With a lifting aluminium roof and bulletproof construction this HardKorr camper-trailer is the first salvo from a new company.
By Tim Scott
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Cape York. The great leveller. In terms of off-road touring it’s one of the benchmarks against which your equipment either makes it, or is broken. Following numerous forays to the Tip, mates Tony Taylor, Kirk Buckley and Cameron Cross from HardKorr Campers – a meeting of minds from Tony’s Austyle Campers and Kirk and Cameron from Korr Lighting – resolved to bring to market a camper-trailer that was strong enough to endure the Cape’s conditions but maybe just as importantly be simple and quick to set up.
Given that the Cape, the benchmark, is about as Aussie a touring destination as they come, the team reckoned that the camper should be designed and built in Australia. And it is. Not only is everything about the HardKorr Camper home-grown, the set-up time is under three minutes. It was under two when we met with Tony recently, but he’s now an old hand given the demos he’s been doing to camping shows in the Sunshine State.
And interest should be high, judging by the attention the military-looking trailer drew from folk we saw craning their necks as we followed the unit to the photo shoot. And this was in its closed state; we’d been told that the HardKorr had a party trick.
ABOVE ALL ELSE
The HKC-6000 as the trailer is known is currently available in two grades: Standard and Deluxe. However, both feature the trick elevating camper roof that makes the set-up such a breeze. Once you’ve opened the panel that reveals the electrics’ nerve centre you can use the remote to activate the roof lifts.
This roof is an integral part of the touring aspect in that it is rated to carry 400kg, which while we’d suggest that most travellers won’t go anywhere near that to get safest handling characteristics but it means that all your accessories up top can be left in place – important if your camp is a simple stopover.
The roof is powered upwards in standard form by electric lifters but there is a hydraulic version, as on the test unit we saw, however, that adds $9500 to the final price. HardKorr’s point of difference to other roof lift systems is that roof is aluminium, not fibreglass.
With a payload weight like that and a trailer mass of 1490kg there are some serious underpinnings used in the chassis and body construction. The chassis is fully hot-dip galvanised 3mm 100 x 50mm steel – the extended drawbar is 3mm 150 x 50 – and the 2.5mm aluminium camper body has all internal componentry welded to it and no timber joinery to provide what the HardKorr team says double the strength over a composite panel construction. There’s no skeleton within, the folds and welds provide the strength. The camper body is powdercoated inside and out, too.
As you’d expect with off-road intentions the suspension is the very capable twin shock Vehicle Components Cruisemaster heavy-duty coil variant and everything turns on Achilles Desert Hawk 245/75/16 tyres with alloy wheels and stops with 12-in brakes, standard on all trailers.
Air suspension is available, but as standard the trailer has 560mm clearance. Negotiating steep angles is aided by a rock slider kit that slots into the recovery hitch points in the rear chassis member.
The second aspect in the quick set up is the swing-out HardKorr Wing awning (Deluxe model) that covers the near-side and rear outdoor areas. The awning is mounted on a substantial alloy frame but is designed for one-person operation. An annexe system can be ordered to suit your specification to enclose all but the front of the trailer.
Leading the drawbar and connecting everything together is the well-renowned Vehicle Components DO 35 360° hitch – about as tough, and off-road flexible as you can buy. The load deck sits on the drawbar in front of the camper body and holds twin jerry cans and there are twin wet boxes for the muddy gear you don’t want inside.
STORAGE AND POWER
The camper’s leading edge is all storage, with a standard (on the Deluxe) shovel holder on the outside of a lengthways bin, above a unit that’s lit by Korr LEDs (as are all internal spaces) and can accommodate your long items. One change that may affect this, though, is the relocation of the Country Comfort instant hot water shower unit. Currently it’s on the off side in its own locker but Tony told us it will be moved to the front pod in the production units to work better with an external cubicle and allow the exhaust to vent safely when an annexe is installed. And on the subject of lockers, all storage is lockable and keyed alike.
Twin 75-litre stainless-steel water tanks are positioned over the axle to keep that (movable) weight low, as are the batteries. On the Deluxe model there are two 130 amp-hour Superstart AGMs as standard, with a single battery on the base model. Power is overseen by a Redarc BMS Manager30 (amp) controller and the remote head for viewing the electric state of play is on the comprehensive control panel along with the Fusion stereo unit and twin USB, 12V CIG and merit plugs and an Anderson 50 amp out socket that can be used for solar or even jump starting your tow vehicle. Solar power is provided by Korr Lighting’s own brand 120W twin panels.
As mentioned earlier Korr takes care of all the lighting and the awning frame is fitted with the insect-repelling orange/white lights that make bush camping a more pleasant experience.
And the outdoor experience is always improved by cold drinks. The fridge slide that extends to the near side can hold up to a 65-litre Waeco fridge/freezer and can also be customised to suit your own choice of cooler. With the slide in the out position we were able to see the plumbing for the optional hydraulic roof lift that is neatly executed in the floor of the trailer body.
The kitchen pulls out from the rear, and is included in the sub-three-minute set-up time. Two important points to mention are that the Deluxe is carpeted throughout the storage (including drawers) and that timber isn’t used anywhere on the camper that will increase durability by negating wood’s susceptibility to water and damage from rattling over corrugated surfaces.
The prep area of the Deluxe kitchen comprises a worktop, Smev twin-burner stove and a hot and cold-equipped sink that can either drain direct to the ground where permitted, into a container to be dumped where it can, or a 65-litre grey water tank (and gauge) can be specified for self contained travellers. Given that you can also option an internal Porta Potti then the HardKorr can be set up to Leave No Trace standards. Water is distributed via a 12L/minute pump.
There are two XD80F 20W flood lights over the kitchen and at the front, which illuminate the hitch area at night.
Access is available via doors on both sides of the camper body. There are windows in each wall of the tent section that is made from 10oz canvas, the size can be specified by the customer. All windows are fitted with insect screens.
The bed is a queen size innerspring mattress that’s accessed by a pull out step adjacent to large clothes drawers within the bed’s leading edge. Quite large round LED downlights are a different touch, and are fitted to a white Alupanel ceiling that visually adds height to the bedroom, and there’s overhead storage available right around the interior.
Indoor accommodation can be tailored with the choice of table seating that forms a single bed, or kids’ bunks, or a shower and toilet combo that can be screened off. This area can also be left purely for storage. There is electrical provision inside that extends from USB and 12V to 240V (on the Deluxe).
For touring that’s going to cover hard terrain this camper has the credentials to pass muster. The team behind it has though hard about what’s required and the specifications list is comprehensive. Whether you need the hydraulic lift kit on the roof is debateable but the electric one will sit most just fine – the roof rating’s the same.
We didn’t have the opportunity to tow the camper on this occasion but following the trailer behind the LandCruiser 79 Series it seemed perfectly behaved. This first production model shows signs of development still in progress but it also shows signs of being able to do exactly what it says on the tin. Or HardKorr aluminium.