ULTIMATE camper

Submitted: Wednesday, Nov 18, 2015 at 12:15
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Hi, looking to upgrade from the tent at long last. Checking out second hand off road campers on line and the Ultimate appeals, but seems you would have to make the bed from scratch which would be really inconvenient, also, seems to sit up quite high which might make erecting awnings difficult for the vertically challenged. On the other hand the inside lounge and kitchen would be very cosy in inclement weather. Would appreciate any feedback from others who have had experience with the Ultimate
look forward to your comments
thanks, Pandora
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Reply By: Inland_Sailor - Wednesday, Nov 18, 2015 at 13:58

Wednesday, Nov 18, 2015 at 13:58
Yes your right on both counts. I've had my Ulti for 10+ years and we've done 2 laps, a half lap, a trip to the Cape and several High Country trips, blah, blah blah, etc!
In reality the bed takes a couple of mins to make. Throw up the mattresses, I prefer crosswise but it doesn't matter if you prefer lengthwise. Then throw up a doona and pillows and it's done. As for the awnings, both of the small awnings or the large awning are left attached and are put up as you go. The mini awnings are held in place by fibreglass rods, the large awning uses poles and guy ropes, so a few minutes there.
Only when you want to change from small to large awnings do you need to detach, reattach and they are zipped on. The zips have cords attached so you can pull these from the ground. Some Ulti owners use a set of steps to do this, which they carry in the boot on the hooks provided for this job.

Hope that helps.
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Follow Up By: Member - pandora - Wednesday, Nov 18, 2015 at 18:19

Wednesday, Nov 18, 2015 at 18:19
thanks Inland-Sailor. you have answered my ??s and also reassured me of the Ultis capabilities. Have been in 2 minds , stay with the tent or camper trailer, but at a stage where we need a bit more comfort now.
thanks again, your feedback really helps.
pandora
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Reply By: Member - Wildmax - Wednesday, Nov 18, 2015 at 14:49

Wednesday, Nov 18, 2015 at 14:49
They are very good units and we've seen them in all sorts of remote locations. However for the reasons you identified (making up the bed every day and having the sleeping section under canvas) we opted for the TVan instead - and couldn't have been happier. Amazingly robust and capable unit, and in bad weather you could batten down and it was very secure and stable (and dry!!). Prices are about the same, so I'd suggest a good look at the TVan as well as the Ultimate.
Good luck!
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Follow Up By: Member - pandora - Wednesday, Nov 18, 2015 at 19:53

Wednesday, Nov 18, 2015 at 19:53
hi, yes agree with our considerations . have an eye on theTvan as well, I have had no up close views of the Ulti so couldn't understand how the bedding works etc, just looking at pics on line and I like the inside set up of the Ulti but also like exterior slide out kitchen, pros and cons?? it will probably come down to price and condition when ready to purchase.
thanks for your advice Wildmax.
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Follow Up By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Thursday, Nov 19, 2015 at 18:39

Thursday, Nov 19, 2015 at 18:39
We've had the Tvan for many years and have lots of friends with both Tvans and Ultimates.
They are both the pick of offroad campers but lots of differences.
Tvan is a KISS camper designed by an engineer. It allows you to keep your bed made up, you have a fibreglass roof over your head, and no wet canvas on your bed. You also have the simple option of opening up the back, climbing in for the overnight stay. Get an extra 2Mx2M interior space when the tent is dropped down from the hatch. The MC2 suspension is very very good.
Downsides for the Tvan are the towball weight can be anything from 100kgs to 280kgs - it's up there especially if you carry a fridge up front and have the 2nd water tank. That might be an issue with your Hilux. I moved the battery to the rear and have a fridge inside, so don't have that issue. Tvan might also be a bit heavier and a bit less aerodynamic than the Ultimate. Tvan has huge storage space inside because you can stack stuff on the bed and under the bed. That latest upgrade is called a Mark 4 and has addressed many of the weight issues and added some good improvements.

Ultimate has the internal kitchen - which is a plus in wet weather. Takes a little more setting up but setting up is not usually an issue once you get the hang of it. Low towball weight is great if you are going to use it on rough tracks because it will be sympathetic to the chassis of your Hilux dual cab. Fridge is usually a 3-way - top line models have the Dometic AES (automatic change between 240V/12V/gas). Suspension is independant and reliable.
Downsides are that you have canvas over your head and you need to make up the bed every day. Also they collect dust over the rear door/step - most owners buy a blower to blow the dust off before opening it up.

