4x4 slide on camper vs high top long wheel base ford transit camper co

Submitted: Thursday, May 14, 2020 at 18:57
ThreadID: 140013 Views:983 Replies:7 FollowUps:9
Hi again
I've posted re slide on campers and the vehicles that hold them in the last few days.
My only other alternative I'm looking at is a long wheel base high top ford transit van camper (or convert myself, I.e pay a tiny home carpenter to build my design)

So know I'm asking what people think of the comparison between the 2 and which is better.

My pros and cons for myself:
*I like the idea for safety that I can get in and drive off without leaving the vehicle in a van ( a big factor actually for a woman travelling alone). Can do this in a slide on
*slap on a fake tradie type sign on the side and get away with street camping in a van. Slide on quite conspicuous
*definite CON for a van: you cannot go where a 4x4 goes as in a slide on, may get bogged more easily. This is the biggest drawback. I plan on free camping and national parks NOT caravan parks so I just need that access. I dont plan on remote areas on dirt tracks . I may travel across to western australia, to broom, to slice springs. Are all these major roads or dirt tracks and can a big heavy van handle these?

I also would like to know about comparison with fuel consumption, maintenance costs and power to get up those hills.

I have decided I will have water tank, grey water and very good solar set up. No shower, basic portable toilet. Sink, 2 gas burner +/- little portable oven, fridge freezer ( haven't decided on 12v or 3way as heard 12 volt is better than 3way if good solar set up).

I plan to live in this van for at least 2 .5 to 3 years or more with house sitting, and return to my house for short periods

SO I would appreciate all your opinions and if anyone has one of these transit Van's decked out could they pleas tell me about their limitations for access to more nature camps as that my greatest worry. I HAVE to be able to camp amongst nature.

Thanks all.
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Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Thursday, May 14, 2020 at 19:25

Thursday, May 14, 2020 at 19:25
I have posted this elsewhere, and my view remains the same.
As a slide-on owner for 12 years I would never recommend anyone have one. Simply too many down sides.
There is no reason why the 4WD vehicle you choose for your slide on could not have a motorhome body instead. It would be lighter and have a lower CofG, so more stable. In any case you will find that taking a slide on on and off is not something you want to do.

My suggested vehicle for a single person who wants to get off the beaten track a bit and explore would be a Toyota Landcruiser Troopcarrier high top or pop top camper. Even an ex hire vehicle would be a great start.
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Reply By: Ozhumvee - Friday, May 15, 2020 at 07:02

Friday, May 15, 2020 at 07:02
We have a close friend whose husband passed away and they had a small poptop caravan and a 4WD Hilux, she travelled for several years with that setup but mostly with others as she was wary of being by herself camped and something going wrong as well as all the hooking up and setting up each day when on the move.
Late last year she bit the bullet and bought a 4WD Suncamper Sherwood secondhand in good condition and loves it, self contained, no setup, fully insulated and ready to go at a moments notice. For a single person they are ideal, based on a 4wd hilux it is easy to drive and with a bit of care can easily cross most of our remote areas and tracks.
The big compromise is that there is no vehicle to go off shopping or looking at the sights but the plusses for a single woman on her own far outweigh the disadvantages, everything usually involves a compromise.
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Follow Up By: Ang V - Sunday, May 17, 2020 at 16:21

Sunday, May 17, 2020 at 16:21
Hi peter
If only one of those existed under 35000!!
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Follow Up By: Ozhumvee - Sunday, May 17, 2020 at 17:37

Sunday, May 17, 2020 at 17:37
Yes while they are a bit dearer there are quite a few of 4WD Adventurer camper around, mostly ex hire units they are a basically well sorted and only lack an internal bathroom but can fit a Portapotti if required. As a basic unit to start with and add stuff like external shower etc as required they are not bad.
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Follow Up By: Ang V - Sunday, May 17, 2020 at 19:48

Sunday, May 17, 2020 at 19:48
Hi peter. I was also wondering about these? Older but I like the layout and that you can get int the back without going outside.

