The UWS Tool Box: How Does It Stack Up?
UWS has been in the truck tool box game for years, and while a UWS tool box will not have been manufactured in the US, it will have been assembled here, so half credit.
UWS and its parent company, Thule, are both brands of the Lippert company. Lippert makes add-ons and components for RVs, boats, commercial, and construction vehicles, and are making their way into the building products industry more generally. Other global Lippert brands include Schaudt GMBH Elektrotechnik Apparatebau, SureShade, Lewmar, Taylor Made, and Curt.
In addition to the standard UWS truck tool box range, UWS makes a range of mobile storage solutions, dog boxes, and transfer tanks. There is even a UWS tool box / fuel tank combo we’ll look at later.
There Are Three Basic Types Of UWS Tool Box:
UWS Truck Side Tool Box
If you’ve seen a UWS tool box, it will probably have been a UWS truck side tool box. They are certainly the most flashy and noticeable types. A UWS side mount tool box of this type attaches to the side rail of your pickup truck, and may or may not also attach to the bed on extendable legs that angle back down to the bed to help support the weight of the tools or equipment inside. UWS Wheel Well tool boxes fall into this category as well.
All of the UWS side tool box models that we have seen are made of a fairly thin aluminum, in a diamond plate tread panel style. Most models have gas-filled struts, steel latches and locks, and other accessories to lift them up from purely “bargain” brand status.
Still, you’ll have problems using what is essentially an all-aluminum truck tool box in any professional context. They are convenient and reasonably well-manufactured for what they are, but they are not fit for really heavy use.
UWS Crossover Truck Tool Box
UWS also makes several versions of the “saddle style” or “crossover style” truck tool box. These are similar to the DECKED Tool Box in form, if not in build quality or endurance.
A typical UWS crossover tool box will feature a low-profile design and an all-aluminum construction. Most have a diamond plate tread pattern in either brite or gloss black finish. The handles, latches and a few other small parts are often made of steel.
Like the UWS truck side tool box, this type of UWS tool box attaches to the side rails of your pick-up or work truck. However, it attaches to both the right- and left-hand sides simultaneously, crossing the bed right behind the cab. This arrangement leaves most of the truck bed free for other purposes. There are many different models of UWS crossover tool box, and they are sized to fit most of today’s most popular large and mid-sized trucks.
UWS Trailer Tongue Tool Box
UWS makes trailer tool boxes as well as truck tool boxes. These affix permanently to the tongue of a trailer. This is a great place to store towing or load tie-down gear, and having a watertight place to store tools improves the utility of a low-rise trailer dramatically.
Like most types of UWS truck tool box, they come in either powder-coat black or brite aluminum. The boxes themselves are all made of somewhat thin aluminum, often with steel hardware and handles.
What You Need To Know About UWS Tool Box Quality
In general, UWS has a decent reputation. Being acquired by a big global corporation doesn’t seem to have changed their US operations much, and their build quality has stayed fairly consistent.
The UWS truck tool box you can buy today still boasts a lot of positive features. Most have gas-strut lifters on their lids, and those lids can open a full 90 degrees from the horizontal. This later feature is important when loading or unloading large or bulky gear. Many have a few in-built tool or cargo organization features, such as permanently attached, or removable tool trays. UWS is famous for their sandwich-style truck tool box lids, which use a sheet of still foam both to insulate the contents a little and to add rigidity to what would otherwise be a very bendy aluminum lid. The use of a stainless steel latch on the better models is also a very nice touch.
On the other hand, all of the UWS truck tool box models we examined were made of thin aluminum, and that can be a real problem. The lids can be walked on (they like to park a truck on 4 of them in their ads), but you still have to be careful not to dent them. The sides of the UWS tool box are much thinner, typically only a single sheet of thin aluminum, and they are very easy to dent or bend.
This bendiness poses real security issues. It doesn’t matter how good the lock is if you can pry the box away from the lid. This is really what stops the UWS truck tool box from being considered by most professionals. You can’t trust it with your expensive gear.
What About UWS Tool Box Prices?
There are many different models, and each has its own typical pricing range. Most are right around the $700 to $800 range, but smaller models of UWS crossover tool box or UWS truck side tool box can be found in the $400 to $500 range.
Honestly, for that kind of money you should be looking at the DECKED Tool Box. But more on that later.
How Good Is The Standard UWS Tool Box Lock?
There is really nothing wrong with the locks that come on a standard UWS truck tool box, UWS ATV tool box, or a UWS drawer tool box. They aren’t US-made but they are of decent quality, and they do their job as far as it goes. With the addition of the stainless steel latch most UWS tool box models add, the lock will not open if you don’t have the key. If you have a pry-bar, though, the lock on an all-aluminum truck box doesn’t mean much.