Both are great campers.
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Follow Up By: Member - John (Vic) - Thursday, Nov 19, 2015 at 22:18

Thursday, Nov 19, 2015 at 22:18
No more 3 way fridges Phil, they tend to use the Waeco CF series 12/240 volt.

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Follow Up By: Member - pandora - Thursday, Nov 19, 2015 at 22:27

Thursday, Nov 19, 2015 at 22:27
thanks so much for your comparison review Phil. all important points. the dust on the ulti steps could be an issue which I will mention later. Having been tent camping for more years than I can remember, there has never been a time when I have enjoyed packing a wet tent, and the canvas on the Ulti is a downside for me . I have camped with friends who have the luxury of a Tvan and it is a great unit. I have not seen an Ulti in the flesh, just checking it out on line and the interior kitchen and especially the light ball weight is an advantage for me. I need something light that I can manage and also want some comforts now, and both these rigs appeal.
My unbreakable hilux has been sent out to pasture in favour of a 2012 4cyl diesel Prado which I needed also to give a more comfortable ride, and it does that . BUT, you talk about dust , I am very disappointed with this vehicle in terms of the humungus amount dust that is thrown up on the back door. It floats into the vehicle everytime you open the door and settles everywhere and works its way in to all the gear.If its not a health hazard it means a major operation cleaning all the gear and the interior after the trip. I think I brought home the top layer of the Sandover on my last trip. Your mention of the dust buster might just have to be an essential purchase. I will definitely give that a go, thanks for the tip, it will be a lot cheaper than a trade in.
cheers Pandora

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Follow Up By: Member -Pinko (NSW) - Friday, Nov 20, 2015 at 06:41

Friday, Nov 20, 2015 at 06:41
You like an outside kitchen ?
Try it with march flies stinging every section of exposed skin.
Living is a journey,it depends on where you go !
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Follow Up By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Friday, Nov 20, 2015 at 07:43

Friday, Nov 20, 2015 at 07:43
Gday Pinko, agreed. I hate march flies but we don't have them much in SA, so very happy to cook outside when we don't have a fire. We travel mostly outback in winter so usually no insects.

John, thanks for the update - a mate has an Ulti that must be about 3 years old and it has the 3-way.

Pandora, with both Ultimate and Tvan, there are owners forums where you'll see solutions to any of these little problems. The Ultimate forum is restricted to owners while the Tvan forum is open to anyone. With dust on the bumper of the Prado, I used to have a fold down vinyl flap that covered the rear bumper whenever I opened the back, and velcroed up to the storage system.
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Friday, Nov 20, 2015 at 08:13

Friday, Nov 20, 2015 at 08:13
Hi Phil

We only have a 12/240 volt fridge in our Ultimate. As for the dust on the back step, we use a banister brush and with a few quick brushes, to steps are free of dust.

One very special feature that I love is the very low ball weight and the less weight on the car the better. We still love open fire cooking as well, but it was very handy in Cloncurry to cook inside when it was real wet outside.


Cheers



Stephen
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Follow Up By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Friday, Nov 20, 2015 at 08:43

Friday, Nov 20, 2015 at 08:43
Gday Stephen,
It never rains when we go camping :-) ........but seriously, if it rains, we have a pull out awning (same as the 4wd awnings) that we have added to the Tvan. Adds good shade outside too. But still not as good as an internal kitchen when its blowing a gale and the rain is moving sideways.

Some Ultimates came with 3-way and some with compressor fridges. But if you run a compressor fridge, you would want solar panels - just wondering whether there is any other option apart from portable?
With the Tvan, roof space is limited but I was able to mount a 65W solar panel permanently on the roof, and it helps power our Waeco drawer fridge that lives inside the Tvan and keeps the battery topped up in storage.
Cheers
Phil
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Reply By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Wednesday, Nov 18, 2015 at 15:01

Wednesday, Nov 18, 2015 at 15:01
Hi Pandora

Not sure if you have ever seen or read any of my stories here on EO, but our usual mode of travel in remote areas is the trusty old swag, and in times of trouble, our fantastic OzTent......

A couple of years ago on one of our trips to Maralinga, Michelle mum and dad were along in their Ultimate. Yes I had seem them before, knew they were expensive and could go anywhere that the tow vehicle was capable of going, but seeing one in the flesh changed our minds.

Last year again when again in true remote offload travel, John and Suz brought their Ultimate along for a true offload test.

Within 2 days of getting home from that trip we purchased our 2008 model, knowing that they were a fantastic unit.

Our real test was in June this year when we were away for a month. The bed is no issue, sets up in minutes, and the awnings not an issue, as we leave ours zipped on all the time and the spas take seconds to set up.

