Stop every-time with power and control when off road...

Most people travel at a speed and style that matches the braking performance of their combined vehicle and camper trailer.

The better the performance of the camper trailer braking, the more relaxing and stress free for the driver.

There are 3 different types of brakes used by camper trailers.

  1. 1. The lowest cost (and poorest performer) are the mechanical disc brakes (Alko Mechanical Disc is most popular) - We don't use these at Kimberley.
  2. 2. There are electric drum brakes and we use these
  3. 3. Finally there are hydraulic disc brakes which we use in 2 forms, either as an over-ride brake or as power assisted.

Which is the right brake for you? Is the premium for the power assisted disc brakes worth it?

If you seek advice on a forum, you will get as many views on the performance of these system as there are contributors.

At Kimberley, we measure the actual performance so you can decide for your self.

Kimberley measure the performance to the Australian standards which we have listed below. We have to do this by law in any case so why not disclose the figures to the public? It is in keeping with our "open information" policy.

The braking compliance rules for camper trailers and caravans as of Sept 2014:

ADR 38—Trailer Brake Systems

The function of this Australian Design Rule is to specify requirements for braking under both normal and emergency conditions.

Compliance must be demonstrated by road testing and/or calculations based on data for ‘Approved’ components.

Rule 128 - Performance of Braking Systems

This rule specifies the minimum performance requirements for vehicle braking systems, including combinations. A copy of Kimberley's calculations follows.

Compliance includes a requirement that a parking brake must be capable of holding a vehicle or combination stationary when positioned on a twelve percent gradient.

Kimberley uses engineering design tools and has 3 qualified engineers including one admitted to the Institute of Engineers to complete their designs. These engineers have depth of experience in trucks, mining vehicles and other off-road applications.

Braking Compliance to ADR 38 - Rule 128 requires a minimum of -3.8m/s/s

The Kamper used in the tests below is a Classic Model with the Drum brakes and a Platinum Model with water tanks full and Jerry cans loaded with an ATM of 1200kgs with the Disc brakes which are power assisted.

The distance to a complete stop in a narrow corridor.

The legal limit is -3.8m/s/s
which would be


4WD Only

4WD and
Classic Kamper
Electric Drum Brakes

4WD and
Platinum Kamper with
Power Assisted Disc Brakes

4WD and Kamper with Power Assisted Disc Brakes on KAMPER brakes ONLY

This is in excess of the legal requirements and is done by Kimberley for extreme safety

Toyota 200 Series Diesel GVM: 2650 kgs 4.23m 10.48 m 6.25m 10.95m
Toyota Hilux Dual Cab Diesel: GVM: 1650 kgs 5.45m 9.3m 5.88m 7.9m
Parking Brake Test   Complies Complies  

What do these results mean?

The Australian standards test is the deceleration rate of the brakes. In the table above, it is translated to the stopping distance in meters.

There are 9 factors that link the braking capability of your caravan or camper trailer with the braking outcome as described by the standard:

  • The size of the wheels and tyres: a larger rolling diameter requires higher braking capacity
  • The weight of the caravan or camper trailer: the heavier the weight, the higher capacity required
  • The weight of the vehicle: The heavier the vehicle, the stronger the stopping capacity if the vehicles brakes are more effective
  • The matched balance between the drivers and passenger’s side braking components and/or the electric signalling system: Any imbalance and the caravan or camper trailer will push to one side regardless which can be dangerous.
  • The speed of the vehicle: the faster the speed the greater the braking capacity need. For double the speed, it is 4 times the capacity required.
  • The road conditions: Uneven loose stones give less grip
  • The weather, specifically if it has been or is raining: water can cause aquaplaning and brake fading
  • The vehicle’s braking ability: How many pots and what size on the vehicle?
  • The change in drawbar weight when the braking is applied; and the effect this has on the rear brakes of the vehicle: if the nose goes down because the caravan or camper trailer brakes are highly effective, there is more pressure on the rear of the vehicle for potentially a better result.
    Given these factors, it is impossible for a braking component supplier to make a compliant statement with respect to the standard without a practical test. It is the caravan or camper trailer manufacturer that should do a practical test for the peace of mind of their users!

