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How To Choose The Best Retractable Tonneau Cover

An industry expert shares his advice on retractable tonneau covers.
Written and Tested By:
Will Moore
Written and Tested By: Will Moore Senior Writer – Motor1 Review Team

Will has written for several major auto sites including Motor1 since 2020, logging hundreds of hours researching and testing products ranging from child car seats to torque wrenches. Will is also Certified by Safe Kids Worldwide as a Child Passenger Safety Technician (#T836339).

Last Updated 05/03/2024

Motor1 Reviews Team Take:

  • A retractable tonneau cover is ideal for those who want a tonneau cover that is secure, easy to use, and can allow for full truck bed access without obscuring the back window or being fully removed.
  • Retractable tonneau covers cost around $1,000 at the entry level and can be as expensive as $4,000 or more depending on your truck.
  • After consulting with an industry expert and testing several tonneau covers ourselves, our team selected a handful of covers for truck owners to consider.
Best Retractable Tonneau Cover
GatorTrax Tonneau Cover

A mid-priced tonneau cover that is reliable, effective, and locks in any position.

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Best Automatic Retracting Tonneau Cover
RealTruck Retrax EQ

The Retrax EQ is a fully-automatic retractable tonneau cover that features interior truck bed lights.

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Best Low-Cost Retractable Tonneau Cover
Gator Recoil Tonneau Cover

A relatively low-cost retractable tonneau cover that’s popular with customers.

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Retractable tonneau covers should be durable, operate smoothly, and be simple to install. Prices vary, but we found the typical price for this type of cover to be around $1,900. A retractable truck bed cover is usually more expensive than hard-folding and soft covers, but it is generally the easiest to use and allows for the best access to the truck bed.

In this buyers guide, we share expert advice and suggest some top-selling retractable tonneau covers to fit a variety of needs and budgets.

Retractable Tonneau Covers: An Expert’s Opinion

We caught up with RealTruck Director of Marketing Chris King, who has been working on vehicles for over 25 years. He was able to share his insight for what makes a great retractable tonneau cover and some of the key differences between this type of tonneau cover and other options available. When it comes to finding the perfect cover, King said,

“There’s not a magic single question to ask somebody if they’re interested in a tonneau cover. There’s usually three: price, security, and use case.”

Retractable Tonneau Cover Cost

Retractable tonneau covers typically cost around $1,000 on the low end. A retractable cover with all the bells and whistles can cost around $4,000. If this is out of your budget range, you may want to consider a hard-folding or soft tonneau cover instead.

Low Price


Typical Price


High Price


The differences between entry-price and $3,000-plus retractable tonneau covers typically come down to materials and features.


The most common materials used to craft retractable tonneau covers are aluminum or a polycarbonate composite. According to King,

“Many polycarbonate tops are constructed from a single piece, engineered to retract without joints or hinges that can trap dust, wear out, or freeze. They are also UV- and impact-resistant. The aluminum slats are also going to be less susceptible to impact damage.”

While more durable, aluminum covers can be more expensive compared to polycarbonate covers.


Retractable tonneau covers can all be rolled into a box positioned near the cab. Some covers have additional features such as automatic retraction, key fob integration, interior lighting, and waterproofing.

  • Automatic retraction: Some tonneau covers can be closed automatically with the push of a button. This is a nice feature for those who don’t have the height or strength to open and close the cover from the side of the truck bed.
  • Key fob integration: Automatic retracting covers either come with their own remote or integrate directly into your OEM key fob. Key fob integration is convenient, because it means you won’t need to carry around a separate clicker for your tonneau cover.
  • Interior lighting: If you often use your truck bed at night, interior lighting can be a huge benefit.
  • Waterproofing: Tonneau covers aim to be as water-resistant as possible, but few can completely seal your truck bed from all moisture, especially during heavy rains. Most retractable tonneau covers include some kind of drainage system to reduce the amount of water intrusion.

The above features are not standard with all retractable tonneau covers, and those that have them will generally cost more than those that don’t.

Retractable Tonneau Cover Security

Retractable tonneau covers are made with hard materials and cannot be opened when your tailgate is locked, effectively making your truck bed as secure as your truck cab.

If you need to keep your truck bed secure, you’ll likely want a hard tonneau cover (either retractable or hard-folding), as soft tonneau covers can be easily opened by thieves. There aren’t any inherent security benefits that retractable tonneau covers have that other hard-top tonneau covers lack, as long as the cover is made from a hard material and can lock.

