Smoke hung thick in the air, as we turned off the bitumen and pointed our tow vehicle up a dirt track in the Gold Coast Hinterland. Had I been keeping up with the latest news and events, there’s a pretty good chance I’d have chosen a different destination for our review. From our location, we could see the smoke plumes from bushfires raging in the bone-dry and rugged mountains behind the Gold Coast tourist strip, that would only days later go on to destroy the heritage listed Binna Burra Resort.
With one eye on the billowing smoke, and another on the dirt, we continued on our way along the dusty and rutted tracks, before settling in beside a little stream, that surprisingly was still running. The one and probably only good thing about all this dry weather is that you really get to test out how good the dust sealing is on the camper you’re using.
Thankfully, I can report back that the Metalian Maxi XT passed with flying colours. This can be attributed to the automotive door rubbers on all doors, and the simple but clearly very effective door locking mechanism that applies even pressure along the seal. There's nothing worse than opening up your camper at day's end to find a fine coating of bull dust over everything inside.
Along with me for the ride was Steve van Staden, and he is Metalian Campers. Steve is hands-on and puts the finishing touches on all Metalian Campers after they hit our shores from South Africa. Steve brought his young family over from South Africa 12 years ago and, being a lover of the great outdoors, it wasn't long before they’d purchased a camper trailer for family adventures.
The only problem was, the camper didn’t suit his needs, so it was back to the drawing board, or should I say, back to what he knew and trusted — a South African built camper trailer. So, back in December 2015, Metalian in Australia was born, and now, along with its HQ in sunny Queensland, there's distributors in Western Australia and New South Wales. Steve is also in constant contact with the manufacturers back in South Africa, providing valuable end user feedback, which helps to continually improve the final product.
TOUGH AS NAILS
A wise person once said, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Another also said, “First impressions last.” Well, I guess it's lucky for the Maxi XT that from my first glimpse, I liked what I saw. I also thought that it looked like a pretty tough and sturdy unit. While I'm spouting these quotes, I might as well add that I didn’t want to “judge a book by its cover”, so it was time to see what this camper was really made of.
Now, this camper is made from 3CR12 Stainless Steel. But, I'll hazard a guess that if I conducted a quick poll, and asked you what 3CR12 stainless was, there'd be a few of you out there with a blank look on your face, and I'd be right there next to you! So what does this 3CR12 mean for you, the guys and girls towing this camper?
First and foremost, it's not going to rust! That's a biggie in my books, considering that the majority of our population live along or close to the coast. You see, 3CR12 was developed for use in the highly corrosive environments of South African mines. It's a structural stainless that's stronger, lighter and less brittle than other grades of stainless steel, which enables a unique monocoque construction to be employed in the manufacture of this camper.
By eliminating the typical galvanised chassis, the overall weight of the camper is reduced. The Maxi XT tips the scales at around 1,100kg, and that's with the 90L National Luna fridge, a couple of 4kg gas bottles and the solar blankets. With an ATM of 1,600kg, you've got yourself a pretty decent payload, even after the water tanks have been filled.
When I crawled underneath the Maxi XT, I was taken aback at just how 'boring' it was, but in this case that's not a bad thing. There's no water tanks or plumbing hanging down just waiting to take a whack from a stray gibber. There's no wiring waiting to get snagged by a stray stick. There's just the big, flat bottom of the monocoque hull and a beam axle with leaf spring suspension.
No, I didn't stutter. In a world of independent trailing arm suspension with twin shocks, the Maxi XT walks to the beat of its own drum. Moving on from quotes to acronyms, the Maxi XT employs the ‘KISS’ principle when it comes to suspension. A 63x63x9mm AL-KO beam axle is supported by heavy-duty, variable rate leaf springs, complete with military wrap on each eye along with greasable shackles. A single Gabriel shock on a height adjustable shock tower completes the package. Keeping everything rolling along are 265/70R17 Maxxis Bighorn MT tyres wrapped around six stud black alloy rims, while AL-KO 12” electric offroad brakes help to pull the trailer up. Metalian have stuck to Australian running gear to ensure all parts are readily available here, in case anything should ever fail.
With a camper that is so obviously designed for serious offroad work, it comes as no surprise to find a DO35 hitch up the pointy end. The drawbar length can be modified to accommodate different makes and models of tow vehicle, or personal preference. With a darn impressive departure angle, you'd have to be in a pretty sticky situation to be making use of the rear bar. However, it does provide you with a couple of recovery points and somewhere to mount the swing arm for the spare. Finishing off the nigh on bulletproof undercarriage are stainless steel skid plates on each corner. Steve tells me that the laser cutouts aren't just there to look good, but also to serve as a bottle opener when the day is done!
SET UP FOR SUCCESS
With the dirty job of crawling around on the ground out of the way, it was time to let the professional loose (that's Steve, by the way!) on the set-up of the tent and awning. First up is the tent, and being a soft-floor style of camper, there is quite a bit of canvas that unravels from beneath the PVC cover. But thanks to a couple of gas struts to assist, the tent unfolds quite easily. Then it's just a matter of tensioning a few poles and pegging the side walls down and you're almost there.
If staying in the one place for a few days, an ensuite shower tent can be added as well as an extra kids room if required. The beauty for me though, is the ability to remove the side walls from the main tent for a simple touring set-up for two, just perfect for those quick overnight stays.
Now it's time for the 270° awning, which lifts into position on custom ‘Metalian Stealth’ brackets to a height of 2.1m. Cleverly, all of the integrated awning poles and spreader bars fit inside the bag for transport. Once erected, the awning provides a huge area of protection over the kitchen and rear of the trailer. An extra infill panel can be attached between the tent and the awning at the rear for complete coverage to the tent entry.
