Raise the ROOF



As in­ter­est in hy­brid campers in­creases, more caravan and camper trailer builders are shift­ing their at­ten­tion to the pop-top camper. And I can def­i­nitely see the virtues in this type of rig – par­tic­u­larly the abil­ity to jour­ney off-grid and free camp with a spa­cious, se­cure camper trailer.

In­trin­si­cally, their hard-shell bod­ies pro­vide a tad more com­fort, flex­i­bil­ity and luxury than a tra­di­tional camper trailer with a tent. And they are gen­er­ally con­sid­er­ably lighter and easy to tow in com­par­i­son to most car­a­vans. It’s this weight dif­fer­en­tial that im­proves fuel ef­fi­ciency given an abil­ity to utilise a smaller tow ve­hi­cle.


The cus­tom-built Kakadu Scor­pion Off-Road ticks all those boxes and more. Not only that, this com­pact hy­brid pop-top has a full en­suite with sep­a­rate shower, Thet­ford cas­sette toi­let and hand basin in con­junc­tion with a front bed­room slide-out which ex­tends 700mm. It also boasts an is­land dou­ble bed, in­ter­nal cook­ing ameni­ties, and even a 90L Thet­ford three-way fridge/freezer.

“Hard-shell bod­ies pro­vide a tad more com­fort, flex­i­bil­ity and luxury than a tra­di­tional camper trailer with a tent”

The hero fea­tures of the Scor­pion, to my mind, are its re­mote-con­trolled Hy­dra-Lift full hy­draulic roof-lift and Hy­dra-Lift full hy­draulic front bed­room slide-out – both exclusive to Kakadu Campers.

Ob­vi­ously, the ben­e­fits are an ex­cep­tion­ally easy set up and pack-up within min­utes.

And nudg­ing them to­wards the ‘cham­pi­ons’ class is a com­plete bath­room and a com­bined 28L Swift HWS and gas heater. Now you don’t get that from many offroad camper trail­ers!

I’m also par­tial to the Scor­pion’s ro­bust struc­ture and un­der­pin­nings in­clud­ing sleek 4mm-thick alu­minium com­pos­ite cladding, a

6in gal­vanised chas­sis, Tuff Ride 2600kg-rated in­de­pen­dent coil spring sus­pen­sion, plus MPC 235x75 R15 tyres (16in wheels are op­tional) and six-stud Primal rims.

Its build in­tegrity is fur­ther em­pha­sised by the fact that crit­i­cal points of the front end have been re­in­forced with steel frame­work while the rest of the Kakadu frame is mer­anti tim­ber. In­deed, the Scor­pion is pur­pose-built for the in­trepid trav­el­ling cou­ple.

An­other notch in the Kakadu’s offroad cred­i­bil­ity belt is its bat­tery (2x120Ah), so­lar (2x150W) and wa­ter (2x62L) ca­pac­i­ties. But I no­ticed there was no pro­vi­sion for grey wa­ter, mak­ing stays in na­tional parks dif­fi­cult, although it’s an avail­able op­tion.

I was re­ally im­pressed with the hy­brid’s ex­ter­nal stor­age, in­clud­ing a size­able front boot (ideal for hold­ing hoses, leads, chocks and so on) as well as a rear tool­box that com­prised a slide-out gen­er­a­tor hatch.

But it was the lat­ter (along with a bike lug for two bi­cy­cles and two spare wheels mounted on a four-arm bumper bar) that caused some angst while in tran­sit. I col­lected the un­laden Scor­pion from Evo­lu­tion Car­a­vans, which man­u­fac­tures the Kakadu Campers range for Western­port Car­a­vans, a day prior to trav­el­ling

to Flin­ders on the Morn­ing­ton Penin­sula for the re­view.

I de­tected some sway once I reached speeds of 80km/h or more on the Monash Free­way but Chris Sham­brook of Western­port Car­a­vans said that could be rec­ti­fied sim­ply by fit­ting jerry can hold­ers and/or a stone shield on the draw­bar to in­crease the ball weight. Chris added that nor­mally the front boot would be loaded up along with un­der-bed stor­age, which would coun­ter­act any po­ten­tial sway.

