The Alu-Cab range covers a host of vehicle-mounted canopies, slide-on campers, roof-top tents, awnings and camping accessories. Recently we came across a well-sorted Land Rover Defender fitted with an Alu-Cab flip-top camper conversion. These conversions are also available for Land Cruiser Troopies.
While Landie owners Andrew and Sharon Cox imported the product direct from South Africa and fitted it themselves, most people would find it easier to have all the work done by the newly appointed Australian dealer.
Fitting the unit to the Landie is a simple matter of removing the OE bolt-on roof and replacing it with the camper conversion. Not happy with stock-white paint, Andrew had it repainted black.
The unit is built from aluminium, while the outer skin is anodised tread plate, easily supporting the full-length roof rack that’s now attached to it. There’s a 25mm sagex-polystyrene layer for excellent insulation, and two more layers in the roof that add strength and a good finish.
The roof lifts on gas struts, which will vary, depending on whether a roof rack is fitted or not.
The conversion’s higher-profile roof line allows for the flooring of the camper and plenty of room for the 75mm-thick mattress, along with all the sleeping gear you’ll ever need.
The floor of the camper – the normal ‘ceiling’ of the Landie’s roof – is aluminium and plywood sheet covered in carpet. It’s in two sections, the smaller end providing easy bedroom access from below when the camper has been erected.
The tent area is made from high-quality canvas, with plenty of ventilation from three large mesh-covered windows. The rear window has a large awning over it, allowing access direct from the outside, or for the window to remain open in inclement weather.
Opening the camper is simply a matter of undoing the clips and pushing upwards, with the gas struts doing the lifting.
Closing it takes a little more effort, as it needs to be pulled down into place. One interesting feature is the support strut that allows you to put all the canvas away without having to try to hold the roof in place. Once tucked away, simply pull down on the roof and the support strut depresses into its holder, allowing you to latch the roof easily.
The camper roof holds a full-length rack, with the amount of gear it can carry only restricted by the strength of the gas strut and the person lifting the roof.
Enhancing the versatility of the camper, Andrew and Sharon have added an Alu- Cab Shadow Awning, which is a robust 10sqm, 270-degree swing-around shade awning. This is probably the strongestlooking unit I have seen on the market.
The mounting and hinged points are made from solid stainless steel, while the arms are from boxed aluminium. It comes
with a support leg and a few pegs to hold it down in strong winds, and it is as easy as you’d expect to deploy.
The Defender’s rear windows were removed and replaced with Alu-Cab storage units. The driver’s side has a box suitable for recovery gear and tools, while the passenger-side box is a deeper unit customised as a kitchen.
There’s a swing down bench at the back of the Defender to carry the stove, while on the other side a gas bottle can be mounted externally (so no danger of gas leaks in the vehicle) and plumbed in with a quick disconnect gas connection.
In some of the unused space inside the cab, a set of roomy Alu-Cab drawers house a pair of narrow 110amp/hour batteries that help power the nearby Engel fridge.
The top of the drawer system doubles as a handy seat when Andrew and Sharon are forced indoors, while a long storage box opposite doubles as a bench.
Being keen and experienced desert travellers, they have two 22-litre plastic jerry cans for water readily accessible inside, plus a 60-litre stainless steel water tank tucked up under the floor, giving a pretty generous supply overall.
If you’ve spotted the elaborate rubbing strips on the doors, those are actually Alu-Cab aluminium tie-down rails. These not only strengthen the doors, as Andrew has found, but more also allow numerous items to be mounted there when setting up camp. In fact, Alu-Cab has a hot water system that mounts on to the door, although it wasn’t on their shopping list – not yet, anyway!
Of course, such a well set-up Land Rover has all the normal stuff – ARB bullbar, aftermarket suspension, longrange fuel tank, snorkel, winch, HF radio, and the like. But it is the Alu-Cab additions that lift this rig from the norm to the exceptional.
Alu-Cab roof conversion – $7000 (approximately) Shadow Awning - $1100 (approx’) Freight & import duty from South Africa added another $5000 (approx’) For more Info: Alu-Cab now has a local dealership - Alu-Cab Australia (& Quick Pitch Campers), Wangara, WA, ph: 1300 136 964. Visit: http://alu-cab.com.au