Camper reviewed: Metalian Bowhunter
Born in the deserts of Africa, the Bowhunter is at home in the Aussie bush.
Like the Kalahari Bushman that the Bowhunter is named after, it is light, agile and has a big heart. The Bowhunter is the smallest of the off-road trailers by Metalian. Although the trailer is built in South Africa, the tent and some other features are manufactured in Australia. In terms of 4WD touring with a trailer, Australia and South Africa would be arguably the most advanced countries on the planet as well as having some of the most remote and longest 4WD tracks. It comes with some solid credentials.
The Bowhunter may look similar to a couple of other trailers on the market, but before you jump to any conclusions, Metalian have been building the same designs since 2009. As you look deeper into the build and thought behind design decisions, you will realise that these are unique trailers with a bunch of innovative ideas that have proven themselves over time.
Steels are not all made equal
First off, the trailer is built from 3CR12 stainless steel. Normally trailers have stainless steel kitchens, but that’s about it. In the case of Metalian, the whole trailer is made from stainless steel. Just as there are different types of just about everything, there are different types of stainless steel.
The 3CR12 version is tougher than other types in many situations including when welding and in cold temperatures. The right sort of stainless steel is required for their true and unique monocoque design. This means they don’t have a chassis in the traditional sense of trailer design, where a chassis is built and then the body attached. The benefit of this type of build is the lighter weight and enhanced storage capacity. The 3CR12 also offers excellent corrosion resistance.
Now let’s move onto probably the most controversial part of the build. The suspension. Just about every trailer on the market these days is tending to go for independent trailing arm suspension. Except for the Metalian. It would be too much to go into the pros and cons of different types of suspension here, but as far as I can see, there are many good arguments for leaf-sprung suspension.
If you would like to read more about these, have a look at the Off Trax website. Reliability, less cost and less roll-over potential are a few of the benefits of leaf-sprung.
Now this is an off-road trailer so I thought we better see how it went. We found an old dis-used quarry to put the Bowhunter through its paces. The bottom line is that it’s going to go wherever you take it. It is light, it is short and it has great clearance. You will bottom out your vehicle before the Bowhunter becomes an issue. On the corrugated dirt roads, it performed really well and it is so well balanced that maneuvering it by hand is easy.
The batteries and the water tanks are stored low and directly over the axles. The monocoque design allows these to be lower than a trailer built with a chassis, while still being protected by being inside the trailer. I particularly liked the easy access to both the water tanks and batteries for any servicing. There are even hatches in the water tanks to clean them out every so often. The two water tanks have separate fillers and are pumped separately should you require.
Not lost in space
Space. With the unique design and construction, usable storage is everywhere. The 1650 litres of storage space is easily adjustable to your needs. Even the shelving can be moved up and down and then secured easily so it is solid for travel. The hatch doors have all been designed with storage incorporated into them. Canvas pouches of different sizes are internally attached within the doors. No more searching through plastic bins to find that thing-a-majig that always eludes you.
Personally, I like the kitchen, including the fridge, to be on one side of the trailer or the rear, and not split between the two. It makes sense to have everything within reach when you are cooking. It’s also easier to keep the kids out of the kitchen. In the Bowhunter’s case, the kitchen is on the passenger side and includes enough space for a 60L National Luna dual zone fridge/freezer. There are two gas bayonets plumbed in from a gas bottle stored in the nose cone. One for hot water and one for cooking.
There is a tap permanently with an inline filter mounted in the kitchen area and two external water outlets on the front of the trailer. There are 12V outlets on the outside of either side and at the rear of the trailer. This allows external lights to be plugged in even if the hatches are closed. The hatches have their own dimmable LED lights.
Time for bed
The Australian manufactured tent and its modular construction is really nice. If you are a couple touring and travelling most days, there is a quick and easy set up option. If you plan to stay a week, well there is an option for that too, but it will still only take about 20 minutes to set up. There are in-between options as well for different weather and requirements. The quilted 100/70mm queen-sized mattress is very comfortable.
There is a lot to like about the Bowhunter and it comes in different colours. It is a well thought out camping trailer with heaps of space that will go anywhere you want to take it. The Bowhunter is definitely worth looking at if you are in the market for this type of trailer.
- Great design
- Space is everywhere
- Light, maneuverable and definitely an off-road trailer
- Solid steps in ladder to bed
- More suited to couples than to families with a few kids
- I’d like more USB charging points
Tare: 700kg (dry, including all accessories)
Hitch: DO35 V3
Tow ball weight: 70kg approx.
Price: from $22,150