Escaping to the remote outback — brilliant in theory, often daunting in practice. What if you get stranded, far from help? What if your camper falls to bits through the corrugations, and you’re forced to leave it behind? Oh boy, why not another trip to the Great Ocean Road this year instead?
The way out of this conundrum is a suitable 4WD and a tough-as-nails camper that can sustain you far away from Woolworths, running water, power points, roadside assistance, and shelter. Arrange that and you can go further and pass obstacles that’d otherwise force a U-turn — thereby properly immersing yourself in the magic of the Australian bush.
Terra Trek’s TT-E would have to be one of the most confidence-inspiring campers I’ve seen. If you’re wanting to go somewhere that doesn’t have a tourist brochure, let alone a building within a 500km radius, read on.
TAILORED TO THE TERRAIN
Terra Trek, based in Murray Bridge, South Australia, have a few campers in their stable. After putting their benchmark TT-E to market in 2017, they’ve expanded their range to include the TT-A and Military Base models, and are presently putting together a Toy Hauler — all of which share the original bad-arse TT-E underpinnings and look.
And that look. Straight lines, cutting diagonals, industrial metalwork, fierce mud-terrain tyres, a blacked-out paint job — this beast will turn heads. That’s what you get when the camper trailer is designed by a designer. But the toughness runs deeper than looks. As Mark from Terra Trek said, “I have a passion for design — but I have more of a passion for the outback.”
Mark is an experienced bushman, having operated tours from Adelaide to Alice Springs, via APY lands, during the golden era of tour-operator-led outback adventures. Returning in later years, he ran his original tests of the TT-E trailer in this area.
He was confident enough in the Terra Trek design to bring, on review day, a TT-E that’s been around the blocks — as far as Innamincka, Birdsville, the Oodnadatta Track, and through the Flinders Ranges countless times, towed by himself and the serious 4WDers he has test his products, such as Josh Pfeiffer (Insta handle @79series) and Michael Ellem (Insta handle @offroadimages). Despite that rigorous usage, the camper looked in great health.
The Riverland track we were on featured undulating red dirt moguls and was, Mark reckons, similar to what you find in the Eastern Simpson Desert. Travelling along, the Troopy-trailer combo flexed up and down, convex to concave, and when a tyre rolled into a cavity, the trailer proved able to comfortably roll along at a 30-degree tilt.
That sort of effortless, arrogant performance begins with Toyo mud terrain tyres, which on the review model measured 31.5cm wide and 35 inches tall (but 285/75/16 tyres are standard). There’s usually a spare tyre on a chassis-attached swing arm at the rear. You’d want the same size tyres on your vehicle for an even tow and interchangeable spares.
The presence of such tyres ensures effective traction when braking, and massive clearance, with the steel-protected tank riding 45cm above the ground. As I saw it, the lightweight stabiliser legs and jockey wheel detached during travel for best possible clearance, but a market demand for convenience may see these become permanent fixtures.
LONG TRAVEL AND INDEPENDENT
Within Terra Trek’s unique suspension, the wheels are linked by adjustable trailing arms and cross-arms that pivot from the opposite side of the trailer, such that the arms ‘cross’. Wheel movement is controlled by Old Man Emu coils with Airbag Man airbags inside, and the rebound is dampened by Old Man Emu Nitrocharger shock absorbers.
Due to the length of the swinging components, longer travel springs can be used, and because the axles run parallel to the main swing arms, they can handle big loads and hard hits with minimal torsional forces in the system. Because of these factors, tyre wear will also stay a lot more even than you’ll find elsewhere, as evidenced by the evenness of the tread on the Toyo tyres seen on review, which had 25,000km of extreme duty to their name.
The airbags are adjustable so you can put more air in to up the spring rate when you’re carrying more weight and deflate as the load lightens to smoothen the ride. Wheel alignment is achieved with Superior Engineering adjustable control arms and is set in the factory. Another bonus is that the trailer’s suspension elements (including the pivot bushes) are all common in LandCruisers, so you should be able to replace them through remote area mechanics.
Taken together, the system is extremely durable, can handle huge loads, and can shrug off the toughest of terrain, making for a safe and easy towing trailer that’s gentle on your equipment, including the tow vehicle. The tougher the track, the more the benefits of Terra Trek’s suspension will stand out.
The angled front of the camper reduces wind resistance and deflects rocks away from your rear windscreen. Its lower part is Raptor coated and once this wears you can simply respray and replace the protective side panels. Underneath, water hoses and pipes are run out the top of the tank so aren’t at risk of punctures. The minimal electrical work here is out of harm’s way thanks to clever routing and split tubing protection.
