In this story written by a Trayon Camper Owner, we hear about the travels of Trayon Camper #1076 named “Smokey”, in the words of its owner, Gary.
It highlights 11 key reasons why Trayon is the way to go when looking at touring Australia from his perspective.
Over to you, Gary….
This was it. The first extended trip in “Smokey”, Our Trayon Camper, Number #1076. The plan was to set off from Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, make my way over to Perth via the coast road, and return back to Victoria via an inland route.
“Smokey” already had a number of trips under its belt, including trips to the desert, forays in the high country, and travels across the sand dunes. Slush, dust, bush and boulders, you name it, but never for more than a week at a time.
It was time for long trip, and I decided on Western Australia (WA). This extended WA trip was a dream come true, and many months in the making. Meticulous planning, logging of coordinates and bare-faced excitement were all part of the process. Alas, I couldn’t convince Barb to venture off into the Wild West with me, as she is a devout five-star girl!
In spite of “Smokey” boasting internal heating, a toilet, shower and annexe, Barb opted to go to Japan with our adult daughter instead. Poor choice, girls!
Well, let me tell you, the WA trip was an adventure indeed!
Looking back, there were many highlights, but I think Toolinna Cove on the Great Australian Bight near Calguna, showed the true mettle of “Smokey” the Trayon.
I’ll tell the story based around the ten (+1) reasons why “Smokey” was the perfect steed.
Now, let’s get started: 11 Reasons To Own a Trayon Camper
While packing for the two-month trip, I discovered the first key feature of a Trayon – I had about 3.5 cubic metres of storage space! That’s 4 domestic trailers of space in a unit only 2.2 x 1.98 x 1.2m! The food alone covered more than six weeks of sustenance, with pre-cooked, vacuum packed and dehydrated meals which I had prepared beforehand. Plus, 100 Litres of fridge space and 110 Litres of water was more than ample for extended bush stays.
Trayon’s light tare weight gave me the chance to really load up while staying under my vehicle’s “Gross Vehicle Mass”, which is the maximum legal weight of my vehicle plus a full load. So load up I did! Win number TWO, without even getting out of the driveway!
While taking the vehicle ferry from Sorrento to Queenscliff in Victoria, I discovered the third key trait of a Trayon, – its’ compact ‘piggy-back’ style. No trailer, no extra ferry fees! I saved about 80 bucks (and well over a grand when going to Tassie on a different trip!). I was only half an hour from home and the Trayon benefits just kept coming!
I had arrived a little late to board the ferry, and as a result was sent to the ‘reserve’ queue. The ferry could only efficiently carry so many vehicles over a certain height. While I slipped through first in my nice low Trayon (being standard car height and length), all the big rigs had to wait an hour for the next crossing!
I had now hit the Great Ocean Road. What a spectacular drive! It follows the rugged Victorian coastline, with the ocean on one side and steep mountain rain forest on the other. The road is often very windy and narrow with frequent high winds hurtling in from the Southern Ocean. Here I discovered another of Trayon’s great triumphs. Its balanced low centre of gravity helped stick the vehicle to the windy road and cut through the powerful wind gusts. Only 100 kms into an 11,000 kilometre plus trip, and already up to Trayon benefit number five!
The next leg involves the most harrowing experience of the trip – the track to Toolinna Cove in South Australia to explore the Great Australian Bight.
I hit Calguna in SA and asked the owner of the local roadhouse what the 100 kilometre track to Toolinna Cove was like. “Not many go there, y’know”, she answered. “You can’t get a trailer through and you need a good 4×4.” She looked out the window at my 2005 Rodeo carrying the Trayon and said with a hint of caution in her voice, “You should be OK in that.”
“How much water do you have?” she continued. I replied that I had about 90 litres all up. She nodded, “That should be OK….Good luck.” GOOD LUCK!!???” I thought.
Now, any sensible person would have read the subtext, but, insulated by ignorance, I set off on my merry way!
With the hand-written directions she had given me I hit the first 12 kilometres of gravel with relative comfort. Then, things started to get iffy. The gravel gave way to limestone rock….. it then became limestone boulders! Time for some serious offroading! Soon the boulders were hidden by the winding route as thick bush and she oak closed in on the track, reducing it to a path so narrow that the overgrowth was clawing viciously at the truck and Trayon.
There is no way a trailer would have made it through. It would be too bulky, and there would be no way to turn around, let alone try to reverse out. Occasionally, I encountered some smooth short stretches of clay pan and appreciated the brief respite from the battering.
There is no way a trailer would have made it through. It would be too bulky, and there would be no way to turn around, let alone try to reverse out.
I pulled the wing mirrors in to try to preserve them from the talons of the dense bush, but still managed to have them both ripped off! While retrieving the first of them off the track, I surveyed the rig to find a trail of water into the distance dripping from the Trayon. The bush had stripped the outside tap from the side of “Smokey”, and I lost 40 litres of precious water!
On top of that, the cover on the 15 amp plug was ripped off and I had also managed to collect a fair amount of botanical specimens in every nook and cranny, not to mention the severe scraping both Trayon and truck had taken.
Both driver and the rig had been subjected to some obscene shaking. No way any trailer would have gotten this far! Unphased, I pushed on. After all it was only another 65 kilometres to go…
After a harrowing four hours I reached the destination. Relieved, distraught and totally buggered, I set up camp in the most spectacular of places on the cliff edge overlooking the Southern Ocean.
I was now exposed to fierce south-westerlies. The vegetation was so battered by the ferocious winds, it didn’t even reach 100mm above ground. I could hardly find shelter behind prostrate shrubs.
Luckily, bush camps are where Trayon excels. You can set up in 10 minutes while others are fiddling with tents, banging in pegs or reversing oversized palaces into tight areas.
Luckily, bush camps are where Trayon excels. You can set up in 10 minutes while others are fiddling with tents, banging in pegs or reversing oversized palaces into tight areas.
It soon became apparent that the Trayon had yet another hidden talent. She was built like a brick outhouse, and was stronger than Greek coffee! The high quality heavy Australian made canvas did not flinch in the face of nature.
Despite the rugged drive, nothing inside the Trayon came loose or broke. Trayon construction is so solid that the 10 year warranty may as well be 20! “Smokey” definitely took everything Nullarbor bush could throw at her, and I settled down thinking what else could possibly test her.
Trayon construction is so solid that the 10 year warranty may as well be 20! “Smokey” definitely took everything Nullarbor bush could throw at her, and I settled down thinking what else could possibly test her.
A distant rumble answered that question.
A thunderstorm was brewing to the south-west and bearing down at horrifying speed across the Southern Ocean. I sat fascinated as the elements provided an exciting, yet daunting, meteorological lightshow.
I had opted to leave “Smokey” on the tray and set her up with the annexe. This gives the Trayon the equivalent space of a 5m caravan. I hadn’t bothered to put the fly on and feared the worst, sitting on the edge of a precipice nearly 100 metre in height! Thundering waves crashed into the cliff face. Now, courage is for the foolhardy and I admit to cowardice. Panic reigned supreme. “Would the cliff give way? Would I survive the night? Would ‘Smokey’ stand firm in the tempest?” I wondered.
Now was the time to relinquish atheism! I prayed to every deity I could recall. Maybe someone answered! “Smokey” enclosed me with protection and kept me dry and safe. Nothing was going to hurt me while in her care. Hail to “Smokey” and Trayon!! Strong, resilient, stable and reliable. Better than a German Shepherd – and I didn’t have to register her! I slept soundly.
Next morning, I packed up to leave by another route of 80 kilometres to get to the highway. What else could possibly go wrong?!!?
Well, the track out was only 80 kilometres… but 90 percent of it was flat clay pan. It had now rained for the first time in nine months, and suddenly I had 80 kilometres of slippery mud to contend with. Of all the luck! In a desert, it rains for the first time since Adam was a boy and I cop 80 kilometres of sticky clay! The brief stretches of clay pan that had provided relief from the rubble on the way into Toolinna, were now a curse. The “All Terrain” tyres immediately filled with the greasy red mud, while deep ruts had punctuated the track with bog holes. Added to that was the insane serpentine nature of the track!
Who on earth cut this track? On the flattest part of the world’s flattest continent, there was barely 100 metres of straight going!
I was constantly turning the wheel to help the vehicle gain traction, but this caused aching shoulders and risked spinning me sideways in the mire. Exhilarating for some, maybe, but not for me. Fortunately (Ah! Good luck at last!), there was only low heath either side of the track, so I avoided trees simply because of their absence.
Eventually, opting to drive past the mud and cut my own parallel track through the heath, some three and a half hours later I hit the highway. Time to regroup! I aired up the tyres, kissed the black top. What else could go wrong? Try a puncture from traversing the heat! Thank you, Providence! Fortunately, it was a slow leak and I could limp along for 100 kilometres or so before lugging out the compressor. Somehow, the truck and Trayon had survived not just the bush and elements, but also me! I decided that Toolinna Cove was actually named in my honour. ‘Tool-in-a Cove’!
I fuelled up in the next roadhouse and checked the consumption. The truck usually delivers 10.5 litres per 100 kilometres as an unladen around-town conveyance.
I had just gone 200 kilometres, mostly in 4×4 on rough tracks, and still managed to keep the fuel usage to 12 litres per 100 kilometres!!! On good gravel and the highway while carrying the Trayon, I managed 11.6 litres per hundred kilometres. The Trayon’s light base weight of about 400 kilograms, and low profile against the wind, reduced fuel consumption quite significantly. Caravanners often laud getting 16 litres per hundred kilometres out of a similar 3 litre diesel tug. If they only knew…
I opted for a caravan park to recoup. The owner said I could wash my muddied truck and Trayon with the bore water. I not only got them clean but the large amount of mud had top dressed his lawn.
Part way through the trip I came across a fellow traveller towing a large caravan. The road was gravel, but good going apart from some innocuous ‘whoop-de-dos’. It seems that his 4×4 utility had been brilliant on the flat black top, but the 2.5 Tonne plus weight of the caravan had challenged the chassis with the see-saw motion it caused on the little rises.
The 2.5 Tonne plus weight of the caravan had challenged the chassis with the see-saw motion it caused on the little rises. The rocking had amplified the force of his caravan on the tug, so much so that it bent the chassis mid point!
The rocking had amplified the force of the van on the tug, so much so that it bent the chassis mid point! Inside the van it looked like the last six days of the second world war. Fittings broke, items were strewn everywhere. Part of this problem is the inability to pack securely in a caravan, difficulty in balancing your load, and more challenge driving to conditions. Another part is inherent in caravan towing. Towing is fraught at the best of times. Lower sideways stability in cross winds, difficulty parking in confined spaces, jack-knifing in heavy breaking, tough reversing into campsites and stress caused by the lever interaction between the vehicle and the caravan on rough roads.
The most terrifying part is the damage a caravan can do to the tug. This incident proved all of that, if nothing else. This poor fellow had sixty thousand dollars and a dream holiday shot to pieces.
This poor fellow had sixty thousand dollar caravan and a dream holiday shot to pieces.
Not an issue with a slide-on like Trayon, though. The weight is distributed so that most of it is low and over or forward of the rear axle and presents a low sail area for crosswinds to affect. Result? A stable, safe and balanced vehicle.
I know I am singing to the Trayon choir on this one, but…. buy Australian made.
Apart from helping the economy, there are a host of sound reasons. Cheap imports have three big drawbacks.
As described on the Trayon Forum, Trayon owners have a huge regard for the backup service they get. It borders on legendary. My own experiences have confirmed this. The patience, pride and attention to detail from the Trayon staff and their agents shows the confidence the Trayon ‘family’ of owners have in the company.
Trayon owners are loyal with good reason (they are also generous in their support for other owners). Trayon’s ten year warranty is amazing, but it is borne of the quality and devoted care that Trayon gives their product.
Trayon owners are loyal with good reason (they are also generous in their support for other owners). Trayon’s ten year warranty is amazing, but it is borne of the quality and devoted care that Trayon gives their product.
If all this sounds like a paid promo for Trayon, it isn’t. It’s just a result of a product which ticked all the right boxes after three years of patient, careful research.
I have never regretted the choice I made, and continue to be astounded by “Smokey” – and Trayon.
Good Trayon Travelling!
The Flinders Ranges is an iconic destination that arguably doesn’t get the accolades that many
other places in Australia get. However this region is spectacular with magnificent landscapes,
rugged mountains, deep and impressive gorges, creeks lined with River Red Gums and abundant
wildlife. The Flinders Ranges stretches around 430kms from Port Pirie to Lake Callabonna and is
South Australia’s largest and most spectacular mountain range. It is really a place that deserves a
few weeks to explore, and in this guide we will explore some of the southern attractions of the
Hawker is at the southern entrance to the Flinders Ranges and is a great
place to purchase supplies from the local supermarket and to fuel up at one of the petrol stations.
Hawker also has a range of accommodation options and a great gallery to visit if you have time.
From Hawker head north-east on the Wilpena Road towards the rugged ranges surrounding
Wilpena Pound and turn left after 31kms into the Rawnsley Park Station complex for your first
Rawnsley Park overlooks the southern side of Wilpena Pound and is
a great place to commence a trip into the Flinders Ranges. The station has range of
accommodation including self-contained villas & holiday units, powered caravan sites and bush
camping. Our preference is the usually uncrowded bush camping area just 500m from the main
caravan park section. With the Trayon you have all the facilities you need so you can escape the
crowds and enjoy the magnificent views of the Rawnsley Bluff and surrounding ranges, especially
at sunset when the hills light up spectacularly.
At Rawnsley Park Station there are a number of marked bushwalks including the steep and
challenging trek to the top of Rawnsley Bluff which affords views down the centre of Wilpena Pound
and to the nearby Chace Range. Rawnsley Park also has its own 4WD track called the Arkapena
Track and this is a great way to see the surrounding ranges and learn more about the area with the
supplied map & guide. There are some great lookouts with panoramic views of Wilpena Pound and
adjoining ranges, with some mildly challenging 4WDriving to top off a great afternoon adventure.
From Rawnsley Park head north for 17km to the Wilpena Pound turn-off on the left, and then drive
the 4km into Wilpena Pound.
Wilpena Pound is the most well-known feature of the Flinders
Ranges. The pound is a large sickle-shaped and naturally-made amphitheatre which covers
approximately 8,000 hectares and has the highest peak in the Flinders Ranges which is St Mary
Peak at 1170 metres.
Wilpena Pound was first settled by Henry Price who opened up and ran the 40,000 hectare Wilpena
Station in 1851. By 1863 Wilpena consisted of well over 200,000 hectares, but was nearly ruined by
the drought of that decade. The Hill family obtained the lease for the pound section in 1901 and
they decided to try farming which was something never before attempted so far north.
For several years they had some success growing crops inside the Pound, but in 1914 there was a
major flood and the road through the gorge was destroyed. Devastated, the Hill family could not
bear to start all over and sold their homestead to the government. In 1945 the tourist potential was
recognised and a hotel called the Wilpena Chalet was opened on the southern side of the creek just
outside the gorge. This chalet has been run by various private companies ever since, and now
Wilpena Pound is a major part of the Flinders Ranges National Park.
There are a range of walks available at Wilpena Pound and is a great place to base yourself for
several days if you are a keen bushwalker. However if you wish to experience the Flinders in your
4WD and camp in a more secluded place I would suggest you continue northwards.
From Wilpena Pound head back to the main road (Flinders Ranges Way) turning left and heading
north. This bitumen road winds through the picturesque ranges with the well-signed turn-off to
Willow Springs around 14km away.
The Willow Springs Station is 3km from the main road. Call in
to the office for information on camping options and the iconic 4WD track – Skytrek.
Willow Springs has a limited number of private camping sites all situated within 2km of the
homestead. Each site has a fire ring with BBQ plate, long drop toilet, and plenty of room for group
camping. There is an Amenities block near the homestead for hot showers and flush toilets, along
with a camp kitchen.
Willow Springs Station is a 70,000 acre cattle and sheep property that has been operating since the
1860s. Originally Willow Springs was known as Appealinna and settled by Joseph Wills in 1856.
The Reynolds family purchased the property in 1956 and still manage it to this day, with sheep the
main business supplemented by the accommodation and 4WD access payments.
Skytrek consists of a series of station roads, old mining tracks, and a fire break. It was first opened
in 1995 consisting of 70km of trails in and around Mt Caernarvon north-east of Wilpena Pound in
In May 2001, the Reynolds Family sold off a proportion of land to the Yellow Footed Rock Wallaby
Preservation Association (YFRWPA) on the understanding that Willow Springs Station would lease
back this proportion of the Skytrek track and provide the Association with ongoing funding. It
seemed to be a good idea at the time – the mountain country is pretty unproductive grazing country,
there was a drought going on and the owner wanted to see the wallabies protected.
This arrangement worked fine for several years until 2012, until circumstances changed and Skytrek had
to be diverted around the Conservation Reserve. The new track is still fantastic and includes some
great new tracks and lookouts, so if you have visited Skytrek in the past check out the new version
or if you’ve never been here it is well worth the entry fee and full day activity.
The complete 79km Skytrek route takes around 6 hours, and you need at least this amount of time
to experience and take in all the fabulous views without rushing. There is a curfew for commencing
Skytrek – you must leave before 10.30am so you have enough time to complete the trek.
Skytrek starts adjacent the woolshed with a prominent ‘Skytrek’ sign at the gate, reset your trip
meter here so you can use the supplied trip notes. The notes are great and along with the marked
points of interest, provide additional interest and insight into the history of the station and the area.
There is plenty to see along the way including aboriginal engravings (Petro-glyphs), fantastic
scenery, old huts, and some challenging 4WDing. At the end of Skytrek don’t forget to drop off your
key and inform the caretakers that you have safely finished your epic adventure.
From Willow Springs it is only a short drive up to Stokes Hill lookout, which provides a 360 degree
view of the surrounding Flinders Ranges. This is a great place to see sunrise, sunset, the night sky,
or just the ever-changing colors of the landscape. There is a scale model of the pound and
information signs on the area, as well as good mobile phone coverage here if you need to contact
friends or family.
