Words and pictures by Dave Miles.
I drive an ’07 Hilux DC. After years of deliberation, I still couldn’t decide how best to kit out my Hilux. The problem was that every arrangement had its pros and cons, but I was stuck on the most basic question: Where should I sleep?
At first, I thought a canopy with a rooftop tent would be a good idea, but then I got to thinking that a ground tent might be best, or perhaps the tent should be mounted on the Hilux’s roof. Fortunately, my uncertainty came to an end when I joined my brother-in-law on a trip to the Kalahari. We travelled together for several days, living out of his fully-specced off-road trailer. On my return, I knew exactly what I wanted to do: buy a basic spec trailer and kit it out my way.
Once back in JHB, I paid a visit to Conqueror Campers, and was instantly sold on their products – more specifically, their entry-level Courage unit. The trailer came fitted with a rooftop tent, electrical distribution board, deep-cycle battery, LED strip light and a C-Tek battery charger. The total cost of the Courage was R75 000, including registration and licensing.
The first part of my plan was to build a kitchen unit inside the trailer’s drop-down door. I started by building an aluminium frame from 25 mm square tube, using plastic Connect- It products to join each length, and aluminium plate for the backing and sides. This created a lightweight cupboard compartment inside the door. Once this kitchen cupboard was made, I used the area to mount my cooking and eating utensils, and bolted a 2-plate gas stove to the door with wing nuts – making the stove easy to remove for cleaning purposes.
I have since seen a very neat SS gas hob for sale; it costs R2 500 compared to the R500 the Cadac unit cost me. However, I may just save up for this cooker as the Cadac unit takes up too much space.
One of my biggest concerns was having a practical work surface for preparing food. Fortunately, there was an empty space between the door and the back of the trailer, so I made another aluminium frame and fitted it with a 12 mm piece of food-grade polyethylene… Problem solved.
This food table slides onto two PVC round supports, propped up by a single aluminium tube featuring a plastic clip-on ball joint at each end – the same ball joints that are used extensively on caravans and trailers. My next task was to create a mug-andglass cabinet. In my opinion, you have to have proper glasses in the bush; wine in a plastic mug just isn’t the same! I constructed the cabinet out of plywood, but I used super wood for the doors, and also various other materials for the cabinet’s internals. I mounted this cabinet on the inside of the fridge cavity’s door. The cabinet took me a long time to complete, but the result was absolutely worth it. I look forward to enjoying many sunsets in the bush sipping cold SA wine from a proper glass!
Regarding the fridge / freezer: I already owned an Engel, so it was just a case of securing the fridge to the Courage’s slide-out drawer system. I contacted my local Engel supplier and was quoted R1 800 for the mounting bracket, so I decided to build my own – using PVC parts, laser-cut stainless steel and a 12 mm piece of plywood. The end result is perfect; perhaps even better than the over-the-counter unit. Next was the trailer’s lighting. I wanted to be able to work in all four corners of the trailer without worrying about a torch or headlight, so I bought some LED strip lights and fitted one inside each door. I also fitted two extra 12 V power points outside the fridge door. I can use these points for additional lighting around camp.
Having created a basic kitchen / serving area, I now needed a washingup basin. I crafted another frame out of aluminium square tube (25 mm), choosing a dimension that would just hold a square plastic bowl. I attached the frame to the side of the nose cone just above the tap of the trailer’s 90-litre water tank. I made a similar arrangement for a drying-up rack on the other side of the nose cone. I made no official drawings for these parts; everything was made on an ad-hoc basis in my garage.