Product Review: BAK Roll-X Tonneau Cover

One of the biggest problems with owning a truck is the lack of a trunk.  While it might not be a daily problem, it does come up, as it did for me a month ago.  With an upcoming road trip necessitating keeping my luggage in the bed instead of the cab, and protected from the elements, I finally had a big enough justification to order a bed cover on my 2011 Ford F-150.  After doing some research, I decided on the BAK Roll-X hard rolling tonneau cover.  Read on for the installation process and my impressions of it.

In the almost nine months I’ve had my 2011 Ford F-150, lots of times I thought it would be nice to be able to secure things in the bed.  Whether golfing, going to a home improvement store, or even traveling, being able to lock things up in the bed of the pickup and keeping them dry would be quite nice.  Flash forward to mid-June, when my wife told me we’d be taking our dog with us to her parents’ house in the Pittsburgh, PA area.

Knowing that our dog would be riding in the back seat of my truck, I would have to put all of our luggage into the bed, including the dog’s crate, a bag of his stuff, as well as my golf clubs and our normal luggage.  Keeping the aforementioned items dry was important, as was being able to lock up the bed and not worry about thieves stealing our stuff.  While perusing a Ford F-150 internet forum, I came across a discussion thread on the Roll-X cover from BAK Industries.  I’ve heard good things about BAK covers in the past, and a friend of mine owns one of their BAKFlip covers.  With the Roll-X matching my needs, I had found my bed cover.

Skip to the Installation or Impression sections if you already know about pickup truck bed covers.

Types of Bed Covers:

While I chose the Roll-X from BAK Industries, there are other covers for other uses, which I’ll briefly explain:

  • Soft Covers – Usually the cheapest, but least secure.  Some have metal ribs which give it some structure.
  • Folding Hard Covers – More expensive, but more secure.  Folding in sections, some of them allow partial bed access as well as full bed access.  Biggest downside is that in the fully open position, they half or more of the rear view.
  • Roll-Up – Along the same price lines as Folding Hard Covers, but roll up garage-door-style into a canister at the front of the bed.  Usually pretty secure, but not as desirable if you have a short bed, since the canister takes up some of that space.
  • Fiberglass – The most expensive, but also the most weather resistant, since they usually cover the bed rails too.  Not so great if you want to haul anything taller than your bed, since they are hinged at the front of the bed and use hydraulic struts to stay up.  Cumbersome to install/remove, usually requiring two people.
  • Caps – Usually more expensive than a Fiberglass cover.  Great to haul tallish things, but again, heavy and cumbersome to install and remove.  Great for weather protection or camping.  Not really a bed cover, per se, but I felt it should be mentioned nonetheless.

The Roll-X tonneau cover has everything I was looking for in a tonneau cover:  it’s a hard cover, so no flapping vinyl (and no way for thieves to cut it open), it locks down (using the tailgate’s lock and integrated locking “C” channels), and when rolled up, it stays out of the bed (preserving the bed’s space).  I don’t require partial access and also don’t want my rear view obstructed if I have to secure the cover in the open position.

A quick call to BAK, and I’d ordered myself a Roll-X tonneau cover, for $849.  About a week later, the Roll-X showed up at my house, and I got to work unpacking and installing it.

If you have no interest in how the Roll-X tonneau cover is installed, skip ahead to my Impressions:

Installation:

Installation was fairly easy, requiring only one hand tool (a 9/16ths crescent wrench), and a second set of hands to help out, mainly with holding the bed rails in place while I clamped them, and later on, holding the cover itself to make placement easier.  The packaging materials are nice in that it’s a foam setup that encases the entire contents of the box, so nothing moves around during shipping.

The installation starts by affixing the included weather stripping on the bed’s front-most rail, unless you have a drop-in bed liner.  Since I have a spray-in liner, I used the weather stripping, and even with the liner’s texture, it seems to have adhered quite nicely.  Given that the temperature was topping 100 degrees and I was in direct sunlight, this is no real surprise.  Maybe some shade is called for next time I have to do something like this (at least, that’s what my wife suggested).

After installing the weather stripping, I moved on to clamping the bed rails in place.  The clamps are a smart design, with teeth in them that line up with ribs on the bed rails, leading to a seriously solid clamp, and no movement of the rails whatsoever.  The biggest trick here is to line them up properly.