From Willow Springs head back south along the Flinders Ranges Way to Bunyeroo Road and the
Bunyeroo Gorge Scenic Drive which is a highlight of this area.
The Bunyeroo Road starts with grassy plains, covered with Native Pines and surrounded by bare
hills. Soon the purple peaks of the distant ABC Range are the dominant feature. There are some
excellent parking bays with stunning views of the Ranges, before the steep descent down into
Bunyeroo Gorge. Once down into Bunyeroo Creek, you actually drive up the creek bed, which has
been carved out of the ABC Range over 590 million years.
Emerging from Bunyeroo Creek, the road enters the Wilcolo Creek Valley and there is now a
dramatic change in scenery, with immensely steep hills, sheer gullies and pyramid peaks, with the
Heysen Range on your left and the ABC Range on your right, with dense stands of native pines and
giant River Red Gums, with many small creeks to cross. Then you are back into open and flat
country and then into a forest of native pines. After passing through one last creek, the road
terminates at the Brachina Gorge Road – take the turn left into Brachina Gorge.
Brachina Gorge meanders its way through sharp sawtooth ridges of resistant quartzite. This
spectacular gorge was once used as a pass through which bullock teams pulled their loads and is
now a favourite picnic and camping area. “Brachina” derived from the Aboriginal word ‘vachina’,
meaning cranky, refers to a mythical argument between birds over a grind stone.
Continue through the gorge to the west, with the road terminating eventually at the main Outback
Highway. Next we’ll head down south to another fantastic station – Merna Mora.
Merna Mora is a 130,000 hectare working station run by the Fels family
who has been operating this pastoral lease since 1889. The station stocks cattle and sheep, but
fortunately for us they have also diversified their business and included tourism as well. The station
has been open to visitors since 1968 and your hosts Kaye and Donald Fels (5 th generation Fels) will
make you welcome and explain the features of the property and the area.
The bush camping at Merna Mora is just fantastic, with a number of areas to choose from alongside
the picturesque Moralana Creek. With the river red gums, flat quiet campsites, and the spectacular
backdrop of the western flank of Wilpena Pound you would be hard-pressed to find a better spot to
base yourself for a few days.
Even though the camping is great at Merna Mora, the main attraction is the fantastic tracks
available throughout the station. There are four tracks which are accessible for visitors, these are
the Bunbinyunna Track, Historic Track, Lake Torrens Track and Wowee Track. Each track has its
own set of challenges and attractions, with the Wowee Track the most difficult with a real “wow”
factor. All tracks begin and end at the station, with maps and comprehensive trip
notes included for your selected track.
Supplies and fuel can be purchased from Hawker, so stock up here prior to heading to into the
Flinders as there are limited supplies available here.
Basic equipment spares and recovery equipment should also be carried.
Mobile phone coverage is patchy with service available on the higher sections of the tracks, so
alternative communication such as a satellite phone is a good option.
Avoid the hot summer months and visit between April and October for the best time to camp and
The Flinders Ranges is a great destination in its own right, with some fantastic camping and
4WDriving available at the various stations in the Wilpena Pound area. The scenery is outstanding
and this is a real outback experience you will not forget quickly. Add the Flinders Ranges to your
wish list and spend a week or so here, you certainly will not be disappointed!
The drive into (and out of) the Wonnangatta Valley is one of the iconic drives in the Victorian High Country with panoramic views traveling on many challenging 4WD tracks.
There is plenty of historical sites to explore including cattleman’s huts on the high plains and the Wonnangatta Station
The Station is infamous for the scene of a dramatic and still unsolved murder mystery in the early 1900s, but it is rumored that the perpetrators were actually known to locals and the police.
This trip starts at Licola which is a small town on the banks of the Macalister River approximately 60km north of Heyfield.
Licola has an excellent general store for any of those last minute supplies or fuel for the trip, and lovely shady park beside the river.
The photographs in the store feature some great pictures of previous traveler’s dilemmas as well as photographs of the dramatic weather conditions such as
floods and fires.
The park is a terrific place for a cuppa or lunch before tackling the tracks.
From Licola head along the Wellington River Valley on the Tamboritha Road which passes several picturesque camping areas on the riverbank, then climb up out of the valley to Bennison Lookout which has fabulous views towards Lake Tali Karng, Mount Wellington and the Razorback.
Next is Tamboritha Saddle and some of the fabulous Victorian high plains.
Continuing along the high plains head pass the Lost Plain picnic area eventually arriving at Arbuckle Junction. To the right is Moroka Road which heads to the Pinnacles and the fire tower that offers panoramic views, but for this trip we will head left along the Howitt Road.
Not far from Arbuckle Junction is the gorge car park. From here there is a fantastic walk to Mount Reynard which at 1701m is one of the higher peaks in the area. The next major attraction is the Snowy Plains Airstrip.
The Snowy Plains Airstrip is Victoria’s highest airstrip (1600m) and is manned during the fire season. Just past the turnoff to the airstrip there is a faint track to the left that leads to a clearing and fantastic views across the ranges.
At the right time of the year (Nov/Dec) there are wildflowers of different colors covering the ground, making a fantastic foreground to the mountain ranges.
Further along the Howitt Road is a sign on the right to Dimmick Lookout where there are a series of tables just perfect for a stopover, as the views from this lookout are spectacular. The lookout abuts a sheer cliff that drops down into Bryce’s Gorge, with forested wilderness seemingly stretching on forever and the Wonnangatta Valley also visible in the distance.
Check out this 360 deg view from the lookout.
It is just a fantastic lookout and one of the best in the high country, well worth the short deviation from the main Howitt Road.
Not far from the Dimmick Lookout turnoff is a parking area that is the beginning of a series of walking tracks. A short walk (1km) will bring you to Guys Hut, which is a classic log constructed hut with the distinctive high country chimney.
The longer walk continues past Guys Hut to the edge of Bryce Gorge, and the Conglomerate and Pieman Falls that plunge over 100m from the massive escarpment.
There is also a less defined walking track that joins the Dry River Walking Track which is a popular track for bushwalkers and horse riders into the Wonnangatta Valley.
The Dry River Track was also the route that drovers took their cattle from the Wonnangatta Station to the Howitt High Plains for summer grazing before the station was closed and the area became a National Park.
The next prominent feature along the Howitt Road is the Howitt Plains and hut. The hut was built by the Bryce family of Wonnangatta in the early 1900s.
Not much of the original hut remains, except for the hand-cut shingles underneath the corrugated iron roof. Adjacent the hut are stockyards that are used horses – this is one of the stopovers for horse riding tours which is another great way to see the sights of the high country.
Just past Howitt Hut is the turnoff to the Zeka Spur Track that leads down into the Wonnangatta Valley.
It is a comfortable 1-2hr trip (34km) from here to the valley floor. The track winds downwards through heavily forested ranges with glimpses of the destination at many points.
There are steep sections and tight corners to negotiate, but given the generally good condition of the track it is usually pretty straightforward. As you get closer to the valley floor it is a good idea to pick up some firewood as it can be scarce around the camping areas.
After the seemingly long trek down Zeka Spur you will finally enter the magnificent Wonnangatta Valley.
The valley with large grasslands and the Wonnangatta River snaking around the edge,
flanked by forested mountain ranges makes a truly spectacular sight.
Once arriving in the picturesque Wonnangatta Valley, it is time to select a campsite. There are several options with camping areas stretching along the river as you arrive from the west. Passing the hut and crossing the Conglomerate Creek there are campsites under the trees that are quite shady and cool.
Some of the better sites are the one’s right beside the river, many with concrete
firepits, pit toilet nearby, and plenty of shade available.
After setting up camp it is just magnificent sitting by the campfire with a cool beverage listening to the bubbling river and watching the sun drop down behind the mountain ranges. It doesn’t get much better than this!
While in the valley make sure you take the time to see the sights of the Wonnangatta Station. Start with a walk around the various historical sites which include the site of the old homestead, the cattleman’s hut, remains of the stockyards, and the cemetery.
There are information boards at each of the various historical sites.
Between the cemetery and homestead ruins there is also a plaque for a young couple killed in 1983 when their 4WD rolled as they attempted to drive the “widowmaker” (a steep track to nowhere on the south side of the valley).
A reminder to be careful in the choices we make.
Now to some history about the Station and the famous murders. Oliver Smith was the first man to settle on the river flats. He built a log cabin in the early 1860’s on the Conglomerate Creek about 800m from where it flows into the Wonnangatta River.
He was not alone when he arrived in the valley – he had his three sons with him along with Nancy Hayes and her son Harry. Nancy (realname Ellen) and Oliver never did marry, but Ellen and Harry took the Smith name which was the custom of the times.
Now Oliver Smith soon discovered that he needed help to develop the property and hit on the idea to offer William Bryce a partnership. William Annie Bryce with their seven children arrived at
Wonnangatta Station in 1872 and settled in a five room house which was above the stockyards and Oliver’s log cabin.
In 1873 Ellen Smith tragically died after giving birth to stillborn twin daughters. Heartbroken, Oliver Smith sold his share to Bryce and left the property with his sons never to return.
For the next 40 years William and Annie Bryce and their children worked and played in the valley.
They grew, made and traded everything they needed for their isolated life on this land. The original five roomed house eventually grew into a stately homestead of eleven rooms.
After Annie Bryce died in 1914 at the age of 78, the property was sold and Jim Barclay appointed the manager of the station.
In late 1917 and early 1918, Jim Barclay was shot in the back with his body buried in a shallow grave in the sand of Conglomerate Creek. The cook, John Bamford, was immediately suspected of the murder as he was nowhere to be found. That was until nearly 12 months later the body of John Bamford was found behind Howitt Hut.
Many believe that the investigation was poorly handled by the authorities allowing the perpetrators to escape justice.
The local rumor is that the murderers were cattle duffers (thieves) from the Mansfield area that murdered both men to conceal their identities.
Even though many locals and the police are believed to know the identity of the
murderers, given the passage of time it is likely that the murders will remain unsolved forever.
The magnificent homestead was unfortunately burnt to the ground in 1957, supposedly by a fire lit by bushwalkers.
For more details on the Wonnangatta Valley see the “Friends of Wonnanagatta” website.
After saying goodbye to Wonnangatta Station cross the Conglomerate Creek past the horse yards and continue on the Wonnangatta Track as it continues down the valley.
About 1km further on the track divides into two and you have the choice of taking the high road on the right or the low road on the left – it doesn’t matter which track you take since they join later on but the lower track is a bit more scenic however can be more difficult in the wet.
Eventually, the valley comes to its end and after crossing the Wonnangatta River you are presented with a choice of routes. To the right is Herne Spur track which we will explore later – for now continue on the Wombat Range Track and then down the Humffray RiverTrack.
The Humffray River Track follows the Humffray River and crosses it numerous times as it winds through the heavily forested valley.
There are some fantastic views at times, as well as several excellent campsites right beside the river. Some of the river entry/exit points can be a little tricky especially when wet, but generally the track is quite easy going.
About 4km along the Humffray River track is the Humffray River Shelter hut, which is basically an open shelter, built for the cattle drovers but now used particularly by Deer Hunters.
Another 4km further is a turn-off to the right which is Water Spur track that leads steeply out of the Humffray River Valley and onto Tea Tree Range Road. The views at the top are spectacular with views to the north of the Blue Rag Range and further to Hotham.
Heading south on the Tea Tree Range Road it’s not far to Mt Sarah, and a short distance down the Sarah Spur Track is another of the many huts built by the Guy Family – the Guys-Mt Sarah Hut.
There is a small partly sheltered campsite adjacent the hut. Retracing your route take the track across the top of Mt Sarah for more fantastic views before re-
joining the Tea Tree Range Road and continuing southwards. The Tea Tree Range Road turns into the Racecourse Track and tracks past the old Pioneer Racecourse and eventually in the popular camping area at Talbotville.
There are numerous track options in this area, and many days can be spent exploring the tracks and historical sites. This trip we’ll leave Talbotville for another time, and
head left off Tea Tree Range Road onto Mt Hart Track and then head to the summit of Mt Hart.
The track to Mt Hart traverses through lush forest and with a little luck you may even spot one the rare lyrebirds that frequent this area. The track opens up into a cleared area at Mt Hart with a fantastic 270 degree view to the surrounding mountain ranges. Unfortunately, the track ends here so backtracking is necessary back to the Hart Spur
Track and then left down the steep Hart Spur Track to the Humffray River Track and the Wonnangatta River.
At the end of the valley there are two tracks heading up the range – Wombat Range Track and Herne Spur Track. The more difficult the Herne Spur Track is the recommended route and definitely a challenge.
This track crosses the Wonnangatta River five times before rising steeply out of the valley. Low range is the order of the day, the track consisting of a series of steep rocky steps and loose rocks with virtually no letup until popping up onto the top of the Cynthia Range.
Continue along the Cynthia Range track which affords fantastic views across the forested mountain ranges, then take the Eaglevale Track that drops steeply back down to the Wonnangatta River at Eaglevale. The Cynthia Range Track continues on to Talbotville which is another terrific place to camp and explore.
Pass the private house and suspension bridge (for access for the property owners when the river is too high), and then cross the Wonnangatta River. Recent rains can cause the river height to rise rapidly so be sure to evaluate the crossing carefully before proceeding.
From Eaglevale head back along the Wonnangatta Road. Continue along the Wonnangatta Road through bush and farmland before eventually joining the Dargo Road and perhaps head into Dargo.
An excellent option is to have a meal at the legendary Dargo Pub.
The Dargo Pub has a great ambience and is a terrific place to enjoy a cool beverage and grab a meal, while taking in the various photographs and information on offer inside. Camping is available out the back if wishing to make a night of it!
Some basic supplies can be purchased from the general store at Licola, but it would be prudent to stock up at one of the major centres on the way such as Traralgon.
Take sufficient food for the planned duration of your trip, and drinking water if worried about drinking from the usually pure mountain streams adjacent to the campsites.
Basic equipment spares and recovery equipment should also be carried. A chainsaw is also a good item to carry, for firewood and clearing any fallen trees from the tracks.
Mobile phone coverage is generally available on the higher sections of the track/s, but alternative communication such as a satellite phone is a good option.
Many tracks in the Alpine National Park are subject to seasonal closure (after June long weekend until Melbourne Cup weekend), including the majority of the tracks traveled and described in this blog so plan your trip between November and June. Even if the tracks are open, river heights and recent rainfall may make many of the tracks impassable so check conditions before departing.
The Wonnangatta Station and Valley is an iconic destination that every 4WDriver should visit, with scenery typical of the Victorian High Country. The mountains and valleys are just spectacular with plenty of fantastic views around, and incredible camping.
The area changes with every season and the weather is simply unpredictable which somehow adds to the mystic of the place. It is a place that you can always find new challenges and experiences no matter how many times you visit, and
if you haven’t been before well just drop everything and get on out here!
Written by Trayon Owner Geoff Martin
March 2019 is a very big Milestone for Trayon Campers, and to explain why, we need to turn back the clock.
Twenty-five years ago, it’s March 1994, and a new kid just moved on to the ‘slide on camper block’. For 50 years previous, the slide on camper market had been stalling, producing caravan style units, ever larger and ever heavier. These old campers were suited to the rough and tumble of no fuss vehicles like the Holden Kingswoods and Valiants, which could carry almost anything along the bitumen. It was normal to see an oversized camper sitting on the back of a kingswood.
While these old campers packed all the conveniences of a full home on wheels, they weren’t suited to the rugged destinations that the new-age 4WDs of the early 90s could reach. The camper industry was calling for something new, something lighter, stronger, and overall more practical that still included all the home on wheels features. There was a niche waiting to be filled, and it was the perfect opportunity for a small, family owned blue collar business called ‘Trayon’ to show the world what they were capable of. Through a combination of trade skills, industry knowledge, a wealth of off-road experience, and technical know-how, the Trayon empire was born.
Twenty-five years ago, from humble beginnings, Trayon took the off road camper industry by storm. It is now the most experienced class 2 slide on camper manufacturer in Australia. As a result, Trayon have helped revolutionise the way we travel Australia on and off the bitumen. Together with other key players in the camper industry, Trayon have created a lifestyle, and contributed to the flourishing off road scene we all enjoy today.
Over the past 25 years, Trayon have grown into an industry stalwart for many reasons. For example, they are (to name a few):
In an age of space-age technologies and materials, 3D design programs, and an off road camper customer base hungrier than a lion, the camper manufacturing competition is fierce.
New camper companies spring up from nowhere, looking to tap into Australia’s obsession with pristine wilderness and the need to access it with a set of wheels. How is it that a humble camper, designed and engineered so long ago by a new blue collar, family owned Australian business has maintained the lead?
Here’s a few key things which has helped keep Trayon firmly centred on the map.
Despite the many other impressive campers being produced both in Australia and abroad, Trayon has a key edge. Spec for spec, they produce the lightest class 2 slide on camper available!
Weighing in at less than 370-390KG dry-weight (unladen), Trayon slide on campers can be carried almost anywhere, while the structural integrity is up there with the best. For this reason, 25 years ago, Trayon blew the off road camper industry wide open. And it is for this reason still that Trayon continues to be the the first choice of many customers seeking to explore the beauty of the Australian Outback, and survive the rigours that come with it.
Trayon has achieved this by employing a constant search for weight reduction, and use of the strongest, most lightweight materials on the market.
Trayon have an internal policy to develop continual weight saving technologies and materials to streamline the base design. Bit by bit, kilogram by kilogram – Trayon endeavors to continually make their campers lighter.
This is critical in creating carrying capacity for the huge list of optional extras, add-ons and upgrades that can be added to a Trayon. This means that you can pack a Trayon with all the new mods available while staying within the carrying capacity of your vehicle.
An example of Trayon’s most recent weight reducing tactic is the implementation of a new fibreglassing technique. While there is minimal fibreglass on a Trayon to start with (in fact it’s just the fold down step door and the flip over roof lid), this new technique has proven to reduce the components’ respective weights by approximately one-third!
The old technique involved applying the fibreglass in layers by hand. Hand laying created large variation in weight (between 7 and 9 kgs) due to the human element in the resin application process. With the new technique, the human element has been removed, ensuring the exact same amount of resin is applied to each and every item, giving them consistency in weight.