During that trip of over 6000 kilometres, more than 2500 kilometres was on dirt roads, from the Birdsville Track, Savannah Way, The Strezeleki Track and many more remote out of the way roads.

The Ultimate is 100% water and dust proof, including the boot and the side boots. We could have brought a new caravan for the price of our second hand Ultimate, with the one exception, ours is built to handle the true remote bush areas that we have here in Australia and knowing it will come back home in one piece.

The only main thing that I have now brought for it is fantastic Stone Stomper, for 2 main reasons.

Firstly to stop stone chips on the back of the Prado and to stop broken back windows and to stop the nose cone from chipping.

If anyone tells you that these events will not happen to an Ultimate, tell them they are dreaming and have never been on a dirt road.

I could rave on for ever, but they are just fantastic, very light and easy to town, built as tough as nails, dust proof and made to withstand the toughest tracks that you are capable of tackling.


Cheers from Stephen

One very happy Ultimate owner.






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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Wednesday, Nov 18, 2015 at 19:05

Wednesday, Nov 18, 2015 at 19:05
Hi Pandora

I should have also mentioned this in my above reply. On our Gulf trip in June, we were delayed in Cloncurry due to rain and all the dirt roads that we intended to travel on were closed.

Even though it was wet, it was not cold and had the door open one morning while having breakfast. One chap stopped and popped his head inside and said "I can not do that in my Kimberly Kamper, go to the fridge, cook breakfast and boil the kettle without going outside in the rain"

Everything is inside and easy to access.

Also like the others, we use a donna and by the time I have both front and rear awning set up, Fiona has the bed al set up in minutes.


Cheers


Stephen

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Follow Up By: Member - pandora - Wednesday, Nov 18, 2015 at 20:19

Wednesday, Nov 18, 2015 at 20:19
hi Stephen. thanks so much for all your information and great photos of your rig and the bed . good to know that the Ulti ticks all the boxes, and my concerns abt the bedding etc are unwarranted.
just had a peek at your blog page, will have some exciting reading ahead about your adventures.
thanks so much , really a great help.
cheers pandora
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Follow Up By: The Landy - Thursday, Nov 19, 2015 at 07:49

Thursday, Nov 19, 2015 at 07:49
And to add to Stephen's comment.

We have owned (and loved) a TVAN for the past 5-years, but I also travelled with John & Suze earlier this year, and after seeing the Ultimate in action in complete off-track conditions I'm ready to trade the TVAN for an Ulty - well, at least when Mrs Landy gives the nod!

Cheers, Baz - The Landy

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Follow Up By: Member - John (Vic) - Thursday, Nov 19, 2015 at 10:17

Thursday, Nov 19, 2015 at 10:17
Interesting comment Baz, what impressed you so much about the Ultimate over the Tvan?
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Follow Up By: The Landy - Thursday, Nov 19, 2015 at 10:27

Thursday, Nov 19, 2015 at 10:27
Hey John

A couple of things, we have been giving consideration to having something with an indoor living space, something which the Ultimate has over the TVAN.

After seeing the performance of the Ultimate against another TVAN (not mine) on a recent trip that was off-track I must say the I thought the Ultimate performed better overall, especially in regard to clearance and generally was lighter.

I was also concerned at making the bed each day in the Ultimate, and the set-up and close, but this was a non-issue.

But adding, we are extremely happy with the TVAN and may not necessarily change “tomorrow” but the Ultimate will fit our long time requirements better…


Cheers, Baz
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Follow Up By: Member - pandora - Thursday, Nov 19, 2015 at 11:42

Thursday, Nov 19, 2015 at 11:42
Thanks for your comments Baz
there are pros and cons in making the choice. I guess I am looking at the interior space too as a point in favour of the Ulti. I have been in 2 minds , will I or wont I trade up from the tent, as have not towed before
just finding the cold weather and windy conditions becoming almost unbearable and looking for somewhere to shelter out of the elements, put the kettle on .
Pandora

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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Thursday, Nov 19, 2015 at 20:40

Thursday, Nov 19, 2015 at 20:40
Hi Pandora

The other thing that I did was to replace my standard tow hitch, and replace it with a Hayman Reese 50mm extension hitch which enables me to open the back door on the Prado fully when parked on a slight angle. The hitch is also a top mount hitch which also give me extra hight so my rig sits level on the back of my Prado.

Vehicles that sit higher would not end to do this, as this was to suit my vehicle only.



