. It also includes multiple locking positions and is rustproof.
The JackRabbit canister also features an auto-latch feature, which engages every 12 inches along the rails. The Pace Edwards JackRabbit cover is backed by a 3-year warranty.
4. GatorTrax Tonneau Cover
The Gator brand covers are relatively new on the market but due to their competitive pricing they’ve gained popularity quickly. The GatorTrax is the higher end retractable cover from Gator. They are manufactured in the United States and come with a one year warranty against manufacturing defects
The GatorTrax tonneau cover is made of Lexan polycarbonate, which is resistant to harsh UV rays and provides impact-resistant protection. The cover is also lightweight and has a low-profile design. It has been tested to withstand temperatures from -50 degrees to +200 degrees. It also has a matte finish that is resistant to scratches.
Another feature of the GatorTrax tonneau cover that makes it easy to use is the sealed ball-bearing system mounted on aluminum support beams. This ensures that the cover will move smoothly and without jamming.
Another feature of the GatorTrax cover is the lockable push button that opens the cover. The lock also functions as a handle to open and close the cover and provides double security so both your tailgate and your tonneau cover are locked. The convenient locking system also allows the cover to be locked in any position on the rail.
One thing we like about the GatorTrax is the smaller canister. At 11” x 11” it’s one of the more compact canisters on the market and will eat up less of your valuable bed space.
5. RetraxONE XR Tonneau Cover
Having a RetraxONE XR Tonneau Cover on your truck bed is a great way to protect your cargo and increase your truck's security at the same time. The RetraxONE XR is a hard retractable cover that offers full bed access when rolled back. It also features a Trax Rail System that allows you to mount a rack system to the bed of your truck. The unique rail system allows you to install T-slot racks from major brands like Yakima, Thule and Rhino Rack.
This RetraxONE XR Tonneau is made of a heavy-duty polycarbonate that's resistant to dents, scratches, and dings. It also features a matte black finish that gives your truck bed a streamlined appearance and maximum UV resistance.
This cover is easy to install and can be completed with the help of a friend in about an hour using simple hand tools. The tonneau comes with everything you’ll need to complete the install including rails, canister, clamps and other miscellaneous hardware.
Weather protection is unbeatable with the RetraxONE XR. The cover features premium weather stripping on all edges as well as an integrated drain system that channels any water that enters the canister out of the factory drain holes in your truck.
Locking is a sinch with the built-in hand-lock combo. Simply use the included key to lock and unlock the cover, then opening and closing is a simple as pushing a button. The lock doubles as a convenient handle so retracting and extending the cover can be done with one hand. And for extra versatility, the cover can be locked at any position along the rail. Simply push the handle down to secure the cover.
6. Gator Recoil Tonneau Cover
Buying the Gator Recoil Tonneau Cover is a great idea if you are looking for a way to keep your truck bed safe, clean and dry. The cover features a durable design that prevents rust and scratches from occurring. It also comes in a matte black finish that will look great on your truck. Made from durable aluminum slats that are powder coated to help keep out dust, this cover will provide excellent durability and versatility for the life of your truck.
The Gator Recoil Tonneau Cover features an easy-to-use retractable system that allows you to access your truck bed easily and quickly. It features an elastomeric hinge that is secure and holds the cover in place. It also comes with a quick release handle that is attached to the front of the cover. When you are ready to use the cover, simply pull the grip latch on either side of the bed. You can then retract the cover all the way to the end latch stop. The cover also features a sealed ball bearing roller design that eliminates spring failure.
The design of the Gator Recoil Tonneau cover is backed by a two-year warranty and is made in the United States. The cover features a powder coated matte finish that will help keep out dust and scratches and includes all the bolts and clamps that are needed for installation. Installation takes less than 30 minutes to install the cover and will provide you with complete bed access.
The Gator Recoil Tonneau cover features a low-profile design that keeps the cover level with the bed. It also comes with an automatic intermittent locking system that secures the cover at twelve-inch intervals along the bed rails
The Gator Recoil Tonneau Retractable Truck Bed Cover is a great choice for those who want to keep their gear safe and dry without breaking the banks. It’s affordable, easy to install, easy to use and overall a great bang for your buck.
7. Pace Edwards Switchblade Tonneau Cover
Pace Edwards is one of the most reliable brands in the tonneau cover industry. They offer a wide range of products, including original ROLL-TOP-COVER and the Switchblade, which is designed to fit most trucks on the road today. This cover is made of high-quality materials and is backed by a one-year warranty against manufacturer defects. The Switchblade is an excellent accessory upgrade that will protect your cargo and give you the convenience of a tri-fold tonneau cover without blocking your rear window.
The Switchblade is a heavy-duty retractable tonneau cover that is built for people who use their truck beds often. The canopy is a combination of padded polymer, aluminum slats, and ArmorTek engineering. It uses built-in channels and drain tubes to drain water from the canopy. The canopy's compact design and clamp-on rail system makes installation and removal a breeze.
Installation is easy thanks to the no-drill design. All you’ll need is a Phillips head screwdriver, a 7/16 wrench and an hour of your time. The tonneau cover rails clamp to the bed rails of your truck so there’s no permanent damage to your truck bed.
The Switchblade features an ultra-compact cannister design that saves valuable cargo space in your truck bed. And if more space is needed the cannister can easily be removed in minutes for 100% bed access.
