With the exorbitant cost of overland vehicles these days, it may be tempting to consider a DIY project. In reality, building a camper is an expensive, technically challenging, and time-consuming project; we know this first-hand. Whatever the initial budget for the build of your camper, that amount will need to be doubled, then likely increased again before you eventually roll out onto the trail with blistered hands, a battered bank account, and either an immense feeling of satisfaction or a deluge of regret. Sometimes it is better to let the professionals do the hard work, and the Kamelback camper is nearly unique as it is both well-designed and attractively priced. On paper, without the benefit of hands-on experience with the camper, the Kamelback seems an excellent solution for a traveler with specific needs, someone who loves minimalist, off-road travel, Toyota Land Cruisers, and plans to travel extensively.
Built to be mounted to a Land Cruiser 79 single-cab frame (exclusively), the Kamelback is compact, well-equipped, and offers the best of both indoor living and outdoor camping. This concept takes all the best elements of rooftop tent camping and combines those with the convenience and comfort of a partially hard-side camper. Bushwakka specializes in the construction of travel trailers (which are readily available in the USA), and the influence is apparent. The South African company offers an international network of agents, which is excellent news for those who plan to drive this camper around the world.
A Global Adventure Platform
Due to its compact build, the Kamelback is at home, whether in the African bush or exploring the narrow streets of ancient Latin American villages. It offers a lucky couple or solo traveler the convenience of a quick, single-night camp or a multi-day base camp. The roof pops up, and a side drops down to reveal a spacious 6’5” x 6’5”-footbed with a devoted exterior awning and a compact living area. The bed doubles as a bench for an L-shaped drop-down tabletop, creating an indoor dining nook and workstation—perfect for those days when the wind is howling, or clouds are breaking overhead. A Victron off-grid power system with a 100-amp hour lithium battery, inverter, 280-watt roof-mounted solar array, a Bluetooth-equipped battery monitoring system, 220-volt mains hookup, and DC-to-DC charger will ensure that you will have all the light and power you may need on the road. The interior, accessed by convenient fold-down steps, also boasts built-in cupboards and under-bed storage. The addition of a fan or two will ensure that cool air can be motivated through the many large windows.
The Kamelback features a sizeable 180-degree awning that provides shade and shelter for the camp chef and a swing-away toilet/shower cubicle on the bedside of the camper. With the addition of canvas walls, this awning could provide a large enclosed outdoor living area; both walls and a ground sheet are available as optional extras. The kitchen is fully equipped for four people (cutlery and crockery) and features a two-plate gas stove fed by a 10-pound propane tank stored beside the 90-liter fridge. A 90-liter fridge may be too large for many travelers, and downsizing to a more compact unit will free up significant load space. Below the water heater, a swiveling faucet works in conjunction with the attachable, collapsible sink basin, and a 20-gallon stainless steel freshwater tank ensures that you will have enough water for forays off the beaten track.
Versatile Storage Options
The camper offers exterior storage boxes and, mated to a small roof rack, should offer just enough space for storing tools, camping gear, and firewood. While the roof of the Kamelback will likely not bear distributed loads heavier than 100 pounds, a kayak or a couple of surfboards might fit perfectly beside the solar panels. The Kamelback is equipped with two swing-away spare wheel carriers. However, the vehicle’s storage capacity could significantly increase with the removal and replacement of one of the spare wheels with a large, sealed, and compartmentalized box for the storage of lightweight equipment such as recovery gear or fishing and scuba diving gear. A couple of large Pelican or Zarges boxes on the roof rack will also be welcome additions to the storage capacity. The only desirable modification to the vehicle itself, other than a bush bar, raised air intake, and roof rack, would be larger wheels and tires and an upgraded suspension (Bushwakka offers a Tough Dog suspension upgrade for the Land Cruiser); that said, there is nothing wrong with the standard set up.
This vehicle and camper configuration give us the fizz. The Land Cruiser 79 Series is a truck with an impeccable record as a reliable and robust workhorse and is an excellent base for any overland camper.
What About North America?
Unfortunately for our American readers, the 79-Series Land Cruiser is generally unavailable in the USA. But, and this is a big but, if you are looking for a well-equipped and capable vehicle to travel globally and are willing to purchase the complete vehicle in South Africa for close to $80,000 (roughly $59,000 for the accessorized vehicle and approximately $21,000 for the standard but well equipped Kamelback) you could be driving a brand-new, top-of-the-range Toyota Land Cruiser 79 4.5D-4D single cab LX V8 70th Anniversary (or perhaps another, more affordable 79 Series) mated to a shiny new Bushwakka Kamelback. Buying the vehicle and camper in South Africa makes sense as the exchange rate is currently excellent (for the US dollar or euro), and a foreigner can register a vehicle there legally. Another option would be to find the nearest Bushwakka agent and have the Kamelback installed or shipped to wherever your 79 Series may be; the US distributor is based in Sacramento, California.
Once you have ordered your Kamelback, production will take approximately four months, and modifications and special requests are welcome.
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