What type of brakes are best off-road?

The "industry standard" of braking is drum brakes with electric magnet activation. In this braking system, the brake shoes are the same "drum" type brake shoes that used to be used in vehicles except the activation of the brakes is done by pulling the shoes to the drum with an electric magnet. The system then applies pressure all the way along the shoe to the interior surface of the drum.

These brakes comes in two main sizes: 10inch and 12 inch.

The 10inch size is used in the tested above as they have the lightest weight. They comply with the ADR rules with a 31.5inch tyre and an ATM of less than 1600kgs.

It is important to note that the greater the number of individual drum brake units on a trailer, the more sensitive the system is to proper brake adjustment before banging occurs in the brake coupler. Tandem axle electric drums need good maintenance to perform correctly.

off road trailer electric drum brakes

Pros and Cons of Electric Drum vs Disc Brakes

Benefits of Electric Drum Brakes:

  • Lower capital cost
  • Work with nearly all in-vehicle brake controllers

Disadvantages of Drum Brakes

  • Perform poorly when wet
  • Fade when hot
  • Susceptible to maintenance with electric wiring connections
  • Need to be perfectly balanced
  • Parking brake has to be mechanical wire pull brake

Benefits of Disc Brakes

  • Higher braking capability
  • No fade when hot
  • No fade when wet
  • Lightweight so improved suspension performance
  • Integrated parking function with hydraulic lock for extra safety

Disadvantages of Disc Brakes

  • Higher capital cost
  • narrower range of in vehicle brake controllers (though it is the less expensive simpler ones that are compatible)


Disc Brakes

Our preference is Disc Brakes - maintenance free and superior in all weather conditions. There would not be a passenger vehicle sold today with drum brakes which are high maintenance and fade in wet conditions. Drum brakes are used by all “Electric Brake” systems. They also commonly can lock up on one side if gibbers and other material gets lodged inside the drum mechanism.

Our typical Disc Brakes operate when the vehicle brakes, the hitch assembly slides in a bearing and forces the master brake cylinder to operate. This type of braking is not new but it is very simple and incredibly practical. The greater the braking force of the vehicle, the higher the pressure and braking force on the trailer. There is one disadvantage with this type of brake though.

When coming down steep hills, the trailer can have a tendency to push the vehicle down the hill.

To overcome this issue, we offer as an option, electronic activation of the disc brakes.

Why is Electronic Activation of Disc Brakes the top technology in braking?offroad trailer electronic brake control
Very simply, you get the benefit of the reliability and low maintenance of disc brakes plus in-cabin control of the braking system. The brakes are operated automatically from the brake signal on your vehicle. The braking “gain” can be adjusted from inside Vehicle of Disc Brakes.

This system was designed in the USA to allow
braking of large trailer boats reversing into water. In
this application, the disc brakes are totally
submerged. The older electric brakes would not hold when wet, so an electronic to hydraulic actuator was
invented and has been on the market for more than 10 years. The hydraulic pressure is 1200PSI and the pressure is applied proportionally to the gain setting on the in car controller.

This is simply the most advanced yet easy to operate brake system. This has a One-Touch parking brake feature.

These electonic disc brakes perform better than the independent report published by “AL-KO Sensabrake TM” for their own braking system (we calculate the deceleration from their report).

Do Manufacturers have to do this braking test and show the results?

You can request to see the certified copy of the braking performance compliance for the camper trailer or caravan you are buying.

Compliance is a serious safety issue!


camper trailer design guide.understanding suspension design for camper trailer.understanding canvas in camper trailer.camper trailer comfort design guide.understanding sustainability and eco-friendliness in camper trailers.understanding wheels and tyres to match vehicle and camper trailer.travelling with a boat and outboard with a camper trailer.