If you’re a contractor or tradie, your ute and your tools are probably the two most important belongings to ensuring you make bread. Having a safe and organised way to move around your tools without damaging your ute is one of the things that a lot of people don’t prioritise and end up paying the cost, whether it’s in terms of vehicle repairs or having to replace worn down tools. While the boot is the go-to place for transporting anything in your car, it doesn’t have the safety and organisational features that a dedicated toolbox has. Furthermore, conventional tool boxes aren’t generally big enough and you can’t secure them properly inside the boot without heavily modifying it or buying extra accessories. For that reason, every seasoned contractor, tradie or DIY-er goes for ute tray tool boxes.
While ute tray tool boxes are more expensive, they’re the safest and most efficient solution in most cases. They’re incredibly practical and make your ute more versatile than it already is. However, not every ute is equipped with a tray, in which case you’ll have to consider other options. Regardless of what type of tool box you decide to go for, you can expect to pay a fair amount of money, which is why you should take your time figuring things out. Here’s what you need to know.
Type of Ute Toolboxes
If you’re going to install a toolbox for your canopy, you have three options to choose from. The ideal type for your ute will depend on the base it has.
A large chunk of utes come with a tub or well base, which are basically panel-style arrangements that blend together with the ute panels. You can attach a range of tool boxes on top of them to store your tools and equipment. The tubs aren’t costly, and you can probably find a second-hand one in decent condition for relatively cheap. The reason for that is that they’re commonly removed and replaced with aluminium trays. The most valuable parts of the tubs, believe it or not, are the rear lights and tailgate. So, if you’re going to replace your stock tub, keep the tailgate and rear lights and sell them separately.
The most popular types of tub toolboxes are fibreglass, which is arguably the most commonly used one, metal and canvas. Personally, I’d stay away from canvas as it’s not as secure as fibreglass and metal toolboxes. Metal toolboxes are the heaviest ones, especially those made from steel, so if you decide to go for a metal toolbox, consider aluminium.
Tray bases are another popular ute stock setup. They usually come with fold-down sides, and most of them are made of either steel or aluminium. Toolboxes are attached to trays by removing the fold-down sides of the tray, and bolting them directly through the tray. These toolboxes are easy to install and remove, and there are varieties known as Jack off toolboxes that feature legs and can be “jacked up” off your tray so you can leave them in your garage or workplace. Tray base tool boxes are either sold as light-duty or heavy-duty. The ideal type for you will depend on how and where you use it. If you have a light-duty tray with a heavy-duty toolbox and drive in rough terrain, you might end up in a world of trouble.
Gullwing tray toolboxes are the most popular tray-mounted option. They can be opened from both sides, and some can open at the rear. They’re typically made of metal sheets (steel or aluminium), but you can also get cage models with mesh. Alternatively, you can opt for fibreglass, composite or canvas tray toolboxes.
These toolboxes are bolted directly onto your ute’s chassis. They’re built stronger on the bottom and are a fixed addition to your ute. While you technically can remove them, it’s a time-consuming and taxing endeavour, which is why most people who want to retain the versatility of their utes prefer the other two options. However, if you’re a hardcore tradie or contractor, and know that you’ll make the most out of it every single day, they can be a great investment.
Important Buying Considerations
If you’ve decided to buy a ute toolbox, regardless of type, there are a few key points to consider before investing your hard-earned money. For starters, consider what you’re going to use the toolbox for. This will help you decide on the right materials for the toolbox. Furthermore, consider the weight. The weight of the toolbox is directly correlated to the materials its made of. It’s important to keep your ute road legal and more importantly – safe. Balancing the ute is also important, as if improperly balanced, the chances of things going wrong increase. And last but not least, consider security. People will be people, and thievery is one of the oldest “professions”. Pay attention to the security features of the toolbox, as they can make a world of difference in how safe your tools and equipment are.