And, by reducing the potential number of air gaps and bubbles, it also results in much more strength. After extensive testing, the new technique is being applied across the entire Trayon range.
Trayon uses in depth industry knowledge to ensure incredible weight to strength ratios are achieved. For example, Trayon builds its campers primarily from aluminium but doesn’t have a single aluminum weld in the entire structure. This allows for maximum flexibility and retains the aluminum’s molecular strength to avoid weld cracks or stress fractures.
If you weld aluminum, its molecular strength is reduced by almost one-third! Weld it again, and there goes another one-third. This is why you should be wary of campers with welded frames and why Trayon have used their weld free aluminium design to great effect for so many years.
Not only are Trayon slide on campers extremely light weight and strong, they come with everything needed for long adventures in the rough. For the past 25 years, each slide on camper has been, and still is, designed and built with the essential conveniences mind, for example they contain:
In an era where the majority of off road campers are manufactured overseas and customers being left in the dark about it, Trayon has stayed true to its origins.
Since 1994, every slide on camper driven out of the workshop is 100% Aussie made. Aussie made, designed, owned, managed, and very proud of it! Our Australian made campers are now world renowned!
For this reason Trayon has teamed up with the ‘Australia Made’ campaign to provide a clear example of what Australia made products can deliver. They are officially certified and licensed by the Australia Made Campaign:
Owned, managed and run by the van der Walt family; Trayon Campers is also an official “Family Owned Australian Business” as part of the Family Business Association of Australia:
The last quarter century of Trayon’s development and success would not have been possible without the many partnerships developed with other leaders in the off road, automobile and manufacturing industries.
These partnerships have given Trayon Campers a wealth of opportunity to test appliance prototypes in the real world, and identify the best setups for their customers. These partnerships include companies like:
These companies delivered Trayon groundbreaking technology, for example the latest internal heating systems and super efficient energy charging and storage set-ups. These kinds of products are now being used by countless other companies in the Australian caravan and camping industry, and even worldwide!
Another key factor making Trayon a top choice is its groundbreaking platform design, based on a range of key principles.
Trayon slide on campers are based on the same platform camper concept, design, layout, build methodology and materials as they were back in 1994. The reason for this is that this design is still unbeatable for a ute back camper. The main principles required for an off road worthy slide-on camper include:
An advantage of maintaining a consistent design over the last 25 years is that all of our customers have the option to retrofit their Trayon with most of the latest technology we add to our newest models.
In a world full of consumerism and a throw away mentality, Trayon sticks to the old school approach of making something right, and keeping it relevant so you don’t need to upgrade or move on. There’s no need to sell your 2004 model to buy the 2018 model so you have all the new features. You can simply upgrade your older Trayon with some of the newer appliances, functions and features.
But, just because Trayon stick to the proven reliability of its 1994 slide on camper platform, doesn’t make it outdated. Trayon is also in a continual cycle of innovation, research and development.
Trayon got their platform right many moons ago, which means they can focus the little things which make off road camping more comfortable. Take the the much sought after Trayon Outhouse Double for example. It’s a retrofittable fold out ensuite enclosure attached to the back wall of a Trayon Camper.
Upgrades, optional extras and add-ons are always being developed by Trayon for their campers and the cycle will never stop. Currently they are working on a retrofittable electric conversion for their camper legs – watch this space!
Trayon is now the only slide-on camper company in Australia that builds their products in Australia and officially exports them overseas to an established redistribution branch. While Trayon started exporting way back in 2005, it wasn’t until 2013 that an official global presence was established through the Trayon Europe branch.
Trayon Europe was set up in Switzerland, and began shipping campers from the Swiss branch to other neighboring European countries hungry for the practical toughness delivered by Aussie made off road products. In no time, Trayon slide on campers were bouncing through the snow capped mountains, rolling hills and lush green pastures of Germany, Netherlands, France , Italy and the UK region. Trayon’s slide on camper manufacturer in Europe has proven a roaring success!
With recent further exports to New Zealand and even North America – Trayon is fast becoming a global authority on light-weight slide-on campers for off-road use.
Trayon Campers is the only slide-on camper company that offers a turn-key service to their customers that have already purchased a Trayon Camper but is yet to source a vehicle.
Using their extensive knowledge of the motor vehicle industry with their understanding of things like payload capacities, upgrade possibilities and accessory fitment – Trayon can source a new vehicle of your choosing through their fleet-buy broker at most likely a cheaper price than what is normally available from dealers.
They can set it up with off-road suspension and whatever else you require (bullbars, spot lights, GVM upgrades, roof racks etc) while arranging for the right tray to marry up with your camper after it comes off the production line.
All you’ll need to do is jump in the driver’s seat and turn the key, hence the name “Turn-Key”
This makes things so much easier for the customer when it comes to:
Trayon can do all that for their customers once a camper order has been placed making life that little bit easier.
The Trayon ethos is to ensure customers have every piece of relevant info they need about their campers, their vehicle/camper setup, and off road travel, at their fingertips.
They have taken an extremely active role in educating the public on everything slide-on camper related, through years of experience and expertise. New articles like this one are researched, written and published on a monthly basis to help guide and support customers wanting to know more.
Everything from vehicle reviews, to off road travel articles, and even guides on what type of slide on camper would suit your situation best. It is all geared to ensure customers have the best experience possible, and continue to enjoy their Trayon home away from home for years to come.
From a dream started in 1994, Trayon has come a long way. With a track record that speaks for itself, and a reputation that outshines the rest, the future possibilities are endless!
Twenty first century tourism has engulfed many of the world’s beautiful places.
To find places which are still relatively unaffected by this tourism wave, you have to go further off the beaten track, and deeper into remote areas.
Without a doubt, the best way to do this is with your own set of wheels, and a sufficient camping setup. In Australia, this is commonly called Touring, in America it is referred to Overlanding.
The travellers who set themselves up with a suitable rig (i.e. a capable 4WD Off Road Camping Setup) will open up locations and opportunities which the rest of the world simply cannot access. These following 10 tips highlight how to do remote travel with todays modern vehicles, and how tapping into modern technology can help maximise your chances of success, and minimise the risks involved!
To ensure safe and successful travel in remote and potentially rough areas, you need a vehicle which is tough, reliable, and resilient. A four wheel drive is essential. A four wheel drive ute (aka pickup truck) is ideal. Dual Cab and Extra Cab 4×4 touring setups provide a great balance of cabin space and exterior storage space. Bear in mind however, that a tray-back ute generally provides more flexible storage space than a tub style ute.
Gone are the days of simple four wheel drives with leaf suspension and no ECU. Modern four wheel drives will invariably come with intricate looking coil springs and a range of useful electronic driving aids like improved stability control, ascent and descent aids. Inside the cabin they usually come with a centre console smart screen and quick access buttons to enter 4×4 mode, change tyre pressure, lock the diff/s, and alter suspension on the go. Vehicles like the Ford Ranger epitomize the heights modern tech packed four wheel drive have reached.
For those looking for a more rough and ready vehicle that will take more of a beating, something like the Toyota 79 Series Landcruiser may be more suitable. You will get less electronic driving aids and cabin gadgets, but more resilience and longevity while traveling the world’s most remote regions, like the Kimberley in Australia.
While four wheel drives may consume more fuel than two wheel drive vehicles, fuel saving technology is improving, and there is a range of driving techniques you can use to reduce consumption.
An OBD link is an essential piece of technology to have while travelling in remote locations. It is an electronic diagnostics scanning tool.
Modern vehicles have a swathe of electronic sensors which, upon sensing an issue with the vehicle, can shut down certain parts of the vehicle to prevent further damage caused by continued driving. This can prevent you from limping long distances into a mechanic to fix the issue.
An OBD link lets you connect to the vehicle’s CPU and identify what is wrong. You may then be able to patch the issue up so the CPU doesn’t prevent you from making it to the nearest mechanic.
Your vehicle delivers you to your desired destination, but your shelter system makes or breaks the experience while you are there.
In a survival sense, a proper shelter system is even more important than food and water! Take the ‘survival triangle’ for example, based on the following three principles:
1 – In extreme weather, you need shelter after three hours.
2 – You can survive without water for around three days.
3 – You can survive without food for three weeks.
Here, shelter is the number one critical factor. So make sure your shelter system provides sufficient refuge from all conditions and dangerous animals (i.e. snakes, crocodiles, bears, lions etc..). Some typical off road shelter systems include slide on campers and off road trailers.
Keep in mind, off road camper trailers are great for a large family, but if your goal is to go deeper into the back country, they can quickly become a liability. They generally put more strain on your vehicle, and many destinations now restrict access to trailers (due to conservation and safety concerns).
Look for something which provides the creature comforts you desire when travelling far from civilisation, without compromising on durability or off road performance. And importantly, make sure it fits well with your vehicle, and is able to charge and integrate with your devices through a sufficient power storage system, circuitry, and inverters.
A proper shelter system will keep you alive and extremely happy in all sorts of locations, from the desert, to the Arctic, to the African Savanna!
One thing to keep in mind when choosing a shelter system is to never under any circumstances exceed the Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM). It is very easy to do this, because we innately want to take the entire home with us. But the reality is, the lighter your touring setup is, the less likely something will go wrong with your vehicle.
Also remember to incorporate the following things in your GVM calculations:
Most utes have between 750 kg – 1.2 tonne of available payload to fit everything in. For an example calculation, check out our recent article ‘how to choose a slide on camper’.
Currently, many 4WD’s come with quite soft suspension to be more comfortable on the road. However, off road this has some implications. If you are considering buying a rig for this purpose, we highly recommend you get a suspension upgrade to lift the diff and chassis at least 2″ and handle the constant load of a slide on camper. Factory suspension will quickly fail under rough terrain conditions with a constant load.
And we would also suggest considering front end protection (Bull bar), a winch and a snorkel for maximum versatility.
Solar camping and travel is the way of the future. It means you don’t need to stop in powered campsites to recharge your gadgets and appliances, it is lighter than a portable fuel powered generator, noiseless, and after the initial purchase price, free!
When choosing a solar setup, look for something which can be stored out of harm’s way (i.e. away from branches on overgrown roads), provides sufficient power generation capabilities (i.e 120w solar panels or more is generally the minimum), and integrates well with your vehicle and shelter system.
To support your solar system, good battery storage capacity is a must. In comparison to outdated AGM battery technology, recent Lithium battery technology provides for quick and efficient charging times, is lighter, smaller, and stores more usable energy.
A good option is to have battery management systems installed to intuitively regulate the whole solar/battery/power use relationship.
A proper system will allow you to keep all your camping equipment and technology charged all of the time to aid navigation, safety and provide vital information in remote locations.
When exploring remote and rough areas, you should assume anything could break. So think about which components of your setup could be showstoppers.
As a starting point, you should carry spare vehicle parts like hoses, belts and filters. Many vehicles now have manuals available for download online. These manuals will help to identify which spare parts you should acquire spares for, and how to install them if needed. A chat to your local mechanic will also help to cover off on essential spare parts.
Spare ropes, tapes and adhesives are the next essentials. And finally, a container of assorted nuts, bolts, screws and other bits and bobs is extremely handy!
Load up your smart devices with navigation and information Apps. A good library of apps on your phone or tablet can also come in handy for entertainment when you need it! Just make sure you can access the maps offline! Because where there is no civilisation there will be limited cell reception.
Take hard copy books for times when your tech doesn’t work, and take a list of emergency contacts for times of real need. Load the contacts into your devices and write them down somewhere easy to access.
Find out the safest seasons to travel off the beaten path. Investigate the potential for extreme weather or dangerous animals, and prepare for anything.
Weather websites are useful to get an idea of what to expect. However, weather radio channels are still the most reliable source for travellers. A digital radio can be extremely handy for reliable weather updates.
Take notes from the experiences of others travellers through online articles, blogs and other content. Heed the recommendations of authorities like national park websites and other government organisations.
Precaution is the best form of prevention!
Primarily, you need extra food, water and fuel. As a rule of thumb, at any given time you should have the following:
You should also notify relevant people of your adventures and proposed movements. Tell family and friends exactly where you will be and how to be contacted. Share your location on social media often.
Don’t forget to notify government agencies like parks and wildlife that you will be exploring on or near their land.
And finally, an EPIRB or similar emergency device can be a lifesaver, and thus a very useful addition to a remote travelling setup, alerting the authorities to your location when needed, so people like the Royal Flying Doctors Service can come and help!
These 10 tips will help you assemble a safe, rounded, effective and comfortable travelling setup, and help prepare you to reach the world’s most beautiful destinations.
And before you hit the road, make sure all travel and vehicle insurance is covered. Insurance is a small price to pay to manage the risk, and will provide peace of mind (just bear in mind, if you happen to exceed your GVM, it’s likely insurance won’t cover you either!).
Good luck and safe travels.
It was a groundbreaking year, 1994.
Among other things, the first ever playstation gaming console was released, a strange two-wheeled one-manned vehicle now known as a segway was patented, and a little movie called the Lion King captured the hearts of just about every kid on the planet.
But 1994 was a good year for the big kids, too. The kind of big kids who enjoyed the real finer things of Australian life, like camping, off-roading, and exploring the huge variety of stunning landscapes this ancient continent offers. Why was 1994 so good, you ask?
Because Trayon was born.
And since 1994, Trayon have been leading the Australian made campers market from the fore.
With a combined qualified trade skill set of cabinetmaking, building and motor vehicle manufacturing, the Trayon team focused on developing and engineering a slide on camper that could take on the rigors of the Australian Outback, while offering their owners comfort and ease of travel.
The slide on camper market at the time was stalling. Sure, some great comfortable units were being produced, but no one could work out how to pack a slide on camper with all the comforts (and weight) of a caravan, while meeting the needs of rough Australian roads.
It was time for a slide on camper revolution. The comfort was there, but the relationship between the camper and the vehicle was not. This was the focus of Trayon in the early years. Making sure the slide on camper worked in perfect unison with the underlying vehicle, to produce two units working as one.
In 1994, the perfect blueprint was cracked, and neither Trayon, nor their customers, ever looked back.
Explaining how Trayon found the blueprint will take a trip down memory lane.
Back in the day, you would load up the ol’ Kingswood ute with six Tonnes of gear, and take it wherever the ‘ruff as nails’ Holden would allow you to go. Back then, not a single person would bat an eyelid as a Kingy sped past full to the eyeballs with camping gear, back tyres skimming the wheel arches! Vehicle running gear and weight carrying limitations weren’t even on the radar.
These were the days of the old ‘bush basher’ principle. You’d point the old Holden in the right direction, and it would just get the job done. If you ran into some troublesome country, you backtracked, re-pointed the nose, and away she went!
However in the 80’s and early 90s, with the advent of more specialized yet affordable off road vehicles, bush bashing evolved in to the more modern ‘off roading’. People began tackling more difficult terrain, more frequently, in order to reach those previously unreachable destinations. While vehicle capabilities increased, in many cases, vehicle resilience and longevity went the other way. These new vehicles could go anywhere, but load them up, and they were no Kingswood. And to throw a spanner in the works, when these new off road vehicle broke, you couldn’t fix them in a flash like the vehicles of old.
While vehicles had evolved (or devolved, in a way), slide on campers did not. People were still attached to the big bulky caravan-like slide on campers which sat comfortable on the Kingy’s back, and manufacturers kept delivering them.
For proper off-roading, and to reach those previously unreachable spots, the whole slide on camper concept needed some serious re-thinking. The new design needed to cater for a different set of principles; not only to allow you to traverse difficult terrain, but also to alleviate the stresses placed on the vehicle, and keep within the more tightly regulated, modern vehicle payload limitations. On top of all that, the new design would also have to cater for the wide range of climatic and landscape conditions of Australia, and the rest of the world. The explosion of the off road vehicle market had opened up just about every corner of the planet to the working class man!
The Trayon Camper team came up with a list of design principals to accomplish the goal of delivering a slide on camper to seamlessly sit on a ute’s back and go wherever it goes. A slide on camper which could go almost anywhere, and survive indefinitely. These principles included:
B. As much weight as far-forward and as low-down as possible
C. Low profile
D. Structural integrity
F. One item; multiple purposes
G. KIS – Keep It Simple
Ultimately, by employing these principles, Trayon campers would allow you to realise the true benefits of camping, and everything else the remote, pristine parts of the world have to offer!
Keeping a slide on camper light isn’t as easy as Trayon make it look.
Building a caravan (or any trailer for that matter) is easy as far as weight goes; because you build it from the ground up to accommodate the weight.
The tires, rims, axles, brakes, suspension and chassis are all built to be carrying the right weight. A slide-on camper, however, sits on something that already has all that done; a vehicle with a predetermined weight carrying capacity that is set by its manufacturer and governed by the police and road departments.
The days of loading six Tonnes on the ol’ Kingswood are well and truly gone. These days, the vehicle should not be overloaded past its legal payload limits in any situation, especially when it goes off-road. The conditions in off-road terrain are far more strenuous than a Sunday drive to the shops for some milk. But the pot of gold sitting at the end of that long dusty rainbow is worth the effort.
Adding more stress while reaching that pot of gold, by having the vehicle overladen, is simply asking for something to break. While buying a high end, unbreakable four wheel drive may seem like the only option, that’s not the case. Even with the best of the best, vehicles don’t specify how off road travel will affect the payload capacity. So while on road you may be well under payload or towing capacity, when off road, you may be exceeding your vehicles safe limits of travel.
(There was only one vehicle in the past that had an onroad payload/towing-capacity and a stated off-road payload/towing capacity, and they don’t make that vehicle anymore (Landrover Defender)
The end result is simple; regardless of which truck you buy, for heavy off-road work, you need a light-weight slide on camper solution.
Nine out of every 10 slide on campers on the market are too heavy. Sure they look great, have every comfort under the sun, and every gadget known to man, but it’s all null and void if you don’t make it to your destination.
They might even start off being nice and light-weight as a basic form (i.e. when empty) or a lower specification (i.e. not as many comforts), but eventually, we want bigger fridges, more battery power, larger beds, greater water carrying capacities, heating, cooling, awnings and ofcourse, the kitchen sink. Who can blame us! We want to camp for as long as possible in the beautiful landscapes surrounding us!
