Likes AND Dislikes Camper Trailers

Submitted: Saturday, Apr 24, 2004 at 19:21
ThreadID: 12338 Views:2820 Replies:14 FollowUps:12
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Hi All,

I am just wanting to get peoples likes and dislikes about camper trailers. I would like to know what you have found to be an asset and you find is a hinderance when travelling or general camping.

Any ideas that you have that you have never seen on a camper but you think would be a good idea.

I would also like to know peoples preference on pull-out over the top campers or lift over hard floor campers etc.

Thankyou

Jeffrey

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Reply By: Hedonist - Saturday, Apr 24, 2004 at 19:49

Saturday, Apr 24, 2004 at 19:49
It depends on the circumstances Jeffrey - are you asking as a builder, buyer, interested bystander or what?

If you are considering buying one can you expand on your personal needs a little please? It makes a big difference depending on kids, ofrroad expectations, towing vehicle, need to carry fuel, water, boats, etc etc...
AnswerID: 55781

Follow Up By: Member - Jeffrey - Saturday, Apr 24, 2004 at 21:05

Saturday, Apr 24, 2004 at 21:05
All of the above...I am going to make one for my wife and I...the kids have their own tents.

I just want to get other's ideas on what they like and dislike...we know what we like and dont like but there may be things we haven't thought of...good and bad

Jeffrey
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Reply By: Rosco - Bris. - Saturday, Apr 24, 2004 at 20:10

Saturday, Apr 24, 2004 at 20:10
Jeff

Broad question .. limited response. It's all horses for courses, but we personally found the lack of storage in hard top jobs a major draw-back. Can still store heaps on the top ... but need to remove this when setting up camp each day.

As I said, that my not be an issue for some but it was a no-no for us when we had to make the hard decision.
AnswerID: 55786

Follow Up By: Member - Jeffrey - Saturday, Apr 24, 2004 at 21:07

Saturday, Apr 24, 2004 at 21:07
good point rosco.....we will keep that in mind...there is only so much you can put in a trailer when you have the bed and kitchen sink as well..lol
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Reply By: thomo - Saturday, Apr 24, 2004 at 20:47

Saturday, Apr 24, 2004 at 20:47
One problem with the hard floor jobs is you need level ground for the floor or she willl do a bit of rocking.Plus hard or soft top there hard to keep the dust out of.
AnswerID: 55794

Follow Up By: Member - Jeffrey - Saturday, Apr 24, 2004 at 21:10

Saturday, Apr 24, 2004 at 21:10
we have seen hard floor ones at the Rosehill show and they had adjustable legs on them..food for thought...but yeah...the dust is a pain no matter what you do
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Reply By: Hedonist - Saturday, Apr 24, 2004 at 21:47

Saturday, Apr 24, 2004 at 21:47
OK then,

We have a side folding, soft floor, offroad trailer and also use a separate 'Southern Cross' style single pole canvas tent for the kids. We chose this in preference to a hard floor camper mainly because with three kids the hard floor designs were too small.

Ours is fitted with a full length rollout kitchen, 60 litre water tank, annexe with full covers, large drawbar mounted toolbox, pole carriers, 2 x 4kg gas bottles, 3 x 20l jerry can holders.

The main thing we like about it is that it makes taking off for a weekend quick and easy - most of the camping gear, recovery equipment and non-perishable foodstuffs stay in the trailer permanently so getting ready to go is a matter of throwing in some clothes, fresh food, water and whatever specialised equipment is appropriate for the destination (campfire hotplates, chainsaw, boogie boards or whatever). On return there is no rush to packup either.

An advantage of soft floor trailers is that all sorts of stuff can be stored under the cover if you make it loose enough. We always use a groundsheet under the tent area, lay annexe matting in the annexe, put a doormat at the entrance and carry a selection of large tarps for general shade and protection from inclement weather. All of these store under the trailer cover without eating into other valuable storage space, and boogie boards, fishing rods, the kids tent, spare mattressesd etc can all go under here as well if required.

We also specified an external pole box so that the trailer does not need to be opened at all when setting up camp, all the poles, guy ropes, pegs, awning and covers are stored in the toolbox and the pole box which makes a quick setup much easier. Some useful bits and pieces we have added along the way include a drawbar mounted spirit level,

Other things we like about ours are the canvas awning over the side window that provides shade in the middle of the day to the side window on the bed section even with the window open, lots of pockets in the canvas at each end of the bed for storage of books, keys, wallets and cups of coffee in bed, the floor level vents to allow fresh air to flow into the tent from under the trailer, the flyscreen end wall with lift up shade cover for those really hot days, and the gas struts under the bed base to make access to the trailer easier.