For me, I pushed the rails as far forward as I could, and they seem to have lined up perfectly.  The instructions say to do this with the tailgate closed, but I found that just sliding them forward worked well.  This is where the 9/16ths wrench came in handy.  While the instructions mention a 14mm wrench and their own web site says to use a 15mm one, the 9/16ths wrench fit the bolts supplied with my cover.

After the bed rails were clamped on, I noticed a difference between the printed color instructions and the rails I was shipped.  The bed rails had black plastic spacers mounted on the tops of the attachment plates (see picture), which caused the cover to “kick up” at the front of the bed, leaving a gap (the rubber and plastic have settled over the last few days, and this is less pronounced).  A call to BAK’s customer service confirmed the spacers’ presence, so I’m leaving them there.

It was finally time to bolt the cover on, and this again is eased by a second set of hands.  The cover itself weighs roughly 50 lbs, and is a little ungainly, even when rolled up.  The cover, still rolled up, is placed onto the bed rails, and bolts are slotted into the cover.  The bolts then drop through the attachment plates on both rails, and are held in place with supplied washers, spacers, and a really nice plastic/metal knob.  Don’t tighten the knobs all the way, you’ll need room to adjust the cover’s placement in the next step.

The next step is to unroll the cover, ensuring that it opens evenly, riding in its tracks, and lines up at the tailgate.  Once that’s done, press down on each back corner until it clicks the locks into place.  This is where I noticed a second (and more serious) issue with my Roll-X: the actuator on the driver’s side rail was bent about 30 degrees.  While it still locked, I noticed that once during my trip it unlocked itself, and it was not holding the driver’s side of the cover down as well as the right.  A quick call to BAK’s customer service (again) and a new actuator, which attaches with two philip’s head screws, was shipped out.  The new one works much better, securing the cover the same was on the driver’s side as it always has on the passenger side.

Now that the cover is adjusted properly, roll it up gently and tighten down the knobs.  The cover will now stay in place, and you’re done!  Make sure you completely tighten down the metal/plastic knobs so that the lock washers are compressed.  I found that a couple weeks of driving had caused them to loosen, so I retightened them and they’ve stayed tight since.

Impressions:

With the cover in place, it works just like BAK’s own review video, with one-handed opening and closing.  I was told that the rubber seals may take a day or two to settle in, since the cover is shipped rolled, but with the hot weather we’ve experienced as of late, it was less than two full days for all the wrinkles to disappear.  The appearance of the Roll-X is top notch – it looks like a one-piece cover, with attractively-grained vinyl covering it, and its color closely matches Ford’s own plastic bed rail caps.  It’s definitely flush with the top of the bed rails, with only the rubber seals above the rail line.  The seals all sit snug against the rails and tailgate, even necessitating closing the tailgate before locking the cover down – a plus, in my book.

While BAK does not advertise the Roll-X as being water proof, it’s pretty close.  In the two and a half weeks I’ve had the cover installed, I’ve driven through some of the worst weather I’ve ever driven through, and some significant rain has fallen on the truck while it was parked.  One storm was so bad that the whole truck was pelted with hail and sheets of water so thick that traffic slowed to 15 mph, and a lot of drivers chose to get their cars off the road rather than continue.  A testament to how weather resistant the Roll-X is that only a handful of drops of water have found their way into my bed, almost all of it at the front, and a few drops at the tailgate.  My truck is equipped with a tailgate step, which is most of the reason any water gets in at all.  My wife and I were both surprised at how well the Roll-X kept water out, and won’t hesitate to take the truck on road trips in the future.

There are probably a lot of pickup truck owners reading this who want to hear about how it affected my MPGs.  To them, I can say that I attribute about 1 MPG to the tonneau cover.  When I last took this trip, filling up at the same stations and all, I got an average of 18.5 on the way up and 19 on the way back.  With a switch to premium unleaded fuel and the BAK Roll-X, I got an average of 20.5 on the way up and 21 on the way back.  Either way you slice it, I didn’t buy the tonneau cover for fuel economy savings, even if it might’ve helped a little bit.

