Camper trailer without canvas

Submitted: Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 18:08
ThreadID: 95909 Views:9314 Replies:17 FollowUps:3
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On a recent trip I did I was away for about three months and I struck a bit of foul weather. I camp in an Oztent which is quite snug and warm most of the time but I did spend a few days with nowhere to get out of the wind and rain unless I lay in my swag in the tent, or sat in the car all day. I had tarp up everywhere and wore all my warm clothes and just put up with it.

As you can imagine, I had a bit of time to think about caravans etc. I don't want to tow a caravan or large pop-top and I want something that goes up quickly and can be taken down and packed up quickly without lots of wet canvas laying on the bed. The only camper I know of that doesn't have canvas is the A'van. I also want it to be able to handle a bit of rough road, e.g. the Birdsville Track but nothing extreme. Do you know of any other camper that fills this description? I have a 2004 3l TD Hilux, 2 door tray top which limits the weight to 1800 kg braked.

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Reply By: Isuzumu - Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 19:12

Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 19:12
Many years ago before we had a proper C/T we brought a semi off road trailer 7' X 4', I made up a faults floor, 3"x3" solid timber frames screwed to the trailer sides, which I put a piece of ply wood on as the bed base.
Under this we had a water tank, one their use under caravans, and some boxes we could slide out with what ever. We had a torneau cover made to fit over this all like on any trailer or ute. It is a cheap start to a camper trailer, which you can do later.
P.S. probably the most important thing I should have said is the tarp to go over every thing, one of those silver/ green heavy duty one and a dozen poles and your all out of weather you need.
AnswerID: 487193

Reply By: Michael ( Moss Vale NSW) - Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 19:21

Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 19:21
Bob, What about a roof top tent, yes i know its canvas but there is a big difference being off the ground when its wet, Also a awning with canvas sides would give you a little space and comfort when windy and rain. You could get a full length rack and move your gear to the front and tent on the rear. It could be a good interim, it seems a pity to have to tow something with a beaut vehicle setup as you have.. Just a thought!! Michael

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AnswerID: 487195

Follow Up By: Member - Joe n Mel n kids (FNQ - Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 23:21

Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 23:21
still canvas and still wet, and you cant move the car when set up, might not sound much of a problem but it is a pain ..............
BUT ...... that aside it suits some and not others, we hated it :-)
FollowupID: 762468

Reply By: Member - Wamuranman - Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 20:13

Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 20:13
Hi Robert,

Have a look at the Tvan from Track Trailer.
They do have a canvas part on the end but if I recall even a wet pack up does not effect the bed area inside the hard part of the van.
You are always sleeping under the hard part - don't have to deploy the canvas section if you don't want to - just gives more room.
They have MC2 suspension - probably the best there is available in off road trailers.
AnswerID: 487202

Reply By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 20:19

Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 20:19
Sounds like the TVan will suit you - its a fibreglass cocoon - no need to drop the canvas at the back unless you need the privacy. Great in foul weather. Mine's about 1250kg fully loaded.
AnswerID: 487203

Reply By: Hunter Gatherer - Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 20:25

Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 20:25
Mate, I know it is canvas but you won't have any problems with the Lightweight Camper not made new but you may find a second hand one if you preserver I have one and it sets up in a few minutes and has 2 double beds small wardrobe and fridge I love it.
AnswerID: 487204

Follow Up By: Member - Sn00py2 (NSW) - Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 10:10

Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 10:10
Hi Robert,

I also have a lightweight Camper. They used to be made up in Ballina NSW but went out of business some years ago. I understand that the owner is still around somewhere and he still does repairs on his trailers. As Hunter Gatherer said, they go up quickly, are comfortable and keep you wark and dry. In colder weather, when power is available, we run an oil column heater as stay as warm as toast.

You don't see them very often on the second hand market, probably because owners love them and don't want to get rid of them, but if you do see one, have a look.


