There’s a lot to love about touring with a camper, and it’s not just the destination. It’s the journey, sights, sounds, animals, the thrill of offroad adventure and those you meet along the way. My love of camper trailers has led me on some terrific sojourns, but I’m also an avid fisherman, so how do I tow a decent boat?
A slide-on camper is one solution, and one of the best I have seen is from Trayon. That was until I recently visited Trayon’s manufacturing base on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast and was introduced to its latest offering, Tray-Tek’s Tailgater Diesel Deluxe. Who said you can’t have your cake and eat it, too? Tray-Tek’s Tailgater not only serves up a plateful of temptation but adds the cream inside and icing on top!
Tray-Tek is not new. The management at Trayon liked its product but, rather than copy it, Trayon bought Tray-Tek and improved its flagship model. The Trayon team strengthened its construction and shaved 300kg from the Tray-Tek’s original Tare at the same time!
DESIGN & CONSTRUCTION
There’s a whole camper full of great reasons why a slide-on is a good alternative to a traditional camper, and why a Tray-Tek should be high on the bucket list. Above all is the convenience of its free-standing design. Not only can you keep your single or twin-cab ute free for work during the week, but you can load your camper with all the necessities in five minutes when you’re ready to go – just throw in the perishables and refreshments.
It’s an easy-to-drive combination that lets you to park in normal car spaces without a trailer. There’s the added 4WD capability to get you to where you want to go and, when you get there, you can easily slide it off to create a home base, while still having the flexibility and freedom of a separate vehicle.
Let’s look at some other advantages. There’s less space required for storage, no additional registration costs, it is very easy to assemble and even easier to set up for an overnighter. The pop-up roof gives a relatively low profile, so you can load kayaks, spare wheels or even a small tinny on the solid roof, which has a 120kg carrying capacity. You can cook inside or out, there’s a tonne of added storage and it makes for terrific low-cost accommodation for long- and short-term trips.
This unit is designed to please everyone from the most ardent offroader to those of us who like our sinks, stoves, heating, a solid roof and private hot shower and toilet facilities. To facilitate all of this, the Tray-Tek is constructed on its own full aluminium chassis. The 110L food-grade poly water tank, 120Ah AGM battery (lithium option available) and diesel tank for the Webasto heater are fitted to the front, fully enclosed for protection and down low for stability. This configuration also keeps the sunlight away from the diesel, reducing the risk of contaminating growth.
There is something to be said for a solid roof, especially for the added insulation its the weight-bearing capabilities. This insulated fibreglass composite roof is a ripper. The old model (the MK1) once pivoted from the front but the new design (the MK2, by Trayon) lifts into position on touch-button-controlled electrostatic worm drives in around 30 seconds. You can load up to 120kg of accessories on the roof giving plenty of facility for water sports toys, maybe a roof topper, added jerry cans and more. For complete assembly, simply unclip and drop the tailgate to form the rear platform. With it, the rear tent pushes out on a U-shape bow and is held up by two internal poles. Fold out the ladder, wind out the optional Alu Awn awning and you’re done; the whole open/close procedure takes about three minutes to do for a single person, and it’s rather effortless to do.
Trayon uses Bradmill canvas, midge-proof screens and YKK zips and the side windows are fitted with clear internal screens to light up the interior in inclement weather. The tent also features 360° ventilation, taking full advantage of its elevated height. There’s something nice about being up off the ground, high away from crawling critters, stingers, biters and toothy animals, too!
On first opening, the large camper-queen bed takes up a lot of room but it pivots upward to allow for a dinette with storage bins under the seats, and a nifty slide-out table between. It all works very well and is a terrific use of available space. As weight is a major consideration with slide-ons, the standard mattress is foam with a breathable liner below, but upgrade options are available.
With trailers excluded from some 4WD experiences, a slide-on becomes even more enticing to serious offroaders. There are a heap of reasons I like the original Trayon campers, and why I like the Tray-Tek Tailgater even more. I find it a terrific addition to Trayon’s expanding model range and I am sure the company will find much success with its concept, design, construction, fittings, accessories and overall appeal. The fact that it is fully Australian made with locally-sourced components and backed by a 10-year warranty gives you pride and confidence. Be assured in the knowledge that this is no fly-by-night outfit. For those of us who want to tow a boat, it’s nice to have the towbar free.
THE WRAP UP
Trayon has done a marvellous job at making the Tray-Tek more attractive by reducing it from 850kg right down to a palatable 540kg Tare. The new unit keeps the centre of gravity low and the weight forward over the axles reducing tail end sway and stress. The unit also sits in line with the outside of the tray for terrific clearance in the bush.
The Tray-Tek Tailgater is as close to my personal ideal camper as I think I’ll ever see.
But that’s just me.
- Compact, lightweight design
- Slide-on is very accommodating; I can tow a boat!
- Sensible accessories
- Camping above the ground
- You can set up base camp and still have a vehicle
- No registration required
- Shower tent a bit small for big, bad Bear!