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EcoTrek's sturdy camper built to go off-road with aplomb

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November 15, 2013

The 510 weighs about 1,100 lb empty, making it possible to tow with a variety of vehicles

The 510 weighs about 1,100 lb empty, making it possible to tow with a variety of vehicles

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The Ecotrek 510 camper is designed for one purpose and one purpose only: surviving any rugged obstacle thrown its way so you can sleep soundly that night. That one purpose opens it up to all kinds of uses – hunting, fishing, 4x4ing, etc. No cutesy teardrop design, the 510 has a reinforced build meant to thrive in terrain that would rip lesser campers to shreds.

In September, we spent days pounding the floor of the Dusseldorf Caravan Salon, some of which were dedicated to hunting for rugged, off-road-ready campers and RVs. Little did we realize, we didn't have to travel that far to find a great design. A couple weeks earlier, EcoTrek was introducing its all-new 510 off-road camper in the United States, the home of your humble author.

Tennessee-based EcoTrek claims that many off-road campers on the market are little more than off-road tires mounted on teardrop and pop-up designs built for the road. By contrast, EcoTrek builds the 510 for off-road use from the ground up, starting with a MIG welded tubular 6063-T6 aluminum frame supported at critical areas with cross braces and gussets. That skeleton is skinned, inside and out, with an aluminum-polyethylene composite material that EcoTrek says is 3.5 times lighter than steel and 1.5 times lighter than standard aluminum. The interior is insulated, and the alu-composite panels are sealed together with butyl tape.

The aluminum frame was designed specifically for off-road use

Front and rear aluminum tread plates and Kevlar/epoxy-coated aluminum trim add to the integrity of EcoTrek's built-for-anything exterior. Not only is the body sturdy, but EcoTrek says that its aluminum composite construction makes it virtually impervious to rust and rot.

The EcoTrek body is set on 15-inch wheels wrapped in Bighorn off-road tires and suspended by a Timbren Axle-Less off-road suspension system with rubber springs. EcoTrek says the suspension eliminates bounce, offering a smooth, quiet commute, loaded or empty, on road or off. The trailer has 16 in (38 cm) of ground clearance.

The 510 uses a Timbren Axle-Less off-road suspension set-up

Despite its burly build, the EcoTrek is designed to be light, compact and versatile enough to tag along on all types of backroad adventures. It weighs around 1,100 lb (500 kg) empty and measures 158 x 82 x 75-in (401 x 208 x 190 cm). It will roll comfortably into a 7-ft (2.1 m) high garage for storage.

In terms of camping, the 510 is a simple shelter. Its cabin includes an inflatable queen mattress, an entertainment unit with DVD player, and TV hookups. For extra sleeping space, EcoTrek offers an optional roof rack and Tepui Kukenam fold-out roof tent.

The tailgate trunk offers room for a stove and other camping equipment. The 510 includes a prewired 30-amp electrical system with an onboard 12-volt deep cycle marine battery, a Progressive Dynamics 120V AC converter, and interior and exterior outlets. The electrical system can be hooked up to a generator or to 30-amp shore power. The camper does not include an integrated water system, but it does have LED lighting and a roof fan.

The 510 gets set up for cooking, complete with microwave

Each EcoTrek 510 is built to the customer's specifications and starts at US$11,995. Options include a $1,000 wrap in buyer's choice of camo, a $1,000 roof air conditioner, and a $300 AGM battery that EcoTrek recommends for serious off-roaders.

Source: EcoTrek

About the Author
C.C. Weiss Upon graduating college with a poli sci degree, Chris toiled in the political world for several years. Realizing he was better off making cynical comments from afar than actually getting involved in all that mess, he turned away from matters of government and news to cover the things that really matter: outdoor recreation, cool cars, technology, wild gadgets and all forms of other toys. He's happily following the wisdom of his father who told him that if you find something you love to do, it won't really be work.   All articles by C.C. Weiss
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9 Comments

I hope the forest camo is optional, or we will be looking at a lot of collisions in foul weather.

