America is about to get another off-road camper. Track, an Australian company with nearly four decades of experience in building rugged campers and military trailers, wants to sell Americans its Tvan. This camper has a “military-grade” suspension, funky looks, and is supposed to be rugged enough to survive wherever you drag it.
Over the past year, I’ve been to two of the largest RV shows in the country. While there, I noticed a trend among campers. A large number of camper manufacturers are trying to dip their toes into the off-roading world. There’s some overlap there as off-roading is popular and many off-roaders also camp, thus it makes sense to tap into a potentially lucrative market. Some RV manufacturers slap a lift kit and knobby tires on their regular fare and call it a day. Other companies build campers specifically for adventurous owners, outfitting them with the kind of gear a trailer needs to survive a beating in the wilderness. Track Trailer falls into the latter camp and Americans can finally get their hands on them.
A History Of Off-Road Trailers
Track Trailer’s story begins in the early 1980s when Alan Mawson decided to use his skills in building and architecture to build a different kind of camper. As On The Road Magazine notes, Mawson already had made a name for himself in Australia’s RV industry. This camper would be a camper pack that attached to a 4×6 box trailer. The trailer–which would become known as the Eagle–utilized sealed lockers forming a perimeter with a bed in the middle and a tent on top.
Think of this as like those utility trailers with a roof tent on them.
From there, Mawson upgraded the camper with help from Guiding Star Trailers. The company built fully welded and hot dip galvanized trailers to Mawson’s specifications, making for a more rugged camper. These trailers featured Toyota Land Cruiser 60 series leaf springs and shock absorbers for more off-road capability. In 1990, the Track Trailer Eagle got a suspension upgrade from Neville Whithers with the Sugarglider suspension system, an upgrade over the former leaf springs that allowed for more suspension travel.
Skipping ahead to 1994, Track Trailer was contracted by the Australian military to build small trailers with 1,100-pound and 1,650-pound payloads. Track didn’t have any designs on hand that would work, so it created the mil-spec trailers from the ground up. In doing so, Track also developed its now trademark MC2 Asymmetrical Link independent suspension system. The military trailers had to go places a Mercedes-Benz Unimog could, so the trailers needed to have a beefy build. Here’s what Track says about the suspension:
The chassis itself is a combination of some continuing long standing Track Trailer® practices such as hot dip galvanizing, which Track Trailer started in the late 1980s and applying some sound principles learned from the design of truck and 4×4 chassis such as the use of torque tubes, welded on both flanges of chassis members. Properly engineered draw bars with precise jigs and rigorous quality control in assembly and welding, ultimately produces a chassis that is as light as it is robust and reliable.
With its wheel travel, self steering geometry, spring and shock absorber rates calibrated to each application, our MC2 Suspension® system has been used in varied applications from small gear carrying trailers through to massive Mine Warfare Satellite Earth Stations. This is the only suspension system available in the recreational market that’s currently being utilised by the military.
The original Tvan camper was the work of Mawson and mechanical engineer Gerard Waldron. Waldron had his own ideas for the ideal bush camper and in his eye, the Track Trailer Eagle came the closest. Then he got obsessed with making it better. In 1999, Track produced the very first Tvan, which earned the Recreational Vehicle Manufacturers Association of Australia’s Camper Trailer of the Millennium award in 2000. The Tvan was funky, functional, and rugged.
From there, Track continued to introduce new campers and further refine the Tvan. Along the way, the company continued to rack up RV awards in Australia. What you’re looking at here is the Track Tvan Mk5. Released in 2017, this camper looks similar to the first Tvans of 1999, but enjoys the latest advancements in Track’s trailer technology.
The Tvan Coming To America
The Tvan Mk5 starts with the latest iteration of Track’s hot-dipped galvanized chassis and MC2 Suspension. Track says that the suspension under this trailer is still used by the Australian military and that Track’s campers are the only ones you’ll find with a suspension currently used in military vehicles. On top of that chassis sits a box that consists of aluminum sandwich panels making up the walls.
One trick feature of a fifth-gen Tvan is the hatch. When opened, this gas strut-assisted panel rises up and allows you to deploy a tent room.
That tent material drapes down onto a deployable aluminum deck. Track says that deploying the tent–which is stored in the hatch–takes around 2 minutes. However, if that is too long, the hatch has a few configurations. For example, you can deploy the lower deck, pop the hatch, and install a screen. Or, you could pop the hatch and the deck open as one–Track calls this the Skyward Lift Up Deck–hop inside, and close the hatch behind you.
