CAR­A­VAN TEST

This trailer might not win first prize in a beauty con­test but be­cause it’s so mul­ti­pur­posed it will have more than enough fans.

Go! Camp & Drive - - CONTENTS - Text and pho­tos He­lenus Kruger

NEXT AD­VEN­TURE AU 1

Over the past few years the of­froad trailer and car­a­van mar­ket has grown in leaps and bounds, and it can take up quite a bit of your time if you start re­search­ing which model will fit your needs.

When you start com­par­ing mod­els it be­comes ob­vi­ous that they are all more or less the same. With re­gards to off-road trail­ers, all of them have a big, closed body and doors that open to the top or bot­tom, some­where in­side is a kitchen, and on top of the body is the rooftop tent. Ac­tu­ally, they all look the same and all serve the same pur­pose: You camp with it and when you’re at home the trailer waits pa­tiently un­der­neath a canopy un­til the next camp­ing week­end.

Still, there are few, if any trail­ers on the mar­ket with which you can camp, trans­port your garbage, and help your first-year move into res. Bat­tista Er­rera, owner of Next Ad­ven­ture Life­style Campers, saw a gap in the mar­ket and came up with the AU 1 trailer.

In its most ba­sic form the AU 1 is es­sen­tially a box on a chas­sis, with wheels and a spare wheel. From here you can add ex­tras to suit your wal­let and your needs with­out giv­ing up the mul­ti­pur­pose func­tion­al­ity. You can, for ex­am­ple, add a tent, a nosecone, wa­ter tanks and a kitchen unit.

You will also def­i­nitely turn heads when you travel, be­cause the AU 1 doesn’t look like any other trailer on the mar­ket. >

Pitch your tent

The trailer is equipped with a stan­dard rooftop tent that’s mounted onto a steel frame. This frame is as big as the load bin and stands on four hy­draulic jacks. The jacks op­er­ate un­der 12 V power and you can lift the tent up to 190 cm. You can also stop it at any height be­tween the low­est (140 cm) and high­est ad­just­ment. Be­fore you start pitch­ing, make sure the tent is on the low­est ad­just­ment, oth­er­wise you’re go­ing to strug­gle to reach ev­ery­thing that needs to be loos­ened. To re­move the cover over the tent you have to start at the trailer’s stern. The cover is kept in place by a rope that’s stitched to the side of the cover and that folds in un­der the base of the bed. Lift the flap on the side off the tent and loosen the ratchet to give the rope slack. Now walk around the trailer, from cor­ner to cor­ner, and lift the cover out from un­der­neath the bed base so you can com­pletely re­move it.

To open the tent you first have to un­clip the lad­der that lies over it on the left side of the trailer. Two U-shaped clips with springs keep the lad­der in place on the bed base. Pull the clip away from the lad­der and it will swing out to­wards you. To reach the lad­der you have to stand on top of the trailer’s fender and stretch over the Eezi-Awn canopy, which is rolled up in­side its case. Now walk to the right side of the trailer and swing the lad­der out to­wards you. On this side the lad­der is fas­tened to the base of the bed with hinges. The lad­der has two sec­tions that slide over each other to make it shorter or longer. The same kind of clips used to keep the lad­der in place on the bed base on the other side pre­vents the one side shift­ing away from the other. There are three holes on the one side of the lad­der where the clips can lock it into your pre­ferred height.

To un­fold the tent you have to pull the lad­der to­wards you so that one half of the bed base folds open, also to­wards you. The lad­der now swings down and rests on the ground. Now stretch the can­vas tight over the tent with eight spring-loaded steel struts. Sim­ply push the straight side of the strut into the tube that’s fas­tened to the base of the tent and bend it un­til the other side hooks through the eye­lets on the flap.

If you’re afraid of heights and you don’t want to climb too high up the lad­der, you can keep the tent on the low­est ad­just­ment. If, how­ever, you don’t want to strug­gle to reach the trailer’s pack­ing space, you will have to lift the tent to the max­i­mum height. Now you can ad­just

the lad­der to a height and an­gle that’s com­fort­able for you.

The tent is 230 cm (l) x 134 cm (w), and a sponge mat­tress (6 cm thick) cov­ers the floor area. There is a win­dow on each side and a door on the side where the lad­der is. The back of the tent can open com­pletely but you can’t climb in or out here. The doors and win­dows have mesh to keep bugs out.

The frame of the load bin (240 x 136 x 50 cm) as well as the chas­sis is made of an­gle iron and treated with a pow­der coat­ing. The sides and rear flap are made of fi­bre­glass and fin­ished off in a camo mo­tif. It re­ally makes you want to drive into the bush.

The load bin is big enough for 24 ammo boxes. If you don’t need that many, you can eas­ily fit three bikes next to each other, or a quad bike or even a small­ish dirt bike. The height of the tent from the floor is 90 cm. You can fas­ten ev­ery­thing us­ing the eight eye­lets (four on each side) that’s bolted onto the floor. But you’ll have to the lift the tent plat­form a bit higher to fit in un­der­neath. The tent will then stick out over your car’s roof and give some wind re­sis­tance when you drive. In­side the bin, up front, is a fi­bre­glass cup­board of 125 x 34 x 50 cm. Just like the nosecone, the in­side of the cup­board is di­vided into two. It’s a great place for camp­ing stuff like a gas stove, tarps and awning. To­wards the rear, on the right, is a fire ex­tin­guisher.