Pay close attention to the layout and access to the storage spaces - some trailers make it very difficult to get to things on the road which can be a major PITA. Everything that is needed to setup camp or that may be needed on the road should be readily accessible - this included things like toolboxes, recovery equipment, shovels, brooms, etc.

My main suggestion is to hire a selection of trailers before you commit to a design so that you can work out what is important for you.

Cheers,
Pete
AnswerID: 55803

Follow Up By: Member - Jeffrey - Saturday, Apr 24, 2004 at 22:04

Saturday, Apr 24, 2004 at 22:04
thanks pete....by the sounds of it you have a well setup system....we will be taking some of the layout ideas you have on board...btw...how big is your trailer and do you have brakes?....if so...do you think they are necessary?

Jeffrey
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Follow Up By: Hedonist - Saturday, Apr 24, 2004 at 22:41

Saturday, Apr 24, 2004 at 22:41
The trailer is 6 x 4, with a very deep box. Photo here: http://www.offroader.com.au/overlander/4Bikes1.jpg

Yes we have brakes fitted - I believe they are necessary for peace of mind if your travelling at high speeds. We settled on mechanical override brakes for their simplicity and reliability. Second choice would have been electric for the superior control.

The handbrake is extremely useful when the trailer is parked as it negates the need to chock wheels just to stop the trailer moving on uneven ground. (I still use chocks on slopes though).

And having proof read my response after posting - this is what I meant to say on additions:

"Some useful bits and pieces we have added along the way include a drawbar mounted spirit level, lights in the rollout kitchen (powered from a Waeco battery pack) and shock absorbers on the leaf spring suspension."

A couple of other ideas: Get some 'D' rings sewn into the underside of the awning (Near each poles is a good spot) to hang lights, keys, clotheslines and stuff from - very handy. A couple at strategic locations on the outside for attaching guy ropes or hanging lights from can be useful as well.

Cheers,
Pete
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Reply By: Truckster (Vic) - Saturday, Apr 24, 2004 at 23:10

Saturday, Apr 24, 2004 at 23:10
Dislikes:
Rediculous price they want for one
if you want something changed the Rediculous price they want for modding it
If you get stuck, reversing down hills, or anywhere in bush can suck,
cant do 3 point or U turns easy.
They slow the convoy down
Mobile Roadblocks

Likes
Marginally better than a parachute roofrack
I dont have one!
AnswerID: 55810

Reply By: Crackles - Sunday, Apr 25, 2004 at 00:16

Sunday, Apr 25, 2004 at 00:16
Gaday Jeff. I'm in the same boat as you researching to build my own. After travelling with many and checking out the main players a few features that seem important for a true offroad trailer are :
* Coil suspension with shocks
* Total loaded weight under a tonne.
* Fridge in car for day trips not mounted in trailer.
* Common wheels with tow vehicle
* Tow hitch weight under 100 kg (avoid big drawbar storage)
* Self supporting kitchen. (No leg)
* Recovery points
* Smooth profile. (easy to clean)
If you intend moving regulary the flip over type is the go. 5 to 15 minutes for basic & full setup. Base camping or need lots of internal space the pull out models will simplify construction but take 15 to 30 minutes.
As was previously mentioned, hire one for a weekend and see if you like them.
A couple of different trailers worth a look for idea's are Tracks T Van & the Conqueror. Have fun. They're harder to build than they look. Cheers Craig.........
AnswerID: 55822

Follow Up By: Brad - Sunday, Apr 25, 2004 at 08:49

Sunday, Apr 25, 2004 at 08:49
Agree with every word, and would add:
1. off-road hitch (eg Treg)
2. wheel track identical to tow vehicle
3. water tank
4. electric brakes

Regards,
Brad
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Follow Up By: Crackles - Sunday, Apr 25, 2004 at 19:44

Sunday, Apr 25, 2004 at 19:44
Agree with your 4 also. Over ride brakes are probably more reliable & a bit cheaper to fit but the electric ones are handy in the hills. Craig.
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Reply By: Member - Allan - Sunday, Apr 25, 2004 at 01:19

