Most people who enjoy 4wd touring go for a station wagon type vehicle like a Land Cruiser or Jeep, and these are a great choice. They’re not the only option though. There are plenty of 4wd Utes available, and these can be outstanding touring vehicles too. If you already have a Ute with off road capabilities, or you’re thinking about buying one, you have a lot of potential for touring in it. Utes have a few advantages that make them ideal for the job.
If you have a modern Ute with a double cab your seating space is already close to that of a lot of conventional vehicles. Obviously you don’t have the usual storage space in the back of the vehicle, but you seriously don’t need it – you have the whole bed at the back for carrying your stuff in. That’s where a Ute really scores as a touring vehicle – you have plenty of space for anything you might need, and there’s no trouble fitting in bulky stuff like large tents or camp furniture. Want a load of fuel and water containers? You have space.
Of course there are some differences between a Ute and other 4wds. Sadly security is something we need to be aware of, and a Ute bed is pretty much open. If you’ll be leaving it unattended with your gear in it you might want to think about a lockable bed cover to stop anything going walkabout. If you were planning on loading up higher than a bed cover would allow, consider storing valuable items in lockable boxes and chaining those and your larger gear to the bed. That should keep everything where it’s supposed to be.
Awnings are among the most popular accessories for 4wd touring, and obviously fitting them to a Ute can be a bit of a challenge. You’re not going to be able to use a rear awning, for a start, and some of the larger side ones can be longer than the length of your cab. That means it can be tricky to mount them. Be creative though. It’s usually pretty easy to fabricate a rear support that holds up the back end of an awning and is secured in the bed; the front end can be bolted to your roof bars as normal. Or make some use of all that load space – forget the awning and carry a collapsible canopy or a large tent.
A Ute might not be as roomy inside as some other options, but it makes up for it in sheer practicality. If you’re looking at doing some really long trips, especially into more rugged terrain, they can be unbeatable. Many of them are just as good off road as anything else and their massive load capacity is ideal for serious travelling. No standard 4x4 is going to match one for cargo space.