Ex­ter­nally, the Scor­pion had a drop-down pic­nic ta­ble and gas bay­o­net fit­ted, a re­vers­ing cam­era, a roof-mounted Air­com­mand

Spar­row MK4 air-con­di­tioner, and a sin­gle

9kg gas cylin­der was sen­si­bly lo­cated out of harm’s way in a rear hatch. But it was miss­ing a num­ber of offroad in­clu­sions you’d ex­pect. This model was cus­tom built to a client’s in­di­vid­ual pref­er­ences, but it lacked a roll­out awning for re­lax­ing in the shade; an ex­ter­nal kitchen or slide-out bar­be­cue for al­fresco din­ing; a front stone shield; an ex­te­rior shower; and jerry can hold­ers for ex­tra re­serves of fuel or wa­ter. And would a TV in­side and out­side be ask­ing too much? That said; these are all op­tions that can be fit­ted on cus­tomer re­quest.


In­ter­nally, the Scor­pion is not as lav­ish as, say, a high-end caravan set but its more-than-ap­peal­ing decor in­cludes an L-shaped lounge adorned in gen­uine leather uphol­stery, full block-out cloth cur­tains and pel­mets, light­weight acrylic cup­board doors, and 3mm-thick white em­bossed ply­wood walls.

I was im­pressed with the ac­cent on liv­ing space, high­lighted by an is­land dou­ble bed ca­pa­ble that con­verts into a day lounge. The bed frame folds down and ‘re­duces in size’ via three hinges and the cus­tom-made in­ner­spring mat­tress folds in half. It’s per­fect for a short break af­ter a lengthy trip. A leather bed­head ex­tends to the back and sides of the bed.

A ta­ble that moves left-to-right also com­ple­ments the open liv­ing interior lay­out. Not only does it cre­ate more room, it of­fers flex­i­bil­ity in ac­cess­ing the lounge.

The large kitchen com­prises a Thet­ford three-burner cook­top, stain­less steel sink, two-tier pull-out pantry, and a 90L Thet­ford three-way fridge-freezer un­der the bench­top.

The only thing miss­ing is a mi­crowave.

The lam­i­nated 25mm-thick rolled-edge, post-formed bench­top is glitzy, and there is am­ple stor­age courtesy of slide-out draw­ers un­der the cook­top, although cup­board space un­der the sink is taken up by the hot wa­ter ser­vice and com­bined heater. The heater’s ther­mo­stat is on the side of the kitchen cab­i­net; a wa­ter level in­di­ca­tor and the HWS switch are on a side wall.

There is plenty of room to walk around the is­land dou­ble bed which has slide-out dressers on heavy-duty drawer run­ners ei­ther side, and

CLOCK­WISE FROM ABOVE: Although laden with com­forts, the Scor­pion has a low pro­file, to min­imise air drag, sav­ing dol­lars at the bowser; The hy­draulic roof re­duces the time re­quired to set up camp; Packed full of fea­tures; Tuff Ride sus­pen­sion soaks up the bumps; Tidy and tough un­der­pin­nings are re­as­sur­ing.

CLOCK­WISE FROM TOP LEFT: En­joy air­con­di­tioned com­fort and easy clean sur­faces; Bright and breezy with leather lounges and el­e­vated views. Tent camp­ing meets luxury liv­ing; An in­ter­nal bath­room im­proves com­fort on a long-haul tour; The bath­room door ready for tran­sit; A three-burner gas stove and sink sets you up for cook­ing in­doors.

CLOCK­WISE FROM ABOVE: Handy shelves are per­fect for stor­ing books and read­ing glasses on ei­ther side of the bed; Low-pro­file un­der tow; Two spares to keep you on the road; An in­ter­nal shower is a camper trailer luxury.

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