Sunday, Apr 25, 2004 at 01:19
I'd have to endorse what others have said - hire a couple of different types first. I had a basic 'soft floor' camper trailer but sold it and am now making up my own to suit my needs. It is another soft floor but heavy duty and simple. Mine has override brakes but only because it is rated to carry more than 750kg. I'd be happy to share some of the pro's and con's of some of the many features that are offerred on new trailers today
AnswerID: 55826

Reply By: Colin T - Sunday, Apr 25, 2004 at 09:24

Sunday, Apr 25, 2004 at 09:24
Jeffrey

I did the research about 5 years ago and found most offroad trailer companies were pushing expensive suspension.

I met a guy who has been repairing caravans and trailers for 30 years and he believes eye to eye rebound springs are just as good as the highly engineered coils and shockers. They are far more reliable and give a good ride. If you get stuck they can be easily repaired.

I lloked at building my own and by the time I had added all the bits and pieces I could buy a new one from say True Blu , Dingo or Tambo Campers at around the same price. (we went eventually with Tambo)

Another thing is to have an automotive dust seal on trailer.

Col.
AnswerID: 55836

Reply By: Phil P - Sunday, Apr 25, 2004 at 12:22

Sunday, Apr 25, 2004 at 12:22
Hi Jeffrey,

I recently purchased a hard floor Aussie Swag CT. It's a very basic model, no kitchen & very very light. I can hardly notice it when towing with my 3.0L Patrol.

What I like about it;
Very easy to set up, open it and the beds are already made. The 2 kids sleep on the floor using foam mattresses & Sleeping Bags. These are stored on the double bed when the lid of the CT is closed.

Sleeping off the ground seems to be more comfortable (not sure why?)

The car is not fully loaded when going away. (all bedding, water, gas is in the CT)

Dislikes:
Parking it in towns & cities.

The storage space is under the mattress and can only be accessed when the CT is open.

The time saved seting up & packing down versus a tent (mine is a Canvas Touring Tent) is now spent on removoving & re connecting the trailer to the car.

Even though my CT is an off road version, I'm always worring about it on rough tracks.

If you take the wrong track and have to turn back, make sure you have a strong back, you will need it when you have to disconect it from the car turn it around & reconnect it.

AnswerID: 55847

Reply By: Nino & Kerry (VIC) - Sunday, Apr 25, 2004 at 17:43

Sunday, Apr 25, 2004 at 17:43
Hi Jeff, from reading what everyone else has said, it does depend what you want it for. We have a soft top fold out from Heards Canvas in Shepparton, and it was a far cheaper alternative to a lot that we have seen around. Sure we miss bits and pieces, but we paid far less than $30,000 and those bits and pieces weren't worth that extra layout. Apart from that, we have added some bits, ie electricity (12 V), bought a separate kitchen (Drifta) that we thought was much better than the one supplied. As Truckster said, modifications by the manufacturer can be so overpriced, it's ridiculous, much easier to do it yourself.
Our major points:
* Easy to put up - 5 mins tops (once you get the hang of it!) with one person
* Very easy to tow
* Handles tracks really well (although we haven't gone extreme ... yet)
* Able to plug in fridge/lights directly into the camper. We keep the fridge separate though so we can keep it in the car for day trips and move it back into the trailer when camped.
* Wheels and track of camper match car.
* Tool box up front
* Snap connector for gas, so no mucking about with gas terminals.
* Heaps of room under the cover for extra bits.
* Our bed is quite high and we have to use a step-up, and then climb over one or the other, which is a pain in the middle of the night. You don't get this in the hard top.
* Friends of ours have a Kimberley, they can't replace their foam mattress with an inner spring because of the gas strut system inside, their mattress is specially made and tapered at the end. We replaced our foam mattress with a queen size innerspring, and it's the best money we've spent. We only bought a cheap one, but comfort wise, it's great. And we had no problems with the height of the mattress.
* We however didn't have bedside lights, which we have now added, and that's a great feature to have.
* Side table by the bed and cubbies for watches/glasses etc., is also great. If you go the soft top option, you can have one that slides/folds out from under the mattress, which makes enjoying your tea/coffee in bed much easier.

