Finalist 2022

Compact Four Berth Camper Trailer

Kerfton Pty Ltd / Barry Trippit / Owen Brown / Raul Gonzalez Podesta

A compact 4 berth family oriented camper trailer with class leading aesthetics and finish.

The Kerfton Fouray is a compact 4 berth family oriented offroad camper trailer. It delivers unique automotive styling combined with off road ruggedness in a lightweight compact package. A setup time of less than 5 minutes transforms the camper from transport to camping mode. It provides a spacious internal living area, a queen sized master bed and two single beds in the kids pods. All bedding stays made up in the transport mode further reducing the setup time. The whole family to sleeps inside, in comfort in safety.

Design Brief:

There are few premium family oriented compact camper trailers available in the Australian market. The majority of premium products are two berth and only suit couples. When used by families extra bedding needs to be setup in external annexes or separate tents. The family oriented products that do exist are not typically premium products. They are also usually large, heavy and cumbersome in terms of storage and towing. They provide little convenience, in terms of compactness, over a full sized caravan. Camper trailers are also typically of a utilitarian design with little focus on aesthetics. The goal was to develop a camper trailer that is:

  • Family friendly and provides internal bedding for a family of 4.
  • Fast and easy to setup.
  • Compact and lightweight when travelling.
  • Aesthetically pleasing with an improved level of finish.

This project was developed by:

Design Process

The design process occurred over a number of years and involved various stages.

Research: Market research and competitor review including four berth camper trailers and camper trailers utilising composites. This process led to the definition of specifications including basic layout and functionality.

Packing Studies: CAD design of the basic layout involving packaging of necessary componentry and concept design of moving assemblies. This work defined the physical design envelope of the product. Styling Studies: Design of exterior and interior cosmetic surfaces within the design envelope. This involved further CAD based work along with hundreds of photo realistic computer renders to assess and iterate the styling. A full scale mock-up of the camper was constructed to confirm (and improve) the virtual models.

Engineering: Structural engineering with methodologies such as finite element analysis to define the mechanical load bearing components of the camper to ensure sufficient integrity and durability.

Prototype: Construction of a hand-built operation prototype to confirm functionality and provide a durability test platform.

Testing and Redesign: Instrumentation and physical testing of the prototype under typical usage scenarios. Including thousands of kilometres of harsh outback towing. Inspection and review of resultant performance and identification of underperforming components. Design iteration where needed.

The first few design requirements have been clearly satisfied. The Kerfton Fouray provides internal bedding for 4. It can be setup by one person in under 5 minutes, making it one of the fastest compact 4 berth tent top camper trailers on the market. Its compact and lightweight at 1150kg tare fully optioned. Response to the products aesthetics is subjective, but overwhelmingly positive. Numerous customer enquiries have been received both from within Australian and internationally. Many of these enquiries are based purely on a positive response to the aesthetics of the product.

Design Excellence

In the camping configuration the Kerfton Fouray provides bedding for four allowing the whole family to sleep inside. The internal living area is spacious and there is standing height within the canvas tent. In the transport mode the camper is compact and lightweight. Facilitating easy and efficient towing and convenient storage within a standard garage when not in use. The camper converts from the transport configuration to the camping configuration in under 5 minutes setting a new benchmark for compact four berth camper trailers. It can be can be setup on any ground surface, from soft sand to hard rock, as its fully self-supporting.

There are no tent pegs to hammer into the ground and no need for clearing a large flat area. This reduces damage to the environment while increasing the sites that can be used for camping. All bedding remains in place in the transport configuration further saving setup time. The kitchen and fridge are accessible without erecting the tent which works well for road side lunch stops. The exterior (and interior) provide an automotive level of styling and finish.

The Kerfton Fouray compliments modern tow vehicles and departs significantly from typical utilitarian camper trailer designs. The camper trailer is compliant with all appropriate design rules. It has also been engineered using automotive design methodologies to ensure it is durable for on and off-road use as well as use in the camping mode. A traditional steel chassis is used underneath the composite body which reduces complexity and allows use of commonly available chassis and suspension components.

Design Innovation

Typical camper trailers are built with low volume sheet metal construction techniques which often results in relatively utilitarian designs. Composites have been used to various extents in the sector for years, however it appears that the design opportunities enabled by moulded composites are rarely fully exploited. Composites were chosen for this product specifically to unlock freedom of form and improve aesthetics. The external design envelope for the Kerfton Fouray was largely constrained by functionality requirements.

However, many of the smaller external details were based purely on aesthetics and often reflect well developed styling ques from the automotive industry. Although the styling has been deliberately restrained to avoid alienating a market that is accustomed to products that are based primarily on function. The use of composites also helps to control weight. The existing product is made from high performance fibreglass. Although conversion to carbon fibre (even recycled fibre) is possible when economics allow. Many camper trailer concepts and layouts have been produced by many manufactures, including bedding layouts similar to the Kerfton Fouray.

However, layouts like this appear to struggle with positioning and deployment of the kitchen and fridge. Significant design focus was placed on solving this challenge which has resulted in the “slide and swing” approach. The user is able slide the kitchen (or fridge) out the rear of the camper and then swing it around to the side into the deployed and usable position. The motion is fully controlled by an interlock mechanism preventing unintended behaviours. The mechanics of the system are concealed at the rear of, and move with, the kitchen (or fridge) and unlike similar products leave the interior space free of obstructions. The styling is the subject of an Australian registered design. The kitchen and fridge deployment mechanism is the subject of an Australian patent pending.

Design Impact

The styling and level of finish, particularly on the exterior, clearly differentiate the Kerfton Fouray from its competitors and it stands alone in a market full of clones. It sets a new benchmark for aesthetics of camper trailers. It complements the styling of modern tow vehicles where as others detract. The choice to move in this direction was very intentional and required significant commitment and investment from Kerfton but is delivering benefits in terms of customer interest.

The scale of interior space provided from such a compact trailer is also of significant interest to many. The space and bedding layout was chosen for family use and serves this purpose well. Although couples also often demonstrate interest in the product. The camper is compact in the transport configuration and easy and fast to convert to the camping configuration. Hence the space provided comes with few disadvantageous, even to couples.

The Kerfton Fouray stores the kitchen and fridge within the living space in the transport mode. They are deployed to the rear of the camper when setup in camping mode leaving the interior free for use as a living space. This dual use of space (for either storage or living) significantly reduces the overall size and weight of the camper trailer relative to most competitive products. The uniqueness of the Kerfton Fouray results in customer interest not just nationally, but also internationally. Requests have been received to ship product to the US, Europe as well as many other countries. Success of the product will not just provide direct commercial benefits, but also help to demonstrate that innovation through design is key to completing in a global market.

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