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!