While the vast majority of my experience with the Roll-X thus far has been positive, there are a couple of negatives I’ve found.  If you read the installation section, I had a couple of issues with the installation, and one of the bed rails.  While BAK’s customer service has made good on the bent actuator, it was troubling to see it get through quality checks anyway, as it was plainly obvious to me that it was bent.  I understand that BAK is receiving a ton of orders for this cover, which is why all of them should go through the same quality checks before shipping.  The other is the installation instructions themselves.  The customer service agent I spoke to at BAK suggested that a prototype or first-production cover was used for the photos in the instructions, but if the design has changed enough that different tools are used and parts have changed, why not update the instructions too?

I also noticed that the black spacers, which are on the bed rails’ attachment plates but not shown in the installation instructions, create a gap at the front of the bed, between the cover and the supplied weatherstripping.  In the week or so that I’ve had the cover installed, it’s actually settled a little, and is less noticeable, but I’m still questioning why they are needed in the first place.  They may still be the reason any water is getting in at the front of the bed, but since it’s such a small amount, I’m just not worried about it.

Beyond those few issues, I really think BAK has hit a home run with the Roll-X.  It does everything it’s advertised to, and even surpassed my own expectations, which are quite high with regards to any product I’ve spent close to $1,000 on.  I do have to say that in my conversations with BAK’s customer service, I found out that their factory and headquarters are in California, where all of their covers are assembled.  The customer service agent I ordered the cover from was quite proud to tell me that while the vinyl used in their covers was from Germany, the designs and other materials used in the construction of their truck bed covers was all-American.  I give high marks to BAK’s customer service, and other than the couple of issues I encountered, my experience so far has been quite good.

Scores:

Value: 4
Ease of use: 5
Ease of Installation: 5
Installation Instructions: 3 (color helped, but mismatched pictures hurt, wrong wrench size listed)
Quality: 5
Total: 22 / 25 – 4.5 Stars

Price:

BAK Industries lists the Roll-X cover as starting from $789.  The specific model I purchased (36307) cost $849.

Links:

BAK Industries’ Roll-X Tonneau Cover

 by John Suit

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22 Responses to “Product Review: BAK Roll-X Tonneau Cover”


  • thanx for your detailed review john. ill be ordering a roll x tonight.

  • I have a drop in bed liner. Will that change the installation procedures?

  • Only slightly – and the provided instructions tell you the differences between them. If I remember correctly, the only difference is that the supplied rubber stick-on gasket, which is placed on the front bed rail, isn’t used if you have a drop-in bed liner.

    -John

  • John,
    Did you notice any difficulties removing the actual cover when you might need to?

  • Joshua, no, I haven’t. It’s held in place by the two thumb screws. Once removed, the washers and spacers fall into the bed and the cover itself can be removed. It’s heavy, probably 45-60 pounds, but manageable. I’ve only had to remove it once, when I installed the hold-up straps that hold it in the rolled position, so the truck’s bed can be filled with things taller than the cover.

    -John

  • John,

    I just received a BAK Roll-X cover from my Frontier. I noticed that to get the cover to close with the tailgate up, I have to postion the cover so far forward that it is jammed up against my cab. I don’t mean that the rubber weatherstrip is touching the cab, I mean the weatherstrip is shoved down in the gap between the cab and bed, and the hard edge of the cover is against the cab. From looking at your pictures, it appears that yours is the same. In your case, it looks like it is pushed up against the trim at the bottom of your window. I called BAK and they told me it is normal, but I’ve never seen a cover that did this. Have you noticed any abrasion in the paint on either the cab or your window trim?

  • Mark, my cover’s rubber seal is all that rests against the cab, not the hard part of the cover, and I don’t see any paint damage in that area. It could be that your cover is sitting too far forward – feel free to email me some detailed pictures (john.suit@road-reality.com) and I’d be happy to take a look and see if I can help you out with its placement.

    -John

  • Hey John,

    First of all, awesome review. Second do you have a full over the rail spray-in liner with the side plastic protectors or just an under the rail spray-in bedliner? Looking at putting the spray in liner in mine, which has the plastic side rail protectors as well. Then trhowing on the Roll-X.

    Thanks,
    Jack

  • Jack,

    I have an under-the-rail spray-in and the same stock, plastic rail caps. Good luck with your install, and send me some pictures when you get it done!

    -John

  • It’s been a couple of years now so I don’t know if you’ll even see this question. But, how has the vinyl covering held up to the sun and other elements? Also, because of the vinyl top layer, is there any problem rolling the cover in the frigid temps of a northern winter (cracking/splitting of vinyl)?

