Journey Of Trayon

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.

The Early Trayon Blueprint

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.

Building on the Good Old Days

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!

Trayon’s Slide on Camper Principles

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:

      A. Light-weight

      B. As much weight as far-forward and as low-down as possible

      C. Low profile

      D. Structural integrity

      E. Retro-fitability

      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!

Principle A) Light-weight

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 Ol’ Overladen Kingswood is No More

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.

kingswood ute

Source

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.

Lightweight is Key

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!

Weight Adaptation Example – The Trayon Mattress

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:

  1. The weight! – Steel springs and latex covers are very heavy (Have you tried lifting your home bed mattress lately?). Also the weight would be at the highest point of the camper, making it top heavy, and more prone to vertical sway of rough tracks.
  2. Expensive – The mattress has to be custom made to suit and this can cost in excess of $950!
  3. Non-adjustable – You better hope it is set to your sleep setting. Some like it firm, others like it soft, and most need it to accommodate various requirements like a sore hip or lower back problems.
  4. Don’t have an air gap underneath – Ever walked into a second hand caravan and smelled something musky? It is most likely the underside of the mattress. Body temperature on top and cold underneath makes for condensation to form under the mattress, and if there is no air gap, then the moisture cannot evaporate during the day.
  5. Used one side up only – Flipping and rotating the innerspring mattress to avoid the body grooves is not always possible.

Trayons Mattress Solution

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:

  1. Its light-weight. Much much lighter than an innerspring that uses steel springs (think plastic vs steel).
  2. Its cheaper, at only $495.
  3. Its adjustable. You can set one side of the mattress to firm, and the other to soft, and swap at any given time. You can stiffen an isolated part of the mattress by removing a light-blue spring (soft spring) and replacing it with a dark-blue spring (firm spring). This way you can tweak the sleep system to suit your body aches and pains and as things change.
  4. It makes an air gap under the mattress of 35mm, allowing condensation to evaporate and create an insulating air barrier between extreme temperatures.
  5. It allows the mattress to be flipped and rotated whenever you want.

mattress upgrade

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.

Principle B) As Much Weight As Far-forward and As Low-down As Possible

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.

What Are the Benefits of Correct Weight Distribution?

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. 

  1. Scenario 1: When the weight of the slide on camper is toward the rear of the vehicle. You will begin to loose steering control, front wheel traction and a reduction in breaking
  2. Scenario 2: Worst case scenario, the chassis can actually buckle or break if the weight is too far to the rear. As it acts like a lever of the rear axle. 

slide on camper weight distributionPicture 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!

Principle C) Low Profile

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.

Principle D) Structural Integrity

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!

How Does A Trayon Camper 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!

Principle E) Retrofittable

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.

what is a slide on camper Trayon number 1000

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)

Principle F) One Item – Multiple Purposes

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.

trayon slide on camper floorplan

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.

Principle G) KIS – Keep It Simple

Landcruiser Trayon

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.

Trayon’s KIS Example

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.

Conclusions

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:

  1. Why choose a slide on camper
  2. Towing with a slide on camper
  3. Do I need a suspension upgrade with a slide on camper?

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.

towing horse float with a slide on camper

Why Tow With a Trayon?

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.

Sometimes, You Just Need a Trailer!

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.

Why is Towing with a Trayon so Convenient?

There are a few key areas which make a Trayon camper so well suited to towing.

  1. The Towball freedom.
  2. Trayon slide off abilities.
  3. A Trayon’s incredibly light yet strong build.

Here’s an explanation of these areas in more detail, showing what they mean for your towing adventures.

1) Towball Freedom – You Can Keep the Trailer Hitched When Touring

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.

2) Trayon Slide Off Abilities – It Can be Removed From the Vehicle at Camp

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!

3) The Weight – Ensuring You Have Payload Capacity to Burn!

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).

Towing With A Trayon: Examples

Here’s a few scenarios illustrating how towing with a Trayon can suit such a big variety of recreational needs.

The best examples are:

  1. Towing a boat.
  2. Towing a horse float.
  3. Towing bikes or quads.
  4. Towing a caravan.
  5. Other towball uses.

1) Towing a Boat With a Trayon

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.

2) Towing A Horse Float

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.

3) Towing Bikes or Quads

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.

4) Towing an On Road Caravan

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.

5) Other Towball Abilities?

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.

