Australian Off Road (AOR) campers are recognised across this wide brown land as high-quality hybrids with caravan-like inclusions. What you may not know is that AOR originated as a soft-floor camper manufacturer on the Sunshine Coast back in 2000. Today there are nine different hybrid camper models with the introduction of its new Sierra.
The Sierra is the smallest of all the campers and takes AOR back to its roots as a go-anywhere camper for the couple or young family wanting to get into adventure touring/camping at a price they could afford. The stand-out feature of the Sierra is that you can get one in its base form and can add features over time as DIY or with AOR’s help and expertise. You can even bring some of your existing equipment and bolt it on.
As the importation of overseas manufactured campers has increased, the locally manufactured camper brands have reduced dramatically. This has created a rethink on what can be built from the ground up in Australia and still come in at a cost that will allow the average family to consider purchasing. To add to this, there has been a swing away from canvas, as drying out wet canvas when you get home is becoming less practical with less space and time available. Enter the AOR Sierra.
In its base form, there is no tent and no canvas, yet it has a completely enclosed sleeping area and a roof over the kitchen. No, it’s not a caravan or even a hybrid camper, it’s a …. . well, it’s hard to pigeon-hole Sierra, as it is different. AOR calls it “the camper’s camper” and I’m happy to go along with that description.
The external paint comes in three colours and is the extremely tough and durable RAPTOR coating, so no pinstriping if you head down narrow tracks. Underneath is the AOR independent trailing arm suspension that has been proven across its range of campers. Coils come standard but airbags are an option. Wheels are 17in fitted with 33in tyres and the stud pattern can be matched to many of the popular tow vehicles.
The body is made of the same durable composite panels used in the larger trailers which provides great strength and insulation while remaining lightweight. The slanted and faceted front is similar to the rest of the AOR range, provides stone protection and low air resistance to save fuel. Two gas bottles are stored on the drawbar with stone protection.
The roof slopes forward for less air resistance and to channel water when stationary. This is hidden by the awning and accessory mounting plates which also provide the base for the optional the roof rack rails. On the test trailer there was a Darche 180deg 180º awning although a 270deg 270º awnings would also fit. The optional wood rack was also fitted to the test trailer as was the optional shower tent. The base model suits when the budget is tight and options to suit many different owners can be added in the future.
With a Tare weight of 950kg, the Sierra is light. It’s only 1950mm wide so will follow your 4X4 anywhere it goes and at 2150mm will fit in most garages. At 4300mm in total length, it will probably be shorter than your tow vehicle. Speaking of tow vehicles, a fully kitted out LandCruiser or ute is not required to tow the Sierra with a low ATM of 1800kg.
A big payload is only as good as the amount of storage that you have, so the Sierra has stacks. In the front nose cone, there is a large area suitable for chairs, fold-up tables and other camping or sporting gear. On each side of the Sierra, there are two large dustproof storage areas. One of these will house the fridge of up to 80 litres, while the other above it on the kitchen side could store a Weber barbecue.
On the driver’s side the two large storage areas are accessible from inside the sleeping area so clothing and other daily/personal items would be perfect in these. Under the bed, which is accessible by lifting up the base after the side window/hatch is opened, there is a huge amount of space – enough to store the spare wheel and much more. This would be ideal for heavy items that you don’t need every day.
ELECTRICAL AND GAS SYSTEMS
Often the electrical system is lacking in base models, however, in the AOR Sierra, a 150-amp lithium battery is standard. The FinScan PowerCORE battery management and automation is also standard, providing multiple battery charging methods all visible via the 3.5in touch screen or mobile device app. Using the app allows remote switching of lights and the ability to check battery and water tank levels. The gas system is installed with external bayonets for gas stoves and accessories.
The kitchen is reached via lifting a large gas strut supported hatch that forms a roof over the kitchen providing both sun and rain protection. A sink is set into the bench area that tilts up to access under-bench storage for cooking utensils and washing-up items.
There has been a lot of design gone into utilising space for storage that is both easy to access and usable.
Above, and to the side of the preparation bench, there are multiple pantry storage cupboards that are large enough for large items but not cavernous to the point where items are lost. Next to the bench is the space for a gas stove. You can use one you already own or purchase a new one. The Sierra is designed for people who may have already have camping gear and want to add that to their new camper; I really like this idea. A 60-litre water tank comes standard but can be increased with an additional tank.
This is where it gets interesting in the AOR Sierra. Many may like it straight away, but some will have a ‘not sure’ moment. If you are used to sleeping in a swag, a rooftop tent or hiking tent it will be easy. If you are wanting a caravan-size sleeping area, it may be worth looking at a different model. The queen-size sleeping area is accessed via a rear lockable hatch using the supplied stairs. A secure mesh panel provides ventilation, which is enhanced by opening the large window on one side of the bed. There is enough room to sit up in bed with space above your head.
The brochure calls the sleeping area a “secure bunker”. If you have never pulled up by the side of the road and slept in small tent in the outback, this may sound odd, but having a secure place to sleep leads to a much better night’s sleep. It’s like opening the door to a caravan and going to bed – quick, easy and secure. Just not the same amount of room, but you are towing a small camper, not a caravan. An optional ensuite/change room can easily be added for that extra standing room at the back of the camper as seen on the test unit. This can also double as a kid’s room.
VERDICT AND SPECIFICATIONS
This AOR Sierra is a tough, go-anywhere camper that is built on years of experience that is manufactured in Australia for our harsh conditions. The Sierra is light but is still packed with features. No canvas required, and set-up/pack down is easy. The ability to purchase the base model and add to it over time will appeal to many on a budget or future-proofing for kids down the track.
- Tare: 950kg
- ATM: 1800kg
- Length: 4300mm
- Width: 1950mm
- Height: 2150mm
- Price: from $42,500
- More info: australianoffroad.com.au