Drifta DOT6 – First Impressions
I originally put together my initial review of the Drifta DOT6 on the MySwag forum at the end of 2015 and I am now moving this to be a blog post on this site. This review covers the ordering of the DOT and the First Impressions on our trip up north in Western Australia. I have edited it a bit with the latest info since the first review and will write some new reviews over the next year as we embark on a year heading around Australia.
Why a Drifta DOT6?
This is covered on my landing page, have a quick read of my page here.
Ultimately it is down to what you really want out of a camping trailer and the style of camping you undertake. If you tend to head to a spot and setup for a long period as a base in any weather then maybe this is not the right trailer for you. Drifta do a soft floor fold out as well called the DOT 7 which may also be worth a look at. Of course everyone has their own ideas of what they want and what budget they are working in so a lot is down to personal choice. For me the Drifta DOT 6 seemed to fit our style of camping and where we wanted to go with it so not too heavy and capable off road are must haves for me.
Ordering the DOT 6 and Configuration
Drifta had around a 6 week lead time before they started making the DOT which will of course change over time. My aim was to get it ordered in time for our November 2015 trip up north in Western Australia. Having a few weeks before the trailer is built is actually great as it allows you to think about other modifications you may want before the build starts. The trailer is built from Scratch in Gloucester (New South Wales) and all parts are Australian branded so it’s worth the wait!
To order the DOT was very easy. Drifta sent a quote which I tweaked a couple of times and then I paid my deposit to get into the build queue. What was a bit confusing was what came as standard and what are the options to tag on. I had looked at the DOT 6 video spec sheet which is a bit old now as Drifta are tweaking the standard build over time. On the quote I had a spec list which was great although Ideally Drifta need to have a spec list showing what is standard in the base build and include a list of common optional extras (I think they have this now). Drifta are so flexible they can do pretty much anything you want which is awesome but for a first time trailer buyer it can be a little daunting. Other than that the ordering process was slick and no issues.
So what did I add up and above the base specification?
- Fridge built into kitchen with the standard option being an Evakool 40L and this also includes a slightly extended awning.
- Second battery setup (additional 125 amp hour AGM battery)
- Redarc BCDC charger to use when charging from the vehicle via the Anderson connector.
- Second 70l water tank
- 12v water pump and kitchen tap
- A case to go around the 12v pump which finishes it off nicely.
- Wall 5 which creates a full walled area around the awning
- Table that fits as a lid on the storage box (very good design and works so well with the setup plus matches the kitchen)
- Custom gas bottle holder to hold 3 Coleman style gas bottles attached to the back of the canopy. Drifta made this one up for me in the workshop and works incredibly well.
So that was my additional options and then from a colour perspective I was after black with the silver plating which was a first other than an all black one that had come out a few weeks earlier. Looks amazing.
During the build period Drifta updated me on the progress and was great to see the photos sent at various stages of the build. I have included some of these below.
Preparing the Land Rover Discovery 3
So while waiting for the DOT I began the process to prepare the Disco. I already had the factory hitch and also an electric braking system fitted. I purchased a new hitch receiver ready to fit the OZ Hitch to on arrival and also an Anderson connector for charging the batteries attached to the Kaymar bar.
As the trailer has LED lights I needed to purchase a connector so that the Land Rover recognises there was a trailer attached and didn’t just flash the indicators as it sends out the trailer detect signal. I purchased one on eBay with the right connectors that would get cable tied to the draw bar on arrival.
My only concern was the OEM hitch from Land Rover known as “the plough” as it hangs so low. A number of disco owners have changed this for a Mitch hitch which sits much higher. However I thought I would see how I get on and could add later if needed. After my initial review and a few trips later I decided the Mitch Hitch was essential for clearance and for the trailer to ride level.
The DOT has arrived
It was touch and go if the DOT would arrive for our trip up north. Drifta did everything they could and finished the build earlier than expected so it was a waiting game to see how quick it would make it across to Perth. I booked the transport through Drifta and had daily updates. Just when I thought it was not going to arrive I had a call from a local Perth company who wanted to deliver the trailer in the afternoon. Quite a surprise as we had thought it was still in Melbourne. The trailer was delivered direct to the door which was also a surprise as I thought I would need to pick it up at a depot.
Once off the flat bed we fitted the oz hitch and were surprised how tall the trailer was with a sudden panic over the trailer fitting in the basement. Fortunately it fitted down the ramp with 2cm to spare! I fitted the light connector which worked a treat.
The next day we had it booked in for a department of transport inspection and then for registration with the rego taped onto the trailer with strong double sided tape. Then we started the packing trying to work out what would go where.
The first trip
After a couple of stressful days making sure we had everything ready and packed we set off north. As this is not a trip review but a review of the camper I will concentrate on what we have learned about the camper.
Ride and Handling
Being the first camper we had towed in a while and the first one of our own we took it easy to get used to it. No issues though and it just seemed to sit quite happily behind us not jumping around and no issues in side winds. We had a few gravel tracks and also some deep sandy tracks and the suspension seemed to handle all this with ease. At one point we did get bogged when trying to get around some guys who had taken a car somewhere they shouldn’t and not being able to recover them we left them in the hands of the local recovery guy. A quick recovery with the MaxTrax and off we went. Very handy having the MaxTrax mounted on the front of the DOT.