Trayon Towing Conclusions

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.

No Ute? No Worries!

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!

How to choose a slide on camper feature image

More and more tracks are closing access to trailers in the Australian outback, or they are strongly discouraged by the authorities due to safety concerns, such as rollovers, axle/chassis damage, and being stranded as well as environmental damage caused by trailer towing in rough loose terrains. A slide on camper can be used to go further and do more.

What is a slide on camper - Trayon Camper in the outback - Slide on Campers

A slide on camper is the camper of choice for outback touring in Australia. If you don’t know what a slide on camper is, check out our recent article: What is a Slide on Camper?

This article highlights the key steps to consider when choosing a slide on camper for your existing 4X4 ute. In summary here are the steps on how to choose a slide on camper for a ute.

A guide to choosing a slide on camper for your 4WD Ute

  1. Estimate payload and identify your safe slide on camper weight
  2. Upgrade your vehicle to suit purpose
  3. Choose type of slide on camper
  4. Consider weight distribution of the slide on camper
  5. Consider warranty implications
  6. Identify materials and structure
  7. Make a short list and go check them out

Estimate payload and identify your safe slide on camper weight

The most crucial part of choosing a slide on camper is answering this question:

“What is the weight of the slide on camper?”

Or another way of putting it is:

“Can my ute carry it without exceeding its GVM?”

This is more important than aesthetics and features.

If you exceed your manufacturer’s Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM), not only is it ILLEGAL, but it will:

Simply put, don’t do it. It is not worth the risk.

It is the same concept as following and adhering to your vehicle’s towing capacity.

It isn’t always intuitive to know the limits of your ute, let alone understand what those limits mean practically. But it is entirely your responsibility to not exceed the limits as far as the law is concerned.

In this step, we will outline how to identify the capacity of your ute, and equip you with the knowledge to avoid exceeding your GVM. These pictures illustrate what has happened in the past:

The first consideration is to know your utes payload specifications.

What is your Ute Manufacturers Payload Specifications?

Payload specification for your ute is not always listed in the manual or on the vehicle.

But you can work it out. To do this, you will need to identify two key numbers from your vehicle’s manual, often located in the glove box. (Sometimes this is listed on a plaque inside the door jam of one of the front doors). The two numbers are:

To calculate the payload capacity, you then subtract the Kerb Weight from the Gross Vehicle Mass. For the purpose of this, we will denote Payload as PL. In other words:

PL = GVM – KW

Here is an example for a 2017 Mazda BT-50 XT Dual Cab. On their website it states the GVM = 3200 kg and a KW = 1932 kg. So the PL equation would become:
PL = 3200 – 1932 = 1268

Giving a Payload of 1268 kg. So what does this mean? It simply means that the weight of all additions to the vehicle, including accessories, people, luggage, campers, tray back etc must be less than or equal to 1.268 tonne.

Giving a Payload of 1268 kg. So what does this mean? It simply means that the weight of all additions to the vehicle, including accessories, people, luggage, campers, tray back etc must be less than or equal to 1.268 tonne.

 

What is my payload? How to choose a slide on camper for your ute

Estimate how much weight you need to carry

Let us consider a real life example. Say you want to take your mates camping and fishing in your new BT-50. Before you go, you equip the vehicle with the following accessories and gear:

ItemWeight (kg)
Front bar with rock sliders and side steps110
Winch30
Snorkel, LED lights, solar panel and other electronics (amplifiers etc)15
Full Long range tank70
Alloy tray100
100L of water + tank105
Auxiliary 100A AGM battery30
Roof rack20
Under tray storage with recovery gear15
Towing a tinny in a trailer with a ball weight50
Your friend Sam, Michael and yourself240
Fridge20
Beers and food10
Stove and gas bottle11
Crockery and cutlery3
Fishing gear10
Swags and tarps40
Additional luggage10
Total889

 

Adding all of these up, you get 889 kg. That is only 379 kg shy of the total GVM of 1268 kg for the vehicle.

So, you can see that adding a slide on camper heavier than 379 kg on the back of the tray in addition to all of this gear, will easily overload the vehicle. This would void the warranty and put Sam, Michael and yourself at risk of injury or worse.

