The first time I met Henk Blaauw, he pulled into the parking lot in front of our office, his camping unit loaded onto the thundering V6 Hilux Raider. After a firm handshake and a quick introductory chat, he asked if I wanted to see his unit in action – and less than 10 minutes later, the Kamper 2 + 2 was set up.
By Francois Huysamen
Although at first glance you might expect the Kamper to be something similar to a rooftop tent, it definitely is not. Henk’s unique design allows easy access to a four-sleeper area in which you can actually stand upright.
“I started designing the Kamper when our family’s camping excursions started becoming more long distance, nomadic and rough – especially in Botswana and Namibia,” says Henk.
“The inconvenience of our four-sleeper rooftop tent did not work for us anymore; particularly the climbing in, crawling around and getting dressed while lying down.”
The Blaauws then started looking for a camping setup that met certain requirements: it had to sleep four, have enough room to stand up, a quick setup time, easy access, had to go anywhere, and had to be affordable.
Henk says: “Off-road caravans meet these requirements, but although many of the bush caravans are mouth-watering products with wonderful advantages, the main considerations which prompted me to design my own setup on a double cab pickup and not opt for one, were financial − related to initial outlay, storage, fuel and maintenance as well as about manoeuvrability: a towing setup limits 4×4 driving in rough terrain, as well as parking, take overs (overtaking?)and U-turns.
“Of course, these are personal preferences, and for many, the advantages of a bush caravan will outweigh my concerns.”
In the end, Henk designed and built his own unit, called the Kamper 2 + 2, as it sleeps 2 and 2.
The Kamper fits on a double-cab bakkie, and is designed in two interrelated parts: a “canopy” section (fitted to the load bay) and a canvas/PVC material section (the bed and tent, fitted on the canopy section).
Fitted on the Hilux, the closed Kamper stands only about 20cm above the roof of the bakkie, providing more or less the same aerodynamic footprint as a regular canopy, and thus has a minimal effect on fuel consumption. The total unit weighs only 175kg.
The canopy section is about 40cm in height, and fits on top of the entire load bay. This design leaves the entire load bay open for storage space.
Constructed -on? an aluminium frame, the canopy section’s left, right and back panels are removable. (All panels have locks). The side panels are designed with fold-out legs on the inside, and double as tables with a 600mm x 1500mm work surface.
Behind the passenger-side panel is a swivel-out kitchen unit (optional extra). The kitchen has five storage shelves, with a work surface that folds down. There is space for a plastic washbasin to be attached as well.
Above the kitchen, connected to the top bed, is a 9m² bat-wing-style awning (also an optional extra), with 2 sets of aluminium fingers on each bed corner. which, when opened, covers 180 degrees on the side of the vehicle.
On top of the canopy section is the fold-up tent area, which is also about 40cm high when folded, and includes two slide-out double beds with 75mm HD foam mattresses.
The tent is made from Ripstop 300GSM canvas, with all seams triple-stitched, double-sealed and treated with Rain Coat.
The bulky aluminium bed frames are the strongest parts of the setup, as the sliding-bed design puts a lot of stress on the beds. Some bed sections are 6mm-thick aluminium.
When the Kamper is pitched, the aluminium roof-support poles form the hexagonal shape of a honeycomb. Also, most canvas sections are triangles. Henk says that this combination makes the Kamper very stable in strong winds.
With the tent set up, you’ll find 2 metres of headroom in the middle area between the beds. The total footprint inside the tent (with beds slid out) is 2.95m x 2m.
There are six windows with mosquito netting. Various tent pockets are distributed around the inside of the tent for extra packing space.
Pitching the Kamper (including awning and kitchen) can be done in about 6 minutes. ***I do it in 5min, but would prefer not to publish it***
First, remove the tension straps and PVC cover from the tent section. Open the load bay door, and step up until you can reach the access ladder of the Kamper, which is folded onto the tent. Flip the ladder down and secure the ladder’s attached walkway section to the tent walkway section.
Then, pull out the beds on either side before you climb into the tent.
Once in the tent, you fold out and connect the aluminium tent (((please delete the hyphen)))roof supports, followed by folding out and connecting the tentside(((please delete the hyphen))) supports.
Once the Kamper tent is up, open the bat-wing-style awning, open the side panel and swivel out the kitchen unit… and your camp is set up!
Packing up camp is just as easy, and requires simply reversing the above process.
Side room (4 panel sections closing up the awning)
Kitchen (50L water tank, basin, cast-iron single plate stove)
Bathroom (hot water, basin, bathroom cupboard, shower/dressing cubicle)
12V electricity (perimeter lighting, inside lighting and 4 x USB points)
Spare-wheel carrier (attached to the Kamper, not to the bakkie)
Porta potti (between beds) (I changed Pota to Porta – not sure if that was right)
The Kamper that Henk showed us was the first production model. It is also his personal-use unit, and has seen a lot of camping. In fact, he says, during the “test phase” in 2014 and 2015, he spent more than 100 nights camping, and drove around 40 000km, of which almost half was gravel road.
As you might expect, it is a bit rough around the edges.
After the test phase, Henk moved onto the “elegant” phase, working on improving the finishes. Although the main attributes of the Kamper have stayed the same, many small alterations and improvements have been made the most relevant being:
Adding a second tent door to access the roof rack through the tent
– Improving the ladder
– Upgrading the LED lighting
– Adding USB points inside the tent
– Replacing the kitchen shelves with drawers
To find out more about the Kamper 2+2, fill out the contact form below.