Echo 4x4 Chobe Tec Review

Scott and Kath Heiman — 18 July 2019
Rough, rugged and ready, the Echo 4x4 Chobe Tec Hybrid Camper seamlessly blends ergonomic design with toughness.

The name ‘Chobe’ carries on Echo 4x4’s practice of naming their hybrid campers after iconic African deserts, parks and tribes. 

Chobe is pronounced ‘Ko-Bee’ and is the name of a district, river and National Park in Botswana. It’s a nice anecdote to consider — Chobe National Park is where Africa’s largest elephant population is known to be preyed upon by a particularly feisty pride of lions. 

So it’s appropriate that the diminutive Chobe Tec is a small camper primed to sink its claws into the Big Boys of the RV industry.



FLYWEIGHT

This new release camper is immediately impressive by its light weight and generous capacity. With a Tare weight of 760kg, GVM of 1500kg and dedicated sleeping for four adults, the Chobe Tec punches above its weight.

Echo 4x4 has been an innovator in the space of hybrids and camper trailers for 35 years.  Distributed though Africa, Europe, Australia and America, over 10,000 Echo 4x4 campers have been made to date. Widely regarded as leaders among manufacturers of tough, durable and innovative offroad campers, the backbone of the company is its owner, Willie Grobler. 

In a previous life, Willie was an aircraft engineer with a love for rally car driving. Thanks to his wealth of experience and technical abilities, the Echo 4x4 range of campers are particularly well conceived – with effective use of space, ergonomic design and impressive functionality.


TARDIS

The Chobe Tec’s space efficiency is evident as soon as you open the pantry. It’s literally twice the size of its big sister, the Kavango – the flagship of the Echo 4x4 fleet. 

Ignoring the designated space for cutlery and crockery, the pantry has a whopping 170 litres of shelving space – that’s 8.5 jerry cans worth of tukka.

But it’s not just the kitchen pantry and bench that are living large. When you pop-the-top of this ‘Micro-Hybrid’ you gain 520mm in head room. That provides enough space for our resident 6’3” bloke to stand upright and get dressed without bending. Nice.

Talking of beds, this wolf in a sheep’s clothing comes standard with two built-in hard floor queen beds. All this without having to do battle with a sail-boat’s worth of canvas at pack-up time. Set-up is extremely straightforward. And it’s worth knowing that there’s an option available to purchase the Chobe Tec as a two-sleeper – or to upsize to a four-sleeper. The two-berth configuration delivers more cupboard space – while the four-berth modification could be an ideal option if your family upsizes.

Either way, the Chobe Tec comes with tons of storage compartments inside and out. These provide plenty of space to store luggage and supplies, meaning that no one has to live out of a travel bag while you’re on the road. 

Combined, the standard wardrobe and under-bed storage compartments offer 342 litres of space for you to hide the kids’ kit, extra clothes and travel essentials. 

Adding to the stockpile of storage solutions, the built-in moulded shelving on the internal wall and door compartments are also a handy feature for daily needs such as tissues, toiletries or mozzie repellent. 

The large nose cone holds an additional 448 litres of storage space and also houses the Joolca instant gas hot water system. Two jerry can brackets have also been added to the nose cone to ensure you have enough fuel to get you where you’re going. 

Or alternatively (particularly if you’re travelling with kids on-board) you might like to use the space to hold an extra 40 litres of water – so you can all enjoy the shower. The shower annex is a great feature – easy to deploy and complete with a small hand basin making it easy to deal with life’s day-to-day messes well away from the kitchen sink.


OFFROAD

You may have noticed that we’ve been calling this camper the Chobe Tec. That’s because there’s a difference between the Chobe Tec and the original base model Chobe – both in terms of options and capability. Echo 4x4 uses the term ‘Tec’ for its extreme and luxury versions of established models. That is – it’s of a higher ‘Tec-hnical’ class.

In South Africa, the base model Chobe model travels on leaf springs, 15 inch rims and has an 80s style kitchen. 

By contrast, the Chobe Tec has the upgraded MK3 Echo 4x4 kitchen, independent 4x4 suspension of its own design, coil springs and shocks riding on 16 inch steel rims fitted with Cooper AT3s.

In addition, the Chobe Tec comes standard with a skid-plate mounted on the ‘A’ frame, side mounted rock sliders, and full-length hot dipped chassis to protect the main cabin body. Shipping container-style camlocks, stainless steel bolts, nuts and hinges ensure that everything stays where it’s meant to, even over punishing terrain.  

In short, the Chobe Tec looks like the go-anywhere camper that it’s designed to be. Its tough features reflect the rugged South African conditions which Echo 4x4 campers are built to withstand. 