The downside is, once this gadget progression sets in; the slim, trim, light-weight camper turns into a sluggish beast! Even the strongest of trucks are then put through their paces, which inevitably leads to breakages, fines for being overladen, insurance payout refusals, and not to mention, poses a threat to life and limb! Sure it sounds dire, but this is the stark reality of it. It highlights just how important it is to keep your slide on camper light, and your camping rig nimble.
Since 1994, Trayon Campers have been the lightest class two slide-on camper on the market, when you compare spec for spec (100L fridge/freezer, 110L water tank etc…). This is due to a couple of reasons. Firstly, it is Trayon’s primary design principal. Secondly, Trayon strive for continual, year by year weight reduction improvement. As technology develops new ways and new products, Trayon adapts. If there is a lighter option for an item that Trayon uses, or an upgrade that could work, then Trayon will research, upgrade, field trail and incorporate it as an option to their clients.
That is why Trayon have held the lightweight mantle for the better part of a quarter century, and still going strong!
A great example of Trayon’s ability to adapt is the Trayon Bed Mattress. By using a dual density camping foam mattress that not only provides comfort but also light-weight – Trayon has a good night sleep covered. A common question from potential clients is “can we upgrade the mattress” and the answer is “yes! Of course you can!” . That is because almost everything in a Trayon Camper is upgradable. Most would imagine this is an upgrade to an innerspring mattress, but it is not the case at all. Trayon steers clear of innerspring mattresses for the following reasons:
Trayon has a better solution as a mattress upgrade. Its called the ‘sleep system’ upgrade. A polymer interlocking spring system that gets assembled under the Trayon mattress not only adds a world of comfort, but also beats an innerspring option hands down for the following reasons:
As an example of the improvement efforts Trayon continually goes through day-by-day; the mattress sleep system upgrade is an excellent representation of the commitment to the design principles that Trayon initiated in the slide-on industry all those years ago.
Every inch of a Trayon camper represents innovation to ensure safety and longevity of your vehicle and the camper.
Truck drivers know this principle from way back. You need to load the most weight as far forward as possible, so that the weight is balancing in front of, or on top of the rear axle. The same principle applies to utes, but on a smaller scale (i.e. Single-cab, Extra-Cab, Dual-cab 4×4 touring setups). You need the load, such as a camper, to be in front or on top of the rear axle of the vehicle – NOT BEHIND! As a result, Trayon designed slide on campers to have 65% of the weight loaded in the front one-third of the camper. This includes things such as:
This allows that 65% of the total weight (empty or loaded) to be as far forward as possible.
It also allows for the heaviest of these items to be on the floor of the camper, to place the weight as low down as possible to produce a low center of gravity.
It is perfect for off road travel in particular. The road (bitumen) is smooth, flat surfaced, with no major gradient leans, no ruts, and no washouts. Ideal driving conditions. However, off-road means you won’t always have all of that. It will surprise you, throw unexpected rough and ready adventures at you out of the blue, and in order accommodate for the unknown you do need complete stability.
There are two possible scenarios if the weight is not positioned toward the center of the wheelbase.
Picture 1 = The Trayon way
Picture 2 = Scenario 1
Picture 3 = Scenario 2
By driving smartly and too the conditions, and taking proper precautions, you can safely tackle many unexpected situations.
And with the right gear, the right weight distribution and a low center of gravity, you can tackle them with extreme confidence!
Quite simply, the taller the vehicle, the harder things get. Parking, storing, driving, sneaking through a tight track and pushing head winds, just to name a few. Often the most intriguing looking tracks are overgrown or the trees hang low. Or maybe a low bridge is ahead, and it is at these times that you don’t want a camper sticking out far above the roof of the vehicle.
Even when driving on the highway; fuel economy will be heavily affected when a camper is sticking up above the cabin, creating much more wind resistance.
Having a low profile in the camper will aid in all-terrain traversing as well as accommodating for the times you just want to travel with as little hindrances as possible. Less hindrances means more travel because you wont dread it so much.
Not to mention a much lower center of gravity for maintaining cornering safety.
Being a small, lightweight and compact camper, combined with the fact that you are not towing anything, means you can go further for longer. It also means you can penetrate into areas that others cannot reach, due to trailer limitations, or overladen weight issues.
The implications of this, is that the camper will be subjected to terrains that have rarely seen a grader (if ever at all). To combat this, Trayon design their campers to take on these terrains in a unique way – FLEX!
The materials used and the build/binding methodology is based roughly on the method used to build airplanes.
Aluminum is predominantly used as the base structural material, as it can flex and it is light-weight, which adheres to principal A. Aluminum does have a major draw-back tho. If you weld it, it is weakened by one-third. Weld it again and it drops another one-third in molecular strength. The aeronautical industry knows this full well and that’s why they don’t weld their aluminum. They rivet and glue. This allows the aluminum to retain its strength while allowing for flex in their structure for the rigors of altitude expansion, engine vibrations and big knocks from turbulence or impact.
As technology and access to materials progressed, Trayon adopted this method of construction. This makes Trayon unique in an industry that welds their aluminum, or tends to use fiberglass that cannot flex – it can only warp/buckle from end to end.
Trayon Campers were the first to offer a 10 year structural warranty, which covers their campers for off-road use. Now-a-days, more slide-on companies are trying to match that in order to provide customer confidence in their purchase, but they don’t have the track record to prove it. Often they’ll have some disclaimer stating that its only for on-road conditions.
Not only have Trayon Campers have been taking on the most severe terrain Australia has to offer for the last quarter century, but also the world.
Trayon can, and has, proven it for a very long time that their camper design works. Trayon no. 1, the first ever sold, is still in use to this day, and is still going strong!
Simply put, instead of selling your 2014 Trayon model to get the new updated features on the 2015 model; you simply upgrade your camper with the new features, because it is the same camper design, layout, build methodology and size as the new ones.
Trayon knew that technology would progress a lot faster, with new concepts, methods and appliances inevitable for the future. If the camper design can be implemented in such a way that it ticks more boxes than others, then they won’t have to keep re-inventing the mouse trap – simply update it instead! From the very first Trayon Camper #001 in 1994 up to the latest ones made, the functionality, design, layout, build methodology and size has remained the same.
The other benefit is that customers can purchase a new Trayon Camper even in its most basic form, and retrofit upgrades as they go. The annex options are a great example of this, there are seven different kinds of annexe configurations to choose from, ranging from a full canvas annex with soft floor and fly screen doors and windows, to a fly screen enclosure.
The customer can simply purchase the Trayon Camper without an annex, test the camper out, then determine what kid of annexe they need (if any) to provide the ultimate shelter system. This allows customers to avoid spending money on options that they might not even use, or might not be the right fit for their style of camping.
This also opens the door for second hand Trayon purchases on platforms such as Gumtree. Because even second hand models can be brought up-to-speed with the modern creme de la creme (within reason – do check with Trayon Headquarters on the upgrades available for any particular Trayon Camper you find first)
This is a very old design principal, but has survived through the ages, and is as relevant now as it has ever been! It basically means killing two birds with one stone. If you are designing something to deliver a function, for the weight and effort of adding that item, it should deliver more than one function.
Trayon employs this principle wherever possible.
The Trayon flip roof is a great example. When you flip the Trayon roof, it effectively doubles the internal space of the camper by flipping the bed over and out of the living space. It then also make an awning for the outside, saving approximately 15kg because you don’t have to add on an awning. It also provides an attachment point for extra accessories like the annex, and it covers the camper’s entrance, so now you don’t have to scramble to close the door and smother the inside of the camper when the heavens open and rain sets in.
In fact, you can leave the camper entrance door open in rain to create a cross draft inside the camper. All you need to do is keep the windows open just a little, to allow hot air to rise and escape, while drawing in cool fresh air through the fly mesh covered entrance.
This principle is a the diamond in the rough, the needle in the haystack.
It’s the principle that is all too often overlooked, in a world of bells, whistles and shiny things.
These days there is a button to do just about everything for you, an electrical device to cater to our every need, and an endless pursuit of procrastination. The thing is, this introduces complexity, and complexity often equals chaos! It means more instruction manuals, more unknown springs and screws, and more chance to go wrong!
To cut through this trend, Trayon made their camper as simple as possible, while retaining 100% of usability and capability. For example, Trayon slide on campers are incredibly mechanically focus (as opposed to electrical) for ease of use and reparability.
The simple Trayon design amazingly provides an open/close time of approximately three minutes, without the aid of an electrical device that can go wrong in so many ways.
With the use of gas struts, the camper’s ‘swing over’ roof is flipped to open the camper with less than 15kgs of force, by a single person. It’s easy to repair, and even if there was catastrophical damage to the struts, the roof can still be flipped, it’s just a little harder to do.
This principle is carried right across the Trayon design and appliances to enable customers to repair themselves if the need should arise. When traveling with a compact camper you can find yourself between a rock and a hard place far from any kind of assistance in the middle of nowhere (which is also why off road adventuring is such a buzz!). Knowing that the Trayon Camper design survived for over 20 years, and that it is easy to repair and a simplistic mechanical beast, is a priceless reassurance.
Since 1994, Trayon Campers have incorporated all of these principles for their customers, and ‘spearheaded’ the way forward for modern slide-on campers.
Trayon has stayed at the forefront of an industry that is constantly changing, adapting to new vehicles, environments, and consumer desires. And despite the incredible leaps and bounds the industry is making as a whole, Trayon stays that little bit ahead of the game.
Ask any Trayon customer. They’ll tell you 1994, and every year after than commandeering a trayon slide on camper, was a very good year!
If you are curious to learn more about Trayon campers, you might find the following articles useful:
A common dilemma when planning an Outback adventure is how to take all your wants and needs.
Vehicles only have one tow ball, so it can turn into a juggling act between your accommodation and recreational priorities. Often, one suffers for the other.
For those who prioritise accommodation, there is a common perception that the best camping and touring rig is towing a camper trailer or caravan, and fitting recreational needs around that. The problem is, while the living areas may be spacious in these set ups, it seriously limits your recreational options. Towing a boat, bikes, quads or even horse floats is no longer an option.
For those who decide to use the tow ball for their recreational needs, many go for roof top tents, standard tents or swags, to satisfy accommodation requirements. Basically, anything that doesn’t take up the tow ball. And while this opens up endless recreational opportunities, accommodation is often less than comfortable.
Some left over hopefuls try to prioritise both, ending up with some crazy rig combinations. We’ve seen huge toy hauler RV combination trailers, awkward roof topper tinny set ups, horse floats with areas to bunk up inside, and even two cars! One to tow something like a big boat, and one to tow a camper trailer or caravan!
These are all prime examples of when desired conveniences can cause serious compromises. From striking out your favourite off road destinations, to causing astronomically high fuel bills.
Compromises which can all be avoided, if you choose the rig correctly. This general concept is further explain in our recent article: Off Road Camping, Convenience Comes at a Cost.
In this article, we explain why a Trayon slide on camper strikes the perfect balance between camping and recreational towing possibilities.
Wait a second….isn’t the best part about a Trayon slide on camper the fact that you don’t have to tow anything behind the vehicle?
Towing a trailer increases fuel consumption, decreases manoeuvrability and off road accessibility, and ultimately reduces the flexibility of your travelling rig. If you’ve ever toured with a trailer, you’re probably also familiar with the ‘walk of shame’, where you have to park way outside of town because there is nowhere to slot your extra long vehicle/trailer, and then have to walk all the way back in for a coffee or do some shopping?
Or perhaps you’ve had to strike off some of your goal destinations off your travel itinerary because your trailer simply wouldn’t make it, or isn’t permitted on the track due to National Park restrictions?
For these kinds of reasons, a tow free Trayon camping rig is incredibly useful. However, this trailer free luxury is not always possible.
In some situations, towing simply can’t be avoided.
As a result, we get plenty of customers looking at Trayon campers so they can carry their accommodations on the ute and free up that useful tow ball.
With a Trayon, you can tow anything to suit your lifestyle, so you don’t have to change your lifestyle to suit the towing! And while there are many varieties of slide on campers which can also free up the tow ball, we explain why Trayon slide on campers provides the ‘best of both worlds’ option.
There are a few key areas which make a Trayon camper so well suited to towing.
Here’s an explanation of these areas in more detail, showing what they mean for your towing adventures.
The first big benefit of carrying a Trayon on your vehicles back, is that while touring and camping on the road, you can keep your trailer hitched up during overnight stopovers and don’t constantly need to unhitch and re-hitch, unlike some other slide on campers.
Slide on campers which open or extend from the rear mean you have to unhitch the trailer to set up an overnight camp. When touring, with night after night of unhitching and re-hitching, stress levels can explode.
It’s not only frustrating, it means the trailer is susceptible to theft when it is unhitched. The only way to combat this risk is to lock it up somehow, adding yet another step to the nightly set up and pack up process.
With a Trayon, theft and the frustrating business of unhitching and re-hitching every day is no issue, because it opens exclusively to the passenger side, not from behind.
As a result, your overnight stopovers become extremely easy and comfortable in comparison to the alternatives.
This next huge benefit is realised once you establish your camp.
Once you open the Trayon and establish home base at your final destination, you can actually drive the vehicle out from underneath the Trayon, freeing up the vehicle to tow your trailer wherever you need in the local area, while the Trayon stays ready and waiting as home base, with a full array of camping comforts, like options for both permanently attached solar panels or portable solar panels to charge your systems while you’re away from camp having fun. This creates an incredibly flexibly rig for use around the local area.
The slide off and on process takes a matter of minutes, and can be done by one person!
The free standing Trayon is almost theft proof, as it cannot be towed away, and everything inside is locked away behind a strong and secure aluminium framed door.
With similar camping alternatives, like roof top tents, you have to pack up camp every time you want to take your vehicle away from the campsite, for example to launch a boat. And when touring with a caravan or camper trailer, you can’t tow at all, so towing any recreational gear in the local area is simply out of the question!
When towing a trailer, most people simply think that as long as the trailer is within the vehicle’s legal towing capacity, then it’s all fine. Many people neglect another critical limitation – the vehicle’s payload capacity.
With many slide on campers, their bulky build eats up so much of the vehicles payload there is none left to take a trailer on the tow ball, or anything else anywhere in the vehicle for that matter.
A Trayon Camper however, is the lightest slide on in its class! Which gives you every chance to fit other gear or tow trailers within your vehicles payload capacity.
How to Calculate the Vehicle Payload Capacity
A vehicle’s payload capacity is calculated by subtracting its kerb weight (i.e. the actual weight of the empty vehicle), from the manufacturer’s gross vehicle mass (GVM) limit. The remaining figure is the amount of payload left available. In other words, what the vehicle can legally carry.
For example, with a 79 Series Toyota Landcruiser single cab ute, the GVM is 3.4 Tonne. The kerb weight of the vehicle is 2.18 Tonne. By subtracting 2.18 Tonne from the GVM 3.4 Tonne, we find that the available payload of this vehicle is 1.22 Tonne.
Bear in mind that though, that the Landcruiser is a heavy duty ute, and most mid range four wheel drives like the Ford Ranger or Toyota Hilux have a payload closer to one Tonne, either just under or just over depending on the vehicle model.
How Does Towing Affect The Payload
Towing a trailer places weight onto the tow ball of your vehicle, placing weight on the vehicles suspension, and thus taking up some of the vehicle’s available payload.
The tow ball weight of a trailer is quite easily calculated as a percentage of the overall weight of the trailer. In general, a trailer with good weight distribution will have a tow ball weight of around 10 – 15% of its overall weight. For example, a three Tonne boat trailer or a caravan will have a tow ball weight of around 300 – 450 kg.
Using a vehicle payload of one Tonne, a three tonne boat trailer will leave you with 550 kg – 700 kgs of available payload left (1000 kgs minus 300 to 450 kgs).
This means you need to choose very carefully if going down the slide on camper path.
How Much Payload Does a Trayon Leave You?
With 550 to 700 kgs of available payload left, there aren’t many slide on campers on the market that will legally fit within payload limits while towing you’re something.
A Trayon slide on camper, however, will weigh around 390 – 410 kgs (when empty and without all your camping gear and supplies). And don’t forget to factor in the weight of the passengers!
Most other slide on campers will be pushing 600, 700 even past 800 kgs dry weight! With slide in campers, a slightly different (and heavier) variety of camper, it simply won’t be possible to carry when towing something. Which leaves you with no room for gear or supplies.
In this situation, your only option is to get a serious 4WD suspension upgrade, and even then you will be pushing the vehicle to it’s very limits. More information on the limitations of slide in campers can be found in our recent article about slide in campers verse slide on campers.
With a Trayon, and a suspension upgrade, not only will you fit everything you need for your trip within legal payload limits, you will have payload room to spare for the unexpected situations you may experience while camping and touring in the Outback.
Trayon also offer an even lighter budget model called a Traymate, which you could easily get away without any suspension upgrade at all, because it starts an incredibly light weight of 175 kgs! (Although, a suspension upgrade is still always a smart move to prepare four touring and off road travel, as we explain in our recent article about 4WD suspension).
Here’s a few scenarios illustrating how towing with a Trayon can suit such a big variety of recreational needs.
The best examples are:
There is a reason that Trayon campers are called fisherman’s friends!
They allow you to tow a good sized boat, while incorporating all your remote camping needs at those remote fishing locations. You don’t need to replace your ocean going boat with a roof topper tinny, and this opens access to the best fishing grounds, and avoids awkward roof top boat launching situations! Plus when your boat is back out of the water, it’s on a proper galvanised boat trailer, and not dripping salty water onto your vehicle’s roof.
While travelling to fishing and camping destinations, you never even have to detach the boat. As we explained, a Trayon opens exclusively from the passenger side, not from the rear like some other slide on campers, so the boat stays securely attached to the vehicle, completely protected from theft. And there is no fuss reattaching it in the morning to keep driving the next day.
When you get to camp, you can set up the Trayon and then completely detach the camper from the vehicle, allowing you to tow and launch the boat wherever you want in the local area, while your fully set up Trayon is reserving your camp spot for you when you return, with everything secured behind the aluminium frame lockable door.
