The 'OPUS OP15 Off-Road Hybrid Caravan' (OP15) is 'both a tough and luxurious' off-road camper. A 15 ft off-road hybrid caravan with a pop top roof, an internal shower and toilet, a king size main bed, bunks and an integral kitchen as an option. The pop up roof provides better headroom (over 6ft) but minimises the trailers profile when towing - less wind resistance, saving fuel and reducing general stress on the towing vehicle. On arrival at camp, a clever slide-out at the back of the camper provides additional space for the King Size bed.
Heavier of course than a camper trailer, this is by no means lightweight at a kerb weight of 4960lbs (2250kgs) and Gross Vehicle Mass of 6600lbs (2994 kgs). You will need a pickup or better a 4WD fitted with an electric brake controller to tow this camper trailer. It comes with a fully articulated hitch and connects to the towing vehicle via a standard 2 inch hitch receiver.
The OP15 has a fully hot dipped galvanised chassis and stands on twin shock-absorbers and trailing arm independent suspension for each wheel. The camper is constructed using an aluminium frame with checker plate to protect vulnerable areas. The one piece walls have plenty of opening windows fitted with blinds and bug screens, the pop up roof has gas assisted struts to ease lifting. The construction and insulation R value of the walls, floor and roof are unknown but the walls offer better wildlife protection than canvas camper trailers.
A wind out awning provides shelter over the outdoor galley but must be stowed away in anything above light winds or rain.
The back of the camper is characterised by 2 spare tyres mounted on swing arms secured by simple latches and safety pins. On arrival at the camp site, these spare tyres have to be swung clear to allow the rear camper extension to be deployed during the setup process. The camper is levelled and supported using 4 x wind down stabiliser legs.
3 layouts are offered. For Tip Toe the greatest flexibility comes from the layout that sleeps 4 with two bunks at front (see diagram).
Setup appears to be straight forward although the Owners Manual itemises it as a 19 step process! It can apparently be done in under five minutes.
Living Area / Office
They say the perfect trailer just is not out there and that every trailer requires a compromise of some sort. Its here in the internal living area / office for this trailer. There is a short bench and a table opposite the sink (and internal cooker if fitted). The USA version appears to be better as it has a small 'L' shaped seat. Opus has spoiled us with the large U shaped seating in the Opus OP4 that is so functional and great for chilling out. Of course you could easily stretch out in the adjacent bed. Otherwise, the area is generally light, bright and well ventilated with opening windows and the all around canvas flaps in the camper's roof extension.
Sleeping. A King Size North / South bed with an innerspring mattress and storage beneath sits at the rear of the camper. When setting up the camper, a fold out at the rear extends the trailer and provides room for the bed which has to be folded out into the space created. The thermal qualities of this 'fold out' are unknown but confirmation is required that it does not provide a real heat transit. Its not known if this process allows the bed to be left made up during transit. For the bunk beds up front, the top bunk is a bit shorter than the bottom bunk (1600mm and 2200mm); there is room for a 6 ft adult to sleep comfortably on the bottom bunk.
Outside. In a very similar style to the Opus OP4 Extreme Off Road Camper, there is a slide out stainless steel galley with 4 burner AGA approved stove, pantry and sink with hot and cold mixer tap on the left side of the Camper. A Dometic 75L Fridge Freezer is provided on another slide out and a drop down table (work surface) completes the outside galley. There appears to be plenty of room for a BBQ and a larger fridge freezer would be a good addition if it fits. The logistics challenges associated with gas cylinders has been discussed previously (see article below) and an induction cooker might be a good replacement if its performance outside allows. ( Its anticipated that a diesel stove would not work as it would require an additional tank to be fitted to the camper).
A wind out awning provides shade over the slide out galley. The inability to enclose the area with side walls and a floor will make cooking a very cold experience in the Arctic as there are no side walls. Opting to cook inside is one solution but perhaps better would be use of the Opus Air Technology and an inflatable canvas Annex that could attach to the side of the camper, similar to the Air Opus OP4 Extreme Off Road Camper or a simple more traditional enclosed tent. Either solution would improve flexibility and possibly provide more accommodation too.
Inside there is a sink. An internal induction cooker is an Option and there may be space to sneak a microwave in too if you are so inclined.
Water. 2 x 120L water tanks protected by a stone guard gives just over 9 days endurance with careful normal use. Its understood that the tanks are located outwith the insulated body of the Camper and so will be prone to freezing without tank heaters. The water tanks (front and rear) are serviced by a single Surflow water pump so there is no redundancy should the pump fail. It is not known if water can be lifted from ponds and pools nor if there is any UV treatment or filtration built into the camper. For waste water, there is a 67L grey water tank protected by a stone guard - again this will be prone to freezing. A Truma electric heater provides hot water. It is understood that a 10 gall (45L) black water tank can be provided.