FollowupID: 762493

Reply By: Member - baffle (QLD) - Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 21:11

Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 21:11
Bob, I was faced with a similar situation and found a light-weight Royal Flair Micron pop-top caravan with a ATM of just 1200.
I have had the suspension lifted and the van fitted with solar panel.
It is so easy to tow and all it takes is a one-handed push to have immediate full height access from the rear door.
All set-up with twin beds, 3-way fridge, gas stove, electric microwave, reverse-system airconditioning, 2 gas bottles, TV/DVD, fan.
Ideal for 2 people. If you are interested give me a call.
AnswerID: 487207

Reply By: Rodge - Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 22:57

Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 22:57
Hi Bob. Have you considered a slide on camper for your ute? We have an Active Camper slide on - very fast set up and pack up. Solid roof with canvas in the roof section walls when raised. For 2 people it is excellent.
AnswerID: 487218

Reply By: Member - Paul F (QLD) - Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 08:44

Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 08:44
Hello Bob,

Have a look at:


AnswerID: 487244

Reply By: Member - Ups and Downs - Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 09:44

Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 09:44

If you don't have the Oztent side panels they make a huge difference in lousy weather.

We spent 12 months travelling with the tent and when it was wet we put on the side panels along with a home made shadecloth front panel.

Made a snug area for a couple of chairs, table, esky etc to get out of the rain and wind.

A lot cheaper than a trailer and no towing hassles. PS We now have a Tvan and are very pleased with the no canvas option when suitable but towing is a pain.

AnswerID: 487252

Reply By: Shaker - Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 09:45

Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 09:45
Have you considered Vista RV Crossover?

AnswerID: 487253

Reply By: Member - Robert R1 (SA) - Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 10:06

Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 10:06
Thank you all for your replies. I have just been looking through the options you have suggested and some I will look into some more.

AnswerID: 487254

Reply By: Stevesub1 - Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 13:26

Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 13:26
We are now going through the what if, what we want next stage for our adventures that we will be starting again in a couple of years.

We currently have a pop-top Troopy and it is great and we probably will not be selling it. However for long term camping ie over 2 to 3 weeks, it is too small inside so we have decided we want to tow something.

A caravan is too big and gives us storage problems at home so a camper trailer is the next option.

We want something quick to put up put does not need the bells and whistles.

On our short list are the Tvan (out of our budget, even for a 2nd hand one right no) or a Avan camper (just in our budget for a older 2nd hand one) and maybe some of the Campermatic range (have canvas).

We still have plenty of time to look, like 2 or 3 years but doing our research now.

We would be doing nothing rougher than the Birdsville track or similar but could be on dirt roads for many days. I also would like to know if the Avan would be suitable for the types of roads we are expecting to take it over.


AnswerID: 487272

Reply By: Member - Ernie C - Friday, Jun 01, 2012 at 20:33

Friday, Jun 01, 2012 at 20:33
Gday Bob,
I bought a Kimberley Karavan. No Canvas - up and down in 3 minutes and heavy duty.
Dear as hell though.
Check'm out .
AnswerID: 487403

Reply By: Member - Richard W (NSW) - Saturday, Jun 02, 2012 at 05:09

Saturday, Jun 02, 2012 at 05:09

Have a look at my hard top camper trailer in my profile.
Made by Wallaby on the North Coast NSW in 1998. Goes anywhere the vehicle will go. 500kg Tare, 750kg GVM.
Bought it from a mate in Qld who had them build it for him. Don't know whether they are still doing anything like it. Seen very few like it.
Suits me very well.
AnswerID: 487418

Reply By: robin h2 - Sunday, Jun 03, 2012 at 17:07

Sunday, Jun 03, 2012 at 17:07
Have a look at Innovan website. Wonderful concept. Light, tough, no canvas. Slide-on or trail. Definitely worth considering.

