There are many different types of canopies available for your 4x4, made from materials such as fiberglass, stainless steel or aluminum. In this blog we are going to be discussing aluminum canopies, in particular the Alu-Cab. Alu-Cab is a proudly South African company and started business by building customized canopies for 4×4 bakkies, from there they diversified into just about every field of custom work that exists in the motor industry. They generally specialise in spec-kitting vehicles for 4×4 excursions into the depths of darkest Africa, but we are also actively involved in building customised vehicles for commercial industries.
Many of our clients that have been on a 4x4-training course through us, have often posed the question about the benefits of having aluminum canopies and whether the money you invest on one is worth the gain in space and ease of use. Aluminum canopies can be expensive and set you back a few pennies, but in all things off-road it is always better to spend a little more money and get a product that has been properly designed and manufactured for its intended purpose, than opting for something cheap that is going to leave you in the lurch when you can least afford it.
Alu-Cab have recently partnered with SA Adventure and supplied us with one of their aluminum canopies for our Toyota Hilux Double Cab and over the next few months will be giving it a proper once over. The canopy will be subjected to the stresses of our 4x4 Training Days and our 4x4 Tours throughout Southern Africa.
Our Alu-Cab canopy was fitted at the TJM Pretoria East fitment center (they are the authorized branch for Alu-Cab Pretoria) we had the opportunity to have a good look at what makes the difference. For instance, take the brackets that the canopy is mounted to; they were fastened to bolts that already existed in the load-bin of our Hilux. This means that there is no drilling of holes into your 4x4’s load-bin or bodywork!
Our canopy is also fitted with Alu-Cab's new roof rack that slides into rails on the roof of the canopy. These rails are ready for most makes of rooftop tents and will become standard on future Alu-Cab canopies. The jerry can and gas bottle holder have also been specifically designed for the canopy and refined with lots of testing by Alu-Cab. There are also the small things like the fact that all six locks on the doors use the same key, so you don’t have to carry around a whole bunch of keys just to get into your load area. No skimping on the rubber seals, Alu-Cab use the best quality rubber seals available and this really makes sure that there is no way any water or dust will make its way into your canopy!
But has it made a difference for off-roading. The simple answer is yes. On the more day to day use we have found it has moved a lot of the equipment we use for our 4x4 Training Courses, such as jerry cans and gas bottles, out of the load-bin of the vehicle, therefore having easier access to them and less clutter in the load-bin and the fact that these items are not in the canopy anymore has given us more space for packing, and let’s be honest, when touring that is always a good thing!
Another big difference from our old canopy is that we do not have to climb on top of the drawer system when we need to get something that is right at the back of the load bin, just open one of the canopies ''gull wing" side doors and you can reach it easily. Brilliant!
For an overview, it is worth the money to invest in an aluminum canopy? Yes it is! Just ensure you go with a reputable company such as Alu-Cab to guarantee many happy and hassle free kilometers.
In the coming months we will be keeping you updated on our experiences with the Alu-Cab Canopy and how it has performed on our Toyota Hilux.
For more information on Alu-Cab products please visit their site at www.alu-cab.co.za