As the recent four wheel drive and adventure show in Perth demonstrated, there’s a never ending range of four wheel drive products and accessories. There’s a gadget for just about every need. Not dissimilar with camping. The list of items to make life in the great outdoors just that little more livable is endless.
But behind the vast range of products, uniqueness can be limited. We love our New Zealand brand tent we have mounted on the back of our ute. But what we progressively discovered was, no matter the brand, they are basically all the same. Same designs, just different materials and a few minor point of difference variations. The reason is they all come out the same factory in China. The problem is, as one supplier stated, if you request an improvement, it will then appear on every other competitor’s products the following year. It’s the same with the canvas fittings for camper trailers.
While the product categories may be similar, there’s still a huge choice as to how you want to enjoy the great outdoors. No doubt our international borders will be encouraging us to explore more of our own back yard. And that is certainly not a bad thing. It really is a fantastic opportunity as we are absolutely spoilt with choices to experience.
The limiting factor is really not the cost. We’ve enjoyed a fantastic experience with just a tent and the basics of camping equipment packed in the back of the car. Admittedly it can be a bit humbling as you drive into a caravan park amongst all the behemoth caravans and RV motorhomes. But, hey… so!
If the idea of being off the ground away from stray animals and reptiles has some appeal, a roof top tent really is a great option. And let’s not dismiss the fact a non towing option has a lot of benefits over lugging a van every place you venture. In fact, it can limit you to a number of spots.
But there’s no denying the towed caravan of motorhome can offer you a mobile version of all the luxuries of home. There’s people we have met who literally have made it their long term home. Either for several months at a time, or those who have sold up and now slowly move around the country. A number of these foot loose and fancy free folk will take on a host role at national park or station camp grounds. They exchange a few hours work a day for managing the camp grounds. Or as with one outback station, the host welcomes guests while others help out in the café. A number of beach loving nomads live off the sea. With ample sun to keep the solar battery system going, they are fully self sufficient.
For the non towing adventurers, there’s yet again an endless choice of options beyond the tent. The common RV motorhome also offers all the comforts of home. But of course you can’t duck into town without taking your house with you. An alternative step up is a slide on camper, or what I like to describe as a bed in a box. It’s a tradie style looking solid camper box on the back of a four wheel drive tray top (or ute tub replaced with a tray). They’re called a slide on, because you slide them off and on the tray top… leaving you free to duck down to the shops!
Typically the lid pops up to open up a ready made bed. All the camping and cooking is done on the outside of the box. More comfortable versions include the cooking inside, making it not dissimilar to a motorhome. Mounted on your typical everyday four wheel drive vehicle, this type of rig has a very passionate following in this market niche. A number of these owners continue their adventure overseas, shipping the vehicle to countries like Africa.
The problem with these rigs, is the load capacity of the four wheel drives are easily exceeded. That’s generally OK… until there’s an insurance claim which can leave you high and dry.
The solution to hovering dangerously near the payload limit, is a truck. Lightweight four wheel drive trucks are commonly used. Either to carry a slide on camper, or a permanently mounted equivalent camper box. We met Bernhard and Karin in Karijini. From Germany, they were travelling around in their Mercedes truck camper. Australia was just one of several continents they had shipped their truck to.
The choice is yours. If there’s no limit to finances, $500K will get you a very comfortable 4wd truck to adventurously experience every corner of the country. However, for a mere fraction of that with not much more than a tent in the back, you can experience as much and leaving you as many, if not more memories! In between, there’s a near endless choice to suit everyone’s needs. Happy adventuring….