The Best Aluminium Ute Canopies – Traymate Campers

image of Traymate camper- the best aluminium ute canopies

Aluminium Ute Canopies - Features and accessories

Mid 2017, Traymate Campers were born into existence with one aim: to build the most versatile slide on aluminium ute canopies in existence.

This post explains the origins of the Traymate Camper in detail. Grab a coffee and hang on to your seat!

The Origins of Traymate Camper

Traymate is the brainchild of Trayon Campers. Trayon Campers have been producing their very popular, lightweight slide on camper since 1994.

In 1994, the Trayon camper was a very basic, simple robust camper designed to handle the rigours of the Australian Outback. It had a bed, lounge, internal kitchen, cupboards, plenty of storage and not much else.

It was a strong barebones camper built for hardcore touring on tracks like the Canning Stock Route and Gunbarrel Highway.

One of the main benefits of this barebones camper was that people could use it as a blank canvas and add what they wanted. The technology back then was limited so there weren't as many compact camping options available.

24 Years Later, the Trayon has evolved considerably. It is now the lightest, strongest and most compact class 2 slide on camper available, with huge leaps forward in technology and design, it is well fitted out with all the creature comforts one would want in this day in age, with plenty of optional extras.

Why Aluminium Ute Canopies?

Have you ever stopped to consider why technology evolves like this?

It is often driven by what’s called the “level of escalation”.

Example of the Level of Escalation

A contrived example of the Level of Escalation that is comedically oversimplified is the evolution of the automotive industry.

Back in the early ‘20s or ‘30s, when you hypothetically walked into a motor vehicle dealership, and you placed an order on a car, say it would have would costed you $1,000, and they’ll give you a bale of hay to sit on and as driving lights, you got given a lantern, along with steering wheel and two pedals, that was it. You didn’t even get a windscreen.

Now I’m customer Joe Blow and I want a nice comfortable seat to sit on. I don’t want the bale of hay. I don’t want a lantern, I want actual globe lights, seat belts, furthermore, now I want air bags, as well as LED daytime running lights.

What started off as a product being $1,000 back in the day, level of escalation set in; and you now get a brand new car which has adaptive cruise control, GPS navigation, seat warmers, leather seats, three kinds of headlights- high beam, low beam, plus driving lights or daytime driving lights and a windscreen plus loads more.

Aesthetically, it’s looking great and then all of a sudden, it costs you $60,000 for that car and some people will walk in and look at that car and respond with “$60k - you’ve got to be kidding me! “

Yes, there are many other factors which re-enforce the current level of escalation, such as safety regulations etc. Nonetheless, the level of escalation set in, and you can’t buy a simple car for $1,000 anymore because there are so many added creature comforts.

There is no way to reverse the escalation because no one makes cars with no windscreens and a bale of hay anymore. Perhaps that story was a little exaggerated, but you get the point.

Trayon Campers have also been subject to the level of escalation, where something innately simple became more complex as creature comforts were added, keeping up with demand.

Trayon started out as being a $10,000 camper, but then someone walked in and said: “I want a water pump, I don’t want to pump water by hand”. I want a hot water system, I want a 100litre fridge/freezer. I want a queen bed, I want LED lights, and now with Lithium batteries readily available, I will have a Lithium battery as well as a battery management system.

The level of escalation took the Trayon Camper from being a $10-$15,000 camper in the 90’s to a $30-$40,000 camper, sometimes even $45,000 today.

An Opportunity To Create Something Unique

The trouble with the level of escalation is it leaves a small segment of the market not catered for.

People looking for a simple budget slide on camper that can be fitted out with what they want, when they want or simply use their own camping gear they already have.

Not everyone can afford a Trayon Camper. They can’t exactly roll back time on the Trayon Camper because it’s the best seller and it’s in demand.

Mercedes Benz G Professional Slide on Camper

Mercedes Benz G Professional With Trayon Slide on Camper

However, Trayon did notice a demand for a budget slide on platform which can be DIY configured by the customer. Something that has all the perks of the Trayon:

  • No Rego
  • Easy Storage
  • Free standing
  • Lightweight
  • Strong and durable
  • Setup camp and drive away

There were many enquires that was along the lines:

I’d love a Trayon but I don’t need the fridge, I can do all that later, can I just buy the empty shell because I can’t afford $30,000 but I need a slide on or I want a slide on.

Needless to say after lots of research Trayon identified there was no lightweight slide on campers that existed in the budget segment.

The closest alternatives were aluminium ute canopies purpose-built for tradesmen with optional legs to make it removable for free-standing.

Downside To Existing Jack off Aluminium Ute Canopies

The downside to standard aluminium ute canopies is that they are purpose built for tradies, and you have to try and adapt and modify the canopy for the camping system to function in a practical way.

The most limiting factor of using trade canopies as campers is that they are often built with a 20-45 degree slant in the design. This is done for aesthetics, but it does allow heavier loads to be carried on the roof, preventing sideways movement. Imagine an electrician with several ladders and 50 kg of copper wire sitting on the roof racks.