It is the same story with most 4WD utes in Australia, in fact most utes are within the 1 tonne ute category (utes that have an approximate 1 tonne payload).

campervan-festival

Don’t over do it: Great camping list. Image Source 

Calculate safe slide on camper weight

When travelling in outback Australia it is NOT about maximising how much you can carry, but actually, it is about minimising how much you carry to put less strain on the vehicle’s chassis, suspension, axles, drive gear and components.

When travelling in outback Australia it is NOT about maximising how much you can carry, but actually, it is about minimising how much you carry to put less strain on the vehicle’s chassis, suspension, axles, drive gear and components.

You can get GVM upgrades done to most vehicles to increase payload, and if you have the budget for it, it is worth considering. We won’t go into detail here, as it deserves another dedicated post.

With such little weight for a slide on camper, it is essential that you find the right balance between creature comforts and not exceeding your GVM both for your 4WD and the slide on camper.

By expanding on the example above with a Mazda BT-50. Let us revise your load to be:

ItemWeight (kg)
Front bar with rock sliders and side steps110
Winch30
Snorkel, LED lights, solar panel and other electronics (amplifiers etc)10
Full long range tank0
Alloy Tray100
100L of water + tank105
Auxiliary 100A AGM battery30
Roof rack0
Under tray storage with recovery gear15
Towing a tinny in a trailer with a ball weight50
Your friend Sam, Michael and yourself240
Fridge0
Beers and food10
Stove and gas bottle0
Crockery and cutlery3
Fishing gear10
Swags and tarps0
Additional luggage, swags and fishing gear10
Total723

 

We have made some hard calls here. You decide that if you get a slide on camper, you will already have the following inside:

You also decide, to maximise weight for the slide on the following accessories are not necessary:

This has reduced your load to 723 kg, giving you a maximum of 545kg for a slide on camper and any additional gear you want to take.

Upgrade your vehicle to suit purpose

Do you intend to go off road? If so, make sure your vehicle is fit for that purpose.

Very few of the 4X4 utes available on the market are capable of going off road from the showroom floor.

There is a reason outback Australia is commonly called Landcruiser country. That’s because the Landcruiser 70 series is the trusted platform for farmers.

However, even a stock Landcruiser 79 series isn’t without problems when going bush.

One of the biggest issues with stock utes are their factory shock absorbers. Generally built for lightweight road driving, not the Australian Outback.

Other things to consider, include:

How to choose a slide on camper - Toyota Landcruiser LC70 in action

A Note on GVM Upgrades

This is quite a complex topic and warrants another full post. Every ute has its caveats when it comes to GVM upgrades.

Some allow a second stage manufacturing upgrade, something you can order when you purchase a new vehicle before it is registered, this is regulated at the Federal level.

And some allow an aftermarket GVM upgrade, which is regulated at the state level.

Steel or Aluminum tray?

Yes, steel is stronger than aluminium. However, it’s strength gain is at a huge cost…. you guessed it, weight. Modern aluminium flat bed tray manufacturing techniques have significantly increased the strength of trays.

So there is no need to have a steel tray which eats up precious payload capacity.

Steel trays typically range between 200-300kgs. That’s a 4-5 man lift!

While aluminium trays range from 100-200kgs. So you could save around 100kg in the tray alone.

Choose type of slide on camper

There are various things to consider that are personal to you when deciding on a slide on camper. The main questions you want to ask yourself is:

What is my budget?

New slide on campers/canopies ranges from $6000 (bare bones) to $50000+ depending on class and features and materials.

How often will I go camping?

Are you a weekend camper, or a long-term tourer? Knowing this gives you an idea of the features you require. E.g. short setup time, internal/external kitchen bench, water tanks, hot water service, Lithium or AGM battery etc.

Australian made slide on camper

 

What features do I really need?

Slide on campers are typically fitted out as a complete camper, with a fridge, gas bottle, battery, water tank, kitchen bench, bed, dining area etc.

If you already have your own gear like a fridge, water tank, cooking gear etc, you may want something bare bones that you can fit out yourself.

Or as a tradie, something multi-purpose that can be used to house your tools during the week, and camping gear on the weekend.

Vintage Luxury Camper - Majestic bus

Glamping Features: Source

Where will I be travelling?

Are you planning to travel to caravan parks or the Canning Stock route? You must match your vehicle and slide on camper to the rashest terrain you intend to traverse.

For example, some slide on campers have non-removable legs, that hang out from the wheelbase, and tend to hang low. These can be torn off or bent on off road tracks.