L1ma
16th November, 2013 @ 05:19 am PST

The skin is "3.5 times lighter than steel and 1.5 times lighter than standard aluminum..." ?? You do realize this statement is meaning free, right? Same volume of steel? Same strength in aluminum? Without context, it's just air.

piperTom
16th November, 2013 @ 07:37 am PST

this review overstates the capability when compared to the Kimberly Karavan

ark
16th November, 2013 @ 05:01 pm PST

@ark

Unfortunately no manufacturer in the U.S. offers anything near comparable to what is offered by Kimberley (Australia) or Conqueror (South Africa), let alone the decades of experience/knowledge of dealing with environments that are truly desolate and taxing to both man and machine.

Though I am not sure how the majority of caravans are used in Australia or S.A., in the U.S. the majority of campers (our name for a caravan) are pulled from their storage location to a relatively civilized campground that can include power and sanitary connections.

Those, in the U.S., that choose to get away from society and do actually need or simply prefer to have an off road capable camper are limited by size. It may sound counterintuitive but our truly remote areas, available for public use, are in areas service by little more than a trail which is often barely wide enough for a vehicle to go through as well as possibly being unnavigable with a longer/bigger camper due to switchback turns up in the mountains. As much as I love what is offered by Kimberley and Conqueror there just isn't any use for something like that in the U.S..

Also no one, other than you and EcoTrek, compared this camper to any other camper. It is however a viable contender in the U.S. based on form, function and price when compared to other campers of similar purpose offered in the U.S..

Rt1583
17th November, 2013 @ 07:54 pm PST

I am sure this is a great little camper, and the guys want to hype up potential customers, but with respect, it is not an off-road camper in the true sense of the description...The one in this article looks great but would not last on 70 kilomters of Mana Pools Road, The Richtersveld or Botswana to name a few..

South Africa manufacture "off-road" campers which are built to withstand serious hammering, but can still be comfortable at a cosy campsite which supplies electricity and water....

Check out www.afrispoortrailers.co.za Dave Coombes and his team are a great new model out ....

Their construction materials used are galavanized steel chassis and the body panels are 3CR12 stainless and aluminium....

Tim Driman
18th November, 2013 @ 05:53 am PST

It doesn't appear to have over-run brakes, or any brakes at all, as far as I can see from the available photos, yet it weighs 500Kg empty. Assuming it can carry at least 250kg cargo/equipment, its gross weight is going to be 750kg plus, so - in the UK anyway - requiring over-run brakes, I don't know what the requirements are for it to be road legal in Australia. Perhaps they don't concern themselves with trivialities like being able to stop safely.... ;-))

Grunt
18th November, 2013 @ 06:44 am PST

Personally,

I'm just not seeing enough superiority

over similar standard box trailers.

We are building a welded steel/wood cabin trailer out of a 5x8

flatbed trailer for a lot less right now.

Microlite makes a trailer like this one with some nice external tool boxes

but,like this one,it was too expensive for what it is.

The worst ones are those Tumbleweed trailers

their smallest trailer is like $33,000 and they FINANCE their plans

if you want to build your own!

Their trailers are CRAZY heavy,as well,

and are really not meant to be towed regularly.

They are more just one-way or seasonal.

Anyway,

on the opposite extreme,

when trailers get too light they bounce around on the highway,anyway.

I like this concept but I think that most of the ones I see are just too expensive for what you get.

How hard is it to build a box on wheels?

Not very.

I don't care what anybody says-

I'll take "welded" over "taped" any day.

Griffin
18th November, 2013 @ 10:52 am PST

I just want the paint job for my camper. :-)

DonGateley
18th November, 2013 @ 02:20 pm PST

I get a kick out of some of these comments. Distinctly made by people who have NEVER been off roading with a trailer to say the least. First with a camper YOU NEVER load a camping trailer up with 50% of it's base weight. It isnt a CARGO rig. You take it on a steep side trail an it WILL take the tow rig right over. Next the strength of the trailer? Most trailers rigidity is based on the skin. Not the frame of the walls, NOT what is needed off road, walls twist. floor frame and interior frame are what matter in order to keep weight down, nice touch eliminating the axle weight and not adding more with a traditional torsion suspension. And as far as excessive costs... The niche market really jacks the liability issues up. Hence costs skyrocket, thank the attorneys for that. As the Great baird said " Kill the Lawyers, Kill them all".

Scott Schoemann
19th November, 2013 @ 06:54 pm PST
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