ACTIVE OPTIMA SLIDE-ON: REVIEW
Get CamperTrailer Australia tester Mike Pavey's verdict on the Active Optima slide-on camper trailer - a good value, go-anywhere camper.
ACTIVE OPTIMA SLIDE-ON SPECIFICATIONS
Active Campers has been manufacturing quality ute-mounted campers in Woolgoolga, NSW since 2002. The first models were mounted on a ute tub, whereas more recently the company has focused on slide-on campers to fit on a flat tray, keeping the centre of gravity as low as possible. But just as the design has changed, there have been other advances in materials and manufacturing techniques to increase the strength and reduce weight.
CONSTRUCTION & OFF ROAD ABILITY
Active Campers’ are constructed from MonoPan — a thermoplastic sandwich panel consisting of a lightweight polypropylene-honeycomb core and fibreglass reinforced polypropylene-face sheets that are thermo fused together by a lamination process. The upside is its strength-to-weight ratio and its impact-absorbent properties.
An extruded aluminium panel supports the one-piece fibreglass roof panel and with the bed area over the cabin, it acts as a cantilever to help balance the weight of the unit.
The camper body is a one-size-fits-all package measuring 1900mm wide and 3800mm long, while the rear living area measures 1980x1900mm. The size suits all utes — single cab, extra cab and dual cab — although dual cabs will have some overhang depending on the length of the tray.
Weight distribution is managed by keeping the heavy items forward and low. The water tank and battery are mounted against the front wall of the camper, on the floor. A large, forward and low-mounted storage compartment can swallow a spare wheel, tools and recovery gear. Our test trailer had tools, chairs, small table, the awning, poles, pegs, guy ropes, the supporting legs and a couple of boxes of miscellaneous gear stored here.
Set-up is a cinch and not reliant on complex mechanical components. Simply open the rear door and fold out the steps to access the roof-mounted over-centre catches to release the roof. It opens with little efforts thanks to large gas struts.
A small awning rolls down to provide some shade to the rear of the camper, while an optional awning can be fitted on either side of the camper. Setting these up is a relatively quick and painless process, although the coverage is somewhat limited.
Like the awning, bright yellow canvas is used in the roof section, immediately setting it apart from the crowd. When the sun hits the walls it makes the most of the available light, endearing the interior with a warm glow — great for later in the day but not so good for early mornings, although grey canvas is an option.
LAYOUT & COMFORTS
The layout is based on a front bed, middle dinette and rear kitchen design. The bedding is a "toes forward" affair, imparting that extra degree of difficulty when getting out of bed without disturbing your partner.
The dinette table slides from under the bed, assisted by a support leg at the far end. Like the bench tops, it is finished in an attractive laminate. The dinette seats four people and the table drops down for use as a kid’s bed. It measures 1000x1850mm, making it suitable for two smaller kids. There is plenty of storage beneath the seats.
The generous headroom allows plenty of cross ventilation. Two small roof-mounted ventilation hatches can be opened or closed as required, while the front window between the dinette seats offers further ventilation when the camper is demounted during longer stays.
An 85L 12V fridge is mounted on the passenger side with a storage gap below.
A sink and cold water tap is fitted next to the fridge, leaving a modest amount of bench space for food preparation and washing up. An integrated hot water service is optional. Beneath the sink is a tall cupboard with three storage shelves.
On the other side, a twin-burner stove with glass lid is flush mounted. The cabinet has two deep drawers and two cupboards. Like the bench tops, the cupboards look and feel like quality items. The floor is finished in marine carpet and can be easily removed for cleaning.
A 10A battery charger is mounted here and powered by one of the two 240V sockets supplied. It is not in the best position for ease of access, but an optional power point at bench height fixes that. Four LED strip lights are mounted on the roof for lighting.
Overall, it’s hard to not be impressed by the Optima, with its quality materials, clever design and excellent finishes, and Active Campers has done well to fit so much into a standard ute back footprint without mandating a chassis extension. Combined with the low profile roof and modest weight, there are few real limitations for offroad travel.
As standard, it is not loaded with comforts, but it has enough for most travellers and, importantly, it does so at an attractive price point of $30,180 as tested.
- Quick and simple set up
- Flexible seating and sleeping arrangements
- Low weight
- Entry price
I WOULD HAVE LIKED
- Another dual 240v outlet, mounted higher up
- Privacy blind on the rear door
The full version of this review appeared in CamperTrailer Australia #74, March 2014. Why not subscribe today for the latest camper trailer reviews and travel features.