Toyota Land Cruiser micro RV deploys into loaded off-grid base camp
Like a multitool you can drive all over the globe and then stop and live in, the all-new Kamelback from South African RV specialist Bushwakka folds, slides, swings, drops and flips its way from compact Toyota box truck to cozy backcountry micro-home. The smart camper seamlessly combines the utility and outdoor living advantages of an Aussie-style canopy with the interior security of a pop-up truck camper. It supports modern explorers with a full-length outdoor kitchen, full outdoor bathroom, oversized bedroom and professional-grade off-grid power system.
There's no question that the Toyota Land Cruiser is one of the world's most trusted off-roaders, and the 70 Series is its most rugged iteration. So, in markets where it's readily available, the Land Cruiser 70 makes a natural base for a go-anywhere off-road camper meant to explore every mesa, canyon and riverbed, as we've been regularly reminded via launches like the EarthCruiser XTR and high-roof Desert-Tec J70. No surprise then, Bushwakka has chosen the 70 Series pickup, the 79, as the base platform around which the Kamelback is specced.
When we first saw the fully aluminum-built Kamelback from the kitchen side, we mistook it for a camping canopy with rooftop tent, much like this Redarc build. But it's actually a full-blown truck camper with an interior in which travelers can spend both day and night hours. Bushwakka has essentially repackaged its Sundowner camper trailer into a truck-top box.
The Kamelback roof is based directly on the zigzagging pop-up from Bushwakka's Sundowner and Nest rooftop tent, both of which use a unique dual-level-opening mechanism to support loads of headroom and broad 360-degree views. Given that the Kamelback is based on a single-cab Land Cruiser, there's no need for Bushwakka to adapt the Nest bed into a lift-away pop-up roof configuration, instead maintaining 6.6 feet (2 m) of permanent headroom while leaving double occupancy duties to the oversized 79 x 79-in (2 x 2-m) bed. That bed resides half over the hard floor, half inside the fabric sidewall fold-out. It doubles as a bench for use with the L-shaped drop-down tabletop to create an indoor dining nook and workstation.
The interior also comes loaded with a series of cupboards and under-bed storage. An outside awning over top the fabric sidewall expansion housing the bed helps prevent late sleepers from having to endure the unwelcome wakeup call of first light.
The Kamelback may only transport and sleep two people, but its extensive "bush kitchen" is designed to comfortably prepare meals for up to four. Bushwakka fills out the entire passenger side with various cabinets and cubbies, starting with the large central pantry that features a drop-down door that becomes the primary work space and cooking area. The dual-burner stove sits atop this worktop, leaving plenty of empty space for food prep.
To the chef's right is a swiveling faucet stored right below the water heater. It works in conjunction with the attachable collapsible sink basin below. The tall hatch to the left of the pantry houses the slide-out 90-L National Luna fridge box, while the smaller cabinet just above holds the propane tank with room to spare. A 180-degree swing-out awning stored above the kitchen provides shade when cooking in wild, open spaces beaten by sun. The kitchen even comes complete with the dishes and utensils, all neatly stored away in the pantry.
Around the back, past the scissor-fold staircase and 6.2-foot (1.9-m) entry door, Bushwakka attaches a deployable shower room off the rear right corner. It works with a swing-out arm bar shower head and could also be conceivably used as a privacy tent for a portable toilet. To complete the bathroom space, Bushwakka conceals a separate hot/cold water hookup in a cabinet behind the swing-out spare tire holder. It works in conjunction with an attachable sprayer stored in the cabinet above and an attachable worktop with collapsible sink basin. It's a rather nice, complete outdoor bathroom setup.
To keep the lights on and water pumping, the Kamelback relies on a Victron off-grid power system with 100-Ah lithium battery, inverter, available 280-watt roof-mounted solar array, battery monitoring system with Bluetooth, 220-V mains hookup, and DC-to-DC charger. It carries fresh water in an 80-L stainless steel tank.
Bushwakka revealed the Kamelback in August and has started rolling it out to customers. It will be showing the new truck camper alongside its trailers at a promotional camping event between October 14 and 16. The unit starts at R385,000 (approx. US$21,650), not including the truck, and is ready to be direct-bolted to the original bed mounting points on the Land Cruiser 79 chassis, using rubber padding to dampen vibrations. It's also designed to be readily transferrable from one 79 truck chassis to the next.
We're very accustomed to getting jealous of European camper vans and their low price tags, but this camper, its price tag and the not-in-the-US truck platform carrying it have our American team members in an absolute frenzy of envy – it seems like a very nice package for off-road, off-grid overlanding that encourages users to spend every possible minute in the open air of the outdoors without leaving basic comforts behind. Bushwakka does have a US operation, but given that this camper has been engineered specifically for a truck that is not sold as new in the market, we're not holding our breath for a US-adapted version ... and definitely not at that pretty converted-to-USD price point.
The 21-minute video below provides a very thorough walkthrough of the Kamelback's every cubby and feature.