How Do UWS Tool Boxes Stack Up?
UWS is a division of the Lippert Organization, the same parent company who owns the Thule roof rack and truck accessory company. Lippert is an international company which includes brands like Schaudt GMBH Elektrotechnik Apparatebau, Taylor made, SureShade, Curt, Lewmar, and many more. Most of these brands make building products or add-ons for commercial or private boats, cars, and trucks.
Lippert puts UWS tool boxes and especially UWS truck tool boxes forward as a brand for both professionals and home hobbyists. They strive for a “made in the USA” reputation, but they are, officially, only “assembled in the USA.” Many of the parts and materials almost certainly come from overseas. When asked about this Lippert generally responds that they “manufacture many of their products in America.” Many could be 1%, though, so it is probably best not to rely on that.
But the real question isn’t where the truck tool boxes UWS sells are made, but how good their quality is. Are they a worthy rival to truly professional brands, sturdy enough to make a tradesman proud, or are they just another cheap aluminum toy? Well, we’ve done a lot of research and experimentation, and we have an answer for you. Or, rather several answers. With UWS, the quality depends on what you’re buying.
When Choosing UWS Tool Boxes, You’ll Be Presented With These Categories:
UWS Aluminum Top Side Tool Boxes
You’ve probably seen at least one example of these driving around, and they are certainly the easiest type of UWS truck tool boxes to spot. They attach to the side rails of must trucks, mounted over the wheel wells. This lifts them up off the truck bed itself, in an attempt to minimize the footprint of bed space you lose.
Like the low-profile crossover style truck tool boxes we look at later, UWS aluminum top side tool boxes are made of fairly thin aluminum, but do feature stainless steel hardware and handles. Many of them have gas-filled struts to make opening and closing the lids easier.
Many models come with aluminum legs called “standing brackets” which extend down to the truck bed. These give UWS aluminum top side tool boxes additional support which they all too often really need. The legs do eat up truck bed space, though.
UWS Low Profile Tool Boxes
UWS makes several types of saddle-style truck tool boxes, and most of them are billed as low-profile. They have the same thin aluminum construction, as the side-mount toolboxes above, typically in diamond plate with a brite or gloss black finish. The handles and some of the hardware are again usually made of steel.
These UWS aluminum tool boxes attach to the side rails of your pick-up or work truck, and hang down near the truck bed without actually touching it. They go directly behind the cab, letting you access the remainder of the truck bed. UWS sells several different shapes and widths, designed to fit most large and mid-sized trucks popular today.
UWS Trailer Tongue Tool Boxes
UWS makes a line of trailer tool boxes which are, as you may have guessed, typically mounted on the tongue of a large trailer. Using a trailer tongue tool box improves the utility of a low-rise trailer and gives you somewhere to store cargo-oriented tools and equipment.
Like other UWS truck tool boxes, these are made of either powder-coat black or brite aluminum, and usually bear a diamond tread plate pattern. They feature steel mounting hardware and handles, and allow easy access to your tools and equipment.
The Pros and Cons of UWS Tool Boxes: 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.
Is the Aluminum Too Thin On UWS Tool Boxes?
Too thin for truly professional use, yes. The aluminum is not particularly strong, 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.
Can A Working Professional Use UWS Truck Tool Boxes?
Not really, no. The locks are just about up to making it obvious that bending the box open would be very rude indeed, and that just isn’t enough protection in this day and age.
Why You Might Not Want A Set Of UWS Tool Boxes
As we already implied, security is a major issue. Don’t leave anything in the boxes if you park outside overnight..
The other reason you might not want to go with UWS tool boxes 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 Boxes On Review: A Detailed Look At A Few Truck Tool Boxes UWS offers
The 69-Inch UWS Low Profile Tool Box
This is pretty standard for UWS low profile tool boxes. It is designed to fit the bed rails of most full-sized trucks, and features 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. Like most UWS balck tool boxes, it looks really good when it is new.
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 these UWS tool boxes, so they are 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 an example of UWS tool boxes’ low profile series 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
This is a good example of UWS pickup tool boxes. 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 most of the UWS tool boxes we’ve seen, this model can be had in both black powder coat or 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 UWS low profile tool boxes 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
UWS tool boxes for ATVs have made a name for themselves just by existing. Few manufacturers make tool boxes intended for mounting on an ATV at all. A small vehicle like an ATV is probably one of the best places you could use an ultra-light solution like UWS aluminum tool boxes.
Like most UWS tool boxes we’ve seen, 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
Similar to UWS low profile tool boxes, DECKED Tool Boxes mount behind the cab of a pick-up or work truck.
However, DECKED Tool Boxes 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
Decked Drawer System Deck
The DECKED Drawer System mounts in your truck bed, but that is where the similarities to the truck tool boxes UWS sells ends. 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 reclaiming 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!