Off road campers - suitability for purpose

Submitted: Wednesday, Apr 03, 2013 at 21:27
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We are new to this and would welcome some advice. We are in our late 60s, little camping experience, although have spent some years living on a boat sailing around the world. We want to travel to places like the Kimberleys where we expect to need a degree of off road ruggedness in our trailer. Looked at the Cub Drover and were impressed, but we would like a little more comfort and preferably not have our bed under canvass.
We are now looking at the Bushranger Joey and the Avan Cruiseliner. Good degree of comfort and facilities in relatively small packages, but will they take some rough road work. The Avan seems to have little clearance especially under the rear legs. Does anyone have experience of these that they can share with us, or suggestions about similar units that are more suitable?
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Reply By: Mary J2 - Wednesday, Apr 03, 2013 at 22:11

Wednesday, Apr 03, 2013 at 22:11
No but we did buy a Cub Supavan Stockman in Feb & have loved it. We're in our mid 50's, I have chronic knee & foot issues & thought it would be difficult getting on & off the bed, especially as we replaced the mattress with something far more thicker, comfortable & very soft. At first it was a bit daunting getting on & off but since then have worked around my issues without any problems.

The criteria when we bought the CT was that I had to be able to live in it for up to 2yrs while we travelled & worked. The Cub SS has fulfilled this in every way. Sleeping under the tent is not an issue, & setting up can be achieved in 5 mins (excl annex). When we had the very hot summer nights here last month we slept in it & the ventilation was excellent & we were very comfortable.

I would recommend that whatever you get make sure it's truly off road capable if that's what you're after & is quick & easy to set up. If it's just the 2 of you I'd forget a soft top/floor CT, keep it simple & look for a hard floor etc.

I'm not quite sure how successful the Avan's are as there always seem to be plenty offered 2nd hand. I would say you would have a helluva lot more room with the Cub than the Avan, which are very confined inside. Kimberley & Conquerer CT's are also very good & worth a look. If you're doing a lot of travelling get the best you can afford, you don't want to be cursing something you don't like or wishing you had something you did.
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Reply By: Member - Frank P (NSW) - Wednesday, Apr 03, 2013 at 22:49

Wednesday, Apr 03, 2013 at 22:49
G'day Pelikan

Sorry, don't know anything about the Bushranger Joey so can't comment.

We had a 2006 Avan Cruiseliner before our current off-road rig. We loved it but found it wasn't up to what we wanted to do, which was just what you want to do.

If I could pidgeon-hole it, I would say it's a fine east coast National Parks camper, and in that respect we did some great trips.

But it's low-slung and long and as a result has poor entry and exit angles. We took it from Sydney to Carnarvon Gorge via blacktop all the way except for maybe 100km of good unsealed road. It wasn't the unsealed road that was the problem, but central QLD's bouncy sealed minor roads. The microwave met us at the door one day, all the joinery needed tightening after the trip and the three long hinges for the fold-up sides had 6 inch long cracks in them at each end. We don't drive hard, but it's just not built tough enough for what you and we want to do.

After that one trip we realised it couldn't do what we planned to do, fixed it and sold it to offset the cost of our current off-road rig, a Kimberley Karavan.

It's great - compact for towing, roomy when set up, comfortable, rugged, goes where the car will pull it. If you're on a restricted budget, it is, well, expensive - though second hand ones offer good value IMO. At 2.2 tonnes all up it's heavy but we find our 120 Series diesel Prado takes it where we want to go - the Kimberley, GRR, Mitchell Plateau, Kalumburu, Purnululu, Pilbara, Tanami Rd, Oodnadatta, Strzlecki and Birdsville tracks, east to west via the abandonded section of the Gunbarrel, dirt roads and station tracks out back of Arkaroola and many, many forest roads and firetrails in the Great Divide in NSW and Vic High Country. So we think it's pretty good :-)

Something lighter and less expensive, perhaps, isthe Quantum from Australian Off Road Campers. I believe they go pretty well anywhere too, but do your research.

Can't think of other non-canvas campers or hybrids but I'm sure they're out there - others here can no doubt help you.


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Follow Up By: Shaker - Thursday, Apr 04, 2013 at 08:56

Thursday, Apr 04, 2013 at 08:56
Vista RV Crossover maybe?

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Reply By: Member - Salt grinder - Wednesday, Apr 03, 2013 at 23:53

Wednesday, Apr 03, 2013 at 23:53
Hi Pelikan and welcome to the forum.
Wow! we could talk about so many things that you can plan for & there'll be a million different opinions out there. I had a CampOmatic (copy of a Kimberly) but sold it as we still preferred our OzTent. I'm 73yo now & just upgraded my tent, still trying to keep young. We do a lot of very remote camping all over Oz.

However, with any camping plan, study the maps carefully. There are a million places you can see & to drag your accommodation with you.

