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Camper Review: AHA-45 slide-on camper

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At Home Anywhere…Have bakkie, will camp – right? Well, it’s not always that easy, what with having to pack in and batten down everything you want to take. And then you’ve got to sort out where you’re going to sleep … Well, an AHA camper might be everything you need, all in one.

Words and photography Johan Lourens

The phrase ‘at home anywhere’ really epitomises the philosophy behind this camper model from AHA Outdoor Systems. It will fit any bakkie or pick-up with a load bay length of 1350 mm or longer, and it will happily accompany you on just about any off-road excursion that your vehicle is capable of. Combine that with the ability to slide the camper onto its own independent frame, and this product really is at home anywhere.

Some time ago, David Maas, managing director of AHA Outdoor Systems, rented a motorhome and toured through the United States. Having thoroughly enjoyed the adventure, David purchased his own motorhome when he returned to South Africa, but soon found that his holidays were largely limited to coastal and bushveld resorts that were accessible by tar or good gravel roads.

David’s traveling experiences also taught him that space to move around in isn’t required while traveling, but only really when you’re at your destination. His need to be able to go off-road with his camper, combined with his desire for something compact, light, and quick and easy to open and set up, gave rise to the idea of the AHA slide-on camper.

Concept

The entire theory behind the AHA-45 revolves around its ease of use and practicality. A framework is mounted onto the floor of your vehicle’s load bay with four bolts. If you don’t want the framework on your vehicle permanently, you can take the bolts out and remove it, leaving your load bay in its original condition. The camper comes with its own foldable storage frame – on wheels! This clever concept makes it possible for a single person to manoeuvre the camper around at home – either to install it onto or to remove it from the vehicle (or simply to put the unit away for storage). All you need to do is park the storage frame behind your bakkie, open the tailgate and connect the storage frame to the framework on your load bay – simple as that! It’s easy enough for a lone person to slide the camper onto the rear of the bakkie. A single bolting mechanism then locks the camper into place and you’re ready to go!

Another clever aspect of the camper is that it’s not custom-made for a specific vehicle: a storage box fits between the camper and the rear window of your vehicle, its size varying according to that of your vehicle’s load bay. This means that the AHA-45 will fit double-cabs, super-cabs, club-cabs, single-cabs and even certain small truck pick-ups! And you don’t need to get rid of your camper if you sell your vehicle, because it’s easy to transfer the camper between different vehicles! The storage box can be designed to accommodate anything from ice machines to microwave ovens – depending, of course, on the size of your vehicle.

Ease of use

The practicality of this unit will continue to delight while you’re on the road. Quick lunch stops are easy, because the doors to both fridge and kitchen – mounted on slide-out rails – are located on the rear of the camper and can be easily accessed by lowering your vehicle’s tailgate. The kitchen opens out in stages and, depending on your requirements, takes only a few seconds to deploy fully. It includes two gas bottles, each with a cooker hob, a work surface, space for storing food and two separate basins. The clever placement of a tap on the rear left side feeds water from the 75-litre under-floor water tank directly to your kitchen. The fridge-freezer simply slides 
out and locks into place when it’s fully extended. This way the door of the fridge can be opened fully, and all your liquid refreshments are readily available! The door to the camper is at the rear in the middle. The innovative design means you can access your clothes drawers from the outside, even if the rig hasn’t been opened and set up. This makes quick stops as easy as can be when the weather suddenly deteriorates and you need a jersey, closed shoes or raincoat.

At your campsite

When you arrive at the campsite, the AHA-45 will make all your neighbours green with envy! The slick conversion from canopy to camper in a mere 45 seconds gives new meaning to the word ‘convenience’. The roof unclips and folds open in stages to reveal the inside of the camper. The roof design gives the camper, once deployed, an A-frame-like structure, and good insulation keeps the interior cool, even during the sizzling summer months travelling through the desert. You are free to choose how opened-up or closed-off you would like your camping experience to be. The front and rear canvas walls, which are neatly tucked out of the way in the roof arrangement, can be unzipped and installed in only a few minutes. They include windows with mosquito mesh and two opening settings. The interior configuration can be changed from a four-seater dinette to two single beds to a double bed and single bed on either side of the camper. The roof is quite high, and there’s a distinct sense of spaciousness when you’re inside. There’s also enough room to get dressed in. Space is even provided for a portable cassette toilet. Several interior storage compartments and hatches allow you to tuck away your clothing, bird books, toiletry items and other odds and ends neatly and safely. The exterior is rounded off with a dual battery and power management system on the right-hand wall. Here you’ll also find various pockets and storage compartments that can be adjusted in size and configuration to suit your camping requirements.

On the outside of the left wall is a hatch giving access to the bathroom basin, with tap, and mirror. A bathroom tent folds down from the roof, ensuring complete privacy when you’re out in the bush.

If the weather lets you down, the awning can be erected right around the camper, covering both sides and the back area. Because you don’t need to anchor any part of the camper to the ground, you can readily move your entire camping set-up somewhere else if your neighbours are too noisy!

This AHA model has been very skilfully designed, and the slide-on frame makes it very easy to mount on your bakkie, and to remove it for storing in a corner of your garage. With this camper, which weighs a modest 285 kg, attached to your go-anywhere vehicle, your camping lifestyle can only be enhanced.

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