Other features we like include the Continuous Tension Spring system that allows the cover to retract into the canister smoothly and easily. We also like the built-in pull strap that makes closing the cover just as easy as opening it.
8. Retrax Powertrax Tonneau Cover
If you’re looking for a top-of-the-line tonneau cover with all the bells and whistles, the Retrax Powertrax Tonneau Cover can provide you with the security and convenience you want and need. It features a rigid design and a dependable seal, making it the ideal choice for your truck bed. You'll also enjoy a sleek style that's customized to fit your truck.
The Retrax Powertrax Pro MX Tonneau Cover is an electrically powered retractable bed cover that features a rugged, low-profile design. Its sealed ball-bearing rollers and electromagnetic brake offer smooth operation. It also features a matte powder coat finish to keep it scratch-resistant and comes with a wireless key fob to allow you to operate the cover from inside the cab.
It also includes full perimeter weatherstripping for water resistance and bolt on clamps to help keep the cover firmly in place. This cover also features an LED cargo light for added convenience and can hold up to 500 pounds of cargo and is made of durable aluminum slats.
The PowertraxONE MX is an upgraded version of the RetraxONE. It features a one-piece, polycarbonate construction that is maintenance-free and offers strength and durability. It features an adjustable mounting system and a stake pocket cut out rail that provides complete access to OEM stake pocket holes.
The PowertraxPRO MX is a heavy-duty aluminum cover that features a clamp-on design for easy installation. It features a UV-resistant matte powder coat finish and industrial aluminum slats for a great look and increased durability. It also comes with a wireless remote control for hands-free operation. It is designed to hold up to 500 pounds of cargo and offers the security of a tonneau cover while offering a more compact design. It can be installed with basic hand tools and can be removed easily if needed.
The Retrax PowertraxPRO XR is another option from the Premium Aluminum Series. It features an electric design that's easy to install with the included hardware kit. It also has a rugged matte powder coat finish that's ideal for a variety of uses. It is also compatible with a variety of t-slot accessories so you can add a rack to your truck bed. You can lock the cover in any position along the rail, providing you with unlimited hauling flexibility. It also features a durable matte finish that's UV resistant and scratch-resistant.
All of the Retrax Powertrax covers are made in the USA and come with a limited lifetime warranty that becomes prorated after 3 years.
9. GatorTrax Electric Tonneau Cover
Using a GatorTrax Power Retractable Tonneau Cover can help protect your truck bed from debris, water, and the elements while delivering the convenience of hands free opening and closing. This durable and lightweight cover offers excellent protection from weather and theft.
The GatorTrax power retractable covers are made of reinforced aluminum panels with a powder-coated finish. The powder-coated finish provides maximum UV protected and has been tested to withstand temperatures up to 200 degrees.
For added convenience, the GatorTrax Electric also features an LED light that illuminates the entire bed at night. This light can be operated by the cover's key fob remote and features an auto shutoff feature after three minutes.
These covers are available in matte black or gloss black and come complete with everything needed for installation including a key fob remote and an integrated electromagnetic brake. These features add convenience and versatility to the operation of the cover.
The GatorTrax covers are relatively easy to install and can be completed by a single person in under two hours. They fit flush with the bed rails of your truck and will work with both spray-in bedl iners and drop-in bed liners.
As with all retractable tonneau covers, the Gatortrax electric truck bed covers have a storage canister towards the bulkhead of your truck bed. This canister operates on sealed ball bearings which allow the cover to open and close smoothly and quickly. Keep in mind, the canister takes up about 10 to 12 square inches of bed space so plan accordingly.
10. Pace Edwards Ultragroove Tonneau Cover
Designed to look great while protecting your truck, the Pace Edwards Ultragroove Retractable Tonneau Cover offers excellent quality, a streamlined look, and a host of features you'll find useful. Not only is it easy to install, but it also comes with everything you’ll need to complete the installation including, mounting rails, end caps, and a set of drain tubes.
The Pace Edwards Ultragroove Retractable Tonneau Cover is a sleek, low-profile design that maximizes cargo carrying capacity. This product features heavy-gauge aluminum panels coated in ArmorTek vinyl that protect your truck bed and your cargo.
The Ultragroove features a matte black powder-coat that resists corrosion and can be locked into place in twelve-inch increments along the bed rail for added versatility. Unlike some other tonneau covers, the Ultragroove is made entirely in the U.S., making it an easy choice for the American consumer.
This cover features a host of other features that make it a standout amongst its peers. It comes with an integrated water drainage system and electro-magnetic brakes, which allow it to open and close a few inches without requiring a manual effort. It also features a set of drain tubes to ensure that your cargo stays dry
The Pace Edwards Ultragroove features a T-slot design that uses an integrated rail expansion system (RES). The rail expansion system is designed to make adding a rack or cargo box a cinch. Simply slide the feet of the rack into the patented T-slot channel and attach the cross bars, no fuss, no hassle.
We really like the included features like inside knobs, finished end caps, and the water-tight tailgate seal. It also has a continuous tension spring that makes operation smooth and easy.
It's not difficult to see why the Pace Edwards Ultragroove was named the Best Retractable Tonneau by several publications. The Ultragroove features a 3 year warranty against manufacturing defects.