Every man and his dog seems to have a camper trailer these days. And it’s no surprise, really. Most of us tend to realise the benefit of having extra storage, comfort and organisation after taking a few short yet hectic weekends away with the family, right?
But as we get a little more adventurous and start tackling those tougher long distance off-road missions, one thing’s is for sure – that entry level camper you bought a few years back probably won’t cut the mustard long term! Not if you plan on putting it through the wringer, anyway.
That’s where Mark from Terra Trek Australia steps in. You see, with a background in professional remote outback touring, we’ve got a feeling he understands how challenging things can get out on the tracks.
So when it comes to designing a tough, yet comfortable no-holds-barred expedition trailer, it’s no wonder the latest from TerraTrek — the TT-E — is raising a few educated eyebrows of late. For those of you who remember, I actually had the pleasure of testing this camper just over a year ago across the Simpson Desert — I was super impressed with it back then. But this latest version; well, it’s a whole new beast!
AT FIRST GLANCE
There’s no mistaking it, this weapon of a camper trailer means business. I mean, look at it – it’s like something out of a Rambo movie! The utilitarian design, the serious BFG KM2 mud terrains, the Rhino Lined front-section and the solid single-piece drawbar all give it an aggressive overall stance. But it’s those super-sleek lines that remind you of its innate purpose – to tackle the toughest adventures on the planet with your friends, family and loved ones, and look bloody great doing it!
As you get closer to the Terra Trek, quality is the first thing that springs to mind. It doesn’t have chrome spinning hub-caps or shiny bits and bobs dangling from the tent, it’s more like an, ‘I’ll be handing this down to my grandkids one day’ kind of feel. This latest version of the TT-E looks even tougher than the original , which is thanks to an all-new custom-designed hard-shell tent and a wider body.
THE ROUGH STUFF
You can expect the TT-E to eat the rough stuff for breakfast, and then go back and gobble another full English. There’s more ground clearance than there are blowflies on roadkill, and the impressive approach and departure angles ensure they’ll follow a well set-up 4WD deep into the depths of hell, if asked. But what’s even more exciting is how well they handle the nastiest of corrugations, washouts, dips and corrugations routinely found out on those harsh country tracks. The secret is in the military-inspired swing axle suspension which features control arms running from the wheel hubs to the opposite side of the trailer chassis, as well as four trailing arms to keep it all in line. Add in Old Man Emu coils (from a 200 Series LandCruiser for easy replacement), shocks and airbags and you’ve got a set-up that flexes incredibly well, soaks up sudden jolts like sawdust on a pee stain and manhandles heavy loads like a lumberjack on a sugar high. Oh, and the TT-E weighs in at a mere 980Kg (tare), which is still under a tonne, but slightly heavier than the prototype model I tested last year.
A UNIQUE APPROACH
It’s refreshing to see a new camper trailer hit the market that doesn’t just follow-the-leader when it comes to innovation. The custom-designed suspension system I mentioned earlier is a bit like the proof in the pudding of that. A big, fat, triple choc pudding! Want more evidence? How about that beefy single-beam drawbar, which is more than capable of handling anything the Aussie outback can dish out, yet actually weighs less than most offroad A-frame designs. Plus, it also allows you to jack-knife the camper on one hell of an angle (about 90-degrees to the vehicle), which can work miracles when you’re hooking a U-turn on super tight tracks. They’ve even got their own built-in handle to make light work out of manoeuvring the camper around by hand. Oh, and you’ll find the super-simple yet super-effective removable jockey wheel design a big winner, too!
In the front storage box there’s a custom air-forced (pressurised) dust-proofing system. This is also where the massive 105L optional fridge is kept, too. The main fridge option is actually a lesser known brand name called Trail Blazer. They’re manufactured primarily for the Australian Defence Force, and are built in Australia for pretty much the harshest conditions on the planet. But if that doesn’t tickle your fancy there are other options available.
THE CAMPING EXPERIENCE
The TT-E is designed to enhance the whole ‘camping’ experience, not dull it down to a luxury glamping trip similar to the whole caravanning thing. Nope, it sticks to its traditional tropes. What do I mean by that? Well, instead of having a fully-fledged luxury kitchen complete with built-in voice recognition and fingerprint security, you get enough storage space to pack a whole host of cast iron camp cooking gear; you know, so the kids can cook-up a feast straight over the fire while the oldies suck the guts out of a few coldies. Sounds good, eh? Don’t get me wrong, you still get a high quality stainless steel slide-out kitchen with a two-burner gas stove (that’ll boil a billy full of water in about four minutes flat), but I reckon good old-fashioned campfire tucker is always going to steal the show, and the TT-E definitely knows it too!
