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How to find the right canopy for your HiLux

Keen for bush-and-beach camping fun? Add a canopy to your HiLux. (image credit: ARB)

Toyota's HiLux is one of Australia's top-selling vehicles so it only follows that there is a massive variety of ute canopies available for it. The legendary workhorse's tray space, if covered with a lockable canopy, becomes secure, more versatile and a camping-friendly cargo area.

There are canopy styles to suit every kind of HiLux as well as wide variety of materials, including canvas, UV-stable ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, a thermoplastic polymer), fibreglass, steel or an aluminium canopy is popular. 

For our tips on how to track down the best canopy for your HiLux, read on.

Different types of HiLux canopies

For many people a basic genuine canopy is a, but others want more features. For many people a basic genuine canopy is a, but others want more features.

HiLux fans are many, and they're very passionate about their utes. A deep love of their Lux is something they share, but different owners have different ideas about what makes a canopy right for them. If you were to ask them "What's the best Toyota Hilux canopy?" you'd get a bunch of different answers. Responses would be in line with what their lifestyles dictate: the tradie might prefer an aluminium canopy suited to lugging tools; the weekend warrior would opt for a canopy designed to fit in with his/her sport (i.e. mountain-biking, kayaking etc); and the 4WDer would have a purpose-built camping canopy set-up. Designs will vary but function-focus will remain.

Genuine canopies from vehicle manufacturers are fine but ute owners want their canopies to have a little more versatility.

Main materials used include canvas, ABS plastic, fibreglass, aluminium and steel and there are model-specific canopies: a single cab canopy, extra cab canopy, and a HiLux dual cab canopy.

Budget-friendly examples are available but, while designs may vary, a top-quality canopy – such as one available from Ironman 4x4, ARB, Norweld, Carryboy, Flexiglass, Opposite Lock, TJM etc – will benefit from features such as lockable side windows and rear-access window, canopy vent (to reduce dust ingress by positively pressurising the canopy’s interior), tinted safety glass (5mm tinted and tempered), central locking, push-button side opening windows, and more.

Other features – such as keyless entry, high-spec adhesive, LED interior lights, stylish interior and an anti-entrapment dial (so people can get out of the canopy if inadvertently closed inside) – are all great additions.

A sturdy easy-access ladder should also be part of a canopy set-up if you want to access your rooftop tent or grab some gear from your roof rack.

If your dogs are an important part of the family like mine are, then a canopy with a dog pod might be the right thing for your ute.

Some want functionality, such as a drawer system, a fridge slide and more, while others are keen to fit out their canopy with an accomodation option, such as a rooftop tent*. (*Note: a rooftop tent will soak up at least 50kg of your ute’s payload, so that will affect how much other stuff you can legally carry in your HiLux.) Some people make full use of their canopy by installing their Redarc pure sine wave inverter or in-vehicle battery charger, onboard air compressors and more in it.

A ute canopy can also function as a great platform for a roof-top tent.

What are your HiLux canopy options?

A top-quality canopy looks good and is supremely functional. (image credit: Ironman 4x4) A top-quality canopy looks good and is supremely functional. (image credit: Ironman 4x4)

Get ready, because the range of HiLux ute canopy options available is bloody huge; you can take your pick from DIY jobs, ready-made off-the-shelf examples, through to a highly-personalised HiLux custom canopy. A word of warning: if a canopy is so cheap it seems too good to be true, chances are numerous corners have been cut in terms of workmanship and materials used. Apply logic here: how good do you think a canopy is if short-cuts were taken during its design and manufacturing?

Australian companies make some of the world’s best ute canopies because we Aussie off-roaders demand a lot from our canopies.

In today’s aftermarket there’s a ute canopy to suit every lifestyle, vehicle and budget. There are variations to suit every kind of ute and tub or a tray canopy, and some ute canopies have interior lay-outs designed to incorporate tool boxes, or are purpose-built for camping, with roll-out drawers and more.

The basic structure of ute canopies may not change a lot between models – each one has a roof, walls, and likely a flip/lift door at the rear, a fixed-shut window at the front, and sliding or flip/lift windows on the sides – but each canopy’s capacity to be flexible, in terms of accessibility and storage, may vary widely.

Options for features include extra tie-down points, central locking, climate control, in-built lighting, soft-close windows, built-in storage systems (such as slide-out drawer systems) and even a slide-out kitchen.

Some canopies are bolted onto a ute's tray and can be removed without too much fuss.

How much does a HiLux canopy cost?

Buy the best ute canopy you can afford. (image credit: Ironman 4x4) Buy the best ute canopy you can afford. (image credit: Ironman 4x4)

Toyota HiLux canopy prices range from a couple of hundred dollars for a DIY canvas-and-steel-frame job, to more than $5000 (fitted) for off-the-shelf canopies or even custom, build-your-own versions.

Prices of fibreglass or ABS plastic ute canopies start from around the mid-$2000s mark (including fitment).  Prices range anywhere from $1500 for an aluminium ute half canopy you will have to fit yourself, to more than $5000 (fitted) for off-the-shelf canopies or even custom, build-your-own versions.

Warranties for a ute canopy can range from one year, three years or a lifetime, depending on the materials used and the brand/manufacturer involved.

Who are the leading brands & manufacturers? Best places to buy?

The range of HiLux canopies is massive. (image credit: ARB) The range of HiLux canopies is massive. (image credit: ARB)

Australia's well-respected aftermarket brands and manufacturers include Ironman 4x4, ARB, NorWeld, Carryboy Australia, Flexiglass, Opposite Lock, and TJM.

Contact any of these mobs for a purpose-built canopy:

Visit the ARB website to find the nearest ARB store

Visit the Ironman 4x4 website to find the nearest Ironman 4x4 store

Visit the Norweld website to find the nearest stockiest of Norweld’s ute canopies

Visit the Flexiglass website to find the nearest Flexiglass store

Visit the Carryboy website to locate your nearest Carryboy stockist

Visit Wolf 4x4 website to find the nearest Wolf 4x4 store

Visit the Opposite Lock website to find the nearest Opposite Lock store

Visit the TJM website to find the nearest TJM store

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