Cheers


Stephen


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Reply By: Roachie Silverado - Wednesday, Nov 18, 2015 at 15:24

Wednesday, Nov 18, 2015 at 15:24
I can only echo Stephen's comments.

We've owned our Ultimate (number 56) since February 1999 and have had countless trips to remote spots. It hasn't let us down.....not once!! (unlike the various Patrol tow vehicles I've owned....but that's a story for another day)

As has already been stated, the bed "issue" is really a "non-issue". There are 3 mattresses which have fitted sheets. It takes mere seconds to move these from their travelling position on the longe, up onto the bed. A doona, likewise, takes less than 30 seconds to throw up into position with a couple of pillows.

We have found that the awnings are another 60 second job (each). Back in the early days (1999 to say 2009) when we were doing a LOT of camping, I had the entire set-up routine down to less than 8 minutes.

I can't (and won't) comment on the other options available, but can honestly say you will not be sorry you purchased an Ultimate. I do know of one that is currently available in Goulburn at an attractive price.... (a friend of mine is going all "soft" and buying a caravan hahaha).

Cheers,

Roachie
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Follow Up By: Member - pandora - Wednesday, Nov 18, 2015 at 20:34

Wednesday, Nov 18, 2015 at 20:34
Hi Roachie, really appreciate your explanation on how things work, never been up close to an Ulti, only viewing camper trailer sites on - line pics, so was confused as there was no description on how the roof converted to a bed . Also your idea of having fitted sheets , and the doona is the go, easy peasy. ta for the tip.
thanks Roachie
Good to be reassured that the unit is going to live up to expectations off road.
cheers pandora
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Follow Up By: Member - pandora - Wednesday, Nov 18, 2015 at 20:51

Wednesday, Nov 18, 2015 at 20:51
Hi again Roachie, forgot to say thanks for the heads up on your mates Ulti . I will check out on line trailer sales.
I have yet to get a move on and organise a tow bar for the 4wd. The camper wont be going far without one!
cheers pandora
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Follow Up By: Member - John (Vic) - Wednesday, Nov 18, 2015 at 21:43

Wednesday, Nov 18, 2015 at 21:43
Roachies comments are spot on!
We use the fitted sheets available from Ultimate direct, and we run our 3 mattresses crosswise so we don't roll onto the gap/join between the mattresses if they are run lengthwise.
We use a Queen sized doona and it takes no time at all to make up the bed.
Julie normally sets up the inside whilst I put up the awnings etc outside.

Once you get your system sorted it's a matter of minutes to set up.

Easy to tow with a low tow ball weight compared to the Tvan and others, plus excellent off-road capabilities.

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Follow Up By: Member - pandora - Thursday, Nov 19, 2015 at 01:08

Thursday, Nov 19, 2015 at 01:08
Hi John, thanks for your input, you have put to rest my concerns re the bed making......pardon the pun.
The light weight is a big factor in favour , that's a big plus for me.
cheers Pandora
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Reply By: Mick O - Wednesday, Nov 18, 2015 at 18:15

Wednesday, Nov 18, 2015 at 18:15
Further endorsement of Stephen L and Bill's comments. I've been travelling with John and Suzy since 2009 and have been impressed no end with the robustness, strength and comfort of their 2005 Ulti. Vikki and I picked up our 2006 model Odyssey from the Gold Coast in August and we are thrilled. Our first outing was to the recent Victorian Ulti muster at Ned's corner.

We love ours and you'll never regret the purchase of one.

Cheers Mick
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Follow Up By: Member - pandora - Wednesday, Nov 18, 2015 at 20:44

Wednesday, Nov 18, 2015 at 20:44
Hi Mick. thanks so much for the reassurance and endorsement of what others have advised. Is so good that people take time to provide advice and feedback. I am going to be looking at on -line sites for something suitable. cant wait to get back out trailer touring in our wonderful country.
many happy and safe adventures with your Odyssey.
cheers pandora
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Reply By: equinox - Wednesday, Nov 18, 2015 at 22:25

Wednesday, Nov 18, 2015 at 22:25
Plenty of good advice there Pandora, and from some of those who have much experience.

I'm not about to buy a camper but have a question for you and others.
You say you're upgrading from the tent, I'm probably at that stage - if not exactly - certainly sleeping on the ground mostly.

Will you change you driving / touring habits after the purchase?