 

Legs that can get torn off - slide on camper

Decide on Class of Slide on camper

In our post, “what is a slide on camper” we discussed the three classes of slide on campers and their price ranges. They are:

Class 1: Slide on Canopy Camper – simple canopy with roof top tent

This is usually the lightest class of slide on camper. Depending on fit out, can range from 170 kg – 400 kg

It could be a canopy that is used during the week for work, and is easily converted into a camper for the weekend. Ideal for tradies or budget glampers who don’t want to sleep in a tent.

Typically class 1 slide on canopy campers range from AUD $6500 – $25,000 depending on materials, features and accessories required.

How to choose a slide on camper - Class 1 slide on camper - traymate campers

Class 1 Slide on camper: Traymate Camper

Class 2: Purpose Built Slide on Campers – full featured camper.

This class has all the creature comforts built in from day one. Fridge, gas bottle, cook top, kitchen bench, dining area, sink, 2-3 person accommodation, water tank, annex etc.

Typically a box design with a oyster shell that folds over the side or the rear.

Note that, partial rear folding oyster designs are more susceptible to dust penetrating the seal from the trailing wind funnel of the vehicle when travelling in the Outback.

To be used for weekend campers, but also sustain long-distance touring.

The dry weight for this class of camper across the industry ranges dramatically from around 370 kg to 1000 kg depending on manufacturer and accessories.

When you only have 545kg to play with (from the example above), extreme care must be taken when choosing this class of slide on.

It is too easy to be attracted to the bells and whistles and aesthetics. Eliminate any slide on from your list if it means you will exceed the GVM of your vehicle.

Class 2 slide on campers range in price from around AUD $30,000 – $45,000 depending on materials, features and accessories required.

Class 2 Slide on camper: Trayon camper

Class 2 Slide on camper: Trayon camper

Class 3: Cab over Slide on Camper – Full featured campers built using Caravan methodologies and generally have a hard roof structure of some sort.

When you think of a caravan, the first thing that comes to mind is definitely not lightweight. These are heavier because they are built out over the cab and commonly used methodologies and materials that are designed to be on a separate set of wheels, axles and suspension, i.e. a caravan.

So, yes this class of slide on camper is typically the heaviest. The dry weight for this class range from 420 kg – 1000 kg +. And commonly have all the creature comforts.

There are very few class 3 campers that you can carry on a 1 tonne ute without exceeding your GVM.

These are ideal for vehicles that have a payload of around 1500 kg or more, to safely allow for additional gear, people and the slide on camper. Such as Ford F250/350, Iveco Daily, Mercedes G Professional etc.

Class 3 slide on campers range from AUD $50,000 to $100,000+ depending on make and features.

There are hybrid class 2-3 campers which are still cab over, however, they usually save weight by having a pop open top and utilises a lightweight purpose built frame.

Identify how the slide on camper distributes its internal weight?

Next to the weight of a slide on, something that is less spoken about, and perhaps more important is:

“Where is the overall weight of the slide on camper situated”?

For example, if all the weight e.g. fridge, AGM batteries, pantry, gas bottle and water tank is behind the rear axle (at the rear of the slide on), you are at extreme risk of buckling or snapping the chassis, especially if your Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM) is exceeded.

One of two scenarios can occur if you overload your vehicle with too much weight hanging behind the rear axle.

Here is an a graphic demonstrating the concept:

 

slide on camper weight distribution

 

It is simple mechanics really, something we can’t escape no matter how much money we throw at it.

This is particularly important for slide on campers on dual cab utes, where the tray sits typically right above or just in front of the rear axle. It is impossible to move the load further toward the center of the wheelbase like you can with a single cab ute.

Similarly, if all the weight is on one side of the slide on camper, it will put an unnecessary load on the shock absorber, wheel and axle.

Ideally, you want the load to be as close to the center of the wheel base, both front to back and left to right.

Consider warranty implications 

We expect every product to have a warranty these days, however, some products require it more than others. Slide on campers are definitely in that category, especially in Australia.

Why is warranty so important?

Well, when you are in the Outback, travelling 1000s of kilometres of harsh off-road conditions, you, your vehicle and camper are put to the test. There is no doubt about it. Slide on campers travel further and deeper than caravans and trailers, they take a beating.

When something breaks, that could mean an end to your trip, huge delay in a nearby town, complete isolation or injury and a very costly experience.

