EcoTrek's sturdy camper built to go off-road with aplomb
By C.C. Weiss
November 15, 2013
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.
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.
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.
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.