Camper Trailer of the Year 2021: Ozcape Optima

Various — 20 May 2021
With versatility and simplicity in spades, you can feel optimistic about the Ozcape Optima

KATH HEIMAN

Score: 70.5

With its proudly Australian design and build, the Ozcape Optima offers a spacious slide-on camper for customers who want to break free of their tow ball and carry their homes on their back. This is a camper for buyers with high expectations for quality and finish, who appreciate the attention to detail the Ozcape team lavish on their products. 



For a slide-on camper, the Optima is remarkably spacious and well appointed. Inside it has an airy feel with plenty of headspace, and fixtures and fittings reminiscent of an upmarket beach shack. But there’s more to the Ozcape than immediately meets the eye. Most notable is the ingenious bed conversion layout. By simply lifting the dinette backrests upwards in line with the mattress, the standard 2100 x 1400mm east-west oriented bed provides an 1800 x 2100mm north-south option. This feature stands the Optima apart from many other camper and slide-out layouts that offer only east-west sleeping orientations which inevitably leave someone crawling over someone else to access the bedspace. With the average height of Australian adults on the increase, the Optima offers a highly practical and refreshingly simple solution to this perennial challenge. 

The bed design is not the only eye-catching feature of the Optima. Entering the cabin, a sharp eye will notice the recessed cavity next to the ensuite door which houses the fire extinguisher. Easy to access, but out of the way, this thoughtful design feature speaks volumes of the Ozcape team’s meticulous approach. 

More versatile than a motorhome and simpler to operate than many campers, from top to toe the Ozcape Optima is a quality contender.


GLENN MARSHALL

Score: 74.5

Like any other slide on camper, offroad ability is largely dependent on the host vehicle. Ozcape recommend obtaining a GVM upgrade to the host vehicle and suggest the Ford Ranger or Mazda BT50 with trays to prospective buyers. The Optima is anchored to the tray by chains and two large locator pins. Designed to be taken to the remotest places, the camper is backed by a five-year structural warranty. The versatility of the slide-on means that within five minutes you can unload the camper and set it up as a base camp, before enjoying some of the more extreme offroad challenges.

You can also tow a boat with the Optima so base camp could become a fishing camp as you catch a few barra while camping beside the Roper River. Consideration with the height of the Optima is needed, though, as at 2760mm keeping the centre of gravity low and watching out for low branches is important. 

The Optima has been crafted to spend time off-grid without having to compromise on comfort. The camper has a fully equipped internal kitchen that includes a 3 + 1 burner stove and grill, rangehood, 95L 3-way AES fridge/freezer, and a Nespresso Coffee Machine with pod holder. The ensuite is spacious and an external shower allows you to wash the sand off your feet after a day spent on the beach. The closed cell composite panels that make up the shell are insulated, providing good thermal and acoustic properties and the double-glazed windows have in-built insect screens and blinds. Having a choice on which direction you sleep is easy with the 100mm high density foam mattress allowing you to sleep north-south or east-west. There’s a load of storage both in and out and when the weather gets too much a rooftop 240V air-conditioner will keep you cool, and a gas space heater will warm you up. It’s amazing how much packs into the Optima, yet it still feels spacious. 

Set up is simple, park and level the vehicle and you’re done, with nothing to do inside except put the kettle on or crack a cold one. It takes five minutes to unload the camper thanks to the remote-controlled electric jacks which provide stability without a need for cross braces. Once lowered and levelled, open up the 270-degree Supapeg awning, pull out the chairs and relax in the shade. It doesn’t get any easier than that.


DAVID COOK

Score: 78

Slide-ons can be seen as designed either for comfortable cruising along the highways or beating around the bush, but not really for both. While the Ozcape Optima might look like a nice highway cruiser, it has a serious side to its makeup and fitout which makes it a player in even the harshest conditions.

The 125Ah lithium battery with its 40A Enerdrive DC-DC and mains chargers provides plenty of grunt to meet the power demands of even the microwave, although the air conditioner would soon draw the power down to minimal levels and would require either a generator or mains input. The roof-mounted solar panel (an option that was fitted) helps sustain charge between bouts of driving.