What Is The Deal With The UWS Side Tool Box “Universal Legs?”
UWS tool boxes are made of aluminum, and typically don’t have any kind of steel structural reinforcing. Many of them are on the larger side, too. What that means is that a UWS truck side tool box might just bend under a full load of tools or equipment when you hit a speed bump, if it is only supported on one side.
Some UWS truck side tool boxes come with integral legs which attach to the truck bed to prevent this. Others can be used with a set of “universal legs” UWS sells. These could be used with any type of side rail mounted tool box, if you don’t mind doing a little drilling.
Is It Worth Buying A UWS Tool Box?
Generally speaking, you could do better without spending much more. But at the same time, you could easily spend the same amount you would on a UWS truck tool box and get something much worse. They aren’t bad for what they are, and if you don’t actually need something that delivers professional grade performance, a UWS tool box should do fine.
One word of caution, though. If you are ordering for delivery, open the package and check the tool box for dents immediately. Many reviewers have noted that the products arrive dented.
A Detailed Look At A Few UWS Tool Box Products
UWS Low Profile Tool Box
The 69-inch low profile tool box from UWS is typical of its crossover tool box products. It will fit most of today’s popular full size pickups and work trucks with an open bed, and it comes in shiny “brite” or black powder coat finish aluminum. The latches are both stainless steel, and it has what it takes to stay corrosion-free in normal outside conditions for a lifetime.
The lid is weatherproofed, and opens on gas-filled struts. It also closes flush with a pair of plastic small parts or tool trays, which is a nice convenience feature. However, you need to access both latches to open it, so you’ll need to climb up into the truck bed to open this UWS low profile crossover tool box. That or get help from a friend.
UWS Tool Box Fuel Tank Combo
UWS makes a series of combination non-flammable fluid transfer tanks with integrated tool storage. These are typically “chest” style pieces which sit in or attach to your truck bed, or “hammerhead” style chests which extend out over the side rails.
The tank portion is made of 0.125 inch aluminum, and has a commercial grade, lockable, vented cap. It is DOT-compliant for the transportation of Class 3 liquids, like diesel fuel. It is not rated for gasoline.
UWS Crossover Tool Box
This wedge-shaped 69-inch crossover tool box from UWS is a good fit for most of the mid-sized trucks in use today. It features the same stainless steel latches and lock you should expect from UWS, along with pressurized lid struts, and weather sealing.
Again, though, the drawback is the thin aluminum of the body. It dents easily, and is not suitable for heavy-duty use.
UWS ATV Tool Box
Not many manufacturers make tool boxes for ATVs, but it is a good thing UWS does. A small, light tool box is perfect for most ATVs, which might struggle with the added weight of a steel box in addition to its load.
This is where a thin aluminum tool box can really shine. Better still, you will likely be paying less than $200 for the thing.
UWS Truck Side Tool Box
UWS makes a very typical 36-inch side mounted tool box. It is designed to sit upon or above the wheel well on most pickups, but it has a straight-across profile rather than the somewhat awkward “porkchop” profile of a true wheel well tool box like the other UWS tool box examples we’ve seen. It comes in brite aluminum or black gloss powder coat finishes, and features a stainless steel latch and lock.
If you’re going to be storing anything very heavy in it, though, you’d better use the optional legs. It is, like the other examples, thin and a little bendy.
The DECKED Tool Box
The DECKED Tool Box fits behind the cab of a working truck or pick-up, just like the UWS crossover truck box examples above. However, it is nowhere near as flimsy as a UWS tool box, and will last a great deal longer.
The DECKED Tool Box is a great way to store and transport tools, camping or sporting gear, or nearly anything else you could imagine. As you should expect from DECKED, it is weather-tight and secure. The lock and its surrounding mount is actually armored to prevent unauthorized access, and the only way in without a key is to cut the box apart with power tools.
The DECKED Tool Box is also a part of the DECKED tool organization ecosystem. It comes standard with a DECKED D-Box and Snack Tray small parts container, and is compatible with the full line of DECKED organization accessories.
The DECKED Drawer System – The Last Word In Tool Storage, Transport And Organization
Each drawer of the DECKED Drawer System is rated for a full 2,000 pounds of storage. It is a great example of American-made materials and craftsmanship.
Better still, the DECKED Drawer System increases the area of your truck bed that you can actually use. It sits above the wheel wells in most pickups and working trucks, letting you use the entire bed width. You can carry just as heavy of a load as ever, while the DECKED Drawer System protects your truck from wear and damage.
We hope you learned a little about UWS truck tool boxes, as well as some of the sturdier options DECKED has to offer. When you need to take your tools, gear or supplies on the road, you need DECKED.