Warranty for your slide on camper from an Australian camper manufacturer means you can easily get parts sent out to you in to a caravan park in Broome or other remote towns. You can get repairs from their closest factory or dealer.

When touring, something will break, it is just a matter of when. You need a support team, hence a good warranty clause is a part of that team.

Look for 5-10 Year Australian structural warranty that covers you while you are off road!

Other factors to consider about choosing a manufacturer for your slide on camper include:

Australian made slide on camper

Identify materials and structure

Let’s face it, some materials are heavier than others. Some build methodologies are stronger than others.

This could be challenging to find out. But here are some basics to work out:

If the answer to 2 is mostly fibreglass, keep in mind that it is incredibly brittle and notoriously difficult to repair. It is also hard to get fibreglass consistent over large surfaces, so it can be quite heavy.

If the answer to 1 is aluminium, how are the joins bonded? Welding aluminium can weaken its strength by approximately a third.

aluminium stress fracture

As a buyer why is this important?

Well, when you are touring or overlanding in the bush, small issues tend to become magnified by ten fold.

Corrugations, potholes, ditches, trenches, river crossings, dunes and cut outs all take their toll to your camper and vehicle.

Make a shortlist and go check them out

Okay, so we have covered quite a lot in this article. But as you can see, by following the above 6 steps, you can create a profile of a slide on camper which is safe for your 4WD Ute, and can take you where you want to go but also meets your financial requirements.

In summary:

Step 1: Estimate the payload and identify your safe slide on camper weight

We learnt how much weight you can safely carry a slide on camper without exceeding the GVM of your vehicle

Step 2: Upgrade your vehicle to suit purpose

Your vehicle is doing all the hard work, make sure it is fit for your intended purpose. Stock standard utes are not designed for off road touring. At the very least consider upgrading your shock absorbers if you plan to go off the Tarmac.

Step 3: Choose class of slide on camper

We outlined 3 classes of slide on campers, their weights and rough price ranges for each. Ultimately, if you only have 550kg left of your payload after you subtract all the gear and people, this will limit you to a class 1 and 2 slide on camper. Unless you go with a hybrid class 2-3.

If your budget is less than 25k, this means you can go for a Class 1 slide on camper. Even fit it out yourself to save some money.

Step 4: Consider weight distribution of slide on camper

Here we explored what could happen if all the weight of the camper internals (batteries, water tank, gas bottle, fridge, pantry) sits behind the rear axle. Weight must be as close to the center of the wheelbase as possible.

Step 5: Consider warranty implications

Don’t get caught out in the middle of nowhere with a broken camper and no warranty. Look for 5-10 year warranty that covers you off road, and will post items to you wherever you are.

Step 6: Identify materials and structure

Make sure you go with a manufacturer who prioritises minimising weight and maximising durability.

And finally, go check it out. Most Australian slide on manufactures attend caravan and camping shows around Australia regularly. Here is a list of shows coming up.

At Trayon Campers we do build lightweight slide on campers, however, this article was written with the mindset to help people navigate some of the intricate safety issues with the GVM of their vehicles. All information was well researched, we hope it is genuinely useful.

See you at a campsite soon! Travel safe!

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Image of Slide on camper - lithium battery upgrade

what is a slide on camper

A slide on camper is simply a camper which slides onto the back of a pickup/ute that has a flat tray or platform it can be mounted on.

Since most of Australia is remote and uninhabitable, when you travel through these areas you could be away from civilisation for 1000kms in any direction.

Having as little to go wrong as possible is crucial. Towing a heavy camper trailer can often be a point of failure in Australia’s most remote areas.

What is a slide on camper - not towing

A trailer can have extra axles, wheels, tires, brakes, and suspension that can substantially increase your risk of equipment failure.

This is where a  slide on camper can be a safer alternative as long as your vehicle’s payload is not exceeded once the slide on is mounted and your vehicle is fully loaded.

 

Slide on Camper in Australia

Slide on campers have been around in one form or another for a long time  (since the early 1950s) although they were slow to gain popularity in those early years of the camper industry here in Australia.

Slide on campers now accounts for a small but significant market share of the caravan and camping industry Australia-wide.