The 86L water tank, along with the 14L in the gas or 240V hot water system would keep you going for several days and the 40L grey water tank will keep national park authorities happy. The single 9L gas bottle is big enough to keep things running for some time, even with the demands of the three-way fridge and the gas space heater on top of the hot water. The two shower options — internal as well as external — provide you with choices that can make the most of your circumstances and the weather.

One of the prime aspects of the Optima’s offroad capability is its sturdy construction. It’s built around a timber floor on a welded steel frame, which provides strength as well as flexibility, both important considerations in tough environments. The composite walls with their cell foam insulation have hardwood inserts at major stress points, such as around the freestanding leg mounts. There is no chipboard used in the vehicle and everything is made from fibreglass, aluminium or plywood.

The roof is a one-piece unit to avoid exposing seams to the weather. The wall insulation is assisted by double glazed windows.

The overall design is well balanced, with the centre of gravity just 790mm from the front of the camper unit so that it comes close to the vehicle’s centre of gravity, to prevent overloading of the rear axle and to keep weight on the front end for braking and steering control.


TIM VAN DUYL

Score: 75.5

The Ozcape Optima was my first foray into a hard-body slide-on camper. I have been lucky enough to sample a few with fold-out walls and popping tops but this was my first fully-sealed, box-on-a-tray camper and you know what, I really see the appeal.

One look inside and there is a modern motorhome feel. It’s warm and not just from the soft wood and white colour tones but because the unit is so well sealed and insulated. Cabinetry is like a motorhome too, well-thought-out with stays for fragile gear and drawers for heavy items. The bed is like home and the shower over the toilet an uncommon and nice touch in a camper. There is good ventilation, a TV and fans to keep the air moving. It feels like an escape from the outside world — a very different camper to the norm, then. 

As tested, the Optima was a touch under $90,000 due to around $15k in options. You do need to add on a fairly specific vehicle (in our case an XLT Ranger Extra cab) but you need a tow car for any camper as it is, and the Ranger is a good drive. 

It is interesting to assess the value for money in a camper like this — $90k in a towed camper gets you sophisticated heavy-duty suspension, lots of awnings and durable construction but where the Optima saves these costs, it reinvests in the fit out with an emphasis on comfort.

The X-Factor is partly what you expect, the lack of a trailer to slow you down but to me, also how the camper works when set up on the ground. Unlike a lot of slide-ons, the Optima can sit right down, almost on the ground allowing it to become the centre of a base station with awnings and an external shower cubicle extended from the body.

It becomes an oasis, a refuge, quite the opposite of most campers that embrace the outdoors. The Optima is for people who want a sense of luxury and home while still able to go to remote camps and explore from there. 


SPECS

Weight From 790kg dry, 885kg dry as seen 

Frame Underfloor steel frame

Body/cladding Fibreglass composite with closed cell structural foam core

DIMENSIONS

Travel size L 4450mm W 2260mm H 2750mm

Interior L 4025mm  W 2100mm  H 1900mm  

Awnings 270 deg wing awning, approx. 12sqm 

STANDARD FEATURES                           

Remote controlled electric jacks                          

125 AH LiFePO4 Enerdrive battery system

240V & 12V DC-DC  Enerdrive battery chargers              

240 V AC external power inlet & outlet

240 V & 12 V internal power outlets

9kg gas cylinder & safety valves

95 litre 3-way AES fridge/freezer

3+1 burner stove/griller & glass lid                      

Rangehood, 2 speed

86 litre fresh water tank

40 litre grey water tank

(For full feature list see ozcape.com.au)

OPTINAL EXTRAS

Air conditioner                                           

Entertainment system

Smart TV, DVD, Radio, CD, BT, Speakers, Aerial

Solar panel                                                  

Microwave                                                  

Cabin fan                                                     

DRS dust reduction system                     

Hot water system, gas & 240V               

Self locating system                                  

Gas space heater

Wing awning & bi-colour LED light                        

Airmesh underlay for mattress

PRICE AS SEEN

$89,350

ENQUIRIES

Ozcape Campers P/L   

Phone (07) 5520 7388  

Web ozcape.com.au

Tags

Camper Trailer of the Year 2021 Finalist Ozcape Optima