Stone protection is a critical element in preventing damage to both your vehicle and camper. This becomes evident when barrelling along a dirt highway at speed – a quick glance in the mirrors tells the story. Rocks are periodically ejected by the tyres and the turbulence of dust and dirt is readily visible around the wheel arches. All terrain tyres only add to the problem, harvesting bigger projectiles which bounce off the trailer and onto the towing vehicle, risking damage to paintwork and glass.
Over the years, camper trailer manufacturers have dabbled in various ways to enhance stone protection. Some of the more recent approaches include an extensive use of checker plate, Rhinocoat stone protectant, angled deflector guards and forward facing mudflaps.
As off road enthusiasts, we’ve tried many of our own ideas including extending the vehicle mudflaps, rear window protectants, magnetised rubber sheeting and more. In 2011, we first trialled the Stone Stomper as part of an extended off road sabbatical and returned suitably impressed.
Why Stone Stomper?
The Stone Stomper uses horizontal commercial grade mesh between the camper and towing vehicle to redirect flying stones back to ground level. Mounted to the camper trailer body, the mesh stretches forward to an electroplated framework, fixed to the hitch on the vehicle, while a cut-out provides an opening for the coupling, safety chains and electrical harness.
Shock cord runs along the perimeter and at regular intervals to prevent sagging, connecting to the framework via metal clasps. A vertical canvas curtain hangs from the framework beneath the hitch and pivots to a horizontal position when in motion to block the narrow gap between the framework and the mesh. If you need to access the rear of the vehicle, simply lean on the shock cord or remove one or more of the clasps.
When unhitching, simply remove the six clasps from the framework and roll the mesh up under the drawbar. The framework can easily be removed from the vehicle when not in use.
The mesh not only protects the vehicle and trailer panel work, but the camper draw bar, gas bottles and other components. The industrial strength truck mesh is reinforced in all the right places. Contrast it with the massive block-like mudflaps that create extra drag as much as anything else, without as much coverage.
Our own torture testing has accumulated over 60,000km of use across blacktop, remote gibber plains and sandy beaches. In my mind, the Stone Stomper is an integrated solution providing the best protection available for both the vehicle and camper.
Customised Stone Stompers are available for most stocked campers at $850 including fitting.
TOP TIPS FOR LIMITING ROAD RASH
- Polish/wax your vehicle and camper before each trip. The polish protects the surface making the removal of bugs and other grime that much easier.
- Extend existing vehicle mudflaps to counter additional exposure created by bigger tyres or a suspension lift.
- Check your glass insurance is not limited to the windscreen. Rear wagon encapsulated glass is expensive to replace as the gaskets are injection moulded around the glass during manufacture. A small window on a Patrol barn door can cost as much as $1,000 to replace.
- Although creating extra drag, mudflaps mounted at the front of your camper will reduce damage to shock absorbers and other painted surfaces.
- A horizontal mesh stone protector like the Stone Stomper provides excellent all round protection to both your camper and towing vehicle.