While we’re on the topic of storage and that true blue camping experience, I’m sure you’re wondering where the kids sleep with this set-up, right? Well, let’s just say there’s enough storage space for a platoon of swags and tents, so the kids can have their own quarters to call home. But, if you’d prefer them to stay under the same roof, there’s an optional room that zips onto the main tent, too.
Mark from Terra Trek says he’s learned a few valuable lessons when it comes to outback touring. He’s seen where and why most trailers tend to fail over the years, and made sure those weak points were rectified in the TT-E’s overall design. “When I was running outback 4wd tours, I found I needed a trailer that was super easy to clean” Mark said. “The quicker it could be done, the more cost-effective it would be and the longer the trailer would wind up lasting in the long run”.
With that in mind, Mark designed all the storage compartments on the TerraTrek so there are no hidden gaps that are tricky to keep clean. Pretty smart, huh? Then there are the little things like using waterproof Deutsch Plugs for the electrical connections, which are arguably the best form of defence against dusty, rusty and dodgy electrical terminals.
To keep the storage areas nice and organised, Mark decided to go high tech – by using plastic tubs! Ok, so it might sound a little basic, but trust me, when the cans of crushed tomatoes and baked beans burst all over the place thanks to those relentless corrugations, they’re the most convenient thing out there to clean or replace!
The all new tent design is another big winner in my opinion. “I tried a fair few different tent designs during the main development stage of the camper” Mark said. “But this is by far the best”.
Sticking to the innovative nature of the whole trailer, it’s been custom designed specifically for the TT-E. It’s tough enough to stand or jump on top of when it’s closed, all thanks to clever structural ribs on top, yet, at the same time, nice and light thanks to their aluminium construction. It took Mark about 20 seconds to set it up, too. I mean, I didn’t even get a chance to snatch another one of Mark’s beers from the ice box before he was done.
“The tent fabric is actually Weathermax, which is made in USA and has extremely good water resistance.” Mark says. “It’s not prone to mould, like canvas, it breathes well and is nice and light. Plus, it folds nicely on itself, which greatly improves the packing down process”.
If you’re after a little more enclosed living space there’s a 2.0x2.1m ground floor kids/change room. It’s a three-minute set-up, which zips to the roof tent veranda with an enclosable breezeway area under the veranda. It can stay zipped-up permanently too, although Mark says it’s simple enough to remove as you pack down the camper.
For shade, the TT-E comes standard with a Supawing awning, which sets up in about 30-seconds flat, although our test trailer didn’t have it installed for this trip.
GEARED TO GO
As you can expect, the TT-E is equipped with everything you need to tackle those big expeditions. That includes two 110AH AGM batteries as standard, a solar panel and a Redarc 1230 BMS charger to look after the electrical side of things.
There’s a 90L custom designed under-slung water tank, which is a dead-set thing of beauty! It’s plumbed to an electric 12V water pump, which is switch-operated instead of pressure-operated, so you don’t have to worry about the pump switching on and pumping all the water out if there’s ever a leak. If you want more water storage capability there’s also a 70L second tank available, but with dedicated storage compartments for 4x20L jerry cans it’s probably a bit of overkill, eh?
There’s 2x 4.5kg gas bottles up the front to keep the fires burning on the stove-top and the water hot, thanks to the instant gas hot water system too.
THE WRAP UP
What can I say, I’m a big fan of the all new Terra Trek! It’s tough, fairly light and super-capable off the beaten track. It’s kept that raw, bare bones basic approach to things that most camper trailers tend to over-complicate these days. Yet it just oozes innovation and technology where it counts.
Is it going to be everybody’s cup of tea? Nope. Some people might like a few more luxuries and a little more chrome. But I’ll tell you what; I wouldn’t mind calling it home for a few months on an insane outback expedition! Not because it looks like it would scare a Sherman tank into submission, but because I know it’s been designed and built from real-world experience to handle the rigors of travelling outback Australia day-in and day-out.
The Terra Trek’s ample attributes really are focused on what matters when the rubber hits the dirt — and that’s hard to come by these days!
HITS AND MISSES
- Custom Suspension designed specifically for soaking up harsh vibrations
- Innovative tent design with super simple set-up
- Massive amounts of storage space for the size
- Very practical design for long range touring expeditions
- Lack of bench space around the kitchen
- Internal living space is scarce
Suspension: Custom long travel independent suspension
Brakes: 10in electric offroad
Coupling: Treg coupling offroad hitch (optional D035)
Ball Weight: 95kg
Chassis: Ladder-style, steel, hot-dipped galvanised
Wheel/tyre size: LT285/75/R16 with BFG KM2Mud Tyres
Tent: Custom designed hard shell roof top tent
Gas cylinders: 2x 4.5kg bottle holders
Water: 90L stainless tank with up to 4 jerry cans (170L total)
Cooktop: 2 Burner gas stove
Kitchen: Stainless steel slide-out
PRICE AS SHOWN