Which Off-Road Soft Bottom Camper Trailer - HELP!!!

Submitted: Friday, Apr 26, 2013 at 20:04
ThreadID: 101893 Views:5243 Replies:14 FollowUps:4
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Hi Guys,

I know this has probably been asked in many different ways, but I can’t see a recent post that relates our circumstances when it comes to the big “Which camper trailer” question. We have never used or camped with anyone who uses a camper trailer, so we are a salesman’s dream, so any advice no matter how small is eagerly awaited!!

OK so long background story short (as I’m a women and like to talk, please bear with me) - My husband and myself are looking to head off next year-ish to travel around Australia, working here and there to earn cash as we go. We’re looking to rent out our house (which should cover the mortgage) and not return for at least a year maybe two maybe three, no time frames – were in our early 30’s no children (well apart from my Sage fly rods) and no thought on having them so absolutely no reason to rush….

Currently we have a Nissan 4.2 GQ Diesel and looking for an off road camper trailer to go with it. We want it to go wherever the Nissan goes. We have just done a walk about at Sydney Caravan & Camping Show. The main one we looked at was the Complete Campsite Jabiru, but at the starting price of $27K (more likely ending up in the $35Kish scale with what we want added) it is a tad more than what we initially had in mind (by about $15K). This was then quickly followed by a small panic attack as no others there seemed to come close to the features the Complete Campsite offered, or perhaps the guys at complete campsite were the best we spoke too that day. The panic attack was mainly because although we are only young, we want something that we can live out off without killing each other for the foreseeable future and we like our space and our comforts. So if it comes to it, we will take out more money on the house to pay for it…. However being the scrooge in the relationship I figured there must be another camper trailer with similar features and robust for less, or at least I’m hoping there is…

I have since home and been researching and seen there are other options, however I really don’t know where to turn. Were also looking at Redback tomorrow, which are near us, however I am unsure about the reliability and standard as I can’t seem to find any mention on them. Can anyone offer any alternative or have advice? Basic important features we are looking for are:

1 - Space – lots of space (important)
2 - Storage easily assessable, we have lots of fishing/camera and dive gear, and then the normal gear to last a year or so. (we liked the side cupboards on both sides of the trailer with the complete campsite – help with dust stone damage etc. Also like the long draw bar option, plenty of space to store items you’d rather not have inside).
3 - Bed with walk through – (very important in the not killing each other factor as we don’t want to be climbing over each other during the night.)
4 - Hot water system with shower – (Partner feels this is important – Apart from the ease of a built in system I feel we could get a separate unit and save – advice??)
5 - Kitchen area that can be fully enclosed (Fridge/freezer not important – we have one already and plan to keep it in the truck).
6 - Canvas/tent high quality – fully enclosed to help keep the little biters to a minimal.
7- Plus Normal ease of putting up/down –, Water tanks large, 12 volt throughout & invertor - 2x 12 volt batteries – solar regulator robustness/reliability etc.

If you haven’t already got bored and hit the back button to read another thread, please hit reply with some (any) advice. Also if there is anything you thing we are seeing as too important or have missed out please take the time to let us know and save us from making a costly mistake!!!
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Reply By: Member - Terry W4 - Friday, Apr 26, 2013 at 20:14

Friday, Apr 26, 2013 at 20:14
Can of worms methinks here. I ahave been going through the same exercise but based on due to retire 13/9. My budget is $16,000. Have looked at lots of optiosn but the CT does need to be a real off roader. Having looked at new imported types versus Oz built I have decided the best thing I can do is to buy an ex-hire Johnnos - about 2 years old. Very strong and well equipped. Also they will have been well serviced. Am expecting to also spend money on additions (and spares) as well as a 2009 Prado diesel which will also need some added features - like dual battery.

Know it is not easy. But I think you are really looking at Oz build to get the quality of welds, springs etc.
AnswerID: 509859

Reply By: Member - wicket - Friday, Apr 26, 2013 at 20:19

Friday, Apr 26, 2013 at 20:19
If you want plenty of camper trailer info then head over to myswag, it's all about camper trailers

myswag camper trailers

AnswerID: 509860

Reply By: Member - fawkesp - Friday, Apr 26, 2013 at 20:40

Friday, Apr 26, 2013 at 20:40
exilebean,

Excellent question - my wife and I were having the same discussion on Thursday night and she said I should ask this forum for advice.

No need now, you have asked the questions I wanted to ask, guess I'll just sit back and see what comes back!

One forum that I have found with a wealth of information is the Campertrailers website - www.campertrailers.org - it has an extensive list of manufacturers and a very interesting 'My Camper' section.

Either way, with about 10 million camper manufacturers out there, the search will be both long and arduous, but hopefully fruitful.

PeterF.

