A ute can be a very versatile vehicle and do a lot of things. For the skilled professional it’s their go-to field vehicle, for the tradies a ute is an extraordinary workhorse. And when we need to blow off some steam outside it can take us to some extreme sports hotspots or house us like a caravan while off-roading or camping. If you intend to turn your own ute into a multipurpose vehicle, you have to look into convenient options to store the extra gear.
Fortunately you can easily find many solutions for adding convenient storage space to your ute. You just need to hone in your exact needs and the rest will come into place.
Fitting ute drawers in the tray is a great way to bank on storage. They make them specifically for ute trays and you are likely to find an appropriate set easily. Drawer units for 4×4 vehicles come in different styles and configurations. You can opt for a low key version sporting one, two or three top mount drawers. However you can also go for an extensive unit with a multitude of drawers, shelves and protected compartments.
Since they are meant for outdoor use, the materials used to make them should be tough and sturdy. That being said, you’d want to look for aluminium ute drawers with non slip checker plates to make sure your cargo will be 100% protected from the elements. Other aspects you can look for are security (types of locks), joinery (hinges) and overall door or opening quality (gas struts).
Since we are all after maximizing storage space in a 4×4 you can go beyond the ute tray. One good alternative, space permitting, is to go for an under tray roller. They can go as far back as you can pull it off, or some blokes put them in a compact spot to the sides of the under tray. Both options are handy and smart, for you make use of an otherwise idle real estate.
As to the actual content and layout of the storage compartments – you’d have to invest some elbow grease to adjust it for your specific needs. The concept of drawers allows you to utilise the space to tuck away professional gear, to store some types of food or fuel, to keep tools and spare parts or to do something more original. In terms of size, you can go all in and use every centimeter of the ute tray. Or you can get a set of aluminium ute drawers that partially covers the back of your ute, while the rest of it can be loaded with other types of cargo.
Car roofs allow for a whole array of loading options. What you mustn’t forget, though, is not to exceed the carrying capacity of the chassis. It’s an obvious one, but that still doesn’t stop many off roaders to make the mistake of being reckless as to the amount of stuff put up there.
Once you know your roof’s maximum loading capacity and invest in quality roof storage equipment, putting your cargo on the roof is a great idea. The most basic style is roof racks – usually two or three, depending on the measurements. Some put them facing front to back, while others install them side to side. Consider your most typical cargo before going choosing the orientation for the roof racks.
You can further upgrade the roof storage unit by attaching a mesh net or a sturdy roof top cage. They will help things remain in place when you are on the road, however you’d still need to use straps and cordage to secure the load. One exception to this are roof top luggage boxes. They offer protection, however at the same time they serve to narrow the options regarding the type of cargo you can put up there.
Outback campers are known for putting roof top tents on their 4×4, but you can also carry some bulky load you can’t put anywhere else like bicycles. Roof rails are great for skiing and snowboarding gear and watersports equipment, or jerry cans and recovery tracks when going off-road.
You can always cover the exposed parts of the 4WD. Most owners attach 4×4 accessories to protect the ute from road debris at the front, but utes would benefit from enclosing the back too. Keep in mind that whatever you do above the tray, the enclosure will never have the same degree of dustproof and waterproof properties as your actual cabin. Unless, of course, you invest some more in proper insulation.
Most often than not acrylic tonneau or steel cover are enough to protect the tray cargo. As long as you don’t have to transport people back there, this solution is great. Electrical equipment, machines, professional gear, outdoor kitchen sets or your ute drawers can handle some beating.
You will need to consider whether covering the tray all the way to the end will work for you. If you prefer partial ute covers with multiple openings, you can easily find such options on the market or online too.