It’s been two years since we started modifying our 2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon. In the meantime, we slowly and steadily upgraded JT to best suit our needs. Our goal from the beginning was to build a Jeep capable enough to accommodate a family of four and tackle a wide variety of trails across the country. In the last year alone, I’ve driven jeeps in Utah, Tennessee, and North Carolina, completing my biggest trek ever, 6,200 miles round trip on the Rubicon Trail.
The Gladiator bed was initially a big selling point for us, but it’s one area we’ve struggled with. Off-road, I can’t count the number of times I’ve smashed a taillight or dragged a receiver hitch. The rear bumper was bent and slapped, as was the factory bed guard. I also sacrificed a ton of space because I had a 40-inch tall spare on my bed.
Instead of tearing apart a bunch of different aftermarket solutions, I decided to do something a little more cohesive by replacing the entire bed with one from MITS Alloy. Doing so may seem like an extreme measure, but for us it makes the most sense.
The MITS alloy all-aluminum tray bed provides a huge amount of gear storage and greatly increases the departure angle, truly expanding the Gladiator’s versatility. We’ve been fans of this style of Australian setup for years and went all in after learning it was readily available in the US.
Our MITS Alloy EVO2 tray and canopy was ordered through Mule Expedition Outfitters (the company has retail stores in Washington and Oregon) and installed by Asheville Vehicle Outfitters (AVO). AVO is located in Mills River, North Carolina, near our home.
In this story, we dig into the details of the MITS Alloy EVO2 Tray and Canopy bolt-on bed upgrades and show you how to best set them up for your needs.
The EVO2 tray and canopy are separate parts. The bottom half is the tray. It can be set up as a flatbed with optional bedsides or configured with a canopy bolted to the top. The midsize we chose is slightly wider than the Gladiator’s cab, at 5’8″ front to back.
To install the bed, I went to MITS Alloy’s East Coast distributor, Asheville Vehicle Outfitters, in North Carolina. So AVO removed the old setup and onto the provided Gladiator-specific pillar mounts he bolted a MITS alloy tray.
As set, the new setup weighed about 850 pounds. To handle that extra weight, we installed a set of Dobinsons Spring & Suspension 440-660 3-inch rear springs. This brought me back to the required 3 inch lift height.
We knew that with just a 3-inch lift and a 40-inch tall Nitto Trail Grappler, we might have clearance issues with our new bed. The stance is also very different from stock, considering the Dynatrac ProRock XD60 axle is 72.5 inches wide. I didn’t want to lift the Jeep any higher, so I had my friends at Ujoint Offroad cut out the non-structural parts of the bed that were rubbing on full bumps.
To make the trim seamless, Ujoint Offroad created a set of custom gap guards and highline fenders out of aluminum. These were then powder coated to match and bolted in place.
We could have reused the factory receiver hitch, but we took full advantage of the high departure angle of the new bed clearance.Ujoint Offroad built this custom receiver. This custom receiver was 8 inches taller than the factory receiver and helped further improve the Jeep’s launch angle.
Our MITS Alloy EVO2 Tray comes with an 8 gallon gravity water tank. Hidden in front of your bed, this tank puts an otherwise unused space to good use. Also, the tank is his BPA free so you can fill it with drinking water.
The new MITS Alloy EVO2 bed combines many features (tire carrier, drawer system, etc.) that have been considered by various companies. At the rear of the canopy, there is room for a 40-inch-tall spare, a 5-gallon fuel can, and a 5-foot-long sliding drawer. The drawer also has a movable cover that acts as a prep/work area. It’s sealed and deep enough to hold items like an air compressor or a small toolbox.
The driver’s side of the canopy box was left empty on purpose. The idea was to keep this area free for luggage and other gear needed for different adventures.At the top is a tray, perfect for storing spare parts.
On the passenger side of the canopy are Clearview Accessories Easy Slide refrigerator slides and a MITS alloy drawer system. The refrigerator slide lowers the 50-liter Rough Country refrigerator to a more accessible level, making life easier. The drawers are perfect for storing dry food and gear that you want quick access to.
Above the drawer system is a deck with tie-down points at the back. This is where the power system from EcoFlow is housed. I’m using the Delta 2 and an expandable battery pack. This will give you plenty of power for frequent weekend trips. There are also portable solar panels that can be used after being installed for a while. I prefer this system over permanently mounted systems as it frees up the generator for other purposes.
Each side of the bed has boxes that bolt to the rails under the tray. Like the rest of the canopy, these are sealed from the elements. We usually use him one to store all of our recovery gear. The other side rotates storage roles based on where we’re heading.
After installing my first bed (AVO is just around the corner), the first reason I stopped by Ujoint Offroad was to install Ujoint’s new gladiator roof rack. Our plan is to mount a discreet rooftop tent to MITS alloy racks and use her Ujoint racks and Pelican storage cases for solar panels.
on the trail
Upgrading to a MITS alloy tray and canopy is a big change and we’ve been seriously considering it for a while. Love the room. The fact that you can carry so much gear in an organized way makes the bed much more usable than the previous setup. It took a few more dials, but the handling and ride are still excellent. Ultimately, the EVO2 setup does exactly what we wanted. It provides more room for our gear and greatly improves the off-road shortcomings of the stock Gladiator bed.
clock!cheap truck and jeep challenge
Dirt Every Day hosts Fred Williams and Dave Chappelle talk about the best ways to spend your money on cheap off-road builds, and invest that money where you’re out on the trails. To see all episodes (90 and 115), sign up for a free MotorTrend+ trial now! Video created by Little Dot Studios.
- Asheville Vehicle Outfitters; 844/667-3687; ashvillevehicleoutfitters.com
- EcoFlow; ecoflow.com
- mitsalloy; mitsalloy.au/usa/
- Mule Expedition Outfitters; 425/394-1111; dasmule.com
- Ujoint Offroad;ujointoffroad.com