A good strong vehicle & strong camper trailer will go almost anywhere with experience and care. I advise not to underestimate the ruggedness of some places you will discover. The GR Rd is all about tyre pressures and speed . . . get these right & it's not a problem with the right gear. This applies to most dirt roads and remote tracks.

My first consideration with trailers is strength, crawl underneath and see the suspension: axel assembly, springs, shocks & tyres. You do need good road clearance. Then waterproofing & dustproofing both underneath & on top . . . . there will be deep water and many k's of dust ahead.

As to all the configurations of kitchens, living comforts and erecting & folding up, canvas quality . . . it's almost endless. But you will get what you pay for, & having said that, if it's good quality and looked after, you will almost get your money back when you sell it back home. There are 4 or 5 top of the range campers worth a look . . . they are all good but different

If I may make one suggestion. We have always carried our good Trailblazer fridge in our wagon . . . . when we go away from camp our fridge/food/drink is with us + the fridge battery (the auxiliary). The battery is then being charged almost continuously + the fridge is in the shade, inside. Fridges can be a real issue and another story for another day.

Being ex boaties you would be well aware of Whitworths marine for bitsn'pieces. Good value. Half the fun is in the planning. Good luck with the adventures.


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Reply By: evaredy - Thursday, Apr 04, 2013 at 00:47

Thursday, Apr 04, 2013 at 00:47
Well I will throw another one into the mix, The Grand Tourer, by Adventure Offroad campers.
We recently purchased one, I think it has to be the best trailer camper design out there.
The bed doesn't require a ladder and is bigger than a king size, it also has a full length kitchen on one side and a massive storage area on the other.
It has a roof rack mounted and whatever is on the rack, stays on the rack. There is no need to remove anything when setting up.
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Reply By: Bazooka - Thursday, Apr 04, 2013 at 17:43

Thursday, Apr 04, 2013 at 17:43
Pelikan - what's your budget approximately, do you want to cook inside, and what are you towing with?
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Follow Up By: Pelikan - Thursday, Apr 04, 2013 at 19:35

Thursday, Apr 04, 2013 at 19:35
Hi Bazooka,

First I would like to say a very sincere thank you to all who have replied. It has been very impressive and extre
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Follow Up By: Pelikan - Thursday, Apr 04, 2013 at 19:45

Thursday, Apr 04, 2013 at 19:45
Sorry - glitch in my Ipad

As I was saying, the replies have been extremely useful. Frank's comments on the Avan confirmed my fears.
To answer your questions, we have an Amarok automatic, so far unmodified and I am wondering if I need things like roo bars, snorkel etc. I favour outside cooking, but it would be nice to have some cooking capability inside and out. Budget is flexible. I started by saying no more than 30 K, but I am prepared to pay more to get what we need.

Cheers, Peter (Pelikan)
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Follow Up By: Bazooka - Thursday, Apr 04, 2013 at 20:28

Thursday, Apr 04, 2013 at 20:28
Okay Peter, so towing won't be an issue for you with most campers. For around your budget you could get a second hand T-van, for a few grand more(+) you're into used Ultimate territory - both are enclosed/semi-enclosed, compact campers with good reputations for quality and reliability. Ultimates have inside stoves so you have the choice of in or out cooking. In the more typical hardfloor foldout tent configuration there's a plethora of options. The better known include Aussie Swags, AOR Odyssey, Kimberley Kampers, Campomatics.... As long as they have been looked after and serviced they are mostly robust and well-equipped.

Somebody on here mentioned recently that he was having trouble shifting his second hand camper and that it seemed to be a slow period for sellers so now's a good time to start looking.

Apart from the classi fieds on Exploroz you could try theTrading Post or Camper Trader
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Follow Up By: Member - Frank P (NSW) - Thursday, Apr 04, 2013 at 22:33

Thursday, Apr 04, 2013 at 22:33

"I am wondering if I need things like roo bars, snorkel etc"

For outback travel I think a bull bar is a pre-requisite. One roo at 60kph on a plastic front end can really ruin your day. Lights you can do without, sort of, but think aircon condenser and radiator being destroyed. You can do without the aircon, but right behind the condenser is the radiator and there's a good chance it will be stuffed, in which case you won't be going too far.

For the relatively small $$$ I'd be getting a snorkel, not so much for water crossings as for keeping the air intake above most of the dust.

From the sound of it you're tapering into off-roading. Before a suspension upgrade I'd do a trip or two and evaluate if you need to spend the $$$. In the meantime read up about lowering tyre pressures when appropriate and driving to conditions - particularly watching speed with reduced tyre pressures. If I read you right your Amarok's standard suspension will be able to handle what you want to do initially if driven with care and common sense, then upgrade later if necessary. Up to you - if you think you'll need need extra clearance right away (sand, firetrails, rough tracks, etc) then do the upgrade.