The aluminium body is welded, glued and riveted together, and attaches to the chunky 125 x 125 x 5mm hot dip galvanised ladder chassis with urethane/rubber/neoprene mounts, which reduce vibration, protecting all your stored gear and reducing stress to the body. The drawbar isn’t an A-frame but is one straight single beam. So, in conjunction with the Cruisemaster DO35 hitch, you can basically put the car at a 90-degree angle to the drawbar without jack-knifing, which allows you to weave and wind out of the tightest of spots. This short drawbar will make for sensitive reversing, but it’s not as if you’ll jack-knife, and once you’ve got the hang of it, you can use it to your advantage.
A LandCruiser or Patrol can handle a lot more weight than the TT-E’s 1050kg tare, 1800kg ATM, and 90kg ball weight — but whatever you’re driving, the lighter the trailer, the better. It’ll mean better fuel economy, acceleration, power on hills and control on descents.
The front box lid holds a set of recovery tracks on top and rises on gas struts to reveal a cavity for a 96L ARB Dual Zone fridge/freezer (as seen). This is one less slide to operate and if you need a can of Coke while driving, you can pop the lid on the roadside and reach in. There’ll be no overbalanced bending from the waist or cowboy-stance straddling while using this or the car boot, thanks to the single-beam drawbar. In this front box there’s also two upper storage recesses, the REDARC RedVision BMS screen, the pressure gauge and control switches for the Airbag man suspension, a fire extinguisher, and a padded cradle for the hot water system.
When you set up, you hang this HWS on an external hook, open the second hatch back on the drivers’ side, and hook up the system with the tap nozzles within to give hot water to the sink or run a shower through the provided showerhead. A 4.5kg gas bottle for this purpose travels in a cradle in the front drivers’ side hatch. For compliance’s sake, you must remove the bottle before using it.
Another hatch cradles a gas bottle on the passenger side, this one to service the kitchen slide. On this slide, there is a flush, magnetised lid revealing a hollow recess against the camper body, an entire metre of prep space, and furthest out, a sink with a hot and cold tap. The high-pressure Coleman Gladiator series two burner portable cooktop stores on a lower shelf which slides out the side of the slide-out towards the drawbar end.
When standing on the side of the slide towards the camper’s rear, where you’d use the sink from, you have convenient righthand access to a drawer-based pantry system. The drawers reside behind a side door that hinges upwards. There’s two full-height drawers each end, then two wider drawers stacked one atop the other (with the lower featuring a cutlery tray). There’s also cig and USB points, plus a 350W REDARC inverter recessed so the interface is flush with the pantry wall.
However, when there’s 35in tyres fitted at least, some may find the top drawer hard to look into, and even the side ones. These side ones have tall fronts, but lower sides, making it easier to access their contents from side-on. Also, on the model seen, the drawer runners didn’t lock out at full extension, so if the passenger side is sitting higher, they may close if not held out. Terra Trek will be changing the two side drawers and the top central drawer into portholes/recesses in the future.
USING THE 750KG PAYLOAD
Around the rear, there are two side hatches that drop to reveal space for four jerry cans. Paired with the 90L tank behind the axle, that can be 170L of water. You could easy take these jerries to creeks and submerge them so you have a replenished supply of water for washing dishes or hands, without having to dip into your drinking and showering water — which is purer than Mother Teresa thanks to the Puretec carbon filter that purifies all water coming from the tank. Alternatively, you could use one of the two jerry compartments to carry diesel, but of course an open-air spot is best. The backs of these hatch doors also conveniently feature shelves for wheel chocks.
Centrally, between these hatches, is a capacious rear storage compartment, accessible after you swing the spare tyre out. The space will fit a collection of large items, and you can secure any load down using tie-down points. On the left, suspended from the ceiling/sidewall, there’s a tunnel running deeper than the rest in which you could put a gazebo or RV4 Oz Tent. Across the top (in the review model) were two channels for holding a table in a spot where you could never put any load on it and could quickly pull it out at camp.
On the drivers’ side of the camper now, a side door lifts up to reveal a wide-open L-shaped storage space, with the deeper section extending into the camper on the right side. There’s small upper shelves on both sides too.
Underneath the marine carpeting in this space is a panel residing over the 100Ah lithium battery and the chargers that make up the REDARC BMS. Day to day, batteries are fine hidden away, but when it comes to servicing and replacement, a more accessible spot would be easier. This high-quality battery receives charge from the big ol’ V8 via drawbar Anderson plug and from a portable solar panel via a rear Anderson plug. When you kennel this rottweiler of a camper, you can keep the battery in good health by charging via a power point.
All cabinets are illuminated by an LED light turned on at point of operation.
