At one point on our review trip, I thought we were going to fold the entire towing setup in half. Ute on top of trailer, vice versa, or at least some sort of mangled mess in the middle.
First, we bent it one way, and then the other. Just to be sure, moments later, we bent it back the other way again — nothing like pushing and testing your gear to the limits. If Johnny from Bushwakka ever needed justification that upgrading the hitch on his Tourer Series of offroad camper trailers to a Cruisemaster DO35 was the right thing to do, this was it!
After seeing the angles this little trailer can handle, it probably won't be long before it's starring in some YouTube clip descending down a near vertical drop-off. If you do this, you just might need to make sure the awning doesn't hit your tow rig — and tag me in your videos!
Earlier in the day, we had made our way to a secret south-east Queensland location for me to run an eye over this pint-sized offering from Bushwakka, the Tourer.
First impressions were good. Compact and with plenty of ground clearance, aggressive mud terrain tyres, steep departure angle, liberal splashes of stainless steel and checkerplate gave this trailer a tough stance. At just 3.82m long and weighing in at a paltry tare of 800kg, you could hitch this little ripper up behind a RAV4 or X-trail no problems at all.
On second thoughts, ‘little ripper’ may not be the best way to describe this South African import. I might have to Google what the equivalent expression is in South Africa. (I have been reliably informed that ‘Jou Doring’ is the best translation.)
MAKE LIKE USAIN BOLT
After finding a spot to park up, the team from Bushwakka went to work in setting the trailer up. Johnny warned me that I'd better have my camera ready to go, as it doesn't take long to set up. I told him not to worry, I was all over it.
Well, it turns out I might have been a bit cocky. On a couple of occasions, I did have to ask for a certain part of the setup to be done again so I could get a photo of it.
Johnny tells me he can have the tent erected, awning out and kitchen opened in under 60 seconds. While this may sound a little crazy, I'm sure with a bit of practice it could be done as there really isn't that much to it. Four clips hold the tent closed, which opens up with a slight push thanks to gas struts. No need to waste time making the bed, as all bedding can be left inside, including pillows.
The awning bag needs unzipping and the three velcro straps pulled open to release 270 degrees of self-supporting canvas awning. A quick ratchet strap holds that in place. Then it's just the rear door that needs opening to reveal the kitchen, fridge and pantry.
It really is pretty quick and simple.
PACK IT UP, PACK IT IN
For such a small trailer, I was amazed at how well appointed it is, and how much storage it has. If you were packing it up for extended time away, it would closely resemble one of those clown cars when it came time to unpack.
Typical of campers with a South African heritage, there are also lots of canvas/mesh pockets dotted around the trailer. These make the most out of every cubic centimetre of storage space.
On the near side of the camper, the drop-down door reveals a massive space big enough for pretty much all of your general camping gear and then some. A wall of mesh pockets helps to keep smaller items organised.
Underneath this storage area, with the carpet rolled back, the two batteries are easily accessed. Our camper on review was running a pair of 170Ah deep cycle batteries, but future models are being upgraded to run two Hard Korr 100Ah lithium batteries. A Victron battery charger and solar regulator are housed on the side wall of the storage locker.
Also on the passenger side, is a sealed and lockable box mounted in front of the wheel arch, and a space for a couple of jerry cans of extra drinking water mounted to the rear.
The driver's side is pretty much a mirror image of the passenger, except it's a big door that swings open to reveal a partitioned section perfect for your clothes. Large canvas pockets are attached to the back of the door.
Again, more storage in sealed and lockable boxes is located to the fore and aft of the wheel arch. A slight problem with the lift-up lids on all of these boxes is that they either don't open all the way due to hitting an open door, for example, or if they do open fully, they don't stay open. It's only a small thing, but it could get annoying.
Tucked in behind the shade cloth stone deflector at the front is a big nose cone which doubles as another massive storage compartment. This box is so big, it houses not only the 65L water tank, but an axe and a shovel! There's also a bit of untidy wiring down in the bottom of the box, and care would need to be taken to not cause damage. Johnny has assured me that this will be remedied on future builds.
Bolted to the outside of the nose cone on the driver’s side is a black checkerplate box. This box is home to the Joolca HOTTAP hot water system, and the supplied shower rose mounts conveniently off to the side.
All in all, the Tourer has 700kg of payload available, as even when the new Tourer edition sports 130L of water storage, you'll have trouble maxing it out.
Whether it be a quick roadside stop for a smoko or for longer stays, the rear-mounted kitchen sets up in a flash. The rear door swings open and prep bench with built-in two-burner gas cooktop folds down. Typical of South African trailers, all of your cutlery and crockery is supplied — there's even a couple of wine glasses tucked into cutouts of high-density foam.
Pantry storage is at arm’s reach, with more available in three large drawers that pull out from the back of the trailer. Next to the drawers is a 42L fridge on a slide-out, another of the Tourer's standard accessories. The fridge slide sports a pop-up stainless-steel shelf, which is perfect when grabbing a few items out of the fridge.
