We departed this year’s Overland Expo with the newest member of the Kakadu Camping family in tow: the untested BushRanger SE. Our first destination was southern Utah, where we spent 11 days slogging through mud, fording streams, and bracing against wind storms. Next we turned south, to pull the trailer over the granite-strewn trails of northern Arizona. What’s our impression after two weeks on the road with the Kakadu BushRanger SE? Read on…
At first glance the trailer might look very familiar, and it should: the BushRanger SE was built in partnership with AT Overland Equipment, and is essentially a stretched Chaser platform. 7 extra inches have been added to the length of the cargo box and frame, which accommodates the large trailer tent while still accepting many of the usual AT Overland accessory options. Two other key features set the BushRanger SE apart from the Chaser: the domed lid is completely replaced by the trailer tent, and the TAAS air suspension is replaced with the low-riding Timbren Axle-Less off-road suspension. While the lower height does place a limit on tire size (33 inches), we found it also improved comfort and convenience when performing tasks on and around the trailer as the fenders and nose box sit near the standard kitchen counter height of 36 inches.
The BushRanger SE features an all new OZtrail Outer Ridge Venturer trailer tent which can expand to provide up to 175 square feet of living space (including the optional awning and sun room). The base tent’s interior features a queen size bed and 13.5 x 7 feet of floor space at ground level. Two entry doors with screens and ample screened windows provide excellent ventilation, while insulation cleverly placed inside roof pockets helps keep the interior at a reasonable temperature in hot and cold weather. Setup and tear down of the base tent is surprisingly easy given the massive size of the tent’s cabin, and with little practice can be done by one person in under 5 minutes—even in high winds. The queen size bed’s flat no-fold storage allows bedding to be left in place when it’s time to break camp, along with the ladder and all tent poles.
The Towing Experience
The little trailer’s handling is excellent on firm roads, and cornering stability benefits greatly from the low ride height the Timbren suspension provides. Tracking is predictable and confidence-inspiring with very little consideration needed to negotiate turns. The BushRanger SE does track very straight in reverse, which can be both a blessing and a curse: backing out of an obstacle is easier than with most single axle trailers, but it can be difficult to jack-knife the trailer.
Performance on the trail is nothing short of impressive, with the trailer rolling happily along and nearly undetectable over most obstacles. Despite the BushRagner SE’s lower profile it cleared every obstacle our tow vehicle—riding on 32-inch tires—could clear and did so without dragging or drama. We also pulled the trailer through several water crossings (many deeper than the frame height), and while the cargo box is not technically waterproof, no water made it to the inside.
To verify the trailer’s stability and smoothness at speed we also performed the Beer Test: a case of beer was placed on the cargo box floor for an afternoon of whoop-de-dos and washboarded roads. On arrival in camp three hours later, with cameras ready for the anticipated spray of foam, we immediately popped open a can… and nothing happened. The Timbren suspension is perfectly matched to the expected loaded weight of the trailer.
The trailer’s dry weight comes in around 1,100 pounds including the fully kitted tent. The GVWR is 2,000 pounds, plenty of capacity for a week’s worth of gear and supplies. Pricing on the BushRanger SE starts just under $10,000 USD.
So, what’s our impression of the Kakadu BushRanger SE? We almost didn’t give it back. For more details on this and other trailers and accessories in the Kakadu Camping lineup, visit their site here.