What’s the best off-road vehicle on the market? The old joke answer is a rental car. But nowadays they charge you for all that damage. Plus, we’re not supposed to take a Ford Tempo into the desert. Wait, that was a long time ago.
But the point of all this blathering is that there’s a company called Alu-Cab out of South Africa that actually uses this joke to sell their products, which are no joke. The reason they do is that they actually rent a lot of off-road vehicles to folks who purposefully take them to places that you might need some skills to get to.
To further the point, you can now get some Alu-Cab products right here in the US of A. I happened upon someone who had placed an Alu-Cab pickup camper on his Jeep Gladiator. To that he had added a fireplace (seriously – here’s the video) and a number of other accessories.
Alu-Cab started about 20 years ago in South Africa building interesting folding campers for what we call overlanding vehicles. These extremely rugged campers come in various forms. For example, the Khaya is a pickup camper that is ruggedized for serious off-road use.
The company found a strong customer base in the rental market. Lots of folks looking for African safaris and wildlife would rent vehicles outfitted with their campers. Then they’d go do their best to see how strong the rental agreements were.
Instead of using any laminates or plastic in the build, Alu-Cab lives up to the implications of the name by building their entire camper almost completely out of aluminum. These campers close up and seal almost completely when set up to travel. Yet, they have a surprisingly good amount of storage inside.
On our side of the ocean I spoke with Daniel Elo from Tiny Rig Co., a dealer for Alu-Cab products. But his experience came from being an avid off-road enthusiast and his Instagram account reflects that.
As such, he’s a big fan of the Alu-Cab products. He stated, “As soon as I found and fitted this to my vehicle I was hooked. You hear a lot of things about warranty claims in the RV business, and these are just built to take the abuse of the rental market.”
Using various soft pocketed storage compartments, Alu-Cab is able to keep things light but maximize the amount of stuff you can get in there.
For example, over on the road side of this camper is a cabinet that’s closed with a positive latch. It contains a full camp kitchen’s worth of utensils, held in place with bungee-style cords and pocketed soft storage. The resulting space utilization is terrific and you’ll find things where you left them before you went down “that” trail.
There’s a handy table that latches into a rail on the side of the camper and hangs down. There’s another metal table that slides in under the cab out of the way when driving but which is very useful when camping.
The pocketed storage extends inside with hanging storage systems that are also pocketed. There are also racks in the camp side outside compartments for strapping various electronics or tools as well.
The whole rig features a front-hinged roof that pops up and provides standing space. There is a ceiling in place which is the bed. That easily tilts up so you have full standing height inside the back of the vehicle when the tent is up.
There are also windows on the side of the camper with zip-up screens. Funny thing, in the videos from Alu-Cab they talk about midges, but here in the U.S. we have no-see-ums and mosquitoes. Bugs are universally annoying.
Essentially, these campers are a blank canvas. But there are also items Tiny Rig Company sells from Goose Gear that are specifically designed to fit in the camper. In the linked video I mentioned above, the Gladiator’s owner also had the rear seat deleted and found Goose Gear that made that space surprisingly useful, as well.
There are options to outfit this rig more completely including solar options, which makes a lot of sense. I saw a standard Anderson connector on the roof meaning you can either attach solar panels there or run a cable down to portable panels if you’d like. I like when companies utilize standard connectors and fittings to make things happen rather than proprietary stuff.
There’s not a lot to tell about these campers other than they’re a blank canvas that can turn mid-size pickups, including the Jeep Gladiator, into off-road campers. The combination of build quality and light weight along with the ability to customize the camper to one’s preferences is a good combination.
Tony comes to RVTravel having worked at an RV dealership and been a life long RV enthusiast. He also has written the syndicated Curbside column about cars. You can find his writing here and at StressLessCamping where he also has a podcast about the RV life with his wife.
These RV reviews are written based on information provided by the manufacturers along with our writer’s own research. We receive no money or other financial benefits from these reviews. They are intended only as a brief overview of the vehicle, not a comprehensive critique, which would require a thorough inspection and/or test drive.
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