Chris Polglase goes under the handle Defenderer on Instagram. His account is flooded with mouth watering images of the backcountry with his white ’94 300tdi 110 Defender perched in the corner. In the 7 years Chris has owned the Defender it’s constantly been evolved and upgraded to a point where it’s one of the best tourers around. It’s a head turner!
I started off getting into camping/tramping/hunting and I was predominately backpack based. It wasn’t until I went away on a long weekend with friends with a Defender and a Hilux Surf that I got into 4wd touring. I started off with a Holden Rodeo, then a Colorado.
As time went by I realised the Defender was an excellent choice for the type of touring I wanted to be doing. I was fortunate to have some good friends with extensive mechanical knowledge around the Defenders and with them owning them themselves, I learnt a lot about them. As they say, turning owners into mechanics since 1948! So a big shout out to Pete Hall and Dave Jones for their knowledge and support, and the legendary Rex at Landrover Spares for the numerous parts and accessories.
I am more the offroad tourer than hardcore offroader. I will go away for as long as I can, from an overnighter to a camp ground or a month away touring the country, I’m up for anything really! The Defender has got me to some pretty cool spots that I wouldn’t have taken previous vehicles. Having everything in the truck means I can pack up and go whenever.
I brought the Defender in 2013, then it was stock standard and needed a bit of work. I initially removed all the rear seats and built a double bed in the back. This served me well for a few years, but when the little one came along, I got a rooftop tent and modified the rear for the extra seat.
The rooftop tent was awesome. I had the Autohome Maggiolina, which was pretty rare to find in NZ. The hard top was pretty quick and easy to put up, comfortable and dry. I was doing alot of research into rooftop tents at the time and came across the Alu-cab ones. At that time they weren’t being imported into NZ and to get one would be a small fortune. Whilst researching those, I saw the Icarus conversion. A mate had taken his Defender to Australia and fitted a Mulgo pop top before touring the country and bringing it back to NZ. The transformation it made to camping, touring and the usable space was amazing. The Icarus was always a pipe dream, but after friends getting the Alucab roof tents I managed a good deal through the importers to get two Icarus brought in (so keep an eye out for its twin on the road soon!)
The best thing with the Icarus was its a literal bolt off the old roof, bolt on the Icarus conversion. It is completely reversible if I ever need to remove it or something happens to the Defender. The roof tent, although mine was quick to put up, still meant that you needed to get up and down a ladder, and out into the elements. With a young daughter, I wanted to be in the vehicle with her for safety and not worry about ladders.
I also go away in any weather, so being able to access the bed from inside the vehicle, and raise the bed, meant I could remain inside in inclement weather, cook if need be and stay warm and dry. A recent install of a diesel heater has transformed it in to a year round camper, and that keeps the truck and bedspace toasty!
The rear build out has gone through a number of transformations over the years! I wanted everything in one place as before I had to pull out the cooker, get utensils and food etc from around the truck and it was a bit fiddly. With the pull out kitchen, I have bench space, cooking area and access to the Waeco Drawer Fridge all from the one spot. It’s still not the perfect setup but as I use it I can move things around to suit. I can still cook inside if need be, the most important design feature was making my morning coffee without leaving the truck!
Check out the Defenderer on Instagram HERE