We were clear on the function of the trailer. First of all, we wanted it to swallow everything we needed for a long holiday, except for the fridge that would remain in the vehicle. We wanted more space for our clothes and definitely plenty of built-in water tanks. We wanted a trailer that could stand fully ready, so that we could simply hitch and go on an hours notice for a weekend getaway.
Furthermore, we wanted a layout where we could once again put our stuff in plastic bins (one for me, one for you, one for the food, etc.) and be able to remove each bin without having to remove any of the other bins. A further requirement, was that we should not be required to bend over double to fetch things from a deep hole. This dictated that a side entry trailer was the way to go.
Buying new, was obviously out of the question, since a trailer in the class we looked at, started at about R60 000 for a clean trailer, with zero add-ons. With that in mind, I started designing a trailer that would be perfect for our family needs and it was once again based on the 25-litre crate system since we found it a very reasonable load to carry. The intention was to have the trailer custom build.
However, I knew how much work it would be and with the regulations of today, where only a certified trailer builder can register a newly build trailer on the road, it meant that, at the very least, I would be forced to have the chassis and wheels built by such a shop. Eventually, I got a quote for a trailer and to have a bare shell standing with water tanks, it came down to R 25 000. After that, I would have had to fit it out with wooden shelves on the inside and that too, would take another few thousand rands and much time.
Since there was no rush, I started looking for a second-hand trailer that followed the design I had made. Nothing came up and December 2010 passed, with us leaving with the 5ft Ventertjie only. No camping that year.
I eventually found a trailer in September 2011 in Pretoria, which looked like it would work perfectly for us. The trailer was made up of a system of 12 lockable plastic “Technichest” bins and I immediately realised that we could make it work. It had a cracked chassis and I picked it up for R 12 000, which was just about the price of a new trailer axle with some rims and rubber on it. The bins needed a small amount of work, the chassis was welded up and strengthened.
The 25 litre bins did not fit as I had intended, but we found 45-litre bins which fitted almost perfectly in the Technichests. The way we use the plastic bins is quite simple. We simply put a large refuse bag in the bin and pack the items in the bag. The bag helps to keep the bit of dust, that may seep through the seals, contained.
In the case of clothes, we simply pull out the bag each morning, drop in the dirty clothes in the bottom and put the bag back. With the 45 litres bin in the Technichest, there is enough space for things like shoes, toys and even pillows.
At the moment, our Technichests are filled as follows:
4 Bins, one for each family member
2 Bins for sleeping bags and inflatable mattresses
1 Bin for Cookware (the gas plates, pots and pans)
1 Bin for Charcoal and other braai stuff
1 Bin for spares
1 Bin for Tools and oils
1 Bin for Food
1 Bin half for medical and half full of books
The trailer has 150 litres worth of water tanks on board – which is a great comfort if something goes wrong. On the top is a steel structure and where the tent and camping chairs are packed.
Between the water tanks and the four Technichests in the middle, is some space where I can put in a comfortably sized camping table, as well as the reflective sheet for the tent and some other stuff, not aversely affected by the dust, e.g. a broom.
We found this setup to work great for us, as we now are in a position to stop the trailer, pitch the tent and the table and there is no need to unpack any of the clothes or food from the vehicle to the tent each time. The bins open easily, everything is accessible and it is not an effort to do it when needed. This keeps our camping setup a lot more tidy and the effort to pitch camp and pack up, now feels less like a chore.
It took us two hours to break up camp with our previous setup, but it was two hours of very hard work, and precise packing. It still takes about the same time, but it is far less stressful.