Who said you need a camper trailer or caravan to camp in comfort?
It’s no secret that the team here at Unsealed 4X4 are massive fans of slide-on campers. They allow you to tow a boat, or not tow at all; they’re lightweight, easy to set up and allow your vehicle to retain all of its off-road capability, which is important when you’re getting into the rough stuff. Anyone who tows a trailer over true low-range terrain will know how much more difficult it is on both the driver and vehicle. By using a camper that’s attached to your ute’s tray, you’ve got all the creature comforts of a camper trailer or small caravan with none of the drawbacks of towing. Yep, slide-on campers sure do make a lot of sense I reckon.
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That’s why we were pretty excited when we recently got the chance to check out the new offering from Queensland-based company Travelander. It was started up nearly fifteen years ago in a dirt-floor farm shed on the Sunshine Coast by husband and wife Darren and Julia Holger, and has grown from building four models a year to over 120 at last count, so they must be doing something right.
Apparently they came up with their camper idea after a particularly rain-soaked trip to Fraser Island with their young kids. The story goes that the babies couldn’t be kept clean or dry and after a few days of pulling her hair out Julia announced that she was “finished with tents”. Thanks to Darren’s auto body engineering background they designed and produced the world’s first automatic set-up camper back, which is still the only slide-on on the market with this feature.
It effectively takes the effort out of setting up your accommodation. Rock up to your campsite, release a couple of clasps, flick a switch and you’re ready to hit the hay. It makes things easier for older couples who may not want to be wrestling with tents or unfolding trailers, or if you’re just lazy like me, these things are as far from hard work as it gets.
Before we start exploring the guts of the camper, it’s worth noting that Travelander produces their slide-on units in Australia, which is always great to see both from an Aussie jobs point of view but also so the customer knows they’re getting a top quality product. And looking at the fit and finish on this unit, the quality is certainly not lacking. The latest tray back camper unit was developed after the Holger’s took a bunch of clients with the older model camper on a trip through the Simpson Desert and asked for their feedback on where things could be improved. How great an idea is that!
As a result, the new premium range has inclusions like a step-out shower cubicle with a hot water shower – positioned so that you can walk straight back into the camper once you’re done (so nudey runs through the campsite are purely optional).
Interestingly, they’ve also done away with gas bottles completely which is a great idea in my book as it does away with a fair bit of weight and potential danger. The hot water heater and fridge run on diesel, while the kitchen stovetop runs off metho. Speaking of the kitchen, it’s been redesigned to provide both internal and external access to cooking and the pantry. So if the weather’s nice, you can enjoy burning your snags in the great outdoors or if you accidentally find yourself up north during monsoon season, you can still have a hot meal without getting saturated.
The internal and external drawers have all been upgraded to fibreglass, which is lighter and allows for more storage room as well. The water tank has been moved for better weight distribution and is now larger to boot. All electrics have been improved with a REDARC battery management system, a 600W inverter and plenty of 12V outlets for all of your charging and accessory needs. This is all powered by a deep-cycle battery which is charged off the tow vehicle via an Anderson plug.
Winter camping is comfier than ever thanks to the diesel-powered heater too, so taking your Travelander away is truly a year-round prospect. Hmm, I wonder if they’ll lend us one when it comes time to hit up the High Country in June?
Prices start at $33,000 for a single-cab premium slide-on, which is about on par with a high quality camper trailer, without the hassle of having to tow it.
For more information on the new Travelander range, visit travelander.com.au or speak to the team directly via 1300 2TRAVEL.
Words by Dex Fulton, Images by Julia Hoger and Christina Rogers