There is a wide variety of tonneau covers on the market. You can get covers that are soft and flexible, hard and sturdy, covers that roll up, covers that fold up, automatic covers. They all have their pros and cons. Retractable tonneau covers are considered to be the bridge between hard folding and soft roll-up tonneau covers. They combine the durability and strength of a hard folding cover with the easiness in use of a roll-up cover. Most customers see it as the perfect middle margin. They are highly durable, very safe, and very easy to use. We’ve made a list of five best retractable tonneau covers based on our experience and customer reviews.


Top Rated Retractable Tonneau Covers in 2018

1
Retrax 60370 ONE MX Retractable Cover — The best retractable tonneau cover with an average price

If strength and durability are the main criteria you expect a retractable tonneau cover to have, then this fantastic product from Retrax is the one for you. This tonneau cover is built to resist the hardest weather conditions and can withstand a serious amount of weight due to its flexibility. The price of the Retrax ONE MX is average in this category, but you are paying for a product with very high quality. You can get the cover with a matte or glossy finish.

This heavy-duty tonneau has a durable polycarbonate construction, it’s a single sheet. This means that there are no hinges, joints or moving mechanisms that wear out over time. It allows the cover to stay safe from dust or water that would otherwise be able to get trapped inside of it.

In addition to that, the cover’s canister comes with a drain tube kit, so you don’t have to worry about water gathering in it. The cover is in a spiral shape, allowing it to retract easily and without scratching. There won’t be any deep and long scratches along the cover as some older and cheaper tonneau covers tend to get over time.

Installation of the cover is a pretty simple two-man job. You can do it by yourself as well, but it will be physically hard, and will take you longer that one hour to install.

It’s essential to position the rails correctly, but not difficult at all. Right after installation, you will notice that opening and closing the cover is a bit difficult. There is no need for worrying, the cover needs about 48 hours to break in partially, and a week or two to break in fully. This is because of the tight seal.

The Retrax tonneau cover comes with a key to lock it. The cover and the tailgate lock independently from each other, and can lock the cover in any position that you like. But make sure you don’t forget to lock both the tailgate and the cover when leaving your truck parked.

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Pros
  • We believe that this is the most universal retractable tonneau cover on the market. It combines some of the best features of it’s rivals.
  • Strong seal allows only minimal amount of moisture to get into the bed.
  • Cover locks independently from tailgate.
Cons
  • Some customers claim that cover parts rub against each other and scratches occur, even though Retrax claims it doesn’t scratch (it is sometimes due to aggressive usage)

2
Gator Recoil Retractable Tonneau Bed Cover — Cheap and reliable cover: best bang for the buck

We all want to purchase only the best accessories for our trucks, but not all of us can afford to pay the money they cost. Gator has made a retractable tonneau cover that is one of the most loved on the market, thanks to its outstanding quality and relatively low price. This cover from Gator is the least expensive on our list.

The Gator Recoil is a high-quality tonneau cover constructed with rigid aluminum panels. The cover is low profile, as all retractable tonneau covers are, giving you slightly better fuel mileage. The cover is ultraviolet resistant, which keeps your cover looking as good as new for years.

The tonneau has a matte black finish, which matches perfectly with the style of the Ford F-150. The cover comes with a two-year warranty, but you can be sure that your cover will last you much longer.

To install this Gator cover, you’ll need basic tools and someone to help you position the cover into place. The installation will take you between 45 minutes to an hour, no drilling required. The most important part of the installation is to make sure that the cover is put right in place, or else there might be leakages. While no tonneau cover is 100% waterproof, any water that gathers on the cover funnels down the rails into the canister. The canister has a draining system.

It opens and closes with minimal effort. To open the cover, you need to drop the tailgate and release the grip latch. There will be a second grip latch along the way, after which you can rest the cover in any position you need until the end of the truck bed. To close the cover, you just need to pull on the grip and pull your cover all the way back. This retractable tonneau is securely locked in place on all levels, allowing you to safely drive your truck with the cover in the position that is needed for you. The tonneau opens and closes without any springs or mechanisms, which prolongs the usage of the cover.

