If you have a custom canopy installed at the back of your ute, and still need more loading space for that extra long and extra heavy gear, then it’s time to consider getting a canopy rack. These are available from a range of canopy and rack builders, and in the sizes, materials, and designs to suit most canopies and utes. And if you can’t find exactly what you need, the same companies are more than glad to build a custom canopy roof rack for you.
Uses of a Canopy Rack
The main use of canopy racks is to offer more usable space. The rack can be optioned in different sizes, and extend over the canopy only, or also include the cab roof line (and even supported by front H-racks) when you need extra length. This helps to maximise space, so you’ll be using the interior of the canopy itself for items that need to be protected and shielded from the weather at all times. In addition, racks in tougher metal designs have a high loading capacity, so besides long and baulky items like building materials and camping gear, you can also use the rack for items with a bit more heft. Many canopy roof racks will have no issues carrying gear and equipment weighing a few hundred kilos.
This is for metal variants sitting atop metal canopies. You can also get bespoke crossbars, mounting brackets and racks for fibreglass and canopies made of ABS plastic, though these will naturally have lower loading capacities.
Utes are built tough, and the use of canopies and attaching racks expands the meaning of ‘utility’ in ‘utility truck’. Racks can save you money without having to spend on separate tow bars [link1] and a decently-sized trailer [link2] for your work or off-roading hauling needs. And they won’t compromise driving dynamics or mobility as a trailer does. You can carry everything you need, safely and securely.
Getting the Right Canopy Rack for Your Needs
Choosing a canopy rack will be based on the size and weight of the gear it will be used for, the type of canopy you have fitted, the needed durability in terms of materials and build quality, and the extra features that make canopy racks a more versatile ute accessory.
Canopy Rack Lengths and Widths
The width of the rack will depend on the width of the fitted canopy. Most can be up to 1500mm wide. But it’s the different lengths that make a canopy rack a worthwhile accessory. This can range from 1.8 metres for dual cabs and extend to 3 metres in single cab utes. There are also a few sizes within that range. Determine what you’ll be carrying on the rack and get one that is adequately sized.
Materials and Build Quality
You’ll want a rack that is tough as nails, can handle quite a bit of weight, and won’t lose its shine in bad weather. It also needs to be lightweight and not eat into the canopy roof loading. Most rack builders opt for aluminium, as this is anti-corrosive, light and strong. Racks feature 25mm thick rails and are strengthened with multiple cross-bars. Variants that have included raised side rails are useful for tying down heavy items, and practical for camping purposes as they can be used for attaching awnings and securing roof-top tents. A nice addition is also the integrated front wind deflector to cut out buffeting at highway speeds.
In the durability department, seamless welds mean the canopy will hold against different loads, and coatings added to the aluminium will avoid staining and rust. Aluminium racks can also be fitted to the canopy with welding making them a permanent solution, or there are variants that can be bolted on and removed when not needed.
Besides carrying planks, ladders and plasterboard, racks are also used to transport items as diverse as spare tyres, jerry cans, bikes, kayaks, surfboards or gas bottles. The items can easily be tied down and you won’t have to resort to the precious storage space inside. Additionally, a canopy rack can have welded holders to make carrying smaller items safer. No tyres will be bouncing around, or gas bottles falling off.
If you need access to the top, say when getting your e-bike or a few pieces of plasterboard off the rack, then also opt for a canopy ladder. This is made of the same durable and thick pieces of aluminium and is often welded onto the back of the canopy.
A good idea is to get all the goodies built in one go, especially if you’re installing a new canopy. Things like mudguards and under-tray toolboxes keep the canopy protected and add more space besides what you get with the rack. Having these added with the canopy and rack at the same time will save time and money and give you a fully-kitted ute.
Canopy racks are a simple, yet versatile addition to your ute canopy. They can double the amount of space and are useful in carrying a range of different items. The use of lightweight and strong aluminium means you’ll get years of reliable use and a rack that will keep its looks no matter the weather or what you have loaded on top. Look for quality and locally-built racks for the best value.