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Follow Up By: Ozhumvee - Sunday, May 17, 2020 at 19:59

Sunday, May 17, 2020 at 19:59
Looks ok, the only big red flag I see is that it is currently unregistered since Nov 2019 or am I not reading it correctly.
If you're interested in it make some inquiries and also ask for a diesel and 4wd place of good repute to look over it.
Roadworthy certificates are no guarantee of no problems especially as the early 3 litre Hilux diesels had some problems. Hilux's in general are pretty long lived and reliable, I have a 2wd of the same age and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it it just goes and goes, remember too that it is 21 years old!
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Follow Up By: Ang V - Monday, May 18, 2020 at 12:07

Monday, May 18, 2020 at 12:07
Hi peter. Thanks for that info, it's great. I have now noticed that there are watermarks on the canvas poptop as well as he mentioned resealing the roof so am worried about water damage and leakage. My preference is for a hard top. I like the matilda option. Do you know which years in the 3l were dodgy? Do you think a 2 wheel drive could handle this style and not a poptop? Also I have been looking at the alternative of a transit van conversions if I cant get a 4wd but they seem frought with transmission problems if not more probs. Do you know anything about this. I also thought of delicas as they were 4wd but so squishy!. Thanks for you help in this. Experience is soooooo valuable.
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Follow Up By: Ozhumvee - Monday, May 18, 2020 at 14:25

Monday, May 18, 2020 at 14:25
I'm not sure on the years that had problems, sometimes the problems were caused by owners ignoring an engine that was getting noisier/more rattly which was caused by faulty injectors and if left unattended resulted in major engine damage, sometimes to the point that a new engine was required.
Hence my stressing the point that pre purchase inspection by diesel and 4wd mechanic is essential. A normal NRMA inspection doesn't cut it.
The Matilda's being of fibreglass construction probably have less points of water ingress, you really want that table and seating at the rear if possible as it allows you to look out on your surroundings when stuck inside in cold or inclement weather as you can park with the view/outlook to the rear.
Anything european (transit/sprinter etc) will not be a patch on the Hilux in either 2wd or 4wd for robustness, longevity and ease of servicing. I'd steer clear of the 6 wheel Hilux conversions too.
A 2wd Hilux will not be as good as a 4wd for accessing remote campsites but you could fit either a diff lock or a limited slip diff which might get you out of most problems, having the weight on the rear wheels with the camper body will give it good traction unlike and empty 2wd Hilux that has problems in a wet paddock when unladen. The 2.7 litre 4 cylinder petrol engine in the 2wd goes pretty well, pretty much indestructible, even better when you give it premium unleaded.
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Reply By: Bushranger1 - Friday, May 15, 2020 at 07:52

Friday, May 15, 2020 at 07:52
Hi Ang,
Everyone has different styles of camping so get what suits your camping style.
We only camp in remote areas away from everyone & are fully self contained in our slideon.
We had a camper trailer & found that it would frustrate us when we went out on day trips bushwalking & birdwatching having to drive back to the camper when finding lovely spots to camp while out & about. We also hated having to carry an extra stove & utensils for lunch stops because the kitchen was back in the camper trailer. Also as we went down narrow remote tracks turning back was a pain with the trailer.
Now it is all with us on the slideon & we have the 4wd capability of the Dmax & if I need to use the ute back home as a ute we can grab the legs from the garage & take the slideon off.
Sometimes we just set up in the middle of a lesser used 4wd track & due to the quick setup & fold up the only one time a vehicle came past it did not matter. One thing we did learn is that getting a slide on that folds out the rear is great for camps on narrow tracks in the rain forest. Some fold out the side so you cannot open them on a narrow track.
We have 2 single friends one that goes very remote & she has an older model Landcruiser with false floor & bed in the back. The larger vehicle will allow more room for fuel, water etc on remote trips.
The other friend has the later model RAV 4 with the same setup but she does not camp as remote so the smaller vehicle works fine & is cheaper to run.
So you need to think very carefully about your camping style & remember what works for 1 doesn't for another. Same with power systems but lets not flog that one again!

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Reply By: Member - Cuppa - Friday, May 15, 2020 at 09:19

Friday, May 15, 2020 at 09:19
Hi Ang, the two Peters who have replied already have decades of off road & around Oz travel between them & I consider their advice to be good . Something like the Suncamper Sherwood would provide a high level of comfort as well as the 4WD access you want. A Troopy camper will be more basic but give you greater choice of where you can take it by virtue of it’s lower roof height & better ground clearance. I think you sound like someone with an adventurous spirit, & are this likely to want to get more off the beaten track once your confidence is boosted by your experience out on the road which may make a troopy poptop a better long term prospect . However I know a single lady who drove similar to the Sherwood very happily for many years , much of it free camping & it really did make an ideal single
lady’s vehicle. When she finally sold it, it was bought by another single lady I know who went on to use it for quite a few more years. Both travelled with dogs & both full time travellers. To be honest if the bank balance allows I would suggest a Suncamper or similar which if you wanted to at a later date you could sell & get an older troopy camper. I would be very hesitant to buy a slide on camper especially for long term travel. Weight , weight distribution & lack of storage being the main reasons.
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Follow Up By: Member - Cuppa - Friday, May 15, 2020 at 09:30

