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Offroading ute: service body, or tub and canopy?

Utes are now just as popular for offroad touring as wagons, but how best to set one up?

OVER THE LAST ten years the ute has come a long way with massively improved safety, on and offroad performance as well as convenience features. Many 4WD shops now work on more utes than wagons, and a few years ago I too made the switch from a Land Rover Discovery 3 to a Ford Ranger PX.

There’s a lot of setup choice for wagons, but even more for utes. Most people run with a canopy over the standard tub, then add drawers and a fridge slide, and that’s a time-proven setup. Or you could run a flat tray and lash gear to it.

One interesting alternative is the service body, where you entirely replace the tub with a combined tray/canopy setup. And I’m giving it a shot.

This Trigpoint body has internal dimensions of 1700mm length and 1800mm width, and there’s two toolboxes either side for things like recovery gear. There’s also a 70L water tank under the body. Some setups run a drawer toolbox under the body, but I prefer using the space for water.

The main reasons for the change; poor dust sealing on the canopy, and difficulty of using the space effectively. The overall volume of space is about the same, but it’s much easier to access with the service body and is a much more usable shape – no wheel arches in the way, lower load height and no tailgate to lean over either. There’s also a huge second roof rack for even more storage space.

READ MORE on Practical Motoring 4×4: pros and cons of a service body vs a canopy.


Robert Pepper

Robert Pepper

Robert Pepper is the editor of PM4x4, an offroad driver trainer and photographer interested in anything with wings, sails or wheels. He is the author of four books on offroading, and owns a modified Ford Ranger PX which he uses for offroad touring. His other car is a Toyota 86 which exists purely to drive in circles on racetracks. Visit his website: www.l2sfbc.com or follow him on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/RobertPepperJourno/