Slide on Camper Variations

There are two primary styles of ute platforms. The first is commonly called tub or style-side. The second is called tray or flat-deck.

what is a slide on tray and tub comparison

The tub style camper is usually called a slide in camper which referred to the action of sliding the camper into the tub via the tailgate.

what is a slide on camper slide in camper

And the tray style camper is usually called a slide on, referring to the action of sliding the camper onto the flat-deck platform.

What is a slide on camper - Slide on camper

So the term “slide on camper” is quite specific. However, it can also be called by these variations which also encompass slide in campers:

There are three identifiable classes of slide on campers in Australia, and they are outlined below:

Class 1: Canopy Slide on Camper

This class is typically a galvanized steel or aluminum canopy on the back of a ute which houses basic utilities such as fridges, kitchen and sometimes a bed. Alternatively, it can be used as a platform for a roof top tent.

These range from about AUD $5,000 – $25,000 depending on materials, features, and accessories required. They are typically very basic, with limited shelter, possibly an external kitchen which slides out. Very little in terms of creature comforts and generally these campers don’t have “walk-in” capability.

This class of slide on camper can have the option to slide on and off, or permanently fixed. Trayon Campers are in the process of developing a Class 1 slide on canopy camper called Traymate, using proven manufacturing techniques. The basic model starts from AUD $6,000 as a shell, and the complete fit out will sit around AUD $25,000. If this interests you, send us an e-mail at sales@trayon.com

Class 2: Purpose Built Slide on Camper

This class really represents the slide ons which are purpose built for being on a tray. They contain the creature comforts that class 1 doesn’t, such as seating, dedicated sleeping, and indoor or outdoor cooking area and you can “walk-in” them as opposed to the class 1.

They often leverage the use of canvas to create additional areas of shelter and typically range from AUD $30,000 – $45,000 depending on make and features.

These are more commonly used for long range 4WD touring in Australia. Trayon Campers make Class 2 slide on campers for most single, extra and dual cab ute variants. If you are interested in this Class of Trayon, please forward all inquiries to sales@trayon.com

what is a slide on camper - class 2 slide on

Class 3: Cab over Slide on Camper

This class encapsulates slide on campers that are built like a caravan (discussed further below). Essentially, these are slide ons which use caravan manufacturing techniques to build in the creature comforts.

This means they can typically be heavy, tall, hard roof, fixed or pop top and have a cab over design.

Typically, in Australia, these are imported and you would need a ute/truck which has a larger payload than 1 tonne fully loaded. Like an American pickup, Iveco Daily, Mitsubishi Canter 4×4 or Mercedes G Professional.

Alternatively, Trayon Campers built a lightweight Hybrid Class 3 slide on camper, called the Traytek, which safely fits most common single cab, extra cab and dual 4×4 utes in Australia.

Traytek campers range from AUD $50,000 – 70,000 depending on features. Please forward all inquiries to sales@trayon.com

Outback Touring with a Slide on Camper

The tray platform soon became preferred for outback touring for most Australian users as a flat tray surface was found to be more practical and usable.

tray vs tub what is a slide on

A tray also provides easy access from the sides of the vehicle without having to negotiate the wheel arches within a tub. This enabled ute-back campers to utilise a more generous layout, allowing more features and storage capacity within the camper.

A tray is fixed to the vehicle’s chassis often by nuts and bolts, thus enabling the camper to utilise the vehicle’s suspension to securely carry a load over rough terrain.

A tub is generally attached using a thread welded to a thin piece of plate steel, and can easily shear when faced with tough terrain under load.

In Australia, a large proportion of outback roads are unsealed and often corrugated. A standard tub may not necessarily be designed for these rugged conditions or for carrying a 400+ kg camper at speed over rough terrain.

The tub fastenings will likely strip from the vehicle’s chassis and cause significant damage, whereas a properly fastened tray should stand the test of time and use.

History of the Slide on Camper Industry

Slide on campers started to become popular from the early 2000s with very few manufacturers online.  The benefits of slide on campers were always evident but no one could build them lightweight and strong enough prior to the 1990s.  

It was really only the caravan builders who made them and their concept was to just build a caravan that sits on your ute.

old class 3 slide on - caravan style

A bed, water, kitchenette, lounge, awning, fridge, water tank, windows – basically everything that constituted a caravan and caravan-like features but without a chassis or suspension.

These early slide on campers were large, heavy, high profile with a high center of gravity and made with the same build methodology as a caravan during that period.  

