Welcome to our Tray Back Camper Buyers Guide!

Why consider a Tray Back Camper? A Tray Back Camper appeals to people who prefer not to tow. With a reduced overall travelling length, it’s much easier to navigate tight tracks and you only need a small area to setup camp. Other adventurers want to tow a boat, but still enjoy the off ground comforts of a camper.

Tray Back Camper Buyers Guide - Why a Tray Back Camper?
A tray back camper appeals to people who don’t want to tow!

A Tray Back Camper slides onto to the back of a ute, making use of the existing tray. It accommodates all the usual comforts of a hard floor camper trailer such as a queen size bed, change room, kitchen, water, storage, quality canvas and more. But it’s how it works as a touring package, that differentiates the best products.

Ease of Use

Like their camper trailer brethren, a tray back camper’s ease of use plays a critical part in camping enjoyment, particularly for quick overnight stops. Look for a setup that one person could easily manage on their own, such as the remote control setup below. Click the video link to see it in action.

Other important features include an easily accessible kitchen for roadside lunch stops. It’s best if the food prep area, cook top and fridge are close at hand.

Tray Back Camper Buyers Guide - Kitchen access2
The kitchen should be readily accessible for roadside stops

Storage is also important. Drawers work better than cupboards, providing easy access to everything inside. It’s also helpful to have internal access once the camper is packed away.


The whole point of sleeping off the ground is to enjoy greater comforts. Make sure you score a full queen size bed. When its hot, you’ll need room to spread out and keep cool. Big windows maximise ventilation and an integrated tropical roof keeps the interior cool without imposing any extra setup/pack-up effort.

Make sure the bed orientation is such that you don’t have to climb over your partner for early morning bathroom visits.

The Travelander end of bed platform means you don’t have to clamber over your partner for early morning bathroom trips

Australian Dynaproofed canvas has unique properties making it better suited for outdoor use. It’s waterproofed at the thread level, so when its machined into rolls, the canvas can still breathe naturally. It’s also UV stabilised and treated for mould. Look for the Dynaproofed label to confirm your canvas is the real deal.

Wax Converters Premium canvas

A tray back camper works best with some extra room to move. A hard floor works to that end, providing a spacious area to get dressed; a refuge for meals away from insects; and space for the kids sleeping mats (if needed), so everyone gets to sleep off the ground.

Tray Back Camper Buyers Guide - Comforts2
A tray back camper with a hard floor has many practical comforts

Then there’s hot water. A warm shower after a few sweaty days of going without is just glorious! Even better if you have an easy setup ensuite tent for privacy. Hot water makes cleaning those greasy dishes so much easier too.

Tray Back Camper Buyers Guide - Comforts3
Nothing beats a warm shower to cleanse the body odour after a few days of remote travel

Vehicle Selection

A single cab vehicle will offer the largest tray, which could accommodate either a single or dual cab camper. It also offers the largest payload. With the smaller camper fitted, extra space is available on the tray for storing other gear.

Tray Back Camper Buyers Guide - Vehicle Selection
The Extra Cab boasts a payload advantage over a dual cab ute

Be careful not to exceed your Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM), your total load including vehicle, camper, passengers, fuel, water, vehicle accessories and camping gear. This figure should be stamped on the Compliance Plate. A GVM upgrade will increase the carrying capacity. Simply purchase a federal compliance kit and have it fitted by an Approved Production Facility. The upgrade includes revised suspension components that increase the ability to carry the load.

Even if you don’t go the GVM upgrade, you’ll still need a suspension upgrade for the rear suspension. While utes are designed to carry a load from time to time, it’s not a constant load and the rear springs need to be modified accordingly. Many suspension upgrades are offered with a lift. If you go this way, it will increase the height of the kitchen which may work against you if you’re vertically challenged. Otherwise just ask for a standard height spring upgrade kit.

Weight Distribution

Like other vehicles, weight distribution is important. Ideally, you want most of the weight carried forward of the rear axle and as low as possible, so not to compromise stability and ultimately safety. Heavy items like water tanks, batteries and landing legs are best carried as close to the head board of the ute as possible.

Tray Back Camper Buyers Guide - Weight Distribution
Above, the batteries and landing legs are carried just behind the headboard

Value for Money

A Tray Back Camper offers a significant cost savings over a similarly equipped camper trailer. Without the need for a separate chassis including wheels, suspension and brakes the cost savings can be as much as $15,000.


Magazine reviews provide a good insight into the capability of tray back campers and you can generally obtain a good feel for the suitability to your requirements. That said, nothing beats a direct inspection to carefully comb over the camper. Quiz the dealer on options available and perceived shortcomings relative to your needs, as there may be an option or workaround.

After Sales Support

Whatever you buy, make sure there is a servicing dealer nearby with a solid reputation for after sales service. During the sales process you will have many questions and it’s reassuring to have a dependable local resource for support. Then there’s parts, repairs and sometimes warranty to attend to. Try doing that through an interstate body. Some dealers are great at selling, but pay less attention to after sales service.

Google the Dealer, to see what existing customers have said on an independent site. Simply enter their business name into a Google search. The business name will appear with a summary star rating out of five like that below. Click the link to read the reviews in detail.


Tray Back Camper Buyer’s Guide – More info

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our Tray Back Camper Buyers Guide. If you’d like some information on our range of tray back campers click HERE. Or for more photos, videos and information, check out the Travelander website.

Make an Appointment to Inspect

Call us to make an appointment for a personalised tour of our Tray Back Camper range.

The Dirt Off Road Campers
26 Light Crescent,
Mount Barker, SA, 5251
(08) 8391 6274
Opening Hours
Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm
Saturday 9.30am – 2pm
Sunday By appointment

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