What to Look for in a Ute Canopy


Ute canopies and trays are very popular upgrades for the ubiquitous Australian ute.

Do you need a tray or canopy?  Can you get by with the standard tub?  These are questions many buyers ask themselves.  The answer comes down to how you want to use your truck.

The most popular configuration of a new ute is a dual cab with a factory-fitted tub.  Only you can determine if this is the best configuration for you.

Ute Trays

Trays have some advantages over tubs.  Trays provide more space.  They support heavier loads and are built to a tougher standard.  

A tray gives you more latitude in customization to get exactly what you want.  If you plan to add a canopy, you have to start with a tray.

Trays are better for off-roading.  The increased height gives you more clearance on steep grades.

Ute Canopies

If you plan to use your ute for camping or other off-roading adventures, a canopy is a must.  A canopy provides secure storage for your gear and protection from the elements.

If you’re looking for a ute canopy in Melbourne, check out Norweld.  With 50 years of experience, they can help you decide the right configuration for your use.

Canopy Materials

Canopies come in various materials.  Fibreglass is lightweight and durable, aluminium offers strength, and canvas provides flexibility.

Fibreglass canopies are added to the standard vehicle tub.  The are inexpensive and let you pack and keep your gear out of sight and protected from the elements.  They are not as strong as metal canopies.  They can’t support roof loads, with additional bracing or support. 

Canopies of aluminium or steel are very popular with off-road enthusiasts.  They easily support roof racks for additional loads.  It is common to have a gull-wing design.  The raised sides give you access to all types of pull-out trays, like kitchens, BBQs, toolboxes, gear storage and more.  The frames also provide mounts for awnings or shades which can be spread out to keep you out of the sun.

Canvas canopies give you great flexibility.  The most common setup is a frame built with canvas attached to it.  


Keeping your 4-wheel drive legal and underweight can be challenging.  If your vehicle is overweight or incorrectly balanced your chances of an accident go up.  Your insurance can be reduced or void and your risk goes up considerably.

Think about the weight of the tray, the canopy, and what you plan to put in it.  Know the weight limit of your vehicle and chassis, and decide accordingly.  Aluminium trays are generally 40 – 60kg which makes them popular from this perspective.


Keeping your gear secure is another important consideration.  Some canopies can be broken into in a matter of seconds.  Others require a great deal of work.  Thieves know this, so they often seek easier targets.

Fibreglass and canvas are very insecure.  A good canopy will be enough of a deterrent that people won’t even bother.

Talking with knowledgeable and reputable dealers will help you determine which canopy is right for your needs and budget.

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