Example of jack off aluminium ute canopy

Example of jack off aluminium ute canopy with slant, Source

The reason why this is limiting is that once you decide to add your fridge, you’ll have to inset the fridge inside the canopy so the door doesn’t close on it. Losing valuable internal space that could be used for carrying gear.

There are plenty of roof top tents which are built for these types of trade canopies. However, since the roof is small, you may be restricted to one that folds its bed in half for pack-up, or is so narrow that when it unfolds it creates only a small awning for shelter underneath.

slide on Aluminium ute canopies with roof top tent

Conventional slide on Aluminium ute canopy with roof top tent. Source

Perhaps one of the biggest issues with the conventional slide on aluminium ute canopies is that you need you need to store the jack off legs inside the loading area or strap them to the roof.

This takes up significant space inside the canopy, as they are heavy and long. Or consumes quite a lot of time stapping them down.

Many people are adapting a trade platform into a camping platform, due to the lack of options out there. This leads them to customise and build a DIY solution.

Enter the Traymate Camper

Traymate Campers are the most economical slide on aluminium ute campers available.

The goal in building the Traymate Camper was to ensure it retained the same extreme strength and durability as the Trayon Camper, while being low cost and versatile. Enabling anyone on a budget to get access to one.

The Traymate aluminium ute canopies carry their jack off legs on the side / not in your loading area. they are also far more practical, easy to use and less combersome...

Tray Mate Campers - Aluminium Ute Canopies

Traymate for Tradies

The base model of the Traymate Camper is called the Traymate shell. It is a blank canvas for you to fit out just the way you want, as you would with standard aluminium ute canopies. There is no slant in the frame, yet the frame is extremely strong. This provides much more internal useable space.

This is ideal for tradies who what a removable tool box, which they can also use to mount their ARB fridge and roof top tent and go camping on the weekend. It is your DIY option, that easily can be kitted out as a trade and / or camping system.

Traymate shell - slide on Aluminium ute canopies

The Traymate shell is 175 kg including its free standing legs. It has the same powder coated aluminium construction as the Trayon Camper and the same floor structure with beams. This allows the addition of drawers for extra storage, an external bench and/or an additional 35 Litre water tank as optional extras.

The back wall is perfect to attach the Trayon Outhouse, giving you an additional privacy cubicle for showering or changing. The internal structure allows you to attach anything you want to the walls and floor.

This is great if you already have a rooftop tent, chest style fridge/freezer, the drop slide, internal kitchenette cabinets, water tanks, tie down points etc. You can buy it all and install them yourself or you can get Traymate Campers to deck it out for you.

The Traymate Shell price is: $6,000

Traymate for Families

Trayon realised that there is simply no budget slide on camper that allows you to sleep an entire family of 4 - 6.

The only alternative is a camper trailer with added sleeping compartments or a tent. But what if this family is concerned about the safety of towing, they don’t want to pay the extra rego, the tracks they are exploring are closed for trailers, or they want to tow the boat instead?

Young families are unlikely to spend $30,000 on a Trayon or a camper trailer for this purpose. Ideally, the parents want to sleep seperate to the children.

So in order to make the Traymate family friendly, Traymate Aluminium Ute Canopies have custom built a roof top tent tailored for families, or anyone who wants loads of sheltered space. It has a full sized Queen bed that doesn’t get folded in half, the bed stays made up for every journey.

Traymate for families - Slide on Aluminium Ute Canopies

Once open, the roof top tent makes a massive awning approximately 2,300 mm wide and 2,300 mm long. It takes a matter of seconds to set up the roof top tent, with internal access to the canopy.

You just flip over the one beam and the counter-levered Australian made canvas structure fully erects the tent. Then you simply push up three peaks and you’re done. It’s that quick.

An additional weather proof annex with a vinyl floor can quickly be zipped onto the roof top tent awning. This gives additional privacy and shelter. It is a large concealed space for cooking and staying dry or even just staying away from those pesky flies. It can be added for just $1,785 and comes in a bag that fits easily inside the Traymate.

Traymate for families internal - Slide on Aluminium Ute Canopies

The roof top tent is 2,300 mm long and 1,800 mm wide. So if you’re not a giant, you can actually sleep cross ways and your wife and two kids can fit next to you as well. It has full 360 degree cross ventilation, and can handle heavy rain.

However, for some luxury or additional separation from the kids, you can attach the Traymate Camper’s kids room (or sleepout) to the annex. For $1,890, this room can easily sleep three kids, or two adults. That way if the weather turns bad, you have a place that is covered and concealed from the rain, allowing cooking and sleeping to be unimpeded. There is also plenty of ventilation and fly screens all around.

The Traymate Rooftop tent on its own is $3,800. That includes a mattress and an LED strip light inside and it can be bought separately if you want it on your vehicle or your own canopy.

Next, the potential configurations for the Traymate Camper and their price will be discussed. These are just to give you an idea of the configurations available.

Minimum Viable Slide on Canopy Camper

The Traymate shell, a simple slide on aluminium ute canopy is $6,000. The Roof top tent is $3,800 (with $200 fitment). So for $10,000, you get a bed and a massive awning, with lots of secure storage that you can equip with whatever you like.

This is Traymate’s recommended minimum viable slide on aluminium canopy camper, at $10,000 called the Traymate Base 1.

