Project Sierra: Retrax Pro bed cover installation and first impressions

Project Sierra: Retrax Pro bed cover installation and first impressions

Posted on 06. Sep, 2012 by in Product Reviews, Project Sierra

If you’re looking at covering the bed on your pickup, there’s no denying that a Retrax rolling bed cover is one of the nicest options around. Now that they offer a tougher, all aluminum Retrax Pro, we wanted to see just how easy or hard it was to install one ourselves. Is the Retrax Pro as good as it sounds? Here’s 27 high-res photos from our installation, how it went, and what our first impressions are.

The Retrax Pro is shipped in two boxes. The larger one is quite heavy and will require help to move. Because of the weight and large dimensions of the parts used,  two people will be required to easily install the Retrax Pro.

The larger box holds the entire top, rolled away into its protective barrel. The packaging is well done and our Retrax Pro arrived with no damage.

The installation of the Retrax Pro takes surprisingly few tools. The ones we picked out to help with the project were limited to a tape measure, needle nose pliars, a socket and racket, vice grips, and a multi-head screwdriver. And, of course, the manual.

Before we got too far, we installed two required drain tubes. This requires drilling but luckily, there are two GM factory bed-drain holes that nearly fit the bill.   To install tubes, we enlarged the front side-most drain holes already present in the bed of the truck. They are at a perfect location for this purpose. We drilled these holes right before we had Line-X applied, to cover any bare metal. We’d recommend some sort of protectant to prevent rust if you drill your drain holes out too.

The drain tube installed in the front of the bed. It is tucked neatly behind the wheel well and does not get in the way of loading plywood or other large items on the floor of the truck bed.

The larger package as we began to unpack it. We’d recommend wearing leather gloves during this step, as the cardboard is mostly secured with metal staples.

Unpacking the main barrel is easy. Retrax has secured all moving parts to prevent damage during shipping.

The Retrax starts to get unwieldy at this stage. Because the rolled up cover is in a round shape, it kept wanting to roll away. We ended up using foam that came in the package to steady things.

Once you remove the packing straps, the cover wants to roll back into the storage barrel. Be careful at this stage, as we could see the cover being damaged if the barrel rolls on its side.

This close up shows the bearings that line the entire side of the Retrax Pro Cover, giving it a super smooth open and close action.

Almost ready to open the second, smaller, box and see what’s inside. Best to have someone hold the rolled up cover at this stage while you open the other box.

So what’s inside the second box? The side rails that we’ll soon attach to the main barrel! We found moving the whole installation to a large and soft patch of grass with plenty of room to move around it made things easy.

Attaching the side guide rails is one of the easiest parts of the entire installation. Two screws and you’re done. We chose rails that cover the bed post holes but lower profile rails that are thinner and do not cover post holes are also available.

After attaching both side rails, we used the styrofoam from the packing material to support them.

A close up of the attachment points between the roll-up barrel and the side rails.

One of the last steps of assembly before moving the Retrax Pro to the bed of the pickup truck is to attach the front cover plate. It serves to strengthen the entire assembly and give a cleaner, flush, look.

Per the instruction manual, we backed off the plastic adjustment spacers, found on the side rails.

A look at the entire Retrax Pro just before lifting it onto the Sierra.

Sitting pretty on the bed but no time to celebrate as we still have to perfect the fit and fasten it down securely. The bed has a few inch float, so make sure to center it properly and according to the manual.

This small box holds the much of the hardware. It is packaged with the bed rails.

Before we can secure the Retrax’s rails down, we need to measure the gap between the tailgate and the side rails using a provided measuring tool.  Once the gap matches the width of the tool, the cover is in the right spot.

Next, we use the supplied metal clamps to fasten the Retrax Pro to the underside of the bed rails. There are four of these clamps.

After securing the Retrax Pro, we can finally do some fine tuning on the fit and alignment of the side rails by adjusting these 8 plastic spacers. We have to admit, it was slightly frustrating to get everything lined up and closing correctly. On our first try, the tailgate collided with the cover. With some patience, we soon had everything working perfectly.

Our first roll! Still covered in protective plastic from shipping.

We have to admit, this was pretty fun to remove. Take your time so it doesn’t rip.

The finished & installed Retrax Pro on our 2011 GMC Sierra!

First Impressions

Overall, installing the Retrax Pro on Project Sierra was a simple project.  If you are prepared, take your time, follow the instructions, and have a friend nearby to help with the lifting, any mechanically inclined person can tackle this project.

Overall fit and finish is excellent. The Retrax Pro is clearly designed and assembled with high-quality parts. Once installed, the cover slides open and closed with ease.  It can also lock secure in any location.

We’ll be taking a look at life with the Retrax Pro in detail along with letting you know how it’s held up to our abuse following this installation.   We’ll be back with that article in just a few weeks.

GM-TC Install Stats
Level of Difficulty:     easy
Product First Impression:      4.5/5
Instruction Manual Clarity:      4/5
Required # of People to Assemble:      2
Time Required:      2 – 2.5 hours

Overall Install:    4.5/5

Editor’s Note: Retrax provided us with this product (pro gratis) for the purpose of installing it on Project Sierra. This consideration did not take weight on our opinion towards our review. 

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4 Responses to “Project Sierra: Retrax Pro bed cover installation and first impressions”

  1. Chris Rodman

    19. Aug, 2013

    Just wondering how its held up so far.

  2. Zane Merva

    28. Aug, 2013

    Chis- it’s held up AWESOME. We open and close it all the time, 5-6 times a day sometimes. Aside from a few adjustments a few months after we installed it, it’s performed flawlessly. Works just as good as it did the day we installed it.

  3. Rick Williams

    31. Dec, 2013

    Now that you’ve had some run time with the Retrax Pro have you experienced any water leaks from weather or when washing the truck? If so, at what points on the cover assembly? And, could the use of a small amount of silicone between the RTP side or front rails when installing it have prevented such leaks?

    I’m seriously considering the purchase of a RTP and seeking input from experienced users/owners.

  4. Todd Willis

    01. Apr, 2014

    I have this install on my 2014 GMC sierra as well and am completely satisfied …fit finish ease of use etc etc :) Highly recommend

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