A washing-up station is quick to assemble off the rear passenger side, which is close to the rear water outlet.
If more preparation or serving space is required, sliding out from beneath the rooftop tent is a 2m long aluminium checkerplate table. It honestly didn't cease to amaze me just how much storage this little camper had.
For those keen of eye, you may have noticed that the awning is mounted on the driver’s side. I actually thought that it may have been due to the fact that they drove on the right-hand side of the road in South Africa. But I was wrong. Just like us here in Aus, they too drive on the left. So, at the end of the day, I think it's because by mounting it on the driver’s side, the awning provides total coverage over the rear kitchen for all weather conditions.
Everything has been set up, dinner has been cooked and after spending a couple of hours of watching the bush tele, your thoughts drift off to turning in for the night.
Even if you forgot to open it up before bedtime, deploying the tent is quick and easy. Once inside, you can access from either the front or the side of the tent, you'll be amazed at just how much space there is inside.
Just like the Demtel guy on TV from the ‘80s, I've got a ‘But wait there's more’ line. Our review model was only a double sized RTT, so imagine how big the new models with a queen-sized bed will feel?
Also getting an upgrade on the new models will be the mesh on all the windows. It will be much finer in order to keep those pesky mosquitoes at bay.
Not requiring an upgrade is the 110mm-thick high-density foam mattress. I know it's never a good look to lay down on the job, but in the interests of a proper review, I thought I'd better. My report: it's damn comfy, and with all the windows open I felt like staying there a little longer.
As well as the big windows for ventilation, the lid of the tent in insulated with polystyrene to keep the heat out. There's a bi-colour LED light in the roof and USB charging ports in the bottom corner for good measure.
The massive 200W solar panel up on the roof will also help keep the tent cool during the day. However, the panel is also removable and can be attached back to the camper via a 10m lead if you prefer to set up in the shade.
I'm pretty sure most of us know what the above acronym stands for. If not, there's always the internet.
Standing out from the independent suspension crowd, the Tourer runs a heavy duty AL-KO beam axle, which is supported by leaf springs complete with military wrap. A nice touch is the U-bolts haven't been inverted. This way, the flat bottom of the U-bolt won't catch on rocks when getting serious off the road.
Keeping the springs in check is a single Gabriel shock, while a large rubber bump stop prevents metal on metal contact. In keeping with the tough, offroad look, 265/65R17 Monsta Mud Warrior tyres are wrapped around Diesel black alloy rims.
The braking package has had an update too. Gone are the hydraulic brakes used in the past, the Tourer now runs AL-KO 10in electric brakes. Being locally sourced AL-KO running gear, all parts are readily available if there is ever a problem.
Elsewhere underneath, there's not a great deal going on. There are two 3CR12 stainless steel chassis rails that run all the way through to the A-frame, and a ribbed 3CR12 stainless steel floor pan.
Wiring and plumbing is run high and out of the way, however some of it needed a little more care and attention paid to it. A bit more convoluted is always better than a bit less.
There is no doubt that this camper looks like it was designed to go offroad, so there was no way I wasn't going to get Johnny to pilot his Navara through the moguls at our location.
After a quick pack up, the DO35 hitch was lowered onto the pin and the handbrake released. Time to get this thing dirty.
It didn't take long for us to start approaching the limits of the Navara, with traction being lost at opposite corners quite regularly. With the gentle application of a bit more right foot and a slightly different line, the obstacles were able to be negotiated. Dutifully, the Tourer followed behind without any fuss at all.
Pushing the envelope a little further, the approach and departure angles of the Tourer were put to the test. It was at this point that I thought damage of some kind was not far away. Thankfully, I was wrong, and the Tourer didn't scrape once.
If you do manage to have your forward progress halted, or you need to help a mate out, a rear recovery point is fitted as standard.
THE FINAL WORD
There's not a lot I would change about the Tourer, just a bit of wiring that needs a tidy up. Out of the box, it is ready to tackle pretty much all you could throw at it. For a couple on a 12-month lap of the map or the weekend warrior, the Tourer offers quick setup and pack-up and excellent offroad ability. Not to mention it comes standard with everything.
With a purchase price of only $33,000, there's plenty left in the kitty to fill your tanks and hit the tracks.
Suspension AL-KO solid axle w/ leaf springs and Gabriel shocks
Brakes 10in AL-KO electric drum
Coupling Cruisemaster DO35 offroad coupling
Chassis/Drawbar 3CR12 stainless steel chassis, drawbar and internal frame
Body Aluminium panels w/ baked enamel finish
Wheel/tyre 265/65R17 Monsta M/T tyres on Diesel black alloy rims
Style Double action RTT style camper trailer
Box size 2530mm x 1740mm
Length (hitch to rear step) 3820mm
Kitchen Swing-out kitchen with Dometic two-burner gas cooktop
Battery 2 x 170Ah deep cycle
Solar 200W removable panel w/ 10m lead
Hot Water System Joolca HOTTAP gas HWS
Cutlery and crockery Supplied
Shower cubicle Supplied
PRICE AS TESTED