Terra Trek TTE18 minute read
The product of an adventurous designer with a background in guiding remote trips, the Terra Trek TTE is not your typical camper.
Who Does The Terra Trek TTE Suit?
According to Mark Reu, Owner of Terra Trek, the TTE is designed and ruggedly built for the more remote adventurer.
Remote travel can be demanding on design. Gear needs to be tough, easy to repair, fast to set up, yet still comfortable and capable of sustaining us if we park up for extended periods off-grid.
The Terra Trek TTE tackles those design challenges. It’s suited to those overlanders/tourers that want a camper that’s size and ruggedness won’t restrict them from exploring everywhere – even narrow and rough tracks.
It’s designed for a couple or with the use of the optional rear tent there is plenty of sleeping and storage room for a family.
Suspension, Towing & Tyres
The Terra Trek TTE uses long swing arms for left-right stability combined with dual radius arms on each side for added strength. A coil and shock absorber assist dampening and dropping tyre pressures is an easily overlooked way to increase shock absorption in any trailer. It’s a comprehensive solution.
The coil springs additionally have internal Airbag Man Airbags operated by an onboard compressor in the trailer and controlled by built-in switches. We run a very similar Airbag Man system in our LandCruiser, and it’s a great way to maintain correct wheel camber with varying loads.
On our test trip, the TTE carried a heavy load for two weeks living off-grid; full water, provisions, firewood and gear.
On the 2,500 kilometres of bitumen, it towed effortlessly, the only downside was the expected decrease in fuel economy when towing.
On corrugations, it kept pace with the Cruiser and was barely noticeable. The same was the case on the rough rocky tracks of Warra Station and the coastal journey north to Coral Bay.
The drawbar is long enough to make reversing easy. The single steel section also makes it possible to manoeuvre at tighter angles without jack-knifing. Our reverse camera could pick this view up well, which added to the ease.
The test TTE has 35” tyres, and the wheel track is roughly suited to the 200 Series LandCruiser. Terra Trek says they accommodate most tow vehicles wheel size-wise. Matching camper and 4×4 wheels & tyres is always wise and gives far more redundancy from two spares total – one on the tow vehicle and one on the trailer.
Like many premium campers, the TTE uses the highly regarded and easy to use Cruisemaster DO35 Hitch.
Terra Trek manufactures the TTE in South Australia. The galvanised chassis is over-engineered; just the way we like things! The body sits on heavy-duty bushings and extensively utilises aluminium to save weight.
The test Terra Trek is over two years old. It’s done extensive travel during that time but doesn’t show it.
It seems Terra Trek have struck a balance – strength without being too heavy, with quality suspension and bushings to absorb impact and aid longevity.
Integrated Rooftop Tent
The Terra Trek has a neatly integrated rooftop tent. The access is via the rear under the largest vestibule of any rooftop tent we’ve seen. I was hesitant of this vestibule initially, thinking it would struggle in the wind. However, two straps lock it taut back against the trailer chassis, and it didn’t flap in the stiff WA winds we experienced on this testing trip.
Being closer to the ground than a 4×4 rooftop make it a short climb. As it’s only a short ladder, it would benefit from deeper and wider rungs to make it even easier.
The mattress is 10cm thick foam, and most people would likely find it comfortable. At 6’2” the tent itself is to short for me. Terra Trek informed us before our test trip that the tent in the 2021 model will be both longer and broader. This extra space will make the tent more luxurious, will offer more room for tall travellers or gear, and I’m sure will be a welcomed update by future owners.
The trailer roof is also the floor of the tent. This construction method allows for the tent shell to be more robust without the trailer becoming too heavy. Crossbars integrated into the roof of the tent are perfect for carrying lighter loads like surfboards, kayaks, mountain bikes or fixed solar panels.
The door and large side windows can be closed as either fabric or mesh. The arcs of the zippers run wide which allows for easy operation.
The tent is fast to set up and pack up. Gas struts do the work on the way up, and two internal poles lock the shell in the up position. The excess fabric is easy to tuck away, partly by design and partly because the tent is lower than it would be on a vehicle. The latches close quickly, and if need be, are simple to adjust or even padlock.
Bedding can stay inside as well as some clothing. This feature is convenient. Options, where bedding storage isn’t possible, means the bedding takes up valuable storage space elsewhere.
The legless stainless bench is the highlight of the TTE kitchen. With the pump switched on, water is on tap, drawing from the large 85-litre stainless steel underbody water tank.
The burner pulls out from one side of the table next to the basin. Built-in burners are an option, but many customers opt to use their stoves that have high output and built-in windscreens. The gas cylinder stores next to the stove for easy access at camp.
