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 4x4 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: