By Stuart Reichardt
Now, here’s a trailer tent with a difference – I spent two days getting to know the Air Opus Safari, and boy, was it impressive. It is very different from the manually-operated setup of traditional trailer tents, and quite ingenious in its design.
What makes it so special? Simply put, it’s an INFLATABLE tent!
The built-in air-compressor literally inflates the Opus’ tent in a matter of minutes, taking most of the effort that is associated with normal manual tent-setups right out of the picture.
Opus camper trailers are manufactured in Australia, and the original variants did not have an inflatable tent. Although the fold-open design is similar, the tent is now supported by a number of aluminium “hoops” that require manual fiddling.
The new model, the Air Opus, self-deploys in about two minutes, thanks to the onboard air-compressor that inflates the “air beams” which have replaced the standard hoops
The Opus is clearly built to tackle off-road adventures. Starting right at the front, there’s an articulated poly-block coupling: a hitch system that the manufacturer calls a “lock-and-roll articulating hitch”, which allows for pivoting and flexing.
The body is built rugged, with a baked-enamel finish over a main aluminium frame and composite panel exterior with a galvanized steel chassis.
5 100 mm (lid closed)
6 140 (lid open)
2 100 mm
1 450 mm (closed)
3 200 mm (open)
1 200 kg
1 800 kg
Wheels & tyres
15” alloy wheels with 235/75R15 tyres
Articulating poly block
Independent coil spring suspension
Quad shock − Dual gas shock absorbers per side
12” electric brake & hand brake & electric breakaway
340g micro-weave polycotton
Tent tropical roof
Waterproof & UV-protected tropical roof
The suspension is designed to go off-road, with independent coil springs and dual gas shock-absorbers on either side. The onboard water tank is protected by a 1.5mm checker plate below, and with 310 mm ground clearance, 15” alloy rims and off-road tyres, you can take on challenging terrains with ease.
A stone guard coated with anti-chip deadener is fitted as standard on the A-frame behind the jockey wheel. Behind this protection is space for two Jerry cans, as well as your gas bottle.
The front of the body has a large storage compartment stretching the width of the trailer − what would be the nose cone of a caravan. Inside is a fridge, which slides out on the passenger side of the Opus. The tray is 880 x 540 x 450mm.
The hatch to the right of the fridge houses the electrical box, which contains easy-to-read volt and amperage meters, a 40A circuit breaker, individual water-tank indicators, isolator switches for both water tank pumps, and resettable circuit breakers on all switches including lights, 12V power, fridge and compressor.
Next to the electrical box is a fold-down step, which forms the entrance to the Opus when the tent is inflated. There are three plug points above the wheel.
The kitchen is housed in the hatch on a slide-out rail right at the back on the passenger side, and has a basin with running water and drying area. There’s a four-plate gas stove housed under a stainless steel work-top which comes with wind screens on both sides to protect the flames from blowing out.
At the back of the Opus, the spare wheel is mounted on a bracket which folds down 90° to allow the top lid to open.
The connections for your outdoor shower are on the drivers’ side at the back. A portable geyser can be fitted to a swing arm on the back of the Opus. The geyser is stored in a dedicated compartment on the driver’s side, but needs to be connected to the swing arm and then to the water system. The fittings are directly below the hose connections on the driver side.
There is a portable external shower, with hot water, and two 80 litre stainless-steel water tanks. LED lighting is the order of the day, and there is ample lighting inside and outside the Opus.
The Opus has four drop-down lockable stabilising legs to ensure that your stay is rigid, firm, and not shaky underfoot.
A roof-rack can be fitted on top of the lid. Since the top consists of two doors opening to the front and back, the roof rack obviously needs to move in order for you to set up the tent. Opus has a cleverly-designed roof rack which is on hinges, allowing it to fold over to the driver’s side of the trailer so that you can open the tent without having to take the roof rack off completely. You would probably remove whatever you have on the roof rack before pivoting it.
This really is as easy as one-two-three! The hard top of the Opus opens from the centre to the front and back, and needs absolutely no effort, thanks to the gas struts.
The front lid folds open to rest on the stone protector, and the back lid has two support poles. These poles are stored behind the spare wheel, and are accessible when the spare wheel is folded down.
Once the top of the trailer has been folded open, simply spread out the annexe to the side, connect the air compressor and press a button. The main tent and annex inflates in about two minutes.
There are some canvas flaps on either side of the Opus which you hook over the edges of the folded-down roof.
I spent two days and nights enjoying the comfort of the Opus, and I got to know it well. I never leave home without a selection of my favourite music on flash drive, so the USB-compatible stereo system which is set right at the entrance of the sleeping quarters and lounge area allowed me to enjoy some soothing background music whenever I desired.
As you enter the Opus Safari 4-Sleeper, there’s a double bed to your left over the A-frame. In the centre is the dinette, and to the right there is another double bed! Both sleeping areas have mosquito nets.
The large U-shaped lounge/dinette has a collapsible table that can transform the seat cushions into yet another double bed, which increases the accommodation capacity to six people.
The upholstery is thick, luxurious and very comfortable, and the dinette probably has enough sitting space for six people. The portable table in the dinette can be removed and used outside.
The Opus Air model has changed some from the older models in design, which includes the removal of the interior kitchen that used to be fitted between the two beds. The new model has a very comfortable seating area with lots of storage under each seat between the two double beds. It’s surprisingly spacious.
There’s also decent headroom, considering that the inflated tent adds almost 1,8 metres in height to the Opus!
The tent has multiple windows and sky-lights behind zippered canvas, allowing loads of natural light.
Outside the main sleeping and lounge area, there is an annex which inflates along with the rest of the Opus to form a wonderful, under-cover shaded area with zip-in sides, windows and groundsheet. This area is big enough for the whole family to congregate in and listen to camping stories well into the night.
Power is either 12 volt or 240 volt, and the Opus has a 100Ah deep cycle battery with 240 volt charger.
THE ‘AIR BEAMS’
The interior bladders of the air beams are made of plastic, and covered in a thick protective inner foam layer and two layers of canvas, so the chance of sustaining a puncture is very slight − but it can occur.
If a puncture should occur when you’re on a trip, a series of valves will allow you to isolate the offending air beam and continue to use the camper, albeit with the tent a little out of shape.
To repair, simply remove the punctured bladder by unzipping it from its protective covering, and repair it with the supplied repair kit − very much the same as repairing a bicycle’s puncture.
The packing up of the Opus is equally easy, as it will begin to deflate when you simply unscrew the air-release valves. Once the air has been released, simply bundle the tent into the centre of the trailer, making sure that nothing has been left sticking out, and then close up the two sides and latch them in place. All that is left to do is to hitch the trailer up to your car and head off to your next holiday destination. It is really that easy.
Quality fittings and accessories have been used in the construction of the Opus, making it a robust and long-lasting choice for those in the market. Add in the ease of towing and quick setup, and the Opus is a winner.
I can safely say that this inflatable trailer-tent puts the fun back into camping and minimises all the effort usually associated with the outdoors, giving you more time to spend doing what should always be done when on holiday – relaxing, braaing, chatting and sipping on your favourite beverage.