With a roof top tent setup, you need to pack up camp every time you want to tow the boat somewhere for launch.
And with a caravan or camper trailer, you’re limited to a tiny roof top tinny. Only capable of calm water river fishing down south, and basically croc bait up north.
Another common reason customers enquire into a Trayon is to tow a horse float to attend horse meet-ups, competitions or to access some beautiful riding destinations.
A common form of horse float/camping combination is a horse float with an extra space for human lodgings. However, after towing a horse all day, sleeping anywhere near a build of horse manure can be stifling, to say the least. Alternatives include roof top tents, standard tents and swags, but a Trayon provides the most seamless, ‘solutions focused’ rig for horse based recreational camping trips.
It allows you to tow the horse float, while providing a completely self contained, comfortable accommodation completely separate to the horse’s space. An all in one vehicle camper combination.
And, like the boat situation, you can detach the Trayon and leave all set up at camp, and take your horse wherever you want in the local area.
Like the boat trailer and horse float, with a Trayon you can tow multiple bikes or quads where ever you want in the local area, and have your Trayon waiting back at home base, with the extendable Double Outhouse option ready for a hot shower after muddy riding adventures.
This is a less common concept, but one which can be very suitable for long term touring.
While the Trayon ensures your off road travel is unhindered, when touring around a big country like Australia, most of your travel will most likely be on the bitumen, with small side trips down those rough dusty tracks.
A genius way to find a good touring balance is to match a Trayon with a comfortable ‘on road’ caravan.
This will be far cheaper than a full time ‘off road’ caravan, which needs to be extremely strong and resilient to off road travel. Off road strength and resilience doesn’t come cheap. And even with the extra expense, the really rough locations will still be inaccessible to you, or may prohibit trailer access by law.
However, with an on road caravan and Trayon combination, you can live in extreme caravan comfort most of the time. When you find a remote track you want to explore, you can leave the caravan in a nearby town or caravan park, and dive into the bush with the Trayon, giving you comfortable camping accommodation no matter where you are, like the Mitchell Plateau in the Kimberley, or Cobourg Peninsula in the NT.
By avoiding towing off road, but bringing a Trayon along, you reduce fuel consumption, risk less vehicle wear and tear, and maintain the ‘access all areas’ ability of Trayon travel.
And finally, while touring on road with the caravan, the Trayon’s comprehensive camping facilities provide a backup should anything in the caravan fail, like fridge’s, cooking equipment or power storage.
In addition to towing a trailer, touring with a Trayon means you can use the towball for other uses, like a bike rack. Just bear in mind that the more weight hanging off the back of the vehicle, the more the payload will be affected.
You don’t have to tow with a Trayon, but by crikey, it opens up a lot of possibilities. You’ll never have to decide between your camper trailer or your boat again.
Ultimately, the options for towing with Trayon are endless, allowing you to tow to suit your desired lifestyle, and not change your lifestyle to suit what you are towing!
There’s no need to unhitch during nightly stopovers, the Trayon easily slides off so the trailer can be used in the local area, and the extremely light weight of the slide on camper means payload capacity is a plenty.
For those who don’t have a ute to slide on the Trayon, we have even developed a revolutionary Trayon off road trailer. It can be developed to suit a huge amount of situations and needs. Think luxury ensuites, toy hauling abilities, and all sorts of other useful modifications. So check it out in our recent article – Trayon’s new off road trailer.
However you choose to assemble your rig, towing with a Trayon has never been better!
Are portable solar panels and solar powered camping setups really worth it, you ask? By reading this article, you can make up your own mind.
Remember the good old days of camping? When the sun would fall beyond the horizon, the Kookaburras would start laughing, the stew would start bubbling on the fire, and just as you’d take that first sip of cold beer, your neighbour would start up a great big angry generator!?
No one found that situation pleasant. Not the campers trying to enjoy a peaceful night, or the generator culprit, who knew the entire camp was cursing him, but desperately needed the power for a successful trip. These kinds of situations threaten the very reason we all go camping – to reset, recharge and enjoy nature at it’s peaceful best. The serenity underpins the real benefits of camping.
With today’s portable solar panels and solar camping options, that’s a thing of the past. The nightly generator at least. The setting sun, cold beer, fire cooked meal and sounds of nature can still enjoyed, but in peaceful, generator free bliss!
In this article, we explain why solar powered camping is so good, and how solar power and portable solar panels are integrated into a Trayon slide on camper set up.
Safe to say, there is no shortage of sunshine in Australia. Dorothea MacKellar coined those famous words in her 1908 poem “I love a sunburnt country”, and she wasn’t wrong! It is definitely sunburnt!
Here’s the fall out of our sunburnt lifestyle:
1 – The Australian sunscreen industry is smiling all the way to the bank; and
2 – We have a constant, reliable and renewable source of power!
While debates rage about the potential for a renewable base domestic power supply, there is nothing stopping you from utilising this power source while camping.
In fact, any modern camping set up which doesn’t make use of that reliable and renewable power source is behind the times, and missing out on revolutionary camping opportunities. Portable solar panels in particular have come leaps and bounds from when they were first developed.
Here is a few of the key advantage of going with a solar camping rig:
Generators may still be required for intensive energy use in the remote outback, for example air conditioning or any appliance which requires electric heating like a hair dryer. However for the most part, they are defunct. Their use is now banned in many national parks, and they are frowned upon by many peace seeking campers. Plus, your car can provide that back up energy generation role if desperately required due to extended periods of thick cloud or shadows blocking sunlight.
The last decade has revolutionised solar technology. These days, to power an average camping setup with a 12V fridge, some LED lights at night, and a few other 12V appliances (which don’t require electric heating), a good 120w solar panel with sufficient sun exposure can keep you going.
For intensive camping setups, a 200w 12V solar panel might be needed, or you can have a 120w solar panel plus one or two portable solar panels.
Here at Trayon we have incorporated a couple of different solar options into our slide on camping setups. They cater for different camping needs and budgets.
Each of our solar setups will perform differently depending on which type of battery setup you have installed, which we will explain in more detail shortly.
The Type one solar configuration includes a 120w solar panel permanently mounted the back of the Trayon double Outhouse (on the back wall of the shell). When you extend the outhouse while camping, it brings the solar panel horizontal and ready to absorb sunlight.
To maximise exposure to sunlight, it’s best to point the back of camper to the north.
We prototyped roof mounted solar setups a long time ago. In fact we prototyped it before other camper companies even existed!
We found that permanent roof mounted solar panels have too many flaws. Being mounted permanently on the roof exposes them to a large amount of damage, for example:
The nail in the coffin of the roof mounted prototype was the extra weight it added to the folding out process of a Trayon. We like to ensure the folding out process is as easy as possible, and a roof mounted solar panel just wasn’t practical.
To combat the swathe of roof mounted issues, many people turn to a setup based around portable solar panels. However this then exposes them to theft. Solar panels are often the easiest targets for thieves, and it is not uncommon to wake up and find they’ve been knocked off! Plus, you need long leads to allow you to move the portable solar panels around with the sun, and longer leads can mean less charge making it from the panel to the battery.
To negate all of these issues, we came up with a completely unique design. The type 1 solar configuration, like many other traits of a Trayon, is simply a better way of doing things.
Our unique Outhouse mounted solar panel hugs the back of the Trayon when folded away for travel, and is permanently attached when folded out and in use, which means:
Our wiring system also allows for more panels to be integrated into the system. So, if you need more power, you can add portable solar panels as well. You simply attach them via an anderson plug so they work in tandem to your solar on the Outhouse Double. When you leave camp, you drive the vehicle out from underneath the Trayon, pack-up your portable panel (to protect against theft) and the permanent solar setup keeps charging while you’re away on adventures! So you get the best of both worlds.
The Redarc battery management system you get with a Diesel Deluxe Trayon slide on camper manages everything. It multi tasks to maximise the charge you’re getting from the permanent outhouse mounted solar panel and any portable solar panels you have added.
Tip: If you have the Redarc battery management system fitted in your Trayon, and you want to use an aftermarket solar kit, you will need to remove any any regulator that comes with them because the Redarc IS a regulator itself.
If configuration 1 doesn’t suit you, we sell small compact solar kits to plug in by themselves (there is no permanent solar component). These are soft canvas portable solar panels which are the latest generation of portable solar camping technology.
You can can hang them from the annex as a solar charging windbreak, lay them out on the vehicle’s bonnet, or configure them in any other way to maximise sun exposure. When in storage, they are about the size of a small business briefcase, so they don’t take up much space at all. Just remember to avoid leaving them around camp when you’re not present.
And in worst case scenario, if there is no sun, just start your vehicle up and use it as a jenny for a little while on idle.
We have two different battery setups available to pair with your Trayon and it’s solar setup.
You can also have these doubled if you need extra storage capacity, to make a 240 Amp Hour AGM battery setup, or a 200 Amp Hour Lithium Ion battery setup which is just about the beez knees when it comes to the ultimate battery setup.
Primarily, it is in the charging. A Lithium setup will revolutionize your camping experience by charging back up to the max extremely quickly. AGM systems simply can’t compete.
An AGM battery uses chemical reactions to charge, which causes a rise in temperature. If a battery gets too hot, it can cause damage. A Redarc battery management system will sense a rise in temperature, and manage it by regulating the charge. When the battery gets too hot after prolonged periods of charging, the Redarc will start slowing down charge, even when the battery isn’t fully charged (and even if there is still five Amps coming in through solar panels or some other source!). It quite literally spoon feeds the battery. If it didn’t, the battery could be permanently damaged.
Ambient temperature further affects an AGM battery when charging. On hot days, the battery temperature will rise more quickly, and the Redarc will be forced to slow down charge earlier.
In contrast, a Lithium battery doesn’t heat up, because it is a dry cell system. The Redarc won’t slow down the charge, so the battery will be topped up far more quickly. It will always be able to accept the charge coming in from solar panels or other sources resulting in far quicker charging times.
And finally, Lithium batteries have a much longer lifespan, they are lighter, smaller, and they aren’t affected by any discharge sag. As an AGM discharges, it can slowly experience a lowering in voltage. If voltage drops too low, it won’t supply enough power for your 12V appliances, for example a 12 Volt fan or fridge.
For these reasons, 2×100 Lithium battery packs is by far the best option. They will store enough power for anything you need when everyday camping, and will charge up incredibly quick compared to an AGM setup. The Lithium option is modern camping tech at it’s energized best.
Trayon actually teamed up with industry leaders REDARC Electronics and Revolution Power Australia to develop, prototype and field trial the lithium LiFePO4 power system. It delivers almost twice the usable power at one third the weight of an AGM battery.
You can check out this Lithium battery system in out list of Trayon accessories.
Without a doubt, your best solar to battery configuration is Trayon’s type 1 solar on the Outhouse, plus the double Lithium battery setup.
For the best all round setup, add one or more portable solar panels, add you’ll never be worried about power shortages while camping ever again. Even in extended periods of cloud you won’t have issues.
The type 2 solar and AGM battery setup is our budget option. While it will satisfy most needs, it is miles behind the revolutionary type 1 solar configuration and a lithium Ion battery system. In periods of no sun, you will probably need to supplement your power using the vehicle.
These solar options ensure a Trayon is ahead of the solar powered camping game.
Once again, our testing and development process has resulted in a completely unique and effective option to fit anyone’s camping needs.
To make your camping power as flexible as possible, check out our inverter options to feed that solar power into just about any appliance or device you need. The end result will be a quiet, lightweight and robust camping power system to run a perfect camping setup.
With our ‘turnkey’ service, we can integrate these solar options into a Ute/Trayon combo to make a full swing expedition vehicle! It’s not limited to slide on campers either. For a next level off road camping rig, check out Trayon’s new off road trailer.
A Trayon solar powered setup will provide you with a perfect home away from home in Australia’s most beautiful and remote locations.
The search for the right off road camper and shelter system can be an interesting, yet complex process. It’s all about finding something which perfectly suits your needs. Weight, facilities, comfort, size, bells and whistles. You name it, and there is a camper out there that will have it!
However, in the hunt for that perfect camper shelter system, it is easy to get lost in all the gimmicks and shiny things, and miss the fundamental point at the very heart of the issue.
When discussing campers, we bring it all back to this fundamental point, because it is the reason why people are seeking a camper in the first place.
A camper = a shelter.
Strip away all those bells and whistle and shiny things, and what you have left is a shelter system. But, a tent is a shelter, right? Why not just get a roof top tent, throw it on the racks and drive off into the sunset?
Sure, a tent provides a simple refuge. But, it is not a shelter system tailor made for comfortable outdoor life. It’s temporary, it can be time consuming, and it can be an all together inadequate shelter system for many situations.
What you need, is a camper shelter system which is tailor made for comfortable outdoor life, and addresses that fundamental requirement at the heart of the camper hunt. A suitable, comfortable, all round Outback shelter!
We as a species depend on shelter for survival. Arguably, the influence of primitive shelter systems like caves contributed to our rise as the dominant species on the planet!
Caves provided a safe place to sleep, cook, drink, relax, play, and ultimately survive. It provided refuge from all of the earth’s elements, and the many animals which pose a risk to human health and life (plus the ones which can cause mental breakdowns like flies, mozzies and midges!).
When we leave our urban homes to explore the Outback, we are essentially tapping into our inner caveman urges. Satisfying that desire to be in natural, beautiful environments. And that is why, when we look for a camper, the number one consideration should be which camper will be the best portable cave, i.e the best shelter system!
Water and food are right up there as ingredients for survival, but in actual fact, they come after a shelter system. This is reflected in a number of survival concepts, for example the survival triangle.
The three sides of the triangle are:
In extreme weather, it’s widely agreed that, to survive, you need a shelter system after 3 hours.
After 3 days, you’ll die without water.
And after 3 weeks, you’ll die without food!
These are generalisations of course, but they demonstrate the crucial importance of a shelter system, sitting in number one spot (some concepts include air before shelter systems, but that is a given).
A shelter system not only increases your chance of survival and comfort in extreme conditions, it boosts morale. It lifts your spirits even in the most uncomfortable situations, and fuels your optimism to tackle the worst of the worst.
With this in mind, let’s steer the conversation back towards your camper hunt.
As we were saying, in the hunt for a camper, an adequate shelter system should be your number one priority. Once you know it satisfies this, you can look for the extra bells and whistles you need. But there is no point paying for gimmicks and conveniences, if the camper does not satisfy the real factor which underpins the whole point of buying it – the shelter system.
We have recently dedicated a whole article to the risks involved with buying an off road camper based on your desired conveniences, not your central requirements, called ‘Off Road Camping: Convenience Leads to Compromise’, which fully explains this premise.
In the 21st century, camping, exploring and Outback touring isn’t necessarily about life and death survival, but rather about enjoying your experience. The urge to buy a camper stems from the urge to experience the benefits of camping, like stress reduction, immersion in nature, and a break from the fast paced modern world we live in.
In the same way that a shelter system is the number one factor in survival situations, it is also the number one factor to ensure you enjoy your Outback experience.
Further, if you want to experience locations, terrain and environments which provide the biggest contrast to your normal urban life, then a proper, effective shelter system is all the more important, because extreme conditions, dangerous animals, and thoroughly annoying animals (i.e. flies) are a reality in those distant and remote places.
There are many different off road camper options out there like roof top tents, slide on campers, camper trailers and off road caravans. Each have different concepts and shelter system methods.
What defines the best shelter systems is a perfect balance between shelter and comfort.
Many camper manufacturers will claim their option is the best. They’ll say they have a new approach which revolutionizes how it is done. But, at the end of the day, industry experience speaks more than words.
Trayon have been honing off road camper design for 25 years, and chances are, we’ve already tried everything and anything other slide on camper manufacturers claim is the best approach. We’ve now produced over 1000 ute camper shelter systems, resulting in the evolution of today’s optimal shelter system design. And if you need proof of toughness, camper #001 is still alive and well!
Through constant Outback testing and refinement, today’s Trayon slide on camper is the complete balanced package, optimizing the shelter system to comfort relationship.
Our unique shelter system is based on a few principles:
We really need to emphasize just how important adequate refuge is to the success and enjoyment of an Outback adventure. It is the primary thing a shelter system needs to provide.
For this reason, we ensure that the Trayon shelter system provides refuge from EVERYTHING, for example:
Rain, hail or shine, a Trayon shelter system has you covered. It’s always important to prepare for the worst.
Further, the camper only has one entry and exit opening, which makes it more secure from theft (and uses the old caveman principle – it’s easier to guard one central cave/camper entry).
When you’re inside a Trayon, escaping bad conditions or swarms of midges, we make sure you have all the other necessities for life available at your fingertips.
Other shelter systems like rooftop tents, don’t provide any other necessities for life, or facilities for comfort. In unbearable conditions, all you have left to do is climb into bed and think about how good life was when you didn’t have to stay inside the tent. With a Trayon, you still have options, life doesn’t change. Watch movies on the lounge, play games around the table, prepare dinner or make a cuppa, etc..
No matter what you’re doing, you have direct access to the fridge, water, pantries, kitchenette, a lounge, and the bed. You can carry on enjoying life in the middle of a wet season downpour, or during gale force winds along the West Australian coastline. There’s also multiple power sockets located around the inside of the camper. You could even set your laptop up on the table, make a coffee, and do some work if you really had to.
We highly value the importance of an adequate shelter system, which caters for all of life’s necessities. It’s one of the main reasons all Trayon campers come with an internal kitchen and fridge.
Some other campers use a large external slide out or fold out kitchen as a drawcard. But what happens if conditions prevent you from going outside to use it? Or you do go outside, but cop some horrible conditions? You might overheat, freeze, go soggy, or have to dig flies out of your coffee.
Plus the brackets needed to support these kinds of heavy fold out facilities can weigh between 20 and 70 kilograms! And when camper weight increases, it starts to impact on fuel economy and off road performance.
While we provide an all round shelter system and refuge from poor conditions and dangers, a Trayon still caters for comfortable outside living when conditions are safe and enjoyable.
We have put huge amounts of time and effort into designing a shelter system which works in every situation.