Happily these conditions are exactly the same as Australia’s, thanks to the fact that our two continents were once joined at the hip in a place called Gondwana. (Thankfully, Australia’s separation from Africa some 180 million years ago means that we no longer have to contend with lions that could eat us, and elephants that could roll our tow-tugs like a Rug-Rat rolls a Tonka toy!)


CHAMELEON

Echo 4x4 design and manufacture many accessories to complement their array of camper types. Some are interchangeable. These include the chassis the Chobe Tec is mounted on. It’s the same chassis as the Echo 6 roof top camper trailer. The 240kg fridge-slide is also the same as the tried and tested model fitted to the Kavango.

The impressive Echo 270-degree awning that’s fitted to the Chobe range can be bought separately. Being as rugged as the rest of the set-up, this awning would make a great addition to any rig. It swings-out from twin mounts to cover more area than market competitors. In normal weather, the Chobe Tec awning doesn’t require any additional support. And if the wind starts gusting, simply fold down the in-built legs.  That’s right: no pole bag required. It even comes with an optional extra wall-kit for the awning.

Found throughout the latest Echo 4x4 range is the Echo Power Panel 3 Mk1 (EPP3 Mk1), a very handy unit. It incorporates a 10 amp 12V DC-DC charger alongside a 10 amp 110/240V AC charger and a 250W 12V DC PWM solar regulator.  It also includes a water usage indicator, inverter and 3.1 amp twin USB port. The unit feeds numerous 12V Merit plug-ins throughout the camper, LED lighting and a 240V GPO in the pantry. Parents with young kids should note that the Panel is within easy reach of the lower bed compartment. So be alert to the risk of tiny hands messing with the switches!

We were surprised that solar comes as an optional extra rather than being standard.  There’s designated space on the roof and all models come with an external solar panel input via an Anderson Plug for a ground based unit.  


FINAL SHOTS

So, who does this Echo 4x4 Chobe Tec suit?  We reckon it’s an all-rounder, whether you’re a couple or a family of up to four. A key point of difference for the Echo Chobe Tec is that it gets the kids off the floor – and it does it with a minimum of fuss. With its rugged offroad capability, quality build and an X-Factor pedigree in aeronautical engineering, getting out among the Great Outdoors has never been more appealing. 


SPECS

TRAILER

Tare Weight 760kg

GVM 1500kg

Payload 740kg    

Ball Weight  98kg

Suspension Echo 4x4’s own independent coil springs and shocks

Brakes 12 inch electric brake system

Coupling ALKO All Terrain 50mm ball coupling

Chassis 100x50x5mm C section draw bar to suspension, then 150x65x5mm box over suspension, hot dipped full-length ladder type with integrated draw bar, skid plate and rock sliders

Body Fibreglass monocoque, colour impregnated with micro dot security. Double skinned

Wheels/Tyres 16 inch steel rims with LT265/75R16 Cooper AT3

Style Mini Hybrid

DIMENSIONS

Length (body) 2420mm. Extending from this is a 630mm deep nose cone and wood rack

Length (Overall) 4150mm (front bed does not extend past ball joint and can be deployed while still connected to tow vehicle)

Width 1880mm (side bed extends an additional 1330mm when deployed)

Travel Height 2080mm

Height expanded 2600mm

ACCESSORIES

Water 120L tank with Joolca instantaneous gas hot water system. 12V pressurised water to kitchen, shower annex with basin and gravity tap at rear

Kitchen External slide-out, 2 burner stove, 240kg fridge slide, removable sink with hot and cold taps

Fridge National Luna 75L dual zone fridge/freezer

Gas 2 x 2kg 

Battery 120 amp AGM deep cycle battery

Solar External Anderson plug for collapsible solar input. Has a designated area on roof panel

Awning 270 degree self-supporting awning extending 2300mm to the side and 1950mm to the rear

Options Full side-wall annex kit, condensation sheets for under tent ceilings, stone guard, upgrade to 90L dual zone fridge/freezer 

PRICE AS SHOWN

$49,000


HITS

Pantry is ‘ginormous!’ 

Light weight 

Can sleep four adults

MISSES

Designed for roof mounted solar, but this feature is not standard

Single battery

No tropical awning fly


CTA RATINGS

Fit for intended purpose — 9

Innovation — 8

Self-sufficiency — 8

Quality of finish — 9

Build quality — 9

Offroad ability — 9

Comforts — 8

Ease of use — 9

Value for money — 9

X-Factor — 9.5


ENQUIRIES

Panorama Campers

Address Distributing through Perth from South Africa

Phone 0457 269 432

Email steven@panoramacampers.com.au

Web panoramacampers.com.au

Tags

echo 4x4 chobe tec camper trailer camper review test hybrid