Shower / Toilet. There is a dedicated wet bathroom with a Thetford shower and cassette toilet; the details of the discharge process are unknown. The 1 piece shower floor should reduce the possibility of leaks or spills into the main body of the camper. There is a 'Pop Up' bathroom vent above the shower.
Gas. Gas presents a significant logistics challenge in Europe and Africa. The OP15 has storage for 2 x 4.5kg gas cylinders. This is a bit disappointing, 2 x 9kgs would be better if they would fit. The system includes an automatic changeover valve. The gas system provides heating and hot water so not something you want to run short of in cold weather.
Power. The OP15 has a lithium system onboard as standard (and quite right by the way Opus!). Up to 3 x 100Ah lithium batteries can be charged either from the vehicle underway via an Andersen Plug or via 3 x 100 watts solar panels on the roof. Of course 240V (120V in USA) 'shore power' can be used where available too and it is anticipated that a Generator or solar mat could also be used. LED lighting is used throughout. A 12v TV on a swing arm enables the TV to be viewed from the bed and / or the 'lounge' seat. The TV needs to be secured using velcro straps to prevent damage when towing. If imported to the UK then ideally the 240v plug sockets would need to be changed for the UK square pin type. There is an air conditioning unit offered (see below) but to avoid a pretty rapid 'black out' in the camper, this should only be used when connected to shore supply or a generator. A 30A shore power connection is required to prevent the Inverter drawing supplies from the batteries.
12V system. The master 12V system on/off switch is mounted on a control panel that provides the monitoring and separate switching for all the 12V appliances and systems in the OP15; these include: Fridge, Sockets, TV and Water Pump. The OP15 has two 12V outlets for the interior TV hookup, two for the exterior TV hookup and one exterior 12V socket by the kitchen. The internal and external lights for your OP15 are all 12v LED. They can all be switched on or off independently either on the light itself or on via a switch in the OP15.
In addition, assuming the satellite communications aerial is mounted on the towing vehicle, its anticipated that wifi and cellphone signal enhancers / boosters will also be required.
Air conditioning. A Truma Inventa Air conditioner can be installed but the zipped windows in the canvas sides of the pop top provide good ventilation and allow heat to escape from the camper in hot weather.
Sound system. A CD/DVD/MP3/USB/SD/BT Stereo with 2 int/ext speakers is available if required.
There appears to be plenty of storage onboard. All drawers and cupboards are secured by yachting type soft close furniture and latches, the US version has attractive bamboo facings.
Shipping. The Owners Manual shows the trailer length as 257 inches (and 106" high) when ready to tow, so the OP15 may not fit in a 20ft ISO container for shipping but should just fit in a 40ft ISO high cube if shipped with a towing vehicle like the Land Rover Defender.
Starting at AUD$54,990 (about GBP£30,670) before on road costs, options and accessories it looks like good value for money when standing alongside the Bruder EXP-6 Expedition Trailer and only a few thousand pounds more expensive that the Air Opus OP4 Extreme Off Road Camper. It would also be interesting to better understand the differences with its smaller mate the Opus OP13 Hybrid Caravan which it is understood should start at AUD$47,990 (GBP£26,695) when released.
This appears to be a great compromise between a trailer top tent and a caravan but now for the bad news - the Opus OP15 Hybrid Caravan is not available in the UK so it would need to be purchased and shipped from a dealer in Australia (or USA) which might add up to £3k plus tax to the price.
Note to readers:
1. The above trailer has not been physically towed or sighted by Tip Toe. The above summary is a view formed following desktop online research of websites and a number of different YouTube videos. It takes into consideration Tip Toe's overland requirements. It will be used to assist in the choice of vehicle and camper.
2. For the purposes of these articles, differentiation between the different categories of trailer as follows:
Camper Trailer: A trailer fitted with an integrated 'trailer top tent' (with or without a hard shell), galley, water, power and associated items and storage for most or all of your clothing and equipment. For example Patriot Campers X3.
Off-Road Camper: A purpose built caravan style trailer with hard walls possibly with a soft walled 'pop up', galley, water, power and associated camping items and storage for most clothing and equipment. The 'Bruder EXP-6 Expedition Trailer' falls into this category.
Expedition Truck: A truck of 7500 kgs or greater fitted with a camper box with or without crawl through. For example the Mercedes Unimog Camper.