For example, while you’re sitting under the awning, you still have access to everything (even if the camper is folded up). There is external cooking abilities though a lightweight kitchen bench add on, external access to water, and the fridge is located right next to the camper’s entry at perfect ‘reach around’ distance (so it doesn’t need to be on a heavy, awkward slide out or fold around bracket).
Other campers which provide a balanced refuge and comfortable living do exist, but the Trayon option is completely unique.
We provide the perfect shelter in a camping unit which is also tailor made for surviving long, rough trips through the Australian Outback. With a Trayon, your entire off road rig will be able to go deeper into remote areas, and for longer, than any other comfortable off road camping option out there.
Trayon campers are so capable in rough terrain, they often outlive the vehicles that carry them!
A Trayon’s unique off road abilities and resilience are thanks to these traits:
A Trayon’s lightweight design means less stress and impact on the vehicles running gear and slide on attachment mechanism. It also minimises the impact on fuel consumption.
The light camper weight is thanks to an Australian made aluminium frame, aluminium cladding and a fibreglass roof (which sits on top when the camper is folded up).
Further weight reductions are achieved by avoiding any heavy slide out, fold out or twist across brackets for fridges and kitchens (which, as we already mentioned, can be anywhere from 20 – 70 kilograms!).
These are okay on a trailer, because a trailer can be built to take the required weight. But a slide on camper is limited by the predetermined payload capacity of your vehicle.
The low compact profile of a Trayon reduces wind resistance, leaves fuel consumption unaffected, and allows you to scoot through the tightest overgrown tracks. The camper’s scratch resistant finish minimizes the threat of tree and branch damage.
A Trayon contains 65% of its weight in the first third of the camper (i.e just behind the ute cab and in front of, or directly over the rear axle). The off road optimized weight distribution means the vehicle’s 4wd suspension is allowed to work properly, and reduces stress on the chassis.
Further, the slide on method allows us to spread the weight inside a Trayon as low down as possible. This is because all the surface area of a flatbed ute tray can be utilized to spread out facilities, while a styleside pickup tub forces everything up off the floor, lifting the centre of gravity and reducing vehicle stability.
The Trayon weight distribution approach lowers the entire vehicles centre of gravity, allowing for unhindered off road performance.
The consequence of poor weight distribution is most notable in slide in campers, which are built for styleside pickup tubs, not flatbed trays like a Trayon. You can read more about the difference in our recent article ‘Slide on camper vs Slide in Camper: What’s the Difference’.
Trayon’s are an Australia Made, Australian owned product, and come with the build quality and industry know-how which comes with that.
High structural integrity is thanks to it’s strong, weld free aluminium frame. The frame is primarily riveted and glued together. Less welds equal less cracks.
As a result, every Trayon camper is incredibly tough and resilient while traversing rough, bumpy terrain (hence the 10 year structural warranty!).
No other slide on camper can compete with the Trayon balance of lightweight design, structural integrity and Outback shelter.
Off road camper trailers and caravans, although comfortable, are an extreme liability when you take them off the bitumen. And roof top tents are the most basic of shelters, which don’t provide any of life’s other necessities and comforts.
While a Trayon provides the perfect balance. A shelter for every set of conditions, every different type of terrain, every environment and every situation. And a Trayon truly will go anywhere your ute can carry it!
For these reasons, Trayon is the only slide on camper manufacturer to build and export slide on campers outside of Australia (check out our recently opened Trayon branch in Switzerland for example). Nothing else can match it.
If your camper doesn’t provide an effective, comfortable shelter system, you simply won’t go camping as often. The threat of getting too hot, too cold, too wet, long setup times or eaten by mosquitos will make renting a room or cabin far more appealing.
Likewise, if the camper isn’t suited to rough off road travel, you’re not going to want to go camping in the most remote, rough, but beautiful places! The risk of damage and safety is too much, and could cost you time, money or worse.
These are the risks of picking the wrong camping shelter system.
A Trayon defeats these risks, and will be the reason you want to go camping!
Reflecting on everything we have touched on, here is how you need to approach the hunt for a camper:
A Trayon ticks all those boxes, and will give you the confidence you need to go camping!
To dual-cab, or not to dual-cab…..that is the Question!
We are often asked by Trayon speculators and future customers, intent on exploring the far reaches of the Outback, “what sort of ute should I get to carry a Trayon?”
There is a big variety of brands and models available these days, so it’s important to find the one with a touring 4×4 setup which best suits you.
Specifically, in this article we mean the the type of cab, tray and chassis combination.
We cover the three main ute 4×4 touring setups which are used to carry Trayon campers. They include:
And we focus on mid range four wheel drive vehicles (i.e. Toyota Hilux, Nissan Navara, Mazda BT50, Ford Ranger, Isuzu D-Max, Mitsubishi Triton etc.). Large four wheel drives (i.e. toyota Landcruisers, Nissan patrols and Mercedes G professional) are a different 4×4 touring kettle of fish. We aren’t recommending any specific brands in this post; we’ll let the brand debate rage on elsewhere!
A Trayon will deliver you proven toughness, flexibility, comfort and reliability in the Australian Outback, regardless of the vehicle brand or 4×4 touring setup you get.
But which “Cab” 4×4 touring setup is right for you, and right for touring this great land?
Ultimately, this article will help you decide what you want to pair with a Trayon to get the most out of your 4×4 touring setup…..a single cab ute, extra cab ute or dual cab ute. Interestingly, most people seem to have a preset opinion that a dual cab is the way to go.
Sure, if you have a big family with older kids, and want to use the ute as your main around town vehicle for work and shopping, then you can’t beat a dual cab. But as you will see in this article, it’s not always best option for every scenario, particularly in 4×4 touring situations!
To begin, let’s just clarify what kind of vehicles are covered by single cabs, extra cabs and dual cabs. The key differences are in cab space and tray length. We’re assuming you’re looking at tray backs, not styleside tubs, because you need a tray to mount a slide on camper on for maximum touring convenience. Check out our article on why you’d choose a slide on camper over a camper trailer.
So here’s the key differences between these 4×4 touring setups:
Single cabs involve a cab which fits two people. All the different vehicle manufacturers call this configuration the ‘single cab’. The cab only has two doors, and the tray is usually 2400 or 2500 mm in length.
Dual cabs are exactly what they sound like, a double sized cab to fit double the number of people (in some cases +1 more). The cab will have four standard doors (the back doors are usually smaller than the front). All vehicle manufacturers refer to this configuration as the ‘dual cab’. The larger cab results in a shorter tray, usually 1800 mm in length.
Extra cabs are somewhere in between, and often the cause of confusion. Most vehicle manufacturers have their own special name for the extra cab (i.e. Toyota’s extra cab, Nissan’s king cab, Mazda’s freestyle cab, Ford’s supercab, and Holden’s space cab). For the sake of maintaining sanity, we’ll stick with extra cab throughout the article.
An extra cab is basically one and a half single cabs, with enough room to squeeze two extra passengers in behind the front seats (….just). Most newer models have four doors like a dual cab, but the back doors are far smaller and sometimes pivot open from the rear, not the front (i.e. sometimes called suicide doors).
Some older models don’t have back doors at all, and rear passengers have to enter buy squeezing through the gap behind the front seat, like a little two door coupe / hatch.
Extra cab trays vary in size between 1950 mm and 2200 mm in length, depending on the dealer’s stock options. Generally longer than a dual cab, and shorter than a single cab.
These days, not really. All your different makes, models and configurations come with the modern features and comforts like auto, diff lock, cruise control etc..
Once upon a time, your single cabs and extra cabs were much more basic, or should we say, work specific, and dual cabs were the only models with urban style creature comforts. But these days, four wheel drive utes of all kinds are much more common in the urban world, and thus have a good mix of off road features as well as creature comforts.
The most common difficulty we hear about, regarding which 4×4 touring setup to go for, is between the extra cab and dual cab. Both vehicle configurations have been increasing in popularity for years, because they appear to offer the ‘best of both worlds’ option.
They can be taken off road (how far depends on what running gear they have), and they have the extra cab space to be used as a ‘round town’ family runner.
This may come as a surprise!
Here at the Trayon factory, around half of all of our slide on camper orders are manufactured for extra cab utes. Considering that there are three main ute configurations available, that’s pretty significant.
The extra cab is the most popular configuration for a Trayon in Australia, as well as our overseas branches like Trayons slide on camper Europe.
Let’s breakdown the pros and cons of each ute configuration, and how they pair with a Trayon, to demonstrate why this is.
Each different 4×4 touring setup has consequences for the following:
While this comprehensive guide to 4×4 touring setups will demonstrate why the extra cab is the most popular Trayon partner, it doesn’t mean the extra cab just automatically ‘wins’. You need to consider the benefits in light of your needs.
Sure, one configuration may be better for day-to-day use, but what if you plan on going off road camping road alot? On the flip side, maybe another configuration will prove the best Outback expedition vehicle, but provide less day-to-day convenience.
For example, if you only have the grandkids in the back seats 5% of the time, then is a huge amount of cab space really worth it?
Let’s find out.
This is step one, because there is no point looking at other aspects if you can’t fit your regular passengers in a comfortable way.
Here’s some considerations;
Warning: To stuff any adults in the back of an extra cab for longer than two hours drive may warrant an uber! Leg room is very small.
Also, bear in mind that with an extra cab or dual cab, you can put the front seats back so the passenger can have a nap; not an option in single cabs. The cab rear wall is right against back of the seat.
Before putting any option on the chopping block, what you need to ask yourself is, “how important is extra passenger space?” For example:
Taking all this into account, here’s our recommendations:
The tray length of your vehicle is the biggest influencer of what Trayon model you can get.
Remember, the standard tray lengths for each ute configuration are:
Tray lengths can be altered, but to keep it simple, we’ll explain this section using these standard dimensions, and discuss tray alterations later in the article. Most people don’t want to modify a brand new vehicle anyway. You’re just better off choosing the right one from the outset!
The important point is, your 4×4 touring setup will determine which Trayon models available to you, which then drives what Trayon camper layout you have. This also has a range of other flow on impacts we explain further into the article.
Here is a quick run down of our cornerstone Trayon class 2 camper models on offer:
Importantly, the 1830, 1980 and 2100 model names do not reflect tray length requirements, they reflect width.
We also offer a class 1 camper called ‘Traymate aluminium ute canopies’. The differences between camper class is explain in our recent article explaining exactly what is a slide on camper.
The 1830 model: At 1830 mm wide, and 2200 mm long, it is made to suit mid range four wheel drive single cabs and extra cabs (with an 1800 mm wheelbase), ideally with a tray length at least 2100 mm.
We’ve been fitting Trayon campers on trays of 2100 mm since the early 2000’s, and it works a charm. They can slightly overhang the rear of such a tray, but it’s no issue, we just make use of different attachment points. The only thing to note is that it can overhang the tow hitch, but there is still 300 to 400 mm gap, so there is actually very little impact!
The 1980 model: At 1980 mm wide, and 2200 mm long, it is made to suit wider single cab and extra cab 4×4 touring setups (e.g. Nissan Patrols and VW Amarok etc.), ideally with a tray length at least 2100 mm. The Trayon 1980 can also go on mid range utes like the 1830 can, it just overhangs the sides ever so slightly and this is also something we have done for a very long time. Some people prefer a bigger camper inside and hardly even notice the slight side overhang.
The Dual model: The dual model is the same width as the 1830 model (1830 mm), but is only 1800 mm in length, to suit mid range four wheel drive dual cabs with a standard 1800mm long dual cab tray.
The Dual-wide model: The dual-wide model is the same width as the 1980 model (1980 mm), but is only 1800 mm in length, to suit wider dual cabs, with a standard 1800mm long dual cab tray.
The 2100 model:The 2100 is built for very large vehicles like the Iveco Daily 4×4, Mercedes Unimogs, Ford F250, Chevy Silverado and other small trucks and american pickups.
The Traymate: This is a different, more simplistic class of camper. It can be feature customized to drastically reduce the price tag, while retaining Trayon’s extremely high quality. It is basically our budget camper range based around a strong aluminium canopy and a high quality roof top tent.
The Traymate is 1830 wide, and 1800 mm long, meaning it’s perfect size for a standard dual cab tray. We are developing a version to suit the longer trays of single cabs and extra cabs in the near future. However, there is nothing stopping you from sliding our current Traymate model on the longer tray of a single cab or extra cab!
Trayon class 2 models for standard utes range between 370 Kg and 410 Kg, which is lighter than any other camper you will find offering the same facilities and comforts. The 2100 model is 430 kg, and probably still lighter than all other slide on campers on the market!.
The Traymate (a class 1 camper), in its simplest form, is a staggering 175 kg!
For each class 2 Trayon model (e.g. 1830, 1980, dual, dual-wide and 2100), there are three different versions you can pick from to suit your desired level of facilities and camping comfort:
You can check out the differences by ordering a Trayon brochure.
Traymate campers are highly customizable and the facilities depend on what you want.
This table summarizes which Trayon models each standard style of ute can take. It highlights why dual cabs are your most limited ute configuration:
|4×4 Touring Setup|
|Single Cab||Extra Cab||Dual Cab|
|1830 model |
(full length Trayon)
(full length Trayon)
|Dual model |
(reduced length Trayon)
(reduced length Trayon)
|2100 model||For small and large trucks, not standard utes|
Footnote: Yes = can take the model, No = cannot take the model
Let’s have a look at the consequences of this.
The overhang helps to house the bed and fold out canvas structure, ensuring the areas above your waist remain as spacious as single cab/extra cab models (when folded out). The overhang is built at a height of 900 mm, so the vehicle must have a cab and tray headboard lower than 890 mm measured from the tray load surface up. This allows ten milimetres of clearance between the camper and the vehicle’s roof.
No such overhang occurs in standard single cab or extra cab models.
On bigger vehicles with cabs taller than 890 mm, we have to increase the height of certain Trayon structures, to raise the camper up and over the taller cab (which incurs an extra $1500 on build price).
Next we explain the consequences of each ute 4×4 touring setup and their Trayon model limits on the following:
Very briefly, here is how a Trayon works:
And here is the difference between the internal layout each type of Trayon camper:
The two main things you should notice about the dual cab 4×4 touring range are:
These differences are basically all from the waist down. From waste up, you are in the upper camper section (the folded out canvas bedroom area) which is the same size for all models. Hence why the dual cab range, which aren’t as long as the other models, overhang the cab.
This doesn’t take away from dual cab 4×4 touring range, it has all the same specifications than the single/extra-cab models. The dual cab range can actually sleep more people than the single cab/extra cab model (approx 5 people vs 3 people), because the altered internal configuration allows us to insert a single bed above the kitchenette. It’s comfortable and has all the functions and features….it’s just a bit more cozy.
In truth, very little. However t, ere are a few situations where more internal space of a single cab/extra cab Trayon can be very handy, such as:
The dual cab range will still satisfy these scenarios of course, but you’ll just have to keep your wings tucked in a bit ;).
If you don’t need the full size extra seats of a dual cab for the purpose of extra passengers, then the single cab/extra cab 4×4 touring setup options will maximise your camping comfort levels!
If you are concerned that you need that dual cab space, not for people, but for storage, the next section explains how to tackle that.
Differences in gear storage fall off the back of the size of the tray (for want of a better phrase), the model of Trayon, and where the Trayon is positioned on the tray.
The main storage spaces available around your ute style rig will include:
Let’s see which ute 4×4 touring setups have the most appropriate storage space for you.
Dual cabs and extra cabs provide a significant amount of cab space for gear storage, particularly if there’s no one sitting in the back. Cab space is very useful for delicate, sensitive gear because it’s very secure, dust free and easy to access.
This makes it a good place for a secondary fridge (i.e beer fridge!), so you can take beverages when you go off roading with the Trayon freestanding back on your campsite. You can run the fridge off an auxiliary battery.
You can even get structures built into the cab space to keep stored gear more secure and organised for you 4×4 touring setup adventures.
The additional cab length of extra cabs and dual cabs provides for more space for roof racks or cages than single cabs. However, because the dual cab Trayon range overhangs the cab, there is actually less roof space left on a dual cab carrying a Trayon, than an extra cab!
It’s a perfect place to store gear which is okay to be more exposed to the elements like jerry cans and a second spare tyre.
Don’t like the idea of pulling down a 25 to 45 kg spare tyre from your roof?
Well here’s a few points to put out your spare tyre fire:
Only then, will you have to reach for a second spare. And in that situation, you’ll just be super happy you had a second spare on your roof anyway!
Plus, it’s far better for weight distribution and off road performance than attaching a spare to the back of the camper (a back mounted spare puts a lot of extra strain on your vehicles running gear, which we will explain in more detail in the off road performance section further on).
The extra roof rack space also provides more room to attach a good sized extra awning which can be used with or without the Trayon (e.g on the opposite to the Trayon’s fold out area).
We build storage space into the Trayon, underneath the actual camping compartment. So it’s in between the tray, and the camping unit above. It’s where we insert the back-up auxiliary water tanks, but we can also insert extra underbody storage drawers (for tools, recovery gear, fishing gear etc.), grey water tanks and more.
The extra length of single cab and extra cab Trayon models means there is more available space in this bottom area of the Trayon than dual cab 4×4 touring rigs.
When a Trayon is closed up, it provides a heap of extra space to store your gear.
The fact that this space remains available when a Trayon is closed up, means it has far more storage space than most other campers in this class range. This space disappears in many other campers when they are packed up.
You can store all manner of things like comfy camping chairs, weber BBQs, and all sorts of camping comforts!
With a dual cab ute carrying a dual model Trayon, you’re going to have a bit less storage space than the full length Trayon models on a single cab or extra cab.
Undercarriage storage includes the areas where gear can be stored underneath the tray of the vehicle.
Spare tyres and other gear like water tanks, batteries and compressors can all be stored here, but you can also add small storage boxes underneath the back corners, just beware of the extra weight and strain this can place on your running gear.
The extra length of single cab trays and many extra cab trays provide the most room for undercarriage storage.
This is a storage space only available with single cab 4×4 touring setups.