AnswerID: 509862

Reply By: Member - ROADKING - Friday, Apr 26, 2013 at 23:08

Friday, Apr 26, 2013 at 23:08
Hi Exilebean,
Having had several camper trailers over the years it is extremely hard to find the one trailer that ticks all the boxes. The best advice I could give, is once you are considering a particular brand see if you can hire one and form your opinion from there, we actually hired 4 different types before we settled on our first purchase which we then had for 4 years and were very happy with it although we spent more money than we origionally planned, our current camper cost more than most top end caravans but it suits our needs perfectly and especially with camper trailers you get exactly what you pay for.
For offroad trailers one main consideration is to make sure the drawbar extends right back to where the suspension mounts which will give the trailer the strength to withstand the stresses offroad. Also the suspension itself depends on the type of trailer, there are plenty of different types out there but if you have an issue you may not be able to repair or get yourself going in the bush, I have always favoured the conventional leaf springs with shockies they may be a little harsher in the ride but you can always get replacement leaves or full spring packs just about anywhere and are easy to repair on the side of the road.
As for showers there are plenty of options as most in the price range you are looking at wont come with one i would suggest a set up run off the vehicle engine reasonably priced and simple to operate also you can control how much water you use as they usually draw from a bucket. Only a couple of suggestions as every one has different requirements but I'm sure others will have some good advice also
Regards jim
AnswerID: 509872

Reply By: Member - Greg H (NT) - Saturday, Apr 27, 2013 at 07:10

Saturday, Apr 27, 2013 at 07:10
Exilebean.

Pushing my own barrow here but I have a Trackabout soft floor camper trailer (Aussi made) for sale in the classifieds. I am heading your way in June (almost). But anyway if you want to contact me about my thoughts on a soft floor camper, please do.

Regards

Greg
AnswerID: 509875

Follow Up By: exilebean - Sunday, Apr 28, 2013 at 21:11

Sunday, Apr 28, 2013 at 21:11
Thank Greg for pushing your own barrow - the camper does look the bioscuit though the hubby really wants a sparking new gadget..... However it seems you have been travelling along time and we would welcome any advise you can offer, as you will know long term issues, annoyances, wish list specs etc. of CTs. Maybe a cool ale could be supplied over a camp fire in lieu of much awaited advice when you go past us around June.
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FollowupID: 787993

Reply By: Member - Oldbaz. NSW. - Saturday, Apr 27, 2013 at 09:13

Saturday, Apr 27, 2013 at 09:13
No matter how much advice you get, the decision is yours. In your favour are several
factors...1.You know what you want in features..
2. You have time on your side..
3. There are literally thousands of used C/ts out there.
My advice is to hire one or more & try them out. Some features can be cheaply added
later if found necessary. Your budget should get you a pretty handy used unit.
Bargain hard...it is a buyers market..offer no more than 90% of the asking price, &
inspect a heap before making a decision. cheers...oldbaz.
AnswerID: 509879

Follow Up By: olcoolone - Saturday, Apr 27, 2013 at 12:02

Saturday, Apr 27, 2013 at 12:02
Could not agree more..... what one person likes the other hates.

People need to learn to research their needs and make their own decisions based on the information they obtain....... then ask what is brand X like or brand X and Y.

We had a soft floor Trak Shak for many years and it was good but after owning two Ultimates we would never go back to a soft floor but that's my opinion.

Once you buy your own camper and start using it you learn what is good and what is bad..... then you sell the first one and buy the right one.

Bit off topic...... There must be that much camping gear in peoples shed that don't get used because they have found something better.



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FollowupID: 787901

Reply By: KevinE - Saturday, Apr 27, 2013 at 10:34

Saturday, Apr 27, 2013 at 10:34
If I was buying a new soft floor camper, I'd be having a real hard look at the ones made by Cameron in Adelaide. Easily the best I've seen & probably the easiest to put up/pull down. I'm not associated with them, nor do I own one. I own another brand of soft floor camper. The Cameron is light years ahead of ours in all facets! Plus, they have a walk up style, so you don't have to climb over each other to get in & out of bed. I do own an 8x5' cage trailer made by Cameron that's done at least 150,000km as a work trailer, often with a complete tree in it going to the dump after I've jumped up & down on it & chainsawed it over & over - I haven't had to spend $1 on it in maintenance in 7 years other than tyres - so the build quality is there!

