It may look like a Zombie-Apocalypse / Safari Camping Vehicle, but this heavy duty tent-on-wheels is meant to pulled by a bicycle. The Kamp-Rite Bushtrekka is an invention released before its time: that is, several years ago, when millennials weren’t all looking for the most efficient outdoor lifestyle vehicles to take #awesome #travellife #selfies out the back of.
However, it remains one of the coolest concepts that made it to market ever so briefly. Let’s explore the coming of age for the popularity of the portable shelter; then delve into this amazing Bushtrekka and where it failed.
Back to Simplicity
We are seeing a resurgence of portable shelters that are becoming increasingly lighter thanks to new materials, new technology, and demand-driven innovation. Whether you attribute it to being a fad or a reflection of the economy, it is no secret that millennials are moving out of house and home and into creative travel-friendly living arrangements. While some follow a path from couch to exotic couch thanks to online resources like CouchSurfing.com, others choose the life of a snail by carrying their homes with them.
In the water, there’s the liveabroads that get a boat and float up and down rivers and coastlines. These are generally split into two categories; floating homes that are plugged into a city’s sewage and utility lines (not really considered a real liveabroads), and the proper liveabroads that get an actual boat that is more-or-less seaworthy. Sometimes, little communities spring up that aren’t permanent per-se with the individual members coming and going, but never seem to disappear. Check out this interesting article on Portland’s aqueous homes.
Then there is the land dwellers that come in a much wider variety. You’ve got the Baby Boomers that purchase six or even seven figure modified busses that for some reason you don’t need a Commercial Driver’s License to drive; otherwise known as RVs. Then you have Trailer folk who rarely stray from the life-line of over-used RV parks where they stick around until it’s time to leave. Then the much more efficient #vanlife post college or grad school community who are happy to stave off ownership of real-estate in exchange for mad likes on social media.
For those who haven’t matured into a larger vehicle, then there is the car-campers. These guys bounce from campground to campground, biting the bullet and snoozing on reclined seats when necessary. And finally, finally we come to the lonesome bicycle camper. Rarely seen in groups larger than one, these fellows are the epitome of efficiency; forced to carry everything they need in either dangerously overweight saddlebags, or inside of a clumsy and unwieldy trailer.
The Bushtrekka by Kamp-Rite
It is these last growing two groups that the Kamp-rite Bushtrekka aims to appease, while at the same time turning others on the verge of curiosity over to its cause. This shelter is designed to be affordable enough for the young, economically strapped adventurer who wishes to enter harsher environments, and rugged and well designed (cough) for the brave older individual who seeks solitude at a slow economic pace. The Kamp-rite Bushtrekka is a self contained cycling trailer with personal off the ground sleeping quarters. It sets up in seconds, creates spacious room, and stands up to the elements with fully waterproof compartments and solid aluminum frame construction.
The Bushtrekka appears to have what you need to take it across the continent and over any reasonable terrain. It offers a whopping 120 Liters of storage space and is built with lightweight aluminum and 600-denier rip stop nylon. It has a world’s-first pivoting tandem wheel system that allows the wheels to move independent of one another and the chassis to hit uneven terrain off the asphalt. According to documentation, this system absorbs 90% of the damaging stresses that transfer over to a bike with conventional trailer configurations. The height is even adjustable to make it maneuverable over all types of terrain. At 32”x30”x6” folded and 32”x90”x36” unfolded, it is actually quite spacious and even has No-See-Um mesh on all windows and doors for a view if you’re up for it.
So what went wrong?
Unable to reach the manufacturer, we looked at personal experiences of people who purchased the Bushtrekka. The stories are all the same: one specific part failed each time, and that’s a shame because every site that still has remnants of the product on its website boasts a “100% guarantee against faulty materials.” It appears there was a “mission critical” part failure in the bushings that hold the axles for the wheel assemblies; i.e. they fell apart.
Those who purchased it even describe their positive experiences and hope for a fix! Someone even demonstrated on YouTube in two shorts videos where these bushings fail, hoping someone at the manufacturer’s would see and fix. And yet, a reviewer named drfoss appears to have fixed the problem and even offers his email to ask questions about how to replicate the fix on your own unit. His final words: “Trailer pulls like a dream.” What’s more is that going through the comments, we discovered another successful dweller who said “I lived in this for a year in Elkhart, IN, 40 below sleeping bag and zip up the rain liner and warm as toast.[sic]”
So, the Bushtrekka proved that it is possible to create a portable towed shelter fit for taking the trails with a bike. Too bad the units had one design flaw that, according to one person, was an easy fix. Yet, the discontinuation of this product continues to mystify those looking for a versatile solution to crossing large stretches of wild America, but desire more than uneven ground and the volume that just a couple of saddlebags can fit.
It appears that this trailer was the best attempt out of all the interesting designs througout the ages, and perhaps it was a test run for a coming-soon design that provides a solution to the Bushtrekka’s Achille’s Heel. Only time will tell, right now we’d be interested in getting our hands on one of the few remaining models floating around for a true review.