Extang ALX Tonneau Cover Review
Extang Solid Fold ALX Tonneau Cover, 3-Panel, Black
EXTANG SOLID FOLD ALX TONNEAU COVER
Model number: Solid Fold ALX
Weight: 67 lbs.
Features & Specifications | Extang ALX Tonneau Cover
- Solid Aluminum Frame
- Dent/Scratch Resistant EnduraShield Panels
- Textured Matte Black Finish
- Installs Using integrated Jaw Grip Clamps
- One-Handed Rotary Release System
- Cover Thickness: 1 in.
- Total Panels: 3
- Bed Access (Stowed): 2/3 Area
- Secured Open: Nylon Straps w/ Clips
- Max Load: 600 lbs (even distribution)
- Weight: 67 lbs.
- Warranty: 5-year limited
Jaw-Grip Attachment Clips
The first advertised feature that caught our eye with the Extang ALX Tonneau Cover was the tool free bed attachment and removal via the Jaw-Grip Attachment clips. Simply explained, they are integrated, threaded clamping clips that are used to secure the first (closest to cab) panel to the inside of the truck bed rails. The Jaw-Grip clamps slide/adjust inside a channel in the cross-brace bar and use a screw action to clamp via a wedge-shaped jaw grip.
They work well and indeed require no tools to secure. Be aware, they are a bit of a forearm workout though. The upside to this design is that short notice removal of the Tonneau Cover can also be done tool free. And there is minimal risk of losing the attachment hardware. This is a big positive compared to other Tonneau Covers that require a wrench or socket to loosen a hex head bolt (which can also be lost).
Rotary Latch System
Let’s start with the rotary latch system. The Extang ALX Tonneau Cover has a one-handed rotary knob located on the driver’s side under the cover. It’s a straightforward yet innovative solution to opening your Tonneau cover. It is attached via steel cables to clips on either side of the cover. This means that a single twist of the rotary knob easily releases both clips. And while the Extang ALX Tonneau Cover only features a single rotary knob, it does have the option of being mounted on either the driver’s or passenger’s side. It was well placed for easy reach. Once we initially adjusted it we found that there was little free play and the operations was smooth and solid. It came as advertised and was a nice upgrade over other styles that use a pull rope design.
While we were very excited about the tool-free installation via the Jaw Grip clamps, we quickly realized the entire installation was not tool free. Specifically, the striker brackets that secure the rotary knob-based latch assemblies must be adjusted and bolted in place. When the cover is removed (via the Jaw Grip clamps) the striker brackets stay attached to the inside rails of the truck bed. This is a minor note, but if you need to remove them as well you will need the supplied Allen wrenches.
Weather Protection Performance
Luckily for the sake of testing, coastal Massachusetts has varied weather patterns. This means that spring storms offer a good test bed for the overall weather protection offered by the Extang ALX Tonneau Cover. The key takeaway is that is works well. It is on par with other aluminum tri-panel tonneau covers we’re tested. It works because of a well-designed combination of hard polymer rubber corners, hinge caps, and snap-on perimeter seals. Of note there is an outer flap style seal and an inner fluted tube style seal. We appreciate this 2-part design because it is likely to hold up better over time.
Don’t expect a waterproof seal and perfectly dry bed though, especially with no clips holding the middle down tight at the seams. After an overnight coastal storm with 20-25 mph winds there was minimal drippage and dampness on the sides of the bed (see pic below). But not enough that we were worried about our tools being damaged during transit or storage.
Security and Durability
This is a critical section for evaluating any high-end Tonneau cover. After all, the security a hard-panel Tonneau cover offers is a main reason for buying one. If you are looking for weather protection or fuel efficiency alone, then a soft Tonneau Cover is a more economical buy. But the solid panels on a hard Tonneau cover slow and deter (not prevent) a would be vandal from breaking into your truck bed.
A keen eye can spot the middle panel sticking up higher than the other 2 panels since it has no securing clips. That being said, it will surely still take significant effort (and draw obvious attention) to pry the middle panel loose as the attachment design for the other 2 panels seems very secure and well made.
In addition, the panels themselves seem rugged and durable. Extang doesn’t disclose the exact composition of the panels. But they are aluminum framed with what seems to be a polycarbonate or fiberglass, coated shell with stiff polystyrene or foam filling (we didn’t cut it up). This creates a rigid yet lightweight panel that is capable of holding 600 lbs evenly disbursed. This Tonneau cover holds up well to the day to day rigors of jobsite work. We set materials and tools on the tonneau cover frequently as we load and unload at the jobsite. This cover, based on our initial few weeks of testing, seems to be up to the durability challenges of jobsite work.
Fit and Accessory Compatibility
The fit was good not great. As mentioned before, the middle panel sits slightly higher that the front and rear panel. That said, it was not overly noticeable. The rigidity provided by 1 in. thick, filled panels also means that this is not a low-profile tonneau cover. Again, this is not a knock on the Extang ALX Tonneau Cover. It is well designed and made but is something users should consider. Lastly, the clips to secure the cover in the open position are solid and simple.
We have no reservations about this cover coming loose, flipping closed, or coming unattached from the rails. The mid-panel security retaining straps offer additional protection against this risk. They are also a tool-free design to again make quick removal of the Tonneau cover a snap.
We were not able to install this cover with ladder rack rails still mounted on our truck. It was about 3/4 in. too wide to accommodate the rails for our Adarac ladder rack rails. But worked great with our SwingCase Truck Storage Boxes though. It may work with a headache rack depending on the rack style and width as it does give some access to the forward stake pockets. It will not work full width truck tool boxes but will work with a slide out style bed storage system such as the Decked System. Again, aside from the ladder rack interoperability challenges, these are fairly consistent compatibility notes for any hard 3-panel Tonneau cover.
Overall Takeaways | Extang ALX Tonneau Cover
The Extang ALX Tonneau Cover is well-made and easy to operate. It features a smooth and user-friendly rotary knob system to open and close the cover and tool-free Jaw-Grip clamps to attach it. Removing the cover, even unexpectedly on a job site, is simple. We liked the lightweight yet rugged panels; they seem designed to hold up well even if having to occasionally load materials or tools on them. The overall fit of the Extang ALX Tonneau Cover was decent. And it did offer good overall weather protection. If we were only putting a tonneau cover on our work truck or using a slide out bed system, then we would have no reservations about paying $1000 for this cover. And as with any hard Tonneau Cover it is an investment, but the Extang ALX Tonneau cover is by most measures a good one!
Extang EXTANG SOLID FOLD ALX TONNEAU COVER
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