AnswerID: 487521

Reply By: Member - Robert R1 (SA) - Sunday, Jun 03, 2012 at 18:51

Sunday, Jun 03, 2012 at 18:51
To all,
Thanks again for your excellent replies. I am not very good at posting. In my mind I think I have explained my problem but I have just re-read my post and I have left a lot out so you have all had to try to read my mind when replying.

One is that I can't afford a Tvan, Innovan or a Kimberley Kamper etc. They are fantastic campers and I often wish I had one but as a recent retiree whose super etc. has been slaughtered by the GFC I am restricted to under $20,000.

Secondly, while my tent and canopy suit me very well in most situations, they don't treat me very well in prolonged bad weather. I have the extra room on my Oztent and an annex of sorts over the kitchen part of my canopy but I don't want to wall myself into my Oztent in bad weather. At least in a caravan you can look out the window while cooking a meal.

I don't have anywhere to put a caravan but I can push a camper to my back shed to keep it under cover.

I travel on my own so I don't need anything large. I would like to have a look at the Lightweight Camper but I haven't been able to find one anywhere.

I normally travel north in July so the weather is normally pretty good. This year I headed off in March and camped at Cowell, Port Gibbon, Louth Bay, Talia Caves and along the SA West Coast and Nullarbor to Perth etc., and after 4 weeks of great weather, the cold finally caught up with me and it rained for about four weeks.

My next trip starts on the 29th of June and I am heading up to Innamincka (11th year in a row) for a few weeks and then north so I expect the weather to be generally good.

Next year I am going back to Port Gibbon in March so I have until then to get something. Perhaps I should do as my cousin suggested and harden up.

Thanks again to you all. You have given me a lot to think about.


AnswerID: 487536

Follow Up By: Member - AVA 191 (QLD) - Friday, Jun 08, 2012 at 21:49

Friday, Jun 08, 2012 at 21:49
Yep, I know where you're coming from Rob.

The wife and I replaced our Primus tent after 29 years use, when it went through one-too-many Queensland thunderstorms.
We wanted NO CANVAS and went for the Avan Cruiseliner, 2005 model bought new.
The Avan was substantially cheaper than the Tvans, KKs etc, which in our minds were specced up way beyond what we could justify paying.

We've just spent Feb and March in Tassie' weather. There were many extremely "blowy" days, some accompanied with rain, yet we were "high and dry" compared to tenters. (We do have an Oztent RV3 which we love for the odd outing in warmer climes).
One notable point was that when we erected the canvas awning, pegged out properly, this awning was far superior to those permanantley attached to offroad vans next to us. These guys ended up packing up the awnings while ours was fine. Admittedly, you have to be very careful erecting or folding th Avan in high winds, but no more so than a tent or tent-trailer.

With the Avan, we went down the Western road from Arthur River to Corrina, which I don't expect is any better than the Birdsville track.

The missus flew home when I went on the big boat. I spent the next two weeks in the Snowy/Murray area, in the Avan alone, but with other caravan companions. For a single traveller, the Avan is even more comfortable and very enjoyable. I love it!! I towed it up Mount Hotham which was a breeze for the modestly powered D4D.
For the trip of 11,300ks the fuel return was 11.7 litres a hundred. Bonus!!

SWMBO says it's time to look at a full caravan soon as she wants more storage for extended trips. If I was a single traveller, I would definitely stick with the Avan, as it's served us very well for the last six or seven years, and towing, reversing, man-handling is a breeze!


FollowupID: 763203

Reply By: Member - Robert R1 (SA) - Wednesday, Jun 13, 2012 at 15:11

Wednesday, Jun 13, 2012 at 15:11
Thanks AVA 191 (QLD) for your comprehensive reply. I am warming towards the Avan but for now I am going to let my brain digest the replies and keep on the lookout for some of the solutions suggested in this thread. I am not in a hurry because I am heading north where it is generally warmer this time of the year. Next year in the southern winter when I head south again I hope to have bought something suitable.

AnswerID: 488379

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