Things to Consider When Choosing a Ute Tray
Utes can be accessorised in dozens of different ways. For better visibility, fit your ute with a decent set of driving lights. If you want more peace of mind off-road, consider the array of recovery gear or the endless choice of suspension upgrades. But the first dilemma most buyers face is when choosing between a factory tub or an aftermarket tray. Both are part of the reason why you got a ute in the first place.
While tubs look good and are a seamless extension of the cab, trays have much more to offer. They’re bigger in every dimension, can carry larger and heavier loads, and aftermarket options are built to a higher standard. If you want something that will outlast the ute itself, a tray is a no-brainer. Plus, it offers countless ways for customising your ute for our needs. If you’re considering a tub conversion or looking for ute trays for sale to fit a cab chassis, here are the key things to take into account:
Flat, or with Fitted High Sides
Opting for a completely flat tray generally means less versatility in the type of loads you can carry. This errs on the larger and heavier side of things, such as long and bulky building materials. The end goal is for maximum space. A flat tray will also be the base for any type of canopy or service body you want to be fitted. The only downside is that you’ll be relying on tie-down points for any smaller items.
Most buyers go with drop-down sides to offer the best of both worlds, so anything you have in the back won’t face the risk of falling off. With that said, high sides are built to the same standard as the tray bed, and equipped with heavy-duty latches that make for speedy loading and unloading.
Sizes and Available Space
The tray you choose will largely depend on the cab design. Single cabs have the most realty space in this respect, with some trays reaching 2500mm in length and widths averaging 1800mm. Extra cab variants round out at 2100mm, while dual cabs have 1800mm to work with. This is considerably more than in comparable tubs, so fitting things like a standard pallet won’t be an issue. Of note is that lengths are customisable to user needs, so going slightly longer or shorter won’t be an issue.
This is where the wheat is separated from the chaff. There are dozens of tray builders dotting the country, but you’d want the highest level of workmanship, durability and quality materials for the tray to last repeated abuse. This means tray beds in the right thickness (6mm or more), reinforced main and sub-frames, and sitting on strengthened C-channel cross members for a secure on-chassis fit and structural integrity.
Floorbeds can be ribbed or checker-plate for a completely non-slip surface. Drop sides are 3mm thick and can be optioned in different heights (250, 300, and 400mm) to suit loads. They are also completely removable with the provided hinges. Where rear window protection is a concern, look for welded headboards, with tough tube frames.
Tray builders let you choose between aluminium or steel. To reduce weight and have a tray that will last in all weather conditions while still looking good, go for aluminium. This is sturdy enough even in standard thicknesses, but heavy-duty variants work better for harsher use. There’s more strength in steel ute trays for sale, but these need to be treated or coated to avoid rust. The choice of materials is a personal preference, but if you’re carrying heavier gear or need a bigger canopy at the back, then a lighter aluminium tray will also save you on any required suspension adjustments to avoid rear axle squat and loss of traction.
Accessories List and Customisation Choices
The accessories list is undeniably longer for a tray than a tub. The majority are sold with fitted headboards, as well as metal mesh for additional rear window protection. With the tray sitting higher there’s also the option for decently-sized mudguards and undertray toolboxes. Functionality and easy loading are catered to with multiple tie-down points, quick-release latches and extras like rear ladder racks for extra-long gear.
Safety isn’t compromised either. Builders pay attention to the rear sensors and camera placement and the positioning of the tail, brake and number plate lights. These can be upgraded to LED units. Space and security can be further increased with lockable undertray roller drawers, and provide quick access to any necessities. In fact, anything you need can be custom-built to suit individual needs.
If you’re in the market for a ute tray, then basic considerations like materials, a sturdy build and all the features you need and want will make this a straightforward purchase. Sizes are dictated by your type of ute, but as mentioned, there’s some leeway here too. The hardest part, though, might be finding a reputable tray builder that’s up to the task.