Which Is Better Roll-Up Or Retractable Tonneau Covers

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Roll Up or Retractable Tonneau Cover? That is the question. I’m afraid, we have good news and we have bad news. The bad news is… neither one is necessarily “better.” The good news is… it depends on your taste!

Find out here which one will work best for you.

Retractable Covers

The retractable cover is unique because they retract in the canister at the front of the truck bed. They are the only cover that can close all the way up to a fifth-wheel hitch. You can tow to your desired destination, remove the trailer, and shut the tonneau to cover the rest of the way to keep your cargo safe.

The cover can also be held open partially at any position – a feature not often found with other types of cargo covers.

These covers provide secure locking safety – while being easy to open and operate. They are also available in various materials and may be fabricated as vinyl aluminum or polycarbonates under a retractable support structure.

  • Retractable tonneau covers are more likely to cost more.
  • I like that a retractable truck bed cover can be operated from the inside of the truck by remote.
  • Retractable truck bed covers have the advantages of both a roll-up and a fixed cover.
  • The disadvantage of a retractable truck bed cover is that it takes up room at the front of the bed.

Roll-up Covers

Roll-up covers clamp to the truck bed rails with a no-drill install. They usually have slam latches that can provide additional safety when the automobile has a tailgate has a lock. This element is available in all hard roll-up tonneau covers.

They come in a wide variety of materials, including canvas, vinyl, rubberized fabric, and aluminum. They are designed to be easily removable, allowing you to use your pickup truck without a tonneau cover if need be.

  • Roll-up tonneau covers have the advantage of being easy to operate.
  • Roll-up tonneau covers are easy to install and remove.
  • I like that roll-up covers can be operated by one hand.
  • The disadvantage is similar to the retractable cover but the bed space taken up is above the bed rails.

Read More about tri-fold vs roll-up truck bed covers.

Which Is Safer?

With the proper locking mechanism, a cover made of aluminum offers the best chance of keeping your gear safe. Both retractable and hard roll-up covers are typically made of aluminum, so there really isn’t a difference in the amount of security they offer.

Are Retractable Truck Bed Covers Waterproof?

Retractable truck bed covers can be close to waterproof; they are more water-resistant than waterproof. If you’re a truck owner that wants an entirely waterproofed truck bed, I regret to inform you that no cover can keep all water out all the time.

Typically, however, retractable covers are designed to keep the rain and snow at bay to the best of their ability. If the cover is installed incorrectly, is will not be as effective at keeping moisture out.

The same goes for all tonneau covers, including roll-up covers. However, there are some steps you can take to waterproof them further.

How Do I Install A Retractable Cover?

Most uses are a three-piece arrangement that includes housing, covers, and two supports. Most kits just require one or more basic tools such as a socket wrench and are no-drill installations depending on the brand and truck it is being installed in. Most use simple clamps which work just like the bed and without modification. Generally, the installation is an easy DIY; if you have someone to help, it’s even easier.

The installation of a roll-up truck bed cover is almost exactly the same as a retractable, only there is no canister. The front of the cover attaches to the bulkhead, and the cover will roll up on top towards the cab.

Are Retractable Covers Better Than Other Tonneau Options?

That all depends on you. Some people like the idea of retractable truck bed covers because they are out of sight when you roll them up. This makes their truck look like they want it to and is incredibly convenient.

However, many other people do not care for this feature at all. They claim it is too easy to forget to pull them back out when you are done using them, resulting in the truck bed getting dirty or wet. It seems to be a wash.

Is A Roll-up Tonneau Cover Worth It?

Heck ya, they are! Not only do tonneau covers keep your cargo safe from thieves and the elements, but they also save you gas so in the long run, but they might also actually pay for themselves. Also, they look great and increase the value of your truck. The question should be, why not get a truck bed cover? And the answer is there is no reason at all.

Best Retractable Tonneau Covers


Frequently Asked Questions

Is A Soft Or A Hard Tonneau Cover Better?

A hard truck bed cover is better for security, and a soft tonneau cover is better for truck owners that might have to remove the cover to load large cargo.

