camper trailers

Submitted: Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013 at 02:03
ThreadID: 101933 Views:3920 Replies:13 FollowUps:4
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A bit of a winge . I went to the camping and caravan show as I'm i looking to updating camper and I'm trying to understand how the camper sellers justify the prices they charge for good camper. One could buy new car less. That's winge taking tax
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Reply By: graham B9 - Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013 at 06:27

Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013 at 06:27
Gaz just remember that you see them at the show but how many of these high end ones do you see on the road. Some are over $100.000 for a off road crossover camper. Kimberley Kampers, Aussie off road and Complete Campsite have all released new models over 12 month ago and I have yet to see one on the road yet. I have only seen one Vista RV on the road and this was released 3 years ago.

I think many people agree with you and are looking at cheaper options.
AnswerID: 510011

Reply By: RodH, Sydney - Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013 at 06:30

Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013 at 06:30
Hmmm. I have the opposite view when I compare camper trailers with caravans. I think the campers have much greater innovation and quality, in general, and wonder how the caravans can justify their price.
While the top line campers are expensive, I think they are fair value for innovative, small-volume, locally manufactured products. A buying decision certainly requires careful thought!
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Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013 at 07:36

Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013 at 07:36
I own a Campomatic and it is a very good camper.
When comparing it to a Kimberley Kamper however, I can see the extra options the Kimberley has, which would justify the higher price. The electrics for instance are state of the art and have clever charging and monitoring features.

I don't need these and have set up my camper to suit my lifestyle, but one thing they both have which makes them dearer than many others, is a hard top which becomes the floor.
Hard top campers are more expensive than Soft top alternatives, but the Soft tops generally give larger family accommodation.

Other features such as independent coil suspension and frame construction add to the cost of manufacture.

The difference between cheaper campers and dearer ones are the same as comparing cheaper cars to expensive ones. They both get you from point A to point B, but some get you there in more style and comfort.

Getting back to the top end range of campers, I know what I want when trekking to the Top End, or traveling the Gibb River Road.


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Reply By: Member - alandale - Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013 at 07:44

Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013 at 07:44
I bought a TVan with all the mod cons over 8 years ago for $33,000 and sold it for $33,500 after 6 years of camping around Australia. Why? Because a they are a quality camper, people go looking for quality campers. You will get your money back if you buy a quality camper.
AnswerID: 510015

Follow Up By: David16 - Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013 at 07:56

Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013 at 07:56
Agree, I bought an Ultimate for $39,000 and sold it 2 years later for $41,000!
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Reply By: Member - daz (SA) - Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013 at 08:17

Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013 at 08:17
Hi there Gaz
One large cost in selling a camper trailer which is added on to the consumer is advertising, The costs to attend Camping shows is enormous, (rent of site, accommodation, sales staff wages, travel costs.) advertising in magazines, & there are plenty of them, is not cheap. I would hazard a guess & say there could be an advertising charge of $5,000 or more for the average camper trailer manufacturer per unit, which has to be recovered.
This depends on the number of units the manufacturer sells a year.
As an exercise it would be interesting to know what caravan manufacturer Jayco's cost would be to attend the Melbourne C & C
Food for thought Daz
AnswerID: 510018

Reply By: Warb - Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013 at 08:35

Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013 at 08:35
Have you ever built a camper trailer? I looked at buying one, and for a soft floored trailer the prices went from about $3K to upwards of $40K. The low-end ones were absolute rubbish, in some cases simply poorly made and in other cases breaking all the rules for trailer design with welds across the top of structural members etc. - one of the dangers of advice such as "look for complete welds not stitch welds" is that companies actually weaken the structure with too much welding to "look like quality" to the uninformed. Some of the higher price ones were only marginally better, and many had luxury features I didn't need. I wanted a basic (no TV!) but tough off-road trailer, so I decided to design my own and build it at my local engineering company to be certain that everything was done correctly.

I decided to use an off-the-shelf independent suspension system with twin shocks. That's the first $2.5K spent. Then an OzHitch adds another $400, Hella LED lighting perhaps the same again. Secondhand Prado wheels $600 for 3, Cooper AT3's $1050. I wanted an Australian tent, but these were upwards of $7K for the basic tent without awnings, close on $10K in the configuration that I wanted. I settled for an imported tent but it still cost me $3.5K. So the very basic components were $8.5K or so, but nearly double that with Australian canvas.

The trailer took a week or so to build, but this would obviously be reduced in a "production" environment, and then painted before final assembly with lights, suspension adjustment etc. If we assume $50 an hour for labour and perhaps 80 man-hours, that adds $4K. I have no idea what the steel cost, so I'll add a random $500. Water tanks, jockey wheels, stabilising legs, jerry cans, jerry can holders, gas bottles and holders add at least another $1.25K, a front toolbox is $800 ($1.7K for the nice "Johnno's" one!). A Drifta kitchen and storage box is a further $2K. A Redarc DC-DC +MPPT battery charger, battery and a handful of sockets is another $600 (though I went with LiFePO batteries which cost a bit more but weigh less).

Without allowing for incidentals (or things I have forgotten), the above tots up to about $18K, or >$25K with Australian canvas. Whilst I would assume that a camper trailer company would buy some components at trade price, it gives an idea of what it costs to build an off-road camper trailer. As some of the "luxury" trailers have fridges (I prefer mine in the towing vehicle), TV's and sound systems (god forbid we have peace and quiet or worse still "bird noises"), boat carriers, heaters, air conditioners etc. etc. the prices get even higher. Finally, of course, I doubt that most trailer companies sell too many units, so they need to make enough profit per unit to stay in business as well as cover the costs of premises, power, staff etc. and ongoing R&D.

