Our Hilux 4×4 + Trayon is now sold. We’re leaving this post up as a personal memory and as inspiration for other adventurers.
Over the last two months, we’ve been putting to the test and improving to perfection our complete camping, vanlife-ing, adventure travelling setup.
You can buy this Hilux + Trayon adventure vehicle, pack nothing but your clothes, and drive away in this and live anywhere. And it’s for sale!
We spent months building this perfect camping and boondocking rig — but a new job means we have to change plans. Has only had six weeks of total use since the renovation.
This is basically the ultimate RV or adventure vehicle for travelling through Australia’s outback.
Because we work remotely and mostly location-independently (websites and consulting), we’ve given this a robust set-up that’s reliable enough for being a digital nomad. This means ample charging and battery capacity, redundancies in the system, and fool-proof setup.
The Trayon Camper (slide-on camper)
This is Trayon camper number #30 (they’ve now made thousands) — made in the early 90s. And still going strong, in great condition. We can guarantee it — everything works, and anything that didn’t work as well as we needed, we’ve upgraded to the latest and best with advice from the Trayon team.
Things our Trayon camper setup has:
- DC Fridge: New (Nov 2020) Novakool R3800 100 litre fridge — draws only 25Ah on an average day. Freezes ice and keeps it frozen for days on the current battery setup (even without a charge). This is the model installed in all the latest Trayons and was recommended by their engineer. Including labour to replace (Most old Trayons come with 3-way fridges that are unreliable and work poorly on DC)
- Maglev ultra-reliable DC fan cooling for the fridge
- Remodeled interior — laminate, upholstery, paint
- New mattress, sheets
- Twin gas burners (original)
- Sink and water hand pump (original)
- 80L water storage (for cooking/cleaning) + 35L for drinking/cooking (in water storage jugs) and water filter
- Enerdrive 105Ah lithium battery – the most recommended, reliable, and well-supported lithium battery by DC power engineers in Australia.
- 300W KT-Solar foldable solar for more power (you only need this if you have laptops or cooking accessories) – highly reputable KT solar brand.
- Redarc BCDC 1225C DC-DC charger with solar input – the most rugged and reliable DC-DC charger, recommended by everyone. Trayon uses Redarc stuff in their latest. This one is good for a system up to 200Ah.
- New cables and wiring for easy connection of solar and accessories
- A unique “emergency power” switch. You can power the camper off the car’s accessory battery in an emergency.
- Lockable cabinets with enough storage for two people
- Two DC power outlets, and Anderson plug for attaching more DC utilities (including more outlets, an inverter, etc.)
- DC LED lighting — Ample hanging lights inside the tent
- Interior mains power outlets (for when your camper is docked to the mains, in the garage or a powered site)
Camping accessories included
We’re happy to give the camper away with everything you need to drive away and start camping (maybe after getting food).
- Oztrails en-suite shower tent — amazing for off-roading shower privacy
- Coleman’s on-demand hot water — Propane-powered hot water pump
- Rain and sun fly — Reflective tarp that will keep off the rain, bird droppings, tree wax, and the heat from the midday sun. (The canvas itself is waterproof, too).
- “Porta Potti” Portable toilet — mandatory for some parts of the country (where you can’t do “bush toilet”)
- Fully stocked kitchen — plates, bowls, cups, utensils, cookware
- High throughput 12V DC fan for when it gets way too hot and you can’t go outside
The vehicle — 2013 Toyota Hilux 3.0D-4D — Diesel 4WD Manual
The base model car is a 2013 Toyota Hilux D3.0 D-4D single cab.
- Single cab — 2 seats, but maximising tray space (and maximising weight forward for the camper)
- Durashock S.M.A.R..T GVM upgrade* (see here for more info on Durashock) — rated for 3,300kg total load, with an engineering certificate.. With you and a full camper it’s about 2,700 kg, right near the limit before the upgrade. But the GVM upgrade makes the car much safer to drive, as well as giving it higher clearance, important for Australia’s crazy back roads. This car eats up ruts and rocks without thinking about it.
