With literally thousands of different camper trailers on the market, it’s bloody hard to find the perfect family-friendly camper trailer. Sure you could try comparing all the different specifications listed on paper, but in reality, a heck of a lot of modern day camper trailers are literally built specifically to look good on paper. So believe me when I tell you, it’s mighty refreshing to test a camper trailer that’s been built for a fair dinkum purpose, and doesn’t buy into the war on words when it comes to the specifications side of things – not that it couldn’t convincingly hold its own. It's called the Metalian Maxi, hails from South Africa and is starting to raise a few eye-brows and turn a few heads over in this neck of the woods, too. They're here to take on the big boys in the adventure trailer sector, and after running through it with a fine tooth comb, I reckon it’s got more than a puncher's chance of grabbing a big slice of the pie!
BUILT TO LAST
We all know rust is the biggest killer of your average off-road trailer. After all, the majority of camper trailers literally live on the coastline of Australia where there’s more salt in the air than fleas on a stray dog with a skin condition. Chuck in a few dirt tracks and you’ve pretty much got a cocktail of rust in the making. Being a completely modular design and manufactured from 3CR12 Stainless steel, the Maxi is quite unique to the Australian market. They use a special grade of stainless steel which is much lighter, less brittle and provides around double the Mpa (tensile) strength of mild steel, and therefore requires substantially less to maintain the same integrity. It’s nothing like the flimsy stuff from your local hardware. In fact, the 3CR12 Stainless steel was created specifically for the manufacture of mining vehicles and equipment used in highly corrosive mines in South Africa.
Add in a tough exterior grade polyester powder coating, and a polyurethane under-body protection coating, and one thing’s for sure; while other campers are rusting away in the corner, the Maxi will stand the test of time! If that doesn’t keep the re-sale value up there with the best of them, nothing will.
Underneath, you’ll find there’s a big two tonne solid beam axle, which adds even more brawn to the mix, and a set of 1600kg eye-to-eye variable rate leaf springs with dual adjustable height Gabriel shock absorbers to manhandle that big payload too. Call me crazy, but I reckon this old school suspension set-up is perfect for this kind of no-holds-barred off-road camper trailer. The old leaf sprung solid axle set-up has proven itself to be as tough as guts over the years, and when it’s set-up properly it’s surprising how well it performs. Not to mention it’s got the ability to carry on if a shock absorber should fail. Heck, if I had a choice between a broken leaf spring and an independent trailing arm failure in the middle of nowhere, I know what I’d choose.
LET’S TALK STORAGE
The Maxi has around 2800L of storage in total, which is pretty bloody awesome if you ask me. But what’s really impressive is it’s all organised and functional, at least for the most part. You can access everything you need at any given time, and the rear storage draws are as handy as they come. They feel tough to the touch and have a respectable 180kg rating. Plus the entire configuration is adjustable, thanks to pre-drilled holes — so if something doesn’t quite fit, you can make it!
If there’s one thing the Maxi does well, it’s get off the beaten track. They're a light weight camper built as tough as they come, with bucket loads of clearance and a seriously impressive departure angle. The twin water tanks and dual batteries are mounted inside the camper so there’s nothing to get damaged underneath, and they’re mounted nice and low so its centre of gravity is quite good too. They use well-appointed DO35 off-road couplings, and come standard with 12-inch electric off-road brakes. Maxi's Bighorn mud terrain tyres keep everything rolling and the draw bar’s length is also 100 per cent adjustable, so you can tailor it to suit your requirements. The tough rear bar is a work of art, and incorporates rated recovery points and hi-lift jack mounts, just in case things get a little out of hand.
Although we didn’t get a chance to really test how dust-proof the Maxi is, the unique door latching design is simple and easy to use and applies nice even pressure along the door seals, so we’d be very surprised if dust got in anywhere. Also, because of the Maxi’s modular design, you’ll find parts are quite easily replaceable. So if you bang a door against a big stump and leave a nasty ding, you can simply order a replacement panel, which comes ready to install with matched paint and all!
While we’re on the topic of replacement parts, there’s a reason why team Metalian sourced Australian made components for the Maxi’s main running gear. It’s to ensure replacement parts are always obtainable, even if you’re stuck in the more remote areas of the country.
The kitchen area is simple yet effective. It all starts with the 90L National Luna fridge, which has an outstanding reputation for being extremely reliable, and is one of the most efficient units on the market. It’s actually a true dual zone fridge/freezer unit too, which is perfect for long term touring. The entire kitchen door flips down in seconds to expose the main bench area, and there’s a two burner Smev stove and a smaller storage area built into the actual compartment door, which makes it super simple, easy and quick to set up. There’s enough bench space to knock up a bit of lunch on the road, but if you want to get a bit more extravagant there’s also a separate table tucked neatly away in the centre storage area. It’s not your average table, though. It’s made from stainless steel, so it handles those hot old cast iron skillets and jaffle irons much better than your typical plastic bench-top would.
