Off Road Soft-bottom or hard-bottom Camper Trailers?

Submitted: Saturday, May 25, 2013 at 22:28
ThreadID: 102408 Views:3614 Replies:6 FollowUps:1
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Hi guys,

I posted a help thread on here a few weeks ago asking which off road soft bottom campier trailer to get. Basically it’s just my husband and I heading off to explore Australia for at least 1-2 years. Maybe three or more, but hey as long as the mortgage is being paid off by renters who’s counting!!!

Many of you queried if a soft bottom was really the way to go and perhaps we should look at a hard bottom camper. At the time we shunned all thoughts of hard bottom campers, mainly due to price, space, weights and off-roadability…. However we have also just come back from our local camper show where a friend introduced us to the Jayco off road range. Expecting not to be swayed from the Redback camper fully customized, full off-road camper trailer, we were quickly thrown sideways by the comfort of sofas, and the promise of fully closed awning space all within a 15 minute set-up time and for the same price as out CT. The awning part I feel may be more work then they are letting on, but perhaps I have to weary of salemen. Now with spinning heads we have decided it is best you ask the guys who have laughed, cried and screamed in these things for advice, and so I put the question out there. Soft bottom or hard bottom?

We need to keep this under or close to 30K. We want to travel to remote places and off-road, however as we will mostly be on our own, we are not looking at rock jumping in it. We want comfort, but yet don’t want to comprise on track memories (We want to do the Simpson, mountains etc. and not worry that the CT won’t handle it). We have looked at the Cub, but the whole attractiveness of a Jayco is the comfort of being on the road for two years any being able to sit down on something other than a camp chair in the rain. A Cub also felt a bit…… DIYish in the quality. But then is the Jayco to ‘Soft’ for real off-road???

Have any of you got any thought on this??? Has anyone actually upgraded from a hard bottom to a soft bottom. Has anyone regretted one or the other?? If there another option out there apart from the Jayco within 30K that can handle Oz terrain, can the Jayco actually handle Oz terrain???

Any thought, ideas suggestion are hoped for by two frazzled minds!!!

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Reply By: Member - Duncs - Saturday, May 25, 2013 at 23:44

Saturday, May 25, 2013 at 23:44
It took me a long time(6 years) to finally buy the camper I first liked the look of. For exactly the same reason as you are having trouble now.

Everything we do is a compromise between the various ideals we would like to meet.

The thing I didn't like about the Jayco style campers was the size when towing. They are long, and as a result have poor ramp over and departure angles. They are heavy, compared at least to soft floor campers, that puts more strain on the towing vehicle and limits off road ability. But they are comfortable. Compromise off road ability and ease of towing for comfort. Solution - carry a tent for the hard to get to places.

I have lived in my Trak Shak for up to two months, with my family of 5. I have lived in it for a month at a time on many occasions. It is comfortable and I can make a nice home with it but it is nice to sit on the lounge when I get the chance. Could I live in it for a couple of years. Not sitting in one spot but travelling possibly. The up side is that I have never looked at a track and thought "If I didn't have the camper I would go that way." then turned around for an alternate route and I have been to all the places you mention in your question. It's not as comfortable as the Jayco style but it will go anywhere the car will. Compromise, comfort for off road ability and ease of towing. Solution - every now and then stay in a motel.

Remember as I said earlier everything is a compromise the trick is finding the one you are happy to live with.

Good luck
AnswerID: 511826

Follow Up By: arofs1 - Sunday, May 26, 2013 at 08:17

Sunday, May 26, 2013 at 08:17
Since retirement (Dec 1999) we have been travelling around Australia for fairly short periods only about 2 months maximum usually in the cooler months of the year.

First we used our Toyota Hilux with a fibreglass canopy and a purpose built clip on tent for the rear, but slept in the tray. It was well set up and we travelled the centre and really enjoyed it.

We then upgraded to a Jayco Freedom 14 ft pop top and did about 50-60000km in all states of Australia including Tasmania and again really enjoyed our trips.

A year or so ago we upgraded to a 20 ft full height, ensuite Jayco and while we have not used it a great deal as yet because of family problems, it too is great and the comfort level is excellent, especially with or solar etc.

We also bought a hard floor camper to do the cape and Birdsville races several years ago (still have it) and also had a great time in it.

As the previous thread said, all have their benefits. I would take a hard floor camper over a soft floor every time, but if you have a family and want more room, then perhaps the soft floor might be an advantage.

The problem with campers for me is setting up and packing up, particularly in wet weather, I wouldn't like to be doing that for extended periods like you are planning.

If you have the right attitude you will enjoy whatever you choose, but comfort is important for LONG trips.

Brian DJ
FollowupID: 790129

Reply By: Shaker - Sunday, May 26, 2013 at 09:53

Sunday, May 26, 2013 at 09:53
Having had both styles, for 2 people I would thoroughly recommend the hard floor style, set up time for an overnight sleep is literally seconds.

AnswerID: 511838

Reply By: Villatranquilla - Sunday, May 26, 2013 at 11:41

Sunday, May 26, 2013 at 11:41
We had a cub (hard floor) and found it great - especially when it rained as even on the lower level you were dry - did have to delay departure one day as it was too wet to fold up.
The suggestion to pack a tent for the real off-road stuff in a good idea. The Jayco will also have more comfort and better storage options - an important consideration for full-time living
AnswerID: 511850

Reply By: Member - John and Lynne - Monday, May 27, 2013 at 09:34

Monday, May 27, 2013 at 09:34
We went from a tent to a Jayco Dove some years ago. We enjoyed the Dove and it served us well. However we found it to be a pain to set up and pack up - especially in rain. It is hard to avoid wet canvas on your bedding. For a long period of travel you will strike some wet weather that you can't avoid. Setting up seemed to take as much effort as a good hard floot CT. Also we agree with the comments about their limited off road capability - we had an Outback model and I believe the current warranty on these still excludes "Off Road" use for extended time as it did then. We certainly did not think our Dove was sturdy enough for really rough tracks - apart from the suspension the cupboards and fittings were quite lightly built and fastened. Another point to consider is that with some of the better off road CTs the kitchen can swing out and you can access it without setting up the whole tent. It is very useful to be able to make a hot drink or a meal on the road and the Jayco was not convenient for this - we had to set up to access the fridge.
We now have an "off Road"" caravan that has a warranty for any road or track on a map. This gets us around in comfort with plenty of storage and we can take a tent for any very rough places - we don't often bother as we can just do day trips from the places we can get to.
As has been said - for long term travel you need a reasonable level of comfort and convenience, compared to a holiday trip or it gets very wearing. Occasional stays in a motel or cabin could be a way around too much roughing it of course! Good luck with all your decisions! Lynne and John
AnswerID: 511911

Reply By: Member - evaredy - Monday, May 27, 2013 at 12:18

Monday, May 27, 2013 at 12:18
Take a look at Adventure Offroad campers, they might be above your budget, but second hand may be an option?

These are totaly different to the usual camper trailer, great kitchen, bucket loads of storage and a larger than king size bed that is the same height as a normal bed and you don't have to climb over your partner to get in or out.
Whatever you have stored on the roof rack stays on the rack, because the beds slides out from the back and is set up ready to go in a few minutes.

We bought the Grand Tourer and pick it up next week :)

AnswerID: 511928

Reply By: Penchy - Monday, May 27, 2013 at 13:03

Monday, May 27, 2013 at 13:03
I am told the Jayco "offroad" range do not have any warranty coverage for damage they sustain...offroad!
I'll be buying a hardfloor camper (brand unknown yet) for their size, durability and setup time. My circumstances are different to yours as well though.
AnswerID: 511931

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