Will A UWS Tool Box Work For You And Your Vehicle?
UWS is a division of Thule, who are already well known for their roof rack and other car and truck accessories. Both are part of the Lippert organization, a global brand of manufacturers of building products and parts of the commercial vehicle, automotive, RV, and marine markets. Other Lippert-owned brands include Curt, Taylor Made, Lewmar, SureShade, Schaudt GMBH Elektrotechnik Apparatebau, and more.
They market the UWS tool box to both professional tradespeople and amateur enthusiasts, and are best known for their aluminum truck tool boxes. Their reputation is as a “made in the USA” brand, but their website is careful to describe their products as “USA-assembled,” so this has to be taken with a grain of salt. The parent company, Lippert, says they are “proud to manufacture many of their products on US soil.”
But that isn’t really what we’re here to talk about, or what you want to know. You want to know how good their truck boxes are. Well, we’ve looked into the matter ourselves and researched quite a few UWS truck tool box reviews, and we have an answer for you. It’s just a long one.
When Choosing A UWS Tool Box, You’ll Be Choosing Between These Types:
UWS Side Tool Box
The most visible kind of UWS tool box is probably the siderail design. It attaches to the side rails, but mounts over the wheel wells of most trucks. This allows it to avoid the truck bed itself, having a minimal effect on your ability to haul cargo.
Like their crossover style truck tool boxes, the UWS side tool box models are made mostly of thin aluminum, with steel hardware and handles. Most models have gas-filled struts to make opening and closing the lids easier.
Many models come with “standing brackets” which are essentially aluminum legs which extend to the truck bed, giving the tool box additional support. Unfortunately, they are likely to affect a vehicle’s cargo capacity if used.
UWS Crossover Truck Tool Box
UWS makes a range of different crossover style truck tool boxes, mostly of the low-profile type. They favor an aluminum construction, typically in diamond plate. Most have either a brite or gloss black finish. The handles and some of the hardware are typically made of steel.
This type of UWS tool box attaches to the side rails of your pick-up or work truck, and hangs down to within an inch or so of the bed. These are typically installed directly behind the cab, to allow access to the remainder of the truck bed. UWS sells quite a few different models, in widths appropriate to most large and mid-sized trucks popular today.
UWS Trailer Tongue Tool Box
UWS makes a line of trailer tool boxes as well. These are typically mounted on the tongue of the trailer itself. Using a trailer tongue tool box improves the utility of a low-rise trailer.
Like other UWS truck tool boxes, these are made of either powder-coat black or brite aluminum. They feature steel mounting hardware and handles, and allow easy access to the tools and equipment you’ll need to deal with whatever is to be loaded on your trailer.
The Pros And Cons Of A UWS Tool Box: What You Need To Know
Generally speaking, UWS has had a reputation for reliability and sturdiness for years. Not much seems to have changed after the original manufacturer was acquired by a larger global company.
Today’s UWS truck tool boxes offer many positive features, including gas-strut assisted lids which open to a full 90 degrees from the vertical (essential for loading and unloading larger pieces of gear), built-in tool organization features, and rigid, attached tool trays, sandwich-style lids which use a stiff foam to reinforce the relatively thin aluminum, and stainless steel locking mechanisms.
The aluminum itself has been described as thin, and this can be a real problem. A UWS tool box is typically made of 0.063-inch-thick aluminum in a diamond plate pattern. The lids of a UWS low profile tool box typically rely on 2 layers of aluminum and a stiff foam to give rigidity, but the side walls generally only have a single thickness.
This is a compromise in order to reduce the weight and cost of the box itself, but it comes at the cost of security. After all, does it matter if the lock and hinge are strong steel when you can bend the side walls out with a screwdriver, let alone a crow-bar? Make no mistake, the lock included is meant to discourage the inquisitive or those who borrow without asking, not actual thieves.
Would A Working Professional Be Happy With A UWS Tool Box?
If you don’t carry any really expensive tools or gear, or if you can lock your vehicle up in a secured facility overnight, you should be fine with a UWS truck tool box. The locks are more than sufficient to make it clear that forcing the box open would be crossing a serious line, and that is all that is needed on most worksites.
Why You Might Not Want A UWS Tool Box
As we already implied, security is a major issue. Don’t leave anything in the boxes if you park outside overnight. In fact, you might want to leave them unlocked. After all, some young punk with a pry-bar or a ready boot could severely damage your shiny $400 truck box discovering that it is empty, and that doesn’t help you at all.
The other reason you might not want to go with a UWS tool box is cargo space. We know how precious every square inch of bed space can be, and the legs on the side of many UWS side tool box designs extend far beyond the wheel wells. While they only technically take up 2 or 3 square inches of area each, they effectively block off the entire vertical footprint of the tool box as unusable space.
