A ute is essentially a truck with a passenger cabin and an open pick-up bed. The word ute is an Australian abbreviation for utility vehicle, or utility, as these vehicles were originally used for hauling cargo. But today, the popularity of the ute extends well beyond Australia, with these bad boys being driven all over the world.
And because there are so many makes, models and variations of utes on the market today, it can be hard to know where to start when you’re looking for the suitable accessories, like your first canopy.
The Difference Between a Lift off Ute Canopy and Hard Lid/Tonneau Canopy
Ute canopies, no matter whether lift off or hard lid type, are made to order and are tailored to your specific needs and requirements, so if you need a special size or extra features, be sure to inform the manufacturer.
As you might guess, the easy-to-use lift off ute canopy is a type with a removable part – the roof. This means you can lift off the roof when you are carrying taller items in your ute back. These canopies are made by professional tradesmen using only the highest quality aluminium and Australian steel known to be useful for building supplies, motorbikes, and boats too.
The other type of canopy is known as a hard lid or tonneau cover. As the name suggests, this type has a solid roof that cannot be removed. You can open the lid to access your cargo, but it will not come off completely which may be a drawback with certain items unlike the flexibility the lift off ute canopy design offers.
Types of Ute Canopies
A top quality ute canopy will protect your cargo from rain, wind, dust and flying debris of all kinds. A soft canopy is ideal if you need to carry cargo that requires some give, like when transporting tall plants or livestock. A hard canopy is better suited for carrying tools and other equipment. A hard ute canopy can also offer added protection in the event of a car accident, as it will prevent any items from being strewn about the vehicle if you happen to get into an accident.
You don’t have to buy a brand-new ute canopy if you don’t want to; there are plenty of used options available. The best canopy is the one that you don’t have to think about, because it works with you, not against you. It should be constructed of high-quality lightweight materials, and be easy to install. The most common canopy is the standard size, sometimes referred to as “standard cab”.
By far the most popular is the extra large canopy or “crew cab” which has ample storage space for tools or camping gear. The standard size canopy is usually made from either fibreglass or aluminium, but can also be made from a combination of both materials. Fibreglass canopies are very durable and long-lasting, but heavier than aluminium canopies and more expensive. Aluminium canopies are lighter weight and less expensive, but not as durable as fibreglass counterparts.
What Kind of Work Do You Use Your Ute For?
If you’re using it to carry heavy loads, like building materials or farm equipment, you’ll want to consider one of the utes with a high payload capacity. If you need to tow something, the 3.2-litre Ford Ranger Wildtrak is the way to go thanks to its 3.5 tonne braked towing capacity. If you just want a comfy cruiser for the family, then you might want something with a bigger cabin like the Holden Colorado Z71 or even a wagon like the Toyota LandCruiser Prado Kakadu.
Will You Be Using It for Long Trips or Just Short Trips?
In case you’re planning on going on long trips, a bigger tray is better because you can fit more items in it. However, if you’re getting a ute primarily for short trips and minimal travel, then a smaller tray is okay. If you do plan on using your ute primarily for long trips, one thing that you should consider is what type of fuel tank you want.
Some utes have fuel tanks right behind the cabin (on top of the rear axle), which may look good, but it isn’t practical for people who want a ute with a large tray. Long trips require larger fuel tanks, and these are usually best located directly beneath the tray.
How Much Weight Will Your Ute Carry at Any Given Time?
Every ute is different and some have significant differences in their payloads depending on their configuration, so the best thing you can do is to check the manufacturer’s website for your model and build. The key point to note here is that your vehicle’s payload isn’t necessarily constant. If you fit accessories like bull bars, tow-bars, lift off ute canopies, spotlights, winches and side steps, it will all add up to reduce your vehicle’s payload capacity.
To work out what your payload could be, you need to subtract this from the gross vehicle mass (GVM). If a ute has a GVM of 3500 kg and weighs 2200 kg without any accessories fitted, the payload will be 1300 kg. However, if you’ve added a bull bar that weighs 100 kg and then fitted a tow-bar that adds another 100 kg, the maximum payload is now just 1100 kg.