I'm just wondering if a soft floor camper is really what you need though? They're great if you plan on extended stays in one place, but not so good if you're travelling & doing a lot overnight stops regularly - putting it up & pulling it down everyday gets old real quick! Plus, the bigger the tent, the harder it is to put up/pull down (that Cameron one with the line built in for one person to pull it out does seem to be an exception there though)

Cheers,

Kevin :)
AnswerID: 509883

Follow Up By: exilebean - Sunday, Apr 28, 2013 at 21:07

Sunday, Apr 28, 2013 at 21:07
Hi Kevin,

Thank you for the suggestion I will look into them

To answer the great point on the hard floor option, the main reason why we haven’t looked at this is space. We want as much room as we can. (there may only be two of us but after travelling for a year or so together if he annoys me I really don’t want to have to weigh up getting bitten to shreds by mozzies verses sitting right on top of him and I’m sure that is likewise) :)

Saying that is you or any disagrees with my thoughts that hard floors mean comprising on space, please speak up!!



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FollowupID: 787992

Reply By: Wolfy03 - Saturday, Apr 27, 2013 at 14:51

Saturday, Apr 27, 2013 at 14:51
Have a look at adventure campers! Top notch and easy to set up. Plus the bed is at waist height and u have plenty of kitchen space! Go to their website which has plenty of info and videos as well. Best of luck with ur hunting!
AnswerID: 509892

Reply By: Hi-ryder - Saturday, Apr 27, 2013 at 17:27

Saturday, Apr 27, 2013 at 17:27
Hi exilebean , I had a look at wildboar campers two weeks ago up here in queensland . Ticks alot of boxs for the money spent . About $18000 but by the looks of them get alot of bang for your buck. really nicley finished unit worth a look . I've seen alot of campers but this one seemed to have it all . Had alot of awning space too . Nearly tripe the space of mine under cover area . It is a hard floor camper. If i go another hard floor i would be interested in them . Worth a look
AnswerID: 509902

Reply By: Ozhumvee - Saturday, Apr 27, 2013 at 17:37

Saturday, Apr 27, 2013 at 17:37
Personally I'd go for a hard floor camper or a small van especially if you intend to live in it for 12 months or more.
Peter
1996 Oka Motorhome

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AnswerID: 509905

Follow Up By: Lester77 - Sunday, Apr 28, 2013 at 17:12

Sunday, Apr 28, 2013 at 17:12
Agree totally. In 2003 my then partner and I used a 30 yr old Viscount van to tow around the blacktop, then tents whenever we wanted to get to the good spots. Generally we found the work in the bigger cities and based ourselves there to then explore each area.

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FollowupID: 787967

Reply By: tentman - Sunday, Apr 28, 2013 at 09:03

Sunday, Apr 28, 2013 at 09:03
I thought I had done all the research into canvas trailers possible, went to a couple of shows. We hired a variety of campers before making our choice, checking other peoples set up at the camp grounds we stayed at. Eventually bought a goldstream which totally blew the budget but was the best suited trailer for our needs.

Richard
AnswerID: 509933

Reply By: exilebean - Sunday, Apr 28, 2013 at 21:03

Sunday, Apr 28, 2013 at 21:03
Hi Guys,

Thank you for all your advice. I am currently sitting down to another night of hunting on the net with your suggestion in tow.
Terry W4, I completely agree Australian made is the only way to go. First thing we ask is where are your component made! I will come back to this tread with my thoughts on each- as it seems this is a topic many are interested in. On that note, we have been busy for the last two days looking into options. On Saturday we went to Redback Camper Trailers and re-visited Johnno’s Campier Trailers (we saw them at the Sydney show) as we thought we would see what was at the cheaper end of the scale after complete campsite. I say cheaper in the way of still mid-range long tern touring option. This is our thoughts (unbiased and non-committal – at the end of the day I am a woman and hold the right to change my mind at any point!!!)

Straight to the point – Johnno’s – good unit. Great basic set-up, we don’t like that the main tent area isn’t completely sealed (hubby likes to wage a war with any mozzie with a can of mortein and would like to avoid that sweet “lemon” smell!!). Pro is the canvas is made just up the road – negative – I asked if a vent could be added and was told that the canvas tent could not be changed, what you see is what you get… (I didn’t this as every traveler likes something different as Oldbaz. NSW. and olcoolone posted).

Redback – I really really did not think I would like these campers, but I left and after 24 hours mulling feel that I would actually prefer to go with these guys then buy a “ready to drive CT” (getting to know the lingo now ? ) from complete campsite. Why do I hear you ask?? Because they are completely customizable, even down to an L-shaped zip in the canvas at the bed head by the kitchen, so I can sleepily shout “COFFEE” and get one pasted to me straight from the kitchen - and a walk through draw set-up idea that I thought would utilise the empty space better and not use up inner trailer storage. The cooking stove you can get fitted but mostly is just one installed (if you don’t want to do it yourself). This at first didn’t seem so “sparkly and showy” but I soon thought, well what happens when you’re out woop woop way and your stove top fails – Fitted in unit you would have to get spare parts etc. installed unit – ah well we’ll just grab another gas stove (as really that’s all most are) and most garages/stores sell them and we can hook it back up our selves. Little things like this is slowly making sense. Like the Suspension (thanks ROADKING for that info), you want equipment you can replace at the side of the road yourself.