On top of the rooftop tent, you can option on three Rhinorack cross bars with channels for the fitment of screw-in eyebolts. You could easily tie down a swag or two using these, or a mountain bike. The tent itself can bear heavy loads, but if you want to bring more, you’ll need to install heavier gas struts — the tent will then spring up faster and be harder to pull down.
SLEEPING AND SHADE
For a quick camp you pop Terra Trek’s clamshell rooftop tent. The first two steps are conventional — release two latches at the rear and prompt the lid so it arcs up on the far hinge. The third, less so. At this point, there’ll be a metal framework folded over itself, which you unfold until the elbow locks by resting on itself, setting up a large self-supporting veranda over the ladder and rear storage in the process. Lastly, take the ladder out this rear bunker and rest it on the anchoring hooks. Inside, you can support the ceiling with a few twist-lock poles too, for added support. All of this in 30 or 40 seconds!
The tent itself is a clamshell with the hinge ‘stepped up’ from the base. The result is that, inside, the ceiling doesn’t angle up from the floor itself, but practically starts 20cm up the back wall to angle up to a 130cm peak, meaning there’s more room on the low side than in a standard clamshell. The 190 x 140cm 100mm-thick foam mattress is comfy but can be switched to a superior 125mm pocketspring. On the ladder side, there’s a few storage pockets, USB and cig points, and an LED light on the ceiling. Triangular side windows allow a fresh breeze, while quality Weathermax material keeps you dry. On pack up, you can leave bedding in, freeing up storage elsewhere. If I was picky, I’d say I’d like a touch more length, and that I may end laying with my head at the ladder end for a tad more head room, but this would then face you the wrong way for going down the ladder. If you’re keen on the tent itself, feel free to enquire with Terra Trek, as you can have it for your 4WD for a cost similar to a James Baroud.
For longer stays or if travelling with kids, you can add on a rear room with a waterproof floor, side-door, window, and zippered access to the rear bunker storage. This attaches around the bottom of the tent’s veranda with three sail tracking tabs, Velcro, and a zip thread, then pulls taut when you peg down the base. This space is great for privacy or shelter. You can simply climb up the ladder to the tent when you’re ready to nod off.
If you arrive at camp early in the day or plan on staying a while, you can set-up the 270-degree Supa Peg awning for full coverage over the kitchen and fridge. As seen, this awning was attached to a hinged mechanism that straps to the camper’s roof in transit then sits and locks upright when at camp. Once in this position you undo the bag, fan the folding arms out, and secure the far end with a tethering rope. Next, you support its corners with extendable legs and fix these together with horizontal spreader bars. You can also thread in a skirt, on slide-tracking and bungee loops, to stop rain entering between the awning and camper body. It’s a fantastic awning but does take a bit of effort, so Terra Trek are considering a move to a self-supporting awning. With the present awning, the gas hatch on the drivers’ side fouls on the pole when opening or closing, but this is easily avoided or worked around.
The base unit TT-E will cost you $49,990, but some of the features seen were options, including the 35in tyres, REDARC RedVision and airbag pressure controls. Terra Trek campers have a 10–12 week build time and build all units to order. There’s no official showroom, but Terra Trek make the effort to help interested parties see their products in the flesh. They offer no official warranty time frame, but say they’ll stand by their product if there’s any issues.
The Terra Trek’s offroadability and build quality are top shelf. The brand deserves to be more of a household name but suffice it to say those who do know them admire the product. All trailers on the market are an exercise of prioritisation; in the case of the TT-E, offroading comes first. If you’ve previously thought there wasn’t a trailer that could partake in your wildest offroading daydreams, think again.
Ball weight 90kg
Suspension Unique cross-arm suspension with coils and Old Man Emu Nitrocharger shocks, adjustable trailing arms
Brakes 12in electric drum
Coupling Cruisemaster DO35
Chassis/Drawbar 125 x 125 x 5mm hot dip galvanised ladder-style chassis, single-beam drawbar
Wheel/tyre 285/75/16 Mud Terrains standard
Style Expedition rooftop tent trailer
Body dimensions 2900 (L) x 1910 (W) x 1900mm (H)
Travel length 4300mm (hitch to spare tyre carrier)
Mattress 190 x 140cm 100mm-thick foam mattress (125mm pocketspring optional)
Water 1 x 90L tank, and space for 4 x 20L jerry cans, Puretec carbon filter, HWS, showerhead
Gas 2 x 4.5kg bottles in cradles, not plumbed
Kitchen 96L ARB Dual Zone fridge/freezer, slide-out with sink and shelf for high-pressure portable Coleman Gladiator two burner
Battery 1 x 100Ah lithium battery, REDARC RedVision BMS with DCDC and 240V charging (optional), 350W REDARC pure sine wave inverter
PRICE AS STANDARD (BEFORE OPTIONS)