Hybrid pop-top campers have now established themselves as major players at the serious end of the Australian offroad market, offering adventure-seeking 4WDers an alternative to camping under canvas.
Rhinomax has joined Kimberley, Australian Off Road, Northcoast Campers, Track Trailer, Complete Campsite, Trakmaster and Vista RV in this rapidly growing market, all offering variations on a common theme: a hard-walled camper with a rising or pop-top hard-shell roof based on rugged, high-riding underpinnings.
Some are packaged like shrink-wrapped caravans, with both interior ensuites and cooking facilities as standard for all-weather travel. The problem for many buyers is that these hybrids can be pricey, usually starting in the high $70,000 bracket and rising to well above six figures if you get enthusiastic with the options.
But there is another way. Rather than start with a pre-defined package, Queensland’s Rhinomax, with its new Discovery reviewed here, offers customers a basic-spec but beautifully-built hybrid pop-top for a significantly lower entry price and then lets them choose the layout and equipment that suits their particular needs.
What’s more, with the Discovery, Rhinomax introduced what is probably the simplest and fastest-erecting exterior shower tent in the business, something Andy and Steve are quite proud of. In fact, very few customers so far have shown much interest in the internal ensuite for this very reason.
DESIGN & CONSTRUCTION
The Discovery can go many places where height isn’t a consideration, and it can be set-up and levelled with the aid of chocks or rocks on uneven ground on its own footprint. As reviewed, it measured a manageable 1550kg Tare. After popping the top and winding out its standard Fiamma awning, you can be camped, dry and comfortable in just a few minutes.
With a body length of just 4.5m and a (LandCruiser) width of 1.9m (plus awning), the Discovery doesn’t demand a lot of real estate. And like many of its hybrid rivals, it has a steeply-raked rear cutaway to allow it to get across creek beds and rough terrain easily.
Instead of taking full advantage of this body cut-away to house the spare wheel underneath the rear, Rhinomax mounted the wheel vertically upfront on the A-frame as the first line of defence against stone damage to the twin 4kg gas cylinders and their regulator.
A mesh stone shield behind the spare protects the large checkerplate toolbox and its twin outrigger jerry can holders, while there’s further checkerplate covering the lower half of the front panel. It is, perhaps, a little bit of overkill. However, the air compressor for the optional Al-Ko Sensabrake and its pipes that deliver power to the test Discovery’s optional disc brakes was mounted vulnerably in front of the spare wheel.
Inside, TIG-welded aluminium framing is used for the frame of the front-mounted bed and the cupboards and fittings to ensure that the entire structure is extremely robust. There’s no front window, which is good, as this is always a potential point from where water can leak — and the full-height rear door means you don’t have to stoop to get in. Plus there’s a mountain of headroom once the pop-top roof is raised on its gas strut-assisted scissor lifts. The reason for this headroom is quite simple: both Steve and Andy are 1.9m (6ft 4in) blokes and the Discovery is built around their personal dimensions!
The Discovery we reviewed had what Rhinomax call its “basic” layout, meaning the space to the right of the rear-entry door was occupied by a wall-to-wall cabinet with six stainless steel lined drawers, with a useful long storage below and an uncluttered large benchtop above. But the space could be occupied by a corner ensuite, a small internal kitchen with an under-bench cabinet style fridge, or both of the above, and Rhinomax likes to emphasise that as true customer builders they will fit whatever the purchaser wants — within reason, of course.
Solid hinges, quality catches and excellent furniture fit give the impression that the Discovery is built to last. Top hinged storage hatches beside the bed and LED lighting around the perimeter of the pop-top frame show attention to detail.
THE WRAP UP
The Rhinomax Discovery is a worthy new entrant to the growing hybrid ranks. With its combination of wanted features, high quality materials and construction, attention to detail and very competitive pricing, it deserves to be high on every potential hybrid buyer’s
Regardless of their choice of options, customers will get an impressively-finished hybrid if the review camper is any guide.
HITS & MISSES
- Design and quality construction
- Custom building concept
- Offroad comfort
- Excellent value
I would have liked…
- An under-floor mounting for the spare wheel
- Less cluttered A-frame
Check out the full feature in issue #90 July 2015 of Camper Trailer Australia magazine.