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In a perfect world, retractable tonneau covers wouldn't be a necessity. It would never rain or snow when your truck is full of stuff you're transporting, but it does. And thieves' hands wouldn't ever slip into your truck's bed and take something you care about, but they do. Fortunately, we have retractable tonneau covers to keep your stuff safe. Of all the types of tonneau covers, retractables offer the best blend of security and ease of access to your bed. I've made a buying guide to help you understand what features to look out for when choosing a retractable tonneau cover. I've also included a list of all the best retractable tonneau covers, ranked under a variety of categories.
Gator Recoil Retractable Truck Bed Tonneau Cover
- Great value for money and good quality
- Relatively easy to install
- Can securely fix cover at one of five positions
- Low-profile, stylish design
- Aluminum slats add security
- No torsion spring
Pace Edwards Switchblade
- Practically unbeatable value for money
- Pull tab included
- ArmorTeck deck
- No-drill easy installation
- Aluminium panels
- Doesn't have multiple locking positions
- Some parts are prone to premature wear
- Highly compatible model
- More space thanks to extremely compact storage canister
- 3-Inch torsion spring
- 3-year guarantee
- Hybrid vinyl-over-aluminum design
- Higher-end of the price spectrum
Unfortunately, we did not get to test the retractable tonneau covers we're recommending. That does not mean we don't know which are worthwhile, though. Through collective experience and industry exposure, our team has developed a thorough understanding of these types of covers. But to make sure our list is proven, we've taken the time to back it up with research.
Best Retractable Tonneau Covers: Reviews & Recommendations
Best Overall: Gator Recoil Retractable Truck Bed Tonneau Cover
Great value for money and good quality
Can securely fix cover at one of five positions
Relatively easy to install
Aluminum slats add security
No torsion spring
If you're rolling in a 2015-2020 Ford F150 with a 5-foot 7-inch bed, then it's hard to go wrong with the Gator Recoil Retractable Truck Bed Tonneau Cover. You won't need a drill or any other special tool to fit this model, as it clamps onto the side of the bed, and the whole fitting process only takes around 20-30 minutes. Opening the cover is easy too, thanks to the quick-release handle located on the driver's side of the truck. Keeping your precious cargo safe are durable aluminum slats that are powder coated with a textured, matte-black finish making them resistant to scratches and corrosion.
You can securely lock and stop the cover at one of five customizable positions so you can keep different-sized cargo firmly in place. Unlike some tonneau covers, this one doesn't protrude, thanks to its low-profile and stylish design that arguably improves the F-150's look. Other tonneau covers have more features, but none do quite so much at this exceptionally low price point. You can also place some peace of mind in its 2-year guarantee.
Best Value: Pace Edwards Switchblade
Practically unbeatable value for money
Pull tab included
No-drill easy installation
No multiple locking points
As you'd hope, no drill is required to install this cover, as it clamps onto the rails of your truck's bed, but you'll need to ensure that you align it correctly. Unfortunately, this model doesn't feature a locking mechanism that runs along the rails and keeps cargo in place. One of this cover's simple yet extremely useful features is its pull tab, which makes it easy to retract the cover without stretching too far. Some parts on this model will wear more quickly than on higher-priced models, like the rubber seals around the canister.
Honorable Mention: Roll-N-Lock M-Series
Highly compatible model
3-Inch torsion spring
More space thanks to extremely compact storage canister
Hybrid vinyl-over-aluminum design
Higher end of the price spectrum
If it wasn't for the Roll-N-Lock M-Series tonneau cover's somewhat high price point, this model could easily have taken the best overall award. It's compatible with 2014 - 2018, 2019 Ltd/Legacy Chevy/GMC Silverado/Sierra with 5-foot 9-inch beds, making it a pretty versatile model. This unit has one of the most compact storage canisters in the game, which sits just 7-3/inches deep, and has an aerodynamic housing lid that should improve your gas mileage. So, if you opt for this model, you'll have more usable space in your bed when compared to most other tonneau covers.
A double vinyl-over-aluminum design that works with a patented contoured hinge design for frictionless rotation. These two features also work together with a lock to keep your cargo secure and potential thieves out. Enclosed in a 3-inch aluminum casing is a torsion spring, which should make retracting this cover practically effortless. Another design feature that makes life easier is this model's easy-install clamp-on track design. If you buy this cover, you'll be backed by a US-based customer support team and a 3-year guarantee.
Best Premium: RetraxPro XR
Can use with roof racks and other accessories
Industrial-strength slats support up to 500 pounds
Cover is lockable in any position
The RetraxPro XR is one of a few tonneau covers that enable people to fit racks and accessories onto bed rails. Many tonneau covers take up space on the bed rails, blocking access to the stake pockets that ladder racks need to mount onto the truck. This model features a convenient T-slot track system so you can fit crossbars above your cover to haul even more cargo. These tracks can work with several popular roof racks from brands such as Yakima and Thule.
This particular model fits the 2016 - 2022 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab with a 5-foot one-inch bed. Although you don't need any special tools to mount this cover, as it features a clamp-on design, it wouldn't hurt to have a friend on hand to help. The industrial-strength aluminum slats can support up to 500-pounds of evenly distributed weight. None of these covers are 100-percent watertight, but the neoprene compression seals on this model do a great job protecting a truck's bed from snow and rain. If you're carrying tall objects, then you'll be happy to know that you can lock the cover in any position along the rails to keep your cargo secure. This model comes with a lifetime guarantee, so you know it's built to last.
You can also read Managing editor Jonathon Klein's remarks on it, as he personally tested this model on his Honda Ridgeline and found it extremely strong, incredibly safe, and easy to install.
