Back in 1998 when the original Kimberley Kamper was released, it had little competition.Whilst there were a few other quality manufacturers, none had the robustness and unique chassis design which set Kimberley apart from the rest. Even today, a 1998 model Kimberley Kamper in good condition sells for more than its original purchase price.
In recent years the market has been flooded with small manufacturers selling direct to the public creative shapes and configurations that invite more than a curious look. The market between camper trailers and caravans has blurred with many “hybrid” models on offer. The trend has been to more units with internal showers and toilets. These units are heavier and Australian conditions punish heavy caravans and camper trailers as well as those that are not the right design or highest quality.
The onus has been on Kimberley to make a step change in the industry and to take on the off road caravan builders with a range of off-road caravans that are second to none. Rather than play it safe and merely release an off road caravan that looked like all the rest, Kimberley decided to steal a march on competition and engineer new models from the ground up.
The investment has paid off. Over 700 Kimberley Karavans have been built with internal toilet and shower and an amazing 2.2m high walk through space. Yet when travelling it folds up electrically to the size of the 4WD. It is no wider than the 4WD so it can go anywhere. There is no other unit with this folding “no-canvas” specification on the market and Kimberley has secured the design with International patents. The newer much larger off road caravan is the Kimberley Kruiser. It not only looks sleek and different but is an integrated design and a quantum leap forward in its class.
How did Kimberley do it? At the core of the new Kimberley model is a next-generation Control Ride Response Chassis. Like most Kimberley features, this is not just marketing buzz or added on modules, it is an integrated brand new design!
Together with the independent air suspension and dual anti-sway bars their off-road caravans sit low on the highway for low fuel consumption and then perk up and most importantly maintain independent traction off road. Those annoying corrugated roads that lead to an idyllic camping area are tackled with ease because they have the lowest un-sprung suspension weight in the industry courtesy of the super lightweight electronic disc hubs. These hubs are half the weight of old-world electric drum brakes.
You need to take a closer look to see how cleverly this has been done with the new technology chassis. It is an industry first with a combination of galvanized steel chassis rails, suspension frame and A frame. Then an alloy sub-frame and cabin structure is locked between these pieces with 2 piece rivets to give it the flexibility like an aircraft to handle vibration. The design was inspired by the “mechano” alloy Aircraft frames.
This new platform is 40% lighter than conventional all steel frame construction yet 30% stronger when it comes to twisting and bending forces. What is amazing is the analysis Kimberley have done after overturning completely finished Kimberley Karavans and Kimberley Kruisers on their side and then righting them again assessing the damage. The damage was minimal other than scratched windows and the chassis was perfect in both cases. A test passed with flying colours! Try doing that with any other caravan and see the damage that is caused!
In the new Kimberley Kruiser, when combined with the lightweight roof and super light frameless windows, the door opens to a host of performance and handling improvements. For starters, the Black Caviar Model achieved a 13.7L/100 km towing fuel economy behind a big V8 diesel. The Eco-suite achieved an even lower 12 Litres/100klm. Both Vehicles were travelling at 110km/hr during the tests.
World beating (yes there are several Kimberley units in far flung places of the world) off road capability has always been a Kimberley stock in trade. In resent years though, Kimberley have added to this a new era of sustainable energy systems with super thin solar, Lithium batteries and touch-less LED lighting. Kimberley's system delivers the maximum solar power available even when towing or hooked up to other forms of mobile power. The toilet and washing machine can both use reclaimed shower water from the second grey water tank – another industry first.
The best thing about beating the heat after a long drive is relaxing inside the Kruiser. Take in the expansive views while reclining inside in the “Cinema Seats” with the feet up and book in hand. Audiophiles will love the Digital Lifestyle Sound and Video System once the local wildlife goes to sleep. Nearly everyone is a semi-professional digital photographer these days and the attention that Kimberley have gone to with high speed WiFi on board, gigabit busses to networked drives, and direct charging points for cameras while they are secure in storage simplifies their use. I just love the flip down 22inch LED screens with touch controls. Flip up and see the view!
Finally these models are truly developed with traveller feedback. Washing machines have been in vogue for some time. But drying clothes when travelling can be a burden. Waiting for that towel to be dry and crisp is like watching grass grow. Kimberley has an industry first with a “drying chalet” that has a stainless steel basket shrouding a diesel powered hot air system underneath. The hatch overhead is also powered to automatically open and exhaust hot air. They even close if it rains!