Sleeper canopy for single cab ute set-up

Submitted: Monday, Jun 08, 2009 at 14:32
ThreadID: 69611 Views:31912 Replies:6 FollowUps:12
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Does anyone have a single cab tray back ute with a canopy on the back especially set up for sleeping in when they go camping?
We are currently looking at getting an alloy canopy built that has 2 lift up side doors. Can you tell me - where do you put all the "stuff" you need to take...fridge, food, clothes, chairs, table, cooking gear etc ? Do you have any space saving ideas?
Also, if the canopy is sealed on rubbers, does it still need to be pressurised to stop dust coming in?
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Reply By: tim_c - Monday, Jun 08, 2009 at 15:15

Monday, Jun 08, 2009 at 15:15
Hey Kmacca, take a look at Highrise Offroad for some ideas - I saw an ad for them years back in a 4WD mag. The fridge is built-in, as is a table, stove, v. small wardrobe, seats, etc. There are drawers under the stove bench for other food, etc. and storage under the internal seats if you wanted to carry outdoor seats as well.

The funds won't stretch this far for me, but I'd like a set-up similar to those pictured on the site (not so good if you want to travel with the kids tho'!).

A few drawbacks that I can think of with this one is that there is little space for tools, spares, recovery gear etc. (limited to the two little under tray toolboxes) and everything seems to require a full set-up to access it - not so good for a quick lunch stop beside the road.

I'm sure there are other manufacturers that make similar units, including those full-sized older style slide-on ones with the beds over the cab.
AnswerID: 368949

Reply By: Member - John H (WA) - Monday, Jun 08, 2009 at 16:01

Monday, Jun 08, 2009 at 16:01
Are you talking about actually sleeping in the alloy canopy or elsewhere.

Personally I wouldn't sleep in the canopy. You'd either have to sleep with relevant side door open (with the possibility of rain blowing in), or have some form of ventilation as most of the allow canopys seal very well (hense only needing the rubber seals to keep dust out).

I've got an alloy canopy on the back of my trayback, but it just contains all of the "stuff" you mentioned, theres a rooftop tent on the top of the canopy for sleeping in.

Theres a few pictures below, I hope they help or at least give you a few ideas to think on.


All packed up

Opened up, tent up

Driver side - Home made drawers and room above for storing 'stuff'

Passenger side - The kitchen.

AnswerID: 368955

Follow Up By: Member - Tony & Julie (FNQ) - Monday, Jun 08, 2009 at 17:09

Monday, Jun 08, 2009 at 17:09
I agree with John - Do not consider sleeping inside the canopy - too many drawbacks. Get a good quality rooftop tent. Look for a 2nd hand Shipp Shape - it will last for years.

Like Johns setup we have made the canopy all storage & broken it up into various compartments - we could never fill it and stay under GVM. Use the plastic boxes for storage, cheap and easy.

We have made a swing out kitchen - saves heaps of room.

The dust seal setup I made works a treat - we get no dust in the canopy at all. This can be a design flaw on a lot of commercial made canopies. Will take a photo if you are interested.

Cheers Tonyl
FollowupID: 636454

Follow Up By: Member - Timbo - Tuesday, Jun 09, 2009 at 14:49

Tuesday, Jun 09, 2009 at 14:49
Hi Tony, quite interested in your setup - do you have any protection for your solar panel against stone chips from oncoming traffic? (I was thinking of doing something similar for the rooftop tent on my car. Also, I'd be interested in some info on your dust seal setup (trying to figure out a way to build a camper on the back of a dualcab).
FollowupID: 636579

Follow Up By: Member - Tony & Julie (FNQ) - Tuesday, Jun 09, 2009 at 17:19

Tuesday, Jun 09, 2009 at 17:19
Timbo. No troubles with stones as yet - Did have a clear cover over it but it always got dust under. The angle it is on makes it less likely to suffer damage as well. Have done the Cape a couple of times as well.