Warning — Many caravan and tray-on setups don’t have a GVM upgrade and run over their rated limits. It’s VERY easy to exceed the limit, which can result in a bent or cracked chassis. Read here for some horror stories. Ours isn’t close to its rated limit. Trayon also recommends suspension upgrades.
- 148,500 km on the odometer
- Full service history (serviced every 10k, next service at 150k)
- Diesel — cheaper fuel, better torque for pulling a heavy load. You can keep going at 110 km/h up hills on freeways. We pass many caravaners.
- 4WD — Necessary for many of Australia’s back roads
- Manual — About 10% better fuel economy, and better control in 4WD-only conditions
- Cruise control — Great for long distances (and speeding cameras)
- Bluetooth, including steering wheel controls for the stereo
- Air conditioning (of course)
- Previous owner was government — Energex electrician. Never off road, never on sand (sadly)
- OCAM bullbar (plus installation)
- Piranha dual battery tray — plus installation)
- Extra 70Ah Century AGM battery with VSR/isolator — Accessories run off the AGM extra battery, and the VSR (voltage sensitive relay) makes sure the battery charges only while the car is running, but disconnects when the car is off. This means your cranking battery will never be drawn flat by accessories. You can also use the AGM as an emergency cranking battery if the main one is damaged somehow.
- Extended towing mirrors, electric, from Taurus Towing (plus installation)
- 9-inch OCAM LED high power spotlights (plus installation). Lights up the road like the sun!
- Rear toolbox (came with it). You absolutely need extra storage, especially for big hardware.
- Oricom 5W UHF CB radio with long-range antenna (plus installation)
- Reversing camera (plus installation)
- Additional NARVA 12V accessory ports in car
- Phone mount (came with it)
- Rotating beacon (orange rotating light, tradie style) — great for alerting when you’re parked somewhere strange and want others to watch out.
Tyres are 75 profile as the car is high enough as it is (clearance is 2.25m). You could add up to 95 profile for an additional 2 inches lift.
About our Camping Setup Generally
We decided on a slide-on camper + 4×4 single cab ute because it’s the most reliable setup we could find.
We chose a single cab ute because this gives us the maximum tray size and allows the weight to be as far forward as possible. There are many articles on dual-cab utes being destroyed by overloading the rear.
We chose a slide-on camper setup principally because Australia has LOTS of 4WD-only tracks, or even 2WD tracks that have ridiculous ridges and mud you have to get through, where a high-clearance vehicle is mandatory.
In the Far North, there are many areas in which towing a trailer or caravan is strictly prohibited (e.g. Arnhem Land). So you can only go camp there. And camping with a Trayon is the ultimate way to camp.
This is an AMAZING camping set-up. You roll up to a campsite and you can be fully set up in about 10 minutes. More on the setup procedure below.
Why a Trayon Slide-on camper for Australia Travel?
Trayon campers are a type of slide-on camper that’s built to be compact, lightweight, and rugged.
We chose a Trayon camper because they’re made by Australian company who put a LOT of attention into design and quality. A new camper with the features of ours costs north of $40,000 — for the camper ALONE.
We met the team at Trayon in the Sunshine Coast area a couple of times and they gave us SO MUCH support and free advice in person and by email. They stand by all their products after decades!
Here’s why we chose to travel with a Trayon slide-on camper:
- They work very well on a 4WD. You can do all the tracks that are 4WD only, and the ones that don’t allow caravans or trailers like in the far north
- They’re lightweight — even this old one is only 600kg (unloaded)
- They’re highly reliable — everything is awesome build quality, from the tent (made of natural Australian cotton canvas) down to the hardy base
- Low-key — looks like a big tradie box
- You can park anywhere (fits in a single car space), so can do shopping easily (note: you usually have to park outdoors, not in underground carparks due to clearance limitations)
- Don’t have to worry about storing a caravan or trailer somewhere
- Fast setup — ready to rock in 10 minutes
- Contains everything you need to camp/ live short-term.
Setting up the Trayon camper
The beauty of the Trayon camper is how easy it is to set up. No more separately setting up your canopy, tent, and seating areas.
