BUYING ADVICE

OFF ROAD CAMPER TRAILER OR A SLIDE-ON CAMPER

Making the right choice is very important.

At OTA we get many enquiries about camping gear choices. Here’s an edited guide from Trayon Campers, who make camper trailers and slide-ons. 

Off road camper trailers provide ample shelter and comfort in the great outdoors, for a weekend away or a longer journey and there are three main types of off road camper trailers: box-trailer camper; hard floor and soft floor fold-out camper and hybrid caravan/camper.

They come in different sizes and the larger the off-road camper trailer, the larger the tow vehicle needs to be.

Box-trailer campers are aptly named, as the original ones were simply commonly-available box trailers, converted into campers.

Today, they are often dual-purpose trade trailers, with a roof top tent, annex, storage and camping equipment attached - either DIY or custom built.

There are also purpose-built box trailer campers with heavy-duty independent suspension and camping equipment integrated into the body.

They generally have limited shelter and, usually, the kitchenette is outside, under an annex.

Fold-out off-road camper trailers do away with the rooftop tent and provide a large canvas-covered area with add-ons to create more modular rooms.

Soft-floor campers are the most common types you see at caravan parks: great for longer-term set-ups, with plenty of room for the kids and space to relax when the weather turns ugly.

They are generally not dual-purpose (camping only) and, in the cheaper models, the suspension is standard leaf configuration.

They have the most shelter but can take up to 20-30 minutes to setup fully.

Hybrid off-road camper trailers are typically the largest and heaviest camper trailers. They resemble a small off-road caravan and typically have a hard roof or pop-top with canvas sides. They are feature rich and have plenty of storage. Very minimal setup time is required.

 

Slide-ons

A slide on camper is simply a camper which slides onto the back of a pickup/ute that has a flat tray or platform it can be mounted on.

At a campsite you can remove many of these campers from the vehicle, so you can go exploring without having to pack up your campsite, just as you can with a camper trailer.

There are three types or classes of slide on campers.

A Class One slide-on is typically a galvanized steel or aluminum canopy on the back of a ute and houses basic utilities such as fridges, kitchen and sometimes a bed.

Like the box trailer, the canopy slide on can be dual-purpose for a tradie. These are typically the lowest cost and they make a great platform for a roof top tent.

A Class Two slide-on has creature comforts that a Class One doesn’t, such as seating, a dedicated sleeping area and indoor and outdoor cooking areas.

Set-up and pack-away time is typically only two-five minutes.

You can walk into a Class Two slide-on and it typically has a larger sheltered area than a Class One.

A Class Two slide-on is commonly used for long range 4WD touring in Australia, but can just as easily be used for weekend trips.

A Class Threeslide-on camper is built like a caravan, with a cab-over design and is heavier than the other two types.

In Australia, most of these types are imported and require a ute/truck with a larger payload capacity than a one-tonne ute. Best is a light Japanese truck, an Iveco Daily, a RHD-converted US pick-up or a Mercedes G-Pro.

 

Slide-on or camper trailer

A basic reason why people choose an off-road camper trailer over a slide-on is because they do not have, or don’t want to buy, a 4WD ute that’s necessary for a slide-on camper.

Other reasons might be the need to sleep more than four people; have easier access into the camper and the need for large amounts of sheltered space.

Slide-on campers suit those who don’t want to tow, or wish to tow something other than the camper, such as a boat or Jet Ski.

Slide-on campers allow you to go anywhere the vehicle is capable of going, whereas some tracks cannot be driven when towing an off-road camper trailer. There are several iconic tracks that either ban or discourage the use of camper trailers.

Slide-ons also mean lower maintenance and registration costs.

Above all, the intended application should come first in the decision-making process and creature comforts should come second.

It is easy to get wrapped up in the aesthetics and features of the campers in the market, but ultimately, if the unit is not fit for the purpose, no amount of features will prevent it causing grief in a precarious situation in the Outback, miles from any help.

Minimising risks is essential and starts with choosing a platform that is designed for the terrain and conditions you will be travelling.

Your vehicle must also be fit for purpose. Most of the one-tonne utes in Australia are not ready for fully-loaded off-road travel from the factory floor.

Whether you’re fitting a slide-on or towing a camper trailer, you’ll need to consider, at the very least, a suspension upgrade.

Off-road camper trailers and slide-on campers both have a place. Think about your intended application before aesthetics or features.

Safe travels and happy camping!


 


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