AIR OPUS - MAYBE A CAMPER TRAILER BREAKTHROUGH
Two-lid opening and an air-inflatable tent make this unit unique.
Melbourne-based Opus Camper Trailers has released a joint UK-Australian product that is said to be the world’s first self-inflating camper. The canvas roof section is fitted with 'air beams' that are electric-pump inflated, to form a camper trailer tent, without the need for booms and poles. However, we can't get them to lend us a test trailer.
The makers say the unit converts from a compact trailer into a luxury camper in around two minutes. With the air-beam annexe attached, set up time is around 6.5 minutes. And, yes, a manual air pump and a puncture repair kit are provided with every Air Opus camper trailer.
Air beam technology has been available in the marquee and premium tent industry for some years, but as far as OTA can ascertain this is its first appearance on a camper trailer.
Air Opus is the latest enhancement to the Opus Mark 2 dual-fold camper, adding innovation to what is already a breakthrough camper design.
Unlike traditional camper trailer designs that have forward, rearward or side-fold lids the Opus has two lids - one forward opening and one rear opening - that form the base for two tent-covered double bunks.
This leaves the trailer body space available for a large dinette/lounge area.
The beds are on the short side for tall people, so an option is an extendable forward bed, with more leg room.
In 2012 the Opus team in the UK began the development of a folding caravan and the original dual-fold Opus concept was the result
Within a year of the original concept, the Australian Opus team developed a heavier-duty chassis to suit Australian conditions. This camper had seven-leaf beam axle suspension and Australian-style electric brakes in place of the BPW chassis with rubber-bushed torsion-bar suspension and override brakes that the UK Opus used.
The European model was available here as an All Road extra-lightweight model, for use on formed surfaces.
In 2015 the Australian team started development of the Opus Mark 2, which featured coil-sprung, dual-shock trailing arm suspension, articulating poly-block coupling and a large slide-out kitchen in lieu of the smaller internal kitchen.
Also, the departure angle was improved by moving the spare wheel from underneath to the back.
The Mark 2 also scored functional improvements, including a substantially bigger storage box, simplified bed struts, dual batteries and thicker mattresses.
In 2016 the Australian and UK teams began development of the Air Opus concept, taking the proved air beam technology and redesigning the Opus tent to suit.
The Air Opus has five air beams, replacing the conventional tent's seven hoops.
Importantly, the air tent can be retro-fitted to every existing left-side entry Opus camper.
Prototypes were shown at the massive camping show in Dusseldorf in August 2016 and at the Melbourne show in February 2017.
Production Air Opus campers are in the pipeline for delivery in the third quarter of 2017 and Outback Travel Australia will have an on and off road test of a production Air Opus later in the year.
The differences between the European-market Air Tent and the Aussie one are mainly for improved ventilation in hot weather, whereas theirs is optimised for cold weather. Also, the UK-preferred small interior kitchen was replaced by a large external slide-out type for Australia.
When it comes to the Air Annexe, the differences are more obvious, because the Australian-market Opus rides substantially higher than theirs. The Aussie annexe needed to be higher, so it was relatively easy to give it a larger footprint at the same time, with more volume and headroom.
What you get
Australian-market Air Opus camper trailers have a galvanised steel chassis and draw-bar assembly, mounting an aluminium-framed, composite sheet body. A a jockey wheel and poly-block coupling are fitted and the suspension is independent trailing arm, coil spring, with twin shock absorbers each side.
Tare mass is a claimed 1200kg, with a ball weight of 100kg. Aggregate trailer mass is 1800kg, for an ample theoretical payload of 600kg. A folding luggage rack is optional, so some buyers may need that payload figure.
Brakes are 12-inch electric and the three wheels are 15-inch aluminium, shod with 235/75R15 tyres.
The tent material is 260gsm poly-cotton canvas and a tropical roof and an annexe are standard.
Also standard are four stabiliser legs, two 100Ah AGM batteries and 240V charger, stereo system, two 80-litre water tanks with electric pumps, vinyl lounge and a large slide-out external kitchen with four-burner LPG stove, fed from a 9kg bottle.
That's pretty good value, we reckon, for a 2017 RRP of $28,990.
We'd love to give you a test report on the Air Opus, but our several requests since May 2017 have failed. We even tried their Newcastle (NSW) dealer, who flatly refused to lend us a camper trailer, or to put us in touch with an owner.
Opus Camper won a Good Design Selection for its Air Opus self-inflating camper in the Australian 2017 Good Design Awards.
The jury said Air Opus offered: 'genuine innovation at a surprisingly affordable price,' and was 'spacious with well thought out, easy to use and functional spaces'.
The jury's highest praise was for the air beams: 'The convenience of pushing a button to erect the camper with air is simply genius and makes camping accessible to everyone,' the Jury said.
Good Design Australia CEO and Chair of the Good Design Awards program, Dr Brandon Gien, said the awards attracted entries from all corners of the world:
'This year’s Good Design Selections represent excellence in design across the widest spectrum of design,' he said.
Opus Camper's Australian director Malcolm Hill said the Good Design Selection was a credit to the Australian and British design teams who had created the Air Opus.
'We are proud to be included in a field which includes such global design leaders as Tesla, Audi and Bombardier Recreational Products,' he said.
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