You park your car, and then you:
- Unlatch the four corners
- Unlock and open the front door
- Go inside and push the tent open (optionally with tarp) — you need to be a bit strong for this
- Put down the support legs under the bed
- Button down the outsides to protect from rain (and bugs)
- Open the gas valve so you can cook
- Connect waste water hose outside
Packing up the camper is the same but in reverse.
Removing the Trayon camper from the Tray
One thing that Trayon likes to sell about their camper is that you can remove it fairly easily, go travelling about in your ute, and then come back and re-“dock”.
In practise, we never did this, for two reasons:
- The lift from the GVM upgrade on our Hilux (raised, with a high bed) means we need cinder blocks for our stands to reach the Trayon.
- Our older model Trayon doesn’t support going inside it while it’s freestanding.
- Putting it back on, aligning perfectly (using the reversing gear of the car) was always quite stressful.
About the electrical system
We work online (using laptops, mobile data, and our phones), which consumes quite a bit of power.
Our power system is designed to power our fridge and digital devices for even up to 2 cloudy days for every day of sunshine. (If it’s going to be cloudy/rainy for longer, then we either plan on moving site, or charging some other way).
Here’s what it takes to fully charge the lithium battery:
- 4 hours of sunlight. The 460W of combined solar power* puts out approx 30A, charging the battery in 3-4H.
- 2-3 hours of driving. If you’re driving every other day, you basically don’t even need to put out a solar panel.
In cloudy weather, you can expect to get about 30-50Ah out of the panels per day. This is enough to keep your fridge going and phones and laptops charged without giving any additional charge to the battery.
* We use an auxiliary 160W solar panel to add to the 300W blanket. Because it got damaged slightly, we’re throwing it in free. It still works 90% of full power.
Questions from buyers
Here I’m publicly answering some questions from buyers. If you have a question, you can ask us.
Why these solar panels?
I initially bought a 300W foldable solar panel from KT Solar (a reputable Australian company), but quickly added the extra 160W folding panel (a generic type).
The reasons for this were:
- On an average day, we consume a lot of power, using our laptops and phones. Having this much solar input became necessary, especially as with La Niña, there are many more cloudy summer days.
- On one occasion, a previous solar panel partially failed. This left us in a difficult position as we had to start the car’s engine just to charge our battery. So I decided backup is good — better to have to different panels.
- There are different advantages to foldable panels and hard panels. Foldable ones are lightweight and you can put them in different places. Hard ones are easy to orient up at the sun (and are cheaper)
Peak measured performance of the solar panels are:
- Cloudy day: 2-4A total (depending on time of day)
- Sunny day: 25-30A total
How many can this sleep?
This Trayon setup sleeps two comfortably. We’re 182cm and 170cm and don’t feel cramped ever.
Why a lithium battery?
We tried using a cheaper AGM before, but swapped to a lithium very quickly.
Firstly, you can only run an AGM down to about 50% of its charge before you risk damaging the battery. Thus, a 105Ah (a typical middle size battery) is only good for about ~52Ah.
Secondly, the AGM we bought (a Neuton Power) was a dud! It only held 30% of its claimed charge. I’ll never use that brand again. We had it tested at a Battery World. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to go get a refund from the place we bought it (Battery Central), so we ditched it.
The Enerdrive lithium battery is loved by people online for being reliable, reasonably priced for its capacity, and has customer support all around the country.
Is there a gas certificate?
You don’t need one to register it or for it to be legal. The slide-on camper is part of the main vehicle, and so doesn’t need separate registrations or certificates.
If you have any gas work done by a professional, they will provide you with a gas certificate. But ours hasn’t had any professional work done.
Why sell it?
We built and bought this camper setup intending to travel around Australia. However, we only got one quarter of the way around Australia before one of us got a job offer/contract too interesting to say “no” to. Jobs are precious these days and cool jobs are even more so, and so we decided that is a priority.
Would you sell them separately?
We’d rather not. because these go so well together. It’s a great price for a ready-to-go adventure vehicle.
But we can sell separately like this:
- Trayon camper only: If this is too much, you should have no trouble selling some parts for up to $2000 (e.g. the battery, which is near new, or the solar blanket, which is also near new).
- Toyota Hilux only: — only will sell this after the camper has already sold separately (not negotiable)