A single cab with a tray length of 2400 mm to 2500 mm can provide a 300 – 350 mm storage gap between the cab headboard and a Trayon camper. You can even order a tray with a removable headboard, adding an extra 100 mm for a total of 400 mm of storage space behind the cab!
Ideally, you can attach a storage box in this space, or a gullwing style box (with doors which swing up) for easier access. This makes a good spot for things like recovery gear (highlift jacks aka kangaroo jacks, hand winches etc.), jerry cans and spare tyres.
It results in a similar set up to an extra cab, except the extra cab space is retained inside the cab, while on the single cab, it is exterior on the tray and behind the cab.
To bring all of that storage comparison together, here is a summary:
Because single cab utes and extra cab utes can both carry a full size Trayon, it is the balanced spread of storage space which gets the extra cab’s nose in front so far in our playoff.
The effect of the vehicles 4×4 touring setup and the Trayon model for off road performance revolves around weight distribution and the centre of gravity.
All Trayon’s are built to do two key things:
This keeps the vehicle extremely stable on all sorts of terrain, and reduces the stress placed on your running gear (i.e. suspension, axles, chassis etc.).
Trayon is already one of lightest (if not the lightest) slide on campers in it’s range! But our unique weight distribution profile takes Trayon performance to the next level.
Trayon campers have more than 65% of their weight in first ⅓ of the front of the camper, so it’s pushing as much weight as far forward as possible.
In this first front third, you have:
Because all of this gear is kept down low, your vehicle’s centre of gravity will stay nice and low. Utilizing the Trayon underbody storage area can lower it even further.
In a single cab or extra cab, this ‘gear loaded’ front third of a Trayon sits in front of the rear axle.
In a dual cab 4×4 touring setup, it sits directly over the top of the rear axle, because the cab is larger and pushes the camper further back than the other ute styes.
Both achieve the goal of bringing it all forward towards the centre of the vehicle, but the single cab and extra cab options will have slightly less strain on your running gear, because it is slightly further forward than the dual cab models.
For the same reason, the advantage of the additional ‘behind cab’ storage space in single cabs, and the large amount of roof storage space in extra cabs, can further centre the weight and reduce running gear strain.
In fact, a single cab 4×4 touring setup, with a Trayon brought all the way butted up to the cab, and a shorter tray, probably provides the most stable off road rig out of all Trayon options (and any other camper brand options too!).
The take home point is that single cabs and extra cabs set-up with a Trayon provide the best weight distribution profile out of your vehicle 4×4 touring setup options.
Many other camper brands don’t even have a forward facing weight distribution method. In fact some don’t have a method at all! This means they aren’t much different to an un-thought-out home job, which can place massive weight towards the back of your vehicle, putting huge stress on your vehicle’s suspension and chassis!
So, even though the front third of a Trayon sits slightly further back on a dual cab, it will still outcompete most off road camper 4×4 touring setups around the world through; (1) its very light weight, and (2) its extremely effective weight distribution method.
Having a centred weight distribution and a low centre of gravity has the following benefits for off road travel:
These are massive benefits when taking your 4×4 touring setup through rugged country, so the more weight over the middle of your vehicle, and the lower centre of gravity you can achieve, the better!
If you’re wondering about the best 4×4 touring suspension setups, check out our recent article about 4×4 Suspension. It also explains some important points about your vehicles legal load bearing limits and how to increase them.
Let’s bring it all together.
A standard single cab ute paired with a Trayon offers the following:
It has the following downsides:
A standard dual cab ute paired with a Trayon offers the following:
It has the following downsides:
A standard extra cab ute paired with a Trayon offers the following:
It has the following downsides:
Using this breakdown, it confirms that an extra cab 4×4 touring setup provides the most rounded, well balanced option for Trayon based off road travel!
This is reflected in our sale trends. Around half of all our orders are to suit extra cab utes.
Of course, single cabs and dual cabs also serve a purpose too, and it’s hard to go wrong with any ute if a Trayon’s on the back. But unless you need those ute styles for special purposes, we recommend the extra cab as the best Trayon partner to make a complete 4×4 touring package!
In Australia, we love our 4×4 utility pickups, aka “Utes”.
And the tougher, the better. Vehicles like the Toyota 79 Series Landcruiser and the Mercedes G Class Ute (aka the G300 Professional) represent the type of vehicles needed for the Australian Outback.
Because they’re practical for so many daily tasks, both hard work and hard play on property! They are the no frills work horses for people who want to get stuff done.
Our roads are narrow, our distances are vast, the off-road terrain is rugged and the cost of fuel is expensive (compared to the Americas, anyway)!
These unique conditions require certain types of utes. We need to consider things like wheel track width, weight, and carrying capacity to name a few.
Ideally, as a baseline requirement, many of us want a 4×4 ute which has the following traits:
There really isn’t a big range of vehicle options to tick our desired traits.
But there is one which has been ticking most of those boxes for a long, long time…
For the past 30 years, the Toyota Landcruiser 70 Series (the 79 Series ancestor) has been a favourite choice in terms of heavy duty utes for reliability, off-road capability, carrying capacity and fuel efficiency. It was first released in 1984, and is now as much a part of the Australian Outback as the long, rough dirt roads they travel on.
Because, if you venture into the remote areas of Australia, there is often nothing but Landcruisers getting around the local communities.
No wonder the roughest parts of Australia are tokened ‘Landcruiser Country’! Known for being simple, strong, and capable, they really are an Australian icon.
During Toyota’s 33 year Outback reign there’s been a number of model iterations after the original 70 Series; including the 75 Series, 78 Series and most recently, the 79 Series Landcruiser.
At the same time, a couple of other contenders rose up, such as the Nissan Patrol and Landrover Defender. Alas, the Nissan reduced it’s engine capacity and no longer offers a ute, while the Defender is no longer manufactured. So the Landcruiser stood the test of time, proving why it’s the dominant 4×4 ute over and over again!
But, after such a long reign, a worthy contender was inevitable!
There’s a new ute on the vast, rugged Australian block. 2017 quietly ushered in a new era for utility pickups Down Under.
Mercedes have been gearing up to enter the Australian ute market for many years. And finally a ute is available to the public (although mostly targeting fleet purchases). The Mercedes G Class ute provides the best chance yet to challenge the Landcruiser’s claim to the Outback throne.
Mercedes are clearly making their play for the off road mantle. In 2016 they also announced the X-Class Pickup, which competes with the huge range of mid range four wheel drive vehicles getting around (e.g. the Hilux, Navara, Ranger, BT-50 etc…). The X-Class is planned for release mid-2018.
Add this to their strong hold on the military vehicle market, and Mercedes is really upping the anti! They hold a contract with the Australian Defence Force delivering approximately 2146 heavy duty G Wagen based variants, with an on-going agreement to supply 4×4 wagons, utes and 6×6 utes!
Since 1979, Mercedes have delivered over 65,000 variants of the G wagon to defence, security and emergency services around the world!
The Mercedes G Class Ute is simply a civilian version of their military grade utility. With a lot of the ruggedness of the military version still built in.
Mercedes has a great track record with military vehicles. Currently, it has 60 defence and security contracts worldwide.
So, there no doubt the G300 is super tough.
Let’s find out by comparing the following:
To date, the Mercedes G Class Ute is only available in the single cab chassis variant. However, there is mounting pressure to create a dual cab variant.
It comes equipped with:
It is hand built in Austria, and is literally a small truck built to carry its load, not tow it. That’s exactly what the Australian army and emergency services need when operating in the rugged Australian bush, as often at times, towing can become a liability quickly.
As a result, the Mercedes G Class has huge potential as a recreational Outback camping / touring rig, where towing can spell disaster (further explained in this article: ‘slide on camper vs camper trailer’). The less to go wrong the better.
Mercedes G Class Ute recommended retail price: $119,900
The Toyota equivalent to the Mercedes G Class, is the Landcruiser 79 Series Cab Chassis.
The entry level version, called a Workmate, is only part of the way through the journey to a fully capable long distance 4×4 utility for Australian terrain (as we soon demonstrate).
There are some essential aftermarket accessories to get it ready for remote off-road locations, including:
Note: GVM is the total legal weight of a vehicle, as set by the manufacturer. It includes the weight of the vehicle itself (kerb weight), plus the maximum weight of payload it is legally permitted to carry.
The stock, entry level 79 Series Landcruiser Workmate also lacks some of the comforts we have come to expect in this day in age, such as air conditioning and automatic transmission.
Like it’s rough and ready ‘no frills’ ancestors, air con is not a given. It is a dealer fitted option, and it’s not cheap.
And surprisingly, there is no automatic option at all in this day in age!
Toyota 79 Series Landcruiser recommended retail price: Starts at $62,490 (excluding on road costs) – a much lower price point than the Mercedes G Class Ute – but that is the basic entry level WorkMate. That will climb steeply as you accessorize it into an off road touring rig to match the standard Mercedes G Class Ute outfit, or choose the higher GX or GXL models.
Here is a comparison table to show how the standard factory entry level Mercedes G Class Ute and Landcruiser 79 Series stack up, head to head:
|Accessory||Factory Landcruiser 79 Series Workmate||Factory Mercedes G Class Professional Ute|
|Kerb weight (kgs)||2,180||2,410|
|Payload capacity (kgs)||1,220||2,085|
|Braked Towing (kgs)||3,500||3,200|
|Wading depth (mm)||700||650|
|Heavy duty front bar||no||yes|
|Brush bar and side steps||no||yes|
|Head light protection||no||yes|
|Sump and radiator undercarriage protection||no||yes|
|Coil suspension||front only||all round|
|All terrain tires||no||yes|
|Full size spare tire||no||yes|
|Additional recovery points||no||yes|
|Spare tire mount||no||yes|
As this table demonstrates, the standard Mercedes G Class Ute drives out of the factory far more well equipped to attack the Outback than the 79 Series Landcruiser!
It’s a bit like comparing apples to oranges.
If we are to make it a fair ‘apples to apples’ comparison, we need to consider the costs to bring an entry level 79 Series Landcruiser WorkMate up to the stock Mercedes G Class ute.
To do this, we inquired with various suppliers to find accurate prices as of December 2017.
Since there are so many optional extras available for the 79 Series Landcruiser, from many different suppliers, we focused on the most popular brands and suppliers. The table below outlines these costs:
|Vehicle and Features||Price|
|Base Workmate 79 Series Landcruiser||$62,490|
|Wheelbase extension (200mm)||$6,435|
|Heavy duty front bar||$1,755|
|Brush bar and side steps||$1,428|
|Headlight protection||Not Available|
|Sump and radiator protection||$270|
|Differential locks (front and rear air locker)||$3,638|
|Alloy wheels (17″ x 5 Rims)||$1,400|
|All terrain tires (BG Goodrich KM2’s)||$1,896|
|Additional recovery point||$288|
Once you add up all the modifications required to make the entry level 79 Series Landcruiser WorkMate near equivalent to the standard Mercedes G Class Ute, you end up paying within a whisker length for the Mercedes G Class ute, or even more if you chose a high starting model like the Landcuiser GXL!
(Just make sure you would want the mods we mentioned, especially automatic and GVM upgrades).
The draw-back to performing some of these modifications on the 79 Series Landcruiser is, you can potentially void your Toyota warranty.
And, and in terms of the GVM upgrade to handle a bigger payload you still fall short of the Mercedes by 590 kg!
The one area where the 79 Series Landcruiser pulls ever so slightly ahead is the towing capacity.
With a braked towing capacity of 3,500 kgs, it’s is a big feature for tradies with trailers and caravan owners alike.
However one needs to be super careful with this figure. Like many other one Tonne utes with the same towing capacity, this limit is a bit ambiguous (i.e. wishy washy), with very limited warranty options if there is a chassis issue.
Here’s the catch:
According to Toyota, a warranty claim is only possible when using a genuine tow bar and weight distribution hitch (WDH). However, Toyota don’t sell a WDH hitch! So, people are forced to go with aftermarket options, thus voiding the warranty.
The Mercedes still has a towing capacity of 3,200 kgs, so isn’t far off the Toyota at all, and it doesn’t come with the same tow hitch/warranty risks as the Toyota either.
Regardless of the 79 Series Landcruiser slightly higher towing capacity, or the warranty concerns, the real point to consider is; how are you going to fit all your gear, and tow a three Tonne trailer, while staying under the 79 Series Landcruiser standard GVM?
Even with a maximum GVM upgrade from 3.4 to 3.9 Tonnes, it still only allows for approximately 1.6 Tonne of payload, compared to the Mercedes G Class ute 4.5 Tonne GVM and nearly 2.1 Tonne payload capacity.
Here’s the concern:
In this situation, if you’re not already exceeding GVM in the 79 Series Landcruiser, you’ll be getting very close! This means while exploring the Outback, you won’t have any payload flexibility (or very little) to deal with unexpected circumstances!
So realistically, towing 3500kgs with a full vehicle load could be problematic for the Landcruiser due to it’s GVM limitations.
To back this up, some sources recommend that Toyota’s aren’t actually built to be a heavy towing vehicle. According to an article on GoSeeAustralia.com, a Toyota Customer Relations team member gave that exact advice about the 79 Series Landcruiser.
In contrast, even while the Mercedes G Class ute is towing 3 Tonnes, it’ll have almost two Tonnes of spare payload left!!
Add all your gear, passengers and resources, and you’ll still have half a Tonne to play with (at the bare minimum), ready to use in those unexpected circumstances the bush can throw at you.
The head to head points to the Mercedes as the more capable vehicle to carry everything you need in the Outback for work or play, even whilst towing!!
With the Mercedes G Class ute, not only do you have two Tonnes of wriggle room before you hit GVM, you also get a longer wheelbase to fit more on the ute itself.
This highlights that the Mercedes is simply built to carry the extra weight.
This is also reflected in the total Gross Combined Mass (GCM) of the 79 Series Landcruiser and the Mercedes G Class Ute (GCM is the total legal weight of your entire rig, that’s vehicle GVM plus its braked towing capacity).
The Mercedes G Class ute GCM is 7.5 Tonne, while the 79 Series Landcruiser is 6.8 Tonne.
This reflects Mercedes focus on emergency services and mines, where payload is so important. And further, it seems toyota doesn’t encourage the use of all the towing capacity, whereas Mercedes welcome you to use all the payload and towing capacity, like a heavy duty truck.
Even without towing, the standard payload capacity of the Landcruiser (i.e. without a GVM upgrade), at approximately 1.2 Tonne, might struggle with a full load of gear, resources and a slide on camper for example.
The extra robustness of the Mercedes G Class Ute is reflected in its warranty and service interval recommendations. It is covered by a Mercedes warranty for 3 years or 200,000 kms, whichever is greater. While the Toyota is covered for 3 years or only 100,000 kms by manufacturer warranty.
The Recommended service interval for the Mercedes is 12 months or 10,000 kms, while the Toyota is only 6 months or 10,000 kms.
The 79 Series Landcruiser has been a staple for so long, but the latest rendition isn’t free from common issues, for example:
And here is the well known common Mercedes G Class issues:
Let’s look at those Mercedes G Class Ute well known common issues again:
(Tumbleweed…see, there’s nothing there!)
Okay, the Mercedes G Class is a relatively new civilian platform compared to the Landcruiser in Australia, but it certainly is promising! Perhaps over time more issues will come up. As of writing this, there are no known issues we are aware of.
Here is some final information to consider about the Mercedes G Class Ute:
Ultimately, trying to compare the 79 Series Landcruiser and Mercedes G Class off the showroom floor proves to be a fruitless task. It’s not even apples to oranges, It’s like comparing a household cat with a Siberian Tiger. The Landcruiser suffers from:
It’s only win, the on paper towing capacity, is made redundant by it’s lower GVM limits (even with a maximum GVM upgrade!).
We don’t want to question the Australian icon, in fact it will probably remain the Australian Outback icon for as long as the Australian Outback exists. But there is definitely a new kid on the block. And it is ready for some serious off road work! It pulls ahead of the 79 Series Landcruiser in almost every comparable way on paper.
Even after you modify the 79 Series Landcruiser to give it a chance, it is no match.
Considering the 79 Series Landcruiser is currently crowned off road king, the Mercedes G Class ute pulls ahead of the entire four wheel drive ute pack. This puts it in a different category of vehicle all together.
A fully spec’d Landcruiser 79 workmate is frightfully close to the purchase price of the Mercedes G Class Ute. And you still get more diff locks, payload, wheelbase etc. If you were to start with a Landcruiser GX or GXL, and then performed these modifications, the total cost of the rig would be more than the Mercedes, and still fall short of the specifications.
Mercedes took a completely different angle than ALL other manufacturers out there. I know at first the price seems expensive, but that is because we are used to a market where we are accustomed to fitting out the 4WD with aftermarket accessories. Less aware of the cost on incremental small purchases after the big purchase. However, as we saw…. they add up quick!
Instead, Mercedes built a vehicle which is fitted out with all the necessities one would need in a workhorse off the show room floor. Not another dime is needed. So in a way, they built something very special. If your looking for a turnkey touring vehicle in single cab, then look no further.
So after all this insight, we’ve decided it simply isn’t a fair comparison. There are many reviews out there comparing the two, and they all draw attention to the fact that it is over 100k AUD. Not one of them compares apples to apples. Realistically, anyone who wants to buy a new heavy duty touring vehicle and is prepared to spend big on fitting it out. The chances are it would be frightfully close to 100k anyway.
Realistically, the G300 ute is a 4×4 small truck built for hard terrain with minimal changes needed for touring the roughest parts of Australia.
In a way we should be comparing it to other 4×4 trucks like the Iveco Daily 4×4 or the Mitsubishi Canter 4×4, all of which are over 100k WITHOUT aftermarket accessories, in which case the Mercedes is a steal. However, due to its compact size, it can still be used easily in Urban areas. So it doesn’t really fit in either the truck or 4×4 category perfectly. It is a Unicorn, a blue Swan anomaly. A blip on the screen of life that doesn’t fit with the rest of the pattern. A pioneer of new things to come. Question is, are we ready? Can we change our mindset to make room for this new class of vehicle? A turn key touring package off the showroom floor.
