Stockman RoofTop Camper: Review

By: John 'Bear' Willis, Photography by: Alison Kuiter


The Stockman RoofTop Camper is strong, practical, easy to erect and only weighs 400kg, but how does she go off track?

The older I get the more I appreciate simplicity, and I know many of my friends feel the same. However, quality and innovation also matter when I am searching for products that fit my lifestyle. If I travel alone I often take a swag and fill up my vehicle with boxes and bags full of clothes, coolers, recovery equipment, fishing gear, kayaks, cameras, food and cooking equipment. It’s okay alone, but I really need somewhere else to put it when I’m travelling with company. That's part of what makes the Stockman Rooftop Camper truly attractive.

The Stockman Rooftop Camper isn’t a huge financial investment that I would feel guilty about if it didn’t get used for a few months. It can carry most of my equipment, it’s light and easy to maneuver alone, it's easy to tow anywhere with anything and when I arrive at my destination I have a comfortable queen-sized bed elevated away from the ground-dwelling nasties. I can erect it alone in minutes and it even has a sensible kitchen to boot. If you’re getting the feeling that I like the Stockman Rooftop Camper, then you’re damn right. Whether you’re a weekend warrior challenging a few corrugated roads or a rugged adventurer looking for compact simplicity, this little pod is certainly worth a good look.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

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Pod trailers are nothing new. They are produced in Victoria by Stockman Products which has delivered more than 3000 units in 10 years. That is great recognition and success in anyone’s language. The trailers come in a number of variations from an open box trailer with or without a lid right through to a serious offroad affair with independent trailing arm suspension, kitchens and tents. The Stockman Rooftop Camper I tested was a ripper little unit with its Australian-made, welded and hot-dipped galvanised chassis and seven leaf eye-to-eye suspension, 45mm solid axle and 15in all-terrain tyres on attractive alloy mags. The real beauty is the low tare weight of around 400kg including the toolbox, tent and kitchen so you don’t need the drama and cost of added brakes. This leaves an ATM of 750kg and around 350kg of load capacity. If you want more you can option up to electric brakes taking the GVM up to 1200kg.

Underneath is a spare wheel secured in the rear which also acts as a bit of a bumper stopper for the relief angle. Forward of the axle is a roto-molded 65L polyethylene water tank tucked securely into the frame with a high degree of protection and the electrical and plumbing, all neatly assembled. Out front the 100x50x2.5mm A-frame drawbar ends at the 50mm ball coupling on the demo trailer, which handled some considerable bumps and humps with ease, however many will opt up to Trigg or DO35 couplings for more serious offroad applications. There are wind-down stabilisers and a swing-up jockey wheel but obviously no handbrake, an important factor to consider if your storage is on a steep hill. The Pod has a good strong trailer for its load capacity and I believe it is possibly under-rated for its real capabilities. It has surely been well and truly track tested over a long period of time. Should you wish to upgrade to full independent suspension and match the wheels to your 4WD the team will be pleased to help you out.

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The deep 360mm tub is made from rust-proof, recycled 6 to 8mm UV stable polyethylene, the same tuff plastic as used in wheel barrows, ute liners and water tanks. It is well supported by a tubular alloy frame that doubles as secure tie-down points. The tail lights are enclosed in galvanised steel supports and our demo unit had a jerry can holder both sides and a 4.5kg gas bottle clamped to the rear side. Out front there’s a large poly toolbox with excellent load capacity which can house the 110Ah AGM Battery with a 6A smart-charger supplying 12V power for a fridge, LED lights and outlet points plus a 150W inverter for the mod cons.

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The Pod has a polyethylene top with dust-proof automotive seals which hinges easily from the front and is secured by four over centre locks. The whole top lifts easily on gas struts, even when it’s carrying kayaks or bicycles on the roof racks and with the ‘stage 1’ rooftop tent set up (provided, of course you don’t have any tent pegs secured to the ground). This allows terrific easy access for loading but nearly half of the tub space is taken up with the slide-out kitchen.

The kitchen works really well. Simply open the tailgate and it slides out from the rear. There’s a choice of optional cookers but in this case it came with a twin burner gas stove with a flush pivoting top. The innovative stainless steel and recycled plastic kitchen also features plenty of deep drawer storage for utensils and pantry items. There was no sink fitted to the demo unit but there is a plastic tub that is filled from the manual water pump and swing up outlet, and that suits my simplicity just fine. In fact I’m happy to have the added bench space.