Friday, May 15, 2020 at 09:30
Oh, & if a Troopy or Sherwood type vehicle are out of your price range, check out the used market for kombi sized 4WD camper vans . Eg http://discoverercampers.com.au/preloved/mitsubishi-express-discoverer-4x4-campervan-kitchen-bed-seat-belts/

I have no connection to this vehicle but the more I look at it the more I think it would be an excellent buy & worthy of your serious consideration,
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Reply By: Member - McLaren3030 - Friday, May 15, 2020 at 13:17

Friday, May 15, 2020 at 13:17

No matter how many “pros” there are for a slide on, two “cons” far out weigh all of the pros. Top heavy creating more body roll, and too much overhang behind the rear axle leading to chassis bending/breaking. Both these cons are safety related, and could see you stranded in a remote area that will mean a costly recovery. Far better to look at a Troopy camper conversion.


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Follow Up By: Bushranger1 - Friday, May 15, 2020 at 14:58

Friday, May 15, 2020 at 14:58
G'day Macca,
Agree that the troopy conversions are bulletproof but they can be pretty pricy.
As for the slideon the "caravan" style can be an issue with outback roads but the more compact opening style are pretty robust if done by a reputable builder.
Of course with the fold out compact style you tend to be more outdoors cooking etc.
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Reply By: rumpig - Saturday, May 16, 2020 at 08:27

Saturday, May 16, 2020 at 08:27
There’s plenty of people touring the world in 2wd high top type vans (well prior to Corona Virus they were atleast). I follow a few different couples and single people’s travels on YouTube, and they have gone vast distances on dirt roads and even roads many would say not suitable for such vehicles without major issues....with decent tyres and driving to the conditions, you’ll still get to plenty of places in one of those type set ups. Obvious limitations like soft sandy ground and wet muddy ground that’d stop any 2wd vehicle where you might engage 4wd to get otherwise get you througH you’ve noted,, also I assume the longer wheelbase of them may lead to ground clearance issues when driving over humps or even entering and exiting creek crossings, but the people who’s travels I follow seem to manage thier way around such issues.
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Follow Up By: Member - Jim S1 - Monday, May 18, 2020 at 08:11

Monday, May 18, 2020 at 08:11
Yes rumpig, the clearance is a major consideration. If you don't have too much overhang at front or back, and have decent ground clearance, you can get into most national parks.

Very important considerations.

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Reply By: Gary W3 - Monday, May 18, 2020 at 21:17

Monday, May 18, 2020 at 21:17
I have read the posts and agree that it is 'horses for courses'. Decide what you want to do, where you want to go, how long you intend to travel and what functions you want from your rig.
I spent three years researching and eventually bought a quality slide-on, because it ticked all the boxes. They aren't all the same! I wanted something rugged, comfortable and convenient. You can get that in vans, trailers, campers or even tents, if that is your bent.
1. I didn't want to tow (storage, parking, fuel, reversing, safety, driver stress and drive train concerns).
2. Creature comforts (kitchen, hot water, heating, shower, toilet, seating, off grid, fridge, 12v and solar).
3. Light weight (aluminium body, 400kg dry weight/700kg packed, fuel efficient)
4. Versatile - my tug is my daily commute, so a van was out of the question (I needed easy storing & parking, off road/parks access, quick setup, leave on tray or slide off).
5. Space (3.5 cu m storage, compact, annexe, dbl bed - unfolded set up is equal to 5m caravan)
6. Stability (low centre of gravity, weight forward of rear axle, low profile against wind, no bouncing).
7. Australian made, because you have quality and service!

I went with a Trayon because no other slide-on matched the criteria. It suits me, but isn't everyone's cup of tea.
Definitely, 12v compressor fridge/freezer.
On my 12,000k trip to WA from Vic, my avg fuel was 11.7l/100k (2005 Rodeo). I normally get 10.5l/100k around town. Very easy on the drive train, too.
I have seen some huge and luxurious rigs on the road, but they suit their owners. Mine suits my needs. Get something that suits yours and enjoy it.
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