Hope this helps


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Follow Up By: Pelikan - Friday, Apr 05, 2013 at 15:50

Friday, Apr 05, 2013 at 15:50
Thanks again Frank, you have been very helpful. I really am very impressed by the quality of responses on this forum. I will start enquiring about bars and snorkels. It is a pity that one has to cut the Amarok bodywork for all the ones I am aware of. Also there seems to be some dissatisfaction expressed on the ausamarok website concerning the available snorkels. VW do not offer either bars or snorkels and apparently can be a bit awkward with warranties on vehicles fitted with ones they don't like.

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Reply By: graham B9 - Thursday, Apr 04, 2013 at 21:38

Thursday, Apr 04, 2013 at 21:38
Hi Guys,

Sleeping not under canvas will mean you are looking for a "crossover". A crossover is part camper trailer and part caravan. There are many brands of these but the problem is that many of them cost more than a caravan itself. They however have far better cross country performance than a caravan and more like a camper trailer in this regard.

Look at a Kimberley Karavan, Vista RV, Aussie off road Ultimate, Complete Campsite. New they will all be over $30K but s econd hand one might not be.They are however worth a look. I made my own version for $9000 and it was great. They all have shower toilet inside, Sleeping inside and you can cook inside and out. The main cooking facility is outside. The all have great off road performance and can be easily towed by your vehicle.

You could also look at a small Trakmaster or supreme getaway caravan. Both of these are towable and have great off orad performance. They will be cheaper than a crossover as well.
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Reply By: Member - Leanne W (NSW) - Friday, Apr 05, 2013 at 07:28

Friday, Apr 05, 2013 at 07:28
Hi Peter,
Try and go to a caravan & camping show - then you will be able to compare a few and hopefully find which one suits you the best.
AnswerID: 508236

Follow Up By: Pelikan - Friday, Apr 05, 2013 at 15:41

Friday, Apr 05, 2013 at 15:41
Thanks Leanne,
We were planning to go to the Wagga show next week, but have just found out that there is a disappointingly shoet list of camper exhibitors. We may have to go to Sydney at the end of the month. I was hoping to avoid it as it will undoubtedly be massive and confusing. I am not a big city person.
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Follow Up By: Member - Frank P (NSW) - Friday, Apr 05, 2013 at 16:23

Friday, Apr 05, 2013 at 16:23

It's a bit big for me too, and I live here!!

But you're going to outlay a fair bit of coin - you'll kick yourself if you don't research very well and then end up dissatisfied. Take a deep breath, mate, and do the trip; concetrate on what you're there for, don't get too distracted (though that can be fun). Give yourself a full day (two if you can bear it) at the show so you don't run out of time. If you get there early, parking is good. Take a pocket GPS so you can find your car afterwards :-) (Only partly joking there!)


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Follow Up By: Member - Leanne W (NSW) - Friday, Apr 05, 2013 at 21:24

Friday, Apr 05, 2013 at 21:24
Hi Peter,
You must live somewhere down my neck of the woods. I went to the Albury camping show in February and was disappointed at the lack of exhibitors. As Frank says, it is worth it to go to a big show. Take your time and have a good look around. You may come across something perfect for your needs that you did not know about. Better to make the right decision first time!
Happy hunting!
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Follow Up By: Pelikan - Saturday, Apr 13, 2013 at 15:11

Saturday, Apr 13, 2013 at 15:11
Another thank you to all who replied and gave me such good advice and just to let you know the result.
I spent an age going through the exhibitor list for Rosehill and checking all their products on the internet. I found nothing that was within reasonable price range and more suitable than the campers we had already looked at. We gave up the idea of a crossover and decided that we would put up with any small discomfort from living under canvass. We were impressed by the Ultimate we looked at, but thought it a bit fiddly to set up and it did not provide very well for the possibility that we might like to occasionally have a couple of small grandchildren with us for a short trip. We were very impressed by the value for money of Cub campers and the very professional way in which the sales manager (Ross) dealt with us. We also liked their warranty. We finally settled on their Supamatic Drover and we placed an order yesterday. We take delivery in June and are looking forward to our first trip.
This forum and the kind people who have provided advice have proved to be a great resource.
Cheers, Peter
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Follow Up By: Member - Leanne W (NSW) - Sunday, Apr 14, 2013 at 12:24

Sunday, Apr 14, 2013 at 12:24
Hi Peter,
Congratulations! I hope you enjoy it.
We have an Aussie Swag which is very similar to the cub. It would be nice not to be under canvas in bad weather, but a couple of things may help: If the canvas is wet when we want to pack up, we wipe it down (well the bits we can reach) with a chamois. We also put a small tarp on the bed to stop it getting wet.
Enjoy your travels.
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Follow Up By: Pelikan - Sunday, Apr 14, 2013 at 14:50

Sunday, Apr 14, 2013 at 14:50
Hi Leanne,

By coincidence our final choice was between a good second hand Aussie Swag and the Cub. We wanted the twin singles bed configuration in the Cub and also the assurance of a good warranty. Otherwise the Aussie Swag would have been fine. Thanks for the tips.
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