Retractable Tonneau Cover Use Case

In addition to the added security, a major benefit of a retractable tonneau cover is that it allows for full bed access in the open position. Some soft tonneau covers and hard-folding tonneau covers can provide full bed access as well. However, not all hard-folding covers offer full access, and soft covers must sometimes be removed completely to access the bed. King said,

“Retractable covers would roll up and be out of the way for a fifth wheel or gooseneck. Whereas a hard-folding cover would also fold up against the cab and be out of the way. But if you’re towing a trailer and it’s going to be hooked up for a while, I certainly wouldn’t recommend blocking your rear window for a longer period.”

If security is not an issue, or you don’t plan on needing a tonneau cover that is always attached to your truck, a soft cover may be the right choice, given the significantly lower price point.

A retractable tonneau cover can be a good option for those who frequently need to secure their truck bed and frequently make use of a fifth-wheel hitch or gooseneck trailer (and need to operate their vehicle with their truck bed completely open).

Retractable Tonneau Cover Benefits

Retractable tonneau covers should be secure, durable, easy to operate, and allow full bed access when installed. These covers are often compatible with rack systems, whereas a bed rack can prevent you from using a hard-folding cover.

Retractable covers may also integrate with your vehicle’s electrical system to provide automatic features and bed lighting.

Retractable Tonneau Cover Downsides

The biggest downside of a retractable tonneau cover is that it is an expensive product compared to other covers. You’ll likely need a budget of at least $1,000 if you intend to purchase this type of cover.

This type of tonneau cover takes longer to install compared to other tonneau covers, but once installed, they are designed so you don’t need to remove them.

While most retractable tonneau covers are extremely durable, the more complex design also means more components can fail than with hard-folding and soft tonneau covers. However, many retractable tonneau covers are backed by a warranty against parts failure.

Retractable Tonneau Cover Buying Guide

Our team of product testers has installed and reviewed a dozen tonneau covers, including multiple retractable models, to assess ease of use, ease of installation, and overall durability. Below, we recommend a few retractable tonneau covers we’ve had the opportunity to test, as well as name a few we haven’t yet tested, but which are backed by high customer ratings online.

What Is The Best Retractable Tonneau Cover?

We named the GatorTrax Tonneau Cover, RealTruck Retrax EQ, and Gator Recoil the best retractable tonneau covers based on hands-on product testing. Some other highly rated covers we would consider, but have not tested ourselves, include the Truck Covers USA American Roll Cover, RetraxPRO MX, and Pace Edwards Jackrabbit.


GatorTrax Tonneau Cover

$1,550 – $1,650


One year

RealTruck Retrax EQ



Five years

Gator Recoil



Two years

Truck Covers USA American Roll Cover

$2,500 – $3,900


Two years

RetraxPRO MX Tonneau Cover

$2,150 – $2,300


Limited lifetime

Pace Edwards Jackrabbit Tonneau Cover

$1,300 – $1,650


Five years

*Because cost data fluctuates, the prices in the table above are approximate values that our team regularly updates.

Retractable Tonneau Cover Ratings: Our Testing Process

To select the retractable tonneau covers featured in this buyers guide, our team first combed through dozens of resources such as DIY mechanic and auto enthusiast forums, manufacturer websites, instruction manuals from manufacturers, and reviews from online retailers. We pay particularly close attention to quality reviews and recommendations that highlight the quality of warranties, customer service support, build quality, materials, and overall reliability.

We also factored in the quantity and quality of online retailer reviews from websites such as RealTruck and Amazon. We looked at factors such as standout customer reviews, prices, meaningful superlatives, and discount shipping eligibility.

To test tonneau covers, we installed each one according to the included instructions. We attached covers to a range of truck makes, including Toyota, Chevrolet, and Nissan vehicles. After installation, we tried each cover’s features and then left it on the test vehicle to learn how it would hold up over time.

Learn more about how we tested tonneau covers here.

1. GatorTrax Tonneau Cover: Best Retractable Tonneau Cover

  • Cost: $1,550 – $1,650
  • Overall rating: 4.3 out of 5.0
  • Material: Polycarbonate composite
  • Warranty length: One year
  • RealTruck review score: 4.5 out of 5.0 (over 820 reviews)

GatorTrax Tonneau Cover Review

While many retractable tonneau covers only lock every foot, the GatorTrax Tonneau Cover can be locked in any position. This cover maintains many of the advantages of any retractable tonneau cover and stands out when it comes to durability. Though the GatorTrax is made with polycarbonate (generally less impact-resistant than aluminum), it is among the hardier retractable covers we’ve tested.

