Some camper trailer reviews are based around a few nights spent in a camper trailer, and they aren’t very helpful, or accurate. A lot are also financially biased, as in the writer gets a kick back for making comments about the product.
This review is neither; I paid $10,500 of my own hard earned money for our camper trailer, and spend a few grand more on modifying it, and as of today, we have spent somewhere in the realms of 150 nights in it. By the sounds of it, my camper trailer manufacturer has shut down recently, so you can’t get the same one without buying second hand, but most soft floors have the same sort of arrangement.
What we love
The lighter, smaller and more robust your trailer is, the further you can take it. I bought this camper trailer back when we had an 80 Series Land Cruiser which chewed the fuel when loaded up. I wanted something I could drag down a beach, or bounce down a rough road without any dramas.
Empty, it weighs around 600kg, and full 1250kg. That’s not much weight, especially compared to many camper trailers on the market today. The tow ball weight is also extremely light. When fully loaded, two people can still just pick the front up, so somewhere around the 70 – 90kg mark. Lots of tow ball weight on a 4WD off road is a recipe for disaster, especially if its a dual cab ute! Our new Isuzu Dmax has no dramas towing it, and we like it that way.
It was cheap
Good luck trying to get a great condition, Australian made hard floor camper trailer that’s 6 years old for under $12000. We didn’t want to spend more than 15 grand, so a soft floor was the obvious choice.
It has storage for days
We never have a storage issue when towing the trailer. Imagine a normal 6 x 8 box trailer, with high sides. That’s the same storage we have – its just a trailer with a tent on top. This is fantastic for taking all of the gear we do, especially with a little boy in tow. I promise you, you’ll never wish for less storage. We use it all!
It’s got a pretty decent payload
On paper, the trailer has a 700kg payload, which is massive for the weight of the trailer, and gets used to its maximum. There’s no point having a trailer with lots of room and water tanks if you can’t actually load it legally.
The tent has heaps of room
If I sit on the bed and look across, I just laugh at the size of the tent. It’s 12ft, plus the width of a queen mattress, and we love it. Two porta cots fit easily, along with our bags, crates of gear and anything else we have laying around.
Doing that in a hard floor camper just isn’t going to happen.
Having a 55L freezer is gold
One of the modifications I did to the camper trailer was to install a 55L freezer, along with a big solar and battery system to run it. There’s nothing better than having pre-made, delicious home cooked food ready to go, or pulling ice cream out of the freezer. It wasn’t a cheap modification, but it was certainly worth while doing. If you want to know more about this, have a read of this post: Camper trailer solar and electrical upgrade.
The build quality overall, is pretty good. There are some obvious flaws, some of which I’ve fixed up and some of which were pure laziness on the manufacturers part but overall, its a solid unit. We’ve bounced it all over WA, including some truly awful roads and so far had nothing major go wrong with it. It’s been to Steep Point, Lorella Springs Station, Kalgans Pool, the Gibb River Road and plenty more.
What we don’t like
Setup and pack away time, effort and mess
There’s no doubting that soft floor campers don’t win any awards when it comes to setup and packing down. Our record for packing camp away, with everything out and usable (including heaps of toys around the place, plus high chairs etc) is 33 minutes.
If we were just working on setting up or packing the camper trailer away and nothing else, it could probably be done in 20 minutes. However, within that 20 minutes there’s a fair bit of muscle required. The canvas used on this camper trailer is thick, and insanely heavy. There have been some terse words spoken between my wife and I, as we heave and ho trying to get the cover back onto the camper trailer!
Also, at the end of it, unless the camper was clean to start with, you are covered on your shirt and arms with a lovely coating of red dust or mud. This is just the design; the cover gets coated in dust, and you have to play a fair bit with it to pack it all away!
The manufacturer lied on the nameplate
The nameplate on our trailer says that when empty, it weighs 595kg. I’m calling it a blatant lie, and you know how I can tell you that? Number one, the tent, water tanks empty and kitchen have to weigh somewhere in the realms of 300kg, and there’s no way the trailer itself weighs under 300kg.
Perhaps the trailer with no tent is 595kg, but once again, the data name plate on a camper trailer hasn’t been done ethically. What this means is that despite having a massive payload for what we bought, we are tight in keeping within the maximum weight of the trailer.
The other thing that makes it impossible is I’ve seen an identical trailer, with a 9 foot tent, which obviously weighs less than the 12 foot one, with the same nameplate. How is that possible? It’s not!
The pole bracket keeps ‘breaking’
As the tent is 12 foot, it has another ‘extension’ which creates a room about 1.2 metres longer than the smaller size tent. This section is attached by two plastic brackets, which are riveted into the pole. No matter what we do, the rivets keep breaking. I suspect its just a design flaw, and that the canvas is too heavy for the brackets, but I cannot for the life of me come up with a better solution.
Accessing your gear is tedious
Being able to pack a lot of gear in is great, but getting to it easily is a bit of a pain in the backside. If you open the tailgate and swing it open, you can reach a few things from the back, but if they are in the middle of the trailer, or right at the front, you have no chance of getting it out without climbing into the trailer and looking like a right old twit.
If the tent is out, you can go into the tent, and lift the bed up, and this makes accessing the gear much easier, but again anything that is on the drivers side of the camper trailer is hard to reach, even for a 6 foot 6 bloke!
If the tent isn’t up, you can tilt the whole tent up on gas struts, but the manufacturer has clearly not chosen the right gas struts, as its nigh on impossible to get the lid to shut again. Seriously, I can hang off it with 90kg of weight, and it won’t even move. The only way I can get it to shut by myself is to physically hang out as far as I can off it, and pull it down one side at a time. It’s hard, and no doubt I’ll hurt myself one day doing it, so I avoid doing it if at all possible.
In summary, we’ve had some truly epic times with this camper trailer. It’s really annoyed me at times, usually during pack away, but in general its great. There is no perfect setup; it doesn’t matter what you buy, it will limit you in one way or another. For now, with two young ones, we live with the fact that its tedious to set up and pack away compared to other camper trailers.
We try not to do any overnight stops, as the effort to setup and pack away makes it pretty difficult. Instead, we will stay 2 or more nights to make it worth it, and this suits better for having a relaxing trip anyway, and seeing spots better.
In the future, we will probably purchase a robust pop top camper trailer, like a Lifestyle, or hybrid caravan/camper trailer, but time will tell based on our available funds, where we plan on travelling and how long we are going for.