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Everything you need to know about aluminium ute canopies

(image credit: Dean McCartney)

A ute’s tray or tub is a versatile load space – in it, you can transport tools (big and small), toolboxes, safety gear, your dogs and much more. Problem is, that open load space is unprotected and unsecured and, as such, any gear stowed back there is vulnerable to the elements (sun, rain and wind) and to theft. 

A lockable canopy over the top of your ute’s tray/tub reduces the impact of the elements on anything carried in the back and also cuts down on the possibility of that stuff being damaged or stolen. 

A canopy made of a tough, durable material, such as aluminium, adds a much-needed layer of security and protection to your ute and the equipment or tools you carry in the tub or tray. 

In this yarn, we’re focusing on aluminum ute canopies, but, don’t worry, we’ve covered fibreglass ute canopies.

What is an aluminum ute canopy?

Aluminium ute canopies can be designed for work and play. (image credit: Tom White) Aluminium ute canopies can be designed for work and play. (image credit: Tom White)

An aluminum ute canopy is any chassis- or tub/tray-mounted structure – with roof, walls and access points (door, windows) – that is used to store and transport tools, camping gear or other equipment in the tub/tray. A canopy is almost always lockable.

The benefits of an aluminum ute canopy over something like a fibreglass or steel ute canopy include factors such as alloy is lighter (so less of an impact on your ute’s fuel economy and load-carrying capacity than a heavier canopy), it requires less in the way of maintenance and it’s very robust with a high abrasive-resistance. Check out any job-site and you’ll swiftly find a great example of a dual cab aluminium canopy, or any cab configuration really.

Aluminum ute canopies have gained a legion of fans largely for the reasons mentioned above, as well as the fact they can be specifically tailored and accessorised to suit work and leisure purposes, incorporating any number of features such as shelving, drawers, tool boxes and trays, or even fridge slides for camping trips and more.

  • Canopies can incorporate a variety of storage solutions. (image credit: Dean McCartney) Canopies can incorporate a variety of storage solutions. (image credit: Dean McCartney)
  • Check out any job-site and you’ll swiftly find a great example of a dual cab aluminium canopy, or any cab configuration really. (image credit: Tom White) Check out any job-site and you’ll swiftly find a great example of a dual cab aluminium canopy, or any cab configuration really. (image credit: Tom White)
  • Aluminum ute canopies can incorporate shelving, drawers, tool boxes and trays. (image credit: Tom White) Aluminum ute canopies can incorporate shelving, drawers, tool boxes and trays. (image credit: Tom White)

Caption: Canopies can incorporate a variety of storage solutions. Image credit: Dean McCartney, Tom White

Keep in mind though that when you close off your ute’s tray or tub space with any canopy, no matter what material it is made of, you do sacrifice some of the load-carrying versatility you have with an open-air tray or tub – you can't throw in tall or bulky things, such as furniture – but a canopy's positives tend to outweigh any negatives. Aluminum ute canopies are certainly not perfect – read on to find out why – but no canopy is.

Different types of aluminium ute canopies

  • Aussie companies, such as Ironman 4x4, have a wide range of aluminium ute canopies, including these extra-, single- and dual-cab models. (image credit: Ironman 4x4) Aussie companies, such as Ironman 4x4, have a wide range of aluminium ute canopies, including these extra-, single- and dual-cab models. (image credit: Ironman 4x4)
  • Australian companies make some of the best aluminium ute canopies in the world. (image credit: Ironman 4x4) Australian companies make some of the best aluminium ute canopies in the world. (image credit: Ironman 4x4)
  • You’ll find aftermarket stockists of aluminium ute canopies in most major centres, such as Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. (image credit: Ironman 4x4) You’ll find aftermarket stockists of aluminium ute canopies in most major centres, such as Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. (image credit: Ironman 4x4)

Australian companies make some of the best aluminium ute canopies in the world and a great variety of them because their customers – the Aussie driving public – ask a lot of our canopies, no matter what the material, during work days, and on trips away.

Local aluminium ute canopy manufacturers, such as Ironman 4x4, ARB and NorWeld, have established great reputations for designing and fabricating top-quality aluminium ute canopies to match their customers’ plans.

You’ll find aftermarket stockists of aluminium ute canopies in most major centres, such as Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. Whether you’re after a Toyota Hilux aluminium canopy, Ford Ranger aluminium canopy, Isuzu D-Max aluminium canopy, Holden Colorado aluminium tray, Amarok aluminium canopy, or BT-50 aluminium canopy.

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Will an aluminium ute canopy keep dust and water out?

A well-designed and -fabricated aluminium ute canopy will stop a lot of dust, dirt and water getting in. (image credit: Tom White) A well-designed and -fabricated aluminium ute canopy will stop a lot of dust, dirt and water getting in. (image credit: Tom White)

No ute canopy prevents all dust, dirt or water from gaining access to the tray/tub – it’s simply not possible. But if the areas around a canopy’s trouble spots, such as the hinges and tailgate, are properly sealed as best as possible (with foam or rubber sealing and special adhesive), that will go a long way to minimising the volume of stuff that actually gets into the rear area. 

If your canopy has a front window (the one nearest the back of the ute’s cabin) then open it because that will positively pressurise the canopy’s interior, also helping the canopy’s ability to prevent the ingress of dust, dirt and water. The fitment of a roof vent into your aluminium ute canopy will also help prevent dust and dirt from getting in: don’t ask me how – again, something to do with positive pressurisation – but it works.

Things to watch out for on aluminium ute canopies

If you’re putting stuff on top of your canopy, make sure it has a rated and approved roof rack. (image credit: Tom White) If you’re putting stuff on top of your canopy, make sure it has a rated and approved roof rack. (image credit: Tom White)

As mentioned dust-proofing and water-resistance can be issues, but they can cause strife on all types of canopies, fibreglass, steel or aluminium. Make sure that sealing, hinges and tailgates are all robust enough to cope with the rigors of daily driving onto job sites.

Remember: fitting a canopy to your ute impacts its GVM (gross vehicle mass) and may affect its steering, handling and towing ability. Even though an aluminium ute canopy is quite light – it is still extra weight on your vehicle, so think about how it will affect how much you’ll be able to pack into your ute – including people, pets, tools and equipment – and how much you’ll be able to tow (including any trailers with heavy equipment onboard) after you’ve had a canopy fitted to your ute.

Also, if you plan to put equipment on top of your canopy, make sure it is equipped with an approved roof-rack.

How much does an aluminium ute canopy cost?

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 new aluminium ute canopy can range from one year, three years or a lifetime.

You’ll also find plenty of second hand aluminium tray canopies to suit your lifestyle.

For more details on aluminium tray canopies: 

Visit the ARB website to find the nearest ARB store.

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

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.

What type of canopy is fitted to your ute? Let us know in the comments.

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