But saying all this is it still concerns me that I cannot find much info on these guys, the two of the three comments I’ve seen have been great the other mentioned the quality of the canvas seams. – Does anyone know these guys, does anyone have one???

Basically if we go for these guys we get everything (and slightly more – draws under bed etc.) apart from the hot water and electrics for 8K less then complete campsite, with extra customization but less certainly on quality/reliability (which is a big factor when looking at travelling long term).

I am continuing on my search so fawkesp I hope the above was useful for you and maybe we can both help each other on this search. Oh and www.campertrailers.org was very useful. Also have a look at drifta kitchens – he has put a lot of information on his set-up on his website. He doesn’t sell any of the stuff so purely there as info, good an unbiased ideas!

If anyone else clicks onto this tread and has anymore manufactures we should look into or indeed just wise advise on little things (like is it really worth the money and effort to have plumbed in hot water or just use a Coleman’s to oh no don’t use that) please stop and post your thoughts. We apperciate all advice no matter how small is seems!
AnswerID: 509962

Reply By: ExplorOz Team - Michelle - Monday, Apr 29, 2013 at 10:44

Monday, Apr 29, 2013 at 10:44
Hi exilebean - just wanted to say hi & wish you luck with your adventure. Before David & I started this site 15 yrs ago we were 30 & in a very similar circumstance as you. We spent almost 2 yrs travelling around/across/within Oz & it was an amazing experience. Like you we had our dive gear but also sailboarding gear, fishing gear, laptop & printer, & we each had a large tub of possessions for when we ever settled (sold everything else so nothing left behind). We travelled in a Toyota 75 series troopy that had a bed & ample storage, ventilation thru a poptop roof & towed a heavy-duty offroad O'Briens storage trailer. We also had a large canvas tent but we only used it a few times - too much hassle for overnight camps. We took our rig on some rather adventurous tracks & sometimes it caused us some grief! But The longer we travelled the less we needed of comforts & pretty soon we were sleeping beside the campfire just on thermarests & we knew we could've made do without the trailer.

Since 'settling down" & having 2 kids etc we have changed our vehicle to a cruiser wagon & we have swags - no trailer & this gives us the freedom & adventure we desire. We still take a tent for backup (OzTent - RV4) but only use it for very wet nights or extended stops (at first it was where the portacot went but by age 2 each girl slept in a swag outdoors). Having a CT or trailer wouldn't be of much interest to us still as it would impact driver stress, costs more to run, will slow you down, & can certainly have an affect on your travel plans. For us the scales have always tipped in favour of "less is more" .

We are now 45 & have been in the industry a very long time & seen many developments & trends in CTs & offroad vans. We always postulate which CT we would use if we had any choice & we have always favoured the hard floor because the quick, simple setup for those overnight stops is critical to touring enjoyment. There is nothing more stressful than setting up camp after a long day of driving so it has to be easy & quick to get that man a cold beer & a chair to relax in! Whatever you choose don't lose sight of this simple fact - fast setup/pack up will outweigh most other features when you're on the road fulltime. good luck with your purchase.
Michelle Martin
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I.T. Beyond Pty Ltd / ExplorOz

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AnswerID: 509975

Reply By: exilebean - Tuesday, May 28, 2013 at 21:00

Tuesday, May 28, 2013 at 21:00
ys,

I figured I'd write a follow up to this, in case someone comes cross this thread in the future. After much research and another camping show we have bought a Redback camper. Redback is owned by a guy an hour up the road and we met someone with one, who kindly let us play with his to test ease of set-up (10mins in dark first time own our own)/backup (15/20mins same deal)etc.

The reason we have gone this route is that he is making a full customised CT for us, that is basically going to have all the good points of the more expensive CTs we saw. We have bought the same hot water system as in complete campsite and getting this plumbed through too. In regards to electrics, we are getting an Auto-lecky to fit out the trailer and again to our wishes. Although we are sourcing many of the equipment/accessories ourselves and this takes time, it also add to the enjoyment of planning and mean the actually total cost is cheap, although many of the parts are the same makes etc as what we've seen in the 45K+ CTs and so quality will still be there.

This we found was a good option for us as hopefully we'll end up with the set-up we want for a lot less. Although we do agree that a hard-bottom CT is more comfortable and we have no doubt that we will one day upgrade to a hard-bottom, we could not justify blowing the budget to one of the standard we wanted. The other option was a Jayco etc, but we have to many memories to make down tracks we wouldn’t trust the Jayco down and to young to head down that route yet!

I hope this gives you food for thought if your in our situation and unsure which way to go.

If anyone ever wants an idea of finial costing etc., feel free to contact me.
AnswerID: 512048

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