Anatomy of a Retractable Tonneau Cover
A guide to Retractable Tonneau Cover Materials
The backbone of a retractable tonneau cover is the unique lid material that’s rugged like a fiberglass tonneau when closed, yet flexible when you need to roll it away. While each individual cover is different, retractable tonneeau covers generally feature aluminum planks that run from bed rail to bed rail. We offer two types:
Padded polymer vinyl
These retractable tonneau cover models offer a smooth or textured padded vinyl surface over the aluminum cover sections. This design boasts a smooth, continuous look without the rolling door sectioned appearance. The Pace Edwards Switchblade Retractable Tonneau Cover typifies this retractable bed cover style.
These retractable tonneau covers boast a heavy-duty powder coat for complete rust and corrosion resistance. It’s a finish that is more durable for battling bitter cold or blazing sun. Not to mention the outstanding utility style. This combination of strength and appearance is found in covers like the Truck Covers USA American Roll Tonneau Cover.
Retractable Tonneau Cover Canisters
When fully open, your retractable tonneau cover coils-up inside a sealed canister at the cab. This keeps your cover clean and stored around a spring-loaded roll. And, because moisture may be on your cover when it’s retracted, the tonneau canister is equipped with a draining system that channels water outside your truck bed. This is typically done with small water lines running to existing drainage holes in the bed bottom. In some cases, minor drilling may be required to make your own holes for the drain hoses to use.
Retractable Tonneau Rails
Retractable tonneau cover rails mount flush inside your truck’s bed rails. The entire cover slides on the rails without sticking above the top of your truck bed. That’s what makes retractable tonneau covers the most low-profile bed lid option available.
Another fine retractable tonneau cover feature is smart latching positions on the rails designed for locking the cover part way open. Basic models have pre-set positions at specific distances (i.e. 12″ apart) for part-open tonneau cover use; motorized or remote controlled retractable tonneau covers can be stopped at any position on the rails. Each of these stopping mechanisms is ideal for partial bed access uses such as fifth wheel hitches.
A Quick Reference on Retractable Tonneau Security
Retractable tonneau covers provide excellent security with their hard cover design when the lid is unrolled. Not only is your cargo out of sight and out of mind, but would-be thieves cannot open most retractable tonneau covers without a key. Some models feature keyless under-the-cover latch locks, which can only be undone with the tailgate down.
Retractable tonneau covers do not lock to or over your tailgate, which means your cargo can still be accessed by dropping the gate. While this can be a convenience (as you can get your gear without opening the lid), your cargo is not completely secure unless your vehicle is equipped with a locking tailgate.
Certain retractable tonneau cover models employ a wireless keychain remote for one-touch locking and unlocking, which can also be wired into your car door locking system (see the Pace Edwards BedLocker Tonneau Cover).
Advice on selecting the right retractable tonneau cover for your vehicle
The contrast between retractable tonneau cover models is subtle, but it can make a big difference in how much you enjoy your new bed cover. Choose from different retractable tonneau cover material types, latching points, locking mechanisms and more. Plus, you can even get a retractable tonneau cover that’s fully motorized and remote controlled! Some factors you should consider are:
- The severity of weather in your area
- The degree of low-profile looks you desire
- How much remote control of your tonneau cover can benefit you and your truck
- Whether a toolbox retractable tonneau cover would be useful for you
How severe is the weather in your area?
Quick Hint: Retractable Tonneaus and Snow
If there’s a pile of snow on top of your retractable bed cover, be sure to brush or sweep it off before opening. Coiling your tonneau with snow on top simply dumps the snow pile into your truck bed and all over your gear. Plus, extra moisture enters the lid canister and gets between the planks, which can break-down moving parts over time.
Piles of snow or buckets of rain won’t stop your retractable tonneau cover from opening. However, it’s best to select a retractable tonneau with powder coated aluminum planks instead of padded polymer aluminum if you live in an area with severe winter conditions.
- If piles of snow or buckets of rain will be frequently sitting on your retractable tonneau, pick a cover with powder-coated lid materials, like the weather-beating Truck Covers USA American Roll Tonneau Cover
- In milder winter climates, pick-up either a powder coated or padded polymerretractable tonneau cover, both available from Pace Edwards Retractable Tonneau Covers
How low-profile do you want your cover to be?
Retractable tonneau covers come in different degrees of low profile construction. All retractable tonneau rails sit flush with the top of the bed rails, but some models have canisters that sit higher than the bed. Completely flush retractable tonneau cover models have a sunken canister that sits lower inside the truck bed.
- When you want the cleanest possible truck bed look, grab a low profile retractable tonneau cover similar to the Pace Edwards JackRabbit Tonneau Cover or the Truck Covers USA American Roll Tonneau Cover
- If you want the most economical retractable tonneau cover, or want the most possible bed space, pick a raised canister retractable tonneau cover (the BAK RollBak Tonneau Cover is a great pick)
How much will a remote control improve your tonneau cover use?
A keychain remote for controlling your retractable tonneau cover can be quite handy. Stop, start, in, out, lock and unlock can be had right at your fingertips. Our retractable tonneau cover with remote can also be wired for unlocking your doors. The remote is quite a welcome part for truck owners who never seem to have a free hand for opening their bed cover.
- If you want complete control of your retractable tonneau by remote, select a retractable tonneau cover that includes a keychain remote control (Pace Edwards’ BedLocker Tonneau Cover)
- When you want a more economical retractable tonneau or don’t need remote control, select a standard retractable tonneau cover