'Sweet As Candy'
Got a ute and want comfortable camping?
The Carry Me Camper, Dean Mellor says, is the ideal solution.
4x4 Australia, words by Dean Mellor, pictures by Offroad Images, June 2005
Some of the things that make camping so enjoyable include a great location, great weather and great company. Of course, the finer details also contribute to the mood on any camping trip, such as how easy it is to set up camp, how much space you have to carry gear and how comfortable you are when relaxing, sleeping or preparing food.
One of the most popular ways of making sure the finer details are sorted is with a camper-trailer: they're easy to set up, offer plenty of space and are available with a variety of kitchen arrangements.
But for many people, towing a camper trailer is not an option. It may be simply that they don't like towing a trailer or that they want to travel in areas where towing a trailer isn't appropriate. The camping options for these people are usually limited to a tent or swag - unless they have a ute that is.
With a ute, fitted with an appropriate tray, there's always the option of fitting a Carry Me Camper, which offers all the benefits of a camper trailer but without some of the drawbacks associated with towing.
The Carry Me Camper basically consists of a sturdy storage box with a tent on top, a ladder, poles, jacks, ground sheet, innerspring mattress and bed cover. There's a model to suit either single- or extra-cab utes, and one to suit dual-cab utes.
The beauty of the Carry Me Camper is that it can be tailored to suit your needs, with a personalised kitchen area, fridge-slide and as much (or as little) open storage space as you need. And with lockable doors either side, all your gear is secure inside the storage box and easy to access when you need it.
In standard trim (without options), the Carry Me Camper weighs around 320kg (dual-cab) to 360kg (single-cab). Rick Candy, from Candy Canvas, says the average loaded weight of the camper is around 700kg, which is well within the load capacity of most one-tonne utes, such as HiLux, Rodeo and Navara.
[ed] There's a host of options available including marine-grade carpet, stainless-steel pantry with fold-down, food-preparation area, stove slide-out drawer system for a 40-litre fridge and a 55- litre water tank with tap.
An electrical package is also offered as an option and includes a 75amp/hour deep-cycle battery, a hard-wired battery charger, three power outlets, voltmeter, fuse box and two cargo lights. The beaut thing about the Carry Me Camper is just how easy it is to set up - a job that Rick Candy says takes five to eight minutes. So if you arrive at camp late in the evening and you just want to get some kip, fold out the tent, bang in a couple of pegs and your sorted.
There are a number of tent options including a rear awning and a sleep-out section that attaches to the side of the tent. These are ideal for extra space if you're going to spend more than one night at any given camp spot. Once your tent is set up, you can still drive away to go exploring off-road. It takes 10 minutes using the sidewinder jacks to lift the camper slightly off the ute tray and drive the ute out from underneath it. Even when you're not camping, the Carry Me Camper can be used to securely stow gear in the back of your ute. Or if you'd prefer to remove it when you're not using it, the whole camper can be wound off the back of your ute in around 10 minutes.
THE CUSTOMERS' PERSPECTIVE:
Larry and Cheryl Newberry bought their dual-cab Rodeo in May 2004 specifically to set up a camper on the back. At that time, Larry didn't know of any available campers to suit a dual-cab ute, so he'd resigned himself to the idea that he'd have to build his own. Why buy a dual-cab then, you ask? Well Larry and Cheryl have an eight-year old grand-daughter who simply loves camping, so they needed the extra seating only a dual-cab can offer.
Larry first saw the Carry Me Camper on the Candy Canvas website and, realising that it would suit his needs to a tee, he went to the Maitland 4X4 Show to check it out. He purchased the unit in August 2004 and couldn't be happier with its performance and ease of use.
SET-UP STEPS (5 - 8 MINUTES):
- Undo elastic around cover and slip between cab and camper.
- Knock two pegs into ground about three steps out from edge of camper.
- Put ladder in position on side of camper.
- Pull down poles from roof (which are supplied in a sturdy pole bag) and set to the same height as the camper.
- Climb ladder and pull roof over to middle of camper.
- Slip poles into tent section and hold with guy ropes and adjust. Affix three spreader bars and adjust until taut.
- Attach draft-skirt with Velcro strip and zipper at bottom of ute tray.
- Roll down walls (which are held up via Velcro straps) then zip into place and attach poles to velcro strips.
- With a little practice you'll be set up in five to eight minutes.
DRIVE-AWAY (10 MINUTES):
- Remove four lock-down clamps and replace with sidewinder jacks (NB: these jacks can also be used to level the camper if the vehicle is parked on uneven ground).
- Unplug electric cable to ute and carefully drive away.
- Attach turnbuckles on each corner and camper will remain stable enough to use without the vehicle underneath it.