Monday September 24 2012 / Science & Technology - Art & Design - Entrepreneurs
Summer is nearly over and many of us are now returning to work having taken time off to go on a well-earned holiday.
For those of you that like taking real control of your own destiny on your travels, a camper van can provide a freedom, flexibility and sense of adventure that is pretty hard to beat.
Whether it’s a more modest VW camper or a larger American -style recreational vehicle (RV), motor homes aren’t always for everyone.
Cheaper options can be too cramped or unreliable with older, second-hand models in particular thirsty for petrol and difficult to repair; the bigger and/or more modern vehicles can simply be financially prohibitive.
However, those of you who are (relatively) light in the wallet but bursting with wanderlust should fret no more.
Swiss company misC sport & Leisure have come up with a nifty, foldable contraption which they hope will revolutionise holidaymaking for the free and easy just as another foldable Swiss contraption – the esteemed Army knife – revolutionised tin opening for the Helvetic Confederation’s soldiers.
The swissRoomBox has been billed as the world’s first foldable camping-car equipment that can be installed in virtually all cars and mini-vans, effectively turning your personal, day-to-day vehicle into a camper/recreational vehicle for a fraction of the price.
It even allows those with small cars the possibility of to enjoying many of the benefits of a larger mobile holiday home, i.e. cooking, eating, showering and sleeping in total autonomy while adventuring outdoors.
So, what is it and how does it work?
Well, it is essentially a system of four removable modules that fit in the boot of your car. No modification of your vehicle is needed and the equipment can be used again and again, and even shared with friends, from car to car.
Once you have found your perfect camping spot, you can simply transform the modules into a shower, a kitchen, a dining room and a bed in five to ten minutes, and without tools – it works rather like Lego. The makers claim the modules can be dismounted just as rapidly.
Via an included cable, the swissRoomBox uses your car battery to power the pump, the water boiler and other options such as fridge, computer or iPod.
The makers say it won’t drain your battery because the system comes equipped with a smart protector: When the electric power gets to the 11-volt limit – the minimum for re-starting your car – the water boiler will turn off and only the water pump will remain on. You can recharge your car battery, of course, when you drive on again.
Electrical autonomy lasts one week – provided you are using just the water pump. If you want the luxury of a hot water and a fridge – which is sort of the whole point of trying to emulate a proper camper van – then you’re looking at an autonomy of just one or two days.
So if you want to stay over a week in the same spot and have hot water and such mod cons, your best bet is to purchase the optional portable solar panel to recharge your battery. Or you could also just statically start your engine for a few minutes or go for a drive and do some sight-seeing – though neither is quite so good for the environment.
As for water supplies, you get two 12.5 litre refillable tanks included, and you can also buy extra tanks as an option if you like to spend a long time under the shower.
As you can see from the photos, the kitchen and shower are decent enough, as are the dining facilities.
But as regards turning your car into a full-on bathroom, for a van, there is the option of an integrated portable toilet module that you can install; for a car, the portable toilet is, the makers say, “an external option”.
And finally, the sleeping facilities: Utilising the full length of your car with seats folded down, the modules cleverly form a platform on which a thin mattress and two sleeping bags fit.
It’s fine if you have quite a high roof. Let’s just say it looks a snug fit for those with a lower roof.
SwissRoomBox is on direct sale from the swissRoomBox website but for the moment they only deliver within Europe, since the equipment meets EU – and Swiss – standards.
In fact, in their advertising the makers are stressing swissRoomBox’s 'Swiss-made credentials' in terms of its quality – though they actually go on to imply, rather unsubtly, that it is the “BMW” (not Rolex?) of camping-car equipment.
SwissRoomBox will set you back about €6,500 excluding taxes, a price that has not deterred many. In fact, swissRoomBox has become such a hit since it was launched early last year that misC sport & Leisure have modified the modules to make them customisable and sold à la carte, and you can now even annex a tent to your car roof for extra sleeping capacity.
For more information, please visit www.swissroombox.comwww.swissroombox.com