The iconic ute is meant for harsh terrains. But that doesn’t mean you can’t tweak it even further to be more fit for the outback. With all the aftermarket parts and accessories, there is always a part to make it better.
We work hard and we play hard. Many tradies drive their utes and use them as a workhorse. Those that use them to play are not a small bunch either. And sometimes the same vehicle can be used for long working hours and as a hobby.
It all boils down to your circumstance, your intent and your budget. Some go straight for protection gear as soon as they are aware their 4WD will be used in the outback. Others study their needs carefully before investing. But we all want to know what kind of gear can be added to the classic ute.
It’s only natural to try to find ways to cover the tray at the back. You can get all sorts of uses for the space behind the cabin. Since the typical use is to load the tray with whatever you need to transport, you can even leave it bare. But even semi-permanent fabric coverings are very popular because you can install and remove them with relative ease.
Sturdy canopies are long term solutions for the tray. Having a heavy duty dual cab ute canopy is a great way to add an enclosure that can withstand the elements. Of course, to achieve this, you need to look for a model that is made from marine grade metals (stainless steel, aluminium or alloys). They are among the toughest canopies you can use and usually come in a non-slip checker plate, though this is not always the case.
Look for signs of craftsmanship to be sure you are getting a top product. You can easily assess the quality of your dual cab ute canopy on your own – no special knowledge is required. Just a careful study and inspection. Check the seams, as they reveal a lot. If they are seam welded across, then you are looking at a solid unit. All of the materials that go into the canopy have a role in its long service life. The type of locks, the length of the hinge, the gas struts for each opening and the rubber seals, can all ensure you are getting a high-value product.
They are very versatile too. You can use them to store professional equipment or as an off-road cabinet. Shelving, drawers and compartments can customize such units to suit your most specific requirements. A great way to make the most of the ute tray.
Power is very important in the bush. This notion becomes apparent when you spend some time out there. We Aussies are keen on using efficient off grid solar panel designs in the outback. Portable solar power systems can be easily included in the off-road gear for your ute as well.
They have to satisfy several requirements to be fit for outback use though. Putting them towards the sun when they are needed and tucking them away when they are to be stored away serves to limit some of the options. Off grid solar panels ought to be sturdy because they will suffer greater wear. Usually, they are framed in double channel aluminium, although you can get a foldable set too.
If you go by the book, thin-film solar panels are most appropriate for mobile use. If you are confident that you can take good care of them, there is nothing to stop you from taking mono or polycrystalline panels as well. Mono-crystalline sheets are the top performers in terms of efficiency.
You should also take into consideration the intended use of the generated power. This will further determine your choice. If you have some special and professional gear, or if you want to power a refrigerator unit you need to study the owner manual to make sure these two are compatible with your system. On a sunny day, it should be fairly easy to fill your handheld devices with juice. Those of you that go on multiday trips should also consider investing in a power bank. You simply have to work out a solution to integrate energy storage with all the system you use.
When the ute stops you’re at the mercy of the sun. The last thing you want to experience after a long drive is harsh rays. Off-road enthusiasts have made the 4×4 awning a popular and sought after accessory.
But what sets high quality car awning tents apart from the rest? For starters, they are tailored to the outline of a ute. So much so that configurations like batwing and foxwing have become synonymous with vehicle awning. The batwing awning covers 270 degrees and is quite unique. You can also look past the sheer square meters covered by the awning when you are shopping.
The properties of the fabric used to make the car awning tents can be very telling. Ripstop canvas has slowly become the standard because it contributes to the long service life of the product. Innovative production methods allow the fabric to be lightweight and sturdy. Keeping water and mould away is also very important. Some models include polyester floor or sides for ultimate protection. It’s as close an awning can get to a proper camping tent. Just make sure you double-check the UV resistance rating of the canvas before reaching for your wallet. If it’s tested and assessed as UPF 50 +, then you have a decent awning.
Depending on the setup you can further accessorize the shaded area. If you are into living in your 4×4 you can add elements to make an outdoor kitchen. Hunters and professionals can use the shade to prepare, clean or do some maintenance to their gear. And everyone can deploy a stretcher to get a much needed shut-eye.