The two large drawers in the kitchen suited our camp oven and large stacking pot set respectively. The long drawers worked well for our cutlery and coffee brewing gear.
In the front of the trailer is a monstrous 96 Litre ARB Dual Zone Fridge Freezer. Along with the 50 Litre fridge in our Cruiser, we’ve never travelled with so much fresh food!
This Terra Trek TTE came fitted with a REDARC Manager 30 Charger and REDARC RedVision Management System. Also provided is a REDARC Inverter, charging points and lights in the front, kitchen and tent and additional lights in the other two storage lockers. A 75 Ah lithium battery powered the system.
We have a very similar setup in our LandCruiser, and it has proven simple to use and reliable. The Manager 30 allows the battery to be charged from 240V (mains power), DC to DC (from the vehicle) or from solar.
On this trip, we spent six days at Warra and seven days at Exmouth, relying only on solar. Our biggest power draw was the fridge which was a significant drain with one zone set as a freezer. We had partly cloudy weather each day and still managed to stay ahead without the need to use the vehicle as a generator.
For those spending time stationery, I’d recommend optioning more extensive capacity lithium battery storage. It’s expensive, but it takes the pressure off and allows for the storing of extra capacity on good weather days.
We were charging the camper with our own REDARC 190 Watt SunPower Blanket. We have a 150 Watt SunPower Blanket for the Cruiser. For the next similar trip, I’ll bring an adapter to daisy chain the two blankets to connect both blankets to the camper once the Cruiser is full.
While induction cooking is a tempting option, and one Terra Trek offer, I’d advise not to underestimate the solar production and battery storage required to make this work. Without regularly driving to recharge the battery bank or the use of a generator, it isn’t easy to generate enough power without a significant solar array and good weather. It is possible, but if you plan to relax someplace for a week or more at a time, it may not be as easy as it initially appears.
The RedVision system controls the water pump, all the lights, the air compressor and the power to the fridge and 12V charge points. It also displays the water tank level, the battery charge and the power that is being both used and generated. It logs battery levels and solar generation throughout the day.
The TTE has an inbuilt pressure system for when travelling dusty roads. It filters air on intake and then pressurises the internal space, so dust is pushed out rather than sucked in. Combined with quality seals, we had no dust issues on the camper or tent during our test trip.
The lighting on the Terra Trek TTE is comprehensive in coverage. We’d like to see the option of ambient orange as well as the available white light. The more ambient lights are great for repelling bugs, plus they also make it feel more like camping and less like the city.
Like many reputable camper manufacturers, Terra Trek uses Australian canvas awnings made by SupaPeg. Once up the awning is bulletproof and shelters the full kitchen and fridge area upfront.
The challenge with the awning is it’s slow to set up and pack down. Legs and spreader poles all need to be positioned and pegged down. It’s okay for a week, but it’s not easy for on the go travel. When the weather is inclement, the shelter needs to be as quick and painless as the kitchen. Terra Trek indicated this is another area they are looking to change for their 2021 models.
Many campers offer little storage and have no payload for extra gear. The TTE does not have this problem and boasts 750 kilograms of available payload. On the driver’s side, it has a large storage space at waist height inside a gull style door.
In the rear is a cavernous sized boot. A full-length space accommodates the awning poles and ladder. In the middle, there’s more room than most would need. We needed to carry firewood for Warra, so we stacked that low, right between the wheels. Lighter gear we placed in the rear and above, and we were only half full.
The rear compartments cleverly home the wheel chocks, plus two jerry cans on either side. A second 4kg gas cylinder lives in a compartment front right.
Ease of Repair
LandCruisers are rugged, but they still break. One of the most significant benefits of owning a Toyota is their ease of repair. Parts and know-how are common.
The same applies to campers. All of them break at some point; the best ones are those easy to repair anywhere.
The Terra Trek TTE has a commercial build quality which means parts are easy to access. The shock absorbers are Old Man Emu and are from a 100 Series LandCruiser. They are easy to source anywhere. Same goes for the coils. The Airbag Man Airbags likewise are readily available, and the trailer will continue to operate even if a bag or line is damaged.
The REDARC electrical equipment is proven and available through auto-electricians and 4×4 accessory shops anywhere. Replacement parts are available, and Terra Trek has mounted them behind a panel in the front for ease of access.
It can be easy to hone in on the details that need work, but to be clear this is a camper that is 95% there, and that’s something we’d struggle to say about most.
It will follow you anywhere, and if you do break it, it’s likely to be straightforward to rectify. It’s fast to operate and has minimal tent fabric which is a plus in the wet.
We’d happily travel with one again and would certainly feel confident taking this camper into remote locations.
For more details on the TTE visit Terra Trek.