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Pros
  • This product is noticeably cheaper than rivals on the market. Considering this, there aren’t many negative reviews.
  • No springs or mechanisms are used in this tonneau. This prolongs the cover’s usage period.
Cons
  • Some parts are plastic. Such a product should ideally have only heavy-duty metal.
  • Lacks a good seal where the cover meats the tailgate. Water and dust may get in.

3
Retrax 40371 PRO Retractable Cover — The most secure tonneau cover

Retrax is and has been the number one retractable cover manufacturer on the market. This retractable tonneau cover is one of the most loved on the market, and that says a lot by itself. The price for the Retrax is above average in this category. But that is the price to pay for a big brand name and guaranteed quality.

The cover is made out of industrial strength aluminum slats that provide the tonneau with market-leading strength and ruggedness.

The sealed ball-bearings on the cover provide it with smooth operation and prevent the cover from binding or scratching.

The cover can be latched or key-locked into any position, providing you with extra practicality and safety, allowing you to secure cargo of any size. You can even drive it half-opened on the highway or on rugged terrains.

This Retrax tonneau has unrivalled flexibility and security. When the cover is completely closed and locked, it turns your truck bed into a vault.

Installing the cover is easy but almost impossible without a helping hand. The cover is pretty heavy because of the weight of the aluminum slats. The installation will take you up to an hour. On the upside, the Retrax PRO has an exclusive low-profile design that doesn’t alter the truck’s clean lines.

This tonneau comes with a limited lifetime warranty. You just need to purchase and install it, no other worries (just periodically oiling it). The cover always stays sealed tight, keeping moisture and dust out, even after years of exposure to the elements. The cover comes with a draining system. This retractable tonneau cover, as well as all of the other retractable tonneau covers, doesn’t block an inch of your rearview window. The compact design of the canister allows full usage of the truck bed floor.

Pros
  • The most rugged retractable tonneau cover you can get on the market. This cover can withstand the most weight.
  • You can drive your truck with the cover open (while being locked into place) on highways and rugged terrains.
  • Unlike with most rivals, it’s tough to find any complaints about leakages. Even if such does occur, then it’s usually because of poor installation.
Cons
  • Covers ruggedness comes at the cost of extra weight. This is the most massive cover on our list and in requires two people to be installed.
  • Needs considerate amount of effort to be opened and closed due to its heavy weight.

4
Trident FastTrack Retractable T30373 Tonneau Cover — A cheap tonneau cover without shortcomings

This retractable tonneau cover from Trident is as simple as it gets. It doesn’t have any market-leading technologies or features, it simply gets the job done. The Trident is considered to be an “entry-level” retractable tonneau cover, but don’t be misled by such a label. As the team over at Tridents states: “We didn’t set out to make good tonneau covers, we set out to make the best tonneau covers.” The cover is one of the least expensive on the market, saving you a few bucks.

The tonneau is made out of high-grade aluminum. It is very light but still remains sturdy and durable. The cover is black-powder coated, unlike most rivals on the market that have a matte or glossy finish. The color is pretty unique, and it looks amazing. All of the materials used in the cover are corrosion resistant.

Installing the cover is a bit easier than installing rivals as the cover is lighter. It is still recommended to have a helping set of hands. The process will take you up to an hour. Only basic tools are needed, no drilling is required.

The tonneau cover has a “no-profile” appearance, and it easily slides back and forth with the help of only one hand. Four sealed roller-bearings guarantee seamless gliding of the cover along the length of the tonneau’s railings. When opened, the cover can be put in two different positions, which are customizable. You can drive with your cover when it is opened and secured, even at highway speeds. This Trident tonneau cover is opened and closed with the help of a quick release strap. The cover comes with a two-year warranty and the team over at Trident is proud to say that this tonneau is manufactured in the USA.

Pros
  • All materials are corrosion resistant. This results in loner usage of the tonneau.
  • Easiest cover to install and handle.
  • This tonneau has a unique black-powder coat.
Cons
  • Multiple claims of the color wearing off over time. This results in the cover looking old and used. Although this happens after years of usage.
  • Customers complain about the cover starting to let in more moisture after a few years of usage.