We ummed and ahhed a lot in trying to decide which one to get and as stated, we went a cheaper option but are still way below things like the Kimberley cost wise including the additions we have made. We haven't regretted the decision once, it's been a fantastic purchase but we haven't had to made a 3 point turn yet!!!
Have fun trying to decipher all the info you're getting!
Nino & Kerry
AnswerID: 55879

Follow Up By: mac1 - Sunday, Apr 25, 2004 at 18:09

Sunday, Apr 25, 2004 at 18:09
Nino & Kerry

If you can read this thank a teacher.
If you're reading it in English thank the Defence Force

This is a very apt saying, especially to day

Cheers Mac
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Follow Up By: thomo - Sunday, Apr 25, 2004 at 19:41

Sunday, Apr 25, 2004 at 19:41
Hi nino
Have you had any trouble with your zip on cover as mine fell to bits.
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Reply By: Steve L - Sunday, Apr 25, 2004 at 22:32

Sunday, Apr 25, 2004 at 22:32
We also have a Simon Heard Adventurer camper trailer - also partly due to the much lower purchase costs over many other brands. We bought the basic model (with the 16 foot tent section and awning) and have been adding our own bits as needed (toolbox, stoneguard, kitchen on taigate, etc. - still to put a water tank and power on though).

No problems with the zips on the cover of ours. We chose soft floor as there is much more room inside than a hard floor, and in many cases we can actually pack up quicker than the hard flor guys too. Also went eye to eye rebound springs rather than coil, etc., fr ease and because it's as robust yet cheaper in initial purchase and if anything ever did go wrong it's very easy to fix.

Also we can access the huge storage space under the bed without having to open the camper section up - simply undo the tailgate locks and swing it out, instant access to storage and the kitchen unit.
AnswerID: 55931

Follow Up By: flappan - Tuesday, Apr 27, 2004 at 09:52

Tuesday, Apr 27, 2004 at 09:52
I also have a Heards Trailer , because this bloke above recommended them to me.

Apart from some small issues , happy with the purchase.
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Follow Up By: Steve L - Tuesday, Apr 27, 2004 at 12:31

Tuesday, Apr 27, 2004 at 12:31
What small issues?? ;-) Not reading instructions perhaps? ;-P
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Reply By: Glenno - Monday, Apr 26, 2004 at 02:17

Monday, Apr 26, 2004 at 02:17
If you get any awning extensions make sure they attach with Velcro rather than zipper, much easier to attach / de attach when its 45deg in the sun outside and your just wanting to get setup and have a cold beer.

Also a removable floor (Velcro) also make it much easier to clean the floor.

Cheers,

Glenn.
AnswerID: 55942

Reply By: bob - Monday, Apr 26, 2004 at 13:39

Monday, Apr 26, 2004 at 13:39
On my last trip, the awning zipper jammed in the "zipped up " position. I now leave the awning on all the time. I fold it in with the rest of the canvas. No problem, it's actually better left on!! 3 poles/pegs, 5mins. Do it all by myself - easy! Wish it had jammed earlier!
AnswerID: 56007

Follow Up By: Steve L - Wednesday, Apr 28, 2004 at 14:09

Wednesday, Apr 28, 2004 at 14:09
Yes, we also always leave the awning (roof section) attached, and just have it folded back across the main tent roof - camper still folds up fine.

If we stop somewhere for a short stop (e.g. one night) we leave it tied off over the tent roof, thus have two layers of canvas overhead - if we stop somewhere for a longer period we can untie it and set it up with the poles/ropes, etc, without having to get it out of wherever it would have been stored, attach it to the camper then set it up.

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Reply By: gerry - Saturday, May 01, 2004 at 20:16

Saturday, May 01, 2004 at 20:16
Agree about the awning. After much research we went for a camper that has a sewn in awning...forget the problems with zips and velcro. For quick overnighters the awning stays in place on the roof, otherwise its three poles and ropes and one ridge pole and its up in three minutes. The soft floor campers allow much more room and flexibility and are as quick if not quicker to set up and pack up than a hard floor one. Only advantage we could see with a hard floor camper was smaller footprint and if you can get the car into a spot then you can get the camper in and set up, but boy, the time spent on levelling the thing is hardly worth the effort.
In thirteen months, and over a dozen trips we wouldn't swap our $8000 soft floor off-road camper for any of the hard floor or over priced KK type campers.
Hope this helps...and enjoy you search, its half the fun.
AnswerID: 56874

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