What would make the Mercedes G Class ute a truly ultimate touring overlord, is the same thing Toyota was faced with the Landcruiser single cab, there is just NOT enough room in the cabin. If Mercedes Australia decided to offer a Dual-Cab Cab Chassis variant (already made for the Australian Army). Then we will have a new contender for the outback touring legend.
Do we finally have a contender for Landcruiser Country? Maybe – Benz Bush?
The battle between Australian made products versus imported products has been raging ever since….well, who knows!
But there is no sign of it slowing down, and it’s no different in the Australian made campers industry.
As the non-for profit organization Australia Made has been pointing out for years, making the wrong decision can have dire consequences. In this article, we use the Australian made camper industry to discuss the implications.
The aim isn’t to throw bad light on imported campers, as there is nothing malicious about people making campers outside of Australia, or importing foreign campers in. Everyone’s just trying to get by in this big crazy world! Even though we are a proud Australian owned company, specializing in 100% Australian made campers, we ourselves export slide on campers to other parts of the world, so we aren’t against the export/import industry.
What we want to do is shed light on why Australian made campers are such a great option for Australians, or those wanting to explore Australia.
There is no doubt that Australian made campers provide big benefits for Australia, and those wanting to explore it. These benefits are the same across Australia made products:
Let’s tease apart each benefit in more detail. We’ll look to Trayon Australian made campers for examples, because we cannot vouch for the quality of all Australian companies.
We will also address the common opinion that ‘Australian made’ comes with higher price tag.
The need to retain and create jobs in Australia underpins a huge majority of today’s political decisions and debate.
For example, here’s a snippet of every Australian news outlet, every day of the week….”jobs…jobs jobs jobs, we need more jobs…this new policy will create more jobs….politicians have raised their salaries again, but don’t worry, they say it’ll create more jobs!”
(Tongue-in-cheek, of course!)
Although the often heated job debate dominates media headlines, there is one fact in there amongst it which no one can deny……a sufficient amount of jobs is crucial to a happy, functional and satisfied community. So much so, that political decisions about employment are made despite huge, potentially global implications!
For example, why do you think Donald Trump (love him or hate him) pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement? One of the reasons is, he didn’t support the push away from fossil fuel exploration and use, which could cost American jobs by making America non-competitive on the international manufacturing market.
Whether you agree or disagree with these drastic measures, is not the point. The point is, it demonstrates just how far some governments will go to protect and foster jobs… SOME!
The reasons for this are clear.
It’s a very well proven and understood concept:
More jobs → less people living under the poverty line → a larger middle class → more prosperity → more spending on domestic products → economic and business boosts → more jobs!
It is a cycle which leads to a better quality of life for everyone. Raising unemployment levels can lift entire countries out of poverty and the third world!
Okay, we already have a very good quality of life here in Australia, but to some extent, that’s because we support our manufacturers and products. This is why we have non-for-profit organization’s like Australia Made, reminding us how important it is to choose Australian made products and foster that support for local jobs and business.
Despite what politicians would have you believe, they are not our savior’s. The reality is, our actions have a huge amount of influence over Australian jobs and prosperity.
We can directly boost Australia’s job market, economy and local communities through our purchasing habits.
This is one of the key objectives of the Australia made campaign.
Why do you think Australia’s job market is better than most other countries around the world? While politicians claim it is their decisions we have to thank, a big portion is likely due to the fact that Australians can trust in Australian made products, and in general, like to support Australian products and communities.
(Hold that thought, we’ll talk about why we trust Australian made products later on!)
Here’s an example of the flow on impact of buying Australian made camper for jobs.
If you buy one single Trayon slide on camper, you are helping to employ around 190 Australian workers, for different amounts of time, over a two and a half month period.
|Employment Type||Number Of Jobs|
|Trayon factory employees||11|
|Trayon sales team employees1 (agents and resellers)||16|
|Subcontractors2 employed by Trayon for specialized tasks||5|
|Employees in other Australian companies2 involved in Trayon specific manufacturing||94|
|Secondary supplier companies3||64|
1. Trayon employees are employed on a full time basis, solely dedicated to building and managing the sales of Trayon campers.
2. ‘Non-Trayon’ employees are employed anywhere from two days to three weeks, fulfilling Trayon specific component orders which occur every two months (i.e. every batch of campers).
3. ‘Secondary supplier companies’ refers to entire companies with unknown staff numbers. Although some of them are not Australian companies (e.g. Webasto, Narva), they still employ Australians (i.e. sales reps and branch staff). To account for this, we have allocated each of the 64 companies ‘one employee count’ in the job list column, resulting in at least 64 additional jobs.
By retaining these jobs, we are encouraging another key component of a successful, robust economy; skill retention and development.
Countries rely on niche industries to provide work and prosperity for communities. Niche industries are underpinned by specialized skill sets.The Australian camper industry and skill base is certainly unique, and as a result produces some of the best campers in the world!
Keeping these kinds of niche industries retains and fosters the unique skill sets required for them. In turn, this ensures the industry continues to improve and flourish, and continues to deliver jobs, prosperity and support communities well into the future!
The flow on impact is, more people want the high quality and fit-for-purpose products produced by healthy niche industries.
So it’s a cycle in itself:
A healthy niche industry skill base → high quality, specialized, proven products → more consumer trust → more sales → expanding business → more jobs, training and skill development → an even healthier skill base!
That is one of the reasons why we have turned into industry leaders! Our healthy and unique employee skill base is able to deliver the high quality, specialized and proven Australian made campers which Australians can trust!
A direct result of buying imported products, is the outsourcing of skills involved with making those products, to other countries. While this is good for them and their economies, Australia gets the short end of the straw, with the following potential consequences:
The impact of this is potentially serious. If an Australian loses his or her job due to less work in their field (because it’s outsourced internationally), they might have to find another job in another field, instead of what they are trained in, good at and passionate about.
Conceivably, if this happened on a large scale, this skillset could be lost to Australia in as little time as one generation, potentially altering the Australian workforce permanently, and moving those skills offshore indefinitely.
The impact on those people who depended on that industry for a living will flow down every layer of society, causing businesses and customers of all variety to keep their wallet that little bit tighter.
Conversely, the positive impacts of retaining those jobs are clear.
If the production of one of our Australian made campers has a part in employing around 190 people, imagine the positive impact of one thousand of our Australian made campers!
It directly translates to retaining and increasing Australian jobs, fostering a strong and unique Australian skill base, and ultimately, supporting Australian communities.
Now, let’s look at why Australian made products, such as Australian made campers are so reliable and trustworthy in the first place.
This interesting quote hits the nail on the head:
“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten” – Benjamin Franklin
This isn’t about social status. What this means is, those who choose to buy the cheapest options, often end up paying the most in the long run!
For example, say you need a screwdriver. So you go out and buy a brand new $5 dollar screwdriver made overseas, as opposed to the $20 dollar Australia made one. You justify this to yourself with the argument; that for the number of times you will use the screwdriver, the $20 option is overkill. You reassure yourself that if the $5 version breaks, you can always go and buy another $5 version…….and potentially another (…and another!).
Eventually, what you realize is, you could have bought the one Australian made option first, saving yourself time and money eaten up by replacing the poorly made cheapy many times over your life.
It’s exactly the same for Australian made campers, in particular the off road kind. Except the potential consequences are ten fold!
The big difference is:
A cheap imported camper is not going to break in your garage, the driveway, down the road, or up the highway….ohhhhh no. It’s going to break when you’re hundreds of kilometres from civilisation down a long dirt track, with no one around, and no nearby camper shop you can waltz into and buy a new one!
A breakdown in the Outback can have seriously bad consequences:
On top of this, there’s the stress caused by the whole time consuming and expensive event!
Stress reduction is meant to be one of the benefits of camping, not stress creation!
The risk are drastically reduced with Australian made campers.
Australian products are subject to a high of level standards for build quality, safety and product testing. Our standards are higher than many other countries around the world.
What you get, isn’t going to break when you’re highly vulnerable in the Outback, and there’s far less chance you’ll need to pay for it twice!
For example, Trayon have been making Australian made campers since 1994, around 25 years. We know the ins’ and outs’ of travelling and camping in the roughest parts of the Australian Outback, and we build our campers to suit that.
That’s why you get a ten year structural warranty, which also applies to your off road travel (which you won’t need to use anyway!). We wouldn’t offer that if we had any concerns whatsoever about quality.
To make sure you’re getting Australian made quality, don’t ask “where is the camper from?” Ask “where is it made?”
Asking where it’s from gives salesman a loophole! They might just tell you the location of their Australian warehouse, when it’s actually made overseas.
And don’t stop there, ask as many questions as you need to satisfy yourself that the camper is full of Australian made quality, for example:
All these things have a huge effect on the quality of a product.
This is how we achieve such high standards of quality:
Here’s a few examples:
In fact, Trayon Australian made campers are built so strong, resilient and fit-for-purpose, they often outlive the vehicles that carry them! We’ve heard many accounts of a vehicle being sold or rebuilt, while the Trayon is still sitting pretty, doing it’s thing year after year!
Trayon number #1, now over 25 years old is still going strong!
These days, people aren’t use to their gear lasting so long!
Our grandparents were used to their equipment lasting a lifetime.
But in our modern, online dependant world, global economies are so interconnected that very cheap options, made overseas, are available for everything.
As a result, we have become accustomed to the cheapest versions of everything, available at the click of a button, and replaced even quicker! Products are flying and floating all over the world from one country to another, faster and faster, and in greater quantities than ever before!
The risk is:
The other risk is, once you get your cheap imported gear, it lacks the accessible help and support you get with Australian made products. This leads us to the last overarching Australian made benefit.
The final key benefit of our Australian made argument is about the easy access to help and support available inside Australia.
In terms of warranties and insurances, international competitors cannot match the help, support and certainty of domestic brands.
When you’re deep in the Outback, those assurances go a long way!
For example, Trayon offer help and support Australia wide. We have contacts and repair options all over the country, so it doesn’t matter what happens or where, you’re covered with Trayon Australian made campers.
While your travel buddy with an imported camper may struggle to contact their international supplier to discuss warranty issues, or be unable to organise the repair service they were promised (touch wood!).
We’ve demonstrated the big benefits of supporting Australia made products. But there is an elephant in the room still waiting to be explained:
Australian made = more expensive, right?
More often than not, this is true. But, here’s the counter points to address that fact, and highlight why buying an imported option is not the solution:
Australian made campers, like the majority of Australian made gear, will:
While imported options:
By using your purchasing power, you can choose Australian made quality while making sure Australian jobs and communities come first!
Let’s be honest, it doesn’t matter what vehicle you’re driving or what type of shelter you’re camping in, it’s just great to be off road camping in the Outback!
But, have you ever been off road camping and regretted the gear or camper/vehicle rig you bought? Maybe you couldn’t access certain tracks, it took too long to find gear or to set up, or it just broke? These kinds of situations often occur for the same reason:
Convenience leads to compromise, which leads to consequence
When looking for a particular feature in a camper for example, it’s important to consider the Pro’s and Con’s.
Generally to have this feature or “convenience” there is a cost, not just in money but almost always you’ll have to compensate in other areas (weight, space, time etc). Simply put, everything will bring a compromise; it is up to you, the purchaser to decide what amount of compromise you are willing to live with. There is a reason why there are thousands of RV manufacturers in Australia alone, not one product suits 99% of the camping population.
Let’s use the following off road camping trailer example to explain.
The Camper Trailer Convenience: A hard floor off road camping trailer can provide a very comfortable living space. Thats a convenience desired by many campers!
The Camper Trailer Compromise: To tow an off road camping trailer, you may need a vehicle upgrade or replacement. That’s a compromise you make for your desired convenience.
The Camper Trailer Consequence: After making compromises for your convenience, the off road camping trailer may actually prevent you from accessing your favourite camping spots. Or worse, maybe you try to access those spots, and you break some running gear like springs or axles! They’re the consequences, and a particularly nasty ones at that!
Of course there can be beneficial consequences as well, for example you have some extra space to sit around inside the camper……but was that worth the cost?
With that out of the way, the main message we are trying to convey in this post is….
When seeking a certain feature, function or style in an off road camping set-up, you have to consider the compromises and consequences first (i.e. the costs and benefits). If there are more costs than benefits to get what you’re after, then maybe there is better options.
Simply put – everything will bring a compromise, and it is up to the purchaser to decide which or what compromises they are willing to live with. There is a reason why there are thousands of camping and RV manufacturers in Australia alone – no single item or set up suits everyone.
It’s an important concept to grasp before buying anything, whether off road camping related or not! Convenience usually comes at a cost.
However, in this post we focus on off road camping. We include some examples to explain:
The examples we use include:
Terry loved his deep sea fishing down south, but wanted to try his hand in the tropics. He planned a once in a lifetime off road camping trip up to Cape York to chase some Coral Trout, Golden Snapper and Red Emperor. He owned a five metre ocean going boat.
He wanted to spend six weeks off road camping and fishing in the dry season, and his wife was just as keen to visit one of Queensland’s most beautiful regions. At 65 years old, him and his wife needed a comfortable off road camping set-up. Tents weren’t an option. He liked the idea of a slide on camper, but he didn’t think it would suit his vehicle – a reliable old 200 series landcruiser wagon.
He didn’t want to sell his wagon. For an off road camper, he’d need to sell the wagon and buy a ute.
Keeping the wagon is the convenience he wanted to stick to at all costs.
Terry didn’t analyse the compromises and consequences for this convenience, he just new he wanted to keep the old girl (the vehicle….). He didn’t know how this would affect his fishing and off road camping options.
Here’s what he did to keep the 200 Series:
We explain GVM further in our recent article ‘Choose a Slide on Camper’.
Here’s the 200 Series cost/benefit breakdown.
Terry copped 10 significant costs to compensate for keeping the wagon, for which he got two benefits. A very cost heavy result! He has to strike out deep sea fishing, which was one of his primary reasons for getting the off road rig in the first place. Real off road camping is now very difficult.
If Terry sold the 200 series and bought an extra-cab ute instead, he could have bought a slide on camper and towed his ocean going boat behind. In this case, towing his ocean going boat would be his primary convenience.
And here’s his hypothetical compromise:
And here is how his new consequence list would look:
All of these benefits would result if he decided to go with the Trayon Camper option.
The Trayon costs and benefits list is the opposite result of Terry’s 200 Series list. The Trayon benefits far outweigh the costs, 10 to 1!
In fact the only real negative, losing the 200 Series, would occur regardless of which slide on camper Terry might have bought.
Bob and Mary were planning an off road camping trip of a lifetime. All they had was an older but reliable Hilux, and a wealth of off road camping experience.
They both agreed that towing something would be a pain, because they wanted to access the most ‘difficult to get to’ places, which are usually the most beautiful and least visited.
That pointed them in the slide on camper direction.
Mary pulled the boss card and wouldn’t settle for any camper with a canvas fold out roof. This was her desired convenience.
These desired conveniences ruled out a Trayon slide on camper.
If your wondering about the difference between a slide on camper and a slide in camper check out our article ‘slide on vs slide in’.
Bob and Mary’s consequences look a bit like Terry’s (i.e. very cost heavy and benefit light):
Bob and Mary have accepted eight significant costs to compensate for their desired conveniences, for which they got three benefits. This includes jeopardising the ability to reach the roughest but most beautiful areas, which was their original off road camping goal!
If Bob and Mary had decided to buy a more compact slide on camper, as opposed to the massive slide in camper, they would be able to ‘access all areas’ like they wanted to at the very start of trip planning. So let’s look at their off road camping situation as if they prioritised that convenience instead of a hard roof.
Here’s their hypothetical of road camping compromises:
And here is how their off road camping consequence list would look.
All of these pro’s resulted because they decided to go with the Trayon Camper option.
Once again, the Trayon results in far more benefits than costs; 10 to 1 in Bob and Mary’s case! However, the tropical fly basically defeats the canvas roof issue anyway, so it’s more like 10 to 0!
So, we’ve seen what can happen if you rush out and make decisions without first assessing the compromises required for your desired off road camping conveniences. You run the risk of a high number of costs for very little benefit.
This example is actually based on an analysis we performed with someone at a Trayon show. For the purpose of this article we’ll call him John.
John came up and slapped his hand on our Trayon showpiece. “Yeah these are great!!” He said. “I know all about them because a couple of mates own em’ and love em’!”
He’d done his off road camping research and knew that Trayon campers were lighter, stronger, lower and better built than any of its competitors. “But I think they have one big drawback”, he said. “I don’t like the bed….”
Who knows what off road camping compromises John was willing to make for the bed. Down the track, he may have chosen a larger slide in camper like Bob and Mary, or an off road caravan like Terry! But instead, we worked through the scenario together.
We explained to John, that for his one cost – not being happy with the Trayon bed – he would get all of the following off road camping benefits.
Seeing as we found more than 30 benefits associated with the Trayon option, we’ve split them up a bit into broad topics:
John is now fully aware of the Trayon off road camping costs and benefits before he makes any decision about off road campers.
This highlights just how important the analysis stage is. He needs to do this for all the options he is considering before crunch time.
The moral is, the analysis first approach will point you in the direction of your most suitable option.
The reason there is so many off road camping options is because everyone has different goals and desired conveniences. The off road expedition gear market has to try and cater for this variety. But as a result, nothing perfectly suits everyone’s unique situation! Most options are very targeted to achieve particular conveniences.
So before you rush out and buy off road camping gear based solely on convenience, you need to thoroughly analyse your situation first.
You will have to compromise somewhere, somehow, and it is up to you to decide what compromises are worthwhile or which compromises you are willing to live with.
To ensure you are comfortable with your decision, we recommend following these steps:
Only then will you truly know which is the best off road camping option for your situation!
The bonus is, because you know it’s your best option, you will feel very comfortable to make the required compromises. No second guessing or regrets, because you have gone for the option that will help you reach your goals.
Don’t make the same mistakes as others and buy an off road camping set up before you know what is your best option based on the costs and benefits. Analyse the situation. Identify the conveniences, compromises and consequences, and use them to make smart decisions.
Trayon has been using this concept since 1994 to make extremely ‘benefit heavy’ off road camping set-ups.
That’s solid proof that this approach works!