Regards
Alan

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Follow Up By: Member - pandora - Thursday, Nov 19, 2015 at 00:57

Thursday, Nov 19, 2015 at 00:57
Hi Alan, have no doubt there will be changes. I have never towed anything at all up to present time.
I am a no frills tourer and camper, no bells and whistles, the "kiss" principle always works well for me.
having a trailer will add a level of luxury I'm certainly not used to. but the downside is that
I think lack of confidence towing a trailer will put restrictions on some of the treks andplaces I have on my bucket list. Having more wheels and axles and parts thereof also means more things could go awry. I will be relying on EO, forums, trek notes, blogs etc for information and advice, so much help and support is available and very much appreciated.
cheers Pandora
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Follow Up By: Roachie Silverado - Thursday, Nov 19, 2015 at 05:57

Thursday, Nov 19, 2015 at 05:57
If you want to list the places you intend to go and let us know, I reckon there's a fair chance that one of us have already been there with our Ulti....

Vic High Country, Simpson Desert, Cape York, Gibb River Road, Canning Stock Route etc etc.

Roachie
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Follow Up By: Member - pandora - Thursday, Nov 19, 2015 at 11:46

Thursday, Nov 19, 2015 at 11:46
Thanks Roachie, very reassuring. will take you up on that when I have the trailer
Pandora
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Reply By: Member BarryG - Thursday, Nov 19, 2015 at 09:10

Thursday, Nov 19, 2015 at 09:10
Hi Pandora,
I echo all of the above comments about the Ultimate. Giny & I have one and have travelled extensively!
However, ours is for sale. Why are we selling it if it's so good?
Well.....
On our last trip up the NSW coast towards Byron Bay, we decided to call in at the factory for a couple of small spare parts. We walked out a couple of hours later with a quote for a whole new Ultimate. We discussed it at length over the next few weeks and called in at Moruya again on our way home to place our order. Eventually, we will probably get a caravan, but for now the Ultimate is our ideal camper.
I can send you the link to our online ad (via a Member Message) if you are interested?
Barry
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Reply By: Member - Rob D (NSW) - Thursday, Nov 19, 2015 at 15:28

Thursday, Nov 19, 2015 at 15:28
We have had an Ultimate for about 10 years now and love it. If you look on the Ultimate web site you will see a video of us negotiating Palm-Creek (Cape York) in 2102.

Another good reason to have the inside kitchen and living area is that you are away from the flies, mosquitoes and sand flies. My wife is allergic to sand fly bites and usually finishes up needing anti-antibiotics.

I timed myself in setting the Ultimate up once and after it was levelled, it took me 4 minutes and 50 seconds to put it up, including the awnings and to make the bed. I am not sure that I could repeat that now as we are using it less often than we used to.
If you relax at a faster pace you can get more relaxation in for a given time.
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Follow Up By: Member - pandora - Thursday, Nov 19, 2015 at 17:34

Thursday, Nov 19, 2015 at 17:34
thanks for the endorsement Rob, I am leaning in the Ultis favour because there are a lot advantages with the interior design as you point out, pretty impressive feat tackling Palm creek with a vehicle let alone with a trailer in tow. It is one we gave a big miss. we managed Sams and Canal, no trailer, but called it a day after that to allow my nerves to regenerate, and took the chicken run on the 'highway' for the remainder.
cheers pandora
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Reply By: Chambo - Thursday, Nov 19, 2015 at 16:26

Thursday, Nov 19, 2015 at 16:26
We had our Ulti for many years and I still miss it. We towed ours up the Telegraph track and the French line to Cape York and they will go anywhere you are capable of driving to. Go for it you won't regret it.
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Follow Up By: Member - pandora - Thursday, Nov 19, 2015 at 17:19

Thursday, Nov 19, 2015 at 17:19
thanks for the heads up Chambo.
cheers pandora
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Reply By: Member - Neil G (VIC) - Saturday, Nov 21, 2015 at 11:56

Saturday, Nov 21, 2015 at 11:56
Hi there Pandora, living in a small space there is always compromise unless you want to buy a caravan. We have had our Ultimate 334 for 12 years and really love it. With the bed area over the side you have a very comfortable living space and as the weather is not always great it's nice to be able to get inside out of the cold and rain. We put in a webasco diesel heater this year which is fantastic but that's another story. The bed doesn't take long to make, we use two doonas and sleep between them, a QS wool one underneath and a king sized feather one on top. This stops any cold draughts that might come up between the three mattresses which we use across the bed. All the bedding folds up on the couch, doonas spread out first and mattresses on top. We always cook meat outside on a portable gas stove so as not to make the canvas smell. Hope this helps, go and look at them at a show or at the showrooms in Moruya if you can, they are the best made camper on the market, totally dust-proof and strong enough to go anywhere. Hope this helps, Neil & Liz, Orbost Vic.
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