Geckos are both a beautiful reptile and a very popular name for off-road vehicle products. Along with the “gecko” capability Ineos introduced on its prototype FCEV 4×4 just last week, we’ve seen Gecko expandable truck campers and Gecko Offroad Caravans.
Not to be confused with any of those, Red Gecko is a Cape Town-based startup that found its way to market much like so many other off-road teardrop trailer builders, including the shop we looked at most recently. Disillusioned by other forms of camping, the team behind Red Gecko yearned for something that could cut setup time to nil and free up time for the reason anyone actually camps in the first place: relaxation and recreation. The company pursued a design that would be lightweight, comfortable, secure and capable of going anywhere, and it landed naturally on an off-road teardrop design.
In a time when teardrop building has trended away from wood and toward composite alternatives, Red Gecko proudly keeps it old school, reasoning that if birch plywood is still relied upon for home and boat building, it’s certainly up to the task of creating a camping trailer. The company credits its birch and spruce construction with delivering superior strength-to-weight and insulation, resulting in a sub-1,000-lb live-in towable ready to roll over rough terrain and provide reliable watertight shelter. Instead of the aluminum skin commonly used to sheathe wood teardrop frames, Red Gecko opts for a Raptor coating that eliminates the possibility of rot caused by moisture slipping between the wood and skin.
Red Gecko shapes its wood into a revised, flat-ended teardrop that reminds us of the Oregon Trail’R Do-Drop but with more sharply drawn front and rear walls. The Kamm tail-like rear provides a sturdy base for a mini-tailgate that conceals a simple, functional galley with full-width worktop and under-counter drawers. The drawer to the left is sized to hold the included Cadac portable dual-burner stove fueled by a 3-kg LPG bottle mounted on the sidewall.
The cubbies behind the galley counter are joined by a hinged pass-through between indoor and out, and a low-profile gravity-fed faucet on the right-side galley wall makes it easy to grab a glass of water in the middle of the night without stepping foot out of the trailer. The faucet works with a collapsible basin to make a sink, plumbed to a small 5-L water tank.
The fold-down window table on the right-side wall provides extra work or storage space for the galley or general outdoor living and lounging. Additional drop-down sidewall tables can be added on optionally. During the ride, the TDX’s galley worktop serves as a sort of trunk floor, offering a secure, level space to carry boxes, bags and supplies.
Around the sides, Red Gecko provides comfortable entry and exit by way of its large individual left and right doors, both with drop-slide windows and locks. The interior features bare wood walls for a warm, homey feel and plenty of shelf space above both the headboard and foot of the bed. The high-density foam mattress comes with an egg box-style foam topper for added softness.
To increase sleeping capacity, TDX owners can mount up a two-person rooftop tent. Red Gecko says it’s reinforced the roof with steel for supporting a roof rack and tent. A step-on grade fender design delivers easy roof-loading access.
The TDX rides on a rectangular-tube steel chassis secured to 15-in steel wheels through a Burquip rubber torsion axle. The rims are shod in 195/80R15 all-terrain tires and can be upgraded to match the tow vehicle.
Speaking of matching the tow vehicle, Red Gecko launched with a TDX variant it called the Jimny Edition, a braked version of the trailer designed for use with small, rugged utility vehicles like the Suzuki Jimny and Renault/Dacia Duster. The addition of a braking axle, coupled with a 948-lb (430 kg) dry weight, makes it a natural partner for small vehicles, particularly those with the go-anywhere off-road chops to match the trailer’s intended usage.
Other TDX standard features include a 100-Ah AGM battery, dual USB charging ports, a 220-V hookup, a rectangular roll-out awning, interior and exterior lighting and a utility rack on the tailgate designed for holding a garbage bag or other items one doesn’t want in the trailer or vehicle. Options include a 270-degree awning like shown in photos, several inverter choices, the aforementioned braked axle, and a 55-L subframe-mounted water tank. Prices start at R195,000 (approx. US$10,900).