The AOR Matrix… good enough to be a movie but best taken camping.
Matrix can mean many things, but I’m going to bastardise the Oxford Dictionary definition by dropping in the words ‘camper’ and ‘adventure’. Matrix: A camper in which adventure is shaped. And I can tell you the name fits this definition – so expect a most excellent adventure with the one of these things. Steve Budden, a fitter and turner, inventor and avid tourer, set out to design a great product to stand the test of time travelling on the dusty, corrugated roads of the Aussie Outback. Seventeen years later multiple AOR camper models can be seen regularly travelling the roughest of roads that this country can dish up.
The Matrix Pop Top sits in the middle of the AOR line-up. It has many of the features of the top-of-the-line Aurora but also shares some that make its smaller sibling, the Odyssey, so nimble. I didn’t get the chance to take the Matrix out on any punishing tracks for the review, but later in the day I took the AOR Odyssey on tracks that would have the average 4X4 think twice before attempting the same route without a trailer. It performed flawlessly.
The Matrix and Odyssey share the same independent suspension for control and strength in all conditions, and the 1,950mm-wide body is designed to follow your vehicle wherever you point it. I have spoken to numerous owners who all talk about the great quality of the campers and the excellent after-sales service of the AOR brand. As the owner, Steve is still very much involved in the picture; he can be found answering questions on the web forum and attending AOR meet-ups around the country.
AOR campers are made on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland from Australian-sourced products. There is a lot of innovation that goes into each of these campers but each component goes through a rigorous testing regime before implementation. How many campers do you know of that are pressure-tested to prevent dust ingress before leaving the factory?
To build a pop-top camper that will withstand many years and thousands of kilometres of corrugated roads requires a special understanding of the forces acting upon the van. AOR off-road trailers are built to cope with Aussie conditions by strengthening the chassis and body, and also by securing the pop-top roof to the body with 22 individual points of contact in order to cope with the large twisting forces acting on the camper. Stability of the vans while being towed is very important, so they are designed with around 10% ball weight – allowing for front and rear water tanks, and the gear that will be carried in the van.
The lightweight fibreglass body provides great insulation, sitting securely upon its high-tensile steel-galvanized chassis. The chassis utilises a 150x50mm full-length drawbar and includes tow points at the rear in case the going gets really tough.
The inside is a superb mix of comfort and practicality. The queen 8in inner-sprung mattress on the left of the entry will allow for a great night’s sleep with plenty of airflow available. Underneath the bed there is 500L of storage in six drawers. Dinette seating with a large table provides easy access to the 110L upright fridge as you mull over maps of where to explore next. The excellent kitchen also has plenty of storage under the large bench and food preparation areas. The 3-burner gas stove gives plenty of options on the cooking front and also provides additional bench space (when not in use) with its glass top.
If you find yourself in a cold climate, the Webasto diesel air cabin heater will keep you cosy before heading outside to face the elements. The internal hot shower will be also very welcome. There is also a hot/cold shower on the rear of the trailer. Rather than use a chemical toilet, AOR supplies a marine macerator chemical-free electric toilet with 110L black waste tank capacity. With windows all ’round and plenty of ventilation options, it is a very light and airy space inside the Matrix that is just made for camping in the Aussie bush or by a beach – bringing the views and scenery in but keeping the bugs and weather out. Perfect!
Should you want to cook outside, there is a good-sized external sliding stainless steel shelf to suit an optional BBQ and various other cooking options. The 4.4×2.2m roll-out awning covers the cooking area while providing plenty of headroom as it mounts off the pop-top roof. There is storage aplenty accessible from the outside, with spaces suitable for fishing rods, tent poles, generators… and even an air-conditioning unit as an option.
Look underneath and you will see the 280L of water storage in food-grade tanks and the 110L of black water storage. A 60L grey water tank is a no-cost option; although this reduces the fresh water storage to 220L. The water and power capacity make it very easy to stay at your favourite camping spot for quite a while. The Matrix comes with 2 x 120Ah AGM batteries… although optional lithium systems from Enerdrive are available which are a good way to save space and weight. The batteries have 2 x 150W roof-mounted solar panels to keep them topped up when stationary.
The AOR Matrix would make a fabulous off-road van for the more adventurous. Equally at home on the beach, in the Outback or at that remote campsite down a serious track – with plenty of power, water and comfort on board for the longest of stays. AOR packs a lot of features in a van this light and so capable, with great service. And it’s Aussie-made as well. It’s hard to go past.
Designed and built for the Aussie Outback and beyond.
Terrific build and fit-out quality.
Off-road capability is in its DNA.
Will follow everywhere your 4WD goes.
Comfort, innovation and practicality.
Quality comes at a price.