Traymate Camper - Budget slide on camper - camper trailer

Later on you can add the annex walls, kids rooms, Trayon Outhouse, underbody storage drawers and Trayon kitchen bench as life progresses or you just want some more luxuries to accompany your touring lifestyle.

Ultimately, you can pick and choose what you want. That’s the benefit of the Traymate camping system.

Functional Slide on Ute Camping Canopies

If you have some more room in your budget, you can also add a 100 Litre upright fridge / freezer (or a chest freezer on a drop slide), 110 Litre water tank and a 120 amp deep cycle battery, along with the Trayon kitchen bench all for about $16,990. This would be a very functional camper and its called the Traymate Base 2.  This one would be the best platform to start with for anyone looking for a great camper with plenty of features and options to retro-fit more upgrades at a later stage.

The water system is gravity fed. The same hose is used to fill it up and to drain it. This is ideal for the outback as there is less things to go wrong with.

Should you choose Traymate to build the internal fit out, you can rest assured that it is done in such a way to maximise free internal space, while ensuring the majority of the weight is as far toward in the camper as to assure the weight of the camper when fitted to your dual-cab ute is at the center of the wheel base as possible. Just like the Trayon Camper.

This weight distribution helps prevent wear and tear on your vehicle and is generally safer for the vehicle's occupants, you can read more about how to choose a slide on camper.

Infographic of Slide on camper weight distribution consideration

Full Spec Ute Camping Canopies

The full spec ute camping canopies really just brings the best of the Trayon Campers creature comforts with a few unique ones, all for less than the base cost of the Trayon Campers!

You can use Traymate’s on-demand Coleman H2Oasis Elite hot water system, or you can fit your own.

The hot water system is $550, the stove is $330, the extra gas bottles are $4.

The battery system on the Traymate Camper is completely new, in fact the Australian manufacturer is unveiling it in the Traymate range. It is a all in one tough battery box with a 1000 watt inverter, USB charging points, LED lights and 12V outlets. It can be charged from the car while driving or through solar power or 240v. It is also Lithium upgradable if one day you feel like splurging on 80% more usable power storage at a third of the weight of the original AGM battery.

You’ll get additional LED lights, drawers, and your choice of Annex, kids room sleep outs or additional awnings. Basically you spec it up from the shell, adding all the accessories you want. Resulting in a camper around $25,000.

It’s easy to setup and pack up, massive amount of sheltered space, its strong and sturdy.

Traymate Campers - Modular Slide on Aluminium Ute Canopies

Will people have different ideas to what Traymate can install? Of course! That’s the beauty of the Traymate Camper, it is the canvas for your picasso painting. Get the base camper shell, and build it the way you like.

You could also build it in stages. Start with the shell and roof top tent. Over time, as the family grows, add the awning, drawers and sleep outs. Traymate can retrofit any of the accessories at any point in time In fact, Trayon has customers from the 90’s coming back to buy accessories 20 years later! Nothing is off the cards.

The Life Friendly Camping System

This is ideal for people who want to go touring on a budget. Anyone who would usually look at fitting out standard aluminium ute canopies for camping. Especially young families that don’t want to tow a trailer, or they want to tow a boat. They need the space of a camper trailer, but also want to take the bikes, or horse float or jetski. You no longer need to choose.

The Traymate Aluminium Ute Canopies give you everything you need to be comfortable, and if you don’t have something, you can easily add it.

When you buy a Traymate, you buy a camping system for life.

Traymate camper fly- Slide on Aluminium Ute Canopies

 

Current Status of Manufacture

Currently, the Traymate Aluminium Ute Canopies are currently only available in dual cab models. It is 1,800 mm long and 1,830 mm wide. Traymate is working on releasing a single/extra-cab model in the near future. It will be 2,200 mm long.

The rooftop tent of the dual cab model goes up over the headboard and the cab like the photos of the Amarok.

Traymate Camper - Aluminium ute canopies on VW Amarok

Traymate Camper -  VW Amarok Dual Cab

Using the level of escalation principle, the Traymate can be barebones or at the maximum level of escalation. It’s the only single product on the market that offers every level in-between. And because of this, it will never be affected by the level of escalation. It is Australia’s first, possibly the world's first class 1 budget multipurpose slide on camper.

In Summary

There has been untapped demand for a high-quality budget slide on Aluminium Ute Canopies. The purpose built Trayon Camper can’t be downgraded to meet this demand, because it’s still the award-winning and the best selling class-two slide-on camper in Australia.

The Trayon Camper has the longest running record of all slide-on’s, it’s still the lightest, it’s still the one that has the most weight toward the center of the wheelbase. It’s still the only one with a 10 year structural warranty (on road and off road) and still the only one that can prove all that.

Instead, Trayon created Traymate Campers, more than the standard tradie aluminium ute canopies, they are a camping oriented system. Built using the same principles and the same materials as the Trayon. It is an Australian thoroughbred, built to last. It can be as simple or as complex as you want. You can DIY fit out, or get Traymate to do it for you.

It is Legos for the big kids.

Traymate roof top tent - slide on aluminium ute canopy

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