This meant wooden frames and weight distribution for a camper which would usually have its own suspension – not something that is mounted on top of a ute which already has a predetermined weight distribution and suspension set by the vehicle manufacturer.

 

Broken Down in the Middle of Nowhere-ville

Needless to say, these kinds of builds did not really lend themselves to the rigours of outback travel/touring as they often broke the vehicle they sat on or broke themselves under their own weight (or frame failure).


Sure there will be some who will say things like, “During the 1980s I traveled all over Australia with my old Kingswood ute and a slide on caravan and didn’t have a single problem.”

The reality is we now have strict rules for vehicle payloads which are enforced by traffic departments and insurance claims are scrutinised to determine if the vehicle was “overloaded“. (Remember, insurers are in the business of not paying out if they can avoid it.)

So while these types of builds were a solution for those who did not want to tow back in the day, these days, load capacity is heavily regulated. The safest advice anyone can give you is:

To mitigate the likelihood of an insurer not paying your claim, ensure you do not exceed your vehicle’s limits as defined by the vehicle’s manufacturer!

Utes in Australia typically have a 500kg – 1000kg payload capacity depending on manufacturer specifications.

Once you load up your camper with batteries, fridge, food, auxiliary water storage, and equipment as well as loading your vehicle with fuel, luggage and people, that capacity can quickly be used up.

With little room for movement inside these numbers, it is critical that you choose a slide on camper which doesn’t put you and your family in harm’s way or void your insurance.

overloaded ute

State-of-the-Art Slide on Camper

Technology has advanced and new materials made it possible for the slide on camper sector to take a leap forward.  

The Australian slide on manufacturer Trayon Campers was a primary innovator in designing and building a flexible, non-welded, alloy frame.  To date, Trayon is still the only manufacturer with this construction method producing strong and lightweight campers.

This method avoids any risk of the aluminium weakening from the extreme heat of welding (commonly leading to stress fractures or cracks).

aluminium stress fracture

Trayon uses aluminium welding only on parts of the build where flexibility is key and no threat of breakages can be expected when under severe stress from harsh terrains.

Trayon Campers are still the lightest Class 2 slide on camper by nearly 300kg compared to its closest rival (spec for spec) and that is a record held since 1994 when the first Trayon Camper was born.

When considering a slide on camper, you quickly realise the more electronically controlled mechanisms there are, the more risk of something going wrong in the middle of nowhere.

If there is a drop-down, pop-up or flip-over mechanism that is electronically controlled, the electronics may be vulnerable to cracking or corroding in harsh environments. The elegant solution is a simple, manual mechanism which avoids these risks altogether. Or at least a manual override that allows you to use the camper even if the electrics were to fail.

For instance: The Trayon Camper can have an electric actuator fitted as an optional-extra to remotely open and close the camper lid/roof for customers with limited or impaired movement but in the event of electronic failure the entire system can revert to a simply quick and easy flip over action aided with gas struts which is how Trayons function (and have been functioning) since 1994.

Trayon Campers research and development division works closely with state-of-the-art technologies to bring lighter, stronger methods and materials to the construction of campers.

They also test new electronics to ensure they can handle the rigors of touring in outback Australia. One such technology is the LiFEPo4 lithium battery, which drastically reduces the weight of the Trayons power system compared to the industry standard AGM batteries.

Trayon has teamed up with Redarc and Revolution Power Australia to pioneer a charging and power distribution system which you can rely on when you are off the grid.

Trayon Revolution power Redarc

Trayon Campers – Slide on Campers Built Tough

There are more “pop-up” companies trying their hand at making the ultimate slide on camper touring solution.

They quickly run into the same problem as the earlier generation slide on campers – too heavy. Trayon Campers have been an established Australian manufacturer for over 25 years and have now produced over 1000 campers.

Camper #1 from 1994 is still alive and kicking. Camper #1000 utilises the same design, layout, function, size and concept, the only difference is that the technology has evolved which has increased its durability and versatility.

what is a slide on camper Trayon number 1000

With some great inclusions such as modern marine grade fridges, LED, solar, lithium batteries, USB ports, heaters and a range of other accessories.

The slide on camper industry is still advancing and growing.  The future is bright and as more outback tracks are being closed off to trailers, an increasing number of people are opting for slide on campers for their touring needs.

Trayon Campers is your industry leading specialist, with a slide on camper solution for your budget and requirements. 

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What is a slide on camper - pintrest