Dust seal works great if you close your door against the seal - I have used the foam based stick on seal 20mm wide. I welded angle on the inside, stuck the seal to this and close the door and Lock against the seal - No dust at all. I also put a seal over the external hinge (full length gal piano hinge)

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The camper is home made - I can send you some details if you wish. Cheers Tony

FollowupID: 636607

Reply By: Member - Nolo (QLD) - Monday, Jun 08, 2009 at 20:17

Monday, Jun 08, 2009 at 20:17
We have an alloy canopy on our trayback with canvas dropsides. An alloy platform buts up to the frig and space case trunk (at front) at the same level which offers a full length platform on which to set up our bed. The area beneath the platform gives ample storage space for four main boxes containing all our camping gear and other bits and pieces. I do intend building a drawer system in the alloy platform before our next longer trip. The table and chairs sit on top of the bed during the days travel and set up at end of the day travel is quick and simple.

The small vents at the front of the canopy are invaluable for keeping dust out and I would recommend you fit these. We travelled Brisbane to Karumba last year and never had dust intruding at all, even with the less sealed canvas curtains. On longer term stays we run a large tarp over the whole ute but short term overnighters we have a sailtrac mounted tarp off the passenger side which offers plenty of weather protection. I am currently looking to get a foxwing awning as they look great. Two under tray tool boxes provide storage for tools, recovery gear, and a second auxillary battery. I also have a pole storage tube and 40L water tank under tray.

My advice if you go this way is to make sure you have enough height between platform and roof. You need enough room to roll over in bed and not feel claustrophobic. You will love the simplicity of this setup.
AnswerID: 369003

Follow Up By: kmacca - Monday, Jun 08, 2009 at 20:58

Monday, Jun 08, 2009 at 20:58
Your set-up looks more like what we had originally planned to do.
What amount of room have you left between the platform and roof, and do you consider that amount to be comfortable? What gap do you suggest between the floor and platform to create drawers, so that they are a useful size?
Do you mozzie proof your set up at all, if so, how?
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Reply By: kmacca - Monday, Jun 08, 2009 at 20:49

Monday, Jun 08, 2009 at 20:49
Thanks for the advice and pictures.
We were planning to get the canopy shell custom made for us and then insulate and line it ourselves. We had planned to leave both doors up when camping, with an awning out to one side. If it was raining, the door without the awning would be closed.
We thought about the tent on the roof, but are concerned about having to wait for the canvas to dry in order to pack it up (if there was a heavy dew, or rainy night). We like to get on the road bright and early. By packing the tent up wet, would it soak through to the inside of the tent and wet your bedding before unpacking it again that night?

Thanks tim_c for the idea of the Highrise offroad, but yes, we too have limited funds. We would also like to have something that you could use without totalling pulling it apart in order to have a bite for lunch. I've priced some of the slide on campers with the bed above the cab -- nice setup inside, but way more than what we would like to spend at the moment.

John H -- that is an interesting tent you have on top of your vehicle. I see it has a hard top, but what sort of material are on the sides?
AnswerID: 369011

Follow Up By: Member - John H (WA) - Tuesday, Jun 09, 2009 at 10:47

Tuesday, Jun 09, 2009 at 10:47
Kmacca - As you mentioned the tent had a hard top and bottom. The sides are a type of canvas - one of thse modern 'breathable poly-whatever' sorts. It's a Maggiolina brand tent, distributed in Australia my Autohome.

A couple of points. With the hardshell, I've never had any issues with dew. The roof/top may be wet, but the sides rarely are, making an early/wet packup nice and easy.

The first trip I used it on, it rained for much of the time (and the walls were obviously wet from blowing rain). I never had any water come through the 'canvas' even when packed up wet (which supprised me - I expected a bit to soak through as you mentioned).

The other reason for the hardshell for me, was that I do many trips in our WA goldfields. There are lots of low branches over the overgrown tracks which you have to push through. I've seen a number of incidents on other vehicles where those branches have punched holes through the standard 'soft top' rooftop tents when travelling.

I hope the info is of use.

FollowupID: 636553

Follow Up By: Member - Timbo - Tuesday, Jun 09, 2009 at 14:55

Tuesday, Jun 09, 2009 at 14:55
Another plus for the Maggiolina (hard case rooftop tent) is that they are so simple to set up (you just unclip it and wind it up). We were touring and met up with a couple who had a setup very similar to John's - they were just about ready to hop into bed and we'd only just finished wrestling with the vinyl cover from the Howling Moon!