    Thanks in advance!

  • Well, I got a replacement cover because the seal over the tailgate DID start coming loose from the cover itself. BAK sent me a new one, and I’ve had it on the truck for about 8 months now, but no discoloring, and over the winter, no cracking or peeling.

    -John

  • I just installed the Bak Roll-X on a 2013 Silverado Crew cab.
    First, the instructions revised as of May 2013 might as well have been to a toaster oven. Worthless.
    Second, why put 12 side rail shims in box if you only need 6? Confusing.
    Third, Bak Youtube video is ok, but combined with instructions is misleading, confusing and does not address all of the parts/pieces in the box.
    Fourth, if the actuators have adjustable wingnuts, then tell the customer what to do with them. Otherwise, don’t have them adjustable.
    Fifth, I am not a mouth breathing oaf, however, it would be nice not to have to call “Steve” at Bak 4 times during the installation to question him about what should/should not be in the instructions and to ask about the installation and parts when they should be much clearer. I was told Bak is under new management. I volunteered to rewrite their instructions to be perfectly clear for the first and one time buyer. He just laughed. I was not really amused.
    Bottom line: Good product so far, instructions SUCK! Waste of paper and toner.

    Jack

  • I had my Bak Roll-X installed by the vendor I purchased it from on my 2013 GMC Sierra SLE Regular Cab short box so I can’t comment on the instructions. The visual when new was very pleasing and the operation when opening and closing satisfactory although my truck is hardly ever used to work and the cover only opened a half dozen times since new. My issue now with this cover being just over a year old is the vinyl is peeling off of the aluminum slats along the one side. Looks terrible. Weather strip also distorted along the back of the cab and the bottom of both sides near the tail gate. I’m disappointed with the quality and wish now I’d have purchased the Bak Flip with less moving parts and unified cover.

  • I’ve had my BAK Roll-X for about 18-20 monthes now. I live in south FL where the summers are long, hot and humid.
    At first the Roll-X was fine, but after a few months of leaving it rolled up, during our “dry season” I had a lot of trouble latching it at the tail gate. It quickly got worse, I had to fight to get it to latch down, so i called BAK customer support. i was told all i needed to do was re-adjust it, and it would work fine. I tole him it’s clearly not an just problem, but he insisted that I just adjusted it, it would be OK.
    In the next few weeks the vinyl shrunk so much that it is completely un usable at this time. It’s 2 inches short of reaching the tailgate and the whole right rear corner is falling apart.
    This product is nothing short of junk in my opinion. $800 and it only lasted a year & a half.

  • Any problems with freeway noise or rattling while on bumpy or dirt roads?

    Thank in advance.

  • There’s a little bit of noise when on bumpy surfaces, but nothing I’d worry about.

    -John

  • Wow, I’m sorry you had such a bad experience with your Roll-X. I had mine for over 3 years, and the only real issues I had were a seal that tore (BAK replaced the entire cover for free) and the glue which holds the felt on the underside, had failed (past their 1-year warranty).

    -John

  • I live in the Florida panhandle. My vinyl on the top just started to shrink, I guess. I was able to fix the front and back shrinkage with door guards, they were the perfect size. But, now the sides are starting to go. It’s been more than a year so I don’t expect any love from BAK. Once I hear back from them I will explore my options. I was thinking of trying Flex Seal. Might make it on to their commercial if it works. Has anyone gone to the trouble of trying to fix the vinyl shrinkage issues? If so what did you try and did it work?

  • I bought one of these for my truck and had it installed by professionals. At first it was excellent but as the months passed, the vinyl started to shrink and the thing would no longer rollable the back back to the tailgate. Even when it did, it still had a lump due to the vinyl shrinkage. I repaired it several times with duct tape but the vinyl continue yes to shrink, the carpeted areas came loose, the latch broke. All in all this product is truly a piece of sh*# and I’m searching for a replacement. Just wanted to warn the rest of you.

  • This was quite awhile ago. How are you liking the Roll X now that it’s been a few years? Did you upgrade to a hard fold or a different type since then?

  • I loved the Roll-X, and when I bought my new truck, I got the Revolver X2 for it. Good products!

  • I’m sorry you had such bad luck with your tonneau cover! Mine never experienced this problem. I would contact BAK and let them know – more than likely, they’ll help you out.

    -John

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