5
Retrax PowertraxONE XR Retractable Bed Cover — The most functional but also expensive tonneau cover

By purchasing a tonneau cover, we desire to maximize the practicality and security of our truck bed. With this tonneau from Retrax, not only do you get market leading security but also the level of practicality that few retractable tonneau covers have.

This tonneau is compatible with most T-slot accessories, a feature that most retractable tonneaus lack. You’ll have to pay one of highest prices in this category to own this cover. Paying extra is never a pleasant thing to do, but it’s definitely worth it when you’re getting such functionality in return. All additional accessories cost extra.

This market leading tonneau cover from Retrax comes with a Trax Rail System for accessory customization. It has a textured matte black finish. The cover is low profile, adding an elegant and stylish look to your Ford F-150. This Retrax cover is part of their Polycarbonate series. The rigid polycarbonate construction provides the cover with superior impact resistance and market-leading ultraviolet protection.

The cover can perform in temperatures from -50 to +200 degrees Fahrenheit.

This Retrax is proudly made in the USA. It comes with a limited lifetime warranty.

Installation of the cover will be the same as for all the other retractable tonneau covers. This cover comes with a small plastic block, which helps you correctly position your cover just in the right spot. It is also essential to measure the distance on all sides of the truck around the cover, make sure that the cover is positioned perfectly, and install it in place. It is necessary to install it very precisely to prevent leaking.

Pros
  • Most practical tonneau on our list as it is compatible with the most accessories.
  • This rolling tonneau can withstand extreme temperatures (-50 to +200 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Even though Retrax doesn’t recommend doing so, customers claim that the cover can easily take the weight of a human on top of it.
Cons
  • The T-slots require regular maintenance.

Buyer’s Guide

Durability

There are four types of tonneau covers on the market at the moment. There are folding, roll up, painted and retractable tonneau covers. A retractable cover is considered to be the most universal type of tonneau covers, as it partially combines the strength and durability of a hard folding tonneau with a soft rolling one. It is effortless to open and close, while still remaining very durable. Retractable tonneau covers are generally made out of a whole polycarbonate or metal piece. They can all hold an average human on top of them, even though it’s not recommended to do so, especially with the less expensive covers.

Ultraviolet protection

To maintain a fresh new look, not only should the truck itself look good, but also the accessories that are attached to the truck. A good ultraviolet protection coating on a tonneau cover helps it maintain a fresh black color and look as good as new for years. Black is a color that tends to wear out over time under the heat of the sun. A tonneau that has lost its color looks just as bad as worn out pants. You can see the difference when compared to a cover without ultraviolet protection only in the long run, but it is definitely worth it.

Sealed ball-bearings

One of the most common concerns amongst truck drivers that want to buy a retractable tonneau cover is whether or not the cover will scratch when closing, opening and inside of the canister. Such a concern is a result of older retractable tonneau covers getting scratched by themselves when rolling and while being in the canister. Today, almost all retractable tonneaus on the market are manufactured with sealed ball bearings. They leave no chance for the body of the tonneau to touch itself or the canister. Also, they are what moves the tonneau in and out of the canister, and thanks to them this process is a smooth and easy one-hand job. Except for with the heavier tonneaus. They require extra force due to their weight.

Retractable tonneaus require breaking in

All retractable tonneau covers require a week to partially break in and up to a month to fully break in, but it’s only noticeable with the more durable tonneaus. If it seems to you like your tonneau requires an abnormal amount of force to open and close, don’t rush to return it. Because retractable tonneau covers are made out of one sturdy piece, they need some time to loosen up a little bit, to break in. This helps greatly with keeping out moisture and dust

How the tonneau locks

The ways in which a tonneau cover locks and in which positions it locks, to a great extent, determine how practical the tonneau is. Generally, there are two categories. Tonneaus that lock independently from the tailgate and tonneaus that lock only together with the tailgate. A retractable tonneau that locks independently from the tailgate is more convenient, as you can lock your tonneau in place, open the tailgate and drive with abnormally long objects. Independent from what type of retractable tonneau you’re dealing with, you can lock it into place along the length of the truck bed. Some tonneaus allow to lock it in any position, while others can lock only in two or three certain positions. We recommend you to go with a retractable tonneau that can withstand being opened on a highway or on rough terrain.

