Raise the ROOF
THE KAKADU SCORPION OFF-ROAD IS A FEATURE-LADEN POP-TOP READY FOR ACTION.
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.
MARKING ITS TERRITORY
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.
A FEW CREATURE COMFORTS
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.