Do Hard Tonneau Covers Lock?

Hard tonneau covers do lock, sorta. The slam latches on some types like a roll-up, or a folding tonneau cover can only be released from the underside. The releases are hidden when you lock your tailgate, so no one is getting in. Really, it’s the tailgate that locks, not the truck bed cover.

Retractable covers don’t have slam latches because they slide along the bed using rails. They are hard covers, too, and do have locks built-in.

Side note: If someone wants to steal your cargo, they’ll have to pry up the cover to get at whatever is inside. However, with a retractable or hard roll-up tonneau cover, it will be much more difficult for the thief to pry the cover. More often than not, they won’t even bother and move on to the next one.

BAK Revolver X2 Hard Rolling Truck Bed

How Much Weight Can Soft Tonneau Covers Hold?

I’d be hesitant about putting anything other than my coffee cup on my soft cover. In most cases, the vinyl use is marine grade and very durable; that being said, it has its limits too, and pushing past those limits will stretch the tarp causing it to flap in the wind and wear out prematurely. So, I suggest using caution when putting anything remotely heavy on your soft tonneau cover.

There are tensioners on a soft-folding tonneau cover that allow you to tighten the vinyl when it stretches over time. But, it has a limit and will need to be replaced if you pass it.

Are Roll-Up Tonneau Covers Good In The Winter?

Well, a soft roll, for apparent reasons, will not handle as much snow as a hard rolling cover. That being said, they will both freeze up if moisture gets in the seams and the weather drops.

Can You Put A Tonneau Cover On A Truck With A Toolbox?

Yes, a truck that has a toolbox can accommodate a tonneau cover. There are two options:

1. A short tonneau cover and buts up against the toolbox.

short tonneau for toolbox

And 2. A specially designed truck bed cover with a toolbox that rests under the cover.

tonneau cover with a toolbox under it

What Are They Made Of?

Most tonneau covers are made with aluminum, canvas, and vinyl. Aluminum is very lightweight — which means it can be removed from your pickup truck with relative ease. It’s also solid, which makes it more secure. That said, not all aluminum tonneau covers are created equal. Look for a cover with an integrated lock that secures it to the rails on your truck bed. And, of course, look for a tonneau cover that is easy to install yourself.

They are also made with poly, a more durable and long-lasting material, but it also costs more.

How Easy Is It To Install A Rolling Truck Bed Cover?

It’s not very difficult to install a rolling tonneau cover, but it will take about 30 minutes in most cases. It simply uses clamps without drilling required. Soft roll-up covers will install in 10 to 15 minutes.

installing a tonneau cover

Is There Any Easier Alternative To Roll-ups?

There is an easier alternative to roll-up tonneau covers. While not all retractable covers are electric, the electric ones are operated with a push of a button and really can’t get much easier than that unless you controlled it with your brain chip from Elon.

What Should Look For In A Truck Bed Cover?

Tonneau covers do come in many styles, but… they do have some standard features. Here are the most essential features to look for when selecting a canvas truck bed cover.

  1. The size of the tonneau cover.
  2. Will you have to modify it to fit your truck bed?
  3. Will it seal to the truck bed?
  4. Does it have a good warranty?
  5. What are other people saying about it?
  6. Will you need to have it installed, or can you do it?

Do Tonneau Covers Save Gas?

Yes, tonneau covers have been proven to save gas. The truck’s aerodynamics with a closed tonneau cover is less resistant, saving up to an estimated 8%. As a truck owner, I can get behind that all day long.

Final Thoughts

Whether you are driving a new truck or fixing up an old one, choosing the right truck bed cover for your vehicle is essential. Not only does it protect your gear from the elements, but it also gives you peace of mind. Tonneau covers are a valuable addition to any truck and can increase its worth.

Roll-Up vs. retractable covers:

Roll-up is the most common type of the two truck bed covers, and retractable is awesome when they are electric.

Read more Tonneau cover alternatives or Tri-Fold VS Retractable Truck Bed Covers 


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