The first setup took a bit longer and what makes this so unique is the multiple different configuration/setup options. Some one nighters we left the DOT hitched up, opened the roof top tent and then pulled out the kitchen without the awning. Some we used the awning and no walls and then in our 2 days of rain we had most of the walls up. Of course a longer time to setup and take down with the walls however they are great when the weather is bad or you want some privacy. So after a few setups we became quite slick with setting up and striking camp. I will pop a video on when I get around to it. The big space under the roof top tent worked well when the weather was bad as we could hook up the ladder out the way and create a dining area out the way of the kitchen area so plenty of space. There were 3 of us but could easily fit in 4-6 for dinner.
The awning is a great piece of kit. Fold out the awning and attach to the roof top tent or you can use as standalone without the roof top tent out. The canvas is awesome and did not leak during the heavy down pours. The only criticism is the water pooling above the kitchen. We had a lot of rain and even with the walls on stretching everything out the water pooled in the middle of the roof. This does not leak however but we had to keep pushing over the edge. I think this is a common problem for awnings with a large spread of canvas as we had the same issue with the car awning. To combat this we have bought a supa-peg spreader that attaches to a pole and gives the middle of the canvas some height when the weather is really bad. The gutters worked well and kept the rain out.
The roof top tent
The Hannibal roof top tent is top quality and gives a huge amount of space inside the tent. We have a super King sheet and king size duvet which seems to work well with a couple of pillows. You could easily fit 3-4 in the tent. Inside the tent there is a dimmable led light and a power socket for charging. Loads of ventilation and like the awning and walls the canvas is top quality. The extended fly sheet works extremely well and keeps all the water off the fabric. The boot shelf added by Drifta is genius and very useful as well as the extra pole to hold onto while getting in and out. Love the fact of no more getting into a roof top tent while getting wet outside like our old setup. We tried closing the tent with leaving all the bedding in which does not work. We took out the duvet and pillows to keep it easy. Folding it down is not too bad but much easier with 2 people and putting on the Drifta cover is pretty easy compare to others I have used as it comes all the way off and has rounded corner on the zipper. Sometimes it is a bit snug fitting and could do with slightly more space, just an extra cm would help make things even easier although you don’t want it flapping around either. We store all the awning walls on the roof as well as some poles. An even easier setup would be to store the walls and poles in the storage box which we are planning to do for the next big trip and will save getting everything off the roof each time. With the setup being versatile it is not often you use all the walls and poles unless the weather is really bad.
It will take a while to perfect this but lots of storage and very handy having the canopy with divider in the middle and lights in. The toolbox at the front is also great. The main storage box is a huge pull out box with legs and is where the tables acts as a lid sliding off and on. Just need to perfect what goes in this box as once you have your stuff out you don’t want to be pulling it in and out all the time. It does have drawers on the front which are excellent for the kitchen equipment and some food. We carried an inflatable canoe in the storage box but will look to mount this on the front next time to give more space.
The kitchen is amazing giving so much workable bench space in an L shaped design which of course is what Drifta are famous for. Everything just works from the pull out tray for washing dishes to the well fitted Primus stove. Couple of drawers for utensils and the fridge all integrated makes it a joy to work in whilst on camp. Love it.
Issues and future mods list
So now for a list of the issues, resolutions and future mods.
- As I was putting the trailer in the garage I heard something loose in one of the wheel clinking around. Likely something in the ALKO setup so it’s heading in this week to an ALKO dealer to take a look. Quite worrying at the end of the first trip so will have to see how it turns out. Since writing this the issue turned out to be a magnet in the electric brakes which was all replaced and sorted under warranty.
- The Anderson connector from the car is not charging the batteries through the BCDC charger. The charger detects the AGM batteries but no charge. I have tested the disco and I have a 13v output from the Anderson connector so something is not quite right. This was since sorted out under warranty as we had an issue with the wiring of the BCDC.
- For the water pooling above the kitchen I have purchased a supapeg tarp saver which seems to work quite well.
- I had an issue connecting the solar panel (80w projecta foldable) as thought this would have gone through the Anderson on the BCDC. However I then figured out I needed to connect direct to the battery which was a bit of a hassle taking the battery box lid off each time. On the trip I sourced some battery connectors and permanently attached an Anderson socket coming out of the battery box making it much easier to plug in the solar panel and all worked well. I think there is a mod you can do to the BCDC to accept input through the same Anderson on the front of the trailer but no problem once I figured out how to do it.
- One of the Hannibal tent poles broke at the joint on the bow pole keeping the awning up. I riveted this back together and it’s all good again.
- The tarp saver as discussed above
- The anderson connector for solar power charging as discussed above
- Plumbing the Coleman hot water in demand into the water pump outlet. There is a second outlet in the pump box which is perfect. (Since writing I have undertaken this with a Joolca HotTap system)
- Bag from Drifta to store my foldable canoe (Since writing I now have this and it works well)
- Small tarp to cover the back of the canopy in bad weather. (Drifta made me one of these up and it keeps the weather out the kitchen area when required)
- Mitch Hitch for the Disco
At the time of writing this article we had just undertaken one trip, we now have a years worth of trips under our belt with the DOT and about to embark on a year around Australia. We are happy with the decision we made and do keep tweaking our setup as time goes on. I plan to do a few more reviews over this next year to cover elements of the setup in more detail and look at the pros and cons.
For more information on the Drifta DOT range check out the Drifta Website here.