What’s the Scoop on Retractable Tonneau Covers?

Retractable tonneau covers are easy to operate and can be locked into different open positions, allowing you to leave your truck bed partially open when necessary. With their solid polymer or aluminum construction, retractable truck bed covers slide open and close conveniently, allowing easy access to your bed while offering exceptional protection for your valuables.

In this post, I’ll talk about the different categories of retractable bed covers ranging from electric-powered covers, tonneaus with rails to those with a low-profile design, how the retractable tonneaus work, why you need this type of cover, and more.

If you have any questions, feel free to text our team at 281-761-6097.


What are the different categories of retractable tonneau covers?

Gif of a retractable cover opening

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Advanced manufacturing techniques and modern designs have made bed covers easier to use in different situations.

Let’s take a look at some of the categories:

Electric-powered rectractable bed covers

These covers such as the Roll-N-Lock E-Series Tonneau Cover and Pace Edwards UltraGroove Electric Tonneau Cover are operated by a key fob and are available in a wide range of durable materials including polycarbonate and aluminum.

When you want to protect your items, just close the tonneau cover over the truck bed using the key fob. Electric-powered retractable covers are the best choice for ease of use and convenience.

Retractable bed covers with rails

Bed covers with rails such as the Pace Edwards Bedlocker Tonneau with Rails and Pace Edwards Jackrabbit Tonneau w/Rails allow you to add fashionable rails to your vehicle. This enables you to transport more items while making the most out of your truck’s back.

The Pace Edwards Bedlocker cover is equipped with the Explorer Series rails, which allow you to haul extra cargo with a weight capacity of up to 1250 pounds on top of the tonneau.

Retractable bed covers with a low-profile design

Truck bed covers with a low-profile design such as the Roll-N-Lock A-Series Tonneau Cover and Pace Edwards Jackrabbit Tonneau Cover increase your car’s fuel efficiency by improving the aerodynamics of your truck bed.

The tonneau covers include vinyl-wrapped aluminum panels and retract into a thermoformed ABS canister. The low-profile design also provides a streamlined look that gives your vehicle a sleek and contoured look.

Why you need a retractable tonneau cover

Retractable truck bed covers are easy to use and elegant. They also roll up quickly into a compact storage canister to offer full bed access. Although the advanced features come at a higher cost, maintaining these covers is easy and they bring greater utility plus unmatched strength.

Here are reasons why you should consider investing in a retractable cover:

Improves security

With a tough exterior, retractable covers provide ample security as they cannot be sliced open. The covers also work in conjunction with the locking tailgate, making it difficult for potential criminals to access your truck bed.

For example, Retrax retractable tonneau covers can be locked electronically or manually along the rail in any position. They are also very secure with a remote keyfob or their own keys. This, combined with their solid construction, makes them extremely reliable and secure.

Although folding covers offer partial access, retractable covers provide more specific positioning. Imagine you are transporting heavy or large equipment. With a retractable tonneau, you can lock your cover in the right partially-open position.

This way, other items in your truck bed are tucked in snugly out of sight or under the canopy.

Has a heavier duty construction

Retractable tonneaus feature a tough frame often aluminum, and a rigid outer finish. Together they form a stylish and durable bed cover. Additionally, these covers typically support several hundred pounds of distributed weight due to the strong frame.

They also provide better weathering and impact resistance because some of the covers are designed from heavy-duty aluminum slats or reinforced polycarbonate. The slats connect via durable and flexible hinges that form a strong seal against weather elements, wear and dirt to extend your truck’s life.

Additionally, retractable covers are designed with a scratch-resistant and resilient finish that gives your truck a classy look.

Easy operation

Retractable bed covers are easy to use and more user-friendly as they retract. For example, Retrax covers close or retract effortlessly without using any kind of mechanism or springs due to their sealed ball-bearing rollers mounted onto the aluminum slat’s ends.

This means there are no moving parts to fail, freeze, or jam. Retractable covers also provide complete bed access since the cover rolls into a canister under the back window.

With other covers, panels tend to flip up and rest against your cabin window, which can block visibility and vibrate against your window when driving.

Top-selling retractable truck bed covers

Our truck bed covers are designed to be functional and attractive no matter the activity you want to use them for. Whether you want a tonneau for commercial use, work or recreation, we have the cover that suits your needs.

