If you want practicality, and sheer go-anywhere capability, then get a ute. And if you need extra storage space for that same ute, fit it with a well-thought-out ute canopy. There are dozens of different designs that go nicely with double, extra or single cabs, fitted either with a tub, tray or simply bolt onto the chassis. And there are different material options too.
If you’re in the market for an aluminium ute canopy for sale you’ve come to the right place. Before buying the first canopy you see, you’ll want a few questions answered. This relates to how you’ll be using the canopy and for what purpose, and also the setup you currently have. Your overall storage needs will determine size and shapes, as well as accessories inside and out to get the most out of your purchase.
And the level of security to keep all those expensive goodies inside snug and safe from prying eyes will impact materials and the level of build you need. All these variables mean that prices differ immensely, so doing a little research up front will save you cash and hassle in the long run.
What Will You Be Using the Canopy For?
How you’ll be using the canopy matters greatly. If you’re a tradie with more than a few tools, then you’ll go for a sturdy aluminium or stainless steel ute covering most of the ute tray. And if your ute is geared more towards recreation, then sizes will be similar, but how it’s kitted out both inside and out will be different. Internal and external accessories let you better organise your stuff, and increase usability.
Where you’ll be using the ute determines things like weight (and hence size), drivability and the choice of materials. It also means that you might need to modify your rig in a few ways. Tubs are good for lightweight canvas or fibreglass canopies, but trays and on-chassis builds are the go-to solution if you need all the space and security you can get. There is some work in changing out tubs to fit a full-sized canopy, like removing sides and tail lights, but with trays this are cheaper on the pocket. On-chassis builds give you the most choice as to what you can fit.
Canopies used off-road need to be lightweight yet sturdy. The added weight means you’ll be restricted to aluminium canopies, so as not to impact drivability, braking and suspension response and traction on looser surfaces. Tradies can go for stainless steel if their work is solely on tarmac, but even here an aluminium ute canopy for sale would be a better choice.
I’ve touched on what’s available in terms of materials. Fibreglass is good if you don’t want to get rid of the tub. It’s strong enough for most light-duty uses, has an oxide coating that holds up well against the elements and general wear and tear, and is very lightweight. You won’t notice any changes to fuel consumption by having one at the back. And on top of that it’s one of the more affordable options out there.
For heavy-duty use, go with metal. Aluminium canopies are well built, can take the weight of additions without budging, and can also be optioned in different finishes and colours to up your ute’s looks. They are less prone to rusting and come in much lighter than comparable steel variants. Some buyers though go for steel as it’s the toughest option. So, if your goal is ultimate security at the expense of additional weight, go for a steel canopy.
Lastly, let’s not forget the cheap and cheerful option of a canvas canopy. It’s what you’ll want to keep your stuff clear of water and dirt, and be able to remove it quickly when it’s not needed.
Build and Security
Besides metals in higher grades and the appropriate thickness (2.5mm at the least), the canopy needs a sturdy and thicker floor to cope with the weight, tight welds to prevent rust and liquid build-up, and seals to wick away water in rain. Locks are recessed into the metal for added security. Doors can be positioned as needed, and often have gas struts for smooth opening and closing.
Features and Factors that Make a Difference
Sizing your ute canopy will depend on what you want to carry. All-tray canopies offer the best storage, but are often permanent solutions that take time to install, and even more difficult to remove if you have a change of mind. Part-tray canopies, often in a cross-deck configuration, can be good if you intend to use the rest of the tray for hauling other goods, like building materials or extra-large gear and equipment.
Lift-off canopies are a more recent addition that allow you to take the canopy off and set it on four jacks when you’ve got other intentions with the tray, like getting a pair of bikes or ATVs to the dirt track. You can keep your gear and canopy safely stowed away for that extra dose of security.
Designs roughly fall in line with sizes. Smaller cross-deck canopies are often in a gullwing configuration, tapered at each side and with doors on one or both sides. This is something that you can opt for when buying. Canopies for dual cabs are often longer, but cover the same height, roughly 860mm to the roofline, and 1800mm, or the full width of the tray. This again is based on your overall storage needs.
Lastly, let’s consider the accessories that up usability. For anyone working with tools, inside storage comes with differently sized drawers, shelves, and compartments in different configurations. The level of customisation is impressive. You can go for an internal canopy pantry that helps with organisation, a varying number of lockable or sliding drawers at varying depths, and some with fitted top benches. For campers and off-roaders there are sliding trays for inbuilt ovens, included fridges and gas bottle holders. On the outside, a metal canopy can be equipped with a roof rack, ladder, jerry can holder or holders for spare tyres.
Canopies are worthy additions to any ute. Specced in lightweight aluminium, they offer added space, protection for everything inside, and have useful additions for almost any situation. They’re good for a range of uses, doubling as a mobile workshop, or that camping enclosure that houses all your necessary gear. When choosing what’s right for you consider your needs, what you’ll be carrying, how long you want the canopy to last, and of course, set a realistic budget that ticks the most boxes.