The company boasts the fact that this is not entirely a tent camper. Your queen size bed is inside of the hard walls of the camper, providing you with protection from the elements. As I said just before, you do not need to deploy the tent to sleep in it. Opening the tent simply doubles your room.
Track says that if you’re really tired from a day of adventuring, it could take as little as 30 seconds to set yourself up for some sleep. The Skyward Lift Up Deck also allows you to easily fetch something out of the trailer without having to deploy the lower deck.
Once inside, you get to enjoy 28.5 gallons of fresh water, which is expandable with an additional 18.5 gallons of water. You also get double-glazed windows, a fabric-lined ceiling, LED lights, magnetized tent attachments, and more. Helping you stay warm is Track’s diesel heating system. This consists of a glycol heat pump, a heat exchanger, and tanks for both diesel and glycol.
There are a ton of goodies with these trailers, too. The outdoor kitchen features a 3-burner Thetford cooktop, a sink, a cutting board, and lots of storage areas. The stove feeds from a pair of 8.8-pound propane bottles.
When it comes to electricity, Track converted the camper’s electrical system to work with the American grid and appliances. Power is managed through a Redarc RedVision power system. You get 110V outlets, USB ports, 120W of solar, and a 100 Ah lithium battery. If you choose, you can upgrade the electrical system with another 100 Ah battery, 240V outlets, a 300W pure sine inverter, and more.
In fact, the options list for these is quite large and includes everything from bigger awnings and tent rooms, different alloy wheels, mud flaps, a drawer for an air-conditioner, and storage upgrades. The Track Tvan has sealed storage lockers and it can be upgraded to have more, depending on other options.
The Track Tvan measures 16 feet, 1 inch long when configured for travel. Unloaded, it sits 6.75 feet tall. The base Inspire model weighs in at 2,183 pounds while the Zenith, which has more options, weighs in at 2,492 pounds. Check out this page for the list of standard and optional features. Weirdly, Track doesn’t publish ground clearance, but the company says that it has 5.9 inches of wheel travel and a departure angle of 30 degrees.
The 2023 Track Trailer Tvan is available for pre-order through Xgrid Campers of Las Vegas, a dealer known for distributing Australian campers. Track has not unveiled full pricing, however, you can currently find them for pre-order for $56,000 and up. This is indeed another one of those expensive off-road campers, but at least this one appears to have the record to back up its claims. I can’t wait to see one of these funky things in person.
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My gazelle T4 tent, cot, chair, table, roof rack, awning, and every thing else was less than $1000.
I’ve seen too many “military spec” things to automatically accept it means anything at all about quality or reliability.
I always remember that “Mil-Spec” means built by the lowest bidder.
I play a little game in my head with each of these RV/Camper stories. I think of a price that’s reasonable to me for what I’m seeing. And then I double it. It’s a pretty accurate system so far.
Agreed. I assume the extra tax that Australians have to pay for things is part of this ones increased cost as well.
I dunno… $28k still seems too steep for a glorified teardrop.
Given how common and long lived these are in Australia…the ill-informed comments here will likely provide much mirth.
I had my first tour of one in 2004 in the Limestone Gorge camping area in Gregory National Park in a remote part of the north western part of Northern Territory…and it was second hand. I was impressed despite the pervasive smell of the cassette shitter because the owners couldn’t bring themselves to use the campground long drop dunnies.
There is no question though, T-vans are expensive.
My sis and BIL had something similar for a few years.While larger than this one ,the novelty of having serious off road ability wore off and they got something bigger and more conventional.
Damn,why do words so hard for me?
Not even remotely meaning to be negative in the above comment.Off road ability is a big deal for some!
This is the trailer version of “The Homer”
Interesting to be sure… but too much money for too much weight and too few features (given the price).
The SafariCondo Alto seem like a better option for me. (I don’t have a UniMog to take it anywhere crazy). Would love to see you check one of those out.
The deployable aluminum deck is a cool idea. $56K+ for a bathroomless teardrop that weighs more than 2000lbs is ridiculous though.
A 2 door Jeep Wrangler only has a 2000lb tow rating and if I were properly towing off road I’d most likely be using a 2 Door 4×4 like a Wrangler.
For that price it better come with a rig to pull it and Furiosa to drive it.
$56K is insane. For as little you get, it is hard to even call it a luxury toy. I know there are people who will buy it, which is a reason to sell it for that, but… I don’t know what else to say.
I love the coverage you are providing, and especially the variety you cover. Each time I am amazed at the prices, but to be honest I am not at the point where I am ready to buy one, so maybe I’ll find a used version of one I like when I am ready.
Probably better off renting one