You can see how the GatorTrax Tonneau Cover performed in each of our testing categories below:

Review CategoryScore (Out of 5.0 Stars)







Overall Rating


Below are the pros and cons of the Gator Trax identified by our testing team: 

Pros Lockable with a key in any position Comes with a sleek matte finish No drill needed for installation
Cons Relatively unclear instructions

GatorTrax Tonneau Cover: Our Experience

As with many tonneau covers, the written directions are difficult to follow. That said, the process itself is not that complicated. There aren’t many pieces, and for the most part, installation is self-explanatory. Those who do have trouble installing this cover should watch installation videos or contact RealTruck customer support.

This tonneau cover was noticeably heavier than some of the other tonneaus we tested, due in part to the thick panel design. The sealed ball bearings operate seamlessly, making the GatorTrax among the smoothest-operating retractable covers.

GatorTrax Tonneau Cover: What Customers Are Saying

Most reviewers mention that this cover is easy to install, taking as little as 30 minutes to set up. According to online reviews, the GatorTrax is also excellent at preventing water incursion. One reviewer said they sprayed a hose directly along the cover seams and were unable to penetrate the cover.

2. RealTruck Retrax EQ: Best Automatic Retracting Tonneau Cover

  • Cost: $3,200
  • Overall rating: 4.0 out of 5.0
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Warranty length: Five years
  • RealTruck review score: N/A (not enough reviews)

Retrax EQ Review

The Retrax EQ is a retractable tonneau cover that includes all the extra features you may want: interior bed lights, automatic operation, and high-quality parts. Because this tonneau cover is integrated into your vehicle’s electrical system, installation is much harder compared to other retractable covers. But the longer install time can be worth it for the result.

Purchase this tonneau cover if you want an automatically retracting cover. For an automatic cover, the Retrax is your best bet because (unlike many other automatic covers) it is integrated with your OEM key fob, meaning you do not need a separate clicker.

You can see how the Retrax EQ performed in each of our testing categories below:

Review CategoryScore (Out of 5.0 Stars)

Ease of Installation


Ease of Use




Overall Rating


Below are the pros and cons of the Retrax EQ as assessed by our testing team:

Pros Automatic operation Ultra low-profile design Built-in bed lights
Cons Expensive Difficult to install

Retrax EQ: Our Experience

It is difficult to install the Retrax EQ. Attaching the cover itself is similar to any retractable tonneau cover, but the Retrax EQ also requires that you connect the canister to your car battery as well as install a control module.

While you don’t need to be a certified mechanic to install this cover, the process is still time-consuming. You will need to get underneath your vehicle to route cables from your battery to your truck, and you will need to fiddle with some of the electronics located underneath your driver’s column. Instructions to do so differ depending on your vehicle.

That said, RealTruck offers 24/7 customer support with this product. When we had difficulties, we were quickly connected with a human operator well-versed in the Retrax EQ.

Once installed, the EQ is easy to operate, we love that it pairs with the factory key fob, and though operation is slow, it is very fluid. The interior lights work well and would be a big help at night.

Retrax EQ: What Customers Are Saying

There aren’t a lot of online reviews for the Retrax EQ because it is a fairly new product. As more reviews are posted, we will update this section.

3. Gator Recoil: Best Low-Cost Retractable Tonneau Cover

  • Cost: $1,000
  • Overall rating: 4.0 out of 5.0
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Warranty length: Two years
  • RealTruck review score: 3.8 out of 5.0 (over 660 reviews)

Gator Recoil Review

The Gator Recoil is an easy-to-use tonneau cover thanks to convenient features like the quick-release hatch and ball-bearing design that reduces the likelihood of parts failure.

This cover is made with matte black powder-coated aluminum slats for durability and UV resistance. Adjustable latch stops allow for an additional locking position anywhere along the truck bed.

You can see how the Gator Recoil performed in each of our testing categories below:

Review CategoryScore (Out of 5.0 Stars)

Ease of Installation


Ease of Use




Overall Rating


Below are the pros and cons of the Gator Recoil identified by our testing team: 

Pros Additional security with added locks Compacts on its own Sturdy materials
Cons Installation can be difficult

Gator Recoil: Our Experience

As a retractable cover, the Gator Recoil takes more effort to install compared to hard-folding and soft alternatives. That said, the clamp design offers more security and stability compared to lower-priced options.

Once installed, the Recoil operated flawlessly. We were impressed by the quality of the slam latches and other components, which offered a seamlessly smooth operation. We did notice that the rubber stripping came bent, but this is easily flattened once this tonneau cover is fully secured with the retaining bolts.

