Dual Cab Ute Camping Setups; what’s the options?

Dual cab Ute’s have exploded in popularity over the last few years, and the reasons are very solid. They are the ultimate compromise between work vehicle, 4WD and family vehicle and they can do it all reasonably well. Yep, they aren’t perfect, but you won’t find anything that is.

If you are looking at Dual Cab Ute Camping Setups, you’ve come to a great resource as there are plenty of different options and we check them all out below.

Dual Cab Ute Camping
There’s plenty of ways to set a Dual Cab Ute up for camping

Tray or tub

Inevitably, you start with the back of the Ute, and need to get something that is going to suit your requirements. On a base level, you can use a tray or a tub, and then it works up from there. You can either tie everything down inside, or bolt it down, or run a roller shutter or tonneau cover.

Most people end up moving to a canopy, which is the ultimate way to get some security, cover from the elements and additional room.

If you are looking at a canopy, we have a huge guide that covers all of the options, and allows you to make an educated decision. You can read this here – Ute Canopy; the ultimate guide.

Tray or tub
Ultimately, you have to choose between a tray or a tub

Where are you going to sleep?

When it comes to camping, a good nights sleep is a requirement or the attraction will run out real quickly. Fortunately, you’ve got plenty of options for where to sleep with a dual cab Ute:

Roof top tent

The roof top tent market has exploded beyond belief. You can now buy hundreds of different types, ranging from a few hundred dollars to well into the thousands.

If you are going for a roof top tent, make sure you have a decent mattress, it complies with your roof load limits and its big enough to do what you want it to. We’ve got a great Roof Top Tent Guide that will give you more information.

Quick setup tent
Roof top tents are very popular, for good reason

On the floor

The humble swag, or tent works pretty well when camping and can be a great no fuss way of sleeping in the bush. You can get a variety of different stretcher tents that are also worth a think about, or you can even get hammocks designed for sleeping in.

Oztent stretcher
There’s plenty of options for sleeping on the ground!

In the tray

If you fit, there’s always the option of camping inside your canopy, or in your tub and tray. For those of us who are taller this isn’t an option, but there’s plenty of people who do it.

You need a way for the humidity to release and to stop the bugs from flying in, but you can have a bed permanently set up inside a canopy which works really well.

In a dedicated camper

There’s some pretty amazing dedicated campers designed for single cab and dual cab Utes, and they have everything you’d get in a Caravan in a much more compact setup.

Trayback camper
Dual cab with a Tray back camper
Tailgate Camper
A Tailgate Camper, made over east

In a camper trailer or Caravan

If you want to move up the comfort scale, there’s more camper trailers, hybrids and Caravans on the market than you can poke a stick at.

Dual cabs are not traditionally the best towing vehicles out there, but they will work perfectly fine up until a point. 

To give you more idea, check out our Ultimate towing guide, which goes into the 7 items you need to comply with to be legal. Trailers can be a great way to distribute some weight better on a dual cab Ute, which is pretty important.

Our camping setup
Our Dmax and Reconn R2 Hybrid Camper

Electrical systems

The world of 4WD electrics grows by the day, and your options for setting a dual cab Ute up for camping in terms of power are almost limitless. On the cheaper end of the scale you can get yourself a portable battery and charge it from your alternator/DCDC charger and a solar panel, and run basic appliances from it.

If you want to go more advanced, you can permanently install a bigger battery and a small inverter, and run a huge amount of different appliances.

The next stage is 12V lithium batteries, with a big inverter that will allow you to run anything you would at home, but for short periods.

People are literally running microwaves, induction cooktops and even air fryers in the back of their Utes. Necessary? No. Worth doing? That depends on your situation, and how much you want to spend.

We had a 150aH AGM battery for the last 5 years, and are replacing it with a 230aH lithium battery. Our 400W inverter is going in place of a 2000W Renogy inverter, and we’ll be able to run our fridge off grid for many days without having to worry about charge.

We have a 200W solar panel on the roof racks which does a good job in between driving, and our Renogy DCDC will take care of the rest.

At the end of the day, get what suits you, and nothing more. 

Drawers and storage

The way in which you set your storage up will make or break your camping experience. Having a couple of decent storage boxes is a good start, and then you move into drawer territory.

These are a good option if you can keep them light, and build a table in. 

Upright fridge and drawers
We use plastic drawers and have a built in table

Water storage

Easy to access water is a game changer for camping, and this can be as simple as a jerry can with a tap on it, or you can move to an under tray water tank that gravity feeds or is pumped out of a hose or shower attachment. 

50L water tank under the Dmax
A 50L water tank installed underneath and at the front of our canopy

Other tips

Keep it light

Dual cabs are inherently badly balanced, and its so easy to make the Ute overweight either on GVM or rear axle weight.

Do everything you can to keep it light, to reduce the chance of chassis damage, and to stay legal. Avoid using heavy timber, adding more than you need to and adding super heavy gear. It will not do your vehicle any favour.

Make it easy to use

The easier your camping setup is, the more you’ll want to head out and use it. If you are continually frustrated with the way you have to camp then its not much fun, and you’ll either want to change it or want to stay home.

Everything should be easy to get to, to use, as comfortable as possible and ready to go.

Set it up to suit you

There’s a lot of different dual cab Ute camping setups, and not all of them are going to suit the terrain you tackle, the weather you deal with or the way in which you camp. When you are designing and building your setup, just remember that it has to suit you, and no one else.

Take ideas from the way other people have done things, but you don’t have to build an identical copy especially if its not going to work well for you.

Fold out camper
Does it do what you need it to?

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