MARK ALLEN — 8 February 2013

The Trak Shak Majestic camper trailer is ubiquitous with family camping. Equipped with two queen-sized beds plus a double cubby tucked underneath, its unique dual fold-out design easily accommodates six weary adult souls or a gaggle of giggling kids, all without taking up valuable floor space that is reserved for luggage, kids' toys and other camping paraphernalia.

The latest version of this much-loved camper has hit the tracks with a makeover from top to bottom and front to rear. Camper Trailer Australia was invited to check it out.



The Trak's increased tent height is arguably the most noticeable change in the 2012 overhaul. The tent now folds out to 3100mm at its peak for improved temperature control - 150mm higher than before. Outback travellers will also welcome the new optional safari tent. Trak Shak has introduced optional canvas walls with huge mesh screens that attach to the awning with hook and fastener tabs, which is also 1500mm higher - perfect for all those lanky campers. These walls are three separate units than can be added on individually (to make a wind, rain or sun break) or in their entirety to form an enclosed extra room minus a floor. This new awning wall system is claimed to provide up to 95 per cent mesh coverage when all canvas windows and doors are opened. All canvas is the well-regarded Wax Converters Textiles brand, plus there is plenty of double-row stitching and reinforcing patches to produce what seems to be a very well-made tent.

Two queen-sized innerspring mattresses are now standard - for all those mischievous kids who like to bounce up and down. Plus, the bed-head end-canvas and mesh screen windows open separately to allow uninhibited airflow or to let the kids jump right out of the tent.

Those among you with pre-conceived notions that huge tents take an age to erect should note that the Trak Shak's awning and dual fold-out tent requires only five to 10 minutes to set up. An extra five to 10 minutes will see all the extra awning walls set up, then there's only personal preference repositioning of the kitchen unit.



While the older Traky did have independent trailing arm and coil spring suspension, it was found a little wanting in its design with regard to adjusting toe-in via shims within the hubs - doable, but fiddly. The new suspension is a totally revised set-up: while still trailing arm and coil sprung, it features eccentric (cammed) adjustment for the toe-in, plus incorporates twin shock absorbers that stand more upright to control the weight of the Trak Shak and its onboard luggage. Nylon webbing drop-off straps are also included to ensure the swing arms don't over-extend the shocks.

You may speculate that the inclusion of a spare wheel hub as standard fare is a little unnecessary or gimmicky, but if you damage a wheel in the middle of nowhere it's there - I say bring it on. It's non-braked, simple to replace roadside if necessary and would get you out of a hell of a lot of trouble.

The previous C-section drawbar has been replaced with a 100x50x4mm-thick galvanised RHS version which supports the galvanised chassis and sub frame. A polyblock offroad hitch is still the preferred attachment system to the vehicle, plus override and electric brake systems are incorporated.

A user-friendly swing-up jockey wheel is now employed rather than the older 'bolt-on' type. That, to me, makes life much simpler every time you set up camp. No more detaching the jockey wheel and having to find somewhere to store it.

Hard-core naysayers may declare that the jockey wheel will 'snig' on mother earth, but the clever sods at Trak Shak have allowed for pinning of the 10in pneumatic wheel in the horizontal position to help alleviate that problem.



The gas-strut-assisted, side-operated boat loader is now fully galvanised and comes to rest in the open position 90mm higher off the ground to allow for deeper hulled boats, plus the outboard motor mount is now a nylon block rather than the split-prone timber version.

Trak Shak's unique front and rear swing-open tailgates have been redesigned providing extra strength to cater for the fridges, generators and kitchen they carry. Hella LED tail lights are now utilised and also incorporate reverse/work lights. All fridge and external power outlets use 50A Anderson plugs to ensure solid electrical connection.

The overall height of the closed unit is greater; the 'suitcase' section of the metal work that contains the canvas tent provides an extra 80mm for bedding and a couple of kids' mattresses. The side opening tool box is 40mm deeper to accommodate all pegs, poles and associated gear used to set the camper up. The trailer body also sits 50mm prouder from the ground to enhance approach and departure angles.



For all those Master Chef or 'Blokes Burning Beef' contenders, I'm afraid you won't be overly enthralled by the Trak Shak kitchen. Nup', it's a rather plain stainless steel unit with a fold-out bench top, extendable adjustable legs and separate gas burner. You can, however, simply remove it from the tailgate and use it away from the trailer. In reality, it's great to be able to cook away from your canvas and out of the covered section of the tent - no more charcoaled  rissoles splattering oil over your expensive tent.

A manually-operated hand pump draws water from one of the (up to) nine 20L jerry cans. Again, the jerries can be hauled to wherever the kitchen is set up - even by the lake's edge or atop a sand dune if you so desire.

While the ability to incorporate so many separate water cans is a great safety feature and is in line with the remote use of the kitchen, it would have been great to also include an extra under slung water tank of, say 80 to 100L. Perhaps a retro fit would be an easy DIY job?

The front mesh stone deflector is mostly the same albeit with the inclusion of extra attachment points to prevent it flapping so readily. It's a clever and simple set-up that is quickly removed to access the front-opening tailgate. It can also be multi-positioned to protect the outboard boat motor - a wise move to protect an expensive investment.



The owners of Trak Shak are confident they have much-improved on the outgoing model, and were happy for me to preview one of the very first models available in Australia. I must admit I was impressed watching the owners navigate the Trak Shak down a fairly tricky beach entrance, through some power-sapping soft sand, along a section of well-maintained dusty, gravel tracks. You and five of your mates will be tossing out the camp chairs, flipping the fridge lid and savouring the delights of far flung destinations in no time.



> Huge covered canvas area that is quick and easy to erect

> Independent suspension and robust offroad-orientated trailer

> Sleeping quarters for many bodies without taking up floor space



> Underslung water tank

> Utilisation of aluminium body work to lighten the load - it's a heavy trailer


Originally published in Camper Trailer Australia #59, December 2012

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