Gator Recoil: What Customers Are Saying

The Gator Recoil is a popular entry-level retractable tonneau cover. Many are pleased with the quality given the cost. Some complain about the installation process. Based on our experience, the installation process is involved, but typical for any retractable tonneau cover.

Other Top-Selling Retractable Tonneau Covers

We haven’t yet been able to test the tonneau covers below, but hope to soon. We think these may be good options based on their listed features and high customer review scores.

Truck Covers USA American Roll Cover

The Truck Covers USA American Roll Cover is a sleek-looking tonneau cover built in the USA using high-quality parts and materials. Every aspect of the design—from the clamps to the canister—is rugged, and this is verified by customer reports.

The top of this cover can support up to 500.0 pounds of evenly distributed weight, making this a good choice for those who expect to use and abuse their tonneau cover.

Reviewers claim the American Roll Cover is very durable. There are multiple reports from customers who have owned this tonneau cover for several months and report that it still works perfectly. One person claimed to have used this cover for eight years without issue. Another common piece of praise that reviewers mention is that Truck Covers USA has excellent and responsive customer service.

At least one person wrote that this tonneau cover can freeze shut during the winter, and several have said it isn’t the best at keeping out water. Another common complaint is that the locking system requires a key, which must be used to open the cover every time. (Other tonneau covers can be opened once the tailgate is down or with the push of a button.)

RetraxPRO MX Tonneau Cover

The RetraxPro MX is a durable tonneau cover backed by one of the best warranties: limited lifetime. The industrial-strength aluminum slats may fade or scratch over time, but if this cover stops working, Retrax will replace it.

One unique aspect of this retractable tonneau cover is that it rests flush against the truck bed, creating a look many customers may prefer. It can also support up to 500.0 lbs. of distributed weight.

Reviewers like the RetraxPRO MX because it does what it is supposed to do. This retractable tonneau cover is easy to operate and especially secure, providing peace of mind for truck owners. Some complain that it isn’t watertight and does allow in some rain.

Pace Edwards Jackrabbit Tonneau Cover

Pace Edwards Jackrabbit utilizes a spring tension design for quick and smooth retraction. The aluminum panels are covered with an ArmorTek® overlay that creates a smooth look and improves weather resistance.

This retractable tonneau cover is low-profile and can be fitted with optional explorer rails—rails that allow you to mount a roof rack or cargo basket so that you can transport bikes, kayaks, and other outdoor accessories. This tonneau cover is also compatible with fifth-wheel hitches.

Many reviewers like the Jackrabbit and feel it is especially durable. At least one reviewer has owned one for over 15 years with no issue. Many people report excellent customer service and speedy parts replacement (when necessary) from Pace Edwards.

Reviews about the installation are mixed. Some claim it is easy and many have written that it can be difficult without professional help. All seem to agree that the written instructions are poor.

Another issue that some vehicle owners have is that the drainage tubes don’t always stay attached.

Best Retractable Tonneau Cover: Bottom Line

  1. Best Retractable Tonneau Cover: GatorTrax Tonneau Cover
  2. Best Automatic Retracting Tonneau Cover: RealTruck Retrax EQ
  3. Best Low-Cost Retractable Tonneau Cover: Gator Recoil

The following tonneau covers also have features we like, though we have not tested these covers ourselves:

  1. Truck Covers USA American Roll Cover
  2. RetraxPRO MX Tonneau Cover
  3. Pace Edwards Jackrabbit Tonneau Cover

Retractable Tonneau Covers: FAQ

Are retractable tonneau covers worth it?

Retractable tonneau covers can be expensive compared to both hard tri-fold and soft roll-up alternatives. However, this type of tonneau cover is much more convenient and easy to operate. 

Are Retrax and GatorTrax the same?

Retrax and GatorTrax are similarly styled tonneau covers, though they have their differences such as in the finish and warranties.

Are tonneau covers secure?

Most tonneau covers are secure from suddenly falling off in the middle of the road, but not all tonneau covers are secure against would-be thieves. If you want to protect the contents of your truck bed, you’ll want a hard tonneau cover that can lock.

Do tonneau covers improve gas mileage?

Research conducted by mechanical engineers at Grand Valley State University shows that a truck bed cover can reduce drag and lift. This is because the exposed rear end of a pickup truck creates a negative pressure zone. This combined with the added security makes a tonneau cover a popular truck accessory.

