Technical Articles

Made for four

Alu-Cab recently unveiled an innovative camper for double cabs. Not only does it offer accommodation for four people, but it also comes with a set of legs that allows you to drive out from under the unit and stow it with ease.
The four-sleeper, drive-off camper from Alu-Cab can be stored easily when it's not needed. Taking it off a bakkie's load area is a simple operation.

South Africans love bakkies.Why? Because they are immensely versatile vehicles. They can be used as workhorses during the week and also do duty as leisure vehicles when the weekend rolls around.

The problem, though, is that a bakkie that has been kitted out as an overlander isn’t always an ideal workhorse. How, after all, do you make practical use of the load area when it’s sporting a large aluminium canopy?

Alu-Cab has a solution. The company has developed a four-sleeper, drive-off camper that can accommodate four people yet keep the practicality of a double cab bakkie intact.

 Jeremy Bergh of Alu-Cab with the company's latest product. Jeremy says there has been a lot of demand for a double cab camper.

“If you’ve ever camped with four people, you know how much work setting up camp can be,” says Alu-Cab’s Jeremy Bergh. “With this camper, setting up camp is quick and easy.” But quite a few hurdles had to be overcome in creating the camper.

“The problem was building one that could accommodate four people and also offer enough stowage space. Of course, we also needed to fit in an 80-litre fridge and a 60-litre water tank.

“In the end, we had to extend the structure past the back of the bakkie a little bit. Roughly 500mm of the camper hangs off the back.”

But the most impressive feature of the camper’s clever design is that it can be taken off and stowed with ease. By unhooking it from the vehicle’s load area and fitting its four legs, you can drive out from under it.

The Alu-Cab camper is compact, but offers a surprising amount storage space. It houses just about everything one could need during an overland trip.

“It was important for us to make it easy for people to park the camper,” says Jeremy. “The aim was to provide a spacious camper that wouldn’t hamper a vehicle’s practicality. With this product, you can use your bakkie on a daily basis and then simply attach the camper when leaving on an overland trip.”

It is important to note, though, that the camper is not designed to be left in a campsite when you go on a game drive. The legs have been provided specifically to make it easy to store the camper at home. They shouldn’t be used in a campsite, and one should definitely not get into the camper when it is resting on its legs.

“Because the ground at campsites is invariably uneven, we’ve steered clear of a design that would allow the camper to be parked in a campsite. If you encounter loose sand, for example, the legs might sink into the ground, making it tough to reattach the camper to a bakkie. Or even worse, it might fall over, making it impossible to reattach it to a double cab.”

Left, from the top: Unbolting the camper is a simple process and can be done in a few minutes. The camper's handy recovery cupboard. The mobile kitchen allows you to prepare meals with a minimum of fuss. Once the camper has been removed from a bakkie, all that remains is the two rails that it slots into, so it doesn't hamper a vehicle's practicality.

Moreover, the legs needed to prop up a bulky camper obviously have to be quite sturdy, which is why they weigh about 60kg. They are definitely not designed to be carted along on a trip.

Thankfully, there is no real need to remove the camper while on an overland trip, since it is easy to put things away when you want to set off. The roof-top tent flips down in seconds and all the other items are simple enough to stow.

If you’re looking for a camper that won’t get in your way at home, Alu-Cab’s latest addition is a great option. That said, there are a couple of things you need to keep in mind when fitting a camper like this to your double cab bakkie.

“Eight holes have to be drilled into the load area for the brackets, and I advise people to have their load areas rubberised before fitting the camper,” says Jeremy.

“I also recommend that bakkie owners fit air bags on the rear suspension to accommodate the extra weight. If you add everything up, the load your bakkie has to carry can be anything from 600kg to 800kg.

Fitting air bags that can be inflated to deal with this load increases safety dramatically.”

You will also need a tow bar. “Since the camper protrudes out of the load area, visibility of the rear lights is fairly limited. Because of this we have fitted the camper with LED rear lights that are connected to the tow bar’s trailer plug.”

As for the other electrics in the camper, how these are connected depends on the make of the double cab. For example, with the Hilux an auxiliary battery is installed under the bonnet of the bakkie that powers the camper. With the Amarok this isn’t possible, so the main battery powers the unit, but it can be unplugged easily when the power is not needed.

Jeremy says the camper fits most bakkies. “We’ve done what we can to make the unit compatible with the majority of modern double cabs. This means that you can fit it to your new bakkie when you replace your vehicle, and you can sell it to just about any double cab owner if you want to. It is truly a versatile product.”

Components and accessories

Four drawers

80-litre fridge

Fully-kitted kitchen

Braai equipment

Slide-in table

Gas stove

LED lights

220v charger

Three power points

Additional drop-down packing space

60-litre water tank

Fully-kitted recovery cupboard

Free-standing table

Roof rack

Gas bottle holder

Lifting legs

Central fuse box

More information

For more information, contact Alu-Cab. Tel. 021 703-3028; or visit www.alu-cab.co.za.

Price: R105 000 at launch. Excludes fridge and awning.

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