Side Entry or Rear Entry Slide on Camper? Which is Best?

Slide-on campers come in many layouts in terms of their internal living spaces. But one big question is: “should I get a slide-on camper with rear entry or side entry?”

Well the answer may surprise you!

By the end of this article you will know which is the best for you.

Deciding on the right Slide-on Camper

As you are probably aware at this point in your decision making process, choosing a slide-on camper isn’t as simple as choosing the features you want and finding the right price.

You have to consider other elements like the “dry weight” of your camper, the payload of your vehicle and you need to have an understanding of how your 4WD accessories, luggage, fuel and passengers all affect your legal payload. 

You also have to keep in mind what features come within the specified “dry weight” of the manufactured product (eg: do you need to add a fridge to that weight or is it included?), as it can vary greatly. The layout and weight distribution of the camper is important too, as you do not want to put unwarranted strain on vulnerable points of your vehicle.

But another key consideration is how you will be entering and exiting the camper on a regular basis via the main entry. This is an important part of the camper which many often overlook.

towing boat with slide on camper (trayon camper)

Rear Entry Slide-on Campers 

More and more manufacturers are designing slide-on campers with a rear entry. When it is on or off your vehicle you will be entering the camper through an opening in the back wall of the camper. This can be an appealing option feature wise, especially when the camper is set up, as it leaves the sides of the camper available for accessories like a pull out fridge. However, at Trayon Campers we don’t place any hatches, doors or openings at the rear of the camper for a very specific reason.

DUST. We aren’t talking about your normal dust on a bookshelf, we are talking about the infamous dry, red, fine dust of the Australian Outback. Notorious, relentless and ever present red dust.

You see, behind your vehicle as you drive – there is an air pressure differential, otherwise referred to as negative air pressure, caused by the collapsing air pocket that the vehicle has created whilst moving forward. This negative air pressure creates a little bit of a vacuum of air that can suck air out of the camper, if it allows for it, through seals or hatches and doors creating a negative air pressure inside of the camper. This sucking effect puts pressure on any seals on hatches on the rear wall of your camper and it will need to equalise the pressure by drawing in air from somewhere else to balance the air pressure out again.

Dusty road
Source

If you are traveling on a dusty road/track then the air that the camper allows back into itself in order to equalize the pressure will be ladened with dust and minute debris.  This air might come in through a side or front hatch, maybe even a rear door if there is nowhere else for it to come in.

It’s not a matter of how many seals are used, or what kind of seal they use or how new they are. Eventually with all the compressing, vibrating and rigors of the Outback, the seals on the rear wall will succumb to wear and tear and allow air to get past it. Obstructions to the seal performing its job will make this whole process even more effortless for the dreaded red dust laden air to fill your living space inside the camper.  A leaf or a misplaced strap across the seal, even dust and dirt on the seal itself will allow for air to move freely where it should not be moving at all.

Dusty slide on camper
Dusty Trayon Camper with External Shower

If you’ve ever seen a truck, bus or a caravan come off a dusty road you’ll notice the back wall has a nice thick layer of dust on it compared to the rest of the vehicle. This is because of the negative air pressure collapsing and creating a vortex of dusty air that ends up clinging to the back wall.  Best not give it a way into the camper.

Dusty road, slide on camper

Side Entry Slide-on Campers 

Trayon Campers side entry have been designed specifically to avoid this natural law of aerodynamics that can make your trip dirtier and more uncomfortable than it needs to be. You want the inside of your camper to remain clean and dust free so you have a safe clean environment to retreat to when the weather is against you. 

After all, the whole reason we have a living space separate to the outdoors is for shelter and to keep the dust out!

An additional downside of rear entry slide-on campers is if you tow a trailer like a horse float, boat, motorbikes or other toys like a hitch mounted bike rack – then accessing the camper while hitched becomes very difficult or impossible without removing the trailer or bikes first.

If you want the ability to set up camp with your slide-on camper on your vehicle and a trailer connected, a rear entry camper is not for you.

towing slide on camper speed boat side entry (Trayon Camper)

After all, that’s the big benefit of a slide-on camper, you can still tow your big toys camping.

With a Trayon Camper, the side entry door completely avoids the vacuum effect at the rear of the vehicle. The side of the vehicle is not subject to a negative air pressure while driving, which allows the seals to do their job. Over the last 26 years, Trayon Campers have formed a reputation of being dust-free even in the most adverse driving conditions. 

The side door access allows you to quickly set up camp while leaving your trailer or bike rack attached. The Trayon Camper has been aptly tokend the “fisherman’s friend” because of these features. Allowing easy and full access to the camper without having to unhitch the boat. Also being able to access the fridge in the camper quickly by simply unlatching the passenger side stair door.

Slide on camper motor bike on rear of vehicle

As the Trayon opens exclusively to the passenger side of the vehicle, it will allow you to pull over on a tight track and access your camper without need to impede in the road side where other traffic may wish to pass by.

Another often overlooked benefit of passenger side entry and opening slide-on campers is that most caravan parks and campsites only allow for passenger side pads from where you park the vehicle. Exhibit A:

caravan park slide on camper passenger side entry

An additional benefit of the Trayon Camper oyster design, is that the passenger side entrance is protected by a fully covered awning that is created when you fold the lid of the camper over to open it. This allows you to wipe your feet under shelter if it has been a wet and muddy day. This is the same concept that the house building industry has been doing for a while and we have come to expect when we buy a house. A covered area over the main entrance of the house where guests can take their shoes off while not standing in the rain. It’s not just for looks, it serves a very practical purpose.

Best of all –  if it does start raining and you forgot to close the door then water won’t come pouring in. We’ve got you COVERED.

In Summary

Benefits of a passenger side entry slide-on camper:

  1. Little chance of dust getting into the camper while driving
  2. No need to detach the trailer or bike rack to access the camper
  3. Access the living space of the slide on camper on the side of the road safely when it is on the passenger side
  4. Most caravan parks have pads setup for passenger side entry

A Trayon Camper has been designed specifically to meet these needs, with the added benefit of having a covered area over the entrance to keep your living space high and dry.

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