What is the best retractable truck cover?

We think that the GatorTrax Tonneau Cover is one of the best retractable truck covers, especially because of its utility compared to its moderate cost. However, the best retractable truck cover for you depends on your truck and your needs. There are quality covers that can be had for less, such as the Gator Recoil, and more durable covers that can be found for more, such as the Truck Covers USA American Roll Cover.

What types of tonneau covers are there?

Tonneau covers can be soft- or hard-top. Soft tonneau covers either feature a roll-up or folding design. Hard covers can be folding, retractable, or one-piece covers. Each type of cover has its advantages and disadvantages, with hard covers generally being more secure and more expensive than soft tonneau covers.

Full Retractable Tonneau Cover Testing Methodology

When testing tonneau covers, we assessed ease of installation, ease of use, and durability. We think these are some of the most important factors when choosing a tonneau cover.

Our product testing team then ordered the tonneau covers that best met these standards. A team member tested each product on one of the following testing vehicles:

  • 2013 Toyota Tacoma (Standard Cab) with a 6.0-foot, 2.0-inch bed
  • 2016 Toyota Tundra XS1 with a 5.0-ft., 7.0-in. bed
  • 2016 Chevrolet Colorado with a 5.0-ft. bed
  • 2017 Toyota Tundra with a 5.0-ft., 7.0-in. bed
  • 2022 Nissan Frontier Crew Cab with a 5.0-ft. bed
  • 2022 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Trailblazer with a 5.0-ft., 8.0-in. bed
  • 2024 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 with a 6.0-ft., 9.0-in. bed

We took note of how easy the tonneau cover was to install, overall build quality, and ease of use. Each hard tonneau cover was given a rating out of 5.0 stars based on these criteria.

Ease of Installation

Ease of installation is a measure of how easy or difficult it is for a layperson to install this tonneau cover at home. Requiring few tools, installing quickly, and using only a few components help tonneau covers score best in this category. We give lower ratings to tonneau covers that take a long time to install or seem especially complicated.

Among the tonneau covers we have tested, it seemed universal that the included instructions were mediocre at best. In general, we recommend looking up installation videos on Google or YouTube for your specific truck cover. These videos generally include easier-to-follow instructions than the written manual, which often includes ambiguous diagrams.

Ease of Use

Our ease of use score is a measure of how simple it is to open, close, and generally operate the tonneau cover once installed. For this rating, we look for things like functioning latches, smooth gliding along rails, or built-in straps for securing the tonneau cover in the open position.

To score best in this category, a tonneau cover will have smoothly functioning latches and won’t jam on the tracks if it is retractable. Lightweight tonneau covers also score better in this category.


Our durability rating represents the strength and longevity we expect from a tonneau cover. We base this score on the feel of the materials, our own experience using the cover, and customer reviews. A good tonneau cover should last for many years, so to get a sense of how these covers hold up four or five years down the road, we turn to customer reviews.

How We Score Products

Every tonneau cover we test is given a score between 1.0 and 5.0 stars in each category. Here’s what those star ratings mean in concrete terms:

  • 5.0 Stars: A 5.0-star rating means a tonneau cover is among the best in a category. It may attach in minutes using no tools. To score 5.0 stars for durability, it should be made with the strongest materials.
  • 4.0 Stars: A 4.0-star rating means a tonneau performs better than average in a category. Installation may require a wrench, but the tonneau cover may still be set up in under 10 minutes. For ease of use, a tonneau cover will have slam latches and pull strings for easy opening.
  • 3.0 Stars: A 3.0-star rating indicates what is average or typical for a tonneau cover, based on our testing experience. This means a tonneau cover that takes 20 to 30 minutes to install and may lack slam latches or retractable features.
  • 2.0 Stars: A 2.0-star rating indicates the tonneau cover performs adequately in a category but is poorer than average. Covers may not fit perfectly or feel fully secured once installed.
  • 1.0 Star: A 1.0-star rating indicates that the tonneau performs well below expectations in a category. A 1.0-star cover may not fit at all or break easily during testing.

Why Trust Motor1.com

Each year, we test over 350 auto products on vehicles and in our testing lab. Our team of product testers thoroughly researches top products, unboxes and puts our hands on each component, and tests the items on real vehicles before making recommendations to readers.

We publish hundreds of product and service reviews to bring car enthusiasts detailed guides on automotive tools, detailing kits, car seats, pet products, and much more. For more information on our testing methodology and how we evaluate every product, check out our methodology page here.

*Data accurate at time of publication. Products subject to availability.