I'm still happy I built my own, and would do it again - I also went to the show and didn't see anything there that I though was significantly better (overall) than mine - but I no longer think that >$30k is excessive for a really well built off-road soft-floor!

AnswerID: 510019

Reply By: Penchy - Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013 at 09:19

Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013 at 09:19
I see the Kimberly Kamper name being thrown around a bit as one of the high end campers. They may have a good reputation in the market, but no chance will I be buying one, even if I did win the lotto. I used to work for one of their major suppliers on the Gold Coast (they manufacture in Ballina), and I had nothing but trouble with the guys that worked in purchasing, they didn't know their a*** from their elbow.
A little off topic I know, sorry guys. My winge is also done.
AnswerID: 510026

Follow Up By: Member - J&R - Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013 at 10:06

Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013 at 10:06
Hmmm, yes a whinge it was.
Have some more sugar for brekky.
FollowupID: 788070

Follow Up By: Gronk - Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013 at 19:04

Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013 at 19:04
That's a strange reply ?? even though as you're saying, KK's purchasing team doesn't know a thing, that doesn't mean they aren't a quality unit..
The purchasing team doesn't design or assemble the things ?
FollowupID: 788109

Reply By: Meridith D - Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013 at 13:25

Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013 at 13:25
Just read on Trak Shaks website that they no longer do the Rosehill caravan and camping show because their costs are about $50000!

AnswerID: 510041

Reply By: brianc - Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013 at 15:29

Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013 at 15:29
Our 1992 vintage Wanderer (now Wandering Star) c/t is as basic and rugged as they come. Fold out top to get a room and bed, zip on annex, 40 l water tank , hand pump, jerry holder, Treg. I've added internal lights, gas stove holder, bowl holder for washups and a couple of hooks. No kitchen, no built in CD, but a pretty good alfresco area!
We have done 000's of kms on dirt with 4 kids (twice over the Gunbarrel). We've been to shows and seen the latest offerings and fail to see how these would last for half of what this beast has been through. Although I had both (leaf) springs break on the SBJ road 18mths ago - ouch. No warranty dammit.
I'm going to have a tough time replacing it (if it ever comes to that). Oldie but a goodie.
AnswerID: 510044

Reply By: 535 - Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013 at 15:55

Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013 at 15:55
Hi gaz 290,

I suggest you get what you pay for, a bit like choosing a Prado over a much cheaper 4WD.

Contrary to one of your replies (obviously doesn't get around much off the beaten track), I am the proud owner of a Vista RV Crossover and have been for nearly 3 years and have just had the pleasure of a long weekend with another Nth Qld satisfied owner. This is truly an off-road crossover which will go anywhere your 4WD will go.

If you want more info from the many happy owners out there I suggest you check out the Vista owners group on Australia 4WD.


AnswerID: 510045

Follow Up By: graham B9 - Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013 at 20:42

Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013 at 20:42
Hi 535,

I would be interested to know how many Vista Rv's have been sold in 3 years. I notice that you do not mention this????
FollowupID: 788115

Reply By: Member - Duncs - Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013 at 21:45

Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013 at 21:45
In 1996 I paid what all my friends said was a ridiculous price for a camper trailer, $12,500. I know that $12.5k doesn't seem much but back then it was a lot.

Since then it has travelled to all corners of Australia, and a good chunk of the middle too. I have replaced one mattress, the shock absorbers and tail lights. The rest is original. I had it set up for a short getaway a couple of weeks ago. Sitting looking at it my mate was impressed by how good the canvas looked. If I sold it now I would probably get close to my money back. In short I consider my 17 year old Trak Shak a great investment.

My mate had his Kimberly Kamper set up. It is a very impressive unit and I can see the money in it. It has features and inclusions that simply did not exist back in 96, not even in my wife's dreams. I can also see how it will last well. It is well designed, built from quality materials and well put together. It cost about $45k.

Finally it is his second camper. The first one, he bought in the late 90's. It was difficult to put up, he had a couple of problems with suspension - shockie mounts pulling out of the chassis welds failing etc.

If I was shopping now I would spend the bucks to buy a quality high end camper. Because I now know how good an investment quality is. Especially in gear you use in remote places.

AnswerID: 510070

Reply By: Bob R4 - Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013 at 22:10

Tuesday, Apr 30, 2013 at 22:10
Hi Gaz
4 years ago we bought a 2004 KK classic mariner with boatloader.
We have since towed it 24,000 plus kilometers and we're currently planning our next trip of about 9-10,000 kms. That may be our last gasp with the KK as we are probably not going to need its all terrain capability. It will follow you any where you can tow it, with ease, and you do not feel it is there, no matter how tough the road or conditions. Its comfort and performance as a living centre when away from home is fantastic, and we can't believe it would be possible to be more comfortable in a caravan.
Maybe it will not be the last gasp, and maybe it won't have to put up with the abuse of rough roads any more, and we'll just use it as a caravan substitute.
There is every indication that we'll get our money back, and just maybe a little more when we come to sell it.
The only expense has been 2 new batteries, and 1 broken end replaced on a gas strut.
Maybe the sellers may struggle to justify the prices they charge, but I assure you I can easily justify the price we paid.
Cheers, Bob
AnswerID: 510074

Reply By: Nomadic Navara - Wednesday, May 01, 2013 at 09:35

Wednesday, May 01, 2013 at 09:35
What you have to remember is that camper trailers are hand constructed items. Building things this way cost many times greater than things that come out of a sausage machine (production line produced good.)

It is fruitless using cars as a comparison for prices of camper trailers (or caravans.) If you want something hand built then be prepared to pay the price.
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