If you’re an ‘adventure traveller’ and haven’t heard of the brand ‘Crashpad‘ chances are you’ve been deep in the Australian desert without internet reception. This quality, Aussie brand is everywhere! We saw plenty of campsites up the Cape with the Crashpad Swags; their Wheel Bags hang from many Rigs in the Vic High Country and the ‘Sleep System’ sleeping bag seems to be popular with solo explorers we know. Brett Ellis and his team hope to inspire you with their crashpad lifestyle. In Brett’s own words, he is “always looking for an adventure”, and it seems that his products are designed to reflect the lifestyle that they are living! Enjoy Brett’s story!
What have you been up to lately?
I’ve been office and warehouse bound for the past few weeks post the madness of Christmas here at Crashpad. Most of the trips the team and I did in 2017 were shorter 3-4 day trips based around Victoria, mainly the High Country and Desert Country. Running a business involves plenty of planning to get away for more extended periods, so time permitting we will try and make some longer trips this year. We’ve pencilled in a Simmo crossing so we will work towards making that happen. In the coming weeks, we will get over to Canunda / Beachport / Robe for a run along the beaches over there to test some potential new products we have been working on.
What is your current off-road VEHICLE including your SET-UP?
We run a ’96 4.2TD coil cab patrol ute as the primary business vehicle. Incredibly tough, super reliable and easy to fix if something does go wrong. For bedding, it is a Crashpad swag of course. We have set the truck up so that everything is easy to get to while trying to keep as much weight as possible out of it. The key things we have in the truck that make trips away very easy are as follows:
- Fridge (goes without saying).
- An awning, in my opinion, a must-have on any touring 4WD. The one on the Crashpad truck is 2.5m wide x 3m long and provides plenty of shade.
- Draw system. We use a single draw in the truck for our kitchen and food. Makes finding things for a quick lunch stop very easy.
- A slide out table under the draw system gets used day in day out.
- 2 x 45-litre water tanks. One used for kitchen/drinking etc. and is gravity fed and the other is plumbed into a 12v pump and gets used purely for showering. To shower we use a Country Comfort hot water system and just connect that to the outlet on the pump, this is one of the little luxuries in the truck.
- A Travel Buddy 12v oven, another little luxury in the truck. Gets used more in winter than summer but brilliant. It is hard to beat a Vic High Country trip in the winter and to have some warm pies for lunch out of the oven.
- A 130w solar panel mounted over the canopy. Means we can park up for days on end. The ute is outside the majority of the time and since putting the solar panel on we have never turned the fridge off when the car is sitting around idle.
- A chainsaw. Weather and location permitting, camping is so much better with a campfire, and a chainsaw makes this so much easier, not to mention it can be a vital piece of recovery equipment.
Who INSPIRED you into this ‘adventurous’ lifestyle?
I think loving the outdoors, and this ‘adventurous lifestyle’ for me came about as a legacy of where I grew up. I grew up in country Victoria in very small towns and then on a farm where you had to create your own entertainment. I was always off somewhere with my mates on my bike. We used to yabby in the farm dams, go fishing with my pop in the Wimmera River in his old tinny, build rafts out of old 44-gallon drums and float them down the irrigation channels, camp out in this old tent we had, just typical boy stuff that you do in the country. So I think it was a natural progression as I grew older moving into bigger adventures to the extent that I made a career change to be able to build a business (Crashpad) in this industry.
Most MEMORABLE TRACK you’ve experienced?
Tough question. I’m lucky that I have driven plenty of great tracks. Blue Rag Range track in the Vic High Country is incredible. It is quite a short easy track, but the views are incredible once you get up onto that ridge line that the track works along up to the trig point.
What DESTINATIONS and TRACKS are on your BUCKET LIST?
There are a couple that stand out for me, Cape York and the Kimberley region. Both remote, both involve an adventure just to get there and both quite iconic on the 4WDers bucket list of must-see destinations.
Describe your IDEAL CAMPSITE:
This is a tough question as there are so many ideal campsites all with something different to offer. I’m a big fan of the desert country; it feels like you’re on a real adventure as it involves a lot of effort just to get there. I’ve also camped in some incredibly stunning spots beside mountain rivers and creeks in the Vic High Country and on beaches with excellent fishing.
But if I have to pick one I would say camping on a Murray River sandbar when the weather is around 28 degrees; the fish are biting and then it cools off in the evening so that you can sit around a big river red gum fire. That’s perfection!
Biggest MECHANICAL FAIL? And were you able to fix it?
I killed a cv joint in the Vic High Country. I didn’t have a spare in the truck, so we made up a cv joint out of a section of a small piece of wood. A pair of multigrips, a chainsaw to act as a lathe and plenty of care not to lose a hand we turned up a cv joint. It got us out of the high country and all the way back to Ballarat. I had it in the truck for about a week waiting for the replacement CV joint to turn up. I then carried that wooden CV as a spare (along with a real one) in the truck for many years.
Name ONE PRODUCT you wouldn’t leave home without?
I hate to say this, but apart from a Crashpad swag, it would have to be my phone. When you run a business, it is usually a 24/7 deal so while I am lucky enough to spend plenty of time out on the tracks product testing or marketing it often also comes with plenty of time on the phone working on things with the team back in the office/warehouse. I also have two young boys who I miss when I head away camping (working) so to be able to make a call to home to check in on my family is great.
How have you found working in the OFF-ROAD INDUSTRY?
I don’t think the challenges of running a business in the camping / offroad industry are any different to the challenges of running a business in any industry. The biggest challenge is getting brand awareness, that is, how are potential customers going to know you exist? This is a constant; you don’t just do it on day one and then sit back and hope for the best. It is every day, every week constant and involves considerable time, planning and effort.
Favourite DISH to COOK on the road?
If I have the time, I cook a beef brisket in the camp oven over 6-7 hours. I use a bottle of coke as a marinade while it is cooking. Just sit the camp oven next to the fire and keep rotating 90 degrees every 15 minutes and make sure there is always an inch or 2 of coke (or some sort stock) in the bottom. It will be one of the best things you have ever eaten.
ADVICE for new 4WD enthusiasts?
Just get out there. You don’t need to have the newest or toughest 4WD or every bit of camping equipment to have a good time. Just get out there and start exploring. Start with areas closer to home and then as you gain more experience you will work out the gear that you need to suit to your own personal style of camping and adventuring to work up to longer trips further afield.