I don’t need to tell you how good camper trailers are, do I? They make packing a hell of a lot easier, introduce a heap of comfort into our family camping experiences and generally pay for themselves in short order with pure convenience. Especially in inclement weather. Once you’ve camped out of a trailer when it’s raining so hard you’re expecting pairs of animals to start strolling by, it’s hard to go back.
However there are not that many that are designed to be beaten like a car thief caught in the act, let alone be happy about it, but that’s essentially the design brief on the prototype (which has since been put into production) of this Terra Trek unit.
It’s designed and built by a bloke who has worked as a tour guide through the deserts and identified that most trailers start falling to pieces after you throw a few thousand kays of corrugations, washouts and ‘spirited’ driving at them – as most things would really.
The frame and suspension have been designed from the ground up and put through thousands of outback kays’ worth of R&D. On one such trip, Mark, the owner of Terra Trek, was hitting 100km/h through the washouts to get it to break. It didn’t. It could probably survive a military convoy through downtown Fallujah, so it’s unlikely to be upset by anything a 4WDer could throw at it. The drawbar is a single piece that’s nice and long too – so the rear doors of the tow vehicle can open without being impeded by jerry cans and the like. Plus it’s easy to step over and can even be used as a platform to access the tent cover. Oh, and speaking as someone who got bogged right at the top of Big Red and had to back it all the way back down again, it makes reversing nice and simple too.
As for the suspension, it’s got two long East-West control arms (similar to an old I-beam set-up) that are located by four trailing arms and uses OME LandCruiser 100 Series coils which are easy as anything to find, should the need for a spare pop up. OME Nitrocharger shocks and Poly Air helper bags round out the package. After the Oodnadatta track and 1100 dunes of the Simmo, I have to say the system just flat out works. Washouts, corrugations and a few wide-open ascents (check the video) up some steep dunes and the camper handled it like Bill Gates taking a Year 9 computer science quiz. Easy as.
"Okay okay, the towability is up there, but what about the campability of this trailer?"
LIVING OUT OF IT Okay okay, the towability is up there, but what about the campability of this trailer? The roof top tent on a utility trailer is a fairly well-trodden path these days and after having travelled previously with a (now defunct) Mission Trailer, a Patriot Camper and several others that broadly fit into this category, the Terra Trek had some pretty stiff competition, I mean, that Mission was deadset quicker to set up than my mate Ev’s swag. That’s impressive.
While the Terra Trek took maybe two minutes longer, I have to say it is one of the easiest to live with day in day out. We had a mixture of stops ranging from a few days to pulling into camp and jumping back on the road a few hours later and never once did the set-up or pull down of the this thing feel like a chore. The Aussie-made Shippshape tent was big enough to sleep two people comfily and the zip-on annexe was a snap to attach and provided a large room out of the elements. It should be noted that Terra Trek are now using hard-roof tents on the production models so I can’t comment on how good they are/aren’t.
Moving on, if you have a lot of gear to carry this thing is simply cavernous. The swing-away at the rear opens out to reveal roughly the equivalent amount of space as a Toyota Troopy (If you’re wondering how I know this take a closer look at the tow vehicle) and there is provision for up to four jerries (which with the onboard tank takes total water storage to 170L) and just about anything else you’d need to chuck in there. The kitchen rocked too. Unlike your dad, it easily pulled-out and the twin 13,500btu burners offered the quickest kettle-boil for a cuppa this side of putting it on top of a TD42. Seriously, these should be mandatory on all campers. There was also a neat pantry set-up that was great for stashing and retrieving the cooking gear. Much like the dimmable LED light panel in the kitchen area, you’re probably reading about it going “meh, so what?” but it’s honestly one of those things you appreciate every time you use it and find yourself wondering how you ever got by without it.
The $64,000 question (well, $40,990), would I buy one? It ain’t cheap, but it’s not aimed at the beginner camper trailer buyer. It’s aimed at the top end of the market where people who have been there and done that want top quality and don’t mind paying for it. With that in mind, I think it’s well worth the coin. There are more expensive campers out there that offer less, both in terms of convenience and inclusions.
With the Terra Trek you’re getting something you can take on any track in Australia to get to the remotest places on the planet, set up in comfort and get back again and all it needs is a hose out, a wipe down of the fridge and it’s good to turn around and do it all again. In fact, right after my test was completed, I did exactly that and a couple came and picked it up off me as they headed straight into a year heading around the continent. From all reports, it made it without a worry too. Subtle as a sledgehammer maybe, but it sure as hell gets the job done.