The following table shows retractable electric-powered covers, tonneaus with rails, metal bed covers, truck bed covers with a matte finish, covers with a single-point latch locking mechanism, and those with a low-profile design:



Main Features

Electic-powered covers:

Constructed from heavy-duty aluminum

  • The electric motor that retracts and locks at five different positions
  • The patented hinge design that allows for secure operations
  • Easy to control via remote as it is electric-powered
  • Its compact design that minimizes on space

Has several seals that make it weather-resistant

  • The aluminum panels that provide long lasting durability and impact-resistant protection
  • The drive system release lever that allows the cover to continue operating even when there’s no power
  • Comes with a remote key fob that allows for hands-off operation
  • Rail Expansion System that allows hauling heavy objects

Covers with rails:

Closed and opened remotely with keyfob

  • Allows installation of manual switch for manual operation when necessary
  • Made from robust aluminum material that promotes durability
  • The rails allow transporting of extra cargo on top
  • The drainage tubes that channels out any water in the bed

The perfect fit design that looks great

  • Weather-resistant vinyl material that protects the cover from the road elements
  • The included Explorer Series Rails that allows you to carry large items over your cover
  • The aluminum panels that offer exceptional strength
  • The clamp-in design that allows installation with no drilling 

Metal tonneau covers:

Custom designed to fit your car model perfectly

  • The included canister drainage tube that protects your cargo from water damage
  • The secure twist latch that ensures protection against damage and theft
  • Can be locked every twelve inches to carry tall items in the truck bed
  • The continuous tension that allows for easy and smooth operation 

Easy no-drill installation for most truck models

  • Designed with premium grade materials that make it sturdy and long lasting
  • The continuous tension spring and a pull strap that allows for easy one-man operation
  • The water repellent design that protects your cargo from weather damage
  •  Affordable and easy to use tonneau

Covers with a matte finish:

Provides superior impact-resistant protection to your truck bed and cargo

  • The scratch-resistant matte finish that provides style to your truck and resilience to the cover
  • The tough polycarbonate that holds up against bad weather conditions perfectly
  • The sealed ball bearings that allow smooth gliding along the rails
  • Locks in any position, allowing flexible hauling capacity

The matte powder coat finish adds style to your vehicle

  • The heavy-duty aluminum construction that provides maximum durability and watertight protection
  • The cover keeps potential criminals off your cargo and your truck bed dry
  • The sealed ball bearings that prevent the tonneau from getting stuck while gliding
  • The included drain tubes that removes water that gets into your truck bed

Covers with a low-profile design:

The low-profile aerodynamic design

  • The patented tailgate locking system that offers incredible security for your valuables
  • The stylish and contoured look that minimizes your gas mileage
  • Designed with special technology for superior toughness and durability
  • Allows you to haul more cargo as it maximizes your truck bed space

The Durable aluminum material construction

  • The weather tight seal design that protects items and your truck bed during harsh conditions 
  • The intermittent locking system that ensures all your cargo requirements are accomodated
  • The flush mount design that gives your truck a classy look
  • Easy to install since no drilling is involved

Covers with a single-point latch locking mechanism:

Constructed with weather-resistant materials

  • The canister and spiral truck system that allows easy closing and opening of the cover
  • The high-quality aluminum with great durability and aesthetic value
  • Offers hauling flexibility, allowing accommodation of large equipment
  • Opens effortlessly without straps, springs, snaps or velcro

UV protected to prevent fading

  • The impact-resistant polycarbonate that works perfectly in extreme weather conditions
  • The the sealed ball bearings that ensures smoooth operation
  • One piece sheet that closes and opens without joints or hinges
  • The included LED cargo light that ensures easy operation

How does a retractable tonneau cover work?

Retractable tonneaus retract into a canister that’s attached to the truck bed front near the bulkhead, allowing full access to your truck’s cargo space. The covers also change from hard lid fast to out of the way cover in seconds. This is because the backbone of these covers is the unique lid material that’s rugged when closed, yet flexible when rolled away.

While each cover is different, retractable bed covers have aluminum slats that run from bed rail to bed rail. To fully understand how these covers work, we’ll look at:

Retractable tonneau cover rails

Retractable tonneau rails mount flush inside bed rails. The cover slides effortlessly on the rails without sticking at the top of your truck bed. This is what makes these covers the most low-profile design bed lids available.

Smart latching positions functionality on the rails is another great feature designed for locking the cover partially open. Some models come with pre-set positions at certain distances for part-open cover use.

However, you can stop remote-controlled or motorized bed covers at any position on the rails. These stopping mechanisms are perfect for partial bed access uses like 5th wheel hitches.

Retractable tonneau cover canisters

Retractable covers coil up inside sealed canisters at the cab when fully open. This prevents your cover from getting dirty and keeps it stored around a spring-loaded roll. Since moisture can rest on your cover when it retracts, the canister has a draining system that removes water from your bed.

This is done with the help of small water lines that run to drainage holes located in the truck bed bottom. Note that minor draining can be required in some cases to create holes for the drain hose to use.

Frequently asked questions