Kerfton off-road trailer slides and swings into picnic area or camper
A diversion from the hard-box folders and tent-tops we're used to seeing on the Australian camper trailer market, the new Kerfton trailer turns heads with a winged composite design that quickly grows from low, compact towable to family base camp. The smart kitchen puts full cooking power at your fingertips, whether the tent is fully deployed or packed up for travel. It can be used for distant all-terrain adventures and local tailgates or picnics.
The 14-foot (4.3-m) Kerfton trailer was born to bring a modern automotive aesthetic to Australia's off-road camper trailer segment. In contrast to the typical metal box or squaredrop cabin, its sleek, smooth bodywork benefits from fiberglass-based high-performance composite construction, giving it a look meant to complement any vehicle towing it.
So stylish is the Kerfton trailer, it might give would-be buyers pause in trusting it to take on Australia's roughest routes. But Kerfton founder and engineering manager Barry Trippit brings close to 30 years of experience working in structural engineering and composites in industries as demanding as aerospace, automotive, oil and gas, and mine construction. The man knows what it takes to make a sturdy box, and he hasn't created the Kerfton trailer for mere highway cruising or glamping resort-hopping.
"Absolutely, full-blown off-road, as tough as it gets," Trippit responded when we asked what type of terrain the Kerfton trailer is meant for. "I personally drive a LandCruiser with a long list of modifications to improve off-road capability. Testing has already included some of the roughest tracks in Australia that I’m aware of (crossing the country including thousands of kilometers off-road), both severe off-road 4x4 type terrain and violent high-speed corrugations."
So that pretty composite physique has rock-solid muscle supporting it. Down low, the Kerfton trailer is all Outback-grade Aussie construction, riding on a hot-dip galvanized steel chassis and relying on an independent trailing arm suspension with coil springs to cushion the 16-in steel-alloy wheels wrapped up in 285x75R16 tires. The 360-degree hitch provides plenty of articulation for bumpy, wobbly off-road conditions.
To get the ground clearance just right (i.e. high enough to clear off-road obstacles, low enough to provide convenient access inside), Trippit and team attached a series of moving probes to the underside of a similarly sized trailer and took it on various off-road tracks around the company's Victorian HQ to determine exactly how much clearance was needed down the length of the underbody. They landed on 20 in (51 cm) behind the axle and 16.5 in (42 cm) in front of it, which is why the full-size spare tire gets mounted to the front underbody.
Kerfton shows equal thoughtfulness in the multi-layer design of the expandable camper body. The tailgate drops down to become a set of stairs, opening access to the contents inside, including a water tap that's available without any further setup – perfect for a quick drink when traversing mouth-drying sections of the Outback.
From there, owners pull the slide-and-swing dual-wing kitchen out through the tailgate hatch, quickly gaining full outdoor cooking capabilities without having to set up the rest of the trailer. This functionality seems ideal for everything from a quick roadside lunch or pot of coffee to a full-day picnic with no plans to stay the night. It also creates a helpful division of labor – upon late arrival to camp, one person can get started cooking dinner while another sets up the tent.
As far as kitchen layout, a dual-burner stove, slide-out sink, fold-down worktop and storage drawers and cabinetry extend to the left, a tray for a fridge/freezer up to 78 liters in size, small shelf and two 12-V outlets to the right. The appliances are permanently plumbed to water and gas so there's no reason to connect or disconnect anything. A diesel water heater is optional.
Also accessible without setting up the entire trailer is an included 5-ft (1.5-m) picnic table and dual bench set, perfect for serving and eating the impromptu meal you cooked up on the quick-access outdoor kitchen.
The extra layers of accessibility are added for convenience, not because the Kerfton trailer is a major chore to set up into complete tent-camper form. The two top trailer sections fold out to the sides like wings, and the front panel folds forward. The tent itself builds up with an internal pole structure, so no external poles or staking are necessary. Setup can be completed in under five minutes, according to Kerfton.
The four-sleeper interior offers standing height just under 6.6 ft (2 m) and bench seating for up to six people. The two cushioned side benches are independent of the single beds tucked up against the side windows, so there's no bed/bench conversion necessary. The queen bed with inner-spring mattress up front sleeps parents comfortably, while the single side beds give two children their own dedicated sleeping space.
The Kerfton trailer takes care of storage with a combination of six interior cupboards, two interior drawers, and a large front cargo box designed to hold both a Weber Baby Q grill and portable toilet while leaving room to spare. Firewood or other cargo can be strapped atop the cargo box using the integrated tie-down points.
A 120-Ah deep-cycle battery powers the fridge/freezer, onboard lighting, and 12-V and USB outlets. It's wired to charge off the car, and a 240-V mains charger is also available, as is an inverter, 240-V wiring and outlets, and second 120-A battery. The lack of a shower room might be a deal breaker for some, but Kerfton offers an optional shower hookup to keep up with daily hygiene demands. The trailer has a 63-L fresh water tank on board, with extra water storage and a river-drawing system on offer. Dry weight scales in at 2,200 lb (1,000 kg), before any optional add-ons, and has a gross vehicle weight rating of 3,525 lb (1,600 kg).
Kerfton is preparing for production and plans to launch preordering in the near future at a base price of AU$49,800 (approx. US$38,500). Along with the aforementioned electrical and water options, Kerfton will offer an optional quick awning, annex room and diesel tent heater.