Hybrid campers don’t make up a huge portion of the RV industry – yet – but it’s fair to say a growing number of manufacturers, both caravan and camper trailer builders, are shifting their attention to this genre.
And I can definitely see the virtues in this type of rig – particularly the ability to journey off-grid and free camp with a lightweight camper trailer.
Intrinsically, these hard-shell bodied hybrids provide a tad more comfort, flexibility and luxury than traditional camper trailers. And they are generally considerably lighter and easy to tow in comparison to most caravans. It’s this weight differential that improves fuel efficiency given an ability to utilise a smaller two vehicle.
The custom-built Kakadu Scorpion Off-Road, recently tested by CW, ticks all those boxes and more. Not only that, this compact hybrid pop-top has a full ensuite with separate shower, Thetford cassette toilet and hand basin in conjunction with a front bedroom slide-out which extends 700mm. It also boasts an island double bed, internal cooking amenities, and even a 90L Thetford three-way fridge/freezer.
The hero features of the Scorpion, to my mind, are its remote-controlled Hydra-Lift full hydraulic roof-lift and Hydra-Lift full hydraulic front bedroom slide-out – both exclusive to Kakadu Campers.
Obviously, the benefits are an exceptionally easy set-up and pack-up within minutes.
And nudging them towards the ‘champions’ class is a complete bathroom and a combined 28L Swift HWS and gas heater. Now you don’t get that from many an offroad camper trailer!
I’m also partial to the Scorpion’s robust structure and underpinnings including sleek 4mm-thick aluminium composite cladding, a 6in galvanised chassis, Tuff Ride 2600kg-rated independent coil spring suspension, plus MPC 235X75 R15 tyres (16in wheels are optional) and six-stud Primal rims.
Its build integrity is further emphasised by the fact that critical points of the front end have been reinforced with steel framework while the rest of the Kakadu frame is meranti timber. Indeed, the Scorpion is purpose-built for the intrepid travelling couple.
Another notch in the Kakadu’s offroad credibility belt is its battery (2x120Ah), solar (2x150W) and water (2x62L) capacities. But I noticed there was no provision for grey water, making stays in national parks difficult, although it’s an available option.
I was really impressed with the hybrid’s external storage, including a sizeable front boot (ideal for holding hoses, leads, chocks etc) as well as a rear toolbox that comprised a slide-out generator hatch.
But it was the latter (along with a bike lug for two bicycles and two spare wheels mounted on a four-arm bumper bar) that caused some angst while in transit.
I collected the unladen Scorpion from Evolution Caravans, which manufactures the Kakadu Campers range for Westernport Caravans, a day prior to travelling to Flinders on the Mornington Peninsula for the review.
I detected some sway once I reached speeds of 80km/h or more on the Monash Freeway but Chris Shambrook of Westernport Caravans said that could be rectified simply by fitting jerry can holders and/or a stone shield on the drawbar to increase the ball weight. Chris added that normally the front boot would be loaded up along with under-bed storage, which would counteract any potential sway.
Externally, the Scorpion had a drop-down picnic table and gas bayonet fitted, a reversing camera, a roof-mounted Aircommand Sparrow MK4 air-conditioner, and a single 9kg gas cylinder was sensibly located out of harm’s way in a rear hatch. But it was missing a number of offroad inclusions you’d expect. This model was custom built to a client’s individual preferences, but it lacked a rollout awning for relaxing in the shade; an external kitchen or slide-out barbecue for alfresco dining; a front stone shield; an exterior shower; and jerry can holders for extra reserves of fuel or water. And would a TV inside and outside be asking too much? That said; these are all options that can be fitted on customer request.
Internally, the Scorpion is not as lavish as the high-end caravan set but its more-than-appealing decor includes an L-shaped lounge adorned in genuine leather upholstery, full block-out cloth curtains and pelmets, lightweight acrylic cupboard doors, and 3mm-thick white embossed plywood walls.
I was impressed with the accent on living space, highlighted by an island double bed capable that converts into a day lounge. The bed frame folds down and ‘reduces in size’ via three hinges and the custom-made innerspring mattress folds in half. It’s perfect for a short break after a lengthy trip. A leather bedhead extends to the back and sides of the bed.
A table that moves left-to-right also complements the open living interior layout. Not only does it create more room, it offers flexibility in accessing the lounge.
The large kitchen comprises a Thetford three-burner cooktop, stainless steel sink, two-tier pull-out pantry, and a 90L Thetford three-way fridge-freezer under the benchtop. The only thing missing is a microwave.
The laminated 25mm-thick rolled-edge, post-formed benchtop is glitzy, and there is ample storage courtesy of slide-out drawers under the cooktop, although cupboard space under the sink is taken up by the hot water service and combined heater. The heater’s thermostat is on the side of the kitchen cabinet; a water level indicator and the HWS switch are on a side wall.
There is plenty of room to walk around the island double bed which has slide-out dressers on heavy duty drawer runners either side, and two overhead lockers for added storage volume.
Deployment of the pop-top offers plenty of natural light and ventilation along with a 12V hatch above the sink. There’s no shortage of 12V lighting via two downlights in the bedroom, a large downlight between the kitchen and lounge, and a LED light over the entry door.
The top half of the entry door lifts up to ceiling height (courtesy of a heavy duty hinge) when the pop-top is lowered while travelling. In-house entertainment is provided by a CD/radio.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The Kakadu Scorpion Off-Road is a hybrid pop-top that mingles resilience with a fair smattering of cosiness and indulgence.
Essentially, its roof-lift and slide-out bedroom hydraulics (hence an easy set-up and pack-up) are the Scorpion’s prize selling points, along with a convenient full ensuite.
But prospective purchasers would also be impressed with this Kakadu’s light weight (Tare is 1740kg) and reduced travel costs due to a low-profile. And throw in its affordability for good measure!
HITS AND MISSES
- Full ensuite
- Easy and quick set-up/pack-up
- Internal kitchen
- Low-profile design
- No external cooking facilities
- Could do with an awning
- No powerpoints in bedroom
- A grey water tank would be handy
Weights and measures
- Overall length 7.3m (23ft 11in)
- External body length 5.55m (18ft 1in)
- External body width 2.2m (7ft 3in)
- Travel height 1.83m (6ft)
- Internal height 2m (6ft 7in)
- Tare 1740kg
- ATM 2300kg
- Payload 560kg
- Ball weight 150kg
Price as shown
$64,990 (on-road, Vic)
The full review appears in Caravan World #561. Subscribe today for the latest caravan reviews and news every month!