The rear flap is as wide as the en­tire trailer and rests on two U-shaped steel sup­port brack­ets that are welded onto the chas­sis. At the top it’s kept in place by steel brack­ets on both sides of the flap. The flap opens up com­pletely to the bot­tom where it rests on the ground and you have easy ac­cess to the load bin. The rear flap is also re­mov­able sim­ply by lift­ing it off the brack­ets. There are two ex­tra brack­ets on both sides of those that the flap rests on. This is where you fas­ten the ramp for you to push your quad bike into the load bin.

In the mid­dle, un­der­neath the flap, is a steel plate with holes that’s bolted onto the chas­sis – just the place for a bike rack. You can also add a tow bar and tow up to 500 kg. Next to the tent, at the rear, is more pack­ing space (75 x 156 cm).

The load bin has a ton­neau cover like a bakkie.

An A for ef­fort

The Ad­ven­ture’s A-frame is just shy of 2 m long. The nosecone is right at the back on the frame, against the body of the trailer. In front of the nose cone sits a 5 kg gas bot­tle in a lock­able con­tainer. The A-frame has a steel plate over it stretch­ing from the gas bot­tle to the cou­pler. This ex­tra pack­ing space is ideal for a bag of wood or two. (Just keep in mind the nose weight be­fore you load too much wood on here. – Ed) In front of the gas bot­tle is a spirit level. The sturdy jockey wheel makes it eas­ier to push the trailer around on the grass, and in front at the cou­pler is a Brad Har­ri­son plug with wiring if you want to charge the bat­tery while driv­ing. The trailer is un­braked, but you can order one with an op­tional braked axle with a ca­pac­ity of 2 t. >

The load bin is big enough for 24 ammo boxes. If you don’t need that many, you can eas­ily fit three bikes next to each other.

Pack it in

The large nose cone (130 x 50 x 59 cm) is made of fi­bre­glass and is split into two sec­tions on the in­side. The lid is kept in place by two lock­able clips. Be care­ful not to knock your­self on the chin when you open it; the two gas struts that open it are fairly stiff and the lid jumps up quickly. You can re­move the nosecone from the A-frame but you’ll first have to re­move the fridge and dis­con­nect the elec­tri­cal box’s wiring.

This box is in the smaller left-hand­side cup­board in the nosecone. There is a deep-cy­cle bat­tery in a Na­tional Luna power box, a smart bat­tery charger, a so­lar panel’s load con­trol, and a Brad Har­ri­son plug for the so­lar panel. The 220 V elec­tri­cal box next to the bat­tery has three sock­ets: one for the fridge, one for the bat­tery charger, and an ex­tra one.

The small black elec­tri­cal board hosts three cir­cuit break­ers (lift­ing of tent, lights and power sock­ets, and two USB sock­ets – 5V 1 A and 5V 2.1 A).

On the test model the elec­tri­cal con­nec­tion was on the left out­side the nose cone. The space be­tween this and the front cor­ner steady is too nar­row for the cou­pler’s lid to open up com­pletely – so it’s quite a strug­gle to get the plug in.

In the cup­board on the right-hand side is a 55 ℓ ice chest. There is no wasted space here: the Na­tional Luna fits in snug­gly but there is enough space on the side to grip the han­dles if you want to lift it out. To the right on the out­side of the nosecone is an­other wa­ter­proof 220 V do­mes­tic socket and a Hella plug. The li­cence disc holder and air in­let for the fridge is also lo­cated here.

A can­vas awning stretches over the A-frame. Un­for­tu­nately it doesn’t help to keep rain­wa­ter off the nose cone.

Where will we find wa­ter?

On the right in front of the axle are two 20 ℓ wa­ter tanks side to side fas­tened to the body. The tanks are not con­nected to each other. Each tank has its own tap and you can re­move the one tank. The fill­ing hole is at the back of the tank, right in front of the fender.

Be­hind the axle is a jerry can in a lock­able con­tainer, and the stain­less steel ta­ble is stored in the mid­dle un­der­neath the tent plat­form.

Camp kitchen

The kitchen is in front of the axle on the left side. The kitchen cup­board is alu­minium and is split in two. The left-hand side cup­board has a door that pulls down and that hangs on two chains. This sur­face is 73 cm above the ground and it’s not a con­ve­nient place to cook food. Rather put your cook­ing equip­ment and uten­sils on top of it and cut your veg­gies on the ta­ble. In­side the cup­board, right above the bot­tom, is a small shelf that hangs on chains and that can fold up if you want to put some­thing like a bot­tle up­right. Above the shelf is a spice rack with space for nine round spice bot­tles. The up­right cup­board on the right has a swing door that opens to the right. There is one shelf in­side where you can put a small­ish pot or some of your gro­ceries.

The two-burner gas stove that’s stored in­side the cup­board in the load bin fits neatly on top of the kitchen cup­board. You’ll have to fetch the gas bot­tle in front at the A-frame and po­si­tion it next to the trailer when it’s time to con­nect it to the stove.

Above the kitchen, at the bot­tom of the tent plat­form, is an LED light that you can change to white, red or yel­low. On the side of the trailer, about the whole length of the side panel, is an Eezi-Awn canopy that you have to re­move from the alu­minium cover. The canopy is po­si­tioned away from the tent so the sec­tion above the kitchen is open and ev­ery­thing gets wet when it rains.

In case of emer­gency

The Ad­ven­ture’s spare wheel is on the left-hand side of the trailer, right be­hind the axle. The trailer has 215 x 15” tyres and the spare wheel is full size.

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