Retractable tonneau covers are a popular truck bed cover option that provide easy access to the truck bed while also offering protection from the elements when closed.
A key question truck owners have when shopping for a retractable tonneau cover is “how much weight can it hold on top?” This comprehensive guide will provide details on the weight capacity of retractable tonneau covers.
Why Does Tonneau Cover Weight Capacity Matter?
Knowing the weight limit of your truck bed tonneau cover is important for several reasons:
- Safety – Exceeding the weight capacity can damage the cover, causing it to break or fail while driving. This can be extremely dangerous if cargo falls onto the road.
- Performance – Overloading the cover can prevent smooth opening and closing. It can also put extra strain on the motorized parts of powered covers.
- Durability – Too much weight can bend, crack or warp the cover over time, decreasing its lifespan. This leads to premature failure.
- Warranty – Most manufacturers will void the warranty if the specified weight limit is exceeded. No cover = no warranty.
So checking the maximum weight rating is essential when hauling cargo or mounting accessories like roof racks on top of the retractable cover. But how much weight can different models actually hold?
Weight Capacity by Tonneau Cover Type
The amount of weight a retractable tonneau can hold depends on the material, construction, and reinforcements built into the specific cover. Here is a general overview of weight capacities:
Hard Retractable Tonneau Covers
- Aluminum or fiberglass construction
- Reinforced panelling
- Typically hold 50-100 lbs
- Higher end models can handle up to 300-400 lbs evenly distributed
Vinyl Soft Retractable Tonneau Covers
- Vinyl or canvas over frame
- Weakest construction
- Hold approximately 15-30 lbs
Retractable Covers With Solid Panels
- Hard panels composed of aluminum, fiberglass or ABS plastic
- Very durable and reinforced
- Can hold 100-500 lbs evenly distributed
- Often the highest weight capacities
So retractable hard covers generally can handle more weight than soft versions. The highest capacities come from models with solid panels instead of roll-up vinyl. But there can be a wide range even among the same type, so check your owner’s manual.
Weight Capacity By Brand and Specific Model
The maximum weight rating can also vary quite a bit depending on the specific brand and model of retractable cover. Here are some examples from popular brands:
- BakFlip F1 Tonneau Cover – Holds up to 400 lbs evenly distributed when closed
- RetraxPRO XR – Supports up to 500 lbs evenly distributed in the tray
- GatorFlex – Approximately 50-100 lbs capacity
- Truxedo Sentry CT – Rated for 200 lbs evenly distributed weight capacity
- Undercover Flex – Reinforced polymer panels hold over 200 lbs
- Roll-N-Lock LG220M – Withstands over 660 lbs evenly distributed weight
As you can see, the range goes from as little as 50 lbs for basic vinyl soft versions and up to 660 lbs for the top retractable models with thick aluminum panels. So the brand and specifications really matter.
Tips For Loading Cargo Within Weight Limit
Here are some tips for safely hauling cargo within your retractable tonneau cover’s weight rating:
- Distribute weight evenly over the bed rather than piling in one spot.
- Straps or tie downs can further disperse weight and reduce strain.
- Place heavier objects towards the cab and lighter cargo near the tailgate.
- Use bed dividers or support bars under the cover for extra reinforcement.
- For roof racks or kayak mounts, distribute load evenly across multiple crossbars.
- Check if the manufacturer recommends reinforcing the mounting points.
- For soft covers, use a solid sheet of plywood or boards under cargo to prevent concentrated force in small areas.
Always refer back to your owner’s manual for the official weight capacity and loading guidelines specific to your make and model. When in doubt, keep it light! Going over the limit risks damage and safety hazards. Careful loading will help your retractable tonneau cover last for years of reliable service.