If usable bed space is a particular issue for you, you might be better off looking at an under-bed tool and gear storage system, such as the DECKED Drawer System. We’ll look at that in more detail later.
UWS Tool Box Review: A Detailed Look At A Few UWS Tool Box Products
The 69-Inch UWS Low Profile Tool Box
This is a standard crossover type tool box designed to fit the bed rails of most full sized trucks popular today. It has stainless steel handles and a stainless steel lock on the left side of the hatch. The primary construction is of aluminum diamond plate, which is available in either shiny or powder coat black finish.
It comes with 2 smallish plastic trays to help organize smaller tools or pieces. It opens on gas-filled struts, and the underside of the lid features a rubber ring to provide some weatherproofing.
While the lock is on the left, you must lift both right and left-side latches to open this UWS tool box, so it is only really accessible from inside the bed.
While most users report positive experiences, some note that the weather seal is prone to leaking, and the aluminum body is prone to damage or denting during shipping.
The 63-Inch UWS Low Profile Tool Box
This is a wedge shaped crossover type tool box designed to fit mid-sized trucks. It has stainless steel handles and lock, and just like its big brother above, you’ll have to climb into the truck bed to open it.
It is also constructed of a somewhat thin aluminum diamond plate, and comes in both shiny and powder coat or black finish options. The gas-filled struts, rubber weatherstripping ring, and plastic tool organizing trays are identical to the larger version.
Again, most users report positive experiences, other than the occasional incidents of damage during shipping.
UWS Side Tool Box, 36-inch Model
The advantage of a side-mounted truck box is that it doesn’t matter how wide your truck bed actually is – one size fits all. Like almost every UWS tool box we’ve seen, this model can be had in both black powder coat and brite aluminum finish. It has the same basic aluminum construction and steel hardware. It only has one latch, though, so at least you can open it from outside of the truck bed.
The lid has the standard rubber weatherstripping ring, but no shocks or struts. Because of the way it opens, these really aren’t needed. You can mount those on either side of the truck bed, and they can be used in conjunction with a crossbed tool box like the ones above or the DECKED Tool Box to increase your storage capacity that little bit more.
This model can be used with “legs” at the inside corners to better support the load of heavy tools and gear. While the manufacturer’s instructions suggest that these struts should be bolted to the truck bed (requiring drilling), there are instructions available online for no-drill alternatives. Note that you should take extreme caution before ignoring the installation instructions that come with the product, and that any “alternative” methods could void the warranty.
UWS ATV Tool Box
This is a rare bird indeed. Few manufacturers make tool boxes intended for mounting on an ATV. However, I can really see the utility of this. A small vehicle like an ATV is the best place to use an ultra-light tool box solution like thin aluminum.
Like most UWS tool box offerings, this one comes with weatherstripping along the opening, the patented UWS foamcore lid and steel hardware. The lid opens to a full 90 degrees as well. At less than $200, a UWS ATV tool box sounds like a solid proposition.
72-Inch, Double-Door UWS Tool Box
This is a topside tool box, which means it mounts above the rails of the truckbed. This might fit behind the cab of some working vehicles, but it would either completely or partially block the rear window in most pick-ups. That means it will generally be mounted on the side rails. However, you can mount it facing into the bed or outside, depending on how you intend to use it.
The aluminum is the familiar diamond plate pattern but thicker overall. Because there is no top lid, the side-mounted doors do not use the foam sandwich design the earlier UWS tool box examples have sported.
The DECKED Tool Box – Simply A Better Truck Tool Box
DECKED Tool Boxes mount behind the cab of a pick-up or work truck, just as several of the UWS tool box examples we looked at above.
They are made from a steel and aluminum reinforced high impact polymer, and a great deal stronger than you might think. They are watertight and tamper resistant as well, with a lock which is literally armored in steel. If you need to store your tools outside unattended or in the rain, you couldn’t choose a better option than the DECKED Tool Box.
The DECKED Drawer System – Mobile Tool And Gear Storage Without Sacrificing Your Truck Bed
The DECKED Drawer System lets you store, organize, and protect thousands of pounds of tools, sporting equipment, or other gear easily, simply, and without eating up a single square inch of bed area. In fact, because the DECKED Drawer System mounts on top of the wheel wells on most modern trucks, you end up gaining a few square feet of useful deck. The heavily reinforced high-impact resin surface also protects your truck bed from whatever you end up hauling.
We make all parts of the DECKED Drawer System right here in the US, using a revolutionary plastic compound that is extremely recyclable. In fact, every DECKED Drawer System or DECKED Tool Box we make contains recycled material.
We’re glad you could take the time to see what UWS Tool Boxes have to offer, as well as the alternatives we at DECKED produce. We’re sure we provide the better choice for almost any circumstance, but we welcome you to see which works best for you!