A slide-on is the third option to a caravan or motorhome and provides the ultimate flexibility.
By Gary Tischer

You would like caravan features including ensuite, kitchen and no canvas walls or roof; but prefer not to tow. Or maybe you have a boat that you would like to tow on your next getaway. A motorhome doesn’t suit you because you want to get to some secret spots that require good off-road capability. A slide-on camper may be what you are looking for to achieve all this without selling the house.

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Ozcape is a local Gold Coast company that has been building and refining slide-on campers for the last 10 years. The combination of a quality product and customer service has seen the company grow so it now has a happy customer base with owners that drop in to share travel stories.

There are five different models in the Ozcape range to suit a variety of needs and vehicles. If you are considering a slide-on camper, it is also very important to consider the vehicle that will carry the camper – as some vehicles are better suited to the task.

OVERVIEW
The Optima is the flagship model and the most spacious of the range. Once inside it is easy to forget that it is carried on the back of a ute. I was surprised by how quick and easy it was to arrive at a location and have it off the tray and set up. Five minutes to have the ute parked and the camper down low and level is as quick as it gets.

You don’t need to take it off the tray to utilise the camper, but it’s so easy with the electric jacks and the wireless remote. All legs can be operated at once, or separately, to level the camper on uneven ground. Should you ever use too much of the 120Ah battery, there is a manual ratchet back-up. Optional solar panels and battery low level warnings should stop you ever needing to use the manual back-up.

A neat feature of the Ozcape campers is the self-locating system which consists of two tapered metal pins that align themselves through two holes in the ute tray. Once located on the tray, the camper is kept safely locked into position by four metal tie-downs that attach at each corner of the camper directly to the vehicle chassis.

INSIDE
The Optima can be carried on a four-seater extra-cab ute and also allows for an optional north/south bed (providing the option to sleep either north/south or east/west). The full-height entry door (1908mm) is on the rear of the camper allowing for a built-in step and no need to duck your head – unless you play for the NBL.

As you step in, there is an ensuite with shower/toilet and hand basin on the right-hand side. On the left is a large pantry/wardrobe with battery, charger and battery management storage under a false floor. The kitchen is on the left, opposite the dinette and sleeping area in the cab-over area. The camper feels spacious thanks to a good use of available space and large double-glazed windows allowing light to filter in.

The kitchen is well appointed with a microwave above a good-size preparation area – made larger through the use of glass covers over the sink and stove. The stove has three gas burners and one electric plate with griller below. Between two overhead cupboards is a rangehood that vents directly to the outside.

The fridge/freezer is a three-way 95-litre unit mounted to help keep the centre of gravity low, which is important for stability when travelling over rough tracks on the back of the ute. There is an 86-litre fresh water tank and a 40-litre grey water tank, and a monitor lets you know the levels of both.

The ceiling offers two skylights and there is space for the optional air-conditioner. All windows are double-glazed with built-in insect screens and blinds. Storage will be ample for most, with overhead cupboards and under-bench drawers. The latches are strong and easy to use.

OUTSIDE
From the outside the Ozcape looks sleek and aerodynamic with clean lines. The external panels are made from high-quality fibreglass sandwich panel construction, which provides strength and excellent insulation properties.

External panels are locked with quality latches and they open to provide easy access to multiple storage areas. One is suitable for long items such as fishing rods and awning poles. Another has good access to the gas bottle and plumbing.

The largest storage area has space for a generator, a barbecue, camp chairs and
other items that would be useful on your next adventure.

VEHICLE CONSIDERATIONS
If you are considering a slide-on camper, the carrying vehicle needs to be deliberated – just as the tow vehicle needs to be for caravan towing. Currently, the Mazda BT-50 and Ford Ranger offer some of the most useful features when it comes to slide-on campers. Ozcape can help you with vehicle choice, GVM upgrades and package options. There are a lot of considerations and company owner Joe Ried is more than happy to provide a host of choices that can work for different situations. Among the advantages of a slide-on camper is there are no additional registration fees, and no extra suspension or brakes to maintain.

VERDICT
The Ozcape Optima is a quality slide-on which has many features that will suit the most discerning owner.

SPECIFICATIONS
Overall external length: 4.5m
Floor length: 2.65m
Width: 2.26m
Weight: 790kg (880kg as tested)
Price: $63,500 ($73,500 as tested)

PROS
• Very easy to take on and off the ute
• Great build and fit-out quality
• Off-road capability
• Ability to tow a trailer
• Well optioned

CONS
• Won’t suit all utes

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