COUPLING THE CAMPER

WE TAKE TO THE TOOLS TO TEST AL-KOíS LATEST OFF-ROAD HITCH.

WORDS AND PHOTOS MARK ALLEN

AL-KO has jumped into the off-road pin-hitch market by attempting to roll all the market-leading features into one fast, easy, safe and affordable off-road hitch, and few spanner spins I was ready to test it out.

RATED

AVAILABLE FROM: www.alko.com.au and all good trailer-part outlets.

RRP: $478

WE SAY: Great off-road hitch is both safe and easy to use.

The four-holed bolt pattern is industry standard, making for an easy retrofit. There are a couple of different handbrake systems, of which I stuck with the oldstyle ratchet lever instead of the newer push-button style. Everything lined up, with little to do other than redo the four bolts and reattach the handbrake. Apart from an initial few pumps of grease into the main shaft, the integrated maintenance-free dust seals ensure there is no ongoing maintenance.

While some other hitches need locking pins, latches and fiddly levers to aid in hitching and unhitching, AL-KO has removed all those nuances to deliver a hands-free hitching experience.

Unhitching only requires the depression of the top cap and the positive latching indicator (after which you can remove your hands) to allow easy winding of the jockey wheel to unhitch from the pin.

Once lowered onto the pin, the integrated positive-latching indicator automatically pops out to show a green-coloured band amid the surrounding red.

This ADR-compliant system double locks and prevents accidental dislodging of the hitch. The definitive signalling of the hitch locking into position is a winner for me; anyone who manages to get that wrong and have their trailer part ways while on the road should be filling out an application for the Darwin Awards.

Provided the hitch is within cooee of the pin prior to lowering, it will pivot and self-centre. I pushed the boundaries of the system to see how far out I could be to start with. If youíre beyond the scope of working, the AL-KO Click Lock system will not engage the pin and the green band wonít pop out Ė itís easy to recognise that the system hasnít engaged properly.

Overall articulation? If you can test to the maximum angles of this hitch, youíll end up with gravel rash on your roof. While Iím not that gung-ho, I am happy in the knowledge that, with this AL-KO Offroad Pin Hitch installed, I can tow my camper (almost) anywhere my 4x4 will go.

Given I have barn-door rear doors on my Troop Carrier, having a low 83mm height of the hitch allowed for non- denting door openings Ė another big tick. Not that I need such a high rating on my camper trailer, but the 3500kg ATM rating allows use on larger caravans, too.

WITH THE AL-KO HITCH INSTALLED I CAN TOW MY CAMPER (ALMOST) ANYWHERE MY 4X4 WILL GO

Long-term reliability and its ability to keep dust and water from within the main hitch body (via the integrated seals) is something Iíll keep an eye on. To date, the seals have worked well.

Given my initial experiences, this AL-KO hitch is a pearler and is going to stay put on my drawbar.