On what was a 35°C day for our test, I was impressed by how much cooler it was under the awning, which is made from aluminised canvas with a heat reflective coating. Just perfect for our harsh Aussie summers. While the camper trailer itself is manufactured in South Africa, all of the canvas is made locally in Brisbane.
When all is said and done for the day, and the comfy king sized bed is calling your name, you'll be happy to know that large windows with midge-proof screens will provide plenty of ventilation on those tropical nights. The bed is accessed via a custom ladder with extra wide steps that clips into place at the foot of the bed.
With the camper all set up for a night under the stars, it was time to check out what else the Maxi had in store. Or should that be ‘storage’? To be frank, if you can't fit all your gear in the Maxi, then you've got too much!
With 2800L of fully accessible storage, there really is a place for everything, and everything will be in its place. There's a big nose cone up the front, with one side taking care of the twin 4kg gas bottles, complete with twin external bayonet fittings, while the other houses the Joolca hot water system and your portable diesel heater for when the thermometer starts to plummet.
Down the passenger side, the front door opens to reveal a 90L National Luna fridge, plus a clever vertical panel with a multi-pocketed holder for all your cutlery. On the back of the door, more clever pockets take care of your plates, bowls and cups, while a pull-out drawer with adjustable dividers slides out from above the fridge.
Tucked in neatly against the front wall of the camper is the water pump and filter, fire extinguisher, REDARC 1000W inverter and REDARC Manager 30 battery management system.
A large drop-down door reveals pantry storage behind and provides a stainless prep bench. Hidden inside the drop-down door is the Smev two-burner gas stove on the right, while more storage space for larger utensils can be found under the left. A retractable hose with hot and cold water is also at hand to look after those dirty dishes. If more bench space is required, a stainless steel table is tucked away up high inside the rear storage area.
Speaking of the rear storage area, it's a beauty. To start, there's more clever storage pockets fitted to the back of the door, while three drawers on full extension runners allow for easy access to all of your gear. As a bonus, the drawers are all fully adjustable thanks to pre-drilled holes. Hidden beneath the drawers are the two 65L water tanks as well as the two 110Ah lithium batteries, keeping the centre of gravity as low as possible.
Around on the driver's side, there's more doors with more storage pockets, as well as access to the REDARC RedVision TVMS (Total Vehicle Management System) control module and storage for the two 150W portable folding solar mats. LED lights are provided throughout the camper and, thanks to the RedVision system, these can be controlled via an app on your phone. USB and 12V sockets are also positioned where they are needed most.
THE INSIDE SCOOP
The Maxi is Metalian Campers’ flagship model, while the Maxi XT (Xtreme Tourer) is a specced-up version of it, featuring an upgrade to electronics and inclusions for long-term touring.
Steve from Metalian Campers says, “Customer requests have grown substantially in the last 12 months for more power, faster charging and ease of use, and that’s where the Maxi XT has derived from.
“Customers are far more power-hungry than ever before and we need to be able to provide them with what they want, or they’ll go elsewhere.
“This is where our mates at REDARC came to the rescue. The support and service from these guys has truly been fantastic. After a visit from REDARC and going over the Manager 30 in conjunction with the RedVision TVMS there was no question that this system would be in the new Maxi XT.
“With the new REDARC gear we are now able to add all the accessories that have been requested: larger lithium batteries, more solar, water level monitoring and fridge temperature monitoring, while also running inverters, external work lights and a portable diesel heater.”
THE FINAL WORD
When writing these reviews, I have to admit that the conclusion is always the bit where I get a little bit stuck. You lot can probably already tell that I thought the Maxi was a pretty damn good piece of kit. Heck, it looks tough, it's built tough and will follow you and your fourby wherever you want to go. So, instead of me hitting you with some pearl of wisdom, I'm going to leave you with this. After a quick Google search for secondhand Maxis, I found only one up for sale. I guess when those who are parting with their hard-earned find a good thing, they stick to it.
Payload 550kg (calculated, dry)
Ball weight 110kg
Suspension Nine blade variable rate military wrap leaf springs, Gabriel Safari offroad shocks and adjustable shock towers
Brakes 12in electric offroad brakes
Coupling DO35 V3 coupling
Drawbar 100 x 100 x 5mm hot-dipped galvanised steel w/ 120 x 50 x 3mm gusseted 3CR12 stainless steel 'C' channel
Body Complete monocoque construction from 3CR12 stainless steel
Wheels/tyres 265/70R17 Maxxis Bighorn mud terrains on 17in six stud black alloy rims (one spare)
Style Camper trailer w/ roof top tent
Box size 2100 x 1600 x 816mm
Length (hitch to spare wheel) 4000mm
Water 130L potable, Joolca HotTap Gas H/W system
Gas 2 x 4kg holders
Kitchen SMEV two-burner gas stove, s/s sink with hot/cold mixer, 90L National Luna dual zone fridge/freezer
Battery 2 x 110Ah lithium, 1000W REDARC inverter, REDARC Manager 30 BMS
Solar 2 x 150W portable folding mats
Heating 2.5kW portable diesel heater
PRICE AS SHOWN
- Lightweight with plenty of payload
- Rust protection
- Offroad capability
- Storage capacity
- Increased water capacity wouldn't go astray
CAMPER STAR RATINGS
Fit for intended purpose — 9
Innovation — 9
Self-sufficiency — 8.5
Quality of finish — 9
Build quality — 9
Offroadability — 9
Comforts — 8.5
Ease of use — 9
Value for money — 9
X-Factor — 9
Address 1/12 Maiella Street, Stapylton QLD 4207
Phone 1300 301 511