Finish (color) of the tonneau

We review covers with three different types of finishes. One cover has a black-powder coat finish, while the others have a matte or glossy finish (the manufacturers have both options for some of the tonneaus). Firstly, let’s touch on the black-powder coat finish. It is a very stylish, bold and rich black color that a great number of truck drivers would prefer over the other two options if not for its main con. It doesn’t have any kind of ultraviolet protection, which means that the rich black color will wear out over time. If you’re looking to purchase yourself a retractable tonneau for only a few years, then you can go with this option. Secondly, let’s debate on whether it’s better to get a matte or glossy finish. When it comes to which one looks better it’s really a matter of preference, but the majority of F-150 drivers prefer the matte finish. The reason for that is that it looks a lot better on Ford’s truck than the shiny glossy finish. The glossy finish is a bit too much for most truck drivers, they say it’s simply out of place. When it comes to practicality and durability, the matte finish is an obvious winner. The glossy finish is a magnet for scratches and it is also slippery when wet. If your first concern with your tonneau is how practical it is and how long it will last you, then you should definitely go with the matte finish.

Installation

With most tonneaus, you can do it by yourself, but we recommend you to have a helping set of hands. All of these retractable tonneaus are heavy and you can damage the tonneau, your truck or injure yourself if you try to position the cover into place on your own. The installation process is very simple. You just need to make sure that you position everything correctly into place and bolt or clamp the tonneau in tightly. To make sure it is positioned correctly in place, use a measuring tape on all sides, this is very important to prevent leakages. It takes up to an hour and a half with these tonneaus

Price

The retractable tonneau covers in our review range from a bit under $900 to slightly over $2000. We believe that such a price difference is reasonable. For 900$ you can get a simple entry-level retractable tonneau. It isn’t very durable, not all parts are made out of metal and it can start leaking after a few years of usage. As we gradually go up to $2100, the tonneaus get more sturdy, can withstand more pressure and can keep the elements out with more certainty. The most expensive item on our list can be compared to a durable vault. You name a function that a retractable tonneau should have, you’ve got it. As with most of the F-150 accessories, if you can pay the extra buck, you should do it. Money meats quality with retractable tonneau covers. The cheaper covers are of good quality as well, just not the best.

Tips

Make sure you don’t forget to lock both the cover and the tailgate when they are independent.

Try to keep unnecessary and sharp objects off of the cover to keep it safe from scratches. Especially if it has a glossy finish.

 

Retractable tonneau cover summary

It’s not hard to see why retractable tonneaus are considered to be some of the best on the market. They are highly secure, easy to use and look the best out of all tonneaus, based on customer reviews. Our top pick is the Retrax ONE MX. There are a few reasons for that. We decided that since the market leading company in retractable tonneau covers is Retrax, then we have to go with one of their products. They have a pretty big choice of tonneaus, but the Retrax ONE MX combines most of the best features and technologies that Retrax has, while having one of the lowest prices that the company offers. You get a market leading product at an average market price, a pretty good bargain. We strongly recommend you to purchase a tonneau cover for your Ford F-150, as it’s basically an extension of it. So why not purchase the best product that you can afford if it’ll serve your whole truck’s life.

Questions and Answers

All retractable tonneau covers in our review have a draining system.

Yes, it will. Thanks to the covers low-profile design, it minimizes air resistance and improves your fuel mileage by doing so.

Yes, it is. These tonneaus can withstand extreme temperatures and the weight of the snow is nothing for these tonneaus. Just make sure you don’t accidentally open your tonneau with snow on top of it.

You can, but not with all tonneaus. Usually, the more expensive the cover is, the higher the chance you can do so. This information is always specified by the manufacturer.

You can, but not with all tonneaus. Usually, the more expensive the cover is, the higher the chance you can do so. This information is always specified by the manufacturer.

Sources and Citations

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