You’ll find most things are quite easy to access around the kitchen too, except when you’ve got to lean over the bench and reach right to the back of the lower storage compartment. The retractable hose design is a cool idea — it offers a lot more reach than most other kitchen taps.
THE LIST GOES ON
The Metalian Maxi really is loaded up to the hilt in terms of accessories and inclusions as standard. You’ll find there's plenty of power available thanks to twin 130AH AGM batteries, two 120W solar panels and more 12V outlets than pine trees at a wood mill! Chuck in a HCdp battery management system and you’ve got a completely self –sufficient camp just begging to hit the tracks. The HCdp battery management system is a fairly advanced bit of gear, with fancy functions like an AC charger with battery temperature sensor to adjust battery charging voltage based on battery temperature, or the intergraded 270W MPPC solar charge controller – see, I told you it was fancy! In saying that, I thought the electrical wiring could be a bit tidier, and some extra protection wouldn’t go astray either. It wouldn’t take much time, effort or money to improve it, but it did lack the glossy finish in my eyes.
There are a few different tent options available with the Maxi, but the one we tested was a dead-set cracker! Like most soft floor campers there’s a bit of labour involved in setting up, but it’s a fairly easy process for the fit and able once you get the hang of things. There’s a little bit of scrambling around to grab the canvas and pull it over at the start, but no more than other campers’ with the tent located up top. It can be set up solo — but a second person would come in mighty handy if you encounter a windy day, like we did.
What’s the tent like? Well, you can literally feel the quality the second you lay a finger on it. Compared to other similar camper trailer designs I’m going to be honest, I rate this one pretty darn high. They're Aussie-made and built to last, and incorporate loads of ventilation. Best of all — there are next to no gaps between the tent and the trailer itself, so bugs won’t get in unlike a heck of a lot of other campers these days. There’s an extra kids room, which adds a good chunk of living space, but with bugger-all headroom it’s probably best suited to the, how do I put this, vertically challenged campers?
I left the whole setting-up side of things to the expert, Anton, the fella behind Metalian Maxi in Australia. From start to finish it took him around half an hour to complete; that includes attaching the kids room, setting the main awning up over the kitchen and knocking back a beer or two in the process! What did I do during this time? Got the fire going and drank all Anton’s beer. Isn’t that what camping’s all about?
Oh, and one other thing; the tropical fly cover has an aluminized coating, which makes it up to eight degrees cooler underneath on those hotter days around camp, which makes a massive difference.
It shouldn’t be all that hard to catch a good night’s sleep in the Maxi. You’ve got a massive king-sized bed, which sits up on top of the trailer with a comfortable custom mattress designed specifically for the Maxi. You enter the bedding area via a super sturdy ladder with nice wide steps, which makes the seemingly daunting task of climbing up much more manageable. It’s also laid out so you enter/exit via the bottom of the mattress, which means you don’t have to climb over your partner when nature calls in the middle of the night.
THE WRAP UP
So the big question is: would I own a Metalian Maxi? Well, you bet your backside I would. They tick a heck of a lot of boxes for the adventurous camper or weekend warrior. They're nice and light to tow, have truck loads of practical storage, and will go absolutely anywhere you can tow them! But best of all they're built to last the test of time. In my eye’s they're the perfect blend of modern engineering and old school brute. Sure there are few little cosmetic things I would like to see finished off a tad better, but all in all they're one cool camper trailer ready to hit the most adventurous tracks in the country, and look darn good doing so, too.
HITS AND MISSES
- Strong stainless steel materials used for rust prevention
- Very capable off-road
- Lightweight with heaps of organised storage
- Very functional and practical layout to use
- Aluminized coating on tropical fly help keep cool underneath
- Electrical wiring could be protected better
- Front storage box stone guard is not angled to deflect rocks away from your back window
- Some minor cosmetic fasteners could be finished off better
- GVM 1600kg
- Tare 720kg
- Suspension Alko Solid axle (2Tonne) with Eye to Eye 1500kg leaf springs with twin shocks
- Brakes 12in AL-KO off-road electric brakes
- Coupling DO35 off-road coupling
- Wheel/tyre 17in black alloy rims with 265/70 R17 Maxxis BigHorn MT tyres
- Style Roof top tent/soft floor tent
PRICE AS SHOWN
$35,990 Fully inclusive