EASY SETUP

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The previous Kwik Kampa 2 had the tent unfolding from the pivoting lid or other versions with aftermarket rooftop tents. They were all functional but nowhere near as good as the rooftop tent now supplied by Stockman Products. You can still buy the unit in various stages should you already own a rooftop tent or have ideas of your own but I believe the new addition is ideal. The tent is made from 280gm and 320gm seam sealed rip-stop polycotton with a 420D rip-stop polyester fly and awning to Stockman’s specifications. It is exceptionally easy to unpack ready for an overnighter; you can unfold the rooftop tent, set the bed and you’re ready for a good night sleep in a matter of minutes away from the crawling bities and above the ground for added ventilation.

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The tent folds over easily popping up automatically on three internal bows with the job made easy using the permanently attached aluminium ladder as a lever. It is actually quite roomy with plenty of secure ventilation from the internal and external window awnings and midge mesh flyscreens. There are even a few side pockets to keep your books, phone, torch and accessories close at hand. Outside there are a few spring loaded bows to secure the awnings if you wish them open, and a full length tropical roof that also shrouds the entry. It only requires two tent pegs and ropes for full assembly. A few short minutes and you can be counting sheep securely.

LONG-TERM CAMPING

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If you want to stay a while, you can easily extend the overnighter with the zip-on change room. This handy enclosure zips onto the extended roof section with a 2.4x2m tent complete with a hard wearing PVC floor. It has its own windows and doorway and again is very easy to erect.

On our suggestion Stockman will now include a rubber matt for the base of the ladder to minimize wearing on rough or sandy ground. The footprint is probably large enough for a children’s bed but more importantly it gives undercover storage for the necessities that you don’t want in bed with you.

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A full-length awning with side walls then zips onto the tent completing a longer term campsite. The side wall even provides shelter for the pull-out kitchen but care should be taken as the canvas is quite close to the stove heat.

When fully erected the Stockman Rooftop Camper provides a very realistic campsite for long-term travel or an extended stay in your favourite campsite. It is certainly a much better proposition than the dramas of a rooftop tent on your car where you have to pack the entire camp whenever you want to go for a drive, and best of all you won’t need to unpack when you get home.

THE WRAP UP

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The Stockman Rooftop Camper provides a very realistic alternative to tents and swags, and best of all can be towed by a medium commuter vehicle or small offroader such as a RAV4 or Subaru. This rugged little lightweight makes terrific sense for those with larger 4WDs with more serious intent due to its relatively small dimensions, short drawbar, high recovery angle and weight. Then there’s the hard wearing factor of the tough polyethylene meaning it will stay looking smarter for longer and the simplistic function of quality components with little to damage or break. Yes, the water capacity and limited battery power may affect its overall bushability, but in many other ways it also brings us back to camping reality at a very attractive price. Not only is the Stockman Rooftop Camper a terrific entry level camper, I predict that many experienced campers may trade down to the lightweight simplicity of this rugged little pod!

HITS AND MISSES

Pros…

  • Lightweight simplicity
  • Strength
  • Recycled plastics
  • Easy overnight set-up
  • Sensible options
  • Three stage set-up

Cons…

  • Fridge is a 15min walk from the kitchen
  • Standard water and power provisions are basic
  • Offroad coupling offered as an option
  • No wear strip under ladder at the time of testing
  • Needs room for the doona and sheets with the tent collapsed

SPECS

Trailer

  • Tare 400kg
  • ATM 750kg (1200kg with brakes)
  • Suspension Eye-to-eye leaf springs with 45mm square solid axle
  • Brakes Optional
  • Coupling 50mm ball (Trigg and DO35 optional)
  • Chassis Fully welded Australian made hot-dipped galvanised
  • Drawbar 100x50x2.5mm galvanised
  • Body Polyethylene tub with aluminium support frame
  • Wheel/tyre Sailun Terramax All Terrain 235x75 R15
  • Style Alloy mag or steel

Price as shown

$14,995 or from $10,185

Check out the full review in issue #114 of Camper Trailer Australia magazine. Subscribe today for all the latest camper trailer news, reviews and travel inspiration.