Best for Ford F-150s: Syneticusa Aluminum Retractable Tonneau Cover
Good protection from the elements
Great value for money
Strong slats that can support up to 500 pounds
Can be locked in any position
Not fully waterproof
Anyone who's driving a 2004-2022 Ford F-150 with a 5-foot 6-inch bed will find a great value retractable tonneau cover in the Syneticusa Retractable Hard Tonneau Cover. It features strong aluminum slats that are powder-coated with a matte textured black finish. This model is advertised as waterproof, but in reality, water will eventually get into your bed. It does, however, offer good protection against rain, snow, salt, and dust so you can transport your cargo with relative peace of mind. The cover is UV-protected and can be locked in any position along its rails, so cargo that protrudes above the cover is secured.
It's great to see so much weather protection on a cover at such a low price point. Don't let this model's low price fool you, as it's sturdy, and its slats can support up to 500 pounds of evenly distributed weight. Keeping the cover protected is a unique spiral track system, which prevents it from coming into contact with itself as it opens and closes. Like the rest of the covers on this list, you don't need any special tools to install this model, and you'll get the job done in around 30 minutes.
Best for Ram 1500: Gator Recoil Retractable Tonneau Cover
Fits a variety of Dodge Rams
Lockable at five points along the bed rail
Lockable system isn't customizable
If you're driving a 2009 - 2018, 2019/20 Classic Dodge Ram with a 5-foot 7-inch bed, and need a cover, then look no further than the Gator Recoil Retractable Tonneau Cover. Like most of the models on this list, this cover is engineered with strong, aluminum slats and has a matte black textured powder-coat finish. The unit is UV and scratch-resistant, which keeps it looking better for longer. You can secure the cover at one of five customizable points, which helps tall cargo to stay in place.
You can install it without any special tools, as its rails clamp onto the bed and all you need to do is align it properly. The whole job takes around 30 minutes, which is in line with most of the models on this list. This unit comes with a 2-year guarantee, which is on the low end when compared to other covers but still good to have.
Our Verdict on the Best Retractable Tonneau Covers
I've chosen the Gator Recoil Retractable Truck Bed Tonneau Cover as the best overall retractable tonneau cover. This model takes the award because it offers the best blend of durability, value, and protection. If you're on a tight budget, then check out the value pick, the Pace Edwards Switchblade.
Things to Consider When Buying a Retractable Tonneau Cover
The materials a tonneau cover is made from will largely dictate its price. Look for retractable bed models that have slats made from strong aluminum slats, which are textured and powder-coated. Models that use aluminum slats are much harder to break into than ones that use vinyl, but if you're not worried about theft, then choosing a vinyl cover could help to keep costs down. There should be a waterproof sealant where the cover meets the bed rail to keep your cargo dry. You should also look for a cover that has UV protection and is scratch-resistant.
Some covers have a heavy-duty lock that's built into the top of the retractable cover. These are the most convenient for accessing the bed quickly and keeping it protected when necessary. Other retractable designs have a latch that's connected to the tailgate, so when you lock the tailgate, you also lock the tonneau cover and need to carry fewer keys.
You should look for a tonneau cover that allows you to lock the cover anywhere along the bed's rails. This enables you to secure cargo that protrudes above the top of the bed. Some covers won't enable you to lock the cover anywhere at any time but will instead feature a certain amount of lockable positions that you can customize.
One area many retractable tonneau covers fall behind in is keeping water out. Most are quite resistant to the elements, but they can have a hard time keeping water out of a truck's bed in poor weather conditions. Look for a model with good weather sealing, which keeps dust and most moisture out. A neoprene sealant where the bed meets the rail is always a good option.
Truck beds come in many shapes and sizes, so it only makes sense that this is the case with tonneau covers too. Most tonneau cover manufacturers will make the same model in several versions and sizes to fit different trucks. So, before buying a cover, make sure you've selected the right one for your make of truck and the correct size for its bed.
Most retractable tonneau covers will fall in the $700-1,200 price range. Covers in this price range will use relatively good materials and tend to be reliable. For most people, covers in this price bracket will be fine, and the most notable feature to look out for is a cover that locks in any position along the bed's rail. Models priced between $1,200-2,000 usually have some handy features like torsion springs to help retract the cover. You'll also find covers in this price range that are more waterproof and resistant to dust and snow.
FAQ on Retractable Tonneau Covers
You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.
Q. Are retractable covers better than other tonneau options?
If you value quick access to the bed and a good amount of protection from the elements and thieves, this is the best type of cover for your bed. Single-lid and paneled tonneau covers offer the same, if not more, protection from thieves but make it harder to access your bed quickly. Soft covers are great for weather resistance but don't offer much protection against break-in attempts.
Q. What will I need to install a retractable cover?
This depends on the model and your vehicle. Most use a three-piece setup that includes the housing, cover, and two support rails. To install these, most kits require basic tools like a socket wrench for the fasteners. Few may require pre-drilling holes into the truck bed itself, but most use clamps that attach to the edge of the bed without any modifications.
Q. Are retractable tonneau covers waterproof?
Many retractable tonneau covers claim to be waterproof, but in reality, most will eventually let some water in. However, a retractable tonneau that uses high-quality materials for sealants will do a good job at keeping snow, water, and dust out in the majority of situations. In short, these covers offer great water resistance, but if having a waterproof cover is your main priority, then you should check out one-piece covers.
Q. Are tonneau covers easy to break into?
A skilled thief will be able to break into a retractable tonneau cover. But for someone without the proper skills or tools, a tonneau cover offers enough protection to keep your cargo safe, however, you'll need a retractable cover that has aluminum slats as opposed to vinyl, which can easily be cut.
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