Having said that, the Howling Moon (and other varieties) are about $1k cheaper than Maggiolina, and the windows in the Howling Moon are better, esp. in the tropics - large windows on all four sides and all with large awnings so you can leave them open even in heavy rain & wind.
FollowupID: 636580

Follow Up By: The Landy - Thursday, Jun 18, 2009 at 16:23

Thursday, Jun 18, 2009 at 16:23

Whilst not quite what you are proposing, however, this is our set-up Landy Profile Pictures ; we have found the rooftop tent works well and closing it up damp has never caused us any problems.

Good luck with it....

FollowupID: 638001

Follow Up By: kmacca - Friday, Jun 19, 2009 at 08:48

Friday, Jun 19, 2009 at 08:48
Checked out your pictures. Yep, bit different to what I was after, but all "food for thought".
That is good news about dampness not being a problem when folding up the tent. That was one of my major concerns in using a roof-top tent.
FollowupID: 638108

Follow Up By: The Landy - Friday, Jun 19, 2009 at 10:04

Friday, Jun 19, 2009 at 10:04
Hi Kmacca

After racking my brain for a while I recalled a company in Gympie Queensland that do the specific type of conversions you are looking for. I remember looking at them when I was doing my vehicle.

Gadabout 4x4 Camper Bodies

Good luck with it all and let us know how you get on.

FollowupID: 638117

Follow Up By: kmacca - Saturday, Jun 20, 2009 at 08:57

Saturday, Jun 20, 2009 at 08:57
I like the Gadabout setup. Looks simple and cosy. Loved all the pull-out stuff from under the tray.

I'm a bit concerned about the lack of storage space, but I suppose a few small well-placed built-in cupboards/drawers would do the trick.

I contacted Gadabout enquiring about their set-up. They build the canopy and tray all in one (unfortuantely which is not suitable for us as the ute is also a farm vehicle). Also, they only fit out Landcruisers or Patrols -- which we do not have.

Anyway, we have gleaned some great ideas off of this set-up. The tricky bit is to try and incorporate all of the ideas we have been shown into something that is simple and functional for us. All good fun though.

Thanks again for your help and ideas.
FollowupID: 638298

Reply By: Member - Nolo (QLD) - Monday, Jun 08, 2009 at 21:22

Monday, Jun 08, 2009 at 21:22
Platform to roof is 700mm although I would go 800mm. We have a 100mm self inflating camp mattress on top of platform and leave it set up for the trip. The platform is 400mm high which matches the case height and just a little shorter than the Vitrifrigo frig. A mozzie net is clipped on to a length of stretch cord fixed all round the ceiling perimeter. Works a treat.
AnswerID: 369021

Reply By: Member - Timbo - Thursday, Jun 18, 2009 at 13:53

Thursday, Jun 18, 2009 at 13:53
Hey kmacca, you probably thought this thread was finished?!

I thought I'd draw your attention to it because it's similar to what you sounded like you were thinking of...
I was browsing through some site blogs just yesterday and came across the setup of Member - Chris D (Newcastle) - see the pics at the bottom of his profile page. This one has hard sides which would be more secure (esp. if you want to leave the vehicle unattended in populated areas) and the sides hinge up to provide shelter for cooking, eating, etc. Personally, it looks like a great setup.
AnswerID: 370676

Follow Up By: kmacca - Thursday, Jun 18, 2009 at 14:49

Thursday, Jun 18, 2009 at 14:49
Thanks Timbo.
I checked out the pictures of Chris D as you suggested.
Loved the set-up of his vehicle! The pictures were a great help in generating some good ideas for our ute.
Thanks again.
FollowupID: 637984

Follow Up By: Member - Timbo - Thursday, Jun 18, 2009 at 15:12

Thursday, Jun 18, 2009 at 15:12
Yeah, I thought it looked like a good setup. On his profile page, he mentioned that the camper box was made by a mob called Metal Form Industries in Warragul, Vic (~1hr east of Melbourne) - I'm sure they'd be happy to help you with any further info you want.
FollowupID: 637990

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