From humble beginnings – keeping intrepid free campers safe at night from ground-based predators across the vast savannah grasslands of southern Africa from the early 1970s – until here in New Zealand today where they are often fitted as much as an indication of intent as a practical place to sleep while out in the wop wops on your latest 4WD mission, the Roof Top Tent has truly come of age.

Practical, cost-effective and perfect if it is just you and/or a close partner ‘on manoeuvres’ ‘fold-out/fold-back-in ’Roof Top Tents make a lot of sense, particularly if your off-road ‘truck of choice’ has a full-length roof – or, in other words, is classed as a ‘station wagon.’

If, however, your modern-day ‘truck of choice’ happens to be one of New Zealand’s top sellers, a 2.0-to 3.2 litre Double Cab Ute, it’s very much a case of ‘not so much!’

Sure, with the correct load rated roof rack system you can easily mount a Roof Top Tent to your TD DC Utility. Actually, you don’t even need a canopy, some eager beavers having already welded up simple tubular steel perimeter mounts and second floating floor so that they can mount their Roof Top Tents far enough up ‘in the air’ as it were to allow access to the open storage space underneath.

The problem here, of course is that the space is essentially open….to the elements not to mention prying eyes and light fingers….

There has, in other words, got to be a better way. And fortunately, thanks to specialist South Africa coachbuilder Alu-Cab (sold here by Auckland-based retailer Racer Products under their dedicated 4x4 brand, Mudstuck), there is.

It’s called the Khaya Camper and it effectively combines the best of both worlds – a state-of-the-art Roof Top Tent (also sold separately) and an easy to mount/remove & store lightweight ‘pod’ designed to literally ‘drop-in’ to a typical TD DC ute’s tray.

In doing so the company has effectively combined sleeping quarters, with kitchen and shower/laundry facilities in a simple/practical package which can either be packed away when not in use, or parked ready for docking with your typical wellside-tray TD DC utility for when the urge to get away from it all becomes an all-consuming ‘need.’

Access ‘inside’ is via a small central-mounted door at the rear and set of foldaway steps.

Once inside the idea is to fold the ceiling of the pod up into the erected Roof Top Tent, to allow at least two adults to stand up in, and/or access the sleeping area by folding the floor back down to form a double bed mattress 75mm thick.

Featuring Alu-Cab’s rip-lock technology, the 400g/m2 material the tent itself is made of is both waterproof and UV-resistant and opens easily on gas struts. Unzipping the three openings enables campers to sleep beneath the stars or watch the sunrise, but also to stay safe behind integrated mosquito nets when necessary and the rear window has a taut roofing to provide protection from rain and sunlight.

The Khaya’s appeal isn’t just restricted to what you’ll find inside it, either. With fittings for a wraparound Alu-Cab Shadow 270 awning, Overlanders can still rest, ‘cook up a mean feed,’ or otherwise relax in the open without direct exposure to the sun.

The Khaya also comes complete with a fold out (warm water) shower. Also, thanks to an auxiliary battery set-up, the Khaya won’t drain your vehicle’s starter battery while an optional roof-mounted solar panel ensures that as long as the sun shines, so can the lights in the onboard fridge!

With sales of TD DC Utilities still going gang busters here, Mudstuck’s decision to source, promote and sell Alu-Cab’s two and four person Khaya Campers is an idea whose time has come.

‘’The key point for us,“ says Racer Products general Manager Gene Rollinson, “is that the Khaya Camper is not just another Roof Top Tent. Sure, that’s probably the bit you see first. But once you see all the other bits and pieces in the camper unit itself – including the lights, wiring, plumbing, kitchen unit, shower etc you realise that you are basically turning your Ute into a compact Campervan.  However, the real bonus is that it is not permanently attached to the vehicle so you can remove the unit and use your Ute as a daily driver, therefore saving thousands of dollars by negating the need to buy a completely separate vehicle. “

For more information shop Khaya today.