If you are looking for quality you can trust, and superb attention to detail, you should take a good, long look at the products from Bush Lapa. This off-road caravan-and-camper business works out of established premised in Paarl, and is run by Jannie Oeschger, an exacting engineer by any standards. He is also a dedicated camper and traveller, who tests and re-tests everything he designs and builds, and goes back to the drawing board if things are not just right.
So, it is always a pleasure when one gets a call from Jannie, in this case to have a look at his Bosluis 2 camper − an all-inone two-sleeper unit that bolts on in place of the load bay of a wide range of singlecab bakkies. If you want it fitted to a double cab, you are in need of the Bosluis 4 – a four-sleeper unit. The unit we have to review is fitted to a Land Cruiser 70 Series single cab, and colour-coded to match the vehicle’s sandy khaki.
Like other Bush Lapa products, the basic box structure is a welded and sealed monocoque made from 1.5mm thick 3CR12 stainless steel, folded where necessary for strength. The non-structural elements, including interior panels and doors, are made from weight-saving aluminium.
A few of the fittings, such as those holding down the flip-top camper roof, and the standard locking catches for doors and windows, are off-the-shelf items − but the stainless steel hinges are designed and made in-house. The same goes for the superb canvas elements, from the clever Velcro-held covers over the interior shelves to the mesh openings for the main door, and including both the tent over the slideout double bed, and its reflective weather cover – which is slid into a track and held taut by three spring steel poles.
To prove that it all works like a Swiss timepiece, and to show off all the features, Jannie did a set-up that showed how quickly one can get comfortable. For a quick roadside picnic stop, one can simply fold out the stainless steel kitchen table and pull out the fridge, stove, and cutlery drawers. For added protection from the elements, the awning can be unzipped and folded out. This in-house unit used an (optional) two-leg design, which is selfsupporting (two minutes to erect), and has additional telescoping aluminium poles and guy ropes for added stability, plus extra optional protective sides. A variety of designs can be ordered, including a 270 degree unit covering the rear of the camper.
For longer stops, there are two more primary tricks. The roof is unclipped using two latches, and pops up on gas lifts, hinged down the length of the camper module. The canvas walls thus exposed can be kept fully zipped up, fully open, or with just the mesh cover used to aid breezes and keep out bugs. Next, the double bed with its three-section mattress is slid out on the other side of the kitchen on runners and the tent support arms locked in place. The tent cover mentioned above is then slid into place. With the rear door open, the washbasin settled into an aluminium frame near the doorway (and just below the hot/cold water outlets), all that’s needed is to drop a mobile step-up stool in place (or move it to wherever it is needed) and open up a pair of camping chairs. Full set-up took just eight minutes.
The interior is remarkably spacious. No head-hitting here, or the need for Houdini-like contortions to get about. A line of canvas-covered shelves is arrayed along the left-hand side, and towards the front is a clothes drawer and shelf with a flat top section. The floor is covered in a hardy dimpled rubber mat. The interior is lit by LED lights and a panel shows the state of play of the electrics, and offers 220v outlets governed by an inverter. Atop the roof is a large 140 Watt solar panel (optional), able to charge a deepcycle battery and run the fridge and lights through an intelligent controller (plus a D250 Dual Charger run off the vehicle’s alternator). In the section directly behind the driver there is an L-shaped 90-litre stainless steel water tank and an optional hot water geyser which can be used for a shower set-up in-situ, or placed in a convenient location away from the vehicle where it is able to draw water from a remote source.
There are lots of great standard features, including the spare-wheel bracket on the rear, the basic kitchen with stove, all the charging points, the water tank, interior cupboards and mattress. The options include items such as the solar panel, awning, fridge, second battery, geyser, wash basin brackets, gas bottle brackets, and small items, including the foam holders for the kitchen set. But, as Jannie insists, each vehicle can be custom-built to suit the exact needs of the customer, who might not want to pay extra for items he already has. The basic cost is R215 460, to which one could add from the options list to the tune of R25-R30 000.
Apart from the very reasonable price, given the quality and fitment excellence, the Bosluis 2 camper unit weighs in at a spring-friendly 560kg, all-in, with extras. Given that the Land Cruiser has perhaps an upper load margin of 1.3 tons, and losing the load box wins some 200kg, the entire unit is not adding massive mechanical strain and gives a generous allowance to fit clothes, food and other gear.
As Jannie points out, some travellers like the extra space and comfort offered by an off-road caravan, particularly for long stays in one place. He has those. But if you are two-up, going distances and setting-up often, the Bosluis 2 or 4 package offers everything you need to camp in comfort.